Welcome back to another edition of my personal journey learning the sport of hockey inside and out. This issue of the chronicle focuses on the family – hockey and all. So before the mashed potatoes start flinging across the dinner table and mom’s apple pie becomes decorate art on the wall, let’s go to the board and review what happened this past week.

Heat Waves & Arctic Blasts

The weather this year around middle Tennessee and elsewhere surely hasn’t been fall-like. With temperatures climbing into the 80s during in November, it is very unusual. More seasonal tempts have set in and much like the temperature swings, the Predators are hot one day, cold the next.

The snow is coming - now, it's a matter of when?

The snow is coming – now, it’s a matter of when?

This weekly recap of the boys in blue and gold starts off an old coworker of mine and his wife came me in town for his birthday AND first NHL game (against the Ducks). I have to say this was probably one of the best games that I have seen all season. Filip finally scored getting that demon off his back and Pekka got his first shutout of the season in a 5-0 win.

The next three games took the team on the road through the city roads and pastures of Canada and the Midwest. In short, the team looked like they suffered a food coma after a Thanksgiving meal early in the trip losing to Toronto 6-2.  Two nights later, they would wake up from that and defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-1 in stunning fashion. The end of the road trip was sour much like a cup of sweet tea with a bottle of lemon thrown into it. While the score-sheet may argue otherwise, they sadly got blue-balled 3-1 in St. Louis. Now that the roadtrip is over, the team comes back to home sweet home for a trio of games during Thanksgiving Week 2016. It started off with a solid victory over Tampa Bay! They better get cookin’ soon or they’re going to get thrown out of the kitchen and into the cold, wet basement of the Western Conference.

Family Feudin’

Hockey is such an interesting sport let me tell you. This is one of the few sports that teams russle and tussle each other similar to who is going to grab the last biscuit on the table before more comes out of the oven. Let’s admit it – hockey players like to fight and there’s no telling who is going to fight who during a game. Just a year ago, one may remember the game between our Preds and the Winnipeg Jets. A minor scuffle turned out into an all-out brawl with nearly a dozen players in BOTH penalty boxes. On that note, this brings us to our concluding conversation on the harshest penalties that zebras on the ice can dole out – major penalties. Case in point, bros don’t let fellow chums get bullied by the opposite team. That was observed the other night when Fisher went to bat for Viktor and showed him who was boss. Way to go cap’n!

Major penalties are ones that carry a minimum of five minutes of penalty ice time. Unlike minor and double-minor penalties in most cases, these do not affect the team that is on the ice. Rather, think of someone that is put into time-out to calm their nerves, think about what they did, and then go about their business thereafter. A number of the penalties mentioned in the last two articles can be escalated to a major penalty at referee’s discretion but rarely are. There are ones that haven’t been chatted about yet too. While the meats and veggies are resting so that one doesn’t burn the insides of their mouth or tongue, let’s look at those for a hot minute:

  • Butt-ending – as if you haven’t heard of them all, this rare penalty is called when a player intentionally strikes an opponent with the top point of a stick’s shaft. That has got to hurt after that occurs.
  • Fighting – one of the most common calls for a major penalty, this is when two (or more) players get into a fist fight on the ice and tries to
    Challenging The Laws of Stuffing Players In The Penalty Box Since 2015.

    Challenging The Laws of Stuffing Players In The Penalty Box Since 2015.

    one-up the other. Though the team doesn’t lose the player on the ice when play resumes, they have to sit out for five or more minutes.

  • Head butting – occurs when two noggins collide intentionally in an attempt to injure another. This is a dangerous thing to do in hockey, or heck, any sport for that matter.
  • Checking To The Head – this is when a player checks an opponent and the specific initial target is the head and not elsewhere in the body. Similar to a head but it’s viler in nature.
  • Interference – though commonly a minor penalty, this may be upgraded at a referee’s decision if a player does it multiple times in a game.
  • Slashing –this one that was mentioned before but in this case, a player is injured as of the result because this is when a player uses a stick to cause pain and suffering.

Game misconducts, which are the most severe infraction a player can receive in a game, can be tagged onto a major penalty. Short and sweet, that player gets booted from the game and is not allowed to come back onto the ice, period. Penalty minutes enforced are served by another team member. This only happens when a player (a) commits a major infraction like butt-ending, checking from behind, clipping, head-butting, and so on or (b) when they have committed multiple major infractions during a game. There’s no hard fast number held to that but usually after the third major, it’s time for them to get off the ice.

The Path Towards Playing Hockey

Now that supper has been served, it’s time for some after dinner mints. For those joining us at the table for the first time today, welcome. I mentioned before that I was not only going to learn about the sport but also learn how to play it too. This past Sunday (November 13th, 2016), myself and more than 20 others got to learn the basics of hockey courtesy of the Nashville Predators and Ford Ice Center. You had to be quick to register because it filled up in a little over one day. Wow!

Justin Bradford snuck in a picture of me learning how to skate with a coach on the ice during the 'Learn To Play Hockey' event at the Ford Ice Center.

Justin Bradford snuck in a picture of me learning how to skate with a coach on the ice during the ‘Learn To Play Hockey’ event at the Ford Ice Center.

Unlike the first time I was on the ice, none of us had buckets and a lot of us fell on our bums. In fact, I am still feeling one of those spills a week later, ha! The hockey coaches present did an amazing job. Ironically, since this was only the second time I skated sine a 15-year lull, I didn’t know what to expect. After about 10 minutes or so, I was up and running. Who would of thought that I would be going around the ice and actually getting somewhere before, well, falling again? Even my friend Derek, which I met late last season prior to the playoffs, has never skated before and by the end of the hour, we made incredible strides and progress. Like our mutual friend Bryan commented, “You did great. I was very impressed.”.

Towards the middle of the hour, they introduced sticks and pucks That is harder than most people think believe you me. At the conclusion of the hour, they let grouped us into four teams and with their help, was playing hockey. Trust me, with time, practice, a few skating lessons, more bumps and bruises, progress will come, for me, Derek, and many others that were there. Thanks to everyone that came out, participated, and helped us learn to skate for another day!

Honorable Horn Blasts

Now that dinner is wrapped up and dessert is served, let’s quickly get this week’s honks out of the way. Besides, we don’t want to disturb the neighbor putting up lights outside too much now with the toots of the ‘ol horn. James Neal continued to command the kitchen and tied the team record with goals in six straight games before the streak ending in St. Louis. Pontus Aberg notched his first NHL goal; Filip finally got a goal on the score-sheet AND has 11 assists to boot; and Pekka Rinne gets his first shutout of the season on the road. Way to go guys!

Closing Time

Well, regardless if you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, we all should be thankful for the friends, family, co-workers, and others that are precious in our lives and the memories they provide. It is my hope the holiday season is full of magic, surprises, and wonderful cash and prizes. For all the loyal readers’ week-in and week-out, thank you for being there. For newbies, thank you too! And for all things holy, there is one thing to remember as the season gets started. Juuse Saros is protected from the NHL Expansion Draft. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Week everyone!