'I was somewhere past 501 Broadway when the Fear began to take hold...'
I suppose that one nasty little 4-8-1 stretch over 13 games can make you a bit crazy. Now we seem to sit (or stand) again as a House Divided, much as we have since Radu came back from the Motherland, the Goose/Skillzy/AK deals, SuterGate, WeberGate, and the (mostly forgotten) Lockout. But we, the Preds Nation, seem to flip-flop more than politicians caught in the blood lust of the campaign trail. As The Forechecker so eloquently stated about the 303:30 podcast - a pretty quick turn from the "IT" team to a modern day version of the French Revolution ("Off with their heads!") Some choose to accentuate the positive. Some choose to look for their scapegoat. Some opine about our lack of "top line offensive talent."Or our injuries. Or our personnel losses. Or last year's "puck luck", now turned into this year's puck su, er, well.. you know what I mean.
But as the Good Doctor once said, in his Magnum Opus - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: "It was time, I felt, for an agonizing reappraisal of the situation." And indeed, let's have at it, in a Sports Guy/HST hybrid FanPost.
The "We Need Scoring Talent" Argument
Player A - 22GP, 9G, 14A, 23P, +10, 97 Shots, 9.3% SP ($7.8mil/yr.)
Player B - 25GP, 7G, 12A, 19P, +1, 26 Shots, 26.9% SP ($2mil/yr.)
I suppose it doesn't take a statistician to realize that Player B is our own Colin Wilson. But do you realize that Player A is a name that can be found in a zillion posts dating back to last year as "The Guy" we should chase to fix our scoring problems? Yes, boys and girls, Player A is Rick Nash, an overpaid mass now toiling away for the Rangers, surrounded by studs like Gaborik, Callahan, etc. Which leads me to further wonder how idiots like James Dolan become wealthy team owners. First he pulls off the Carmelo Anthony deal for the Knicks (which Denver won), then the Nash deal for the Rangers (which the Jackets won.) Somewhere a New Yorker just jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge (which Dolan also tried to trade for last year.)
Argument Verdict: No Merit. We have scoring talent... they just don't shoot the puck.
The "We Don't Shoot Enough" Argument
Group A - Player 1 - 7/26 (26.9%); Player 2 - 9/37 (24.3%); Player 3 - 5/25 (20.0%) - Total 21/88 (23.9%)
Group B - Player 1 - 3/40 (7.5%); Player 2 - 4/74 (5.4%); Player 3 - 6/53 (11.3%) - Total 13/167 (7.78%)
Group B? Fisher, Weber, and Erat. Group A? Wilson, Bourque, and Spaling. Yikes. Before you start in with the "well, those are the guys that play the most minutes!" stuff, or the "that's only 6 of our players" stuff... please realize that this is just a thought provoking exercise. Shooting percentage is a delicate balance of skill, timing, luck, the linesman's attention to detail (see Avalanche, Colorado.) We seem to have some of that in some players, and others not so much...
Argument Verdict: With Merit. Maybe this has something to do with the system.
The "Fire Trotzy" Argument
Coach A - 29GC, 13-15-1 (27 PTS/.466 PT%)
Coach B - 28GC, 13-10-5 (31PTS/.554 PT%)
Coach C - 26GC, 13-11-2 (28PTS/.538 PT%)
Meet Peter Laviolette, Mike Babcock, and John Tortorella. They have four more Stanley Cups than you do. They have seven more Conference Championships than you do. They all have two more wins this season than Coach Trotz. Coaching in hockey is about as irrelevant to the success of your team as a cookbook is to the taste of your dinner creation. In 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Michel Therrien mid-stream and won the Cup. In 2011, the Washington Capitals fired Bruce Boudreau and they STILL stink. Now Therrien and Boudreau look like betting favorites to face off in this year's Cup Final. Want to fire your coach? Stick to BlackJack. The odds of winning are better.
Argument Verdict: Without Merit. Lane Lambert's Hair could probably coach a team to a win. Perhaps we should blame it on the GM.
The "Fire GMDP" Argument (AKA - The "Tank The Season" Argument)
Player A - Drafted 258th in 2004; 2013 - 26GP, 10-8-5, .916 SV%, 2.20 GAA
Player B - Drafted 14th in 2004; 2013 - 23GP, 7-9-5, .918 SV%, 2.74 GAA
Player C - Drafted 17th in 2004; 2013 - DNP (since 2009)
You all know Player A... "In Goal - Pekka Riiiiiiiiiiine!" (Thanks Paul!) Player B? Devan Dubnyk - the last line of defense for a porous Oilers team. Player C? Marek Schwarz. (Bonus points if you can name his team and jersey number WITHOUT using hockey-reference.com.) I mean, come on. Finding talent in the draft is like finding an engagement ring in a Cracker Jack box. Ovechkin, Malkin, and Ladd went 1,2, and 4 in that draft. They have over 1,500 games played in the NHL to date. That's more than #3 (Barker?) and the next six combined.
Fire Poile Argument Verdict: Without Merit. This team would absolutely be the Hamilton Predators, Quebec Predators, Winnipeg Predators without Poile's excellence in drafting at the back end of the pile. Would you rather have Edmonton's top line of consecutive draft picks (overpaid and not going to be there forever) or our value in youth?
Tank-A-Palooza 2013 Argument Verdict: Without Merit. Your odds of even nailing the #1 Lottery Pick are awful. Your odds of drafting the "can't miss" player and having him turn out that way? Even worse. Stick to slot machines.
The "Stay The Course" Argument
Team A - 20 Games Remaining (12H/8A); 28PTS (1 PPG); 10th in Conference
Team B - 19 Games Remaining (10H/9A); 27 PTS (.93 PPG); 11th in Conference
I mean, you don't really want to be on Broad Street instead of Broadway, do you? Sure, their coach might be in some hot water too... but they have an aging roster, less injured talent, and play in a tough division too. Yet I don't see the Flyers faithful clamoring for trading the roster, firing the entire management team, tanking for the draft, or anything like we have...
Argument Verdict: With Merit. But let's be realistic... we have no movable assets (since Weber can't be dealt until late Summer) outside of our young core. There's nothing on the market that will improve us to anything better than starting the playoffs on the road. We are a fringe playoff team regardless of what we do.
So what do you say, Smashville? How about we show up on Thursday night - not late, but early. Not in hipster chiq, but in GOLD jerseys and t-shirts (unless you want to rock some of that new OTF gear!) Not with a voice of discontent, but with a LOUD voice that can actually carry the team - a voice that I haven't heard in the arena all season (except for Detroit and that Edmonton rout.) This team probably won't make the playoffs. This team probably won't get a Top 5 pick. But this is still OUR team... and whether or not you agree or disagree that they deserve our MONEY, they certainly deserve our support.
In the original Fear and Loathing, Thompson describes the "high water mark" of the '60's as something that you could "see, then slowly watch roll away" into the '70's. Maybe our high water mark of this incarnation of the team was Game 5 of the 2012 Playoffs against Detroit. But just like time moved on, we will move on as well. With a nod to those of you who said it before, let's enjoy the sport and team for what it means to us REGARDLESS of what comes next. Losing isn't fun... but only 1 team gets to be the Champion. The rest are just delaying the inevitable conversation we're having right now...