Friday, April 21, 2006

Game 1 Goes To Preds

The Predators scored 4 times on the power play en route to a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks tonight. Paul Kariya once again showed an amazing ice presence with 4 assists and Chris Mason came up HUGE in a troublesome defensive game.

I sat in the infamous section 303. First, the bad: this section is filled with obnoxiousness. I don't get offended by bad language, but I do find it troublesome when kids are crying out "bullshit" openly, and adults are letting it fly in front of other kids. And wit isn't a strong suit. I'm not talking about the derisive cheers that have been a 303 staple since 1998--I'm talking about the lone voice cheers, the ones that get drowned out by the crowd--the ones so filled with Neanderthal cutdown logic that you're embarrassed to be anywhere near it.

The good: 303 never gets down. Even when the Sharks tied the score at 3-3, they supported Mason and backed the team, and there was a nice lift. 303 cannot be ignored for their support. They are the vocal backbone of the home crowd.

The loudest crowd I have ever heard. By the first minute of the first period, this playoff experience easily surpassed my 2 combined NLCS experiences in Atlanta, where there were a little over twice as many fans per game. I had a headache afterwards. Glad there's a break between games 1 and 2 because I'm going to need it.

Defense got into some dangerous Vokoun-era play in this game. All of the Sharks' goals were on complete breakdowns by the defense. But they made some excellent plays in crucial situations, and Mason made some seriously over-his-head saves.

Pete Weber, one of the best broadcasters around, remarked that this was the best game ever played at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. That's some high praise. The game was indeed excellent--electric, close, tough...all those things. I can't say I've seen better, either.

Can't wait for game 2. Preds up 1-0.


At 4/22/2006 07:40:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I was there too, not far from where Chris sat.

-Easily the most exciting game I've seen. There was never a time when I was confident we'd won--especially the last minute--San Jose was just so good.

-there's no denying that Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo are really, REALLY good together. Scary good. It's like Forsberg and Sakic. Just frightened me every time they hit the ice.

-Joe Thornton is a whiney little bitch, and we need to transfer the Chelios-is-a-sissy chant over to him. I saw at least five times where things didn't go his way and he would complain to the ref behind the play or on his way back to the bench. And guess what? They eventually started calling penalties on us against Thornton. Man, he's a gifted player, but I hate that hockey's elite players can essentially tell a ref how to call a game. Whiney. Little. Bitch.

-Mason was every bit as good in net as Vokoun would have been. No overstatement there...he was amazing. That close-range wrister that he snatched out of the air with his glove?! That was amazing. And the moment in the third when the Sharks player had a one-on-one and double-deked...and Mason did a double-kick save?! Freaking fantastic!! And he's not the culprit on at least two of those goals...bad defense.

-We owned them in the first. Then the second was a bit more even. By the third...they were really humming and we looked a little panicky.

-Legwand, as I continue to beat my drum, was awesome. He created plays, made excellent passes and reads, defended great.

-Kariya has turned it up folks. He's put it into overdrive, and he is good enough to carry the whole team on some nights.

-Sully was back! Yay. That was awesome to see him hustling out there.

-But the Hustle Player of the Game award goes, as it usually does, to Scott "I don't understand the word quit" Walker....always churning. He was outstanding on the penalty kill...was just everywhere.

-My girlfriend could care less about hockey, but I took her anyway. By the game's final minutes, she was on her feet yelling "Get 'em!" and "Come on, ref!" I loved it! The playoffs transcend any lack of understanding of the game. The excitement is palpable...the rumble of the crowd shakes your chest. Please, if you can, try to go to one of these games. You won't regret it.

-Power play looked great. Penalty kill did too, except for the first period.

-This is going to be a tough series. If we win it...I think home ice will be the key factor. I think it's going to be tough for either team to win on the road in this series...both teams are just really clicking right now.

-I take that back. If we win the might just be because they are playing Tuskala in goal. Poor bastard...he looked skittish all night. There were three or four moments when we just cleared the puck down toward him and he nearly let it go by him into the net. Maybe it was jitters, but I'm glad we're facing a newbie goalie.

-Chris Mason deserves all the chanting. He was awesome and has been since Vokoun went down. I loved his reaction at the buzzer, pumping one fist while lifting his leg and kicking in celebration. His excitement at having won his first playoff game was clearly evident...very cool.


At 4/22/2006 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Yes, Walker. There was one penalty kill in particular where I saw him create a ton of havoc. He was a total pest and I was almost surprised the Sharks didn't take out a frustration penalty on him.


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