After enduring two weak efforted playoff series by the Predators the last two seasons I’ve finally seen in person what “Playoff Hockey” really means. The Preds started the game with the same marginal at best, tired sloppy penalty filled effort that we have seen the last few weeks. Alexander Radulov’s first fist pumping slamming into the glass celebration after his first goal seemed to reignite something that has been missing with the Preds for several weeks.
From the third goal that the Predators scored to pull within one in the third period to the end of the game, I’ve never experienced hockey like that before. The first overtime period flew by, with two very fast teams sprinting from one end to the other. The pace continued up until the final tie-breaker. I was amazed at how excited I was after being totally disgusted with the team the Preds had become over the last few weeks.
Returning to reality after the above wide eyed view, the Preds are right on track to fulfill my pre-series prediction of San Jose in six. Game one was a game the Preds had to win to be successful in this series. Barry Trotz listed a bunch of positives the team would take from the first game but the bottom line is that we are in a hole and have made Friday’s game a do or die situation.
The Predators problems in game one continued to be undisciplined play trying to cover for a defense that cannot compete at this level of play. Thomas Vokoun played his best game in months to cover for an abundance of turnovers, odd man rushes, and pucks left in the slot with no defenseman in sight. I simply do not understand why this situation has not been addressed during the regular season. It should have been obvious to the coaching staff that what worked against St Louis and Columbus was not going to work in the playoffs but it has not been corrected.
Controversy abounds over the Harnell hit on Cheechoo. I thought it was a simple open ice hit gone bad with no intent other than to make a statement. Unfortunately the statement had too many exclamation points at the end. Ron Wilson wanted blood after the game and if the league agrees, Scott Hartnell may have played his last game as a Predator if they don’t turn the series around.
The positives for the game continue to be the spirited play of Alexander Radulov, the revitalized scoring from J P Dumont, the return of Martin Erat and the resurrection of the Thomas Vokoun that used to cover all our defensive lapses.
All in all, I must say that game one was a wonderful hockey experience for all who attended. I pray for a turnaround in result on Friday so the Pred nation will enjoy the playoffs a little longer.