“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” – No, it’s not Christmas; It’s NHL Playoff time! The Nashville Predators hosted the Detroit Red Wings to Game 1 at the Bridgestone Arena last night in the heart of Smashville amongst a sea of pure gold. For the first game of Round 1 set on the schedule, a lot of eyes were on Nashville and it’s arena. It was clear that the “Keep the Red Out” memo got around town, for there were only a handful a Wings fans floating amongst the gold and blue.
For the first time in franchise history, the Predators topped the Red Wings in points, thus giving Nashville home ice advantage. This isn’t, however, the first time Nashville and Detroit have faced one another in the first round of the playoffs. Nashville and Detroit met in both 2004 and 2008, but Detroit powered through both times, ending the Predators from the get-go. This year is different. Nashville has been predicted over Detroit in almost all circumstances, and for once, the Red Wings find themselves on the underdog side of the fence.
- Ryan Ellis, Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jordin Tootoo, and Jeremy Smith (called up from Milwaukee to back up Peks in case Lindback was still iffy) topped out the scratched list for Game 1. However, one name that surprised many fans was leading penalty killer, Hal Gill. Gill was expected to be scratched and due to that fact, the rest of the defense would have to step up.
- Paul Gaustad sent the crowd in an uproar at 6:59, his first goal of the playoffs and as a Nashville Predator. Brandon Yip (1st assist) and Francis Bouillon (1st assist) picked up assists on Goose’s goal.
- Detroit’s Darren Helm left the game during the 1st Period after sustaining an injury after coming in contact with Alexander Radulov. Helm knocked Radulov to the ice, and, in a freak accident, Radulov’s skate flew up and slashed Helm across the arm. Helm left the ice immediately and would end up not returning the rest of the game. Helm’s gash across his arm was deemed surgery worthy, as Radulov’s skate hit some major tendons. Helm’s playoff run is more than likely over for now.
- Henrik Zetterberg would tie the game at one with a wrist shot passed Pekka Rinne at 2:29 of the 2nd Period on the power play, his first goal of the playoffs.
- Gabriel Bourque would put the Predators up 2-1 ten minutes later at 12:29 for his 1st goal of the playoffs. Matt Halischuk, who was originally awarded the goal, picked up the assist.
- Gabriel Bourque would nail his second goal of the night at 11:35 of the 3rd Period, putting the Predators up 3-1 over the Red Wings. Nick Spaling (1st assist) and Patric Hornqvist (1st assist) picked up the assists.
- Tomas Holmstrom would give Detroit its second goal of the night at 17:53 with Detroit’s second power play goal, but the Predators would run the clock down, sealing the win in their favor 3-2.
- Although the First Star of the Game was awarded to Gabriel Bourque, Pekka Rinne shined through out the game, blocking 35 of 37 shots on goal, including this one that got him the #2 spot on ESPN’s Top 10:
Isn’t that chanting of “Pekka” just music to your ears?
- As stated in the headline, penalties plagued the entire game, with a total of 17 penalties called amongst both teams. Many would say the refs were being extra cautious due to the fact the Big Wigs like Gary Bettman was there, but best believe there won’t be nearly as many penalties on Friday night. The Predators faced ten penalties in Game 1 alone, with Detroit scoring their two goals on two of them. Here are the ten penalty box bummers:
- Brandon Yip – 1:59 1st Period – Roughing
- Gabriel Bourque – 8:50 1st Period – Boarding
- Roman Josi – 1:10 2nd Period – Cross Checking
- Martin Erat – 13:50 2nd Period – Roughing
- Patric Hornqvist – 19:54 2nd Period – Hi-Sticking
- Roman Josi – 5:06 3rd Period – Hooking
- Jack Hillen – 14:52 3rd Period – Interference
- Ryan Suter – 16:08 3rd Period – Slashing
- Martin Erat – 19:37 3rd Period – Holding
- Shea Weber – 20:00 3rd Period – Roughing
- See that last penalty? If you saw or read any of the highlights from last night, the biggest story was not of the Predators winning or Pekka Rinne’s amazing blocks, but of an incident between Shea Weber and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. After the whistle had blown, Shea Weber grabbed Zetterberg’s head and slammed it into the glass, thus putting him the box for the remaining seconds. Wings fans called for suspension, but instead the league fined Shea $2,500, which is A-Okay with us. Of course, Weber better be on his best behavior, for the league probably won’t be as lenient if he were to do something of the sort again. However, the league also has a more level head than fans. Brendan Shanahan, the head of disciplinary actions (who is also a former Red Wing), chose to fine Weber instead of suspending him, clearly since Zetterberg was not injury by the hit. Yes, Weber was in the wrong, but Shanahan is aware that Weber is in no way a malicious player and would not have done this without being provoked. You can clearly see where Zetterberg provoked Shea in this video:
Game 1 is in the books and favored the Predators 3-2, but Friday looms quickly and the Red Wings tempers are rising. Friday will prove to be a little more difficult for the Predators, even if they are at home. Detroit doesn’t want to get swept, and we doubt the will, but they also known that Nashville is clearly the favored team in this match up.
The puck drops thirty minutes early tomorrow, starting at 6:30 rather than 7PM. Be prepared to lose your voice, Preds fans. We’re going to run this town.
(Photo courtesy of Kristen Jerkins Photography)