Howdy friends of mine and new ones I have yet to meet. It’s been a while since I have been at the keyboard trying to write some hockey stories for to share to all. January, like most, has been a month that is busier than you expect and now that we have rolled into February, I surely hope it isn’t as hairy. In this edition of As The Puck Spins, we’ll take a brief look at where the Preds have come and gone and what is ahead on the horizon. Also, an update on my hopeful forward progress on the game is a tale in its own. So for what it’s worth, let’s go to the board!
Predator’s Crawl Up The Standings
It is certain to be known that just a few short weeks ago, the Preds were on the outside looking in with just a glimmer or hope or two that they would make it into a playoff spot before and after the halfway mark of the season. Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, the rout of injuries the team has endured this season is anything like a walk in the park on a clear sunny day.
During the last dozen or so games, players that continue to secure their spot on the team once the Expansion Draft commences continued to do so as a start. What’s not to love for Viktor Ardvisson? He may be small on the ice but has big impact for the team and home crowd. Sure, he may not score a point every night, but the energy he brings on and off the ice is one of the reasons why the team has clawed their way up through the standings. Add in Cody McLeod and Harry Z, the Predators are right where they want to be…in a secure playoff spot.
I would have to say since the last time I wrote that the game that had everyone on the edge of their seats was the home tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Though many have doubted Torts and his coaching style, it is working very well in the Buckeye State. What he has done there is something worthy of a Coach of the Year Award in my opinion. Sadly, he was not able to be at the game due to a family emergency that he had to tend to. Though the Preds were up in the game, a ferocious comeback by them made the game interesting in the closing minutes. However, a home win 4-3 was delicious for all as it included Big Mac’s and Frosty’s.
While the blanking of the Edmonton Oilers (2-0) on Groundhog Day was chipper, the game against Detroit two days later wasn’t so hip as the home team got blanked 1-0. It’s not often that you will see a team take 42 shots and get a goose egg on the scoreboard. In hockey, one lonely biscuit into the next can make the difference between a win and a loss. Go figure.
Hockey, Hockey, Hockey
Here’s something to think about. In your lifetime, have you ever had a passion for something that initially on you didn’t think much about but once you immersed yourself in it, it becomes a way of life? Most people in the studio audience would like say ‘yes.’ As frustrating as it may be on my body and mind sometimes, hockey is quickly becoming a part of life that is more than I thought it would be when I started writing this article. Over the last few weeks, the pace of immersion into the sport definitely has increased – in terms of times, financial commitments, and dreams. Dreams like scoring my first point; goal; a game winner; trying to climb over the boards and falling head-first into teammates, etc. You get the point. Everywhere I look, hockey seems to now have a part of it.
Though there hasn’t been much that has gone on in the last few weeks, it can be summed up pretty easily in a few short sentences. First, taking skating classes with the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy has been one of the best things that I have done to at least get skating down a little better. Admittedly, I can’t still go backwards that much and stop on a dime but I guess that will take more time than the 8 lessons I have for the class.
Secondly, when I have been able to, I’ve attended a couple of ‘Stick & Puck’ sessions to try to get more comfortable holding a stick, passing, and shooting. This is the area that is going to probably take more time to get used to than skating. Finally, the team that I am going to be on, The Mighty Drunks in the D-League at Ford Ice held a scrimmage that I attended. There were a number of guys on the team there (as well as the newly-formed Lower C-League team) and was a chance to showcase things I have learned (and not). I feel that I still have a ways to go but the team leaders see promise and I was better than the first time.
While everything mentioned has been all and swell, there is another side that a lot won’t really touch on that can be frustrating as all Hell. Being an open book as I am, anxiety creeps in when you don’t expect it. It can also fuel upon itself before a tipping point occurs which leads to a ‘crash’ and then ‘reset’ back to some level of normal. I can honestly say that in the last three months or so, I went to being passive about hockey to all-in and committed to the cause and the first game is coming up (February 12th).
This sounds great on the surface but it can tear down a person mentally and emotionally. True that this statement may sound confusing to a lot but let’s break it down for a brief moment in my personal situation if you care to read on. I have played sports before but nothing like an organized team that you would see in a sport like hockey. The experience that is about to start is one that I have never done before and frankly I am a bit scared of taking the first strides on the ice as a player. I’ve always been a fan but not a player.
From what I hear, it is different being on the bench than being in a stand. Imagine if Filip Forsberg is sitting next to you at Bridgestone Arena watching a game chowing down on some popcorn and a frothy beverage. Next thing you know, he’s on the ice scoring a goal. I guess the saying ‘different strokes for different folks’ come to mind. Pretty much to sum it up, I’m on the ‘edge of something greater’ as the Vertical Church Band states in their song ‘Frontiers.’ Hopefully the fear will subside and the first step I take on the ice is one of confidence with the backing and support of the team that I am now a part of. I promise to report the results in the next issue so please stay tuned.
Skating With Buckets
Sharing the tale just a moment ago led me to a past memory that can be applied to the Hockeytology lesson for this issue.
Not many know (well, now the world will, haha) that when I hit the ice for the first time in 2016, I had a stack of blue Ford Ice Center pickle buckets to aid me going round the ice. From there, buckets be no more! When learning to skate, it is important to take it easy when you’re first starting out. Don’t try to do twirls or go 30 miles per hour up and down the ice. Take it slow and get the fundamentals down before doing the harder stuff.
Skating classes and attending as many open skate sessions (indoors or out) will help you get momentum, experience, and motions down. Depending on your budget, you can do sessions that are once a week or an all-you-can-skate option (unlimited sessions). Not only are they likely offered here in Nashville metro but at your local rink as well. I would recommend in wearing comfortable clothing and investing in a helmet if you want to be more an active skater or go into playing hockey (amongst other equipment pieces). From what I hear up and down the walls of the locker rooms, once you get skating down, other things naturally fall into place.
Honorable Horn Blasts
The horn has been silent as of late and dust has settled onto it so it needed a good cleaning before prepping it for this section of the article. But, to go against traditions that I have developed, hold your ears because the horn is blasting towards you. Why? Because with you, your friends, and others that reads these articles time in and time out, there would be much of a reason to do them. So I THANK YOU for your continued support and we’ll move the honker back towards the players’ bench here for the next article.
Coming Up Next…
In the next issue of this ever-continuing series, the first game will be under my belt and Lord only knows what will happen with that. Adding on top of that, the critical home stretch for the Predators continues with the hope of more wins and few or no losses. And to top on all of that, a review of my experience helping out with the SECHC hockey tournament is on the to-do list to write about. In conclusion, for all those that haven’t gotten the stack of memos higher than all the program guides stacked on tables entering in Bridgestone Arena, Juuse Saros is protected from the Expansion Draft.