W ith Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators began to come to grips with the fact that – unless a major miracle happens – they will be out of the playoffs for only the second time since the 2003-04 season.
On Tuesday night, the Predators were shut out for the 8th time this season after being shut out just 3 times in the 2011-12 season.
In fairness to Nashville, the team has been decimated by injuries. Ten players who suited up for Nashville on Tuesday have seen ice time in the AHL this season. In addition, four of their top 6 scoring players this season are either injured or have been traded. Needless to say, Nashville has had trouble finding the back of the net – with 2.29 goals per game, the Predators sit 28th out of 30 teams in goal-scoring.
“It’s just excuses,” Nashville captain Shea Weber said. “We’ve got guys in here playing and we have to do a better job. We have to get some sort of production one way or another.”
With 38 points in 41 games, the Predators sit in 13th place in the Western Conference with just 7 games to go. After going to the playoffs in each of the last 3 seasons, the Predators would not only need to effectively win out to make the playoffs, but the 5 teams in front of them would have to suffer a monumental, simultaneous collapse.
More succinctly, SportsClubStats.com has Nashville’s playoff chances after Tuesday’s loss at just 0.3 percent.
“I think this whole year has been frustrating,” Weber said. “It’s tough, we’d like to win more games, but we’re not winning. It’s tough to lose game after game and try to come up with something positive.”
“I’m happy and proud that we’re working so hard and that we’re still giving everything we’ve got right now, but things are hard,” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “It’s hard and goals are hard to come by right now. Obviously, I wish that it would be a little bit smoother and we could give ourselves a chance. With other teams’ help, we could have a chance, but now it’s pretty much gone. It is tough when you prepare for the season and you have a situation like this.”
While the Predators may have all but conceded the fact that they will not be playing in the postseason, they are not ready to pack it all in and move to the offseason quite yet.
“Everybody’s realistic,” Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. “Everyone has to be. I think the thing we have to hang our hat on right now is trying to win some hockey games. To win we have to play extremely hard – we have to play within the system and be committed. We don’t want quit from anybody – it’s not a part of our culture.”
“You still have to find a way to show up every night,” Rinne said. “We have a lot of guys here that in the future are going to play a bigger role.”
“You have to play with pride,” Weber said. “You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say that you gave it all you had every night. And that’s it. That’s all we can ask from each other and that’s what we have to do.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua