Why Is This Year's Team Different?
Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 3:42 PM
Since the Predators have moved on to Round Two and await the result of tonight’s Vancouver/Chicago game to determine where the plane heads for Game One, I thought I’d turn the light inward on this team and ask one of those questions everyone wonders: why is this year’s team different? Why did this edition advance?
As it turns out there are many responses that came out of our locker room. Here is what I got back, starting with head coach Barry Trotz.
“Mindset. Belief. Hardness of our team. And I don’t mean physically, I’m talking about the resiliency factor, determination factor, and focus factor. It’s been a strong backbone, and it’s based more on the resiliency, work ethic and commitment than some of the skill teams. Sometimes when you have a really skilled group, they’re not as committed, they’re going to do it the skilled way. Well, this group has had to do it in different ways – with skill elements, work elements, and some real character elements. It’s just a good combination.
“I think it starts with our leadership group. They’ve grown up. They’re winners, they’re hard guys, and they’re good players.”
Cue the captain, Shea Webeard. Uh, Weber.
“We won in Game Five?”
We both actually laughed at that one. See, he does have a sense of humor! But seriously, he did continue.
“I don’t know,” he pondered. “We have a lot of the same guys in this room from last year, and as much as you’d like to say we learned from last year we were 30 seconds away from being down 3-2 (in the series). But we just found a way. It was a resilient effort and we didn’t back down. We had to come back a couple of times. That effort pulled us through to Game Six.”
He also hearkened back to the post-All-Star Break schedule.
“I think after the All-Star Break it was a race to the end of the year. You look at how many teams played well down the stretch, we really didn’t have a choice, we had to play our best hockey of the year just to get in.”
Steve Sullivan has been around for every Preds playoff team thus far. He thinks the team did take something out from last year, perhaps mostly mental.
“We’ve learned from last year that (the Chicago series) was a missed opportunity. Because of that I think the guys are that much more focused and the roles are even more specific. The guys know what their roles are and are willing to do it.
“You don’t look back at last year and think ‘man (Chicago) could have been us’ because there’s no way to say that. If we had one better game in that series, whether it was Game Two, Game Four, or Game Five, I think we win – the series is over. But I do think we let (that series) slip away and definitely should have won it.
So are those the games Nashville won this year?
“We were the team that scored with less than a minute left and won in overtime. We came home and took care of business. It was the exact opposite of Game Six last year. We had a power play at the end of Game Six, and don’t think that everyone on the bench wasn’t thinking about it. Everyone kept yelling ‘throw it deep, keep it behind the net’. Those memories pop in your head. The thing is we weren’t scared of them, we knew we had learned from them and knew what to do and got the job done.”
Cody Franson knows the team took something away from its previous experiences, but added an important factor of his own.
“We made a lot of little mistakes that were easily correctable last year. But in the playoffs – will wins. There are a lot of more-skilled teams that it doesn’t work out for. There’s only one team that wins, and it’s the team that wants it more. That’s just the way the playoffs work.”
Sounds an awful lot like Predators Hockey to me.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.