It's OK, Sergei, we've seen worse. Really. - Jonathan Daniel
Sometimes, it's the most infamous of incidents that leaves a player's lasting mark on a franchise. Will last night's gaffe be what Nashville Predators fans remember Sergei Kostitsyn for?
Tongues are still wagging all over Nashville after last night's surprising turn of events in Edmonton, when Sergei Kostitsyn decided to hop over the boards rather than chase down Sam Gagner, leading to a critical goal against in the Preds' 3-2 to the Oilers. Of course, SK74 isn't the only player to blame for last night's defeat, nor for the Predators' disappointing performance this season, but when a play sticks out for being so, well, spectacularly awful, it takes on a life all its own.
But Sergei, you're not the only Nashville Predator to ever take a pratfall in the spotlight, let's remind ourselves of that.
Therefore, in remembrance of one of the most famous plays in baseball history, Merkle's Boner (read up on it, there's a similarity there with the Kostitsyn episode), I thought now might be a good time to recap the 5 Biggest Boners in Nashville Predators history. Roll the clips...
#5 - Ryan Suter, Field Goal Kicker
With the Predators riding a two-goal lead home against Anaheim on March 24, 2011, it looked like the team was in safe hands as Shea Weber and Ryan Suter ate up the ice time and kept things under control. After a puck got chipped behind him, however, Suter tried to kick it out of harm's way, only to roof a perfect shot over Pekka Rinne's shoulder instead:
All's well that ended well, but the fact that this play made the game close again in the final moments left everyone talking about it.
#4 - David Legwand Goes "All Hands" Against Phoenix
David Legwand enjoyed a pretty unusual playoff run in 2012, as his hands seemed to take an eerie control over his body at various points. None were more disastrous than in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, when, while trying to find a way out from pressure below the Nashville goal line, he batted the puck out of the air with his hand, right into the slot for the Coyotes' Radim Vrbata, who wasted no time burying it for a key goal.
#3 - Sergei Kostitsyn Hears His Mother Calling
This play has been the laughing stock of the NHL over the last 24 hours, and with good reason.
#2 - Alexander Radulov Clobbers Jason Arnott
The dizzying talent that Alexander Radulov brought to the Nashville Predators was only exceeded by his goofy exuberance, which manifested itself in any number of awkward ways ("I did not touch potato!"). During the 2008 playoffs against Detroit, with the Preds battling to keep the franchise alive in Music City, let alone beat the Red Wings, the team enjoyed one of the greatest comebacks you'll ever see - two goals in the late stages of Game 4 that turned the tide and sent Dominik Hasek off the ice for the last time in his NHL career. It was a magic moment, until Rads went a little over the top in his celebration:
#1 - Erat's Gift to Chicago
Game 5 of the 2010 Playoffs might represent the greatest collapse I've ever seen a hockey team make in a critical situation. After having mounted a spirited comeback to take a third-period lead on the road, the Preds had an opportunity to put the Blackhawks in a 3-2 series hole and take things back to Nashville. Once Marian Hossa drilled Dan Hamhuis into the end boards, the Predators received a five-minute power play, which should have made closing out the game a simple matter of melting the clock.
Instead, as he provided puck support below the Chicago goal line to Joel Ward, Martin Erat made a critical blunder - instead of protecting the puck, he threw a backhand pass into the slot, where Jonathan Toews easily received it and started up-ice. From there, we all know what happened - a shorthanded goal by Patrick Kane sent the game to overtime, Nashville was unable to take advantage of the power play, and a winning goal for Marian Hossa occurred right after he came out of the box. The finger of blame can point in a number of directions for the Game 5 Horror, but it all started with Erat.
So take heart, Sergei, last night's miscue wasn't the worst thing that has ever happened to the Nashville Predators. But it's close, and let's face it - what really stands out about it in comparison to the rest of the incidents on this list is at least the other guys were actively trying to do something helpful...