by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
Week Fifteen was almost the only time in January most of Predsnation managed to see the team in the flesh. They’ve been on the road nearly all month, with only three games scheduled for the ‘Stone. Does absence make the heart grow fonder? The sellouts at Bridgestone say yes. So let’s take a look at Week Fifteen…
Preds Have The Biggest Spals of Them All
MIN at NSH January 11th, 2011
Gotta watch out for the quiet ones. Minnesota learned what everyone who has been paying attention to this season’s edition of the Predators has known since preseason. Nick Spaling is one of those youngsters you want to keep an eye on. Taking for granted that the kid who has been so quiet in the community chatter wouldn’t make such a big noise on the ice against Minnesota and then having him do so is one of those sweet surprises that makes covering sports so much fun.
You know? I’m not the only one who is getting a lot of satisfaction from watching Nick Spaling get some recognition and a few more netters added to his stats. Earlier this season, Predators Head Coach, Barry Trotz, stated that one of the biggest celebrations he’s seen on the bench occurred when Spaling got his first NHL goal. During the postgame press inquisition* for this game, Trotz was certain that Nashville’s bench would have cleared had Spaling gotten a hat trick.
“We would have gladly taken that two minute penalty,” he said.
Jordin Tootoo introduced him to me during training camp as “one of the good ones”, which is pretty high praise coming from these young men. However, for all the respect his teammates, trainers and coaches express for him, the highest praise came from one of the Summer 2010 G.O.A. L. students. A pixie-like 4-year-old in full hockey armour shook her head and pertly interjected, “Nope!” every time her older sibling declared Sidney Crosby and Shea Weber to be the greatest hockey players ever.
“Nope!” she said leaning into my digital recorder as though it was Pete Weber’s mic, “Nick’s better. He’s not scary and when he grows up he’s gonna get a LOT of goals!”
From the mouths of babes…
Goals were also credited to Joel Ward, David Legwand and Marcel Goc, leaving the lone goal by Koivu even lonelier. The final score? The Wild a mild one to the Predators woolly and untamed five.
Cat Scratch Feeble
NSH at FLA January 13th, 2011
Things weren’t quite so magical for Nashville down in the land of mice and manatees. Predators alum Tomas Vokuuuuuuuuuuun must have given his fellow Panthers net minder, Scott “Samuel L.” Clemmensen some pointers on how to make Nashville see exactly how small a world it can be. The Swamp Cats edged out the Big Cats by one goal. Florida’s Coach DeBoers referred to it as a “character win”. Okay, I’ll bite. Mickey? Goofy? Pluto?
Feel it comin in the air, and the screams from everywhere…
CHI at NSH January 15th, 2011
Having never attended a game at the United Center, I have taken everyone who has been there at their word about the singularity of the experience. Saturday’s game gave me and everyone who hasn’t been to Chicago yet a taste of what a night at the Mad House can be like. The ‘Stone was almost equally divided between Second City hockey fans who had gone the distance to cheer on Chelsea Dagger’s Boyfriends and the Predators Faithful, some of whom had arrived much earlier that day to cheer for the UAH Chargers during the second half of the First Annual Music City Face-off.
So what was it like? The house was absolutely full. The cheering during The Star Spangled Banner is intense. That doesn’t do it justice. I have heard it described as “drowning out the singer” and “disrespectful”. Neither of those descriptors is anywhere close to the truth. In fact, it is a war cry, a unifying eruption of pure berserker energy that accompanies rather than detracts from the national anthem. It is quite distinctly Chicago’s , as much a part of their civic/sports character as their goofy, catchy goal song. Before you judge, go experience it for yourself. I challenge you not to be moved and amazed.
The game was also, for lack of a better word, intense. Chicago came out swinging, with a goal for each period before the second intermission. While the game was tight, it didn’t look good for Nashville, at least not until third period. A little past nine minutes into Third, Spaling (Remember him?) and Joel Ward assisted Jerred Smithson with Nashville’s first goal of the night. This seemed to give the team a boost as the Big Cats began to fight back, hard. Still, in the next two minutes to follow, everyone had to wonder if it was too little, too late to pull past the big-shouldered B-Hawks.
And then something happened.
There was a broadcast break, the teams moved to the benches for the enforced time-out and that was when 17,113 people claimed the game as their own. I am used to watching small object vibrate and dance on the press box tables from the sound system. This was the first time I have ever felt the floor and tables vibrate from the noise the crowd was making. The crowd raised the roof and the Predators raised hell as Shea Weber tied the game with an almost impossible drive to the net.
This tied the game up and the scoreboard would remain that way for the rest of regulation, all through overtime and until Marcel Goc would scoop past rookie goalie Corey Crawford to win the night for Nashville.
My only complaint? The third star of the game should have been Joel Ward, who assisted both of Nashville’s regulation goals.
Overall, a great night of hockey with the usual superhero antics from Rinne, a respectable showing from the ‘B-Hawk’s rookie net minder and some star turns from everyone from center ice all the way out to the nosebleed sections.
Doot Doo Doo Doot Doo Doo Doot Doo Doo Dootie Dootie Doot Doo Doo Doot Doo Doo Doot Doo Doo Dootie Dootie…
NSH at CHI January 16th, 2011
They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
Shut up, They.
Okay, not everyone had a bad night. J-P Dumont got two goals and Predsnation wondered if this would be the night Monsieur Dumont would make it rain chapeaus. Alas, non. That would have to wait until Tuesday. The energy around the Mad House must have been converging the power of the number two that night as Bolland and Brouwer would contribute a deuce a piece, pulling ahead of eRatman and Dumont and finishing off in regulation with goals from Bickell and Toews.
Predsnation grumbled while Trotz and Dumont swore they would live to fight another day. Meanwhile, in the broadcast ether, Randy waited and fumbled with his hat, never losing hope that he’d be throwing one on the ice for Nashville in the near future.
This Jas Faulkner hoping the guys have safe, happy travels during this long road trip. Coming up next is a look at Nashville’s first NCAA hockey tournament, then we’ll get back to the business of Bridgestone with part two of “Strum and Twang”. Until then I’ll see you at the ‘Stone and the ‘Plex and online at Facebook and Twitter!
* …which everyone expects, complete with comfy chairs! Monty Python reference. Look it up.
Jas Faulkner is a minimally socialised writer and artist who lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. She hearts her attitude problem.