That sound you hear coming out of Long Island is the Nashville Predators choking on their own vomit. Last week I wrote about what the Predators had to do over the last 9 games leading into the Olympics.
Let’s review how well they have heeded my advice.
1/29 – Detroit – Loss – Detroit closes the gap in the standings
1/30 – Atlanta – Win – They tried to loss it, but Atlanta couldn’t take advantage
2/2 – Phoenix – OT Loss – They played to lose…And they did.
2/4 – Colorado – Win – Panic set in and the team played one of their best games
2/6 – San Jose – Loss – Played well enough to win, but choke in the 3rd
2/9 – New York Islanders – OT Loss – Should have won, but choked again in the 3rd
6 of 9 games completed and the Predators are 2 – 2 – 2. That’s a total of 6 points out of 12. That won’t cut it in the uber competitive Western Conference. Nashville has the Ranger, Devils, and Penguins as their last three games going into the Olympic break. Failure to win 2 out of 3 (a clean sweep preferred) could see the Predators dropping all the way down to 11th or 12th in the conference.
Needless to say, I am not happy these days with the Predators on ice product. Going into this season, ‘experts’ suggested that Nashville would be near the bottom of the league standings. If Nashville keeps on playing like they have been, they might end up proving the ‘experts’ correct. For a team that blew through November, December, and parts of January, they have done an about face in late January and February.
As I review the last 10 days or so, it becomes more obvious that the Predators don’t have the talent on their NHL roster to complete down the stretch. More importantly, I am not sure they even have the heart. Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan are playing like over the hill 35 year olds and have all season long. David Legwand is having a typical season, which is to say he goes on a 3 game scoring streak and then doesn’t score again for a month. J P Dumont has stretches of quality play, but then shuts down the effort for a few games. Defensively, we are a mess. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber have taken a huge hit in performance compared to last year. Dan Hamhuis has cost us at least 5 or 6 games already this year, and contributed to another 3 or 4. And in goal, we have had average at best results.
Looking at the season statistics for Nashville, there is a chance we could end the season without a single player breaking 50 point. Not sure if that has ever happened. Sullivan, Hornqvist, and Dumont are tied with 36 points. With 24 games remaining, it remains to be seen if one of them can break the 50 point mark. But the lack of scoring represents a trend over the last few years. Combine that with poor defense and you have a recipe for disaster as the good teams get better for the playoffs stretch.
What looked like a team in strong contention for the playoffs a few weeks ago is now a borderline team. Lose the next 3 games and Nashville’s hopes of going to the playoffs could be out the door. Assuming that the contending teams will bring on more talent for the playoff push, Nashville may find itself having to pay a steep price in prospects to crawl into the playoffs. So Nashville could find itself in a position of not making the playoffs and suffering financially, or making the playoffs, but leveraging their future. All is not well in Music City.
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Written by Mark Jasper