Perception Change: No Excuses
By: Miranda Martin
It is one of the most prominent staples in the Nashville Predators locker room.
It is the very last element found in the locker room before the Nashville Predators hit the ice at Bridgestone Arena, and it has been there for years. Above the tunnel, where the roars from the rambunctious seventeen thousand echo and prepare the players for a hard-fought crazy game, two simple words grace the threshold:
But until the embarrassing loss against Anaheim Wednesday night… it hasn’t fully been exercised. Yes, the Predators have not done completely terrible this season. Their record is 9-7-5 in their first 21 games of this shortened 48 game season. However, it is not as sugar coated and wonderful as many have made it out to be.
Firstly, 10 out of 21 games have gone into overtime. If it wasn’t for the beautiful extra point, the Predators would be out of the playoff picture at the current time. If overtimes were not rewarded with the generous point across the league, the Predators record would really look like 9-12 with 18 (out of 23) points. That would rank them behind Detroit (20/23 points), St. Louis (20/22 points) for 4th in the Central Division.
But that’s clearly just speculative and that’s why they have the overtime and shootout points, right? Sure. But the problems go far beyond that.
Obviously, scoring is an issue. Of the 7 regulation losses this year, the Predators have only managed to score 6 goals total—5 of those losses being shutouts. This season, the Predators have been fluctuating between an average of just above and just below 2 goals per game. John Manasso, a writer for Fox Sports South, reported on his twitter Monday that the Predators 1.95 goals/game makes them the second lowest scoring team in the NHL… since the 1949-1950 NHL season. The lowest average scoring team that 1949-50 NHL season, the New York Rangers, saw only 170 goals in 70 games… Granted, those Rangers ranked fourth like the Predators did for a while… But there were only six total teams in the league.
The two week slump has to end, especially with the halfway point of the season coming into play next week. In the past two weeks, the Predators have gone 2-4-1, with three of the games going into overtime. None of those games had wins in regulation. The last time the Predators had a regulation win, people were still nursing their Mardi Gras and Valentines Day hangovers. It’s March now. Columbus, who has once again taken their place at the bottom of the league, has had more regulation wins in the past two weeks, and their record has been 1-5-1. Since the Predator’s last regulation win, the LA Kings have gone from being 13th in the conference to just one point behind the 5th place Predators. That’s how much damage a 2 week slump can do.
It doesn’t seem so pretty and sugar coated now, does it?
It probably isn’t fair to compare the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks this season, but the Blackhawks only made a small handful of changes in the offseason to a team that barely made the playoffs last year. Thursday morning, before the Blackhawks game against division rival St. Louis, it was reported by Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus that captain Jonathan Toews slammed his stick in frustration for just missing one shot deflection… in practice. That mentality of being the best all the time may not be the best fit for every player or every team… but you can’t argue with a 17-0-3 record. The Blackhawks aren’t going out there trying to win. They’re refusing to lose.
There should be nothing stopping the Predators from doing the same.
From here on out, the Predators need to eat, sleep, and breathe the “no excuses” mentality, beyond the next 27 games. There’s no excuse for half of the games going into overtime. There’s no excuse for not scoring at least 2 goals per game, if not more. Even if this team finally finds a groove and actually makes it to the playoffs, there’s no excuse in settling for mediocrity and just being playoff bound. Satisfaction shouldn’t come until the Stanley Cup is paraded down Broadway.
Eight of the next ten games the Predators find themselves on the road. Maybe there should be a portable “No Excuses” sign to put on the makeshift tunnel just to be a friendly reminder of the motto of this team.