Smashville: Mission Accomplished. After out-shooting, out-playing and out-hitting Pittsburgh in their own barn twice, the Predators came home, down 2-0 and seemingly dead, needing to beat the defending champs 4 times in five games to complete the world shocker.
They were a great story, but this was just too much to ask. Coming back on the defending Champs who are impossible to kill. Still, what an unbelievable ride it was. From 16 seed and the last team in, to advancing all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
And even if they weren’t going to get their name on the Cup, it was still the experience of a lifetime. And it put Smashville on the map nationally. Ehhhhhhh!! Wrong answer!
Because the Preds came back home and did what they always do in that insane barn in front of their insane fans. Played insane dee… scored clutch goals and rode their best player Pekka Rinne who was standing on his freaking head all night long! Now the series is tied up two games apiece, and headed back to Pittsburgh. Now it’s a best of three and the Preds have guaranteed themselves at least one more game at home. Which means at least one more party for the ages in Smashville.
And as I tweeted last night; it’s not Golden State’s fault they’re blowing out the Cavs. But the Stanley Cup final has been so much better than the NBA Finals. The NHL postseason has crushed the NBA playoffs. There really hasn’t been one compelling series in the NBA playoffs, but every single series, game, period, faceoff has mattered in the NHL playoffs. Especially with Nashville v. Pittsburgh.
And maybe it’s because he made it back home. Or maybe someone just reminded Pekka Rinne he’s Pekka Rinne… but when that guy is that unconscious, and is stoning Pittsburgh’s best time and time again from point blank range, and snatching souls, you’re not beating this dude. He may have made just 23 saves, but a number of those were game-saving, series-saving saves. Dude went absolute legend when they had to have it most, stopping multiple breakaways and point blank attempts after a 2 game detour from his Conn Smythe campaign.
The obvious question is, does that effort and performance travel? We know what Rinne can do at Bridgestone, but can he repeat in Pittsburgh? He’s going to have to, because they’re not beating the Penguins in their house without it.
The next best thing to Rinne finding his game was unexpected power sources stepping up for the Preds. Like Viktor Arvidsson who put it on ice in the third period after snapping his 15 game scoreless drought.
Fact is, while all the mo has shifted back to Nashville, the Penguins are still in the driver’s seat. They still have the home ice, where they have been nearly unbeatable. But while they are tied at two games apiece, they have pretty much been outplayed in four straight. And the Preds know it. Just as they know they’re getting another game back home; and that they were going to have to win one in the enemy’s barn to get their name on the Cup anyway. This is as good as it gets.
And the reason, every year at this time, I hammer home the point that the NHL postseason is the best postseason. I don’t know how many different ways I can say it. And you’re probably sick of hearing it from me. Fine. Then hear it from someone else. Don’t take my word for it, take it from NBA Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley:
When he says the NBA playoffs have not been great, he means they’ve been horrible. And the NHL playoffs have been amazing.
So back to Pittsburgh. Series squared up at 2. Mojo bouncing off both walls and that pressure cooker shipping back to the defending champs house. Best of 3 for the best trophy in all of sports.