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Tough road

Tough road ahead for Predators

For one thing, they’ve dealt with some serious injuries. P.K. Subban‘s missed a lot of time, with the hope that he’ll be back soon. They’ve often been without two-thirds of their top line, as injuries have also struck Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson.

You also wonder if there’s at least a slight threat of complacency, as most fans and onlookers are more interested in how they fare in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs after seeing them win a Presidents’ Trophy last season and reach the 2017 Stanley Cup Final the year before.

It’s a testament to Peter Laviolette, David Poile, Pekka Rinne, Roman Josi, and other key figures that the Predators remain neck-and-neck with the healthier Winnipeg Jets for the Central Division lead, as Nashville only trails Winnipeg by a single standings point.

Unfortunately, that gap could grow in the near future, and with the Colorado Avalanche hovering just two points behind them, the Predators risk some slippage heading into 2019.

While there’s some optimism about Subban maybe returning soon, the Predators may be without Arvidsson and Forsberg for quite a bit longer, which is troubling because Nashville’s mostly on the road until mid-January.

That’s nine of their next 12 games on the road, which isn’t super-promising since Nashville’s stout at Bridgestone Arena (14-5-0) but more ordinary away from home (8-6-2). The Predators also face three back-to-back sets to close out 2018 and begin 2019.

This isn’t to say the sky is falling. Arvidsson is skating, so perhaps he’ll be able to play during a portion of those games, potentially giving Nashville a significant shot in the arm. It’s also true that there’s a holiday break in that mix, which (ideally) would help alleviate some of the struggles. Also, 8-6-2 isn’t a world-beating road record, but it’s not the sort of mark that would lead you to believe that the Predators will totally fall apart.

There might be smaller, subtler impacts that eventually matter, however.

The Avalanche are only two points behind the Predators (both with 35 games played), and they’ll eventually get more home games than road, as they’ve played 20 away from home and just 15 in Colorado so far in 2018-19.

Tough road

This opens up an uneasy scenario for Nashville: Colorado may very well make up enough ground so that the Avs get the second seed in the Central, not Nashville. That might not sound like a big deal, but remember that a) the high elevation could already give the Avalanche a larger home-ice advantage than usual and b) an additional home game could help Colorado engineer easier matchups for their deadly top line, even if it would be for four games if a best-of-seven went the distance, rather than three.

Of course, a lot can change as the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs approach. The Jets could be the ones slipping, or a different Central team could make a meteoric rise.

Still, in a league of considerable parity – and an NHL where fates can sometimes turn on a dime, like we’ve seen with teams like the Kings and Sabres – it can be interesting to pinpoint potential fork-in-the-road moments.

The Predators have passed plenty of tests to show that they’re a legitimate contender in the modern NHL, so maybe this will just be another hurdle that they’ll clear. Even so, we may learn quite a bit about the 2018-19 edition of this team over the next few weeks.

Suicide threats

Suicide threats on social media: Advice from a mental health professional

When “Saturday Night Live’s” Pete Davidson’s posted, “I don’t want to be on this earth anymore” and “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last” on Instagram, friends, fans and followers reacted just as they probably would have if he’d told them the same thing on the phone. Some panicked — perhaps remembering the suicides of other people in the limelight, like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade — earlier this year. Some got snarky and actually joked about it. Others offered public expressions of love, hope and help.

It’s disturbing and hard to know what to do when a Facebook “friend” or a person you follow on Instagram or Twitter threatens to commit suicide on social media. But the truth is that most people — even some professionals — don’t know how to respond when someone makes that kind of statement in “real life.”

As a psychotherapist, I often see clients who suffer from the pain of depression, some of whom have expressed a desire to end their lives. Although most people who suffer from depression do not try to kill themselves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was ranked as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015, the most recent date for these statistics. Numerous studies have shown a wide range of reasons that someone thinks of committing suicide, but the holidays are one of the times that depression, sadness and loneliness begin to take hold of many people.

Suicide threats

Despite the initial hiccup when it seemed that some of his followers thought he was joking, people got at least one hugely important thing right: They let him know that they heard that he was suffering and that they cared. Pain is there, whether someone has threatened suicide once or a hundred times, and it is often hard to hear, recognize or address it. But once you do hear it, it’s important to let the person know that you are there, and that you hear that they are hurting. On social media, that often means a public statement of the sort that lots of people sent Davidson.

If you know the person on a more personal level, you can offer to come over to be with them and, once you’re with them, if it seems that they are going to act on the impulse, try to get them to go to a hospital emergency room. It’s important that they not be alone, but well-intentioned fans or vague acquaintances who try to make personal contact can make things worse, not better.

Finally, keep in mind that such a public declaration of someone’s pain can quickly turn into public humiliation. Someone who has, perhaps impulsively, shared his or her inner turmoil with the world might be terribly embarrassed and ashamed about all of the attention that comes as a result of the sharing. As a follower, you can let them know that you still care and that you understand what they were saying to be a way of asking for some help. And then, encourage them to get that help.

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