And so it goes.
A blistering 1st period in a must-win game had the Preds down by 1, 5-3. An excruciating 2nd period in a must-win game had the Preds killing power plays for 10 minutes. A nail-biting 3rd period in a must-win game had the Preds with the man advantage for nearly 10 minutes, but in the end...they could not muster the must-win. Thus, the Predators took a bow, shook the hands and exited off the ice for the last time in the 2009-2010 season.
Thank you, Preds.
You've shown us that even under that gritty facade, you are in fact a 100 point earning team. You've shown us that you can climb that Top 8 ladder without the use of "loser" points [see: Detroit Red Wings]. You've shown us that there can be a balance that is stronger than any marquee name or marquee line. You've shown us that the future of the Preds is strong in the youth that ended up outshining the vets tenfold. You've shown us all of these things that make me proud to be a Predators fan and believe in you when you step out on the ice.
The only thing that I'm a bit curious and a bit anxious about, is how we find ourselves out in the 1st Round once again. The coaching staff and the team worked their tails off to get to the middle of the playoff pack, but once again, when the playoffs finally rolled around, things got bumpy. The PP was a hindrance instead of a relief. The vets disappeared after Game 1, never to truly be seen again. The whole mind-game hullabaloo with Hornqvist's injury just added insult to it rather than doing much good. And Game 5...enough said there.
What can you do to redeem those weaknesses and to regain the trust and love of Predator fans that might just be calling for "a cleansing" of the organization over the summer. It's similar to what Jacques Lemaire said regarding his Devils' Playoff team: [paraphrasing] "Sometimes you look at players [in our case, the coaching staff or perhaps just the system] when you are trying to get something through to them and you see in their eyes that they understand it but this time I look in their eyes and I saw they did not get it." Something didn't click as well as it should've and it's about time it's taken into serious consideration what that is and how to fix it over the next few months. I feel this will be the brunt of off-season conversation as well as the diamonds in the rough that Poile found in the regular season (Goc, Grebeshkov) and those that are very much going to make a difference in what kind of team the Preds can be (Hornqvist, Wilson, Boyd, etc).
A toast to our AHL brethren in Milwaukee, sadly also being taken out of contention by...Chicago.
To the Blackhawks' fans' trio of idiots in 304, lead by a fella that looked a bit like this and kinda like this for his asinine behavior throughout the evening...a well-deserved, mostly full souvenir cup of soda, chucked from twenty feet away. Kudos to the "anonymous" Preds fan for having precision aim and retaliating against folks that rivaled the idiocy of Blues fans [and for those of you who had to put up with these fools in 303 and 304, you can send your thanks and emoticon wishes in the comments section, and I'll tell her about them in a few minutes ;D ].
I'll update SPC from time to time over the summer, but I'm still coming up with new ideas on where to take it. You can follow me on Twitter - SeePuckCity, natch. Congrats to Boston on heading to Round 2. Sympathy for the Devils - I'll be very curious how the off-season will treat them and what kind of team will come back in October. I'm going to teach myself how to skate in the next few weeks, so wish me luck on that - I may do a few special posts regarding my embarrassing ice-capades for your enjoyment. And that's it for this post.
Thank you Predators. Thank you readers (except for you Asian spammers that keep leaving comments to spam voyeur sites - you're barely any better than Blues fans). And lastly, thank you bloggers for creating more venues for information, entertainment and opinion based around hockey in the South - it helps get the word out to the world that it is here and it's here to stay.
Predators Hockey: It Stays With You...indeed.
See you in September.