Hey guys, sorry it took me so long to get this blog up but I had certain duties that I couldn’t avoid the past 48 hours. I just got done TIVOing Game one of the Predators Blackhawk series and I have to say I am very impressed with a lot of the events from Friday’s game. So without further introduction, let’s get into it!
1. J.P. DUUUUMOUNT is the hero of the game. While most people, myself included, thought the maligned winger would continue to have a minimal effect on the team after a horrible season, (per his usual numbers) Dumont surprised us all with two goals in game one. Without Dumont, the Predators wouldn’t have won this game. Yes, his first goal was a somewhat lucky bounce, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be skilled.
2. Playoff intensity. There was a heck of a lot of hitting and shot blocking by both teams. I think Nashville finished with 41 hits over Chicago’s 30. Both teams had somewhere around twenty blocked shots. Sacrificing and throwing the body wins playoff games. There was one late hit after the whistle sounded by one of the disgruntled Blackhawks. I hope Trotz got his number because I wasn’t able to tell. Hope Tootoo gets him this next game.
3. Mr. Incredible. Pekka Rinne was once again the man with all the swagger on Friday night. Rinne finished his first playoff outing with a .926 SvP and a 1GA average. Pretty freaking good if you ask me. The one thing that really stood out to me was a couple of the 3-2 and 2-1 that Chicago had where Rinne came up HUGE for his team. Hossa, Toews, Sharp are three guys who know how to fill a net on odd man rushes, but Rinne was there to save the day. More on this later.
4. It only takes one. Let’s get one thing straight, Antti Niemi looked really good the first two periods. Really good. After giving up the one soft goal, he looked really unsettled. Bad goals do funny things to goaltenders. Actually, goals in general do. No matter how well a goalie’s playing, all it takes is one goal before he starts talking to himself behind that mask, which makes him lose focus. Rinne, however, takes talking to himself to a whole new level. When Kane scored the Blackhawks’ lone goal, Pekka Rinne got up yelling and screaming. Only the mighty Pekka knows for sure who he was screaming at, but if I had to guess it was himself. Rinne had the puck in his glove, then dropped it straight to Kane coming down the slot, so the only logical thing for him to do is let loose a stream of profanities at himself. Whenever Rinne gets scored on, he does that. Something about the little red light going off behind Rinne drives him into a blood frenzy that scares the puck so badly it never wants to go near him again. Seriously. That’s why Rinne wins so many 2-1 games. Where was I? Oh yeah Niemi. Niemi didn’t have that fire on Friday night. It will be interesting to see if he can pick up his mojo before tonight.
5. Kevin Klein. Worst front office decision ever. He is easily the worst defenseman on this team even with Cody Franson’s inability to skate well. Why David Poile didn’t move Klein at the trade deadline is still a mystery to me. I really hope Grebs is able to play soon so we can sit Klein the rest of the playoffs. He’s been that bad. Bad penalties, bad effort, bad communication. Just bad. We need a Blum sighting.
6. Joel Ward. Wardo saved a sure goal in the 2nd when Pekka Rinne was down and out against Versteeg. Had Ward not lifted Versteeg’s stick, that would have been a goal. I really like Wardo, who is arguably the best defensive/along the boards player Nashville has ever had on their roster.
7. Media Coverage- Suddenly the Preds are the center of a media frenzy. ESPN has had the Preds as their NHL Front Page 3 times in the last month. Of course, the local paper decided to have an article about the team maybe moving in 2012 on the front page instead of the Predators’ huge win. Classy. Luckily, no one reads the newspapers anymore. Still, all this media coverage is good for the Predators.
So there you have it. The Predators get their first road playoff game win ever. This was a huge win for the fans as well as the players. Predators play tonight in a pivotal game two.
On a personal note, this win meant so much to me that I just about cried my eyes out when I was up and about Saturday (unable to watch the game). There was a really sweet moment when my girlfriend came up to me and just held me for a good three minutes on a patio, just as breathless as I was. Though she has never really been a hockey fan, (ok that isn’t fair, she hadn’t even watched a hockey game until I came along) it was really sweet to share that moment with her because she knew how much this victory meant to me. It was also difficult night for me because I am five hours away from my hockey loving family. Luckily, they sent me text messages the whole game and I was able to stay on the phone with them when the game ended. So here is a sincere thank you to my girlfriend, Molly, and my family back home in Franklin, TN for their love. I shared some pretty awesome memories with y’all on Friday, moments that I won’t forget for the rest of my life. Thank you guys for your love and constant support.
On a totally unrelated note, Blake Geoffrion scored not once, but TWICE for the Admirals en route to a 5-0 victory in the AHL playoffs. Get this man to Nashville soon.
About the Author
Written by Chris Rydburg
Chris currently attends my Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He hopes to one day be a high school teacher.