The truth came from on high, shouted from the last row of Section 334 in the Pepsi Center.
“No Stanley Cups! No Stanley Cups! No Stanley Cups!”
It was a chant started by die-hard Avalanche fans Luke Hutchinson and Nick Tremaroli, directed at Nashville’s embarrassing lack of hockey pedigree. I think these guys are on to something, don’t you?
Nashville joined the NHL in 1998, as part of commissioner Gary Bettman’s grand plan to expand a sport covered in wintry tradition to cities that freak out at the sight of a single snowflake.
How many championships has Nashville won? Zero.
Nothing is going to change in 2018.
The truth is as hard to deny as the final score: Avalanche 5, Pretenders 3.
Or did you miss how the Avs got under the skin of the big, bad dudes wearing the dandelion yellow sweaters? Colorado peppered the net with pucks until Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne ran and ducked for cover in the safety of the visitors dressing room.
“In my opinion, we’ve been the better team five-on-five,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Hard to argue.
It’s a series now. The Avs have made the Pretenders grumpy. Or did you miss the cheap shot Nashville defender P.K. Subban gave to the noggin of MacKinnon late in the second period?
“Some of their guys, that’s they way they want to play,” Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog said. “They want to play after whistles, not in between. And we’re just the opposite.”
Perhaps Subban thinks the best way to get in the head of MacKinnon is with a sucker punch. Nashville, it seems, might have even more than fake tough guys than fake cowboys.
Stay classy, Smurfville.
In three games against Nashville, MacKinnon has generated three goals and two assists. MacKinnon is the league MVP; he has the Hart Trophy in his back pocket.
If they’re Predators, MacKinnon is Schwarzenegger.
“He’s just so explosive at home. He’s dangerous every time he touches the puck at home,” Bednar said.
And for two periods, as the Avalanche built a 4-1 lead, how great was Nate?
“He was dominant,” Bednar said. .
Try as they might, the Pretenders are no better at knocking out a foe than they are at winning the Cup. First, Ryan “The Ripper” Johansen tried to take out Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 1 with an elbow, and then “Slugger” Subban attempts to rearrange the face of MacKinnon.
As they like to say down in Tennessee: Well, bless their hearts.
Does Subban deserve a suspension for the hit on MacKinnon? I will let the league office be the judge of that. Rather than a suspension, I would give Subban a bottle of elderflower oil to soak away his poor attitude in a nice, hot bath.
While MacKinnon has punched a hole in the ego of Rinne, who was pulled during the second period, and exposed the fatal flaws in Nashville, I’m not ready to predict Colorado will put the Presidents’ Trophy winners out of their misery. After all, there’s no way the Pretenders can lose to the lowly Avalanche four times. Right?
I mean, Colorado is now taking the ice without Semyon Varlamov, its No. 1 goaltender, not to mention Erik Johnson and Sam Girard, two of the team’s best defenders. These Avs are a bunch of green bananas. When Duncan Siemens was forced into action at the blue line for Game 2, he was the ninth player on the roster to make his NHL postseason debut.
“We proved to ourselves we can get a win,” said MacKinnon, whose team can even the series at 2-2 on Wednesday. “And, hopefully, it just kind of snowballs from here.”
Down in Smushville, the hockey dilettante take great pride in well-rehearsed chants to heckle the visiting goalie when their local heroes light the lamp. It’s kinda cute, the first 10 times.
But, here in Colorado, the troll game is more concise and to the point.
With a tip of the cap to Avalanche die-hards Luke and Nick, my new besties in Section 334, it’s their chant that should rattle the roof when Nashville takes the ice for Game 4 in the Pepsi Center.
“No Stanley Cups! No Stanley Cups. No Stanley Cups!”
They are the great Pretenders.