Today is April 1st, 2011, which, obviously, means that it is April Fool's Day, the "holiday" that I personally love to hate, but one where normally intelligent people fall for all manner of jokes and blatant untruths.
Regardless of what the calendar reads, however, we've heard things said about the Nashville Predators by media and fans all season, much of it we know to be false. The team can't score, you know. Barry Trotz is overrated, and David Legwand is terrible.
Furthermore, the Preds have too many key injuries to make the playoffs. They paid too much for Mike Fisher, and they can't win with Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion, and Matt Halischuk getting important ice. Additionally, Kevin Klein? He sucks. Sergei Kostitsyn is trouble with a capital t - he'll be in the KHL next year, and Shane O'Brien is a locker room cancer.
These are the things that we've heard, discussed, and generally beaten to death, because there is an element of truth to many of them.
Funny thing along the way, though: the team missed the memo.
Outside of their top three players, this is not an extremely skilled squad - they lack many things, namely the ability to consistently put the biscuit in the basket, but they remain undeterred. Just last night, Nashville got goals from three areas of the lineup: a grinder in Jordin Tootoo, a fourth liner in Colin Wilson, and a top six forward in Martin Erat.
This, though, is how the narrative has gone all year. Just when you think the Preds are down, due to either injury or devastating loss, they rally and pick themselves up off the mat - as a team. Despite what you might hear, there is nobody on the roster who could be considered a selfish player, which was perhaps evidenced by David Legwand's repeated (albeit foolish) attempts to get Sergei Kostitsyn a hat trick last week.
The Nashville Predators rise as a team, and fall as a team, which is exactly how Barry Trotz would have it. Sure, Shea Weber evidently does an extremely capable job of leading, and Pekka Rinne allows them to win games they have no business winning, but there's no doubting that the team is at their absolute best when everyone is pulling on the rope.
There are many people who don't trust that this team has changed their habits from the last few years, or that they have the inherent capability to go where the franchise has never gone before. These doubts may well be valid, but with a 10-3-2 record in March and an attitude that reflects the importance of the games being played, it appears that the Preds don't care what you, I, or anyone else has to think or say about them. I don't know about the rest of you, but the 2010-11 Nashville Predators are beginning to be a team I can believe in.