By Alex Norman
Well, we are finally here. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was scheduled for Memorial Day evening. And for the first time ever, your Nashville Predators are taking part!
The fact that the Preds, an 8 seed in the Western Conference, have managed to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks, then beat the St. Louis Blues in six games, and finally dispatch the Anaheim
Ducks in six games as well is stunning to say the least. Despite a solid end to the regular season you won’t find many people that predicted that Nashville would play for the Cup.
The Preds will face the Pittsburgh Penguins, a franchise that has four Stanley Cups in their trophy case. They have also advanced to the Stanley Cup Final four times in the past decade. It is an embarrassment of riches for the western Pennsylvania team.
The state of Tennessee is hungry for a winner. The Memphis Grizzlies have never played for an NBA championship. The Tennessee Titans fell a yard short in their lone Super Bowl appearance 17 years ago. The Tennessee Volunteers football team is going on two decades since their last national or conference championship. Heck, even the once dominant Lady Vols basketball program hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2008.
Plain and simple, even if hockey isn’t your cup of tea, you know that Tennessee needs this. Being your resident hockey guru, I thought I would take it upon myself to give you a cheat sheet for all those Stanley Cup parties that you will be attending, even if you don’t know the difference between icing and offsides.
First of all, be “that guy” and tell your friends that it is the Stanley Cup Final, not the Stanley Cup Finals. Why isn’t it the plural? Don’t they play a best of 7 series? Sure they do! But it’s called the Final and that’s that. We are a society built on rules and we need to follow those rules. End of story.
Secondly, make sure you tell your friends you have been a Preds fan since the beginning. When they skeptically ask you when the beginning was, tell them the Preds were an expansion team and began play in 1998. Tell them you were prepared to set a car on fire when the Preds nearly relocated to Hamilton, Ontario a decade ago.
Next, you will say that you like this Predators team so much because of how gritty they are.
Gritty is the universal compliment for a hockey team. There isn’t a hockey team in existence that isn’t gritty. That’s because most players are built like Al Wilson and hit like Al Wilson… only a version of Al Wilson that is on skates.
That should keep you up at night.
When talking about the Preds, explain that Captain Mike Fisher is blessed to be a top level professional athlete, and somehow got Carrie Underwood to marry him. Normally we would hate someone with that good fortune but Fisher is “our” guy so it’s all good.
Now, when talking about the Penguins, explain that Sidney Crosby is a… and then fill in your go to expletive. No one likes the Penguins captain. He is a whiner that was blessed with a God given ability to play hockey at the highest level. He also whines like your 3 year old that didn’t get an ice cream cone for the third straight night.
When the games are taking place, if you don’t know the rule, don’t pretend that you know the rules. That makes you look like a poser. Think about the dude at the college football party that asks why the offensive linemen aren’t catching passes.
Don’t be that guy.
In closing, there has never been a better time to be a hockey fan in Tennessee, nor a better time to start being a hockey fan. And the good Lord willing, the Stanley Cup will be paraded up and down Broadway in Nashville.
Enjoy the games!