3MI Roadtrip Recap: Nashville

(In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is the newest addition to the site, 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, well, go find a bridge.)

Preamble

As a fan who is growing increasingly tiresome of the experience at First Niagara Center, as I have over the last couple years, the answer to the disinterest in attending home games is combining the desire to see the team I follow live and the joy I find in traveling. Road games are an option overlooked by many fans who don’t see it as a feasible alternative. I tend to believe that it’s a necessity.

To this point, I had seen the team in ten other cities outside of Buffalo: Boston, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Each trip, each arena is a unique experience, so when I tear apart things they do at FNC that I deem awful, I actually have a lot of other exploits to base it off of.

Things worked out perfectly time-wise to return to what I consider my second home, Nashville, for Saturday night’s matchup. I lived there from this January to September, and loved every minute of it. It’s an extremely fun city if you like to party. The food is great, the people are friendly, and there’s a bevy of places to drink.

So, along with my friend Tom, I was able to go back to the place I miss so dearly, reconnect with some friends, and check another road game off the list.

Nashville is about a 10-11 hour drive from Buffalo, an extremely enjoyable ride. You pass through enough major cities to break up the trip (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville) and it’s all major highway. We left Buffalo at 8pm Thursday night and were driving around Nashville at 5am CT.

Friday
Red Wings @ Sabres
Viewed at: Broadway Brewhouse (Midtown), Nashville, TN

In a surprise to many Sabres fans, Joe Finley can not win games by himself.

The legendary rookie made his Sabres debut, but the game was never close. Detroit jumped to an early lead and cruised to victory by a score of 4-1.

Super sniper Jochen Hecht had Buffalo’s only goal midway through the third period.

“We’ve got to win a game, that’s the bottom line,” Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek said. “We’ve got to make a run here.”

Jhonas Enroth had 32 saves for the Sabres, who were outshot 18-8 in the first period and 35-28 overall.

  • Thanks to Broadway Brewhouse for being so accommodating. Nice place to watch a game, and we were joined by another group of guys who had driven down from Buffalo. Reports on the food weren’t glowing, but the beverage options were plentiful. Tom was smitten with the 73 taps at the bar.
  • We got stuck watching the game in Midtown rather than on Broadway because there was a Christmas parade. Really. A Christmas parade on December 2nd. Can’t condone that one Nashville.
  • The Nathan Gerbe skate-to-face incident didn’t seem too serious until he was seen jumping around in pain on the bench. Scary moment there.
  • I’m incredibly glad I wasn’t there or didn’t pay to be there for that game. The team came out slow and they never had a chance. Blame the inexperienced lineup, but still, they got walked over.
  • Tyler Ennis’ return was a glimpse of what the team had been missing. His skating and stickhandling have been missing. The guy is just fun to watch.
  • I wonder where Jhonas Enroth’s head is at compared to before Miller went down injured. He went from having a perfect record to taking loss upon loss. Sure, the team in front of him is to blame as well and his play hasn’t been horrible, but it is a big dropoff. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, so I’m not too worried about it.
  • When Jochen Hecht is scoring all your goals, you have problems.
  • Midtown is probably my favorite area to go out in Nashville. Right down the street from Brewhouse Midtown is Corner Pub, probably my favorite place to go out for a drink, and a block away is Rebar and Loser’s, two other personal favorites. A really sweet area.
  • Incredible stat of the night: Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera led the way with 30 shifts each. Ehrhoff’s TOI: 28:39. Sekera’s TOI: 21:39.

Luckily for us, we were able to fade into the night and enjoy the shitshow that is Broadway on a Friday night. Highlighted bars: Crossroads, The Stage, Paradise Park

Saturday
Sabres @ Predators
Viewed at: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

In Ryan Miller’s return, it was like watching a repeat of what we’ve seen of Miller before. Some highlight-reel saves and some good goaltending.

Oh, and getting run over, too.

A standout performance in Miller’s first game was overshadowed by a second period incident as Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo clobbered the goaltender as he tried taking the puck to the net. After losing the puck on a deft Christian Ehrhoff poke check, Tootoo, a man who might as well be the Western Conference’s Patrick Kaleta, leaped into Miller, inciting a melee.

Tootoo was handed a charging major and a game misconduct (as well as an eventual two game suspension) on the play.

“What happened in the game was a joke,” a livid Ruff said. “All it does is prove the fact when I said it was open season. It appears it is open season.

“You have a guy coming off a concussion and you’ve got Jordin Tootoo running over your goaltender,” Ruff said. “We used to get a two-minute power play. We got a one-minute power play. That’s a joke. I want to see what the league wants to do with this one.”

Apparently, you needed to wear a number divisible by nine to score, as Luke Adam, Zack Kassian and Tyler Ennis handled the scoring for Buffalo, who walked away with a 3-2 victory.

The Sabres held on for the win despite getting outshot 34-14.

  • Watching Nashville on a regular basis when I lived there, I gathered a firm understanding of what a scumbag Jordin Tootoo really was. He’d have more of a league-wide reputation if he didn’t play in Nashville. That’s not a slight on Nashville as a hockey market, that’s just because everyone ignores the Predators.
  • The response to the hit was perfect, especially Miller throwing for himself. Christian Ehrhoff jumped right in. Paul Gaustad was ready to kill somebody (including Anders Lindback) if he could. Corey Tropp was right on top of the pile.
  • Had a great view of the incident, as we were sitting six rows up right behind the goal. Tootoo claiming he was pushed was absolute bullshit. He could’ve stopped. He could’ve hit the ice. But he jumped at Miller’s head. Bush league move.
  • Ask Tom, but I called Tyler Ennis scoring a goal Saturday night during warmups.
  • Gonna get the easy joke out of the way early: it looked like an intrasquad scrimmage. It’s no Tampa Bay-Toronto, but thank god Nashville’s got those flagrant gold uniforms now, because that helped a lot.
  • Zack Kassian is really changing my mind about whether he should be playing in the NHL full-time or not. He was great again Saturday night, and his effort on his goal was awesome. Pulled off his trademark breakaway move and executed without the puck ever sitting down for him. He’s a physical force. Sure, it might be better for his development to spend more time in the AHL, but maybe he’s just ready.
  • I wonder how Lindback felt being the second-best Swedish goalie in uniform that night.
  • Many fans watching at home were perturbed by the “Miller is a sissy” chant from the Preds fans. One thing you gotta know about Preds fans is that they love their chants. They bring a lot of energy, which is impressive. Except for the “fang fingers,” which is hysterically horrible.
  • Thomas Vanek went scoreless for the second game in a row, the first time this season he’s gone two games in a row without a point.
  • Preds fans were incredibly friendly, which is commendable when they were dealing with a fan base which tends to be tough to tolerate on the road. Admit it, everyone. Buffalo fans are generally assholes, especially when we win. There was a few thousand fans that made the trip for the game, which led to more than a few “Let’s go, Buffalo!” chants that snuck in throughout the game.
  • Corey Tropp is my boy, and I was very pleased to see him show up and play the game he has for the Sabres. The kid is gonna be a fan favorite. Love his game.
  • Pregame meal was at Rippy’s, right across the street from the arena. One of my favorite places to eat in Nashville. Phenomenal food. Phenomenal vibe. Phenomenal location. Can’t speak highly enough of how fun it is to go to a hockey game at Bridgestone with all the surrounding options for food and beverage.
  • Miller’s glove save larceny in the third period was phenomenal. Not just because it was a great save, but it was hysterical how many Preds fans were convinced they had scored until they realized Miller had the puck.

Grabbed a few postgame drinks with friends at Paradise Park. Enjoyed a few PBR’s at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn. Stopped by Second Fiddle to say hello to a friend. Made one last visit to Crossroads and headed back to the hotel. Hit the road back to Buffalo Sunday morning, got home right around midnight.

Here’s some thoughts from Tom (@BuffaloFenian) on the trip, the game and the city:

  • Nashville is a model city for arena-district development. While the location benefits greatly from the existing, and historic entertainment district, it is nonetheless a shining example of the marriage between arenas, bars and restaurants. Buffalo, specifically, should consider modeling itself after Nashville when developing Cobblestone and its surrounding areas.
  • Bridgestone Arena provides an enjoyable atmosphere for a hockey game. Preds fans are not afraid to engage in friendly heckling, antagonizing chants and the other things that make a road game exciting.
  • While I strongly disagree with the Ice Girls and cheerleaders, I can’t deny that I had a great time and I’ll choose not to nitpick their game day presentation.
  • On the game, Ennis had a great third period and more than earned his goal, assisted by a hardworking Roy. Ennis initially left the offensive zone, but reacted quickly to Roy’s outstanding forecheck and got himself into scoring position. It’s refreshing to see a goal result from hard work, quick thinking, and great finish.
  • If anyone wants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Goo Goo Dolls’ musical progression, I highly recommend they participate in a #3MIRoadtrip. The Goo’s brought us into Ohio, right through Kentucky, and I don’t regret a minute of it. (Editor’s note: I should teach a class on it.)

Overall, an extremely memorable trip. Nashville is a second home to me, and it was nice to see the Sabres there for the first time.

Thanks to Bill Shatner and Priceline for hooking us up with a great deal on a hotel with clutch shuttle service. Thanks to all the friends I miss so much who I got to see.

Oh, and Jordin Tootoo, you’re still a piece of shit.

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Posted on December 7, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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