The Predators’ season has ended, sooner than any of us would have liked, and we gathered to share some quick thoughts about things we liked and didn’t like about the season. Over the next week or so we’ll be digging deeper into some of the concerns that we have, but we wanted to gather—for us and for you—for a roundtable first, to ease in. Right after elimination is always a chancy time to make bold statements and try to solve everything (that’s why we haven’t weighed in on anything more controversial than the power play yet).
Hayley wrote a great eulogy for the Preds’ season before yesterday’s links. Even if we saw it coming, it wasn’t what we wanted—for the people who didn’t see it coming, it must have come as a nasty shock. We hope all of you are settling into the summer and have either picked a bandwagon team to cheer for or figured out who you most want to lose—whatever gets you through the rest of the playoffs. Or maybe you’ve taken up another hobby. Whatever works for you. We’ll be here, waiting, when you get back.
Without further ado:
What We Liked:
Laura: The addition of Rocco Grimaldi.
Shaun: The emergence of Rocco Grimaldi has been an incredibly bright spot for me. As someone who measures in at exactly one inch taller than Grimaldi, I have had a vested interest in cheering for him and the success he’s had. While it happens to be perfect that he plays for my favorite team and helped bring them success, I have to feel like this is a guy I’d be cheering for regardless of where he played.
Hayley: If there was any light to this season it was definitely Rocco Grimaldi. He came out of nowhere and reminded me of what it was like when Viktor Arvidsson emerged a few seasons ago.
Kate: Definitely Grimaldi. That’s the kind of offseason signing I’d love to see the Preds make more of—impactful players who have been overlooked (...not intended to be a short joke) because they don’t fit what 200 Hockey Men think of when they think of a hockey player.
George: Grimaldi’s emergence has to be one of the highlights and headlines of the 2018-19 season. He looks like exactly the kind of bottom six forward the team needs more of to be successful for the future, and the office has to love what he brought this season. It may complicate re-signing him as well as roster decisions with Brian Boyle, Eeli Tolvanen, and the like next year, but that is a problem that you like to have.
Other Things, I Guess
Hayley: Dante Fabbro signing and making his debut was a highlight as well. I can’t wait to see what he does in a full season.
Kate: Viktor Arvidsson finally breaking Jason Arnott’s points record was something. Maybe someday we’ll actually get to say that the Preds, too, have a 40-goal scorer. Maybe.
What We Didn’t Like:
The Power(less) Play
Rachel: The power play killed us. How does the team not fix it in the course of 82 games? It’s inexplicable.
Shaun: I am aware that someone’s power play has to be 31st in the NHL. That being said, it appears as though the Predators’ power play has become clown shoes—a tired, worn-out joke that everyone expects, but no one thinks is funny.
Hayley: Not even going to mention the power play. I figure the entire universe is in agreement on that one. :)
The Vanishing Talent/The Unanswered Questions
Shaun: I didn’t see any reason why the collection of players on that special teams unit couldn’t put it together.
Kate: It’s worse than that—I think “I didn’t see any reason why this collection of players couldn’t put it together” sums up a lot of the season. So many things should have worked better than they did, and I don’t just mean puck luck. That’s my big one too. They’re too good to play this badly.
Rachel: Lack of scoring finish. How do you have all this talent on a roster but no one can find the back of the net?
Adapt or Die (They Didn’t Adapt)
George: Inability to respond. Outside of the push at the end of the season when they needed a big finish to improve their position within the division, they didn’t do a great job of playing well through adversity or (proverbially) hitting back when the opponent knocked us down. This was never more evident than the failure to recover in time after a hard start to game 4 against Dallas; the team didn’t look ready to compete in any way, shape, or form for the rest of game 4 or game 5. By game 6 when they woke up, it was too late.
Kate: The way they kept doing the same thing whether or not it was working was incredibly frustrating. We saw it with the power play, we saw it with their win-loss record when giving up the first goal, we saw it during the series with Dallas where Jim Montgomery was making effective mid-game adjustments and the Preds just kept doing the same thing they had been.
It Just Felt Wrong
Laura: I don’t know how to say this but the “vibe” of this team is not very intense. It seems more workmanlike than invested.
Hayley: Part of me wants to chalk this entire season up as an “off year” and say everything was terrible, but that’s not really fair considering the team did win the Central Division. The feeling that something was missing almost the entire season is probably what I disliked the most. Just knowing that something wasn’t clicking but not being able to point to one specific thing was frustrating. The fact that this team made absolutely no sense from October to April is nothing short of mindboggling. But on the bright side, at least they found something to be consistent about.
What about you? What things worked for you about this season, or what things (other than the power play, because Hayley is right) didn’t work?