If any word describes tonight, it is the word draining. Physical, emotional, and mentally just a draining game. If the fans and media are drained, I can only imagine what it must be like for both teams right now. That was a classic game for the Nashville Predator history books. Even though the Preds lost, there is still much to be positive about:
1. Coming back from being down two goals is no easy task in the playoffs. This team showed heart and determination by doing what it took just to get into OT. I can't help but think that the Preds play tonight inspired themselves and gave them that much more confidence for the rest of the series.
2. The younger players on the squad are getting it done. Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber were HUGE tonight. The second Radulov goal was just another sick play that Radu is making seem quite common. These past couple of weeks have been huge confident boosters to the young Russian and his point production is showing it. Some might overlook this, but Radulov had only 44 seconds of TOI in the 1st period. Talk about earning your ice time in the 2nd period. Shea Weber was big once again. This is a guy who tied for the team lead with 2 playoff goals last year (Kariya had 2 as well) and has earned alot of respect throughout the league.
3. This is one game in a series where you must win 4. Everyone in each locker room knows that. While San Jose might have a 1-0 series lead, they would be foolish to not look back at what they themselves did just a year ago. Nashville had that same 1-0 lead after game 1, but the Preds did not win the series. If you are in San Jose or a fan of the Sharks, there is cause for concern. All you have to do is look at the shots on goal in the 3rd period. 13-2 in favor of Nashville is not a good sign of things to come, so San Jose fans better hope to get more pucks on net in the 3rd period from this game forward.
I would like to comment on the incident in which Cheechoo was injured. It is my opinion that this was an accident and not Scott Hartnell trying to injure anyone. I was sitting next to a couple of Pred players during the game and they all felt that Hartnell was trying to get out of the way, as was Cheechoo. I'll take the player's words for it. I sat there and listened to Ron Wilson discuss how Hartnell went and purposely tried to injure Cheechoo, but after looking at the play a couple of times, I truly don't think Scott meant any harm. Just a wrong place, wrong time kind of deal. I know the league will review it, so until they make a decision I'll wait to comment further.
This was a fantastic hockey game no matter what side you root for. The San Jose Sharks earned the victory, but there is no doubt that they know this is a different Pred team then last years.... I can't wait until the 2nd date coming up on Friday night!