Are eSports A Pandemic Alternative?

A month ago the COVID-19 pandemic caused professional sports leagues to push the pause button or cancel their seasons. Even as politicians talk about the possibility of re-opening the country, there will be a bit of paranoia about gathering in crowds when we come back out to play.

In our world of social distancing, eSports has gained increased attention.

What are eSports?

These are basically video games which are organized in some league or tournament format. The most common video games associated with esports are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, card games, battle royales, and real-time strategy (RTS). Popular esport franchises include League of Legends, Dota, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros., and StarCraft, among many others. Tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championship, Dota 2’s International, the fighting game-specific Evolution Championship Series (EVO) and Intel Extreme Masters are among the most popular in esports. Many other competitions use a series of league play with sponsored teams, such as the Overwatch League.

Even some high school athletic associations are sanctioning eSports as a sport. Georgia, which is one of five states to officially recognize eSports, recently crowned its state champions. With on-campus classes and sports being cancelled, eSports have emerged as the only safe competition for high schools right now.

Even the Nashville Predators have laced up their virtual skates as they are streaming their first round playoff series with the Vegas Golden Knights. The series is currently tied at 1-1.

Could this be the pandemic-proof sport of the future?

Although not technically in the category of eSports, the Professional Rapid Online Chess League is an online sport with teams from around the world.

Verizon reported that US domestic peak-hour usage was up 75% in the first week of quarantine – but gaming as a spectator sport is also through the roof. Twitch: Livestream Multiplayer Games & Esports, one the world’s biggest streaming platforms for gamers, is estimated to have grown its audience by up to a third in March alone which attributes the increase to gamers being confined to their homes.

The Simulation Football League (SFL) has had their games televised on Stadium and other cable channels. The SFL features 20 teams from around the world competing in online stadiums. The Alaska Storm recently won their third straight title as the league finished its 12th season.

With sports fans suffering withdrawals due to the pandemic, eSports have an opportunity to capitalize on the current void. It’s difficult to be a spectator of a video game instead of playing it but eSports could use this opportunity to evolve the sport.

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Random Sports Thoughts

randomPREDATORS GOT THE DEVIL FOR A COACH

Okay, I have GOT to say this….what the “devil” were the Predators thinking in hiring John Hynes to replace Peter Laviolette as their coach?  I don’t understand the thinking that goes into replacing Laviolette with a coach was was fired in December from the New Jersey Devils who was in last place.  I was expecting something more.  I thought they would go with one of the remaining assistant coaches or even ask Mike Fisher to come in to coach the team.  If Hynes was the only option, I think I would have stayed with Laviolette.  Not a good move.  I would be surprised if the Predators even make the playoffs this season.

TITANS ARE ON A ROLL

The Titans did the unthinkable last week, they took down the mighty New England Patriots in the wildcard round last week.  Derrick Henry is a beast and punished the Patriots with a huge game on the ground.  Now the Titans move on to face Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday in the divisional round.  It doesn’t get any easier as they play the top team in the National Football League (NFL).  The Titans haven’t done so well with mobile quarterbacks and Baltimore’s Jackson is about as mobile as it gets.  Certainly the Titans could win but they are going to have to play another great game.  I think it’s going to come down to how they are able to defend against Jackson.

NFL COACHING CHANGES

The Dallas Cowboys have hired former Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett.  I think that’s a good match….I don’t think the same about the Carolina Panthers hiring Matt Rhule from Baylor.  His overall coaching record in college is 47-43.  His only previous NFL experience was in 2012 as the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants….I’m not sure who is going to go the Cleveland Browns.  I keep reading that Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh Daniels is in the running but, personally, I wouldn’t bother with pursuing him.  Others still on the Browns’ list are Kevin Stefanski and Jim Schwartz.  Not looking good for the Browns.

MLS SET TO KICKOFF IN NASHVILLE

Believe it or not, the season opener for Major League Soccer (MLS) in Nashville is February 29th when Nashville SC hosts Atlanta United.  (Yes, I’m still trying to get used to these soccer team names).  It’s going to be a challenging start to the Nashville expansion team.   Nashville is set to play Atlanta (2018 champion), Portland (2015) and Toronto (2017) in its first three matches before hosting Columbus Crew SC at Nissan Stadium. The fifth match is a nationally-televised game against Seattle Sounders FC, which won the 2016 and 2019 titles. Nashville SC has a 34-game schedule and will play in the Western Conference in 2020, with two matches against each of those 12 other teams. The club is scheduled to play eight of its 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents by May 30.Nashville SC will have no home matches between May 13 and July 5, playing seven road games during that time. But there are five consecutive home matches between July 18 and Aug. 5.

XFL SET TO RETURN IN FEBRUARY

Training camp is underway for the eight XFL teams.  The season will kickoff on February 8th with the Seattle Dragons taking on the DC Defenders and the Los Angeles Wildcats play the Houston Roughnecks.

The XFL has announced some interesting rule changes.

  • During punts, players can’t leave the line of scrimmage until after the punter kicks the ball away, so there will won’t be any blocks.
  • Punts that go into the end zone or out of play will be spotted at the 35-yard line or wherever the ball lands out of bounds. The concept of fair catches and pinning the opposition down deep are being eliminated with this type of rule.
  • On point-after attempts following a touchdown a team will have three options: a one-point play from the 2-yard line, a two-point play from the 3-yard line, or a three-point play from the 10-yard line.
  • Like college football, players will only be required to have one foot in bounds to establish possession on catches. The XFL believes that will make the game easier to officiate and won’t lead to long reviews.

Finally, a shootout-style overtime period will be put in place where each team will get five single-play possessions from the 5-yard line. If the game remains tied, teams will rotate possessions until someone comes away victorious.

HAVEN’T THEY PLAYED THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP YET?

This morning I wondered if the game had been played already.  Unless you are a Tiger fan (LSU or Clemson) then it isn’t exactly on your radar.  Apparently it wasn’t on mine.  The answer is that the title game will be played Monday in New Orleans.  The 16-day gap from the semifinals was a result of scheduling the Superdome for the game.  Planning for the matchup next week has been underway for years, but not as currently arranged. The playoff organizers selected New Orleans for this season’s championship game in November 2015. Before New Orleans was chosen, Superdome officials and the local host committee said the stadium was available for Jan. 6 or Jan. 13. Playoff officials selected the later date, expecting that this season’s semifinals would be played on Dec. 31. They hoped to avoid a gap of less than a week between rounds.  Personally, I don’t really care.  Just play the damn game already.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Excited About Hockey?

Being excited or even knowing that the hockey season is starting is something I wouldn’t have done years ago.

Our hockey season begins tonight when the Nashville Predators open their 2019-2020 season against the Minnesota Wild.

Growing up in the South, the sport of ice hockey wasn’t known that well.  For me it has mostly been football, basketball and baseball.  It wasn’t until the late 70s that I watched a hockey game on television when the Atlanta Flames were playing.  I followed the drama when the Flames were sold and moved to Calgary.  I remember that at one point it was rumored that actor Glenn Ford would buy the team and keep them in Atlanta but that never happened.  Hockey teams have had a difficult time building anything in Atlanta.

I attended my first hockey game in October of 1983 while attending military postal school at Ft. Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indianapolis Checkers were a minor league team who played an exhibition game against the United States Olympic hockey team. This was the first team after the “Miracle on Ice” team which had won the Gold Medal in the 1980 Olympics.  It was quite a different experience watching the game in person.

I started following hockey from a distance and watching a few games during the Stanley Cup playoffs. It wasn’t until many years later until I attended another hockey game. I went with a co-worker to watch the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks. We drove from Macon, Georgia to Tallahassee, Florida just to watch the game. Finally in 1996, Macon got a minor league hockey team. First it was the Macon Whoopee and later the Macon Trax.

Hockey fell off my radar when hockey finally left Macon after the 2005 season.

When my wife and I moved to Nashville in 2014, we had heard about the Nashville Predators.  I had seen them on television at times but never gave them much thought.  My wife bought us tickets to a game in 2015 but due to a snow/ice storm on the day of the game, we were unable to attend.  She contacted the front office and they sent us four sets of tickets for any game at the start of the 2015-2016 season.  I had never attended a National Hockey League (NHL) game and my wife had never been to a hockey game.  Those four games hooked us and we have been Predators’ fans since then.  We aren’t able to go to every game but when we can’t go to the game in person we rarely miss watching on television.  It has been an amazing experience for us.  My wife loves to coach the team and it is funny to watch her fuss at them when things aren’t going well.  Nashville Predators’ Coaches should be thankful she around them when she’s doing her coaching.  I had a feeling once we went to a game in person that she would be hooked.  I am proud of how well she has picked up the game.

It was fun being a part of the Predators’ Stanley Cup run two seasons ago.  This city was consumed with the team as fans filled the streets and parks downtown to watch the games.  It was really a fun ride and we hope this season repeats that experience.

I would have to say that hockey is ranked right behind football as my favorite sport.  Football will always be my number one but hockey has moved up past the other sports for a solid place behind football.  I’m not a fan of the fighting and although there is low scoring, there is constant action which you can’t say about baseball or football.

Maybe I didn’t “grow up” with hockey but I am a fan now and excited about the season starting.

 

Predators Fall Short…Again.

predators-loseJohn Klingberg probably did us a favor when he scored from the left circle in overtime which ended the season for the Nashville Predators.  He put an end to the most frustrating experience I have had since I moved to Nashville four years ago and became a Predators’ fan.

Yes, the Predators did repeat as Central Division champions – and they will probably raise another banner for that one to go with all the others that have fallen short of a Stanley Cup champion.  I honestly don’t know how they won the division this year.  They certainly didn’t make it easy.  This is the earliest exit for Nashville since losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.

This team once had so much promise but the future is uncertain.  Will the Predators fire Coach Peter Laviolette?  What moves with the team make in the off season?

There is definitely a problem that is hard to put a finger on.  Maybe there are personality issues in the locker room.  Perhaps there is a lack of leadership.  Right now there are a lot of questions about this team.  If they don’t correct it soon, the window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup may be closing.

After watching the Predators this season here are the glaring weaknesses:

Power Play

The Power Play is awful and ended up doing them in against Dallas.  They were 0 for 11 in the series and had a power play in the final two minutes in Game Six.  I know these guys try to set up the play but at one point I counted seven passes before they turned the puck over without even attempting the shot.  Something has to be done about this.  Oddly enough, it seemed during most of the season that our best scoring chances were when we were shorthanded.  The Power Play must be fixed.  The Predators were the first team in 10 years to qualify for the playoffs with the worst power play in the league.  They finished 33-for-269 during the season and did not score a power play goal in the playoffs.

Lapses on Defense

The Predators used to be the best in the National Hockey League (NHL) on defense but they have gotten awful on defense.  Too many defensive zone breakdowns and turnovers have made goalkeepers Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros’ jobs much harder than it needed to be.  While it is easy to blame the goaltenders for goals, they have kept the team competitive.  Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Sabban were once the main guys for defense but they aren’t getting the job done.

Inconsistent Scoring

While Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith are usually pretty reliable in getting the pucks to the net, the others are horribly inconsistent.  This is clearly evident when you get someone like Rocco Grimaldi who comes in and out plays the other “stars” on offense.  Maybe it’s time to trade some of those stars.

So, if I were in charge, what moves would I make?

#1 – Trade P.K. Subban

Yep, I know he’s a fan favorite and all that but his defense has been terrible this season.  I think it’s time for a change.

#2 – Trade Kyle Turris

Turris is one of those offensive stars who was supposed to be the goal scoring machine when he came to Nashville.  Since coming to the Predators in 2017-18, he has only scored 20 goals.  I think he’s expendable.

#3 – Bring up Eeli Tolvanen

There was quite a splash when the Predators signed Tolvanen but what have they done with him?  I don’t think they have given him much of a chance to prove himself.  Bring him up now and insert him into the lineup.

#4 – Restore home ice dominance

Enough with the “someone sucks” chants by the fans.  Bridgestone Arena has not be a good place for the home team to play.  When your team plays better on the road than at home then something is wrong.  Change up the goal songs and get some new energy in the home games.  Make it a feared place for opposing teams to play again.

It’s time to take a break from hockey.

While it has been frustrating to watch the Predators this season, I’m still a fan and always will be.  It’s sad that the season is over but a relief that we can take a deep breath and take a break for the next five months.   Some times it’s easy being a fan because I don’t have to make these difficult decisions and can actually forget about hockey for the summer.

 

 

Toothless Predators Enter The Playoffs

Toothless PredatorsI will save you the suspense.   No, the Nashville Predators will not win the Stanley Cup.

Don’t judge me.  I am fan of the Predators but after coming within two games of winning the Stanley Cup two summers ago, the Predators have not had that “it” factor since the bitter defeat in Game 6 against Pittsburgh.

It is amazing that the Predators managed to squeak past the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues to win the Central Division title on the last day of the season.  This season has been quite frustrating to watch the Predators.   They started the season on fire by going 9-3 in the first month of the season but injuries, lack of scoring and a season-long disability on the Power Play kept them from being the same team in the past two seasons.

The main problem with the Predators is scoring.  They can’t seem to find consistency with putting the puck into the net.  Aside from Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, the Predators have no scoring punch.  The acquisitions of Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds have not fixed an inept power play either.  The defensive effort has been a glaring weakness at times with defenders giving up the puck in their own end too many times.  I have lost count the times I have heard the play-by-play announcers tell us that P.K. Subban  has turned over the puck.  If not for the awesome goaltending of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, the Predators would have been sunk.

One of the announcers made a painfully obvious statement in one of the games when he said “you can’t score unless you shoot the puck”.   The Predators have driven us crazy with passing way too many times before taking a terrible shot attempt.  I have joked during the season that maybe we can get a banner for that too.   Stop looking for the perfect shot.  Take the shot!

One thing that we have also wondered about the team is if there are some problems in the locker room.  I haven’t heard or read about any rumors of any personality issues in there but there is definitely a problem as the team seems to be out-of-synch.  That “it” factor or “mojo” they have had in the past is definitely not there now.  They need to figure out how to get it back or they could be done early this season.

Tonight they open the playoffs with the Dallas Stars.  The Predators were 2-1-1 against the Stars this season.  If there’s anything we have learned about the Predators this season is that they play better on the road than they do at home and no lead is ever safe.

Oh I want to Predators to prove me wrong and win the Cup but honestly there are better teams in the playoffs with more offensive power than Nashville.  If the Predators can miraculously revive their 29th-ranked power play in the playoffs it might change things.   If they can build on the momentum from their come-from-behind win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the regular season finale, maybe they can regain that “it” thing.

I’m being a realist here and say that I expect the Dallas Stars to eliminate the Predators in six games.

 

When Your Team Loses

sad-sports-fan-609x419I am sitting here at my computer on another Friday night.  Tonight there are no high school football games for me to stream.  The season is over.  It came to a bitter end on Tuesday night when my team lost the state championship game in overtime 47-41 after rallying from a 35-7 deficit in the third quarter.

I hate to admit it but I take these losses hard.  I know I shouldn’t take it so personally but that’s just how I am.  It’s never fun when your team loses.  Believe me, I have endured many painful losses from the teams I have supported over the years.  Winning is fun.  Losing is not.

After my team lost Tuesday night, I was physically and emotionally spent.  I was in a fog for a couple of days.  It’s silly, I know, but a person feels what they feel.  Since Tuesday, I have reflected on some of the most bitter loses from my sports teams.

  1. (Football) Super Bowl LI:  New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28 – Up to this game I had been a Falcons’ fan most of my life.  The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in this game.  I have not really recovered from this game and have not followed the Falcons much since then.   I can’t remember taking a loss as bad as this one.  This one hurt BAD.
  2. (Baseball) 1991 World Series:  Minnesota Twins defeated Atlanta Braves 4 games to 3 – Georgia had some serious Braves’ fever and we all endured the late nights and close games during Atlanta’s incredible run.  Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Gene Larkin’s single in the 10th inning still remains etched into my pain.
  3. (Football) 2018 College Football National Championship Game:  Alabama Crimson Tide 26, Georgia Bulldogs 23 – This one is still difficult to talk about.  Georgia finally made it the championship game and led the game at halftime 13-0 but I think we all knew that it wasn’t over.  Alabama came back and won it in overtime.
  4. (Hockey) 2017 Stanley Cup Final:  Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 2 – The city of Nashville was rocking as the Predators’ treated us to an incredible run as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and took us on a ride to the Stanley Cup final.  Game six was a scoreless tie until Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left in the game. Nashville challenged for goaltender interference, but the on-ice ruling was upheld. Carl Hagelin added an empty net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
  5. (Hockey) 2018 Western Conference Second Round:  Winnipeg Jets defeated Nashville Predators 4 games to 3 – The Predators had the best regular season in the NHL and was poised to bring the Cup to the Music City but were dispatched by the Winnipeg Jets.  My wife and I watched every game of the season.  I didn’t want to hear about winning the “President’s Trophy” or division championship.  It didn’t mean much without winning the Cup.  I have just now been able to get back into the Predators.
  6. (Football) 1999 Georgia High School Association State Football Semifinal:  Lowndes Vikings 31, Northside Warner Robins Eagles 28 – Although Northside was the rival of my team, we were all supporting them in their hopes to win their first state championship.  In the state semifinals which were played at the Georgia Dome, the Eagles jumped out and dominated Lowndes 28-3 in the first half.  The Vikings rallied and handed Northside a bitter defeat.  I think we were all in shock.
  7. (Football) November 10, 1989:  Northside Warner Robins 7, Warner Robins 6 – Warner Robins was ranked #1 in the nation when they played their cross-town rivals in the regular season finale.  Warner Robins scored late but missed the extra point which could have tied the game.  I was at this game and remember rolling around on the ground in disbelief when the extra point went awry.

I could give you three more but it’s too painful.  Let’s just leave it at these.  These are the ones which stick out in my mind and still stir up that bile in my stomach when I recall those memories.  These were truly the agonies of defeat for a sports fan.  Yes, these did hurt and it took me a few days to recover but life goes on and I always seem to find myself back to following them again (except for the Falcons, sorry but that just pushed me over the edge).

Of course none of these bitter losses really affected my life much.  Even when they have won championships the thrill and excitement doesn’t last either.  It usually isn’t long before it’s time for another season to begin and you’re right back where you were before.  I know people who are the fair-weathered fans who support their teams when they are winning.  I’m always amazed at how many Dallas Cowboys fans are around when they are winning and seemingly hard to find when they are having losing seasons.  No, I’m not going to be one to only jump on the bandwagons of winning teams.  That’s no fun either.

Tuesday night is added to my list of being disappointed by my teams but last night I was in Bridgestone Arena watching the Nashville Predators once again and was back into feeling it again.  The energy and excitement is addictive.  It’s hard to give up.  My wife reminded me that sports is a distraction that we need sometimes.  A break from work and daily routines of our lives.

Which fans have suffered the most seasons without a championship?

  1. Arizona Cardinals (70 seasons)
  2. Cleveland Indians (70 seasons)
  3. Sacramento Kings (67 seasons)
  4. Detroit Lions (60 seasons)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (60 seasons)
  6. Texas Rangers (57 seasons)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (56 seasons)
  8. Tennessee Titans (56 seasons)
  9. Los Angeles Chargers (54 seasons)
  10. Cleveland Browns (53 seasons)
  11. Buffalo Bills (52 seasons)
  12. Atlanta Falcons (52 seasons)
  13. Toronto Maple Leafs (51 seasons)
  14. St. Louis Blues (51 seasons)
  15. Phoenix Suns (50 seasons)
  16. Cincinnati Bengals (50 seasons)

There’s always next season…..

 

Predators Seek Elusive Cup in 2018-2019

predators

Predators Are Stanley Cup Favorites Again

It has been 147 days since Nashville experienced an unexpected end to the 2017-2018 season.  I’m still not over.  I’m still mad about it.

Yes, the Predators were President’s Trophy winners which is awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season.  Which would be okay if the season ended in April.

Central Division champions.  Nice.

Expectations were high last season but failed at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

For the first time, my wife and I watched all or portions of every game the Predators’ games last season so it was painful to see them fail to win the Stanley Cup.   Home ice turned out to be a disadvantage in the playoffs at the Predators were 3-4.  Then to watch former Preds coach Barry Trotz take the Washington Capitals to the promised land was just another salt in the wound.  My fellow Preds fans loved it and cheered him on.  Not me.

The Nashville Predators once again begin another NHL season with high expectations.  Two hockey “experts” pick the Predators to fulfill the expectations and win the cup.   I’d like to believe it but I’m not quite ready to embrace it.

Let me begin with my apprehension about the new season.  First, let’s talk about Pekka Rinne.  Most Predators’ fans are in denial about Rinne.  Shockingly Rinne was named the Vezina Trophy winner which is awarded to the season’s best goaltender.   I will say that in the REGULAR season he was pretty good as he posted a record of 42-13-4 with a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.31 but he fell apart in the playoffs with a dismal 7-6 record and a horrific 3.07 GAA.  Don’t get me wrong, I want Rinne to do well but my feeling is that he will be a liability this season and will be a glaring weakness to hopes for a Cup.  His partner, Juuse Saros, played well last year and should be ready to take over if he is called upon.  I hate to say this but Rinne chokes when it counts the most.  This season is the time for him to come through for the franchise.

P.K. Subban.   Here’s another concern.  Everybody in Smashville adores Subban.  While he is known for his defense, he has too many lapses at times which makes life difficult for Nashville netminders.  He’s another that tends to fail when you need him the most.  Is he really the defenseman people think he is?

One thing that the Predators lost in the playoffs was scoring from their top line.  Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen did their part but Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Mike Fisher combined for only four goals in the postseason.  When facing teams like the Winnipeg Jets, the Predators needed offense.  Fisher, who came out of retirement last season, decided to retire for good in the offseason.

The Predators will open the season without two key players in the lineup as forward Ryan Hartman has been placed on injured reserve and forward Austin Watson will be serving a 37-game suspension due to a domestic abuse incident in the offseason.

The Predators have a chance to do something special.   It’s a long season ahead.  There is no question that the team has the talent and depth to bring home Nashville’s first professional sports trophy in June it’s just a matter if they can come through in the clutch moments in the postseason.  Notching the best record in the regular season means nothing.  It’s nice but without a Cup residing in Bridgestone with it, nothing else will matter.

The Predators open the season tonight in New York against the Rangers.

Royal Wedding, Air Conditioning and (some) Predators Win A Cup

Picture1I got up early before I normally do on a Saturday morning and watched the Royal Wedding with my wife. Like millions of other people around the world I watched as his royalness Harry marry Meghan Markle. To say there was a lot of hype is an understatement. It is still nice to see something like this happen in this day we live. I do think the “Most Holy Reverend” Michael Curry went somewhat overboard in using the wedding as a platform for himself and his agenda. It was a wedding – not a revival meeting. He totally lost sight about the reason he was there. And what’s up with that title? Most Holy Reverend?

I LOVE air conditioning. I often say it was the greatest invention ever. After doing a few errands this weekend, I was happy to go back inside into the cold air.  I like that “aaaaahhh” feeling when you come inside to air conditioning.  I am also puzzled who thought it was a good idea to change our shopping to outdoor malls. Whose idea was that?

It made my day to see the Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Winnipeg Jets to eliminate the Jets from the National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup playoffs. I am thrilled that the Jets now taste the bitterness of defeat since they did the same thing to the Nashville Predators in the last round.

Speaking of the Predators, I read that three of the players – Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arviddsson and Mattias Ekholm led Sweden to the World Hockey championship. I’m sorry but this just sticks in my crawl a bit. They couldn’t win the Stanley Cup for the Predators with their million dollar contracts but they could win this? Yeah, I’m still bitter. I could really care less if they won Nintendo hockey. I don’t dare share this opinion on the Nashville Predators Facebook page. Those folks like to live in fantasyland and anyone that’s critical is labeled a bandwagon fan. Heck no I’m not congratulating these guys for winning a cup, plate or whatever for Sweden.

I just took a swig of V8’s Eengery Sparkling White Grape Raspberry drink.  Somehow it fell into my cart while I was grocery shopping last night.  It says it contains one canned serving of veggies & fruit.  I don’t know about that but I do know that I was launched into earth’s orbit drinking it.  Could it be because of the 80 grams of caffeine?

Speaking of grocery shopping…..I think it should be classified as a contact sport.  I nearly got taken out in the frozen food aisle.  Silly me for thinking people would drive their carts on the right side of the aisle like they do with their cars on the roads.  Wait….they don’t do that either!

It amazes me how people are okay for you to have an opinion about a subject until it is opposed to their opinion?  Think I’m kidding?  Go on Facebook and post your views about guns, politics, sports and see how much crap you will stir up.

Oh, speaking of crap….when I was at Home Depot yesterday, there is one of those non-denominational churches next door and they have the preacher’s sermon blaring through speakers so people outside shopping for top soil and gardenias can hear his propoganda.  I had tuned it out until I heard him say:  “Have you heard about those prosperity ministries?  They are a bunch of crap Amen?  Yep, you heard me say it.  Crap.  If you’re taking notes it’s spelled c-r-a-p.”   Hmmm, he’s the kettle calling the pot crap?  His speakers are sitting on top of his ministries’ complex and he’s calling what he’s doing crap?  By the way, that stuff is on aisle 7 next to the garden soil.

Ever notice that drivers are doing everything except driving their cars?  I know right.  I had to quit texting to brake for someone talking on their phone.

Do you have that guy in your office that always asks you on Monday what you did over the weekend?  How are you supposed to answer this guy?  What does he want from you?  I’m sure he’s not wanting to hear I went to Home Depot and got some plants and dirt.  It’s too much pressure I’m telling you!  I have no answer for him.  He’s looking for something big and I have no response for that!

I’m ready to move to a city that isn’t a tourist attraction.  I have had my fill of “yeeeeee-his” and cowboy boots.

Today we are celebrating Carol’s 11th birthday.  Carol is our pudu at the zoo.

Smashed-ville

After 95 games the season is over. Nashville’s Game 7 loss to the Winnipeg Jets ended a season of high expectations for the Predators who came within two games last year of winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate prize.

Yes, I know they won the President’s Trophy for having the best regular season in the NHL this season but you aren’t going to see anyone skating around with that one in the air or chanting that “We’re Regular Season Champs”. Do we at least get a plate or a saucer since we didn’t win the Cup?

Bottom line. This really stinks. I won’t lie about it.

Anyone that knows me knows I am not a bandwagon fan. Heck, I have been an Atlanta Falcons’ fan forever. That alone should tell you something about my allegiance to my teams and my familiarity with being disappointed.

To me, the season means nothing without the championship. It really sticks me that the Predators got the home ice advantage and blew it. It was nothing special playing at home. That just boggles my mind. I don’t care what celebrity you ushered in their to sing the National Anthem or how many of those stupid catfish fans throw on the ice to redneck things up.

There is a lot of blame to go around for this colossal collapse to the expectations for this team.

Pekka Rinne said that he let the whole team down. I’m not going to sugar coat it – he’s right. But he’s not the only one. The defense had breakdowns at the most crucial times throughout the season. P.K. Subban was another source of frustration. Mike Fisher came out of retirement for what? Kyle Turris never turned into the offensive giant he had been in Ottawa. A total bust for getting pucks in the net. And what happened with Kevin Fiala? Sure, he got the overtime game winner in the only home win in the series but we needed him to be a goal scorer which he really didn’t become.

Yes, I have stewed on this for the past two days.

Something needs to be done about the goalkeeping. I know everyone loves Rinne and I want him to do well too but it’s time to change. Mike Fisher should go back to retirement. Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala should be traded. Eelin Tolvanen needs to be in the lineup. I really don’t know what to do with P.K. Subban.

The Predators won’t win the Cup with this team. I watched every game and I’m telling you that they never made it easy. It is bad when your team has a 3-0 lead and you know it won’t be enough.

Maybe at some point I will appreciate this past season. It is going to take me a while. I can tell you that I’m nowhere close yet.

Yes I’m mad and pissed off about it.

I know those fans who like to live in La-La Land and refuse to listen to anything negative about their team. I’m sorry to to bring them back into reality but there is a lot of negative here to deal with but that doesn’t mean I won’t “Stand with Us” or any of that other rah rah stuff.

I don’t care who wins the Cup now. I’m not one of those fans who roots for the team that eliminated us because of some twisted allegiance in thinking that because the Winnipeg Jets beat us that if they win the Cup it will mean they had to beat us to do it. That’s stupid. I want Winnipeg to get blown away. I want them to feel the pain of getting so close and not win it.

My wife made some very sharp observations about the Predators in this years’ playoffs. She didn’t think they were trying and that something was just off with them. I think she was right. The Predators weren’t having fun like they were last year when no one expected them to do what they did. They were not able to handle the weight of the expectations.

This one hurt. It’s going to take me a while to recover. Yeah, I know it’s just sports but I can’t convince the bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach right now.

I am all too familiar with my teams losing. I’m used to it. Remember I said I have been a Falcons fan? The pain of disappointment is nothing new but you never get good at dealing with it.

I am smashed.

Game 7

It will be the end of the road for someone tonight. It is the most anticipated game of a playoff series when teams reach the seventh and deciding game of a series. For fans, we are nervous. We feel it in our stomachs. We know it could end in one final game.

The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets have battled to the seventh game of their Western Conference Semifinal series. It won’t go down as a classic. For the most part it has seemed like an uphill struggle for the Predators. They sure haven’t made it easy. Even with a four-goal lead with four minutes left in Game 6 I still could not relax. That’s just how explosive the Jets can be. They proved that in Game 3 when they scored three goals in two minutes to erase a 3-0 Predators’ lead.

The expectations are that the Predators have the depth and experience to win it. Most are giving the edge to Nashville in this game and many are already talking about Vegas.  If the local morning news show was telling us when Game 1 of the Western Conference finals would start against Vegas.

Not so fast my friend. Winnipeg isn’t going to go away quietly. In the Stanley Cup playoffs you assume nothing.

The Predators can be beaten at home and have been beaten twice in this series – badly. So much for the home ice advantage right? Well, these Game 7s are why teams want to have home ice advantage. Unfortunately it seems out so-called “7th man” has not given us the advantage as they did during last season’s run.

As we have seen in this series, no game has been alike. Each game has been a different story. Will Pekka Rinne be the brick wall he was in Game 6 or will he lose his focus as he has in other games in the series? Will the Predators clamp down on defense like they did in Games 4 and 6 or will they have breakdowns that we have seen too many times this season?

I can’t shake the image of Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. No, not the image that has been circulated which compares him to a goat but the one of the goal scorer with a score to settle. Could it come down to him and a shot from the point?

I’m not ready for this season to end but Winnipeg’s explosive offense scares me. Even with NBC’s Jeremy Roenick (gagging here) dressing up like a Jets’ they weren’t able to close the deal at home on Monday Night. I think the Jets will take it away from us in Game 7.

Previous Game 7s:

  • Nashville Predators
    • April 27, 2016 – Nashville 2, Anaheim 1
    • May 12, 2016 – San Jose 5, Nashville 0
  • Winnipeg Jets
    • None as the current franchise

Winnipeg has outscored Nashville 22-18 in the series.

I saw on the news this morning that Mike Fisher did not practice with the team and probably will not play in the game.  No one is saying what happened and why he left Game 6.  Hopefully someone else will step up and get the job done.

Game 7s are tough.  In the years I have watched the Stanley Cup playoffs and watched the seventh game of a series, most have been pretty close and several have even gone to overtime.  Yes, load up on the Xanax if that happens tonight.

My pick?  I don’t think overtime will be needed.  I think Winnipeg will be strong and win 4-2.