Sunday, April 23, 2006

Game 2: Make it Stop

I just got back from Game 2 with Chris, which was one of the worst hockey games I have ever seen. It was made even stranger by the odd 12-noon start time. Just a few quick notes.

-The first period was horrible is all regards. The refs made some pitiful calls, especially when they put us down two men on something tacky. We couldn't pass straight, and we'd fail to collect the pass when we did. Our stick-handling was terrible, losing the puck almost every time we tried to carry the blue line. If there was a loose puck behind their net, you could be assured they would come out with it, but yet we continued to play dump and chase the entire game. On both of our power plays, we never once setup in the zone. And our defense was terrible, terrible, terrible. I'm calling Brendan Witt out on this. You continue to take penalties, and you miss wide open players while shorthanded. Two of the three goals were point blank shots on Mason, including Cheechoo right on Mason's doorstep. There should NEVER be a man left unattended to when within fifteen feet of the goal. Our defense was horrible and can take the lion's share of the blame on all three goals.

-The last two periods were a complete bore. There was not once when I left my seat or my heart got to racing because of a scoring chance. That goes for either team. I hope there weren't any neutral fans watching, as their opinion of the Preds would be very low.

-The only two players who looked sharp at all were Tootoo and Mason. Vokoun couldn't have done any better today than Mason, who stopped everything that you could expect out of him. And Tootoo brought energy to the team and to the crowd with some great hits in the final period. Trotz should been rolling him out there every other shift at the end of the game, and he should have started in the second period, where he only had one shift. I think that several of the guys looked off, especially Sullivan who has missed several games recently. Apparently Trotz sat all of the big guns in yesterday's practice, like Kariya, and I think it showed.

-XM radio rules. Between periods Chris and I were listening to the Preds intermission, the Red Wings intermission, the Yanks-O's game, and Bob Uecker calling the Brewers-Reds game. The hockey game in front of us was so bad that we had trouble turning away from baseball, but we did.

-You can't blame the fans. We were loud when we had the chance, even coming to life a few times down the stretch when there was nothing to cheer on. We'll be back for Game 5 regardless, but we need something, ANYTHING to cheer about. But, we didn't sell this game out, coming 406 tickets short, which is a shock. You should never schedule a game at noon on a Sunday in Nashville. Everybody is either in church or hungover.

-Trotz has tough choices to make for Game 3. Do you continue to leave Yanic Perrault off the team, the best faceoff center in the league? Do you take Nichol out to try to bring in something different? As a fan, and considering how many faceoffs we lost in the first period, I'm not comfortable with Yanic sitting upstairs instead of on the ice.

-This is exactly the opposite of what I expected going in. I thought our players would play great, inspired hockey, making up for a soft goal or two that would come against Mason. As is, Mason's getting all the accolades, and I'm hoping for a serious line shakeup before Game 3.

Series tied 1-1

UPDATE: I forgot one thing. It seems odd that the Sharks, and especially their coach, complained about the penalty calls and the faceoffs, and then they suddenly get every call in the first period. They threw several of our players out of the faceoff box, and made the horrible calls I mentioned earlier. But then, we (the fans) started to get on their case, and the bad calls stopped. Make no mistake, the Preds deserved to lose this game, but the referees need to stop being so swayed by emotion and complaints.


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