Jets take Game One over Predators.
The Nashville Predators did a lot of things well on Friday night. They dominated the shots on goal department, got to the high-danger areas consistently and stayed out of the penalty box. The Winnipeg Jets however were the opportunistic side and also had Connor Hellebuyck in net who proved to be the difference maker.
The Predators out shot the Jets 48-19 on the night, but ultimately fell by the count of 4-1. Nashville also bested Winnipeg 31-20 in 5-on-5 scoring chances and 13-9 in high-danger scoring chances.
While the numbers speak for themselves, the Predators style of play was positive out of the gates as well. Early on they completely dominated the ice in all areas and out shot the Jets 20-4 in the opening frame alone and that trend continued for the most part.
P.K. Subban even went on to say that Friday night’s performance was the best game from the Predators this postseason:
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) April 28, 2018
Kevin Fiala was the lone Predator to solve Hellebuyck on the night with a quick goal in the third period, but the hole was simply too deep at that point as Nashville trailed 3-1.
Outside of simply pointing at Hellebuyck being a force in net for Winnipeg all night, there are a couple of areas to look at as to why the Predators weren’t able to get the job done despite dominating the majority of the stat sheet.
For starters, most of the offense was centered around the blue line as the offense seemed to get more predictable and stagnant each time they passed through the zone. Nashville had success in making passes along the blue line in its offensive zone all night, but the Jets did an exceptional job at manning both the slot and both face off areas. The Preds have the firepower to be dangerous from up top, but it was a bit too one-dimensional.
To piggyback off of that point, take a look at the heat map for the evening via Natural Stat Trick. Again, the Predators were successful in firing pucks on net in the slot, but take notice of the light areas near both face off dots:
Nashville also did a rather good job at getting traffic out in front with all of its shots from the point, but the Jets were great at blocking shots all night and having active sticks to clear any loose pucks in front of the crease. Winnipeg finished the night with 26 blocked shots compared to only seven from the Predators.
Some may want to point to Pekka Rinne as to why the Jets took Game One, but goaltenders don’t score goals. The Predators didn’t help Rinne in that department by any means and of the three goals he allowed, only one of them was of the ‘he’ll want that one back’ variety.
It’s hard to see any sort of positive following a 4-1 loss at home to start the second-round, but there is no denying that the Predators did in fact do more things well than they did bad.
The Jets are an opportunistic bunch and they take advantage of any mistakes the opposition makes which is exactly what they did during the play leading to their first goal of the night. Winnipeg was also the beneficiary of the ‘hockey bounces’ more often than not throughout the contest.
The Predators were the better bunch for around 57 minutes of Friday night’s Game One, but all that mattered ultimately were those few moments the Jets beat Rinne to leave the building with a 1-0 series lead.
Nashville has now out shot the opposition in its last two home games by a count of 93-46 and lost both games. That sort of mojo has to turn around sooner rather than later.