In general, we do our best to keep our posts at POTG mostly objective and factual. However, I cannot deny that I have a "fan"-side to following the Predators.
I have been a season ticket holder since day one in addition to being a member of "bloggers row" for the past three years. My kids have been going to games since they were five and three years old and don't remember life before the Predators. We used to sit in 303 and I was able to convince Jackson that folks were yelling "your son" during the Preds first season.
All that being said, when I was getting stuff together for the game this morning, it struck me that it could possibly be the last time for my game day routine until the pre-season starts in September.
If the Predators lose tonight and tomorrow and Dallas wins their last two, which they should, then it is over. The post-season pressor could be Monday and locker clean outs could be Tuesday. Is that how it will end this season?
That being said, tonight's game with Columbus may be the most important game in the Nashville Predators history. Never have expectations been so high from the team, the fans, and the national media.
The last two weeks have featured more Predator talk on NHL Home Ice Radio than ever before. There has never been as much attention given to the Preds in the written press and on the internet and it has all been positive. Even notorious Canadian writers (read: non-traditional market haters) are pumping the positive vibes about the Preds' chances to go deep.
Attendance has been great this season with the team averaging over 16,000 folks per game. The crowd has taken on a new sense of maturity this season too. Not only do they cheer when the Preds score or deliver a big hit, they reward the team with cheers for defensive plays and even small minutia that went unrecognized in the team's young existence.
In other words, Nashville is now a hockey town!
The team is on a tremendous run, going 12-3-3 down the stretch when it really mattered. Tonight's foe, Columbus, has lost 16 straight at the Bridgestone Arena.
The team has been playing loose and seemingly having a blast with all the success and media attention. Barry Trotz has been funny at times in his post game presser and even talked to Adrian Dater about how he scares young children.
In summary, this moment in time, right now, this second, marks the pinnacle in the Predators 14 year history.
So with all that being said, what if... the Preds lose to Columbus... then with all the pressure in the world... lose to our rival, St. Louis... and Dallas wins out. It's over. October is six months away.
With all the great things going on, I hope someone whispers into the team's collective ear just how important tonight's game is. I don't want to see them grip the stick any harder or play in fear, but I don't want to see anything less than a crisp pass, a finished check, or a full effort on the boards.
I want to see guys diving for pucks, working the boards, laying in front of shots, and living in the dirty areas. That is "The Predator Way" and this is what it is all about.
This is most definitely the most important game in Nashville Predator history.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass