Well, where do I begin? Sickness and life got in the way of me talking about hockey at all last week. The only thing I have to say about the game against Phoenix is: eww, yuck. Completely disappointed in that game and not at all shocked that Coach Trotz called out his role players for not playing their roles. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some role players. But when they were a direct reason goals were scored that shouldn’t have been (Jerred Smithson, I’m looking at you), it is a problem that needs to be called out and addressed.
The regular season finale against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night should not have been as hard fought as it appeared to be. The fact that the game had to be decided in a shootout is beyond me. Were the guys that tired that they couldn’t muster up enough energy to get it done in 60 minutes? Or was it the lack of energy from the home crowd that affected their play? Please tell me I’m not the only one who noticed that the Blues fans were more vocal at times than the whole of the arena. Because they were. It was all of their ruckus that reminded me again why I have yet to meet a St. Louis Blues fan I like; although I’m sure fellow hockey lover and Blues fan, Jon Hamm, could change my mind. While it was good to grab one more win on the score sheet before heading into the post season, it would have been nice to see more than the lackluster effort I saw. The unexpected five day break before the beginning of round one could be just what the doctor ordered in terms of the guys getting their energy back.
Now onto the post season preview…but first: how many people were freaking out at the thought of having to play San Jose YET AGAIN in the playoffs? Thankfully, things worked out differently for the team this year though Sunday was kind of crazy with all the scoreboard watching going on. It kind of sucks being dependent on other teams to determine where you fall in the standings but it is what it is. And secretly all along, I wanted the Predators to be paired up with Blackhawks in the first round. Yes, I know there are a lot of people that have been predicting this year’s Chicago Blackhawks team will go all the way this post season, facing off against the heavily favored Washington Capitals in the East. This could still be true but matching up against Chicago was the most advantageous pairing for the Predators, in my opinion. The travel is the least grueling of all the other possible matchups, with the flight between the two cities just under an hour and a half. Since Nashville and Chicago are both in the Central Time Zone, there will be no need for internal adjustments to a different time coming or going. This bodes well for keeping the team’s energy level up. Now, I get that everything favorable for the Predators is just as favorable for the Blackhawks but they are still factors to consider. I also like the chances for a franchise first post-season road win against the Blackhawks. The United Center, even when full of fans, is still not nearly as intimidating of a building to play in as the HP Pavilion in San Jose or the Joe in Detroit. More than that, I don’t think the Predators have let the Blackhawks become a team they feel they can’t win against. In years past, you’ve heard the coaching staff and players alike say things like “We play in awe of Detroit instead of playing with them.” As far as I know, the same has not been said of Chicago. The Predators can beat a team like the Blackhawks. It won’t be easy, mind you, but it can be done.
Let’s go, boys!