Howdy y’all. As the sun sets earlier in the day, there is one thing that is known for sure. The lights will be turned on and it’ll be time for the Predators to play. Whether at the outdoor rink next to the arena or elsewhere where the road will lead them, the hope is that our guys in Gold bring back a win. Naturally with the holidays coming closer and closer, this issue of our continuing saga of hockey will be a little shorter than others. One like me needs all the time they can get to grab last minute gifts, surprises, prizes, and hockey gear for the New Year. Enough of my poetic justice as it may be a bit bland but let’s go to the board and see what this issue has in hand.

Home For The Holiday Cheers and Road Game Fears

One can definitely say that this season has been a tale of two seasons within themselves. The comforts of home surely have been well noticed in the league but, equally as such, the woes on the road. So far this season, it seems like the All-You-Can-Score Buffet has a line that snakes around the lower bowl, up the escalators to the 200 level, and then again to the upper echelons of the bowl at home. To add confirmation to this statement, add in a lot of Fang Fingers, toots of the horn, hands going up, Wendy’s Frosty treats, and a Big Mac here and there. Home has treated the Predators very well this season with a 9-2-2 record.

The road has had more potholes than a freeway after a snowstorm. While there are sparks here and there, games away from Bridgestone haven’t been all the best so far this season. The record, 3-9-2, is nothing to brag about. There definitely needs to be more of a focus on the game away from Nashville in order for the guys to really get back to being the team they are expecting to be this season.

But if you think about it, there is some irony in what is happening here that may add some comfort for the gatherings away from the Big Tire. Thus far, the team has 28 points in the kitty. Approximately this time last year, they had 31 points and still made the playoffs. When you look at the standings, they have played 27 games (as of the time I pecked out this note) and the second Wild Card team – Los Angeles, is ONLY 2 points in front. Hitting the panic button now is a bit premature because if all goes well, the Preds will be just fine come April of next year.

Hockey Holiday Hangouts

While the team has been away as of late, it was time to jump back onto the local frozen pond to play (and of course that is the Ford Ice Center). Much like any sport, just when you think you have everything you need, something else pops up and it’s time to whip out the plastic or drop some dough on gear goodies. In my case, it ties into the conversation of this week’s hockey lesson which I feel is important to share. I’ll get to that in a moment though.

This past Friday (12/09/2016), The Mighty Drunks (one of the many adult league teams in the NPAHA D League at the Ford Ice Center), hosted a meet and greet and scrimmage for anyone that wanted to get on the ice, learn the game, and play with others. Initially, I was thinking of hanging on the sidelines and watching what they did in order to get a better understanding of the game. However, after a personal pep talk, I said the heck with that, grabbed the gear, and decided to join in the fun.

Just when you thought you bought everything, there was more in store at the sports store.

Just when you thought you bought everything, there was more in store at the sports store.

I will have to say that the hour-long session was not only physically intensive but very well done strategically. Our hockeytology lesson this time around focuses on what a ‘typical’ practice could consist of. To be fair, each team is likely a different style of practice when compared to others. Some tenets of the practice are consistent including stretching, warm-up skating, and a concluding meeting at the end of the session. The one that I attended had this and progressively challenging tasks that built on top of each other. While it may be difficult to hear the ‘coach’ or leader(s) of the session, it is important to listen and focus so that you can maximize time spent in practice.

Though the skill drills were a little bit difficult, I was able to learn a lot. I may not be the fastest skater on the ice and you could say I am a risk-adverse person. However, with the encouragement of teammates and fellow practice buddies, I will get better. Nothing like getting plowed by a fellow member only to knock someone else down…and then fall down yourself. Stay tuned. This practice session is one of many, many, more to come. While at it, don’t forget suspenders. Gosh, you need those or your hockey pants will not ride up with wear. They’re drop like they’re hot. Well, maybe not. They’re likely to be cold instead.

Honorable Horn Blasts

Taking a brief break from the horn tooting, they are primed and ready to, well, toot. Congrats to the first honk to Viktor Ardvisson notching his 9th goal of the season (career high) and 17th point just this past go around. Also, he is second in points tied with P.K. Subban while the leaders in that category are Ryan Johansen and Mike Riberio. Honk!!! Another toot goes to James Neal netting his team-leading 11th goal into the net as well. When he’s healthy, he’s hot. Nothing wrong with that, eh?

One final honk goes to the fans that are making a difference with our friends in the Smokies. Everyone that has sacrificed their time, energy, resources, and goods are making a significant difference in the lives of ones that have been affected there. I and the entire staff at Penalty Box Radio applaud you for your efforts and thank you for your sacrifices. If you would like to still help, check out the link on the home page for more.

Upcoming Kindlings and Treats

With a several more home games in the schedule to close out 2016 and a couple on the road, will the Predators finally make the season merry for the Smashville faithful with cheers and jeers? Or will the season bring coal and cold? I’ll have one more article in the till before the year comes to a close. Until them, please have a safe and blessed holiday season from myself, my friends and family, and to all of yours that are near and dear. Chat with you next time.