I have good news. The sun did come up today. The team is at .500. The season is 5 games old. I also have some more good news; Jerred Smithson has been paying attention to what we’ve been seeing on the ice for most of the season. With the exception of the first two periods against New Jersey, we haven’t seen too much Predator hockey since the first two contests. He called the team on the carpet, and Smithson was as transparent as the emotion depicted by his eyebrows.
In case you didn’t see the quote he gave Josh Cooper of the Tennessean, here’s the first half of the scathing quote.
“Just embarrassing. We just got out-worked. It was right from the drop of the puck. If it wasn’t for Peks it could have been 5-1. It seems like I’ve been saying that every time now, but it’s the honest truth, we rely on this guy way too much. We don’t work, we don’t skate, we don’t forecheck, we have a hardworking team that doesn’t work hard and I don’t know, it’s beyond frustrating right now. I’ve never been a part of something like this. It’s gotta change right now, or we’re going to be on the outside looking in – December we’ll be out of this, we have to change it right now.”
Yeah, he’s right across the board. The lack of chemistry with the lines is even further amplified with the lack of effort from guys like Cal O’Reilly not performing well. Blake Geoffrion hasn’t looked good this year either. Again, it’s still early. What Smithson’s gripe is purely effort. The talent is there.
He then went a little deeper when asked about the optimism following the Devils game…
“I don’t know, maybe we thought we were better than we were, because we got a point? We still pissed away a point last game as well. We had nothing to be happy about. Our effort was a little bit better, but it was still not where it has to be. And then we come in here and we get the one-goal lead – we were playing terrible – and we get the lead and we just give it up like nothing. It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys, it’s the whole group. Pekka is the exception. He’s the only guy playing his balls off right now and if it wasn’t for him, we don’t have any points. I don’t know what to say about tonight, it was terrible.”
WHOA. He’s right for the most part. I think there’s only a few players that would get a pass or be giving you a decent workrate so far:
- Pekka Rinne – DUH, he’s the man. His positioning may look bad, but it’s largely due to kids not being in the right spot.
- Patric Hornqvist – I’m stunned the guy is even playing. He was laboring quite a bit against the Devils, but that didn’t stop him from hitting people against the boards. Really, that Patric Hornqvist does that now.
- David Legwand – 20+ minutes a night, and until last night he was tied for the league lead in points.
Where are Suter and Weber? We know they have another gear. We’ve seen it against Columbus opening night. They’re still putting up some good defensive numbers, and Suter is putting the puck on net more than previous years so far. But more is needed from Weber- I want the Shea that crushes the other teams’ star player on the opening shift again. Ryan Suter just needs to stay the hell out of the box.
As a whole, this game is either an indictment to what will be the blue print to beat the Preds, or the fuel that launches a good run. David Poile was quoted saying this team will be better in the later half of the season than the first half. Cool, but the goal is not to suck the first half too badly.
As for Smithson, a big kudos to him. I’m not a big fan of publicly calling out guys, but he called out the team. That’s allowed. He’s a veteran who showed the entire league what a bit of determination and courage can do if applied wisely. I’d be in favor of him wearing the “A” at some point, but as Brian Burke says- if you need a letter on your sweater to lead, you don’t deserve one.