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Don't even use the word 'panic'

Tuesday, 10.14.2008 / 11:56 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

 
"Our goaltending needs to improve quickly."

"The defense needs to play better, and let's not even talk about the lack of scoring."

"We are terrible, it is possible we may never win a game this season!"

"I can't watch anymore, the season is over."


The above are all quotes from fans talking about their team, you know, the team that is on a two game losing streak! Come on people! Here is a little hint: half the teams that play on a given night lose. That's right, only 50 percent of the teams that will play tonight win.

How can you use the word panic after less than two weeks of regular-season play? The great Scotty Bowman says, give me 20 games to see what direction the team is headed, now fans and even the media wants to trade the team, shake-up the roster, fire the coach, all after a two or three game losing streak.

With some teams, it will take time to mesh and a few games into the season is not the time to start making changes. If you really want to get a clear picture of the season so far, look at it this way. Eight teams have yet to win a game, but no team is more than 3 points away from a playoff spot. You see, it is far too early to start worrying about your team.

A lucky bounce, a big hit, a suddenly hot goalie can turn your season around very quickly and most likely will. As I have stated in the past, the season is one of peaks and valleys, winning and losing streaks control the destiny of the team, and all 30 NHL teams will face adversity throughout the season. It just so happens that your team is in the valley right now, but things will improve and other teams will soon be staring at a losing streak like your team is suffering through right now.

If you truly believe your team has no chance of recovering from this little losing streak, you need to have some patience and understand by hard work and playing within the team system, it is more likely than not your team will soon get its head above water.  Once they do, you never know what can happen, but you certainly don't want to give up so early into the season.

On the other side of the rink, the teams that have started off quickly must now maintain that hot start and that could be much harder to do in this day of parity within the league. Suffering through a losing streak after getting off to a great start can do a lot more damage to a team in the long run.  I don't even want to think of what the fan reaction will be when a team near the top of the NHL standings suffers a significant losing streak.

But I will be here to console and help you get through it, unless of course that team happens to be the Detroit Red Wings, then I will be looking for your support.  You will be there, won't you?
Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic