One of the most improbable regular seasons in Nashville Predators history came to a close last night. Oh, the Preds will continue, and who knows how this will play out… but for now… let’s talk about how this season closed. In this most improbable of seasons, in a way that is straight out of a Hollywood movie… Pekka Rinne shone brightly.
Before I go forward, I do want to say… if Pekka wants to come back… he comes back for another season. He showed his mettle and his talent last night. He still has game. But as a just-in-case… Smashville showed Pekka Rinne the love last night… and Rinne showed it right back.
You felt it from the warm-ups, this was no ordinary “fan appreciation night.” This was “Pekka Rinne Appreciation Night” as determined by Pred Nation. As much as Rinne wanted this to be a “regular” game, it was anything but.
Rinne posted a sparkling 30 save shutout and to steal Vin Scully’s line from “For the Love of the Game”… Rine was able to “push the sun back up in sky and give us one more day of summer.” It was vintage Pekka Rinne, flashing the leather, snapping it with every glove save like he has always done throughout his career, the tell that he was on his game. He made key saves at key times against one of the best teams in the NHL. Like we have seen over his career in Nashville.
Pekka Rinne is not only a great goaltender, the kicker of all of this is that he is an even better person. A little shy, not wanting the spotlight, working behind the scenes on charity work like Best Buddies. It would be easy for him to just give money, he gives his time… without cameras in front of him to show the world. He does it from the heart.
And that heart was on full display last night…
As time ticked down, Pred Nation took over, they wanted to show their love for this goaltender, as John Hynes put it in his postgame presser, “the best player to wear a Predators uniform.” The ovation grew, and it sure sounded like there were more that 4500 fans in the house… and when I got the honor to announce Pekka Rinne as a well-deserved first star of the game, Bridgestone Arena exploded in sound… Pekka kept saying “thank you” and “I love you” surrounded by his entire team, even the players that didn’t dress.
Then came the victory lap…
Time stood still as the love-fest between a city and their goaltender took place and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
I have been lucky enough to be at 501 Broadway for some very special moments both as a fan and as the team’s PA announcer, the first TV timeout standing O, the first playoff series win, the first franchise win, winning the Western Conference… last night joins that series of moments, a moment I will never forget. It was a moment that perfectly summed up Smashville… so emblematic of this team, this fanbase and the players, coaches and staff of the team.
I don’t want this to be goodbye… but if it is, I want to see the movie about it.
Random Notes – Presented by
- Playoff Update
- The Predators will play Carolina in the first round… no schedule is determined yet, but I would anticipate getting the series going sometime this weekend.
- Wow… I do not envy John Hynes’ lineup decisions as many players made cases to be included last night… it’s a good problem to have and as Pred Nation knows… depth in the playoffs is good.
- The injury list has finally shrunk to two players on IR, while a few more are still not listed on IR, but categorized as day-to-day, I would expect the healing power of the playoffs to take effect quickly.
- Capacity Increase
- It was announced yesterday that Bridgestone Arena would allow a little over 12,000 to attend first round playoff games. If you think last night was loud…
SlapShot Radio is back every Wednesday night at 7pm on 102.5 the Game. This Wednesday will be our playoff preview show.
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