I’m not sure what’s wrong with Shea Weber.
After yesterday’s 1-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Tennessean’s Josh Cooper asked the Nashville Predators captain whether the playoffs were slipping away from the team. “Nope, we’re still there,” he replied. “We just have to focus on the next game. We lost, now we have to move forward and win tomorrow.”
It’s possible he’s sustained some sort of head injury; he did go down pretty hard in the corner yesterday during the second period. Perhaps he’s become unstuck in time like Billy Pilgrim and he gets confused when he finds himself back in early April 2013. Or maybe he’s been moonlighting as a country singer and Jared Boll slipped him a mickey.
What doesn’t seem likely is that Shea Weber really knows exactly where he and his team sit at this point. While they may only be four points out of the eighth playoff berth at the moment, they have played more games than every other team in the NHL. In some cases they’ve played as many as three games more than the teams they’re competing with in the Western Conference. The upshot of that is that, according to sportsclubstats.com, if the Nashville Predators were to win every one of their remaining nine games, they would have a 98.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Think about that for a second: even perfection isn’t enough to guarantee the Nashville Predators a Stanley Cup playoff berth. They could “just focus on the next game and move forward and win tomorrow,” nine times in a row, and still come up short. When you look at all the other teams competing for the bottom playoff seedings in the Western Conference – the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, and St. Louis Blues – there’s not a single one of them that would miss the playoffs if they were to go undefeated for the rest of the season. Yet a perfect run by the Predators could still see them finish in ninth place. If that isn’t “slipping away,” I don’t know what is.
This season has seen the Nashville Predators franchise endure plenty of hardship, especially with injuries to its key players. (Newly ex-Predator Martin Erat appears to have taken that bug with him to the Washington Capitals.) And with the shortened schedule, playing without them has left the Preds in a spot where even their best might not be good enough. There’s nothing particularly fun about it, but it’s the way things are. It’s about time we heard that from the team’s leader.