Monday, May 16, 2011

The Roller Coaster Season Part III: November's Sudden Drop

The date is October 28, 2011. The Nashville Predators are coming off a weekend in which they went 2-0 with wins over Dallas and Tampa Bay. Their record is 5-0-3. Nashville was one of the best in the league, but a tough November awaited them. Nine out of thirteen games in November were to be on the road. But the Predators' problems started during the last two games of October. A 3-0 loss to St. Louis followed by a 5-2 loss to Detroit had Nashville moving in the wrong direction heading into their challenging month of November.

The first road trip and the first four games of the month consisted of trips to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and St. Louis. Nashville dropped three of four games with their one win coming against the Blues in a shootout. They made a quick stop home which resulted in another shootout win against the Blackhawks.

The defining moment in November came on that first trip in Anaheim that saw the Predators drop 5-4 heart breaker. It was a rare back-and-forth game for Nashville. Cal O'Reilly tied the game at four with only 3:47 remaining in the contest. With overtime apparent, the unthinkable happened. Anaheim's Paul Mara slid the puck into a virtually open net past Anders Lindback with 1.7 seconds left. A back-breaking loss for the Preds.

After another loss, this time in Toronto, Nashville was able to string a couple of victories together against Montreal and Carolina. These wins were a result of stellar goaltending by Pekka Rinne allowing one goal combined in those two contests.

The Predators, however, returned to their typical November selves and lost four in a row, including a 2-0 loss to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

After a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on the 27th, even the most die-hard Predator fans had their doubts. Nashville compiled a 5-7-2 record in November and were on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs were concerned. Even with over four months in the season remaining, you had to have wondered- Is this a playoff team?

With spotty goaltending and a severe lack of offense at times, the Nashville Predators did not look like a playoff team. A big change was exactly what the doctor was ordering, but would the Predators take the pill and make the necessary moves to be a playoff team? Time would tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment