“You know nothing, Jon Snow”…& Hockey in the South

Well, I know nothing about hockey; yet, here I sit in a Mexican restaurant watching the Nashville Predators play the Pittsburg Penguins. It was not a particularly close game when I started paying attention to it.  Initially, Nashville was down by four.  The score was Nashville 1, Pittsburg 5.  I was afraid the Nashville Predators were going to lose judging by the small size of the hockey goals and the large size of the hockey players.

While I watched the fast-paced game, all the while trying to figure out what on earth was going on, I overheard some people at the table next to me talking about the Nashville Predators.  One person in particular, a guy who looked to be about my own age, was explaining the rules to a girl who seemed to be just as clueless as I was about hockey.

My first thoughts were something like this:  “Maybe he plays hockey.  I wonder where?  Definitely cannot be originally from this area if he plays hockey.  Maybe he’s just from Nashville and he’s caught the Predator Pride I’ve been hearing about.  Maybe he could explain the rules so I would know what’s going on.  No, I don’t want to be rude and just barge over to a table of strangers.”

I changed my mind.  After considering the best way to approach the subject of hockey rules, I approached the table with laptop in hand.  I asked the person I had heard explaining the rules if he could repeat what he had just said in simple terms.  This was a bold, brave, uncharacteristic move on my part.  I don’t really enjoy having six people staring at me with a look that clearly says, “Who are you? Why are you here? ‘She doesn’t even go here’…-Mean Girls.”  There were several girls at the table with the guys.  They looked how most girls look if you approach a guy that they may or may not be talking to:  judgmental.  I don’t blame them for it.  If I were them, I probably would have judged me, too.  They didn’t make any attempts to talk to me, so I left the girls alone to enjoy their food.

The rules of hockey were explained to me pretty quickly and simply.  I’ll do my best to paraphrase what was said.  The back story of this game involves the Predators, a catfish, and a guy named Sidney.  The Pittsburg Penguins have one of best hockey players in the league.  That player’s name is Sidney Crosby.  The Penguins are a really good team right now, but Nashville was the hottest team coming into the finals because they had just swept (won four games before other team could win any 4 out of 7 majority) the Chicago Blackhawks.  

If sweeping means something you dread doing with a broom to you, too, then let me explain.  Saying Nashville swept the Blackhawks just means that they consecutively won the majority of their seven pre-Stanley Cup Final games.  In other words, Nashville beat the Chicago Blackhawks four times in a row.  Woo-hoo Tennessee pride, I can see the yellow flags waving now.  Take that, Illinois!

The Predators have also been a hot topic because they beat the Anaheim Ducks, a team based north of LA in California, fairly easily.  I guess if Tennessee gets a hockey team, so does the ‘fun in the sun‘ state of California.  The Nashville Predators lost two out of seven games to the Anaheim Ducks, but they still had the majority win with a five win, two loss record against the Ducks.

Now about the aforementioned catfish; apparently Nashville is famous for having a dead catfish thrown onto the rink at some point either before or during the game.  The reason this tradition started was because there was a man who, for reasons unknown, threw a dead catfish onto the rink in the middle of a game.  The original man who did this was arrested and charged, but the charges are still floating somewhere in legal limbo.    

Another source told me the catfish tradition started because the automobile industry left Detroit, Michigan and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1998 the Predators became a team, so the former Redwing fans became Preds fans.  The origins of the catfish activity go back to the 1952 playoffs, when a National Hockey League (NHL) team played two best of eight series to capture the Stanley Cup.  Yes, best of eight instead of best of seven.  In the 1950s the rules were not the same as they are today.  Having eight arms, the octopus formerly sybolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup.  

The Preds fans wanted to continue their old Redwing traditions.  They decided on throwing catfish.  It was something native and simple that could easily transfer to the state of Tennessee.  

There has not been a catfish thrown in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals.  There was also no catfish in game one.  Nashville has grown fond of their adopted dead catfish tradition.  The original man who did in this for the Preds got arrested and charged, but the charges are pending.  Maybe Nashville needs to bring back the magical catfish tradition to give their beloved Predators some good luck.

Here’s an even more detailed source for the catfish story:  https://fansided.com/2017/05/29/nashville-predators-catfish-throw-explanation/  . 

The end result of game 4 of the Stanley Cup was that Nashville lost with a score of Predators 1, Penguins 4.  Since that game on Wednesday, May 31st the Predators have risen back up to beat the Pittsburg Penguins.  The Penguins lost to Nashville with a score of Predators 4, Penguins 1.  Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Series will be played tomorrow, at 7:00 PM Central Time, 8:00 PM Eastern Time on NBC at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here’s a link to a website that contains an article about this upcoming game.  The author knows much more about hockey than I do:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2713918-penguins-vs-predators-game-4-stats-and-nhl-final-2017-game-5-schedule-odds .

Keep reading to find the exact notes I typed about hockey while I was speaking with the person who explained the rules to me.  He said he did not have to be quoted.  I’m glad he doesn’t mind not having his name in writing, because I don’t think he ever told me his name.  Sometimes you just have to make random friends for five minutes in a Mexican restaurant, I suppose.    

Hockey Rules:
The two teams are trying to score on the opposite sides, but the guy with the puck must cross the lines before anyone else does.  The goal box looks tiny.  The players look huge, and you have to make the puck pass the goal-line completely for the goal to count.  They have actual lines to determine offsides.  It’s played on ice with hockey sticks, a hockey puck, several pads, helmets, and it’s five players versus five players.  

If you get a penalty you’re out for two minutes, and then it’s five players versus four until the two minutes is over.  If you have two penalties it’s five versus three, and so on.  It’s very rare that all five players get penalties because that would wipe out the entire team for one side.  

Hockey players are allowed to hit each other, but they cannot fight in the playoffs. In the regular season, the players can fight.  They fight until one player falls. If one person hits another with one punch and the victim falls, that’s the end of the fight.  That results in a five-minute penalty, and then that person that punched someone can be replaced.

Substitutions are when a player comes off and another player jumps in simultaneously; there is no time out.  Hockey is ROUGH.  The Stanley Cup is a best out of seven series, but the Nashville Predators will be down two to zero in the Stanley Cup Finals after this game.  

I just saw one player fall flat on his face after being hit extremely hard in the third, final period of the game.  I have been told that Nashville does still have hope in the Stanley Cup.  He also said The Preds have hope for this specific game.  As the clock runs out, Nashville fans are likely growing louder and louder.  It’s difficult to hear the background noise over the talking in the restaurant.  There are 6 minutes left, and the Nashville Predators are down by three.

As stated above, Nashville, lost that game on May 31st, but they’re not out of the running yet!  If you are interested enough to buy tickets, try ticketmaster.  http://www.ticketmaster.com/Nashville-Predators-tickets/artist/805978

In this jersey, I promise to play for the logo on the front, not the name on the back,” -Sidney Crosby 

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