The Nashville Predators are a team that is defensively sound and finds success in getting opponents to play their game. The Islanders found this out the hard way.
The Predators played their patented game lead by Barry Trotz and notched the 3-2 victory over the Islanders. It seemed like all night the Isles had trouble getting passes completed and were stuck in the neutral zone for long stretches.
The Predators like to play a North - South game, and it's a style the Isles aren't accustomed to especially on the powerplay. When the Isles tried to do their normal powerplay breakouts, it often failed and the puck was easily turned over to the Preds because of it.
Nashville clearly read the playbook on Evgeni Nabokov and the Isles defense, as they seemed to know that shots from deep will have a good chance of going in. Ryan Ellis's game winning goal represented everything we don't like with this Isles team so far: a defense that collapses too soon, and a goaltender that tends to give up the long goal every so often. Andrew MacDonald was anticipating too much and backed-up to the point where Ellis wound up. A weak attempt at a stick check would prove to be ineffective. MacDonald hasn't thrilled me in the early going of this season, and this was another blemish on his record thus far.
Lubomir Visnovsky has had a bit of a reckless game too, and a few of the Preds odd man rushes were thanks to him. But this was pretty much what we knew we were getting out of Visnovsky. His game is maintaining control of the puck and helping the transition to offense.
With the Isles in a lull and the Preds up 1-0, Jack Capuano decided to switch up the lines, going with what we had become more familiar with during the playoffs. It paid off in the form of two goals for the Isles. Frans Nielsen scored to tie it after being reunited with Kyle Okposo. John Tavares found himself skating with Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey, a line that had created some solid chances and almost resulted in a goal in the closing seconds.
It's frustrating that it took the Isles so long to wake up for this game, because this is a very beatable Nashville team that the Isles are better than. But they allowed the Preds to control the play over the fist period and a half and didn't play their game. There were no adjustments in style either as the Isles seemed to keep trying the same entries into the neutral or offensive zone with failed results.
The Isles will come back home for a four game stop at .500, with a chance to improve on that with opponents such as Buffalo, Edmonton and Carolina coming in. It would have been nice to return to this situation over .500, especially with other teams in the division not off to the greatest of starts either. But the Isles will still have a chance to make some noise and put themselves into a nice position heading into November. Now we'll see how they respond.
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