Oh my word. I'm not even really sure I know where to begin. This game had everything, minus a fight. Why is it that Vancouver hates us so?
I should go ahead and get this out of the way now because I'm sure everyone is expecting me to be up in arms over it. Being close enough to see the hit happen at ice level and watching the multiple replays of it in game, I have to side with the refs on the initial charging call. There was no question that Jerred Smithson was ready and willing to throw a hit on Alex Burrows. His elbow went a little high as he finished the check and yes, Burrows got a wee bit rattled. Did Smithson deserve the major as opposed to the minor? I've seen worse hits get completely overlooked but I'm not a ref and who knows what my initial reaction/call would have been in a similar situation. Did Smithson deserve a game misconduct? Absolutely not. According to post-game comments from Coach Trotz, he is fairly certain that call will get turned over, and rightfully so. Did Alex Burrows play up the hit a bit? Most definitely. Does Burrows now have even more of a target on his back at the arena than ever before? Ummm, yeah...and he better watch his back because it's obvious Predators don't forget too quickly.
How awesome of a night did Martin Erat have? I am positive his promotion to the top line directly tied his success on the ice. If I remember correctly, he played on the top line for a while last season and performed quite well then too. Maybe Coach Trotz should just let him think he's playing on the top line every night in order to keep his production up? Getting a hat trick on home ice had to feel pretty awesome. I have waited a long time to see that happen with my own eyes, considering his first hat trick was during a radio-only game two seasons ago. I knew all along my little puck hog had it in him.
The other equally strong performance of the night belonged to Pekka Rinne. There were so many good save sequences from him that I lost count after a while. The defense did a great job of backing him up as well. Everything just looked a lot tighter than it has been in games past. Although...I do have to point out this one thing that I saw him do twice last night that freaked me out a little. With Vancouver deep in the zone, Pekka did this thing where he looked behind him for a moment, thinking he'd let the puck slip in the net and take pause for a moment, only to have the puck actually be still very much in play in front of him. I know when there is a lot of commotion happening in front of the net, it's going to be hard to have complete control of the play but that move has to stop.
A few extras:
Patric Hornqvist stays at the net so much, I might have to rename him Dan Ellis 2.0.
I'll accept the re-pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein with some trepidation. The second things go south, I'll commence with the yelling again.
Most hilarious non-hockey related moment of the game: during the first TV timeout in the third period, Game Ops was doing their usual crowd shots on the Jumbotron. After a while, they zoomed in on a little girl who was elbow deep in her nose, just digging away. As if that wasn't good enough, she then proceeded to take her finger out and stick it in her mouth. Everyone watching, Dan Ellis included, immediately dissolved into a fit of giggles. Truly gross yet also one of the funniest things I've seen at a hockey game in a long time.
As if facing the nasty Canucks wasn't enough hatred for one week, the Columbus Bluejackets roll into town tomorrow night to face off against the Predators for the second of the team's six meetings this season. Thursday night is also College Night, which means half price sodas and beer through the first intermission as well as $25 lower bowl seats and $10 upper bowl seats with college ID. Discount tickets are also available here. [Special offer code: PREDS] Take a break from Christmas shopping and come out and enjoy the game.