Don't let Poile Decorate Your Living Room.
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The Predators made their fateful exit from the playoffs yesterday at the hands of the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes. The irony in all of this maybe that the team who has worked so tirelessly and hard to be competitive and gain respect amongst NHL peers and fans may be in far deeper trouble the winner of the series.
While no fan of the NHL makes excuses for the Coyotes off ice problems the Predators are not so lucky. Prednation is a proud and vocal group who arduously defends it’s city, team and right to existence to all (and their have been many) who dare challenge. The team, fans and management are about to go back down that road again after coming off what could be described as their most successful season.
It was the success of this season which game Predators GM David Poile the reason and proverbial ‘cajones’ to go ‘all-in’ leading up to and on the NHL trade deadline. Poile acquired Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Paul Gaustad leading up to the 3pEST deadline. Furthermore he re-claimed discontent but ultra-talented forward Alexander Radulov on Mar 22 after 3 years in the KHL.
It was his chance to shore up his team and Poile did not hold back on any area where he could add supposed improvements. The question, since elimination, is did Poile make the right acquisitions? A better question would be did Poile need to make these acquisitions?
A rudimentary use of some simple statistics suggests Poile made an error not by going for players but by going for the players he did.
Since the lockout no team finishing first overall in goals for has won the Stanley Cup and only two team who led in goals for have appeared in the final.
Since the lockout only 1 team finishing first overall in goals allowed has won the cup and only two teams finishing first overall have appeared in final. The average position in the last 6 years for the cup winner in goals for was 5th for the loser it was 5.6. In goals against it was 10.3 and for the loser 10.8.
What this says is that on average there is not very much deviation from final position. A team has to be good but it doesn’t have to be the best in either GF or GA and that’s exactly what Nashville was before the trade deadline.
On February 27 the Predators had played 62 games and had 178 goals for as a team sitting at 9th for that category with 2.87/game. They had 156 goals against for a 2.51 average.
On Mar 22 the Predators had 210 goals in 73 games and still at 9th with 2.87/game. They had allowed 187 in 73 games for a 2.56 average.
By the end of the season they had scored 237 for 2.89/game average, and allowed 205 for a 2.5 average per game. The increase from the trade deadline was .02 and the decrease in GA was .01.
Poile traded for players who were not exceptional, they were accent pieces. Like furniture, there needs to be a centerpiece to accent and Predators do not have that, or they did.
Radulov has been the missing centerpiece for the Predators’ ensemble. A promising player with heaps of skill, which for some reason could not find happiness in the NHL as a rookie. Whether it was the promise of quick riches in the KHL or the tough love approach of the Preds and Barry Trotz something didn’t work for him and he fled to more familiar confines.
Did Poile know closer to the trade deadline that he had a shot of having Radulov return? We may never know but the strategy seems to be that Poile wanted to accent something on his team and set out to find the right accessories. The problem was he had to get his centerpiece out of storage and while it appeared to be in good shape it didn’t match the new colours on the walls. Once fit together with all the other accents and accessories it became clear that something didn’t match. By then it was too late.
Poile had spent all of the rent money and didn’t realize that his centerpiece of furniture didn’t look so good in his living room nor was it that comfortable. The challenge now is how much effort must he put into redecorating?
Some of those key pieces may not want to be in the room anymore and it’s not because they don’t match, they might even clash.
Poile made a valiant and honorable attempt with his gamble but the thing about furniture is you never buy it without a return policy, especially if you don’t know how it fits in your room. The Predators now have a lot of house keeping to take care of this off season and one has to wonder if they can actually afford to redecorate properly.