Last night's 3-1 loss in Anaheim stretched the Predators' losing streak to four games, but there was certainly a night-and-day difference to how the team performed despite dropping the decision. Chris Mason was mediocre in net (a big step up from last week), and at least during the first half of the game, the forwards did a good job cycling the puck and generally carrying the play into the Anaheim end.
One episode in the third period raised an interesting question, however. At the end of a play near the Nashville net, Chris Kunitz dropped the gloves and started throwing punches at Predators defensemen Marek Zidlicky, who instead of engaging, covered up with his gloves over his face and waited things out until the linesmen intervened.
What stunned me was that Zidlicky got five minutes for fighting just as Kunitz did, even though he never dropped his gloves or threw a punch (Terry Crisp called it "five minutes for receiving"). Was it just a case of referees giving a major to each player simply out of habit? Certainly at the beer league level, I've seen this a zillion times, where one Bob Probert-wannabe starts throwing punches at someone who actually has a job to go to the next day. Even if one player covers up and doesn't retaliate, they both usually get the major penalty. Against a hyper-aggressive team like Anaheim, goading them into penalties and capitalizing on the power play is a good plan of attack, and a major power play would have represented a big opportunity for Nashville, which was down 2-1 at the time.
So I went back through all the penalty calls from the 2006-7 NHL Regular Season to see if fighting majors are always coincidental. In total, there were 985 Fighting majors handed out, of which 7 were not coincidental. So it's not unprecedented for the refs to make that call.
While some fans will be upset that Zidlicky didn't fight back, or that Coach Trotz didn't send the goons out immediately to send a message, I thought the team did the right thing; keep playing their game and try to win. Travis Moen also seemed to bristle for a fight whenever he got checked, but that's hockey. You lay the body on guys and either intimidate them or try and draw a retaliation penalty. Unfortunately for Nashville, they didn't cash in on the two power plays they did get, and they'll try to get a better result in San Jose Saturday night.
Alexander Radulov got 18:45 of ice time last night, and made a nice play to set up Ryan Suter on Nashville's only goal.
Ville Koistenen looked reasonably effective, while Greg de Vries was a team-low -2 and logged the least ice time among the defensemen at 13:05.