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La Vergne, TN • United States • 34 Years Old • Male
They always say that rivalries are born and forged in the fiery pits of the playoffs. With the Sharks and the Predators, this is certainly the case.

These two teams, who had no reason to really care one way or the other about each up until last season, are in the midst of forming one of the great new rivalries of the "New NHL." Meeting each other in the 4-5 seed matchup for the second straight season will do that to you.

The Predators, never really known for their physical play and not once in their brief history described as a dirty team, are taking the aggressor's role in the first two game with their vicious play. While the league office and anyone not drinking Ron Wilson's Kool-Aid have deemed all of the plays as part of the game of hockey, everyone wearing a Shark Head or a teal jersey thinks that we're the second coming of Charles Manson and his maniacal men and women.

At the end of the game last night, it was Ryan Clowe who deliberately dropped his gloves and proceeded to skate across the circle and attack Scott Hartnell who was already locked up in an altercation with Mike Grier. But that's hockey and that's definitely playoff hockey.

The Predators have never shown this much intensity in two consecutive games in their brief history and the reason has to be the influx of grit and experience in the form of Peter Forsberg, Jason Arnott and certainly J.P. Dumont. These three players raise their game in the playoffs and by association raise the game of those around them.

Just ask Alexander Radulov, who sits second in scoring in the playoffs (behind Dumont) despite being a rookie playing in his first two NHL playoff games. All three of his goals are highlight-reel worthy and demonstrate that if anyone is worthy of a 15 year contract, it's this young Russian sniper.

When J.P. Dumont sought out the Predators in the off-season and signed a two year contract with Nashville, we were told of his playoff exploits. He earned our respect 39 seconds into the season opener when he scored the Preds first goal of the story. He became the stuff of legend last night when he scored the short-handed goal in the second period that broke open a close fought game and may have saved the series for the Preds. You can already hear National Anthem singers Vince Gill and Amy Grant working on the Dumont country song.

Has anyone bothered to ask Peter Forsberg about his foot lately? I seem to remember that the Preds were chastised for trading away their future for a hobbled player way past his prime. Ask Marc-Edouard Vlasic if Peter Forsberg is too old to play this game? Sure Vlasic is only 19 years old, but Forsberg gave him an education in smoked last night on the Preds' second goal of the game.

Forsberg is worth two Upshalls and a Parent to be named later. Long after he's left the Preds, we will still be enjoying the fruit of his labors while he was here each and every time Alexander Radulov lights the red lamp.

Does Ron Wilson hold a secret desire for a career in Hollywood? Is he Rita Wilson's long lost brother? I have never seen one coach whine and try to manipulate a series through the media as Wilson has done in the past two playoff seasons. Last year after game 1, he complained that 6'4" 235 pound center Joe Thornton was being manhandled and abused at the hands of our munchkin lineup. His performance earned a steady trip to the penalty box for the Preds in Game 2 and a series changing victory.

This year, the cry factor was again in complete effect as he claimed that Hartnell deliberately attempted to injure Cheechoo with a kneeing incident and a phantom elbow. The theatrics were in rare form as he made it seem that it was a miracle that Cheechoo survived such a vicious attack, only to see Cheechoo play and get an assist in game 2.

And for his encore, the enigmatic Wilson only offered the words "No Comment" to a room full of media professionals certainly waiting to ask what holy tonic was given to the Cheechoo to allow him to walk, let alone skate again. I guess he didn't want to explain why he threw his goons out on the ice and gave them direct orders to beat up Scott Hartnell.

At the end of the day, this series is in the exact same place as it was a year ago. The landscape shifts to San Jose tied one game apiece. But there's a world of difference between last season and this playoff series.

Last year, the Sharks had all of the momentum on their side and it seemed only a matter of time before they dispatched of the Predators. This season, the Sharks are return to the Shark tank with their fin between their legs. They know that they are extremely lucky to have gotten a win in Nashville.

The Predators have carried the play since the Hartnell incident in game 1 and unlike last year, there's plenty of new faces in the Preds' locker room that won't sit back and let the Sharks roll right past them.

No, this year, there's a Forsberg, Dumont, Radulov and Arnott waiting to push back.
Filed Under:   Predators   Playoffs   Sharks   Forsberg   Dumont   Radulov  
April 14, 2007 11:07 AM ET | Delete
"... not once in their brief history described as a dirty team"That is completely wrong. Tootoo is one of the dirtiest players in the league.
April 14, 2007 11:16 AM ET | Delete
"Tootoo is one of the dirtiest players in the league."For what? Landing a lucky punch on a guy with a glass jaw?Having watched Tootoo up close and personal since his first game in the NHL...I can say without a doubt that he's not a dirty player. He plays with passion, intensity and he likes to hit.Avery, Bertuzzi, Simon, now those are some dirty players...
April 14, 2007 11:22 AM ET | Delete
I remember what a clown Wilson was when he was coaching the Capitals. When Buffalo faced them in the confernce finals in 97-98, it became painful to even watch his post-game conferences because he was such a whiner.Dumont looks like he's taking this team to a higher place. Very happy for him.Great post, by the way.
April 14, 2007 11:36 AM ET | Delete
Your own header says it all...you are in the land of thugs!!! And it has nothing to do with the opposing team! For those of you (butler) who don't think Tootoo is dirty--please take off the rose petal glasses. You guys have the worst fans and organization I've ever seen (except for Philly football). Oh, and the most "creative" fans as well..."ref you suck"..."goalie you suck"...CLASSY! I used to really enjoyed watching the Preds and had many of them on my fantasy leagues...but not anymore. Tootoo is a punk and is extremely dirty, and now Hartnell has joined the club. I have great respect for Kariya and Forsberg...but I hope the Sharks obliterate the rest of them...AND I CAN'T STAND THE SHARKS!
April 14, 2007 11:39 AM ET | Delete
I'd like to thank Jim Lites for commenting on my blog...it's a great honor.
April 14, 2007 11:39 AM ET | Delete
Butler, Tootoo had a reputation of being dirty well before the Robidas incident. All that did was make it obvious to the people who hadn't yet realized it. There's is a reason why every non-Predators fan in the league enjoyed seeing Tootoo get his ass handed to him last night. And everyone one of us is hoping the same thing happens again in game 3.
April 14, 2007 11:49 AM ET | Delete
degroat, I will only say that if Toots were traded to the Blues and you saw him play on a nightly basis, your opinion might change. We'll have to agree to disagree for now.
April 14, 2007 12:13 PM ET | Delete
I watched at least 20 Predators games this year, maybe more. What I saw in those 20 games was a dirty player. If he was an angel the other 60 games of the season, that doesn't change the fact he was clearly a dirty player in the majority of the games that I did see.
April 14, 2007 12:44 PM ET | Delete
degroat, considering that 7 of those this season and 15 in the last two seasons were games that involved your Blues losing to the Preds, I don't question your belief on this. And sure, we all have our homer spin on things. I'm not claiming that Toots is an angel, because he's certainly not. But to call him a dirty player is simply wrong. Now Nichol, there's a dirty player. He must have pics of Trotz in a dress or something.
April 14, 2007 3:40 PM ET | Delete
One last thing...I have no problem being compared to Jim Lites...great minds think alike. But I didn't need to read his memo to comment on the things I've seen with my own eyes. I just saw the video of the fights--Ryan Clowe is my new superstar!!!
April 14, 2007 4:47 PM ET | Delete
I firmly believe that anyone outside of Nashville who follows hockey closely understands that its players like Tootoo (and others like Jarkko Ruutu) who are ruining the sport for the "casual fan".
April 15, 2007 2:43 AM ET | Delete
That's funny bradley, because it's precisely the players like Tootoo that is spreading the game of hockey in the Nashville market, especially to the "casual fan." He is by far THE fan favorite and he epitomizes the hard-working mentality of the average Preds fan.
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