Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is it this year?

2008-2009 brought us the breakout performance of Joel Ward. He put up 17 goals and 18assists for a total of 35 points, which was far more than anyone expected from him. 2009-2010 brought us the unbelievable season of Patric Hornqvist. Horndog put up 30 goals and 21 assists for a total of 51 points, which was tied for the team-lead in points with Steve Sullivan. Last year, Ward had 34 points, which was virtually the same as his previous year minus one point. And based off his intensity in the pre-season, it doesn't look like Patric Hornqvist's numbers are going to be taking a dip. On the contrary, it looks like his numbers may rise if he stays healthy.

So who is it going to be this year? Who will be the breakout player for the Predators in the 2010-2011 season? Will it be someone like Jordin Tootoo who finally puts up the offensive numbers that were expected from him when he was drafted(He was drafted for scoring, not being an enforcer)? Or will it be a goaltender? Will Anders Lindback step up and make a huge difference in relief of Pekka? My personal pick: Marcel Goc. Depending on where Goc is placed on a line, I think he can have a very successful year. You've got to figure that Colin Wilson is going to play on a wing because of his versatility. So where does Goc go? Lombardi is almost certainly going to be our top line center. Jerred Smithson is almost certainly going to be the 4th line center. So what happens with Legwand and Goc? Do you put Legwand as the 2nd line center? Leggy has had a pretty decent pre-season. Goc also has a lot of qualities that would be great for a second line center like: Face-off winning percentage, Playmaking ability when in open ice, and he's shown constant improvement.

Another thing to think about here is Cal O'Reilly. The general consensus is that O'Reilly is probably not going to make it here simply because there may not be any room for him. Heck, Colin Wilson is playing on the wing because there's no room for him right now at center. And, if O'Reilly does happen to make the team, you can't put him at the 3rd or 4th line. He's simply not a 3rd or 4th line player, so that means he'd have to be the 2nd line center and I'm not sure if he's ready for that yet or not.

I think the competition is between Legwand and Goc. You've got to figure the lines are going to go something like this:

LW: Steve Sullivan C: Matthew Lombardi RW: Patric Hornqvist

LW: Colin Wilson C: Legwand/Goc RW: Martin Erat

LW: Sergei Kostitsyn C: Legwand/Goc RW: JP Dumont

LW: Joel Ward C: Smithson/Spaling RW: Jordin Tootoo

These lines are, of course, flexible to change simply because the Preds have so much depth this year. That's why this could be a great year. Who is your breakout player this year?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Preds beat Thrashers. Again.

The Preds beat the Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday night. Martin Erat had 2 goals and 1 assist, Ryan Suter had 1 goal and 1 assist, and David Legwand tallied the other goal. Goaltender Anders Lindback went the entire game, surrendering the 3 goals. Gotta wonder if that is gonna give Dekanich another shot on Sunday. Pekka, according to Trotz, is supposed to play the whole game Sunday, but those plans may have to be changed.

All in all, pretty good night for the Preds offensively. If this were opening night, we'd all be enjoying Frosty's at the moment. Oh, and by the way...........

WE SCORED 2 POWER-PLAY GOALS!!!!!! YES! 2! I know, I know. It's hard to believe. But i think our power-play may make an improvement this year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Predators defeat Thrashers in Pre-season home finale

It wasn't pretty but the result is all that counts. The Nashville Predators defeated the Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 2-1 on Monday night to wrap up the home portion of the pre-season. The Preds still have two more games left in the pre-season and then the regular season begins for the Predators on October 9th against the Ducks. Here's a few things to take away from tonight's game:

Shea Weber

Shea played great tonight. He was positionally sound and he had a good offensive night. He had a great slap-pass to Sergei Kostitsyn for the first goal, and then he ripped one on the power-play for a goal. The most impressive thing that I took away from the game, however, is when he stood up for his teammate. Dustin Byfuglien had a violent hit on Jerred Smithson towards the end of the game that apparently injured Smithson. Shea took exception to that and went straight after "Buff". It's that kind of thing that reaffirms the validity of his captaincy. It's that kind of thing that other players on the team look at and say "Hey, that's our guy. That's our leader. We're going to play like him every night and we're going to stick up for each other." And it's that kind of leadership that builds great teams.

Power-play

The power-play looked a little better tonight. They consistenly got more pressure in the offensive zone and ended up scoring on the blast by Weber. However, they're still doing too much dumping and chasing into the zone which is causing them to lose possession of the puck way too often. We need somebody (Suter) who can just take it in the zone. Overall, there was improvement though.

Sergei Kostitsyn

Kostitsyn looked a little better tonight. He was wide open in the slot on his goal(and I mean wide open). The guys on the post-game show brought up a good point though. If Kostitsyn doesn't prove to be a top 6 forward, what do you do with the guy? His style of play simply does not fit the style of a 3rd or 4th line guy. So these last two pre-season games could be an ultimatum for Kostitsyn as to whether or not the Preds are going to keep him. It could also be the same for Cal O'Reilly.

Opening Night

Opening Night is on October 9th against the Anaheim Ducks. In the post previous to this one, I told you about my idea for as many people who possibly can to show up early for the Predators warm-ups just to show them that we're behind them 100% this year. I also said bring rally towels if you have them. Well, you can still bring them if you really want to but I didn't realize that they'd be giving away t-shirts that night to all fans. So, bring your rally towels if you want to. But you could really just use the t-shirts to save some hassel.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Opening Night In Nashville

October 9th is almost here, and with it so is opening night for the Preds for the 2010-11 season! We've got a ton of reasons to be excited about the upcoming season. We have a very solid team, solid leadership, and extremely good management! Now's the time for we, the people, to step up.

This is the year that we need to get behind this team 100%. This is the year that we need to make noise all around the NHL. This is the year that we need to prove all of the doubters wrong. And I think I've got a pretty good way that we could start that process.

On opening night, I think it would be so awesome if we got as many people to be in the stands for warm-ups as we possibly can. I've ran this idea by the guys at section303.com and they're all for it as well. Just imagine how awesome it would be for the guys to look up while warming up, and see the stands packed. I think it would set the tone for a very successful year,and it would let the boys know that we are behind them fully. So if you're going to opening night on October 9th against Anaheim, try to get there as early as you can so you can be there for warm-ups. If you have rally towels, bring them. Let's create an unbelievable atmosphere for opening night. Because I've found one consistency in all of the years that the Predators have been here: If we show up and get loud and support them, they always give maximum effort on the ice. And let's be honest. If this team is giving maximum effort and playing well, the Ducks are going to have a hard time beating us. Anybody in the league would have a hard time beating us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pre-season Game 1 Evaluation

The Preds fell to the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-1 in their pre-season opener. Let's evaluate the first live-action performance for the Preds.

Goaltending: Not bad. Pekka played pretty well. He had a truly spectacular save, making a diving stop at point blank range. Dekanich was pretty solid apart from the one rebound goal that he gave up. Overall, not a bad night for goaltending.

Power-play: Too much dump and chase. Too little possession of the puck. Not a very good outing for the power-play.

Forwards: Not a bad night. J.P. Dumont had a goal and he really looked sharp. Kostitsyn, O'Reilly, and Hornqvist also looked consistenly good all night.

Defense: Average. Teemu Laakso didn't have a very good night, taking a couple penalties that weren't neccessary. Ryan Parent looked pretty good, and Ryan Ellis will be a really good player in the NHL for the Preds one day. Is this year the year for him to come to the NHL level? I don't think so but he could prove me wrong. The Preds just have a logjam defensively.

Overall, not a bad night. There's definitely room for improvement, but remember that in no way, shape, or form was our regular line-up playing tonight. It could've gone better, but it certainly could've gone worse. All I ask is that they make improvements from game to game, so they're ready to go on opening night.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010-2011 Season Preview: Central Division

CENTRAL DIVISION

1. Nashville Predators- Yes you read this right. The Nashville Predators have the team to win the Central Division this year. This isn't the most talented team they've ever had, but it is the best-structured team they've ever had. This is now Shea Weber's team. I think we'll all see what a difference that makes. No more saggy leadership from Arnott. I don't think there has ever been this much optimism or hype going into a Nashville Predators season. If all goes like it should, the Preds will win their first Central Division championship in franchise history.

2. Detroit Red Wings- The Red Wings will be battling the Preds all year for the division crown. They proved they are still a great team when everybody got healthy again near the end of last year. The question is: Can they stay healthy throughout the year? In all honesty, I don't see the Mike Modano acquisition helping them overwhemingly. It will be a tight race between the Wings and Preds though.

3. Chicago Blackhawks- The Stanley Cup champs are going to have a bit of a drop-off this year. After winning the cup last year, the champs lost a great deal of players from the team, including goaltender Antii Niemi. They signed Marty Turco this off-season but, c'mon, let's be real here. There's simply no way they're going to be as good as they were last year. They still have the firepower with Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, and Seabrook, but I don't think they have enough behind them. They'll make the playoffs, but no division crown for them this year.

4. St. Louis Blues- The Blues lost former Pred Chris Mason this off-season, but got Jaraslov Halak. Halak showed brilliance in last year's playoffs and is a fine goaltender. But the Blues didn't get any better at any other position. I just don't see a way they're going to compete for the division this year. Look for them to be on the bubble near the end of the season as far as the playoffs go.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets- Columbus just isn't looking like much this year. They've got a super-star in Rick Nash, and a goalie in Steve Mason that went from brilliance his rookie year to mediocrity at best for his sophomore year. How well will Mason play? If he returns to his rookie form, he'll steal some games for Columbus. If not, look for the Blue Jackets to be at or near the bottom of the Western Conference.

That's my preview for the Central Division for this upcoming year. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

5 Burning Questions

1. Who will emerge and/or thrive as the backup to Pekka Rinne?

2. How will Weber's leadership effect this team?

3. Will Patric Hornqvist produce like he did last season?

4. Is the power-play better?

5. How much will Matthew Lombardi help this team?

If the Preds have positive answers to these questions, they'll be looking at a very successful season, and post-season.

Once again, the Lakelyn Foutch interview and the season preview are coming soon. Stay tuned for both of those! Also, Colin Wilson will be interviewed somewhere near the beginning of the season.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sullivan, Suter named Alternate Captains

The Nashville Predators made one of the easiest decisions that they've ever had to make during this off-season. Yes, even easier than getting rid of Jason Arnott. They made Shea Weber captain. Today, they made a move that was almost as easy. The Preds have named Steve Sullivan and Ryan Suter alternate captains. Training camp seems to be going well so far for the Preds, and the real action begins in less than a month.

Be sure to stay tuned for the interview with Predators dancer Lakelyn Foutch, and the 2010-2011 season preview by Hockey Night in Nashville.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hockey Season Almost Upon Us

Football season has begun, which means hockey season is just over the hill. The Preds will start training camp on Friday September 17th. The Pre-season will allow fans to scope out young talent, and try to put together an idea of how this season's team will shape up.

Coming up soon on Hockey Night in Nashville:

Interview with Preds Dancer Lakelyn Foutch

Season Preview and Predictions from myself and Phillip.

Check out the blog during the next few days! You definitely don't want to miss the Lakelyn Foutch interview, and the season preview!

Until next time, take care.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Best Place to Live

You know, I'm sure every town or region around the United States thinks they have the best place in the world to live in. But really? It's obvious that Tennesseans, more specifically Middle Tennesseans, have the single BEST place to live on this planet. Where else can you find a passion for sports like around here? Where else can you find a community that cares about each other more than we do? Where else can you find a group of people that has each other's back no matter what the circumstance?

There are plenty of sports to go around in middle Tennessee. You've got the Predators, Titans, Sounds, Vanderbilt, MTSU, and heck I'll even throw the UT Vols in because of the fan base in Middle Tennessee. Not to mention the unrivaled passion that takes place for high school football. The passion and love for the local teams in this area are extraordinary. There's just no other way to slice it. We've got the best sports fans in the nation. Period.

The main thing that makes Middle Tennessee so great, however, is the character of its people. Never has that character been more illustrated than with the floods back in May. People did whatever they could to help out with their communities, helping people that they had never met. There were no reports of violence, vandalism, looting, or crimes. None of that crap that normally comes with natural disasters like this. Middle Tennessee just gets it. We always have and hopefully we always will.

I'm proud to be a Middle Tennessean. It's where I was raised, and it's where my children will be raised. All I can say is keep it up. Show the national media how dedicated we are to our teams. Show them we can be just as loud as anyone. Show them never to underestimate us again. But, above all, show them the character that has defined us for so long. Show them Middle Tennessee.