Plenty of questions await answers after Predators fall to Stars in first round
DALLAS — The sound of tape being ripped from pads was accompanied by silence and long faces.
In the end, the Predators were left shaking the Stars' hands and shaking their own heads. Their hearts broken abruptly deep in the heart of Texas.
Like many of his teammates, Filip Forsberg lingered at his stall long after John Klingberg dashed Nashville's Stanley Cup hopes by the slimmest of 2-1 margins. He was left staring at defeat and a long summer ahead. Trying to make sense of the season that didn't after falling 4-2 to the Stars in the first-round series.
Of a season that wasn't. Of a season that began with such promise after a franchise-best 13-3 start. Promise that was broken by a broken power play that finished last in the league during the regular season — and the postseason, when they were 0-for-15.
Forsberg and his mates in white and gold didn't want to take off their pads and their uniforms for the last time until camp begins in four-plus months.
That's how long the Predators have to ponder what went wrong — and how to fix it.
Those solutions weren't coming Monday night. By then, it turned out, it was too late.
But the answers haven't come all season, really. Especially on the power play. The Predators were the first team in 10 years to qualify for the playoffs with the worst power play in the league. They finished 33-for-269 overall. They are just the 11th team in the last 30 years to not score a power-play goal in the postseason.
“I don’t have that answer right now," coach Peter Laviolette said.
When further pressed, he said he felt he and his coaching staff did everything it could to start the engine that that in the end just couldn't.
“Yeah, we moved everything," he said. "We moved the lines, we moved the power play and we made tweaks to what we were trying to do. In the end it wasn’t good enough.”
Rocco Grimaldi, who didn't make the team out of camp, ended the year on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson and ended the postseason with three goals to lead the team.
In the end, the Predators could have used "one more" goal, Laviolette said.
Now they'll have a summer to ponder how to achieve their goals for next season.
Who will stay and who will go remains to be seen.
The summer could be active for general manager David Poile, who listened to pleas to keep the core together before.
His decisions in the coming months, though, could alter those pleas.
"I love this team, love my teammates," Pekka Rinne said Monday after stopping 49 shots. "We have a really strong group. .. We have potential. We just have to put it out there and show it to the people."
The Predators have had two seasons to do that since going to the Stanley Cup final in 2017. Last year they lost in the second round after posting the best record during the regular season.
"Around this room you’re going to have nothing but love for every single guy in here, and a full belief in what we’re capable of," said Austin Watson, who scored the Predators' lone goal Monday. " ... But I love everybody in here and I think that’s the sentiment you would hear from everyone in here.”
A makeover may be in order. Or maybe it won't.
Time will tell.
But on Monday, time ran out for the Predators.
Reach Paul Skrbina at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.
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