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From yesterday’s post
The keys to a Nashville victory are simple. Traffic, discipline, and grit…
Pekka Rinne and Antti Niemi have both been solid in net…. It will be critical for Joel Ward, Marcel Goc, Colin Wilson, et al to park their butts in front of Niemi and look for garbage.
Nashville has been very successful when playing a disciplined game.
Grit. The Predators cannot “out-talent” the Blackhawks, but they can out skate, out wait, and out work them. They have to do all three to win tonight.
The Predators did all that and more last night, delivering a satisfying 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a raucous Bridgestone Arena crowd.
Did I say raucous? Smashville blew the roof off the arena last night, from the cheering during the new opening video (great job by the video gang on that one!) to the ovation when the Preds hit the ice, to the ear-splitting roar that built in the minute leading up to faceoff. It was the beginning of a special night for Pred Nation.
Pred Nation has a started to develop its traditions. As a young franchise, sometimes you borrow from others… the catfish as an answer to the octopus as an example. Dennis Morgan’s record when he sings the anthem, all reminiscent of other teams. On April 3, 2008, Pred Nation found its own tradition. The TV Timeout. In my blog the next day I wrote this…
Each period has three planned TV timeouts... they happen at the first whistle after 14 minutes, 10 minutes and 6 minutes. When the whistle blew at 4:36 remaining, the crowd began to cheer their appreciation for their team... the game day crew had a video tribute to play during the TV timeout, and we waited for the cheer to subside.
I never got to introduce that video... That cheer just grew louder as the entire arena stood up... and grew louder as fans began to wave their free t-shirts... and grew louder as the team bench was shown on the MegaTron.
That standing ovation filled the entire 2 minute TV timeout and even spilled over into the next 30 seconds of game play...
It was Pred Nation saying thank you to the team... It was Pred Nation saying thank you to the new ownership... thank you to the folks who worked so hard to keep their team in Nashville... and a small bit was Pred Nation giving the finger to anyone who dared suggest that hockey does not belong in Nashville.
The TV Timeout has returned quite a few times over these last few seasons, always organic, done when Pred Nation wants to. But last night was the first time it happened twice in one game. In the second period, the Preds scored two goals in a little over five minutes, taking a 3-1 lead. The whistle at 8:51 indicated a TV timeout, and the Bridgestone Arena crowd roared for the entire two minutes building to a deafening crescendo. Then, when it felt like things were starting to slip a bit late in the third period, with the ‘Hawks buzzing, trying to get back into the game, another whistle, and at 6:36, the crowd took it again. You could see the Predators feed off the crowd, gulping it down like Popeye eats spinach, using it as fuel to bring home a victory for the denizens of Pred Nation.
The Preds used the crowd as fuel all night long while delivering punishing hits, throwing rubber at the net from all angles and completely frustrating a Blackhawk team that is trying to learn how to deal with the pressure of expectations.
Expectations… in last year’s playoffs, the ‘Hawks went on a magical run to the Western Conference finals, exceeding expectations for the season and giving their fans something to look forward to in 2009/2010. It also created sky high expectations for a young team. Then the free agent addition of Marian Hossa… and the expectations grew even more. A solid regular season competing for the one seed in the West that ultimately fell short on the last day of the season… and now Chicago finds itself in a 2-1 hole with more questions than answers.
The Chicago media is, understandably, in full fledged freak mode. Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune writes “Dire is here, with panic and disaster ready to hop over the boards.” Rick Morrissey, in the Chicago Sun-Times writes “The series wasn't supposed to be like this, but it is. The Hawks knew it after a 4-1 Game 1 loss, and they knew after a closely fought victory in Game 2. Game 4 is Thursday. Maybe they'll show up for this one."
Now the opportunity to put a hammer-lock on this series is in front of the Predators. The move, counter-move of the Quinneville/Trotz chess match has been fascinating to watch, what will Q do to get his team moving again? How will Trotz build off this win?
We won't have long to wait... Game 4 is tomorrow.
I am soooo tired of the grief being dealt out to my city due to the lack of an announced sellout both before and after the game last night… did you happen to catch the sea of empty seats at ScotiaBank Place last night? Is that what a sellout was supposed to look like? But not a peep from the Canadian media…
I’m just sayin’…
A certain "lucky charm" was in the house last night... all I gotta say is, if Nashville wins on Thursday, we ain't allowing you to leave!!! :-)
Tonight! – SlapShot Radio’s playoff report with insiders from across the league. Al Cimaglia will join us from Chicago to give his take on the status of the series. Tim Saunders from the Philadelphia Flyers broadcast team will help us with the Eastern series and Marc Moser from the Colorado Avalache will talk about his classic call on the Sharks own goal in game three of their series. SlapShot Radio, Wednesday at 6pm on SportsRadio 560 WNSR and online at www.slapshotradio.com.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter. Search for PredPAPaul… Not only will I be updating when I get news or updates… I’ll also be updating with starting lineups and scratches during Pred home games, also I’ll be supplying information and explanations from the PA box.