by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
Every now and then there will be a rash of contagious belief that images are implanted into photographs or other objects. The causality is attributed to some sort of divine force who is either trying to assert their presence in the interest of generating a higher degree of belief or to deliver a message to those who are already a part of the fold. These images are usually of recognised dieties or religious figures. Sometimes its Jesus (or Balder or the Zig Zag guy) on a tortilla. Sometimes its a Marian visitation on the surface of a lake or in the wood grain of a door. In Nashville, a coffee shop was even visited by the likeness of Mother Theresa, who appeared in the form of a sticky bun. Sometimes they can be ghostly visitations upon the camera that goes unseen by the real estate agent trying desperately to unload yet another McMansion in one of the more inconvenient suburbs of Nashville.
I bring all of this up because I had such an experience this morning when I was editing the pictures for this column. I kept seeing this recurring image of a man whose visage was incongruous because of his resemblance to the hockey players of old. He looked more like a member of the Montreal Victorias or the Toronto Wellingtons than a roster member of a team of more recent vintage. Take a look. Do you see him among the hairy, contrary Ducks and Predators?
Looking at these, I had to ask, is this the ghost of some long gone player who wanted to relive his glory days? Is it a glimpse of the divine or some saintly visitation? I scoured everything I could find that might fit the description of this person and then realised that I was limiting myself by thinking only in terms of the Abrahamic arcana. A saint? A ghost? Girl, please. He was a player in the collective soul of our civilisation and possessed of a closer, far more recent provenance.
After looking high and low, I found his effigy in a local temple of commerce:
Yes, members of Predsnation, the city of Nashville was indeed blessed by a visit from the other realm. If you were in Bridgestone Arena on Sunday night, you may have caught a glimpse of the Pringles Man.
Three Is A Magic Number
The second meeting between Nashville and the Ducks had a less than happy result for The Men Behind the Blue Sweaters. It was evident that they had spent countless hours studying footage of Pekka Rinne but had not counted on Nashville’s active roster being so…boistrous during Game One. Cory Perry and Bobby Ryan knew Tootoo could do some damage if riled. What they didn’t expect was being matched and bettered by the likes of Pat the Bear and Ess Obie. Last Friday they were ready and did what any smart team would do: anything and everything they could to get under the skins of the Big Cats. The cumulative effect of the penalties racked up by the Predators put Nashville at a disadvantage and the night ultimately belonged to the Ducks.
Is this the Predators’ year?
But first, Sunday had to be the Predators’ night.
The Third Game and the first of two to be played at BeeStone, had to be the point, the defining moment, as Coach Trotz would say, when the Predators sent the message that this year the Ducks would not leave this round without an impressive set of claw marks to show the grandkids.
If Predsnation had their way, the Ducks would leave this round with a destination that was devoted exclusively to tee times and honey-do lists. At one and one, the third game operated on one of the ruling principles of both romance and field ethnology: nothing is certain and everything is possible.
In other words, bring your calculator and a reliable aresenal, but be sure to pack your rabbit’s foot and healthy dose of High John the Conquer Root.
Three Is (Not so Much) A Charm
While the Ducks use of the not so elegant psychology of unrelenting brute force coupled with goading the likliest suspects into trips to the Sin Bin on Friday netted them a win; the suspension of Bobby Ryan for stomping on Jonathan Blum’s foot had to cast a pall over the Ducks’ heady return to what looking to be series dominance.
The initial drop of the puck was immediately followed by the thud of bodies hitting harder than usual as Legwand led the first shift on on the ice. What followed was fifteen minutes of nothing but hard play for the puck with neither side quite finding the back of the net.
The scoreless streak was broken at the fifteen minute mark by Martin Erat’s assassin-like shot, assisted by Franson and Ward.
In a little over half a minute later, he was was answered by Tootoo who got a little help from Smithson…
who seemed to keep the Death Glare going most of the night.
Knock Three Times…
Some people say that nature repeats itself constantly and smaller systems are really microcosmic models of the way things work on a bigger scale. Maybe this applies to hockey as well. Just as the second game belonged to the Ducks in Anaheim, the second period seemed to be their time in Nashville. Teemu Selanne scored a pair of goals while telling the Predators to say hello to his little friend, Corey Perry.
There was little love to be found in Music City for Perry or anyone else wearing orange and black. Sticks were slashing. Ess Obie was de-lidded at one point. In a strange twist of fate that was as unexpected as Ess Obie’s premeditated takedown of Todd Bertuzzi* a few weeks ago wasn’t, Mike Fisher dropped his gloves with Ryan Getzlaf. The fight was pretty much what you’d expect when the kid wearing the crossing guard harness gets into it with kid who eats paste and licks your pencils.
It was the coda that got me. In the midst of it all, Pat the Bear watched in amazement as a fight commenced that did not involve himself or Ess Obie or Tootoo. As the main players were led off, Hornqvist hooked Fisher’s helmet on his stick and skated over to offer it to Fisher and then glided to Nashville’s bench, bearing it like the last remains of a fallen comrade.
Less than three minutes later, Ess Obie would smilingly go to the Sin bin after creating his own dustup. After all, there was the order of the universe to b e maintained.
One, Two, Three, Four…
Redemption is a beautiful thing. Just ask Mike Fisher, who scored the winning goal and got first star of the game. It was a hard won goal that got him some well-earned praise from everyone in the bowl that night. It also all but erased the stigma that came with getting the team’s only major penalty that night was all but forgotten, It makes the hearts of Predsnation dance when The Appointed Hero succeeds and that’s a good thing but it should not be forgotten that nearly every goal he has scored for Nashville happened because Ryan Suter was there to assist him.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Both teams came back from the second intermission ready to fight for advantage that a win could afford them. Okay, wanting to win is a given, but this was getting beyond gamesmanship. It was personal.
David Legwand let the clock tick just shy of five and a half minutes before demonstrating why he is considered an beast of apocalyptic proportions during the post-season. Assisted by Suter** and Erat, he set the tone for the last twenty minutes of play.
The New Gen was as impressive on Sunday night…
*Yeah, he’s all apple-cheeked and punky-little-brother cute as a bug at pregame skate, but you know he has a mental dance card of game fights as full as Earl Hickey’s karma list is long.
** See what I mean?