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Peter Laviolette said he couldn’t recall any sort of prolonged losing streak from some of his more prolific teams in his coaching tenure.
No seriously, he couldn’t, following Nashville’s 3-1 loss to Winnipeg, the Predators’ sixth regulation defeat in a row. And there’s actually a pretty good reason for this.
It’s because the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes never lost more than three games in a row in regulation.
After Laviolette was hired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009-10, Philly never lost more than three in a row in regulation. It had a five-game losing streak in March that included an OT loss. So he actually wasn’t being snarky or stand offish when answering the question about his struggling Predators.
“I’m sure I’ve lost multiple games with teams I’ve coached,” Laviolette said.
OK, maybe he was. Regardless of this clear and obvious fact that Laviolette’s past teams have had losing streaks, all is not well in Smashville. The Predators have given up the first goal in their last 11 games. And while all teams – even good ones – go through rough stretches, the Predators are currently a couple losses away from seeming to lose confidence at a critical juncture near the end of the season.
“If you ask me, I’m pretty sick and tired of this losing thing,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “Like the whole team is. When you face some adversity it can be a really good thing, but I think this is enough.”
While there are still many games left for Nashville, anxiety has increased quite a bit for the Preds. And the last thing they need is to go into the playoffs with this stressed mindset.
St. Louis was humming along a year ago, vying for the Presidents’ Trophy, and then … KAPOW, lost six straight, gave up first place in the division and was ousted in the first round of the postseason by Chicago.
That swoon was later than Nashville’s streak, but teams can’t turn the ‘off’ switch to the ‘on’ position at the start of the playoffs.
“You don’t want to go through this at all,” Weber said. “I mean, six games in a row is not good. We have to find a way to get out of it, so once we do, I think we’ll look back on this point in the season as something that’s good, but at this point it’s tough to look at it like that.”
But how can a team that hadn’t lost more than two straight all season (and never consecutive in regulation) suddenly look clueless? Could Rinne not be 100 percent after a knee injury? Could the trade for Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson have upset chemistry? Has Laviolette’s magic dust from the start of the season worn off? Did losing Olli Jokinen really damage Nashville beyond recognition.
Well, we know the last theory is totally false, but sometimes in the NHL, where teams are so even, a losing streak can involve just a bounce here or a bounce there.
Did you know in Nashville’s losing streak, the Predators have lost two one-goal games? They outshot the Detroit Red Wings 40-25 and still lost 4-3. They outshot the Islanders 31-26 and lost that game.
Per Natural Stat Trick, the Preds’ CF% 5-on-5 was higher than 50 percent in all those games except a loss to the Rangers.
There is the bizarre argument that the Santorelli/Franson trade – where the only ‘position’ player that came off Nashville’s roster was Jokinen – upset chemistry . Since the deal, the Predators are 3-7-1. But can upgrades at two positions really make a team worse? If so this would be the first time in the history of hockey we’ve seen this.
“It takes a few games to get your feet under you and get a hang of the systems and things like that, but I’m starting to get pretty comfortable out there and understand how the games are played here and it’s getting a little better each game,” Franson said.
Weber, who can be brutally honest when merited, shot this theory down.
“That shouldn’t be an issue. They’ve been here before and they’re working just as hard as everyone else,” he said. “We have to get through this together. It’s not one or two guys, it’s all of us.”
And also, it’s not like the Predators don’t have some sort of cushion to figure this out. Nashville has 89 points, and outside of a total collapse will make the playoffs. Translation – they have time to improve.
But check with us after the Arizona game. A loss to the lowly tanking/rebuilding Yotes and maybe it’s time to hit the mythical panic button. If anything, it could jar Lavy’s latent losing streak memory.
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