Original Photo Source: Christopher Hanewinckel – USA TODAY Sports
Where does one begin? Well, let me begin with the fact that I have not seen the Predators play such a physical period (first) in a very long time; definitely not within recent memory. They essentially played as a team; they read each other well. Something that certainly did not happen in the second period. I’d rather not discuss the second period – not necessarily regarding last night’s game – but the second period within the last couple of games. Talk about a case of déjà vu. The Predators have been on this route of going hard in the first, giving themselves what would once be a challenge for any team to tackle; completely bombing in the second period, allowing the opposing team to either tie or take the lead; then they cannot gather themselves to retake what they lost in the second, ultimately costing the team the game. As exciting as those three goals were in the first period last night, I feared – and I bet a lot of you did, too – how the team would approach the second period.
And alas, there was definitely a fallout in the second period. However, to make things a little more interesting, the “officials” forgot how to properly officiate a hockey game. This wasn’t your first rodeo, was it? You could’ve fooled me… along with the other 17k+ folks. Countless dives, off-sides, and icing… you how do you miss an icing call? I understand hybrid icing and that nonsense, but regular, no-holds-bar icing? That’s bush league, babe. However, let’s take the most questionable non-call in all of the missed ones last night:
I enjoy chiming in with a nice chant of “Ref You Suck”, but I have never heard it as loud as I did last night… and for good reason, too. Clearly, that should have been a penalty shot award to a one Mr. Taylor Beck. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but my goodness, after the atrocious officiating in last night’s game, you’d have thought something awfully fishy was going on. And I am not talking about the catfish that was thrown on the ice:
We know how you feel about small market teams, Bettman…
That was the Predators’ game to take; no doubt. The physicality of the first period was outstanding and must be repeated in the following periods. The Predators have always allowed for sloppy passes and whatnot, but we have now reached the post-season; a time when other teams have honed in on those typical mistakes – no matter how little – and capitalize on them. Laviolette knows this; Housley knows this. Time to get both the hearts and minds right and on focus. There’s no doubt in my mind that Nashville can defeat the Blackhawks in this round; they just have to stop doubting themselves.
- Mike Fisher returned to the lineup as expected after coming back from a lower-body injury. However, he took a nasty hit in the first period, causing him to miss the remainder of the game. I have a relatively good feeling we won’t see Fisher the rest of this round, possibly even well beyond this round if Nashville can knock off the ‘Hawks.
- Colin Wilson, ladies and gentlemen. With only six points in the last 32, Wilson brought out the afterburners in Game 1. His two goals tied the franchise record of goals in a single playoff game.
- Viktor Stalberg certainly showed his former teammates that he wants to hold that Cup again. His unassisted goal helped chase Corey Crawford from the net.
- Scott Darling, the Blackhawks backup and former Milwaukee Admiral, certainly secured Chicago’s victory last night. Forty-two saves for 80 minutes worth of hockey. Yea, Crawford might want to watch his back.
- As for our goaltender, Pekka was definitely on point last night. Unfortunately, someone had to lose. Rinne made some incredible saves, keeping the game going for as long as it did.
- Paul Gaustad did his thing at the face-off circle, winning 17 and losing just six for a percentage of 76%.
- The Game Ops outdid themselves with the new intro video for the playoffs. Though this is a little snippet, I suggest making it out to tomorrow’s game or finding a video on YouTube.
Time to take in a deep breath and shake it off; there’s no room for lingering on yesterday. Hopefully, last night’s tough loss will light a fire under Nashville’s butt so they can come out with the same tenacity as yesterday’s first period and keep that going for the entire game.
Game 1 is in the books, boys and girls. Chicago – 4, Nashville – 3. Onward to Game 2.
Extra: Check out this video from 2011 of the Predators players talking about how great the fans are in Nashville. Surely, this’ll get you feeling all warm and fuzzy, right?