Are you curled up in your warmest blanket yet? Sipping hot cocoa or warm milk to get to sleep in this tundra-esque weather that reminds you that it finally is winter? Me too - only with a nightcap to warm my soul...and take care of the coffee I drank earlier this afternoon. Well, one thing is for sure, whatever you're doing in the cold, you can sleep soundly knowing our boys in blue gave us a win tonight - and that's enough to warm any Preds fan up in any weather.
My favorite boy this season, Patric Hornqvist, is the perfect example of what a Predator player should be: gritty, determined and a team player. The guy scores two goals tonight and gives us an assist, sticks up for players hit, takes the guff from the other team after trying to plow the puck through the goalie and keeps playing through the whole game. There are others that do most of this, but alas, they're injured at the moment (sans Goc, but you already know these two are my favored pair this season...for all of these reasons and their accompanying results).
As for the "big guns", JP put the first goal on the board to tie up the game and had a perfect chance for another goal, but he's had a habit this season, at least in the past month or two, of blowing his chances by trying to do what he knows he does better...assisting. He needs to get that shooting confidence back. Sully picked up a beautiful goal while kneeling before being boarded into the glass, falling to the ice in pain with little movement. One Twitter post tonight mentioned it was a shoulder injury and after being X-ray'd, he seemed in better spirits - I hope that information is correct and that Sully recovers with ease. Arnott needs to step his game up and take back that scoring position we all know he's capable of...though I am curious...once his contract is up in 2011 (or is it 2012?), do we re-sign him if he keeps going down this inconsistent path of little production (say, if by the end of the season he only has 20 goals and next season looks similar)? If not, who could captain the team or fill in that Center spot on the 1st? We'll see how he comes out of the Olympic break. I think we all never thought, especially at the beginning of this season, we'd all be desperate to see Erat back on the ice. Myself, I don't know how Miroslav Satan stayed a free agent so long this season - good on the Bruins for picking up some possible offense since they are also a team in need of goals this season. Half a season for $700k - not bad at all.
What do you think bothered Pekka so much this evening? The boy seemed way off his game, allowing rebounds not unlike the ones Dan Ellis-haters like to over-exaggerate about. There were too many close calls tonight where Rinne would seemingly be reacting with a 1-to-2 second delay against the rest of reality, and, as one fella in Section 303 put it, if it weren't for the fact that we were playing Carolina, the game would have been a lot worse. Tuesday night during warm-ups, Pekka was gloving down shots with speed and grace, while Ellis was kicking the pucks away. We need our goalie to stop the puck and play it with finesse - Pekka gloves them better when he's "on", but tonight was not that night. Tonight, seems like Nittymaki called him right before the game and gave him a raspberry over the phone. That's not the goalie we need in net (though neither is a goalie that doesn't stop the play with heavy traffic around) - but again, we were playing Carolina.
We won...though based on some of tonight's performances, it could've gone either way. That's not the team Nashville truly is. We've seen that strength, we know it is there. It's just up to the whole team to put in everything they've got for the whole game. Hornqvist did it tonight. Sully did it tonight. I'm not saying they need to put their lives on the line (though the argument can be made since they play such a dangerous sport, it already is), but I am saying they don't need to be second-guessing chances they're being given (whether that be a puck on the end of your stick with a great shot on net oooooor another chance to prove you can be the starting goaltender) or not giving 100% just because it feels like an "off" night. You're in the NHL - you don't get "fat days".
14,910 in attendance on this icy Thursday evening (we had the pleasure of giving away our extra tickets to bring four friends along with us), even with the final (finally) college bowl game going on on television. Let's keep proving why we're the best damn fans in the league, making up the majority of ticket sales vs. every other market where the corporations make up the majority of ticket sales. We are the tried and true, especially those that came out tonight in the 20-odd degree weather (dealing with, not only the dangers of ice on the road, but the reactions of the typical Southern drivers in said conditions - that takes balls) .
The Ducks are flying back South for revenge this Saturday. Let's take care of the fowl.