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As I sit on the morning of our third trip seaching for the cup I have mixed emotions. As a Preds fan, two months ago I was ready to take on the world with full confidence that we would go all the way.
All that changed on the night of March 31 when we played the most uninspired game that I have seen in our nine year history. Normally it wouldn’t be the end of the world but this was on a night that was one of the most anticipated games in Preds history. The place was full (for a change) and the fans were ready for the return bouts of Jordan Tootoo against Dallas, the team that he had dueled with two weeks previously. The Preds came out flatter than a pancake and never showed any life at all. My worst fears that something had died that night were confirmed when we rolled over for Chicago at home three nights later.
My complete despair was documented in the following two emails to Jamie Shalley and Peter Berce at XM Home Ice
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2007
Jamie and Peter,
I know y'all were a little surprised at my negativity yesterday about the Preds so here are the numbers to back up my point that the Preds will be one and done. Here is the Preds monthly records vs. the other 7 Playoff bound teams in the west.
Mar 2-5-3 (including 0-3-1 vs the Wings - the team we have been trying to match up with)
Total vs rest of west and east 35-10-2.
Overall in March they were 6-5-3 with 2 wins over Edmonton, and one each over the Kings and Blue Jackets in addition to the above totals.
This is not a very impressive finish in games that matter vs teams we have to compete with in the West. From where I sit, I think Buffalo will win the East with two other teams with an outside shot, New Jersey if Brodour is outstanding and the Rangers if they stay hot and get good goaltending. In the west I can see where any of the other seven could win, but if Detroit plays to their potential with their lineup I don't see anyone else winning. Vancouver could go deep if Luongo plays his game. I could also make a case for the other 5 teams too but all in all I think any of them have about the same shot.
In summary, Preds are one and done, and Buffalo beats Detroit in the finals and Rick Jeanerette goes completely crazy!
Buddy in Nashville
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007
Jamie and Peter,
Following up after Last nights loss at home vs. the Hawks. I will emphatically say, the Preds will not win another game this season or in the playoffs. Chris Mason was the only player with any enthusiasm or confidence consistently for the whole game and that was probably killed in the shootout. Arnott is a non entity and Tootoo hasn't hit anyone since he came back. Do you think the commish put the fear of God in him? Trotz sounded like a whipped puppy after the game. The crowd (if you can call it that in Nashville) is gone too. The box score won't show about 3000 no shows last night and Thursdays "Fangtastic Finale" will probably not sell out for the first time in franchise history. Mark my words, the season is over. Your Pal,
Buddy in Nashville
PS - save this email and harass me all summer if they catch fire like Edmonton last year, but I feel sure it will not happen.
OK, I admit I was wrong. They did win again in 2007. They did win their last two, one against a mediocre St Louis team and the other against an Av’s team that had a slim chance of slipping into the playoffs if the “perfect storm” had hit the way it did on Long Island.
So what now? I feel a little better than I did but I am not convinced that we will be competitive against San Jose. From a psychological point of view I think it helps that we lost to them so convincingly last year. This should inspire some type of revenge factor. The biggest question I have is how the game will be coached by Barry Trotz. The last two playoffs Trotz has come out and tried to do something that had not been done a single time throughout the 82 game season and it didn’t work either time. Last year he put Greg Johnson on Joe Thornton almost every shift he played and tried to put intense pressure on him. It worked OK but Patrick Marlow’s line single handedly scored almost as many goals as the Preds did the whole series.
Since last year, the Preds added Forsberg, Arnott, Dumont and others and the Sharks added Guerin and others and are playing the best they have all year as the playoffs begin. So as a final pre-playoff prediction, I hate to say it but the Sharks will win at home in game six to take the series.