Predators done in by failure to create any late-game drama

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 8:58pm

The Nashville Predators were deeper, more talented, more experienced and most likely more motivated when they entered the 2012 NHL playoffs than at any other time in franchise history.

Yet they were sent home after five games in the second round because they were less resilient than they were a year ago. For all that this year’s team had going for it, it lacked the ability to come from behind and keep games going.

“The group of guys we had here is a great group of guys,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t do anything with it. It’s very disappointing.”

These Predators allowed the first goal in all five games they lost this postseason. In three of those five, including the 2-1 loss Monday at Phoenix that ended things, they trailed from the moment that first one crossed the line all the way to the finish.

Of the eight teams that made it to the conference semifinals, only Nashville and Washington have yet to win a game in which they allowed the first goal. Plus, the Predators were the only Western Conference team that did not come from behind to win a game in the opening round.

They never scored more than one goal in the third period of any of those games and none of those goals came in the final four minutes of the period.

“I think we were confident in our team,” left win Colin Wilson said. “I think we had a really good team. … We had a lot of talent in this room, a lot of hard work. So, we weren’t expecting it to end like this and it’s too bad.”

A year ago, Nashville never was out of a game.

Its first run to the second round of the postseason included overtime victories against both Anaheim and Vancouver, in which it rallied late in regulation. Each was on the road, no less.

Shea Weber tied it 3-3 with 35.3 seconds to play in the critical fifth game of the series with the Ducks. Jerred Smithson then got the game-winner in overtime.

In the second game of the Vancouver series, Ryan Suter scored with 1:07 to play in regulation, which evened things at 1-1. Matt Halischuk finally ended that one in the second overtime.

Even in the Predators’ lone overtime loss of the 2011 playoffs (Game 3 against Vancouver), they were the ones who forced overtime. In that case, Joel Ward’s third-period goal forced things beyond regulation.

Wilson scored Nashville’s only goal in Monday’s elimination game with 5:59 left in the contest but failed to get another.

“We had them for four chances in the third period,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “… They have some high skill on that team. If you allow them any chances, they are going to take advantage. We tried to make the chances that they did get as contested as possible, and we had a lot of guys blocking shots from the blue line. We made it muddy in front our net. The mud won out in the end.”

In the first round, Phoenix overcame Chicago, which scored in the final 15 seconds of regulation and forced overtime in each of the first two games and then extended Game 4 when it scored with 1:26 to go in regulation.

Plus, hours before the Predators were eliminated on Monday, the New York Rangers took a 3-2 lead in their series with the Washington Capitals with an overtime victory. The Rangers forced the extra period when they scored with fewer than six seconds left in regulation.

Those things are a part of playoff hockey but were not included in Nashville’s 2012 postseason performance. That, despite the fact that it led the Western Conference and was second overall to Pittsburgh during the regular season in winning percentage when it trailed after two periods (25.9).

“Chemistry is a delicate thing,” coach Barry Trotz said. “As I say, sometimes you can add skill or talent and all that. Does it come together at the right time? Or does it not come together at the right time? You can be a chemistry professor all you want, but you’re dealing with human beings and the human factor on both sides.

“We had some great chances. … We just couldn’t bury our chances.”

Particularly when it counted.

11 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 5/9/12 at 2:53

There are 600,000 people in Davidson County. To the 17,000 fans and 50 business owners who really care about the ice hockey team there are 592,000 Davidson Countians who have a passing interest. I know as one of those 592,000 that you must be very sad.

There are probably many of the 592,000 that are sorry that their tax dollars are going to support your minority. There may be those of that 592,000 that could care less about the subsidy.and others who probably do not do math very well.

d

By: itsmyfirstday on 5/9/12 at 5:48

Thanks for a great and entertaining season! We watched almost every game and stretched our budget to make it to 5 or 6 games. Looking forward to next year!

By: gid on 5/9/12 at 6:40

Ras72

There are 599,999 citizens in Nashville that dont like you. If you move out of town that figure will go up by one

By: Rasputin72 on 5/9/12 at 7:11

GID........You are a true ice hockey fan. rabid to the core and living your life through the achievements of others. I salute you! Keep the passion in your mind and body. Nothing wrong with defending what you believe. I try to do the same.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/9/12 at 7:11

GID........You are a true ice hockey fan. rabid to the core and living your life through the achievements of others. I salute you! Keep the passion in your mind and body. Nothing wrong with defending what you believe. I try to do the same.

By: dva56 on 5/9/12 at 7:25

@ Rasputin72, you present things in such a way as to attempt to make people believe that if there were no hockey team playing in the arena, there would be no cost to Davidson county tax payers to operate it. Nice straw-man argument you continue to promote.

By: Moonglow1 on 5/9/12 at 7:28

Moonglow1: Preds, we look forward to next season.

By: ajinnashville on 5/9/12 at 7:59

Ben Franklin, Mark Twain — or whomever you'd like to attribute the famous saying to — apparently had it wrong.

There are actually THREE certainties in life: death, taxes, and Rasputin72, at every opportunity, beating the dead horse of his anti-hockey-in-Nashville rhetoric in the comment sections of nashvillecitypaper.com articles.

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My life is an open book. Here's hopin' it's not a short story.

By: sharko20 on 5/9/12 at 8:53

Rasp has moved his misery over from the Tennessean since they went the Facebook route for comments. The hockey haters like Rasp would love for the sport to not be popular, but it is and the fan base continues to grow. Heading into the 15th season this fall, the Preds aren't going away.

He hates the subsidies. Dolly Parton's new venture is getting a huge property tax subsidy while Karl Marx Dean plans to raise the rate on the rest of us. Maybe Rasp can comment on her new water park when it breaks ground. I think he should focus on her deal with the city. Or perhaps Bud Adams and the Titans' subsidy. You know he doesn't spend a dime of his own money to maintain L P Field.

I can't say that I'm a big believer in subsidies either, but the Bridgestone Arena is there and it cost $5 mil to maintain even if it's empty. Might as well house the Preds. They do bring millions of dollars to downtown every season and multiple charities benefit as well.

The second round didn't go as planned. When they didn't get the split in Phoenix you kind of knew it wasn't going to end well. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Poile should say good bye to Radulov. Don't think AK was coming back anyway. Adios to both trouble makers. They were both skewered on NBC by analysts Milbury, Roenick and Jones for their play and actions off ice.

So....... GO PREDS!!! Looking forward to next season. Here's hoping Ryan Suter will be wearing Predator gold.

By: jthordsen on 5/9/12 at 8:54

Thanks for a great season. To bad it ended as it did, but I still look forward to next season.

By: muk69 on 5/12/12 at 8:43

muk69
Too bad they didn't play the series with the intensity they showed in the third period. They would have been unbeatable. Need to do whatever is necessary to try and keep Suter and Weber together on the blue line for a long long time. Losing either one because of salary will be a slap in the face to all the support we have given this team year after year.