Overcoming Adversity: The Nashville Underdogs
By: Miranda Martin
With the Nashville Predators three victories coming against the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks, it is obvious that the team loves to be the underdog.
The major headline against the Minnesota Wild was finding how the Predators would react to a hot team with two new superstars. The Predators prevailed in a decisive 3-1 victory. Against the LA Kings, the Predators were facing the defending Stanley Cup Champions, who were fighting their own adversities. The Predators found victory after eight rounds in their fourth shootout of the season, also giving the team their first win in the shootout.
Last night’s game was the major test of the Predators. Before the game, the San Jose Sharks were undefeated, winning their first seven games. Their first line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski had combined for 48 points in the first seven games, leading the NHL in almost every offensive category. The Nashville Predators, who had been struggling with one of the worst offenses in the NHL, were without Patric Hornqvist, and an in-practice injury took Martin Erat out of the game. A battered and bruised offense was going against one of the best, and the game took an extra intensity for both teams.
With just 11forwards and 7 defensemen, the Predators kept up with one of the hottest teams in the NHL and handed them their first loss of the season, leaving Preds fans reveling and NHL fans trying to figure out if the Predators were a good or bad team.
Struggling players stepped up to the occasion to try to get them out of the doghouse. Sergei Kostitsyn, returning to the first line to replace the injured Erat, brought the offensive talent to give the team a 1-0 lead against the Sharks in the third period. Craig Smith, who has been less than spectacular in his starts, had the beautiful shootout goal to give the team a victory. Pekka Rinne, who had let in 8 out of 18 attempts in the shootout before this game, stopped all three Sharks attempts at the end of the game. Jonathon Blum, who had been scratched for the first seven games, started as the seventh defenseman and had a strong performance for his first game.
It is rather normal for the Predators to perform at a high intensity against teams that have been deemed “better” than them. A prime example would be the strong rivalry with the Predators against the Red Wings—because for years, the Red Wings were the “better” team, and people expected them to win against the Predators. Analysts, sportscasters, fans, and the average bystander alike have always been quick to pick the better team in games. The Predators, just like their fans, like to prove them wrong.
However, that intensity needs to be found in every single game. There can’t be a “hangover” after major victories, resulting in a handful of losses. There also can’t be the mentality that the team has an inevitable victory—just look at the first game this season. There isn’t a Harlem Globetrotters of the NHL. No one is guaranteed victory—that’s what makes this game so wonderful.
The Predators need to go into the arena before every game as if they are facing the best team in the NHL and they’re in the basement. They need to play for victories, and they need to play for pride. If the Predators like the idea of being the underdog, that’s fine. It’s a mentality of pride in the underdog that makes many teams succeed. Even though one sixth of the season is done, every team right now is still an underdog. The Predators need to come out every game like they did against San Jose last night.
So here you go, Predators. You’re the worst team in the NHL. It will be absolute amazement if any other team loses to you this year. Every team is “better” than you. Now will you win in regulation again?