Saturday, December 26, 2009

Contender or Pretender?

I will admit that I'm not in a good mood while writing this. With a chance to close the gap with Central Division leader Chicago, the Predators came out flat and failed to answer the challenge that was before them. An opportunity to step up and instead there was a disappointing step backwards.

It's cliche, but your best players have to be your best players. Tonight, with the exception of Marty Erat tallying the Predators lone goal, the best players were invisible. The Predators never mounted a serious offensive threat all night as they were dominated in the defensive zone and could not move the puck through the neutral zone effectively. All in all, a frustrating night.

There is no doubt that Chicago is a talented team. It's true that for the Predators to have a chance against the Hawks they have to play their best game. This team has proven that they can play with the Chicago. But not tonight.

The aspect of this game that is beyond me is how, as Captain Jason Arnott said in his post game remarks that this team came out flat. Flat! In a game that was one of the most important games that this team will play. Flat! In front of a sellout crowd. Flat! In your own barn. Frankly, this is beyond comprehension.

Pekka Rinne got the start, and he was victimized by turnovers in the offensive zone, odd man rushes, and poor defensive coverage. Pekka is owed an apology by his defense.

Look, this is the time to play hard hockey. Predators, you are the hunted. You have to play with an edge, with energy, and with heart. Anything less will result in the pathetic effort that we saw tonight.

The things that got you to this point- grit, heart, winning the battles- were not evident tonight. Coming out flat is unacceptable. I place the responsibility for this on the leadership in the locker room. Words are one thing. Lead by example. Tonight, the best players, the leaders, disappeared.  No example of heart and leadership.

Two games in a row, two ugly losses. Two games don't make a trend, but two games have exposed some of the softness of this team. When challenged, you didn't answer. That is disturbing. When faced with an opportunity to make a statement, there was no heart. And that has to change. Now.

The time to remove this cloud is tomorrow night. Against the Hawks, the team that dominated you in your barn. Time to play like contenders. And time to get me in a better mood.

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