For the better part of two weeks now, I've had countless people - many of whom I didn't even know were following the Nashville Predators - ask me the same thing: "What is going on with the Preds?"
This is a good thing. Even the casual fans that got caught up in the team's electrifying start are feeling a little pain. It shows they care. If I were hearing nothing, I'd be worried.
I, like everybody else, have been trying to figure it out myself. In my previous blog, I was singing the praises of the team for managing ways to win during an extremely challenging stretch of the schedule. Maybe the fatigue during this stretch of 22 games in 40 days caught up to them. Maybe it's just some "regression to the mean.” Maybe it's for some cosmic reason, like the Predators broadcast team haven’t worn the correct combination of lucky ties, shirts and suit combinations on the correct days.
Losing streaks do make you question everything. But here is how I'm going to choose to look at it going forward, using a line ESPN uses to promote it's "30 for 30" series…
What if I told you, back on Sept. 20th, as training camp began, that with 15 games left in the season and the team heading out West for a four-game road trip, the Predators record would be 41-19-7? That the deepest, toughest division in hockey would be winnable with a strong finish? That the team has a near certain chance of returning to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons? What would your reaction have been?
I don't know about you, but I would've signed up regardless of how they arrived there.
So it all depends on how you view it. As Head Coach Peter Laviolette has mentioned several times during this losing streak, just about every team goes through this during an 82-game season. Adversity can make a team stronger.
I'm currently reading Bob Ryan's book Scribe, which includes some great wisdom on this subject in a chapter about the late Chuck Daly, coach of the two-time NBA Champion Detroit Pistons, and the immortal 1992 USA Olympic "Dream Team.” Ryan calls these "Dalyisms.” Here's one:
"Coaching a professional team (for 82 games and as many as 28 playoff games) is like being the pilot of a plane. Your job is to get that plane through the season. You don't know where the turbulence is coming from. It could come from the right; it could come from the left. But you've got to get it to the destination."
There wasn't much turbulence for the Predators through the first 61 games. They were due for some. There is still a ton that can be achieved, with lots of hockey left to be played. The destination? Unknown. But I know one thing. I'm glad I'm on this ride.