A Real Shot

By: Miranda Martin

It is a noise that echoes in the acoustics of Bridgestone Arena at nearly every single hockey game.

It’s not the fans cheering for new punching extraordinaire Rich Clune. It is not the fans cheering for Paul “Goose” Gaustad for yet another faceoff win at crucial times. It is not the cry of boos after the referee makes a horrible call. It is not the fans desiring former Predators goaltender and current Pittsburgh Penguin Tomas Vokoun after a shot.

“SHOOT!” has become another chanted staple around the Bridgestone Arena, and it needs to stop.

Many fans around the arena have decided to become coach for the day and tell the players when they feel it necessary to shoot the puck. It isn’t just a phenomenon in Nashville, as many fans in other arenas do so as well. However, the calls around the league tend to happen at opportune times, such as when their players are going to be a little too fancy, and the team seems to regroup.

Nashville… it seems not so much.

Many times when the cacophony of “shoot” comes from the stands, it is when there are absolutely no outlets for the player to get a good shot off or create an opportunity for another player. It seems to happen whenever a player gets into the offensive zone at all, and it will go on until a shot is made. Then the short term memory kicks in and it happens again. It has even gotten to the point that other fans will generally make fun of the fan calls, asking Pekka Rinne to “shoot” every time he touches the puck behind the net.

Though a small amount of shots per game may be frustrating, shooting isn’t always the solution in the offensive zone. Granted, throwing it toward the net works better, but there is a time and place for it. If there is a distinct chance that there will be a turnover, it isn’t smart to shoot, and credit has to be given to the other team’s defense for keeping shot outlets out of the way. For instance, when the defenseman is at the point and has four guys in the other team’s jersey between him and the net, he does not need to shoot. A turnover could easily lead to a breakaway or odd man rush. Times like that, waiting for a slot or passing to an open player is okay. But generally, these are times when the fans decide to play overzealous coaching figure.

All of this being said, the team should definitely take more shots. They are far in the cellar of the league for shots per game, still averaging just 21 shots per game. The first line of Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, and Sergei Kostitsyn particularly has started becoming a little too fancy and not taking shots. Their line only had 2 of the 14 shots in the game last night. Gabriel Bourque, who had the first goal of the game, literally doubled the shot production of the first line by himself. There were several times last night where the EFK line had scoring opportunities, yet went to the passing outlet and lost possession. Tell them to shoot, that’s fine. They need to.

More shots won’t always win games, though. It’s taking the opportunity when it arrives that wins the games. The Calgary Flames, who lead the Western Conference in average shots on goal per game, have a record of 3-3-2, sharing the current basement of the conference with Columbus, Colorado, and LA. The most shots on goal for the Predators was 34 shots, which led to a 3-2 shootout loss against Columbus to open the season. The Predators have a 5-2-3 record with only about 20 shots per game. Obviously something isn’t too bad.

Nevertheless, the team performed stellar in their victory last night. So what that they only had 14 shots on goal? They scored on three of those shots, and Pekka Rinne looks back to his head-standing ways with a stellar shutout on 32 LA Kings shots.

Fans should revel in the Preds four-win streak. Celebrate the dominating shootout and exciting game that happened last night. Don’t complain that the team doesn’t know how to shoot. Yell when the team is losing 3-0 and not taking shots.

They took 14 shots, and they scored 3 for the win. That’s what matters.

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