Predators still have a lot to learn
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne and defenceman Ryan Suter take a break at the bench against the Vancouver Canucks during Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series in Nashville, Tenn., May 9, 2011. (M.J. MASOTTI/Reuters)
Going to a new level as an organization was not lost on the Nashville Predators.
It was just hard to see through the disappointment.
The Predators reached the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but had hopes for much more.
“If we would have beat the Vancouver Canucks, it wouldn’t have surprised me one bit,” said Preds head coach Barry Trotz in the wake of his team’s elimination with Monday’s 2-1 loss. “This is a group you could be proud of as a coach.
“At training camp in September, if you would have said the Predators got through the first round, played real hard and got knocked out in the second round, I’d probably have said that’s a step forward and a successful season.
“But when you’re as close as you are, and feel as close as you were in this series, every game was one goal ... I don’t feel that way now the way I probably would have felt in September. The hurt is deep.
“I said to the guys, don’t forget this feeling, because that’s what’s going to drive you to the next level.”
The history books will call the Preds a second-round casualty in six games, but five games were decided by one goal and the other was a 4-2 final thanks to an empty netter.
Sure, the Preds were in tough, hanging with a Vancouver team that won the regular season title, but Nashville refused to go down without a fight.
“A lot of people didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs, let alone get into the second round,” said defenceman Shea Weber. “We’re still not satisfied. The group in here wants to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s not easy to be going home this early.
“But I think we grew, and there’s a lot of firsts that happened this year.”
Still, the Preds will lament two things in this series: a powerplay that went 1-for-21 over the six games and losing all three home games.
“You have to count on winning at home,” said defenceman Ryan Suter. “We didn’t do that. We won two in their building. It’s too bad we couldn’t pull one out and force Game 7.”