Yesterday's 4-3 overtime win over Buffalo was more than just two points in a desperate Western Conference playoff race. It was a statement game for the team that reminded them what "The Predator Way" is all about. Miracles are a part of it.
When you play hockey "The Predator Way" on most nights you don't look as good as the opponent on paper. Folks from other places look at the standings and wonder how the small market Predators with a medium sized payroll continue to end up in the playoffs every year.
It all boils down to heart. Barry Trotz demands heart every night the team hits the ice. He has a method of how to play hockey that wins games. You start with the goaltender, move on to the defensemen, and on to the forwards and everyone plays defense and tries to limit mistakes while trying to take time and space away from the opponent.
There is no room on a Predator team for a fancy goal scorer that averages a point a game. When Mr. KHL, Alexander Radulov was with the Preds, he spent more time in the doghouse than on the ice. He never fully understood "The Predator Way" and still wouldn't if he returned which will never happen.
The Washington Capitals have reinvented their team this year to focus on defense and Alex Ovechkin's numbers are way down over the days when the Caps played free-wheeling hockey and won a lot of 8-6 games. I've talked to others and even a star like Ovie would be lucky to get 60-70 points playing in the current Predator system.
Blake Geoffrion has made a huge splash in his 11 games getting six goals and an assist in eleven games while averaging about eight minutes of ice time a game. Will he be the savior and score thirty goals next season? I doubt it. He will continue to perfect his game and contribute as a two way player.
Folks complain that Mike Fisher has only scored one goal and had three assists in 18 games since coming over for Ottawa. First of all he has been hurt. More importantly, he plays with the heart that the team acquired him for in the first place.
If you backed Barry Trotz into a corner, he would probably say that Nick Spaling or Jerred Smithson was his favorite player. He would be thrilled to suit up Spaling and 17 clones and put Pekka Rinne in net and win 1-0 every game of the year.
Speaking of Rinne, no one is more deserving of the Hart Trophy that is "given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team." Where would the team be without him? Luckily, if things continue as they are going, he may receive the Jennings Trophy as a consolation prize that goes to the goalie(s) on the team that allows the fewest goals.
Yesterday's game was the statement game of the year. At the end of the day, it was a meager move from eight to seventh in the Western Conference but the Preds are in a three way logjam of teams with 86 points and are now well on their way to their sixth playoff appearance in the last seven years.
Here is our game story from last night.
Garth, the Sabres writer for Hochey Buzz has post game video from the Preds locker room. He has Blake Geoffrion, Shea Weber, Marty Erat and Barry Trotz. This is almost as good as a home game.
Blake Geffrion got the first star of the day at NHL.com as well as Puck Daddy.
Josh Cooper had his game story, notes column, and and postgame ponderings.
David Boclair has his story at The City Paper.
From the blog world reports come from Amanda DiPaolo, Mark Willoughby, Marc Torrence, Jeremy Gover, Predatorial, Fang Finger Fever, What the Puck, and Hockey Night in Nashville.
The other side of the story comes from Die By The Blade, Black, Blue, and Gold, The Buffalo News, Sabre Noise, WGR, The Gooses Roost, Shots off the Crossbar, and Sabres.com.
In Pred Nation...
Ryan Porth sat down for a conversation with Blake Geoffrion.
Predlines has the story of Milan Lucic spending time in junior hockey with Jon Blum and Cody Franson.
Josh Cooper made all the Buffalo connections before yesterday's game.
AJ at Pull My Fang Finger claims to be a screamer at Predators games.
Mark Willoughby has the NHL attendance numbers and the Preds are beating the league average in attendance as a percent of capacity.
Milwaukee lost their last outing on Saturday to Lake Erie 3-2. Admirals Roundtable also has news that Goalie Atte Engren has joined the Ads on a ATO contract since his season in Europe has ended.
Puck Report has a video of Shane O'Brien scoring on his own team two years ago today.
Around the NHL...
Arizona Vibe has transcriptions of Matthew Hulsizer's interview where he announce major concessions to appease the Goldwater institute as well as John McCain's statement after the concession.
Another day, another suspendable act in the NHL. Matt Cook is looking at some time for this elbow to the face of Ryan McDonagh right in front of the officials table on the NBC game of the week. Six to ten games is probable.
Edward Fraser condemns the loser point at The Hockey News.
Sad news from Aaron Wood of AZ Vibe Sports who is refocusing his efforts in order to generate more income. Read this and cliclk on a bunch of his ads.
Vintage Leaf Memories checks in on Don Cherry and Dion Phaneuf.
The 16 teams for the NCAA Frozen Four were announced yesterday. Time to fill out the brackets.
Here is a history of the Toronto Maple Leafs all in one article.
Odds and Ends...
The competition between Verizon and ATT got a little more heated with ATT buying T-Mobile for $39 Billion.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass