What was last night like? It was like having a tiny cherub of a kid tell you that the boy who wouldn’t share his Bionicles was the twelve-letter matriarch of all swear words. That’s what it was like. All bets were off. With the security of distance and what looked like man-bonding going full tilt, the guys let it all hang out. Actions and reactions had fans questioning Trotz’ choices, confessions were made and one player’s statistical primacy got toppled. To wit: Yippie kai yay, mofos. It was hockey night in Edmonton and the Predators were in town to settle a score with the Oilers.
Where to start? During the initial minutes of the first period, the energy felt off somehow. While the plays that led to Edmonton’s first two goals were impressive and Rinne has a history of struggling against the Oilers, it still seemed too easy. After letting two biscuits slide by, Trotz pulled him and restarted with Dan Ellis between the pipes. This decision paid off as Ellis had his mighty net fu with him and kept the damage to a minimum. So what was the deal with the Great Wall of Finland? According to a post-game interview with Ellis, Rinne was suffering from a flu bug. (Get well, big guy!)
That wasn’t the only revelation fans were treated to last night. More on that in a minute. After a stunner of an opening play by Nilsson -who was actually pretty impressive all night- the boys from Tin Slam Alley followed up with six courses of humility from Little Ryan*, Joel Ward, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist (and he was nice enough to offer them seconds) and a parting shot from Jerred Smithson. The Boys in Blue managed to outshoot them, outscore them and answered their three holding calls with five penalties that included interference, hooking, too many men on the ice and delay of game when Shea Weber shot the puck over the glass. The Oilers Org wonks were probably relieved given that he had shot a puck through the glass that morning.
What may be surprising to longtime fans about the frequency of penalties this season is that only a small fraction of them belong to Jordin Tootoo. Count this up to him being out of commission but he was spending less time in the penalty box before he got hurt. For the first time in a while, he’s not leading the team in penalty minutes. So who is? Siddown. It’s Jerred Smithson. That’s right, the applecheeked one who looks more like one of your kids’ friends than a goon has been racking up time on the quiet bench.
I shouldn’t kill the messenger here, but it’s hard not to blame Terry Crisp for this. First he gleefully talked about how road games are not popular with the wives but good for bonding the team together. So just when we banished the mental image of life on the road as a Judd Apatow movie, he did the verbal equivalent of a full body check during third period and mentioned that Smithson is now more of a badass than Tootoo.
Of course all of this is shocking to those of us who know them as the guys who visit Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and play street hockey with random urchins on a regular basis. Then again, it’s great to put it all out there like that while they’re on the road in one of the tougher hockey neighborhoods. I’m sure word of this has gotten back to Calgary. So Jerome Iginla? Before you get too cocky, look at the stats; and if that doesn’t scare you, take a look at Little Ryan. You think he’s just a sweet, mellow hippy kid? Think again. He admitted on camera to Wade Belak that he killed Bambi. Bambi. That’s just cold and that’s who you’re facing next Saturday afternoon.
*Little Ryan is Ryan Jones. Big Ryan is Ryan Suter. Age, size and experience don’t matter. Suter was here first, so he is Big Ryan. Ryan Ellis does present a problem. What do we call him when he finally gets the call and heads down from Milwaukee? Tiny Ryan? Bubba? David Poile needs to think these things out when he works on his draft picks. Sheesh.
Tags: Barry Trotz, Dan Ellis, David Poile, Jerred Smithson, Joel Ward, Jordin Tootoo, Jordin Tootoo is no longer the biggest badass in Nashville, Little Ryan Killed Bambi, Marcel Goc, Nashville Predators, Patric Hornqvist, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Jones, Shea Weber, Shea Weber's hit speed is not of the lord, Terry Crisp, yippie kai yay mofos