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For our second article of our latest season, our Wild analyst Jeff Hartfiel shares his trip to Nashville to see our local squad play the Predators.
A few months back my girlfriend suggested a trip to Nashville. I wasn't super thrilled about it until I remembered that Nashville has a hockey team.
So I got on my Google machine, looked at the schedule, and bam!The Wild happened to be in town that same weekend. Third level tickets for $25 a piece were an easier sell with my girlfriend than than I imagined. I had something to look forward to in Nashville.
Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators play, is right down Broadway, one of the cities busiest streets. We got downtown a couple hours before game time to grab a quick bite to eat and a drink before the game.
I was in awe of the arena as we approached it. It is huge, different, and beautiful.
It's just as big and beautiful on the inside as it is outside. We toured the first two floors before taking our seats. Our drinks and souvenir popcorn were comparable in price to the Xcel.
We found our seats and took a few pictures. I even posted opening puck drop on the Minnesota Sports Ramble Twitter page.
The Wild came out skating and ready to play. I was excited and surprised that they didn't just come out flat like they have so many times before on the road. Considering that the Wild have won every game my girlfriend and I have been to together - about a dozen games - I was optimistic.
The Wild continued to look good throughout the first period. Outside they continue to miss tape to tape passes, which shouldn't be an issue considering that some of then have been playing together for years. It's kind of mind boggling.
Outside of a really bad pass by Soucy which almost turned into a goal, the Wild looked good, coming out of the first period out-shooting and out-playing the Predators.
Then, 37 seconds in to the second period, the momentum the Wild had coming out of the first is gone. Predators score.
Another thing I don't understand about the Wild: they often have a pretty good start in period one and come out flat in the second. There seems to be NO consistency with this team and that has been a issue for years well before Bruce. They just don't play a full 60 minutes. And it happens more so than them playing a full 60 minutes. Then you hear same excuses after the game. "It's frustrating."
The Wild seemed to get a second wind after the goal, as they went back and forth with Nashville well and still out-shot them. But they didn't really get any quality shots on net, they didn't challenge Rinne at all.
And by the end of the second period they found themselves down 2-0.
Already not in the best of moods considering the way things had transpired, I lashed out during an extremely horrific rendition of a Prince song during second intermission. I started booing after the performance, which had the home crowd looking at me as my girlfriend slapped my arm and said, "shut up Jeffrey Michael!" ( that's how I know I'm in trouble).
I remained slightly optimistic for the third because at least the Wild were shooting the puck. Then slowly, one by one, multiple players made mental mistakes. But they were still shooting the puck. Something has to go in eventually, right?
Wrong. The Predators score goal number three.
Somehow, a Nashville player was left all alone in front of the Wild net while three of them covered one guy. Not one guy, not two, but three. What the hell? They have Suter, Spurgeon and Koivu all watching one guy, covering one guy.
All three of these guys should know better. Suter is renowned for his defensive prowess and Spurgeon has come into his own the last few years. Koivu is one of the top defensive centers in the league. I was not a happy camper to say to say the least.
We stayed long enough to see the forth goal by Nashville. I hear the cheers when I'm outside the arena: it's a 4-0 shutout.
Then we headed to nearest bar, which was less than half a block away. I tried to drink that game and Prince rendition out of my mind, not to mention the first Wild loss my girlfriend and I have gone to.
Despite the loss, it was still a cool experience at a a beautiful stadium in a cool city. I'd recommend visiting if you get a chance.
Jeff Hartfiel is a Minnesota sports analyst specializing in the Wild and Vikings. He's been a part of Rambling On since 2018.