The VICTORIOUS HOCKEY COMPANY’s Weekly Newsletter: THE BIGGER PICTURE
So how did everyone fair through the trade-deadline? Did it make sense for your team? Yeah, me neither. So, Taylor Hall is still a commodity, I guess.
I find this time of year to always be interesting. We see the big moves made by the pros, meanwhile Youth and Juniors are beginning their playoff runs. It is a time where everyone knows what is on the line. Now, is the time. If you weren’t at your best or in the right mindset before, you HAVE TO BE now. That holds true from Bantams all the way through to NHLers.
I found this article to be rather fitting for this time of year (Thanks, Coach!). It helps you see what the big boys do and the attitude necessary to make that big push. You have to want it. You have to want it more than anything. Are you ready? How focused are you? The only way to get further is to push past the limits of yourself that you already know.
THE PREDATORS ARE BACK IN THE RACE, BUT DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE BIGGER PICTURE
By Adam Vingan Mar 26, 2021, The Athletic
Even Rocco Grimaldi couldn’t help but shrug.
The look on his face as he stockpiled goal after goal after goal in the first period Thursday was a mix of excitement and disbelief. By the 8:08 mark of the game, he had already recorded his first career hat trick and the 10th-fastest from the start of a regular-season game in NHL history.
“After the third one, the three of us — me, (Nick Cousins and Erik Haula) — were just in the corner laughing,” said Grimaldi, who added a fourth goal in the Predators’ 7-1 beatdown of the Detroit Red Wings. “I don’t know how fast it was. It was under 10 minutes, I think, and you have three goals. Fifteen games with nothing, then three goals in 10 minutes, and we just were laughing like, ‘What is going on?’ I feel like my legs were shaking.”
Unbeknownst to Grimaldi, he was describing the experience of watching the Predators this season, minus the leg-shaking sensation. (Please consult a physician if the Predators cause your legs to shake.)
All of a sudden, the Predators, seemingly dead two weeks ago, have climbed back into playoff contention. Five wins in six games have put them four points behind the Chicago Blackhawks, their opponent Saturday and Sunday, for fourth place in the Central Division.
It is OK to be excited about the recent turn of events, but it is also important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. This team, even at full health, is not close to competing for the Stanley Cup this season and needs to focus on the future.
The parallels to 2017, when the eighth-seeded Predators shocked the hockey world and reached the Stanley Cup Final, are too convenient and should be avoided. As Colton Sissons said Thursday morning: “It’s hard to compare teams and situations, especially a year like this one.”
Despite their recent stretch, the odds remain against the Predators making the playoffs. Should they somehow do so, they would likely face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are poised to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, or the dangerous Carolina Hurricanes. Both would be heavy favorites in a first-round series.
The worst thing the Predators could do is talk themselves into going for it one more time. Their top priority should be fostering the growth of their rookies, who have stepped up in a major way this season. A heated playoff race is the perfect environment.
“Winning is a big part of development,” Predators coach John Hynes said.
“You want to have your guys playing in high-stakes games, because there’s a different level of intensity.
There’s a different level of accountability.
It’s understanding how important preparation is.
It’s understanding how important it is to play on both sides of the puck, because you’re playing in important games, meaningful games.”
Hynes later referenced a slogan popularized by the Philadelphia Eagles during their 2017 Super Bowl season:
“Hungry dogs run faster.”
“When you have hungry players in your lineup, guys (who) are trying to make impacts, trying to take people’s jobs, trying to help the team win, there’s a level of urgency to their game that’s infectious,” he said.
Instead of taking a sledgehammer to the foundation before the April 12 trade deadline, perhaps the Predators do some light redecorating. Maybe Mattias Ekholm sticks around a little bit longer, for instance. Mikael Granlund, however, should still be traded. First thing Friday morning, Predators general manager David Poile should be sending out an email blast to his colleagues with highlights of Haula’s two assists from Thursday.
Poile has more bargaining power now. He no longer has to hold a liquidation sale and can drive up the prices of his coveted players. The longer the Predators stay in the race, the more valuable their assets become.
Earlier this month, the frustration inside the Predators’ dressing room nearly drove unflappable captain Roman Josi to curse. Reminded of that Thursday, Josi laughed before explaining how the Predators have rebounded.
“Seems like everyone is playing their role,” Josi said. “Everyone wants to win for the team. We’re playing as a team. Everybody is doing their job. Our team game is a lot more solid now, and it shows on the scoresheet.”
These are all positive things. The Predators’ season has meaning again, but chasing a playoff spot should not take precedence over reality.
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