We’ve long been the folks pushing the idea that this club is very handsome. It’s been our gimmick for many years now. There’s no reason to be uptight about it; these players have to take great care of themselves, and the Predators have acquired and developed players that fit the mold. Frankly, it’s fun on this side to bring up.
Smiles are great. Hockey smiles are particularly great, and they are often accompanied by hugs. And in my mind, we’ve long had a leader in the clubhouse in the category of “Best Smile Ever”. It belongs to Mattias Ekholm.
The excellent photography of Christopher Hanewinckel caught Ekholm’s passionate smile after scoring a tying goal late against Barry Trotz and the Capitals on the coach’s first game back in Nashville. Ekholm didn’t flourish under Trotz’s reign, but has shined in Peter Laviolette’s system. The Preds would go on to win the game on a heroic James Neal goal.
Look at Ekholm’s face. It’s like months of frustration and hard work were rewarded. His face depicts a man paid in full for the trials he’s went through, and just stuck it to the coach that told him to “Get a dog”.
That’s the leader. Time will tell if it will hold up against this new challenger.
Another great smile belongs to Roman Josi, but his on-ice smiles haven’t eclipsed Ekholm’s shining moment. Other players opt now to smile as much when they score. Example: Viktor Arvidsson opts to focus on the hug.
Hockey would be better narrated by David Attenborough. “After acheiving victory in his conquest, the cub is very excited to see papa bear.”
But last night produced a true challenger to Ekholm’s crown. And it’s only fitting that a fellow Swede would be the one to usurp his throne.
The key to this is imagining the person in the picture has lost control of their mannerisms, and their mind is just outwardly projecting shameless happiness. That’s exactly what happened here. Filip Forsberg just pulled off a move that you see in shootouts, demonstrations, and pre-season games more than you do in the regular season. And he did it in a game six on the road during an elimination game.
And he knows it.
There are a number of smiles, smirks, and grins from Fiala, Arvidsson, and a few from Jarnkrok that are pretty great. Roman Josi has a spectacular smile that’s seen more off the ice than it is on it. Pekka Rinne’s smile is superb, but he wears a mask. I’m open to debate, and I’m looking for more competition... but Ekholm’s crown won’t come easy.