Last night I had the pleasure of bringing along a die-hard Blue Jackets fan (Twitter handle: @bcluxton) to the Nashville Predators home opener for what I figured would be a bit of karma coming at the Predators.
Why would I think that, you ask? Well, to be honest, how could you not think that? Nashville goes into Columbus for their home opener, beat them 3-2 with Predators fans in the arena. Nashville goes into St. Louis for their home opener, beat them 4-2 with Predators fans in the arena. Nashville comes back home for their home opener and plays against a team that is win-less and probably has LITERALLY a handful of their fans in the Bridgestone Arena. If you believe in hockey karma or continually start sentences with “The Hockey Gods…”, then you know exactly why I felt like I did last night.
However, what shocked me the most about last night was the early uprising of fair-weather fans that seemed to start slowly after the game was over like a breakout of poison ivy on your arms.
So, Phoenix gets the first goal. Ok, that’s fine, the Predators will come back from that.
So, Phoenix gets the second goal…still not out of the first period. Ok, that’s fine, the two goal lead is the worst lead in the NHL, the Predators will come back from that.
So, Phoenix gets the third goal…still not out of the first period and down 3-0.
At this point, I started scanning the arena to see if anyone was heading to the exits. Surely enough, I see people starting to leave for the exit to the concourse. I think to myself, “Well there is only 1:15 left in the first period, maybe they’re just going to the bathroom or to the concession stands.” Even the gentleman who purchased the LONE non-season ticket held in the row I sit in right beside me had gotten up and walked out. So, I wasn’t sure.
First period ends, second period rolls around. The gentleman nexts to me doesn’t come back for the rest of the game.
So, Phoenix gets the fourth goal…down 4-0. NOW the fans started leaving. You could really see some of them piling out, including quite a few of the regulars in my section, and I can’t blame them. A 4-0 lead? How often do teams come back from that?
Nashville finally gets on the board, shorthanded at that, making it 4-1 Phoenix. Ok, so there is a little hope, right?
Second period ends, third period rolls around. A few more empty seats than the start of the last period, but what can you say, right?
Nashville gets another 9 minutes in, making it 4-2 Phoenix. Here comes the comeback? Yeah, no. Not tonight.
Phoenix gets the empty netter, the fans file out, which is DEFINITELY expected when down 5-2 with 1:10 left in the game.
The game ends, 5-2 Phoenix, disappointing home opener for Nashville. Hey, 3 games into the season, if you would have told me that the Predators would be 2-1-0 and David Legwand would be leading the league in total points, I would have shook your hand and told you that THAT is the positive attitude all fans should bring to every game.
However, the reality of things? Nashville is 2-1-0, David Legwand leads the ENTIRE league in points scored, Nashville has a top 10 penalty kill and powerplay, and although the Predators seriously were on the end of a “oops, bad night”-stick last night…Nashville is only three games into the season.
Then, I start seeing these type of comments posted across many of the social media outlets from Predators fans:
“I hope Trotzy can get this team together, we looked like a bunch of little boys out there playing”
“Seems everytime they give out tee shirts, the Preds lay an Ostrich-sized egg on the ice.”
“I’m not sure what the problem playing at home is for the Preds lately. They had a very mediocre year at home last season and between the playoffs and the home opener, they’re 2-5 in their last 7 at the Bridge.”
“It wasn’t the uniforms that were bad tonight, it was the guys wearing them. I wish it were as easy as changing the unis but it won’t be. The coaches have their work cut out for them.”
“It so sucked! That gold is a jinx!”
So, what am I getting at here? Some Predators fans need to band together, form a circle, join hands, and say repeatedly, “It’s only the third game of the season”. Do that over and over and call me in the morning.
Teams are going to have bad nights, NO team is an exception to that rule. Need proof that it always happens early in the season for the Predators and they still have a successful season? Here, try this:
October, 2010-2011 season: 3 straight OT losses in the first 6 games and two losses by a combined score of 8-2 to finish the month. How did the Predators finish that year? 5th place in the Western Conference, first round win against Anaheim, dropped in the semi’s against Vancouver
October, 2009-2010 season: 6 straight losses after starting the season 2-0, being outscored 22-6. How did the Predators finish that year? 7th place in the Western Conference, dropped in the first round against Chicago
October, 2007-2008 season: 6 straight losses after starting the season 2-0 (sound familiar?), being outscored 29-9. How did the Predators finish that year? 8th place in the Western Conference, dropped in the first round against Detroit
Do I need to continue?
All I am getting at here, readers, is that we have 6 more months to the season. Yes, Nashville played bad last night against Phoenix, I’m not going to sugarcoat it one bit. Horrible? Maybe so. However, is it time to theoretically jump the ship because of a bad 5-2 loss? No, not at all. Stay on board, there is a TON of hockey left and Nashville is going to exorcise their early season problems like they do every year.
If you feel I’m being too harsh, maybe I am, and I want to hear from you if you do, however understand that I AGREE with you the Predators played bad last night, however I don’t agree that they are on the wrong track or they have a lot of work to do. Erat/Hornqvist were hurt last night which jumbled the lines a bit, Hillen was scratched and Ekholm got his first ever shifts as an NHL player, Bergfors got his first start for Nashville, Fisher/Bouillon will hopefully be back in the next few weeks, and Rinne/Weber/Suter just had bad nights overall (although 2 of the goals against Rinne weren’t his fault at all).
Phoenix played better than Nashville last night, and it clearly showed. Yet, that is no reason to overly criticize a team 3 games into an early season.