If you are a Nashville Predators fan, chances are you feel like a child watching their favorite balloon float up into the sky: frustrated, demoralized, and helpless.
After Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, those same emotions can be used to describe what some of the players are feeling as well. The Preds controlled most of the game - until 11:04 of the third period.
With Craig Smith skating toward the Chicago net, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford stuck his leg out and tripped Smith - drawing a tripping call...on Smith.
“It’s a missed call,” Smith said after the game. “It happens too much. I guess it’s a good play by him because the ref’s not looking and he’s able to stick his leg out and act like I ran into him. But I was crossing the crease. I wasn’t trying to hit him. He obviously turned and stuck his knee out, but if the ref’s don’t catch it, good play by him.”
Sure enough, just 1:18 into the power play the Blackhawks tied the game.
“They scored a goal on a stupid call like that,” Smith said. “I don’t think anyone wants the game to be decided like that.”
A little over three minutes later, Chicago took the lead on Patrick Kane’s 700th career point - capping off what seems to be the story of the Preds season: playing well, but not well enough to win.
“In our division, it feels like everyone is winning,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “Especially now when we lose division games, other teams are going to get ahead of us. We have to realize the moment; we still have half of the season left but at the same time, you can’t just push the reset button after the New Year and going away, its not going to happen like that. You have to get more urgent and string some wins together.”
Nashville’s cloak of invincibility at home has all but disappeared. This team is struggling to win games - regardless of where the venue is.
#Preds started the season 8-1-1 at home. They've gone 2-4-3 since.— Robby Stanley (@RStanleyNHL) December 30, 2016
“We have to learn from it, stick with it,” Fisher said. “We can’t get frustrated or down. It is frustrating, no question. But, we have to learn from it and its going to start going our way, its going to start calling our way once we start making some better plays throughout the game. I thought we played a pretty solid game tonight, it just didn’t fall our way.”
After a promising month of November, the Preds have had a lackluster December and are limping into 2017.
Predators month-by-month this season:— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 30, 2016
October: 2-5-1 (29th in NHL)
November: 9-3-2 (4th)
December: 4-6-3 (T-27th)
The Preds play in St. Louis tonight before heading back home to take on the Montreal Canadiens Jan. 3, in a highly anticipated game, which will see the return of former captain Shea Weber. However, one thing is clear: this team needs wins, and they need them now.
“The victories always matter,” Laviolette said. “We have to get two points and put them in the column. With that, I think, comes a process and we want the process to be right.”