Beating the Red Wings (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday February 27, 2007 11:24AM; Updated: Wednesday February 28, 2007 1:41PM
"Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup ...," Nashville coach Barry Trotz was saying last Friday morning as he tapped the names of Detroit players on a whiteboard in the coach's room. Ten players in all got a tap. (Combined, those Red Wings have won the Cup 20 times.) Had he done the same exercise with the nameplates of his players, he would have had to stop after two -- Forsberg, who won twice with Colorado, and center Jason Arnott, who won with the New Jersey Devils in 2000. Trotz, the only coach in Predators history, mixes realism with an inveterate optimism. In the days leading to Saturday's game, Predators' coaches were forbidden to bring up their Thursday-night loss to the Montreal Canadiens, in which Nashville squandered three two-goal leads and lost in a shootout. Anyone caught talking about how Nashville had kicked away a precious point would have been expected to contribute to the Negativity Fund -- a so-labeled plastic container in the coaches' office that staff members pay into for spreading bad vibes. On Friday associate coach Brent Peterson wrote energy and patience on a whiteboard as coaching guidelines for practice. Then he began to write NO S-A-R.. before stopping. "How," he asked, "do you spell sarcasm?"
The Predators operate in a slogan-heavy environment, the locker room painted with signage such as NO EXCUSES and WINNING RESPECT and PRIDE, HUSTLE, DESIRE. No catchphrase would have better suited the Red Wings' matchup than DO YOUR HOMEWORK Nashville went to exceptional lengths to determine ways to handle Detroit's superb power play (they wanted to neutralize immovable forward Tomas Holmstrom, who does his best work near the crease, but he ended up scoring three goals on the man advantage), to outfox the Red Wings' stingy penalty-killing unit (the Predators went 0-3 on the power play) and to attack their aggressive 1-3-1 forechecking system (which Nashville did successfully). Says Kariya, "Before Detroit games, [the meetings] are always longer."
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