Youth, Inexperience, Growing Pains, Learning How to Win
Nothing comes easy in this league, and you have to bring it for 60 minutes every night. And even when you do that, you might still lose. The truly elite teams know how to finish games out when they have an opponent down, and also know how to respond to adversity when things go wrong.
For the Nashville Predators, this road trip was humbling and a hard reminder that they still have a lot of growing to do. This can turn out to be a valuable learning experience later in the season when this team starts figuring out how to win on a consistent basis.
We all wanted to see the youth elevate into the lineup, but the Predators decided to take the off ramp and retool the team rather than stay on the road ahead to a full rebuild. With that, you have a lot of growth that still has to occur, and the more established teams are taking advantage of that.
Take a team like the Winnipeg Jets. They know, for the most part, who they are. They have an established core and are in a window of winning now and going deep in the playoffs. The Predators are much further back in their journey.
You’re seeing the Predators’ frustration boil over a bit in the middle of games. They’re losing their composure, and this is causing them to press and make more mistakes. At least that’s the overall theme I noticed on this road trip.
I’ve seen instances when the Predators get too cute with their passing and are turning over the puck in the neutral zone. I’m seeing examples of the Predators being baited into bad penalties because their emotion are getting the best of them, and then you’re seeing the frustration rise instead of remaining locked in and poised.
When things go wrong, and they will, this team has to learn to block out the outside noise they can’t control and play their game. Trust Brunette’s system and plug away. They hand chances to do that and win a couple of these games if they could’ve managed to not lose the mental edge.
When we look back on this time in Predators history and this young core becomes established veterans, we’ll remember the hard times. You hate to lose, but these are key moments in the growth for players like Luke Evangelista, Thomas Novak, Juuso Parssinen and Philip Tomasino.
The hope is the Predators don’t dig themselves too deep and they still have time to get hot and make a push. But mark this road trip as a moment to look yourself in the mirror and ask how you’re going to respond to the adversity from here on out.
The Nashville Predators return home for a five-game homestand at Bridgestone Arena, and will play nine of their next 10 overall at home. We can erase the horrible feeling of this road trip with a strong homestand.