"Now is the winter of our discontent..." Thank the Lord spring starts next week. It's been an ugly couple of weeks in Nashville. This road trip, having the "fate of the season" resting on its outcome, hasn't started all that well. After shredding Edmonton, the Preds have dropped two straight ugly loses to teams a real playoff contender should be beating. 3-5-2 in our last ten games, .500 on the season, and sitting in 10th in the West, the second half the season is going to a remarkable turn of events; a turn of events this team is capable of. Yes folks, this is still a good team. It's a team that has gotten away from the game they need to play. Strong defense and a quick a attack is the hallmark of Nashville and is what will carry this team to another playoff birth. We just need to find the light switch. Now let's be honest, we aren't catching the Blackhawks, but we are four points out of fourth and should have our eyes set on home ice advantage in the playoffs. The Predators need to dig deep and remember what got them this far. The following clips are those moments. The following are, what I believe to be, the best and most important plays of the season. No matter how bad things look right now, these plays remind us just what these boys are capable of.
3. Gabby Bourque and Colin Wilson undress the Blues
The Set Up: First of all, let's be honest. This was Bourque's goal, but Wilson did everything but put it in for him. Again, it may not have been spectacular, but it was important. Three games prior to this game, Patric Hornqvist went down with a nasty knee injury. Already knowing that goals would be at a premium this year, we lose the chairman of the scoring committee. Not to mention the fact that the game before Hornqvist was injured, the Preds got blanked by the Blues 3-0. With 2 goals in 3 previous games, we were set up for a loss. Then the boys stepped up. This was the first serious beating the Preds doled out this season and against a divisional opponent. Here it is:
Goal of G. Bourque (Nashville) (05.02.2013) (Predators vs Blues) (via Mal71Sby87)
Importance: The other reason this was a big goal is because it's the kind of goal we should be seeing every night. Collie and Bourqy drove straight to the Blues defense, and instead of the usual dump and chase, they attacked the net. We are fast. We are strong. We can take defensemen one on one. The dump and chase is great and it works because we are awesome on the forecheck, but we should be attacking the net, just like this, all damn night.
2. Rinne commits felony robbery against the Sharks
Set up: Ever since Ryan Suter packed up and split for what can only generously be described as greener pastures (no one wants to live in Minnesota) everyone has said that Pekka Rinne is the key to this team. That's not entirely untrue. Peks is the backbone of this defensive juggernaut. Since goals are at a premium right now, Rinne is going to have to steal some games for us. This save was a big one in the middle of one of those games. With no score and in danger of going down early (which would have been the game winner) Peks came up huge.
And here we go:
Importance: A win is a win and I'll take the 1-0 variety all day long. If our goalie was any other tender in the league, we lose that game. That could be said for a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games this season. If Peks can find this kind of confidence again, the two eggs he laid this week will be left in the dust, along with the rest of the conference.
1. Fisher wills a goal in when needed most.
Set up: After losing 3 of 4, including back to back shutouts, things didn't look good. Dallas took a 4-2 lead which looked insurmountable. Fisher and crew thought otherwise. This goal is a beaut. Mike storms the blue line, splits the D and buries a backhander, tying the game with 11:38 left in the 3rd.
The more I hate the Stars, the more I love this goal:
Importance: This goal was huge on a lot of levels. First, it came from a core veteran. Erat, Legwand, Hornqvist and Fisher need to be getting on the score sheet just about every night. This was a leader coming up big. Second, it is another example of how we need to be playing. Fisher got a crisp, heads up pass in the neutral zone, hit the gas, split the D and buried the puck. No hesitation. Lastly, and most importantly, this was a big come back made possible by this goal. Josi polished off the win in OT, but goals by Hornqvist and Fisher made a statement: we're not going to roll over and die. We're going to fight. We might lose, but you're going to pay for every inch. That is just the kind of attitude we need for the rest of the season.
These plays are honest to God proof that this team can and will make the playoffs. Adversity isn't new to the Preds. They just have to remember who they are. They need to find their way and win the only way they know how: Low down dirty, Predators hockey.
How would you rank these? Vote below or post your own. Are these the plays you would pick? What about Pekka's save on Oshie back in January or Fisher snapping and beating the hell out of Robidas last week? Post your Top Three favorite/most important/epic plays so far. Let's keep our chins up, remember how good we are and what we are capable of. Let's keep calm and push the gold on. LET'S GO PREDS!