by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
Stage photographer Martha Swope said that one of the most challenging parts of her job was getting a shot where everyone in the frame was at their best. The same cannot be said when it comes to photographing the Predators. While there is just as much drama and probably far more movement than Ms. Swope was used to lensing, the effect of acting as a six man unit with a single objective keeps everyone on the same page mentally, physically and emotionally. The Nashville Predators are an animated, locquacious bunch both on and off the ice. This makes photographing them a pleasure.
You can read the story of the game on every face on the ice. Well, almost every face.
Here’s the thing: Rinne is like Ali in his prime out there. Floats like a butterfly. Stings the other guys’ conceits that they’re going to find the back of the net like the meanest bee in the hive. He’s not all that quiet out there, either. And yet the mask lends him an air of inscrutability in some still pictures. Even without much of his face being too terribly visible, he manages to convey quite a bit through body language when he’s in action. I call it the Kenny McCormick factor.
Allow me to demonstrate:
You get the idea.
A friend who had never played a sport that required a goaltender of any sort once commented that goalies have the best seat in the house. As views of the action go, it is prime. Beyond that, you have to wonder what it’s like to be in a position to see a hockey game come at you at 22 to 35 mph for an hour divided into three twenty minute periods.
I didn’t exactly get in the net with Rinn. I did the next best thing. From the relative saftey of the other side of the glass*, I spent a morning photographing a Predators practice over the Vezina contender’s shoulder. The biggest limitations were distance and visual noise from the scuffs on the glass. Even with the glass and dasher walls for protection, seeing old school hockey played up-close and in such a gleeful balls-out abandon was a rush.
Below are some of the best images and my favorite sequences:
Legwand greets Rinne at the beginning of practice.
As Coach Trotz looks on, Erat and O’Brien take their first runs at the net.
Some more first attempts:
And finally a shot of the man behind the mask…
*Remember, Shea Weber was out there hitting the puck.