Martel Mailbag – Disappointment and Embarrassment

What’s more embarrassing? Not even making the playoffs or losing to a team not even in a playoff position that you thoroughly outplayed over the course of four games?

Seems like a pretty tough question for the Predators to be answering after Friday’s series-deciding Game 4, but here we are. And they very much earned the position they’re in.

That may sound harsh, but there are clear expectations with this team and not even making the first round of the playoffs is an utter disappointment and, frankly, an embarrassment — to which there is no sugarcoating.

No, the qualifying round of the postseason doesn’t count, either. Regardless if the statistics in those games count as “official postseason stats” or not, it still doesn’t count as a “round of the playoffs”. The Predators never officially made it to the first round.

That being the case, Nashville has now gone from losing in the Stanley Cup Final (2016-17), to losing in the second round against Winnipeg (2017-18), to losing in the first round against Dallas (2018-19), to losing to Arizona in a qualifying round (2019-20).

How the mighty have fallen. 

Or, a better question, were they ever mighty to begin with? 

The Predators have only advanced past the second round once and have yet to nail down that one final piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle that could blow the proverbial “window of opportunity” right off the wall. If they luck out and earn the number one overall pick Monday night in the NHL Draft Lottery, they may finally find that piece. 

Unfortunately, there’s an 87.5 percent chance that they’ll be lowering that aforementioned window and getting close to closing it entirely.

It’s clear, to at least myself, that the missing piece that Nashville needs has forever morphed into something different each year. To this point they’ve found what they were lacking only once, watching it slip through their fingers in a six-game loss to the Penguins.

What’s next for Nashville? Let’s take some of your questions and see if we can wade through a bit of the muck…

Out of Afanasyev, Tomasino, Trenin, Carrier, and Tolvanen, who will spend the most time in Nashville? – Travis B

The younger players are starting to develop into their own and odds are the Predators will be calling on a few of them to nail down a position or two in the line-up sooner rather than later.

Out of the five players mentioned, my first thought would be Yakov Trenin and Alexandre Carrier being the ones to secure a role with Nashville first, as they already have prior experience playing in the lineup. 

Eeli Tolvanen should get another shot as well, but I’m not 100 percent confident he’ll spend much time up with the Predators next season unless there are significant injuries.

As for Egor Afanasyev and Philip Tomasino? Both are going to be amazing players for Nashville. I just don’t fully believe it will be next season. If one or both do make the team out of training camp, then more power to them and I can’t wait to see it. I think, however, that they need just one more year of development.

There is good depth up the middle, but the pieces aren’t gelling like they need to (especially on the wing). Does [John] Hynes survive this? – tmi3rd

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