The Second Season

Last night The Lady Friend and I attended the last game of the Predators regular season. I wasn’t sure what to expect since they’ve already made it into the playoffs, and guaranteed (or clinched as they say in sports) the home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. But they were playing the hated Red Wings, and that almost always makes things really interesting.

The first 10 minutes or so were pretty dull. Just what you would expect from two teams who already had playoff guarantees. Then they realized who they were playing, and remembered the rivalry. After that it got a little mean. I was surprised at some of the checking going on. All those guys should want to stay healthy for the playoffs but they were throwing each other around pretty hard. To make a long story short, the Predators won 6-3, and the Predators points included a hat trick by Paul Kariya.

Nobody seems to know quite what to expect from the Predators in the playoffs. That’s mostly due to the loss of their first string goaltender, Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun got sidelined by a rare blood clotting condition at just about the time the Predators guaranteed their entry into the playoffs. I feel really bad for Vokun. He has essentially carried that team through a lot of rough spots. And what games the Predators won in the playoffs back in ’04, he pretty much won for them, at least as much as any man who can’t score goals can. Now he’s sidelined for the playoffs when his team could go into the second or third round. On the other hand, I saw a quote by Vokoun saying “it's a lot better to find out the way we did than in an autopsy report."

The other Western Conference teams are sensing blood in the water without Vokoun. Chris Mason, the replacement goalie has been in the league since 1995, and has only started in 44 NHL games. I don’t follow hockey that closely, but I have been a casual fan of the Predators since 2003. I think losing Vokoun makes things harder for them, but I’d be very disappointed if they didn’t make it to the second round and possibly even the conference finals in the third round. Mason has some good stuff, and the loss of Vokoun seems to have made the rest of the guys realize they need to step up their game a little and not rely on stellar goaltending to get them through the game. Plus, Mason becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, so the better he does now the more money he makes later.

So keep your fingers crossed, and keep your eye on this blog. Playoff tickets are expensive, and I’ll probably be looking to get rid of a game or two just to keep expenses down.


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