Eariler today, Bryan Mullen from the Tennessean quoted Barry Trotz calling out some of the higher paid stars on the team:
“When asked about a couple of forwards who have not been producing, Trotz had some pointed comments for those players.
“The guys who have been the most consistent are Sergei Kostitsyn and Shea Weber,” Trotz said. “Where’s (David) Legwand? Where’s (Martin) Erat? Where’s (Patric) Hornqvist? Where are guys who are supposed to score?”
“Some guys are just having a good ’ol time playing,” Trotz said. “They’re not producing. That’s not what I want. I want steady production.”
“I just don’t need dry spells of one goal in 17 games if you’re an offensive player,” Trotz said. “That’s a problem. With the talent level that some of the guys possess, that’s way too long. That can’t happen.””
Wow…PRETTY STRONG comments from Trotz about 3 of our top paid players. Are the comments deserved? Absolutely so.
For the most part, I don’t think this has anything to do with the statistics of each of these players. The exception being Hornqvist, who has 3 goals in his past 14 games, which is just plain awful for the man who is supposed to be our leading goal scorer
Past that, you have to look at the work ethics of each player. Legwand works his tail off on the Penalty Kills…however that seems to be the only place he does much of any work at all, that and in the post-season. Erat seems to do all of his work in a circular 10-inch piece of ice that he may carve out in the offensive zone. And Hornqvist? Well, let’s just put it this way. When you are 1 inch and 11 pounds smaller than Tomas Holmstrom and you MADE YOUR LIVING last season standing in front of the goalie and batting the trash into the net, how come you’ve stopped now that you’re one year into your new contract?
I don’t think the answers are very difficult for any of these players, however they go back to the most simplistic roots of the sport they play. So, that being said, if I was Trotz, I would pull each of the players off to the side and tell them the following:
Legwand: “Play FOR the post-season, not just IN the post-season. We need you here to be the leader you were always destined to be for this team, but have never really come to be. You are this team’s VERY first draft pick and have been here as long as I have. C’mon Leggy, you know this team inside and out and you know how this system works. You are ONE hell of a penalty-killer and you know how to play two-way hockey, however that offensive presence of yours never TRULY kicks in until about the second week of April. We need it to kick in NOW and soon, otherwise we may not be on the ice on the second week of April.
You have so much potential Leggy, you always have, however you need to step-up and start earning your paycheck”
Erat: “STOP turning in circles in the offensive zone. Yes it’s a great move, and yes it gets you open from time to time, but more often than not it doesn’t produce anything. You have one of THE MOST deadly shots in the league, hands down, and every other team in the NHL knows it. Give the puck to someone else, get yourself in the zone, get open, and snipe the puck to the top corner. Every time the puck touches your stick, you need to be in a position to shoot at the net. That’s what you are paid for. You’re not paid to find the pretty pass or to try and skate through 3 players for a magical goal, you’re paid to fire the puck as quick and as hard as you can past that goalie.”
Hornqvist: “Patric, what I want you to do, is whenever we get the puck in the offensive zone and you are on the ice, get in front of the goalie and stay there. DO NOT MOVE unless the goalie moves. You mirror the goalies EVERY move. Now, sometimes Shea is going to fire it your way, that’s why your going to have to be on your toes and make sure you don’t get hit with it. Other than that, if you would simply block the goalie from seeing anything, then you would make us one of the MOST offensively dangerous teams in the league. Yes, I know you do a good job for the most part of staying in front of the goalie, but I want this to be your ONLY job. This is the ONLY thing you should ever be concerned with. If the puck is in the offensive zone and you are on the ice, do whatever it takes to screen that goalie and make sure he can’t see a thing.”
Of course, Trotz won’t say any of that…well…maybe he won’t, I can always dream! I think the major problem right now with the Predators is they aren’t getting that presence in the crease. That is such a HUGE part of hockey and a responsibility that a lot of fans (and maybe players) think lie with Patric Hornqvist. However, what if Hornqvist isn’t on the ice? There always has to be someone willing to get in front of that goalie and help block his vision, that way even the junk shots have a chance at getting in the net.
Ultimately, my point here is, if the Preds don’t start focusing on the SMALLER aspects of their game (individually and as a team), then we’re going to find ourself in the usual spot we find ourself. Either right on the edge of the playoffs or booted out of the first round
Thanks for reading!