Coach Trotz during a time out
Is it time for a coaching change in Nashville?
Likely not, but it seems that the message isn't all that clear to the Preds players as they continue to slide after an unbeaten start to the season.
For Coach Trotz, this tough time for the Preds is shadowed by the fact that Trotz is making history with every game he continues to coach for the Predators.
Barry Trotz is with some elite company after Sundays 5-4 lose to the Anaheim Ducks. Trotz is currently fifth all time in games coached, passing legendary Montreal Canadiens coach Toe Blake with 915 games.
Trotz also finds himself three games behind legendary coach, Scotty Bowman for fifth all time by wins for one coach with a single team. Al Arbour has the all time mark at 740 wins and games coached at 1499, all with the New York Islanders.
It's hard to believe that a three game road trip in early November is so critical, but for the Nashville Predators this certainly was important on many fronts. It was to be an important bonding experience for a club marred with key injuries and recent shoddy play.
The events of their three game road trip could be summed as an utter disaster.
First off, a lose at the hands of the Pheonix Coyotes last Wednesday evening was a situation where the boys from Smashville were holding a 3-2 lead heading into the final period, only to lose 4-3. Coyotes veteran Defenceman Ed Jovanovski recorded his first hat trick in his 15-year career. The Preds let at least a point slide from their grasp.
Saturday night off to LA where the Western Conference leading Kings where hosting the struggling Preds, a challenge for any team as the Kings are a very good club.
The result was 4-1 for the home side. The Preds pounded out 26 shots and finally got a goal after the Kings were leading 4-0 in the third period. Pekka Rinne was pulled after giving up the fourth Kings goal at the 10:47 mark of the second period.
Sunday was a different situation for the Preds as they battled the improving Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.
Coming back four times from deficits, the Preds were able to tie the Ducks midway through the third period on a Cal O'Reilly marker to tie the game at 4-4.
Preds only managed three shots in that third period before Ducks defenceman Paul Mara scored on a Bobby Ryan pass with 1.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Dis-appointment had set in yet again. The lost after a hard fought effort in order to tie had eluded the Preds, the end result being no points yet again.
With sloppy play and injuries to key personnel, the Preds seem like a team that is either trying to hard at times and not hard enough at others.
Is it possible that Trotz's messages are not getting through?
There seems to be an amazing amount of pressure on Captain Weber. Since Ryan Suter went down his play is erratic and the often solid and poised defenseman seems hurried in his play, which could suggest that he is trying to do to much.
Defenseman Kevin Klein has been effective at times, trying to take some of the load off of Weber, but young rear guard Cody Franson seems to be under utilized at times, especially during the Anaheim and Phoenix games of this three game west coast trip. Francis Bouillon wore the "A" for the Coyotes game and played effectively.
Although it was good to see some scoring come out of the heartbreaking loss in Anaheim, many players still are not contributing offensively.
Sergei Kostitsyn had a modest two game point scoring streak (Phoenix and LA) snapped in Anaheim, while Cal O'Reilly - who had points in all three games - continues to lead the club in scoring.
Add Patrick Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan to that list as well. The trio had been formed as the Preds top line.
Notable players who needed to continue their strong early season play were Colin Wilson and David Legwand.
Both players, paired with returning winger Marcel Goc fizzled during the west coast trip, however Goc had two points along the way.
In other words, this team needs secondary scoring support and these injuries to Matthew Lombardi and Ryan Suter should provide a chance for someone to step up in their absence.
This is where Sergei Kostitsyn, Colin Wilson and JP Dumont need to support the cause.
Trotz has been one of the best coaches over his tenure with the Preds and is the only coach this franchise has had.
So I ask the question, Is it time for a coaching change in Nashville?
It could be possible that GM David Poile could be looking to acquire another player to help shake-up this club.
Injured Preds Ryan Suter and Martin Erat are scheduled to practice with the team upon returning home from the west coast, so if things go well they should be returning to the line-up soon.
The task at hand is not any easier as the red hot St. Louis Blues will provide the environment and host the Predators Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
This will be the fourth time already this season that the Preds have tangled with the Blues.
Out of the six games they will face each other this season, the remaining two are scheduled for Boxing Day and the last game of the regular season, April 9th, 2011.
The last game a five game road swing before returning to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds will need a strong commitment and work ethic from each other as they face one the NHL's hottest teams and divisional rival.
Can the Preds get back on track?
Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist covering the Nashville Predators