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It’s Time to Wake Up

By: Miranda Martin

Apparently, Saturday night’s all right for snoring.

The Predators game against the San Jose Sharks was already starting at the latest time slot for an NHL game, and caffeine was necessary to stay up and watch the game. But, even with two days off and a week in the California sun, the Predators played like they were ready to go to bed, too.

It’s something that has been very apparent as of late—the Nashville Predators games have just been… well… boring. The power play is non-existent and lackadaisical, and anyone’s inner football fan probably wants the penalty “declined.” Goal excitement? Goals are like spotting Sasquatch dancing to “Footloose.” Fans are starting to cheer for a decent scoring chance because they are becoming just as rare. The only excitement is the stellar performance of Pekka Rinne, both by his incredible saves and his daring escapes from the net. Maybe Pekka Rinne is playing Evel Knievel style to try to get a jolt out of his team. The Dallas game at Bridgestone Arena Monday night had a little glimmer of the Predator’s elusive momentum, even including a nice little fight, but it was an outlier in a myriad of dismal attempts.

The San Jose game was the icing on the Predator’s sluggish cake. A team coming back from arguably the worst game of the season in Anaheim Wednesday night should have fired out like cannon to overcome the memories of games past. But there was a little problem—San Jose wanted to do the same thing, and suddenly, that Predator’s cannon blasted about as successfully as Columbus’s friendly second mascot. The team was (not surprisingly) out-shot 16-5 in the first period, which led to being outshot 39-19 for the entire game. The Shark’s power play, which had only converted 3 of its past 62 attempts, scored both their goals on the man advantage.

The Sharks found their game and fought the adversity of game’s past. The Preds cowered in Rinne’s crease once again.

One major moment that shows the frustration of this team was the shorthanded attempt that Martin Erat had against Antti Niemi early in the first period. Many were frustrated in Erat’s low-shot attempt, but what about David Legwand, who was responsible for the turnover originally? After feeding the puck to Erat, he slowed down, negating a 2-on-0 odd man rush and a possible last second pass to an empty net… and we all know how Marty (and this entire team) loves to pass. Granted, they were shorthanded, but the Sharks reacted like they were on even strength with at least three other guys in the zone. Besides… don’t the Preds already just rely on Pekka Rinne for everything?

The most exciting moment in the San Jose game before Gabriel Bourque’s shorthanded goal was when San Jose may have scored on their net on a delayed penalty, only to be reviewed and disallowed because Rich Clune touched it first. It would have been poetic for the start of the Predators season—the other team feels so bad that this team can’t score that they’ll score on themselves.

Even with the final minutes to try to tie up a one goal game, arguably the most exciting two minutes of any hockey game, there didn’t seem to be much desperation from the Predators. They already knew they were defeated. They still took their sweet time getting into the zone, resulting in no opportunities. It wasn’t until there was about 20 seconds left in the game that there was even any traffic in front of the net. Not a single quality shot was put near the net.

But at least they weren’t shut out, right?

…Is that really what we want the mentality to come to? Something is considerably wrong with this team. It may be on the ice, or the bench, or the locker room. To paraphrase my old softball coach, it looks like a funeral home out there. But it seems like no one is doing anything about it, and an “oh well, that’s how the cookie crumbles” mentality seems to loom as the new attitude of this team. The Predators are not playing the “out-working” method that has been the key to the success of this team for many years. Instead, they’re playing this desperate, “I don’t know what to do with my hands” kind of game that is hurting more than helping.

And it needs to stop.

This flatlined team needs a little electricity in its veins. Whether that means a bag skate, scratching key players, or David Poile getting on the phone, playing this method of hockey is not only detrimental to the Predators place in the standings, but the mentality of the team in the future. These guys are paid 6-7 digits to challenge adversity 82—err—48 nights a week. Someone needs to step up and take their responsibility… and it doesn’t need to be just Pekka Rinne anymore.

It’s time to wake up and play some smart hockey.

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