The Nashville Predators are mired in the middle of their longest losing streak of the season after falling 2-1 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
They’ve now lost five straight and six of their last seven games, including several to important Central Division rivals like the Jets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Though the game on Tuesday was much closer than the blowout losses to the Avs and Hawks, the result was perhaps made worse by the fact that the Preds had one of their highest paid forwards acting as a spectator instead of contributing on the ice.
Curious move to bench Turris
The big news ahead of the game was the decision to healthy scratch Kyle Turris in favor of recent call-up Mathieu Olivier. While Olivier does has more size than Turris, he had yet to play an NHL game. And Turris hadn’t really been bad enough to warrant a healthy scratch.
Still, the coaching staff elected to go with size over skill and experience in a game they desperately needed to win. It did not pay off as the Jets were able to beat back the Preds anyway, using their physicality and size to hold the Preds out of the middle of the ice en route to a 2-1 win.
When asked about the decision to sit Turris in favor of Olivier tonight, Peter Laviolette only said, “It was a lineup decision.”
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Olivier finished with 8:03 minutes of ice time at even strength. He was even in on-ice shot attempts (nine for and nine against) and even in goal differential (none for and none against).
While Olivier wasn’t the reason for the loss by any means, surely Kyle Turris, one of the most skilled forwards on the team, could have made better use of the eight minutes that Olivier had tonight, right?
Early deficit for the Preds
The Preds knew they needed to come out firing against the Jets, but an unfortunate sequence led to an early 1-0 lead for Winnipeg just 18 seconds into the game. Just after Viktor Arvidsson sent a shot high over the Winnipeg net, Patrik Laine scored at the other end on a quick 2-on-1.
It wasn’t an ideal start for the Preds.
A pair of power play chances came and went for the Preds and they entered the 2nd period down 1-0.
The Jets settled into some nice defensive hockey for most of the middle frame. But then Nick Bonino put the Preds on the board with 1:49 left in the period. Rocco Grimaldi made a nice pass to the backdoor and Bonino put it home to make it a 2-1 game.
In the 3rd period, the Preds made several great rushes against the Jets, but in the end Connor Hellebuyck stood tall. He made 24 stops, including 10 in the 3rd period, to preserve the win for the Jets.
Could Turris have made a difference?
It’s tough to say what the outcome would have been with Kyle Turris in the lineup. But it’s very reasonable to think the game could have looked different with Turris in and Olivier out.
Again, this is not because Olivier played poorly. He played ok. But in the end, Kyle Turris is a much better hockey player than Olivier. He needs to be in the game to make plays with the puck in the offensive zone. This rings especiallly true on a night when the Preds had difficulty getting the puck into dangerous areas against a stout Jets defense.
Peter Laviolette did not give a very thorough answer when asked about Turris. Just being a “lineup decision” could mean a lot of things, but it certainly doesn’t sound like an injury. Is this the beginning of the end for Turris in Nashville? Or was it merely a bad decision by Laviolette that will be rectified on Thursday when Vancouver comes to town?
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —