This is not the post I wanted to make this morning. This is the morning after the Nashville Predators lost Game Six of the Stanley Cup final, giving the Penguins another title. It was a heartbreaking defeat as the game was scoreless until the final few minutes of regulation. As we were assuming overtime might decide it, Patric Hornqvist slipped the puck in off of Predators’ goalie Pekka Rhinne for the game winner. Carl Hagelin ended all hope of a comeback with an empty net goal with 14 seconds left.
I won’t lie. It hurts.
Yes, I know the Predators had an amazing run and played in their first Stanley Cup final but at the moment it means nothing.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are grueling. Two months of playoff hockey. It takes its toll on players, coaches and fans. I’m tired and emotionally spent. I’ve always said that the playoffs should all be best-of-five series instead of seven game marathons.
Yes, the Predators did the unthinkable. They swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the St. Louis Blues in six games and out-hustled the Anaheim Ducks in six to advance to the Stanley Cup final. Music City was absolutely crazy and a town painted in gold. Fans packed viewing locations on Broadway, Hall of Fame Park and other designated viewing areas to support the team. It was an amazing experience.
As far as the final thoughts about the Stanley Cup final, I think the Predators missed Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala. It might have been a different series had they remained healthy. I read some comments on social media where Predator fans are posted memes about the refs but as Predators’ captain Mike Fisher said, “It’s just sports”. Yes, the refs were horrible in this series. The NHL needs to do something about that but the fact remains that the Predators still had power play opportunities and were still shutout – even with a 5-on-3 advantage – so you can’t pin that one on the refs. Another thing I have noticed is the poor sportsmanship from Penguin fans. One went back and commented on my post on a Predators’ site that was unnecessary. I’m just surprised on their reactions. I even saw a Penguins fan and I wished them good luck before the game. He did the same. There was no “Penguins suck” or any other trash talk.
I also wish Predator fans would get rid of the ridiculous chant after our team scores. So the sportsmanship works both ways.
P.K. Subban already predicts that the Predators will be back. I guess he means the Stanley Cup final. Honestly, I wish he would stop talking. I’m really not sure he’s that good on the ice. I have not been a fan.
In every postseason there is always a goaltender that gets hot and leads his team. Pekka Rinne did that but he really had problems on the road in the final. He was as bad as he could have been. He wasn’t particularly great during the regular season. I’m just wondering if the Predators might need to get another goalie ready. I don’t think Saros is the answer.
Another area the Predators need to get better is on the power play. The team has not been much of a threat on power play opportunities. When the Predators start on a power play I have not gotten my hopes up because it hasn’t been an advantage.
The most frustrating part of the play of the Predators is shot selection. When the puck is in the offensive zone the team passes too many times in an attempt to get a perfect shot. It seems very indecisive and then when they take a shot it is a poor choice. With the goal scorers the team has on offense, this shouldn’t be happening.
Yes, I’m a little bitter right now. If you get this far you should win it because you never know if you will ever get back here or not. It’s a long season. In fact, training camp starts again in September.
With that said, it was a season that no one expected. Not even myself. If you look back at my past blog posts you will see that I did not pick the Predators to win any of their playoff series so they surprised me and exceeded any expectations anyone had. For the first time, I watched more hockey this season than any other. My wife and I were doubtful how good the Predators would be after the regular season.
Losing always hurts but I’m sure it will hurt less in the days and weeks ahead. It has been a fun season.