I had another article written and ready to publish detailing the future prospects of the Nashville Predators. But after watching the Preds take a dump on their home ice last evening, I felt obligated to cover the game with my own thoughts.
Nashville has lost 6 of the last 7 games.
They have Detroit, Calgary, Anaheim, and Dallas breathing down their necks.
They have played poorly at home for the last 6 weeks
They were playing a team in Phoenix that was ahead of them in the standings
All of the above would suggest that the Predators would find a way to suck up what ever issues that have plagued them recently and come out with some energy in front of the home crowd. At least one would think that. Instead, they laid a big ol dump on home ice. That right. ZERO goals. Not in regulation, not in OT.
They skated like they were all suffering from a hang over from the night before. No energy, no hits, sloppy passes, forgetting how to shoot the puck. While they did end up with 25 shots on goal (including OT), they only had 11 shots on goal through the 1st 2 periods. And I think a few of those were only credited to them b/c they were on home ice.
If the Preds would have given up 3, 4, or 5 goals, I could have attributed it to bad goaltending and the fact they lost Cody Franson in the 1st period and had to skate with only 5 defenseman the rest of the game. But no, for once, I can't also blame the defense for their effort. Pekka Rinne played out of his mind or else it would have been a blowout. Shea Weber logged over 28 minutes in the effort and Kevin Klien and Ryan Suter logged over 25 minutes. So, nothing bad can be said of the defense. They picked it up a notch being a man down and did what they had to do. They kept Phoenix from scoring the entire night. Even in the shootout, Rinne was able to keep the puck out of the net through the 10th round. One would think someone would be able to score in 10 rounds.
No, my issue is with the coaching staff and the forwards. Every player trying to be a prima donna and make some Olvechkin type spin and shot trick in stead of taking open shots. Extra passes when there should of been shots. No one in front of the net. Not fighting on the boards for the pucks.
But what really ticks me off is the lack of effort. Players were constantly just skating around like nothing was going on around them. Shift changes looked like a movie in slow motion. Players casually skating off the ice, casually skating on the ice. In fact, on a couple of occasions, I noticed the players coming on the ice had to jump back over the boards b/c the players coming off the ice were so slow. On the few occasions where we had a player advance the puck, he had no one to pass too b/c the other players where casually making their way up ice.
Overall, it was the worst effort I have seen from the Preds all year. It was like they were playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. I can handle bad passes, stupid penalties, and missed shots. What I can not handle is a total lack of effort or desire to play hard. Much blame needs to be laid on “Captain” Jason Arnott. He has to lead by example, and from my perspective was one of the worst offenders. If the Captain of the team isn't busting is ass, there is a major issue. So I have no problem coming down hard on the players as they are professional athletes, who get paid good money in a tough economy, and are playing a game(job) that they love. They should lay it on the line every night.
But to blame the players only would be to ignore the lack of coaching by Barry Trotz and his staff. There is an unwritten rule in Nashville. Experienced veterans, regardless of how much they are being paid, never get held accountable for their on ice actions. A rookie can make a mistake and his minutes will be cut in half, will get called out by the coaching staff, or worse, will get sent down to the AHL. But if a veteran does the same thing, nothing. If Jason Arnott, JP Dumont, Steve Sullivan, and David Legwand are only skating b/c its an easy way to collect their big fat checks, then they need to be benched. Sit each one of them out for a game. Drop them to the 4th line. Send a message that failing to show any effort in a game is not acceptable. This isn't a hobby, its their jobs and they need to act like it.
The Preds are off today and have a tough game at home against the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night. Another game against a team ahead of them in the standings. Hopefully things will improve. If not, Dave Poile needs to pull a Toronto and blow up the team and bring in players who want to play
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Written by Mark Jasper