To hear Barry Trotz tell it, the story of Nashville’s season went bad, good…then disappointing.
“The first 20 games, we were not a good hockey team,” Trotz told The Tennessean. “We were real young in some areas. We weren’t very detailed; we didn’t know how to win.
“And then we became a real good hockey team. And then, at the appropriate time, the ownership stepped up and added some pieces that we thought would be necessary to go deep into the playoffs.”
And then? For the second straight year, the team was bounced in the second round — this time by an upstart Phoenix club that seemed to out-Predator the Predators.
“We couldn’t solve the riddle of Mike Smith and the Coyotes’ defense,” Trotz explained. “In the first couple of games, it was our defense, or lack of, that prevented us from winning. Stealing Game 1 [4-3 in overtime] the way they did really gave them a lot of confidence.”
Trotz didn’t put much credence in the idea that suspensions to Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn derailed his club, though numbers suggest they played a part. The Preds only managed to score three goals over the final three games of the series (after scoring six in the first two) — a stretch that coincided with Radulov and Kostitsyn being banished for Games 3 and 4.
By the time Game 5 rolled around, the two were out of synch, combining for just three shots on goal in the elimination contest.
That said, Trotz believed his team had enough depth not just to overcome the Radulov/Kostitsyn fiasco, but also to beat the Coyotes and make a deep playoff run.
“This was a team that had all the depth,” Trotz said. “Whereas in the past we had some talented teams, but we didn’t quite have the depth at certain areas or enough experience in certain areas.
“This team had pretty good balance all the way through.”