The Preds have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s cliché to say no one gave them a chance. But…no one gave them a chance.
They were the 16th seed, the last man in, and most expected them to be the first one out. Never mind forcing a game six in the Stanley Cup final; no one thought they’d even get out of the first round. But they did, shocking the Blackhawks. And the Blues. And then the Ducks.
And then they pushed the defending champs to a sixth game and everyone watching knew that Smashville was a helluva lot more than just a cool nickname. Because the Preds are no one off. They’re here to stay. And that party in Nashville was unbelievable for a sport that is always looking to hook new fans.
Hockey’s core fan base is as rabid and loyal as any group you’ll ever see, but the sport has to find a way to continue to grow; and to put its product in front of new eyeballs. This should help.
I said it another dozen times this year, but the NHL postseason is the best postseason, and the Preds and their fans made it that much better.
So Smashville…. Brew up that pot of coffee. Or hell — pour another, nothing cures a hangover like the hair of the dog. Nobody’s expecting much out of you this morning, Smashville. You earned yourself a day off. Just know, while nothing is guaranteed, and it’s the reason you have to cash it in when it’s in front of you; I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see you right back here again.
Because for the better part of two months, the last team to punch their postseason ticket was the best team in hockey.
The best blue line in hockey. Young guys emerging like Colton Sissons and Filip Forsberg. The Preds aren’t going anywhere. Because sometimes you do need to get your heart ripped out of your chest before you win the ultimate prize.
Nothing to be ashamed of, and everything in the world to be proud of; tip your hat, keep moving, and ready to run it back once again.