Optimism was riding high in Smashville as the Predators and Canucks prepared for Game 3 of their second round series (replaying tonight on NHL Network at 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. Central). A large contingent of hockey media from around the US and Canada descended upon our city, curious to see what all the local fuss was about, while Predators fans pondered deeper questions, such as whether to boo Dan Hamhuis.
It was at this time that we could roll out some good news for all that visiting media, too, with word of just how strongly paid attendance at Nashville Predators games had grown in 2010-2011. This helped the mainstream hockey pundits move past the typical view presented of the team since 2007, as a bare-bones operation that was struggling to survive from one day to the next. Instead, the focus was turned to the emerging star trio of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne, and the underrated contributions of a certain two-way player.
Given the way Game 2 turned out, with Pekka standing on his head and Matt Halischuk getting the overtime winner, it was as if the failures of playoffs past had become a distant memory. Anything was possible.
With all that sunny attitude, Chris looked at the daunting challenge presented by the Vancouver Canucks, and asked Why Not? Make sure to read that game preview, and relive the action tonight on NHL Network...