Today is a red-letter day for hockey in Nashville as the whole hockey world is talking about and watching the Predators, who are the new media darling team that was recently discovered in the lazy backwoods of the American South. All of the media elite from north of the border is in town, soaking up the hospitality, while they wait to see if the Predators are a contender or pretender as they go up against the regular season's best team.
Vancouver (1-1) comes to Music City to play the Predators (1-1) after a heartbreaking double-overtime 2-1 loss to Nashville that ended in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Canucks saw a completely different team than they played in game one when they won 1-0 in what was described as the "closest blow out in history."
Barry Trotz had no answers for the poor showing in game one, "I was surprised. I have no idea why we were not engaged. It was just a mindset. We didn't have much detail and sometimes you need a wake-up call to get going and that was the wake-up call"
The Predators play in game two was a completely different story. The team was fully engaged for the entire four and three-quarter periods. A fluke goal tied it with a little over an minute in regulation and a true "Predator Way" goal by Matt Halischuk was the game winner.
Trotz but pressure on the team before the game saying the true character of the team would be revealed. When asked if it he saw the team's character he said, "I said we are going to be judged by what we do in game two and I was pretty confident that they were going to respond in the right way. They did and found a way to get a win"
When asked if game two defined "Predator Hockey" Trotz responded, "In a lot of ways yes. We were resilient, we checked really well, had good focus and effort, good determination, lots of conviction, and got good goal-tending and found a way to beat the other team."
Pekka Rinne was more direct on the showing the true character of the team question, "Yes we did. We played a poor game one and responded great in a really good way in the second game. That is how this team is. We seem to be very resilient and always seem to bounce back well after bad games."
It is amazing that after two games Pekka Rinne (1-1-0, 0.78, .968) and Roberto Luongo (1-1-0, 0.78, .970) have almost identical statistics but Luongo has been painted as having a poor series while Rinne has been crowned as the next great goalie.
Special team scoring has not figured into this series to this point as both teams' penalty kill has been perfect with the Canucks killing six Predator power plays and the Preds stopping all nine of Vancouver's man-advantages.
Folks that are looking for offense probably should go elsewhere tonight as the defensive nature of the two teams is unlikely to change. I do again expect somewhere between three and five goals to be scored and a tight defensive game throughout.
The game will also mark a homecoming of sorts for ex-Predator Dan Hamhuis who will play his first game in the Bridgestone Arena since going to Vancouver as a free agent last summer. He was injured in both prior meetings between the two teams in Nashville.
The game is on Versus Network nationally but will be seen on SportSouth in the Predators' viewing area. There is a special 8 p.m. start time and hopefully the storms will move out so the full schedule of activities on the plaza will be available before the game.
This will be the team's first "gold out" so be ready to embrace the team's new color scheme and be loud and be proud as all of North America will be watching on TV.
To add to the circus type atmosphere, the Green Men from Vancouver are set to attend. I would encourage fans to show their best Southern hospitality to them and all of the other out of town guests.
Other previews come from Amanda Dipaolo, Robby Stanley, Chris Burton, Paul McCann, Predatorial, and Predators.com.
For Previews from Vancouver, check out the links in the right column.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass