You can’t run from who you are.
That’s the lesson for the Predators this spring. They told themselves a lot of things. They did a lot of things above their head the past two seasons. But eventually, the truth always comes back. And the Predators go home before any baubles are handed out, other than the Presidents’ Trophy which will hang around their neck like a boulder. And these days we know that trinket gets won by basic randomness of four or five points over the regular season. But it’ll make a fine banner for the yellow-clad, riddlin’, diddlin’, country fiddlin’ mob to make yet another chant about that involves the word “suck” eight times.
Pekka Rinne came into last spring as a Playoff Fleury – Finnish Model. He miracled three rounds, before turning into pop-rocks-in-soda in the Final. Patric Hornqvist is probably still laughing about that clinching goal he scored from the urinal. That was a warning shot. The Predators did not heed it. He put on a Vezina campaign, which was espionage-worthy cover for what was to come. But deep down you knew this was always there. Has any Vezina winner ever been pulled three times in a series? One has now! Don’t worry, at this time next year Preds fans will be convinced that Rinne will have something new figured out at 36.
But it goes deeper than Rinne of course. Let me present two season stat-lines for you:
79 games, 15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points, +1.24 CF% rel, -0.21 xGF% rel
74 games, 20 goals, 32 assists, 52 points, +4.79 CF% rel, +4.19 xGF% rel
One of those lines is Ryan Johansen’s, who I’m told is part of the new crop of young centers taking over the league and is signed for the next eight years. One is Jonathan Toews’s, who I’m told is clinically dead and his bloated carcass should be served to the lion house at Lincoln Park Zoo as food. By the way, Toews is the second one, the better one. Johansen did manage eight points in this series, which is nice. Mark Scheifele managed seven goals on Nashville ice alone. In case you were curious, Preds fans, that’s what a #1 center looks like. But you aren’t curious. Most people wanna know stuff, Predators fans, but you ain’t even suspicious.
It keeps going. Peter Laviolette basically coached this in the same fashion as an air raid siren. Kevin Fiala went from scoring an OT winner to getting scratched for the fat dude from Bloodsport. Lavvy’s team couldn’t do anything when they weren’t parking a bus in the neutral zone, and now you can look forward to this team quitting on him in November and being out of a job by 2019. You can set your watch to it. Oh and I think the Preds just took another dumb, offensive zone penalty. PK Subban at even-strength showed that “slower” and “roasted” isn’t just on the sign at Jack’s across the street. Hey PK, you were supposed to replace Shea Weber, not emulate him! Kyle Turris apparently played in this series. Much like his entire career, did you know he did? No, no you did not. Turris’s favorite food is a saltine in water. Good thing he’s signed forever to be a myth when it counts.
Will it save us from the holier-than-thou attitude Preds fans and hockey media bestow upon this franchise, only discovering it existed last year? No, probably not. We get it all the time here in Chicago about how the Preds are run “the right way.”
Here’s a phrase for you: Re-signed Mike Ribeiro. Shove your own fist down your throat until you can pop your own belly button out.
This was a team that celebrated welcoming back Mike Fisher, who then went on to be just about the worst forward in the league. He can go away forever now to plan his conversion therapy camp, a lifelong dream I’m sure. Maybe while they’re at it they can figure out what it is Carrie Underwood does for a living. “Carrie Underwood” is just another phrase for “Juliana Zobrist.” Nashville: Give us your talentless, your blonde, your utterly desperate to be relevant. I’m sure Underwood pushed to have one of her songs played whenever Fisher scored. Ha, just kidding, Mike Fisher never scored a goal.
They try to tell you Nashville is the cool place to be now, though how you do that by playing Black Keys after your goals is a real wonder. Just because Jack White chose to live there over Detroit is not something you fly a flag for. “We’re Not Detroit” was the tag line of a spoof video promoting Cleveland, remember. This is still Shit-Kicker-Burgh. They had the CMA awards not long ago. Or was it the NRA convention? Can you tell the difference? I couldn’t!
So now Cellblock and The Yellow Pickup go back home from the summer, rehearsing all those chants that have the same five words. Congratulations Preds fans, your lifted chants make you a run-of-the-mill MLS atmosphere. You must be so proud. Come to think of, Mike Fisher would be a the definition of a big MLS signing, given he’s 93 years old.
The Preds are pretty much jammed into bringing the exact same team back next year, when Rinne will be a year older and mentally broken, Lavvy will be fired, and David Poile can still make a deal to ruin it all. Maybe he can bring Paul Gaustad back. The Jets aren’t going anywhere, either. The Avs, who came a lot closer to pantsing the Preds in the first round than they had any right to, will be better. Corey Crawford likely won’t be hurt. The Stars might actually listen to a coach (yeah, right). It’s not getting any easier for them, and it certainly won’t if Johansen and Subban keep their Chips Ahoy! eating contest going before every game.
So long, Predators. Keep on keepin’ the red out. Maybe you can do a chant about that. We know you won’t have one about winning anything anyone remembers.