Yes, the marquee on the Bridgestone Arena really calls the town "Smashville". Perhaps the mayor of such a place would be Martin Erat? The early surprise was Mathieu Garon getting the start instead of Steve Mason. The speculation was Mason possibly not being in his rhythm for the afternoon tilt. No, I'm not making that up. As things turned out, there was a lot more than afternoon rhythm that would come into question before this afternoon was over.
The first period didn't have a whistle until after the five minute mark. The play wasn't stellar by any stretch of the imagination. The action was end to end, with no terrific scoring opportunities for either team. The best scoring opportunity came with about three minutes remaining in the first period, when David Legwand tried to go short side on Garon, but he was denied. The period ended with the score 0-0. Nashville skated off with a slight edge in shots, 6-5. When the clubs came out to start the second period, we got confirmation that Anton Stralman was likely out for the remainder of the day, the result of the Martin Erat hit from earlier in the first period.
The second period got underway with the Jackets still on a power play, carried over from the end of the first period when Ryan Suter went off for slashing Fedor Tyutin. Early on, Rick Nash and Grant Clitsome had some mojo working, but to no avail. With 19 seconds left on the penalty, Shane O'Brien is whistled for a holding call creating a quick 5 on 3. Voracek had the chance of the century at a totally empty cage and couldn't bang the biscuit home. The Predators played strong and didn't allow the Jackets any big scoring chance on the power play.
At the 12:35 mark, Derek MacKenzie thought he scored. He wasn't the only one. Pekka Rinne made the initial save, but most of him slid into the net. Ref Greg Kimmerly, despite being on the goal line, was too deep into the corner to make an accurate assessment. However, Kimmerly immediately waved the goal off. He was clearly in no position to assess this play, as Pekka Rinne was in the goal and undoubtedly obscured Kimmerly's view of the net.
The longer the review took, you had to get the feeling that the call was not going to be overturned. After about ten minutes of review, the war room in Toronto decided that the video was inconclusive, thus no goal. This was a bad call. First, the two referee system failed. Marc Joanette was up ice and offered no opinion. The video replay system failed because it was painfully obvious that Colin Wilson of the Predators dejectedly dug the puck out of the cage. Quite clearly, his stick blade was into the net just about to the heel of the stick. Granted, at no point in the video did we see the puck clearly across the goal line. However, if the NHL is going to leave the "inconclusive" decision in play on something as obvious as this play, the league really needs to improve the process for reviewing contested goals.
When play finally resumed, the Predators quickly found themselves shorthanded when Shea Weber was called for hooking Antoine Vermette. Once again, Matt Calvert was the man of the hour. Calvert brought the puck into the zone on the power play. Jerred Smithson of the Preds lost it going into the CBJ zone. Clitsome passed up to Calvert. Calvert over the blue line to Umberger at the left point. Umberger shoots from the point, Rinne couldn't control the rebound. Calvert right in front of Rinne found the five hole. Extracting a bit of justice, made it 1-0 Jackets.
The third period got underway with Grant Clitsome taking a penalty for interfering with Martin Erat. It took Shea Weber only 30 seconds to find the back of the net and tie the game at one on the power play. In a moment of concern, Jan Hejda lay face down on the ice after being struck in the face with the puck. It appeared that the original shot from the point deflected off of Mike Fisher then hit Hejda, but the goal was given to Weber.
Jonathon Blom scored his first goal on a slapshot from the point at 7:18, giving the Predators a 2-1 lead.
Midway through the third period, the pace really quickened as Nash and Voracek especially became very active. Renne was equal to the task though and the score remained 2-1, Nashville.
Kris Russell banged home his fourth of the season through a terrific screen anchored by Rick Nash. The power play goal evened the score at two and of equal importance, it really set the stage for the final seven minutes of the game.
The brisk pace continued until Nashville scored what would be the game winning goal with just 1:35 remaining. Shea Weber had the puck coming hard down the left side of the ice. He had a clear shot and fired from the face off circle. Garon made a nice save but unfortunately kicked the rebound right onto the stick of the breaking David Legwand. There was some discussion about the rebound in the game thread. My issue was with the coverage on the play moreso than the rebound itself. Jake Voracek either totally missed his coverage of Legwand, or simply stopped skating and just coasted over the blue line. Kris Russell made a sliding dive to try and reduce the quality of the opportunity given to the Predators' winger. After reflecting on this play for about an hour, I'm convinced it was a Perfect Storm of things:
- Garon should have controlled the puck better.
- Voracek should have covered his man better.
- Russell could have dived sooner.
- Legwand could have taken that one timer and missed the damn net.
Either way, it was the cap on a disappointing afternoon of pucks. As things turned out, the Springfield Falcons suffered a similar fate when they surrendered a goal with just over one minute remaining to fall to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-4. Especially painful, the loss dropped the red hot Falcons from third to fifth in the unforgiving Atlantic Division of the AHL.
Matt Calvert - I never get tired of watching his exuberance and work ethic.
R.J. Umberger - Once again, Umby played his game. And his game is damn good.
Fedor Tyutin - Not the best defenseman in the world, but after Stralman went out with his injury, Toots stepped up and ended the game with over 28 minutes of ice time.
Bottom of the Barrel:
Referee "Blind" Greg Kimmerly - Made a brutally bad assertion on D Mac's goal. I won't even say "alleged" goal. That was a goal and Kimmerly knows it.
Referee "Blind" Marc Joanette - The NHL assigns two referees per game for a reason. I think. Perhaps Joanette was watching a different game?
The NHL War Room - OK, so they milked nearly ten minutes trying to make the right call. Then, they still made the wrong call. Nice try guys. Uhhh, not so much.
The NHL Video Review Process - Unless there is predictable consistency across the entire NHL for video review, then there should be none at all. Why is it that for some games have seemingly unlimited replay options while a game that's relevant to playoff seeding has a bare minimum with no cameras inside the goals? This is not only unfair, it's inequitable to all member clubs and inexcusable.
The Blue Jackets now head out to Vancouver for a Tuesday night tilt with the slightly faltering (5-5-0 in their last 10) Vancouver Canucks. Game time is 10PM, Eastern time. Remember to join us here at The Cannon for all the Trade Deadline activity on Monday!