There is possibility, even in defeat. There is possibility, even after getting to the Stanley Cup Final and losing the first two games, putting a team and a city on the brink of a series that’s over before it really gets started. That is where we find the Nashville Predators at the start of the fourth episode of Showtime Sports’ “All Access: Quest for the Stanley Cup,” which aired on Friday.
But these Predators were not cowed. They were not intimidated. And they had the whole city of Nashville behind them.
Oh, and a prediction from defenseman P.K. Subban, never shy when it comes to cameras or pronouncements: “We’re going to win the next game, and there’s not one ounce of doubt in this locker room,” he said. And they did.
The next one after that, too.
The message was clear, for the Predators and for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as Bill Camp lays out in his narration, “It might seem harsh, but in this sport, this time of year, to come this close and not come away with the stated goal is simply unacceptable.”
But that isn’t all that’s happening these days for the players. There are family moments, time spent taking a break from the pressure and the expectations and the Cup fever, as we see with Nick Bonino and his wife Lauren and their 17-month-old daughter.
There are also community moments, as we see with the way the city of Nashville has embraced the Predators as the biggest sports night in Nashville history commences with its first Stanley Cup Final game, Game 3 on June 3.
The streets are packed. The music is rocking. The players are ready.
It is, as country star Alan Jackson croons, “Time for a good time.”
For the Predators and their fans it is exactly that, as the home team takes a lead into the third period as it rides a rejuvenated Pekka Rinne to an absolutely imperative win.
(And in the process we get to learn exactly what the exchange was between Subban and Sidney Crosby at the end of that game — and there was no mention of Listerine.)
The softer side of Subban also is revealed, with his family in town for the Stanley Cup Final, with an insight into who he is away from the microphones and the ice.
“He loves what he does, but he has fun doing what he’s doing,” Subban’s father, Karl, says. “Those who are around him see it, I think we all appreciate him for it. Because hockey and life can be so serious. He always finds a way to inject some laughter into whatever he’s doing. And who doesn’t like to laugh?”
There is little laughter by Game 4, a game that could send both teams back to Pittsburgh at 2-2 in the best-of-7 series. Nashville is determined to even things. Pittsburgh is looking prevent that from happening, and to put itself one win away from its second consecutive Stanley Cup.
The latter task gets even harder as Bonino is not able to play after testing his injury in the warmup, which is clearly devastating to him. The emotion, the disappointment, is clear.
Others emerge, whether it’s Crosby’s usual brilliance, Rinne’s return to his best form or the surprising contributions of a rookie, Frederick Gaudreau, who despite not yet having a goal in his nine-game NHL regular-season career, already has his third goal in four Stanley Cup Final games.
He gets the Predators’ chain, too, the mark of the best player in that night’s game and an impressive feat for someone not exactly expected to be an immediate offensive force in the playoffs.
But things happen in the march toward the Stanley Cup, unexpected things, surprising things. And that is what has happened here, with a city and a team embracing the moment, digging out of a 2-0 start to the Final, recapturing the momentum in a series that seemed on the brink of being lost.
So on they went, families and expectations and disappointments in tow, with three games left to prove that they — and not their opponent — were the best team in the NHL this season. They have come so far, and the end — and immortality — are in sight.