Playoffs? Whose talking bout Playoffs?
I grew up being a diehard fan of a large market team, the New York Rangers. To be honest, I didn't even know what a small market team was nor did I particularly care. The Rangers had and have their own set of problems. One cup since 1940, and when they won that one in 1994 I thought I died and went to heaven.
I moved to Nashville in 1999 and started attending Predators games. I graduated from the 13 game plan to the season tickets now. I love the ambiance of the arena even if we struggle to fill it up. Its definitely more fan friendly than MSG and the ticket prices are much more reasonable for us common folk.
All that being said, the last two years with this team and all the ownership problems and financial difficulties could have led to a dead building and team (see NY Islanders). I've been watching hockey regularly for nearly 38 years. There is no team that works harder and gets more out of what they have then the Nashville Predators. I have been on the fence about Barry Trotz and his coaching but I have been wrong. I keep looking at it through the eyes of a Ranger fan with unlimited spending and talent. This team is built around one 23 year old defenseman Shea Weber, his defensive partner 24 year old Ryan Suter, a rookie goalie Pekka Rinne and a bunch of spare parts and journeyman.
I'm sure teams would like to have a Jason Arnott, Martin Erat, and JP Dumont but not to the extent that this team relys on them. They went on a west coast swing that was supposed to doom their playoff changes. No Arnott and no Bonk. Games with Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. 6 out of 8 points later and they are still in the race. Here comes a tough stretch. This will finish them off. Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles and the 4th game in 7 days ends with a game in Detroit. 3 wins and an overtime loss later they are 7th in the playoff race leapfrogging 3 teams in the process.
The remainder of the schedule brings the Blue Jackets twice, the Blackhawks twice, the Redwings and the Wild to finish it off. Arnott is out with a concussion. Legwand is out with a facial injury suffered in practice. Erat broke his leg getting in the way of a Shea Weber shot yesterday. They are pretty much doomed right?
Don't count them out. Again Barry I apologize. I can't believe what I'm watching.
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Written by Victor Minicozzi