Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nashville Knocks Off Coyotes

PredNation has just been allowed to breathe a temporary sigh of relief, at least for the night. The Preds beat the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 3-0, behind two power-play goals and stellar play from Pekka Rinne.

Shea Weber opened the scoring for the Preds on the power-play just 3:36 into the first period. Cal O'Reilly tallied on the power-play at 12:48 in the second period to stretch the lead to two. Jordin Tootoo would go on to add an empty net goal late in the third period to ice the game away, and to give the Predators a win that they desparately needed.

Pekka Rinne had a great night, stopping all 33 shots that he faced. Pekka has been one of the lone bright spots in the past few games, and he kept it rolling tonight. This is Pekka's third shut-out of the year. In the past, Trotz has been known to reward the goalie who gets the shut-out with the start in the next game. I wouldn't expect that to be the case since the Preds have to turn right around and play Columbus tomorrow. I'd expect Anders Lindback to be in net, and it's really about time. Pekka has been playing well but he has to get rest every once and a while.

The win puts the Preds at 10-8-5 with 25 points, which is good for 12th place in the Western Conference at the moment. The Preds will face Columbus on Wednesday night in Columbus. The Jackets won the first meeting due to a really poor offensive performance by the Preds. Nashville shook up the lines a little bit on Tuesday night and we'll see how well that works going forward.

It was a good win and a much needed win. The Preds really need to put the month of November behind them and focus on having a very good December. They're going to need an extremely strong December to help them get where they want to be come April. Nashville has 14 games in December with a possible 28 points at steak. I'd say they need to get somewhere between 20-22 points and they'll probably be in much better shape going into January. Only 4 games are against divisional foes in December and they all happen to be on the road. The Preds need to especially do well in those games. As far as home and away goes in December, the Preds are dead even. There are 7 home games in the month and 7 away games.

It all starts Wednesday night against Columbus. It's important for the boys to start accumulating points, preferrably two points, this month. It's especially important to get these wins against your divisional rivals like Columbus. The puck drops at 6:00 and this game will be locally televised.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Positive News!

We all know that the Preds haven't been playing very well at all lately. But, ladies and gentlemen, I have positive news for you!

The attendance so far this year for the Preds has been pretty good. In fact, the Preds are currently ranked 19th in the league in attendance. So far, we've had 4 sellouts in 9 home games. That's a pretty good start to the year! Nashville's average attendance at a home game is 16,388 according to ESPN.com. The arena is, on average, filled to 95.8% capacity for home games, which really kind of shuts up all of the idiotic Canadian press.

Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Anaheim, Colorado, Dallas, Columbus, Atlanta, Long Island, and Pheonix. What do all of these places have in common? They're all below Nashville in attendance. Yes, I did say New Jersey, Colorado, and Long Island. They're not you're southern hockey teams. This proves that hockey can be played anywhere, and that it really should be played everywhere.

Of course, if the Preds keep on their current pace, it is very likely that the attendance will probably show a little drop. I'm not expecting anything major, and by no means am I saying they can't get out of the hole they're in because they can, but they need to start doing it now. I've already expressed my views on the coaching staff. I'm just glad to know that the city of Nashville is taking this team to heart, and supporting them like they should be.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reasons For Change

In response to my post a few days ago, I was asked to give a detailed summary on why I think it is time for Barry Trotz to be fired. Here are really the main reasons why Phillip and I feel it's time to make a change:

TRACK RECORD
Barry Trotz has been the only head coach this franchise has ever known. He's been here since day 1 in 1998. In that time, the Predators have been to the post-season 5 times. They are 0 for 5 in the first round under Barry Trotz. Not once have we won the Central Division in our existence(I understand it's an incredibly difficult division to win). Basically, we've had absolutely zero success in the post-season. We've really only had 2 years where we were in the hunt for the division and we had a guy named Paul Kariya on that team(not to mention Peter Forsberg in one of the two years). The style of play is different in the post-season than it is in the regular season. Everything is faster. Trotz simply hasn't made the necessary adjustments to be successful in the post-season yet.

POWER-PLAY
Everybody remembers the horror of our power-play in the first round against Chicago last year. Peter Horacheck was removed of his power-play duties and Barry Trotz took over. The Power-play is now worse than it was last year. Nashville is currently converting on the power-play at 11.1%, good for 27th in the league. That total would be worse if not for the 2 power-play goals in Minnesota when the game was already out of hand. There isn't any creativity on the power-play. It's really a very predictable and simple system to figure out. The goal seems to be to get the puck to Shea Weber and let him just rip the puck over and over again. That's really not a bad idea, but all of the other teams know what we're going to do so they take Weber's shot away. There is no flow. There really is no aggressiveness, which brings me to another point.

ATTITUDE
Many of you have been complaining about the attitude of this team, saying things like "they're not showing any heart,fire, or intensity. They don't stick up for one another. They're incredibly passive." I happen to agree with you all. Attitude is a direct result of leadership. Trotz is a conservative(not talking about politics here), calm guy. The team reflects that same passivity. There seems to be no fire and no excitement. Of course, there are great strengths to being calm. He never over-reacts to anything and he always keeps his cool. Sometimes, however, there is a need to lose your cool. There's a need to get fired up about something. If I had to speculate, I think some players would really appreciate it if Barry Trotz occasionally was not a calm person. I think they'd appreciate it if he showed some sort of emotion or intensity. However, that's just not the kind of coach he is. I think it's rubbing off on the team. They're playing passively, and aren't showing very much emotion or determination at all.

CURRENT PLAY
I'm going to throw out some numbers for you:

-Nashville has a .375 winning percentage when leading after the first period this year. That's the worst in the NHL.

-Nashville has a .625 winning percentage when leading after two periods this year, which is good for 29th in the NHL(Only Edmonton is worse).

-Nashville currently sits at 13th in the Western Conference with 23 points. The Preds are 6-7-2 vs. Western Conference opponents. That's not going to get it done.

The Preds cannot keep a lead. They get extremely conservative in their play, which goes directly back to the coaching staff. It's really just that time make a change. The Preds aren't playing up to their capability this year and the responsibility for that has to fall on someone. I think that someone is Barry Trotz. Once again, I think he is a phenomenal person to be around, and a very good man. But, his style of play isn't working here. I'm not an advocate of change just to change. I think there needs to be a reason behind the change. The way I see it, I think there is more than enough reason to make the change and, quite honestly, the change would've already been made in many other places.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pathetic Offense Continues; Preds Give Another Game Away

Nashville loses again as they fall 2-1 by way of a shootout after leading most of the game in front of a sold out crowd at Bridgestone Arena. They were 0 for 6 on the power-play. I guess the bright side would be they were 7 for 7 on the penalty kill. That's another point given away that might keep them out of the playoffs down the road. Of course, if they keep playing like this we won't even remember how to spell playoffs in April.

At this point, I don't even know what to say. At least Colin Wilson scored. Maybe that'll get him going offensively. We're now 9 out of 22 with a record of 9-8-5. That puts us at 23 points which means we've gotten 23 out of 44 points. That's not going to get it done in the Western Conference.

It's becoming heavily apparent that we don't have the will to score. We don't have the right system to score. Heck, right now we probably don't even have the talent to score.

The defense was much better tonight, only surrendering the one lucky goal in regulation that tipped off of Dumont's stick.

Changes are needed. It's time to make them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Changes Need To Be Made

The Preds didn't show up today and got beat 5-2 in a game that really wasn't in doubt at any point. We had 2 power-play goals by Sullivan and Erat. Look, I'm not a blogger that's really going to sugar coat anything. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses for anything either. The "it's early in the season" argument doesn't fly with me anymore. We've played 21 games. Over 1/4 of the season is done and we're damn near the bottom of the Western Conference standings with an absolutely putrid offense and a really average defense.

In my book, the Trotz train needs to come to an end. I'm sure a lot of you disagree with me. The fact is he's been here since 1998 and we haven't gotten past the first round of the playoffs. The fact is we are not playing good hockey this year when the expectations coming into this year were as high or higher than they've been since we've gotten here. We're near the bottom of the Western Conference. We've played 21 games. We've won 9. We can all sit here and make excuses about injuries and other factors. The fact is, at some point you have to take responsibility for your team. We've reached that point.

Again, lots of you aren't going to agree. I understand that and respect that. I think a lot of that has to do with comfortability. He's been here 12 years. We're used to seeing his face. And he really is a great guy. A truly fantastic human being. I have nothing against him personally. But his system and style doesn't work. It's just time to change.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Preds fall to the Bloosers 2-1

Last night's game is another tale of "The One that Got Away". The Predators just ran into a hot goalie, plain and simple. Anytime that you outshoot the opposition 2-to-1, you really should come away with the win...but not last night.
I hate to blame a loss on something that happened early on in the game, but you simply cannot give away a goal 9 seconds in and hope to keep any semblance of momentum. As the puck entered the zone and came across the ice to the slot, Klein should have been playing the body on McDonald, but instead, he reached with his stick and McDonald roofed it over Pekka (sounds familiar, eh). IMO, it was a very weak goal that could have been prevented with stronger D coverage, and it really seemed to put the Preds on their heels.
Near the end of the first, the Preds started to play their game a little, and got a little bit of jump with some good scoring chances.
The second and third period belonged to the Preds. We skated, crashed the net, and played strong defensive hockey. Smithson's goal int he second was created by good old fashioned crashing the net. We actually had two guys in good position to bury the rebound, which was a welcomed change.
Honestly, the score should have been 3-1 after the second, but Halak stood on his head. We also had multiple opportunities in the 3rd to cash in, but couldn't get it behind the netminder. One of the best flurries in the game was at the end of the 3rd...but we couldn't put it in (that's what she said).
OT was fairly boring, and we, again, couldn't bury it in the shootout. The scouting report must have been a weak glove on Halak, because that's where everyone tried to beat him...apparently, that report was WRONG.

Quick Hits
Goat of the game: Once again, our good friend Kevin Klein. a) he sucks b) he attempted several open ice hits in the neutral zone that completely pulled himself out of the play with little coverage behind him. and yes, he missed those hits. c) he has NO hands. at all. My Lower C hockey team (GO MUTINY) can catch a pass better than he can.
PowerPlay: Totally anemic. No excitement. VERY predictable.
Penalty Kill: Bright spot of the game. They played smart all night and kept the Blues to the outside and low scoring areas.
Weber: Can't hit the broadside of a barn with his slap shot. He literally missed the net by 15-20 feet on one good opportunity. I think he's simply trying to do too much and gripping the stick too tight. But...he's still a Beast!
Lack of Scoring: I know that the Predators pride themselves on being a defensively oriented hockey team, and that scoring 4 goals a game isn't a priority...but we have no scoring threat whatsoever. If the organization plans on being a force int he League this year, this is going to have to be addressed.

At least we were able to get a point last night against a division foe...but we gave away 2. That might haunt us at the end of the year.

Thoughts?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Be safe, have fun, eat good, and above all be thankful for all that you have been given.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preds Remain Mediocre

Nashville fell to division rival Columbus on Monday night by a 2-0 mark. Pekka Rinne did not play a bad game but he was unable to get any offensive help. David Legwand and Ryan Suter both missed this game. I hate to say it but the Preds are simply a below average team without Suter, and they really need Lombardi. I don't think we're going to be able to score enough goals without him. The Preds just seem unable to get a consistent winning streak going when they desperately need to.

Not a good game offensively(obviously). Too much passing. Shoot the puck!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Classy Game

After watching the debacle of Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young on Sunday, I really am thankful for hockey players. It's widely regarded that hockey players are the best athletes to be around on the planet. They're very down to earth people and nearly all of them have respect for everyone they encounter.

Athletes today are more idolized than they've ever been before. A lot of that has to do with the vast expansion of the media in the past 20 years. Athletes are now more accessible than they've ever been before because of social media websites like Twitter. Ordinary people are now exposed to the lives of the people that they pay money to see perform their particular athletic talent.

Hockey players simply have class and are good guys for the most part. They don't whine or complain in the media. They don't take their shoulder pads off and throw them in the stands after they get booed. They don't run out of the locker room on their team. As hockey fans, I think we should all be appreciative of just how classy and good the guys who play the game professionally really are.

And a lot of times, hockey players aren't given a lot of coverage from the media. If you subscribe to The Tennessean you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's all about the Titans. And does that seem to bother the players in the Predators locker room? No. They don't whine. They don't complain. They don't want to pack up and move.

I'm really grateful to have classy athletes and a classy sport. I think it's something that should be pointed out, particularly after watching athletes in a broad range of sports acting like fools recently.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Goc and Rinne Shine;Preds Knock Off Habs

Before the season, I picked Marcel Goc to be the breakout player for the Nashville Predators for this season. So far, he's making a smart man out of me. The Nashville Predators defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 3-0 on Thursday night behind two Marcel Goc goals and one from Cal O'Reilly.

After the debacle in Toronto on Tuesday night, it was good to see Nashville rebound in a positive way. It was especially good to see Pekka Rinne play as well as he did. This was a very fast-paced and physical contest, especially in the 1st period where both teams came out absolutely flying. Terry Crisp was dead on when he described this game as a prime example of "Old Time Hockey".

Frankie Bouillon and Kevin Klein both had 2 assists in the game tonight. David Legwand was injured in the 1st period and did not return with what was described as a "lower body injury". It didn't look bad live or on the replay, especially since he skated off on his own. Patric Hornqvist also provided fans a scare late in the third period when he collided with a Habs player into the boards by the bench. He was extremely slow to get up but was said to be ok.

It was a great rebound game by the guys. Let's hope they continue the winning trend on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Shoutout to Paul McCann and the Slapshot Radio gang that are going to Raleigh on Saturday. Hope you all have a safe trip and have a great time on Saturday night!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Got You Hooked?

What made you come to your first Predators game? Was it simply that you loved hockey and you wanted to check out the new team when they got here? Did you get sucked into going with a friend and fall in love with it? Was it because you had nothing else to do? I think it would be interesting to hear all of the stories.

Leave a comment below on what first sparked your interst in going to the games.

Game Tonight vs. Montreal at 6:00.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Preds Hand the Leafs A Game

To be honest, I really don't have much that I want to say about this game. Here's the jist of it. The Preds got up 3-0 and 4-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and proceeded to give up 4 power-play goals in the 2nd period. In the end, Toronto won the game by a score of 5-4.

Don't blame the refs for losing the game. Did they make some bad calls? Yes, some of which were very bad. But it's the freaking Toronto Maple Leafs! The same team who was in the midst of and 8 game losing streak! Stop the puck and play defense. Defense and goaltending are supposed to be the strength of this team!

You can say it wasn't his fault. You can say he's not to blame. And I'll give you one out of the two. It wasn't entirely Pekka's fault by a longshot, but he simply has not played well since the Dallas game. He came up big vs. Chicago but even then he still wasn't quite up to the form we're used to seeing out of him. He's got to get his head screwed on straight and the defense needs to wake up in front of him, starting with El Capitain.

This is one of those games that infuriates you as a fan. You've got a terrible team on the ropes and you just give them back the game with open arms. PredNation is absolutely sick about this game and we have every right to be. It's time to correct this nonsense or changes need to be made.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hornqvist vs. Holmstrom

If you're a Preds fan, you know who Patric Hornqvist is. You also probably know who Tomas Holmstrom is of the Detroit Red Wings. Both players make their living in front of the net in "the office." Which one would you rather have on your team?

So far this season, their stats are identical. Both have played 15 games, both have 5 goals, and both have 3 assists. Holmstrom is 37 years old, while Hornqvist is only 23 years old. While both make their living in front of the net, there have different qualities that make them special.

Tomas Holmstrom is listed at 6'0" tall and 198 pounds. Once he gets in front of the net, he's a very hard man to move. He's a very physical player and is an invaluable asset on the power-play.

Patric Hornqvist is listed at 5'11" tall and is 188 pounds. He's also a valuable asset in front of the net and on the power-play but he's not known for his physicality. He's very good along the boards and has a great shot, along with great skills with the puck. He broke Peter Forsberg's scoring record over in Sweden.

So who would you take? Personally, I'd probably take Hornqvist simply because he's only 23 while Holmstrom is 37. However, I'd love to have either one of them. There similar players, and yet they're very different.

There is one thing I know for sure, however, and that is that goalies all across the NHL don't like either of them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Preds Fight Back;Win Again vs. Hawks

Wow. That seems to be the general reaction after that game. The Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at the Bridge. Cal O'Reilly scored the game-winner in the shootout and Pekka Rinne was marvelous stopping all three Blackhawk attempts. Here's some key points from the game:

ATMOSPHERE
This game was the most entertaining game and the best game so far this season by a landslide. Sold out crowd. Physicality. Lead Changes. Goals. Saves. Controversy. This game had it all and it was truly a treat to watch. The crowd was into the game from the very beginning. One problem, however, is that there were a hell of a lot of Hawks fans in the building. But, in some ways, that made the game that much better. People in the crowd yelling at each other(me)and two teams that don't like each other are what this game is all about. In section 302, some fans were even thrown out of the game. It was a great night and a great atmosphere.

PHYSICALITY
This was a very physical contest between these two teams. There were some bone-crushing checks laid out by both teams. And, IT FINALLY HAPPENED! Late in the second period, Patric Hornqvist took a shot from Bryan Bickell. By my account, it was a legal hit. Very very hard. But legal. However, Shea Weber took exception to it and came in wailing on Bickell. I loved it. Finally we stood up for each other and let somebody know that they're not going to push us around. Now, the question is why did Weber get a 4 minute roughing call while Bickell only got two, and what was the difference in that play and Boynton's tussle with Bouillon?

PERSERVERANCE
The Preds were behind for a significant period of the game but fought back and found a way to get it done tonight. They fell behind 1-0 and 3-2 and came back both times.

PLAY OF DEFENSEMEN
Nashville had 3 goals in regulation tonight and all of them came from the defense. Shane O'Brien scored the first goal on a marvelous pass from Marcel Goc. Shea Weber got the second goal on the power-play when he ripped a shot right through Mary Turco. Cody Franson got the third goal to tie the game at 3 in the 3rd period. Ryan Suter made his return to the line-up tonight and played well. You can really tell how much of a difference he makes on the power-play. They moved a lot better and got a lot of good chances on the power-play tonight with Suter in the line-up.

Martin Erat also made his return to the line-up and played pretty well. He had an assist on Weber's goal.

Patric Hornqvist got a goal disallowed tonight because of a "distinct kicking motion." After looking at the replay on the jumbo-tron, the refs made the right call to disallow the goal. Hornqvist also played a vital role on the game-tying goal in the 3rd period when he screened Turco from seeing Franson's shot.

Pekka Rinne didn't have his best game but came up big in key situations. He was absolutely brilliant in the shootout.

Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Keith all went without a point tonight. Usually, that will result in a win for whoever is playing Chicago.

The Preds play again on Tuesday night at 6:00 in Toronto.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Preds Squeak Out a Victory

The Nashville Predators finally put an end to their losing streak on Thursday night as they defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2 by way of a shootout. Pekka Rinne had a decent game in goal and Marcel Goc got the game-winning shootout goal. Cal O'Reilly and J.P. Dumont were the goal scorers in regulation for the Predators. Here's some things to take away from Thursday night's game:

FINALLY GETTING A "W"
At this point, I'm sure they didn't care how they got one as long as they got one. The Preds didn't have their best game but ultimately hung around long enough and escaped with a shootout victory. You've got to give them credit. After falling behind 2-1 in the third period, they could have easily packed it in and just decided that this game was going to end up the same as the previous five. But they didn't. They hung in there and kept fighting. The first period wasn't very good at all but the Preds managed to get out of there only trailing 1-0 thanks to a truly brilliant play by Marcel Goc, clearing the puck out inches away from the goal line.

O'REILLY'S POINT STREAK
With his goal tonight, Cal O'Reilly extended his point streak to five games. He leads the team in points so far this season with 12 and has really been a pleasant surprise so far.

THINGS TO WORK ON
Although they won the game, this wasn't a great game played by the Preds in any way. There were still some stupid penalties, still no life on the power-play at all, and the dump and chase mentality of this team has to be addressed. The Preds use the dump and chase more than any other team in the league. Simply put, it's rarely going to work. Dumping it in the zone regulary is, a lot of times, just as good as giving the other team the puck. Somebody needs to take it themselves into the zone and try to set up more offensive chances. The talent is there for this team to start scoring goals. You just have to set up a system that will allow you to score those goals and the dump and chase is, quite frankly, not that system. It's something that needs to be addressed by the coaching staff. Pekka Rinne played much better tonight than he had in his two previous games, coming up with some big stops in regulation and in the shootout. All in all, in no way was it a terrible game for the Preds but there still is room for improvement and things to work on. However, the end result is all that matters and the Preds escaped with a win.

PREDS VS. HAWKS
The Predators will finally return home(briefly) on Saturday night as they face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds and Hawks have met earlier this season in the second game of the year for Nashville with the Preds winning a 3-2 game in the United Center in the last 30 seconds. This will be Chicago's first trip back to Nashville since Game 6 of the Quarterfinals where they eliminated the Preds. I think you can expect Nashville to come out with a fire, still remembering how that series went last year and playing with a chip on their shoulder that hasn't been there recently with all of the injuries and losses. I haven't heard any more news on Suter or Erat and whether or not either of them have the possibility of playing Saturday night, so if anybody has any information on that it would be greatly appreciated. I am fearful for Lombardi though. He has had previous experiences with concussions and once you get the first one, you're more prone to get more. I hope he's ok and is able to return to the line-up soon.

Puck drop for Nashville vs. Chicago will be Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Bridestone Arena in Nashville.

Blues Get Hammered;Thursday Thoughts

The St.Louis Blues lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night by a score of 8-1. It looked like the Blues simply were not ready to play this game. Also, T.J. Oshie injured his ankle in the game. Will the Blues come out tonight with something to prove or will this loss hurt their confidence a little?

Ryan Suter and Martin Erat will not play tonight against St.Louis and actually did not make the trip. Hopefully one or both of them will be ready to go on Saturday night against Chicago.

In yesterday's blog, I called tonight's game a "must-win" and received backlash from several people. I also went on to say that the deficit is not insurmountable but it's not a preferrable deficit to overcome. I write out of emotion very often. Sometimes I'm going to say stuff that pretty much nobody agrees with. You'll have to forgive me. Of course, if the Preds lose tonight's game they are not eliminated. Their season is not over. There's no reason to pack it all in or give up on the season at all. But they do really really really really REALLY need to win this game. I think we all can agree on that. I'm going to say stupid stuff sometimes. I apologize in advance.

I really like the NHL's idea of the new way of doing things with the All-star game. It makes the game a lot more interesting to look forward to. I think it'll work out great and it should be fun to watch!

Tune in to the Preds game tonight as they face the Blues. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. in St.Louis

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wednesday Notes

The Nashville Predators take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday Night in St. Louis. The Blues were the first team that the Predators lost to in regulation this year and they haven't won a game since.

Ryan Suter and Martin Erat returned to practice Tuesday according to ontheforecheck.com

On Thursday, the Blues will be coming off a game against Columbus on Wednesday night. The Predators have to take advantage of the Blues early.

The Blues currently sit at 9-1-2 with their lone loss in regulation coming against the Predators in Nashville's third game of the year. The Blues have won seven games in a row coming into tonight's game against Columbus.

Nashville currently sits dead last in the Central division and 13th in the Western Conference.

The Predators have 10 games remaining in November. 6 are on the road, while 4 are at home.

Steve Stamkos, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has 13 goals so far this season. The kid has some serious game.

I know it's early in the season(Well, kinda early. We're 13 games in) but this game against St. Louis is a must win for the Preds. Nashville has lost 5 games in a row and really needs a win. If St. Louis beats Columbus tonight, they'll have 22 points to the Predators 13, which means the Blues would have 24 if they beat the Preds. It's not an insurmountable deficit but it's definitely not a preferrable obstacle to overcome. The Preds simply have to have this game.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time For Pride

Over the weekend the Nashville Predators closed out the California portion of the road trip with two losses. On Saturday night, the Preds got taken to the shed by Los Angeles and lost 4-1. Pekka Rinne was awful in that game and Anders Lindback had to come in relief. On Sunday, the Preds lost 5-4 to the Ducks with the game-winning goal coming with 2 seconds left in the third period. Here's a few things to think about:

MOOD OF THE TEAM
Let me start out by saying I don't know how the players are feeling in the locker room. I don't know how the coaches are handling the situation or the sense of urgency they're trying to instill. I don't know if they're having fun. Here's what I do know: They don't need to be having fun right now. I'm very angry about this 5 game losing streak and I can only assume the players are too. If not, it's time to get angry and play a game with some edge. Maybe with a little fire and intensity. Little too far-fetched? I hope not. Because if it is this team can go ahead and pack it up now. Do I think they can bounce back? Of course I do. There is something that bugs me and that is the old "We're in a better position this year than we were this time last year." Well fantastic. Here's something you also need to know. This isn't last year's team at all! This team is expected to perform. This team is expected to compete in each and every hockey game that is played in the 82 game season. It's time to get angry and go out and try to kick somebody's ass and light a fire under this team, because right now that fire isn't there.

LOOKING FORWARD
Improvement is needed in all areas. The offense has got to produce more and I was encouraged by the production in Anaheim......Well, I was encouraged by the O'Reilly line. The past three games, goaltending has simply sucked and there is no other way to put it. Rinne and Lindback have to get better if this team is going anywhere. Defensively, they've got to be positionally sound. They're getting burned out of position and it's costing us points. And, finally, we need Suter, Lombardi, AND Erat back(Yes i said it). We need to get healthy and fast. Now's the time to kick it in gear because these points could cost us in April.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Preds Fall to Coyotes;Remain Incapable of Playing A Complete Game

I am absolutely disturbed at the outcome of this game. The Predators fell to the Coyotes by a score of 4-3. Every now and then throughout the year, the boys need a good ole fashion ripping. Don't worry they're about to get one from me.

GOALTENDING
Pekka Rinne was terrible. He let in at least 3 goals that were weak. Just simply weak. There's no reason that goals 2 through 4 should ever go in the net. And, I'm still not sure about goal number 1. On Ed Jovanovski's second goal, he shot it from the corner and it went right by Pekka Rinne. I have no idea where Pekka's head was tonight(Besides up where the sun doesn't shine)but he needs to find it or he'll have a hat on his head talking to Pete and Terry during the 3rd period.

JOVANOVSKI
You've got to give it to the guy. He played extremely well and got his first NHL hat-trick. Rinne made him look like Alexander Ovechkin. He was the game's number one star.

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES
In all honesty, the defense corp really wasn't that bad. Weber, Bouillon, Franson, and Klein all played pretty well tonight. Sulzer and O'Brien did not play good. Sulzer was, and has been, really bad since he started playing. O'Brien looked horrifically slow tonight in the game. I think the Preds ought to seriously consider scratching Sulzer and bringing someone like Laakso or Blum up here. In all honesty, they could not do any worse. This team misses Ryan Suter more and more with each passing game.

NICK SPALING
In 6 games, Spaling has 1 assist and in the last two games has taken two stupid penalties. Why is he up here?

SERGEI KOSTITSYN
Kostitsyn played a very good game tonight. He worked extremely hard to get his goal on the long pass from Tootoo(who had 2 assists in the game). I was impressed by Kostitsyn, Tootoo, and Wilson's play tonight.

SHOOT THE PUCK
Shoot. The. Hockey. Puck. It's not a hard concept. The Preds had 31 shots on goal tonight, which isn't a bad number. They also passed up about 31 more shots. They're going back to the old days trying to make the one extra pass. Cal O'Reilly is the absolute worst at it. It's almost like he's told himself that he's not going to shoot under any circumstance. He tries to make the cute pass and sometimes it backfires. Granted, O'Reilly is a gifted playmaker and certainly made some excellent passes. I counted 8 shots that he could've taken that he did not, however.

HIT THE NET
When you do shoot the puck, you hav GOT to hit the net. Late in the third, both O'Reilly and Hornqvist had a clear shot to the net, and probably the two best scoring chances in the game, and both of them shot it over the net. Shea Weber has been consistently missing the net this season(Granted a lot have been deflected wide). Putting the puck on net is never a bad play. Never.

NOW'S THE TIME
The Preds have now lost three games in a row in regulation, all of which came against Western Conference foes. The Preds are now 5-3-3 on the season, meaning that they have lost more games than they have won. I know Nashville has had a plethora of injuries to start the season. Really, I get that. However, there is still no excuse to be playing the way they are right now, and especially no excuse to not play a full 60 minutes of hockey. The Preds have played 4 games this year in which I feel they've played a full game of hockey. That means they've played 7 that they have not. That's an issue of pride, fatigue, and leadership. Now's the time to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. If they do that, they will win. It's not hard.

Other notes:

Marcel Goc returned and played a pretty solid game. He had to leave the game temporarily when a puck went off of his ankle, but he returned.

Jordin Tootoo returned to the lineup and got two assists. Pretty solid night from number 22.

Pekka played pretty bad tonight. You have to figure that is going to be a rarity. I expect him to bounce back, but will the offense bounce back with him?

The Power-play looked decent tonight. Not great. Not good. But decent. The Penalty kill still looks dreadful.

The Preds play on Saturday night at Los Angeles as they take on the Kings in the Staples Center. Puck drop is 9:00 P.M. central time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Injury Concerns

I'm a little concerned. Matthew Lombardi, Ryan Suter, and Martin Erat will not be making this western road trip with the team. Lombardi's absence was expected. It's obvious they he is hurt way more than previously thought after the Chicago game. Suter is scaring me. Apparently, he hasn't even begun skating yet. This team NEEDS Ryan Suter back as quickly as possible. As for Martin Erat...........yeah I'm not too bothered by this news either.

On the brightside, it looks like Marcel Goc and Jordin Tootoo will be back in the game tomorrow night. Goc is especially good news because he was playing very well before that cheap hit by Backstrom that, for some reason(The NHL basically turning a deaf ear), didn't result in any punishment on Backstrom's behalf. The Cube also looks like he might go tomorrow night in the desert as well.

As of now, nobody has been called up in the replacement of Martin Erat, and that probably has to do with Marcel Goc making his return. Of course, nobody is just as good as Martin Erat the way he's been playing. Yes, you could say he's in my dog house.

The Preds take on the Coyotes tomorrow night at 9:00 on FS-TN. It's a key bounce-back game for the Predators as they look to get back on the winning track.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Central Division Superiority

This isn't even arguable. The Central division is the best divison in the NHL. All five teams in the division are in the top 8 of the Western Conference. All are within three points of each other. Chicago has 15 points in 14 games, St. Louis has 14 points in 9 games, Detroit has 13 points in 9 games, Nashville has 13 points in 10 games, and Columbus has 12 points in 10 games. As of right now, this division is wide open.

Chicago- They're currently on top of the division but have also played at least four more games than any other team in the division. Look for them to fall back into third pretty soon.

St. Louis- In my opinion, St. Louis has been the most impressive team in the division so far this season. They don't have anybody that really scares you offensively, but Jaroslav Halak has been unreal so far this season. The Blues are not going to be as bad as people thought they might be but I don't expect them to hang around in 2nd place either.

Detroit- What can I say? I hate them but it looks like the Red Wings are for real again. They're playing well right now and they've still got as good of a first two lines as any team in the league.

Nashville- This team has got to get healthy. There's no way to know how good this team can be yet. Once healthy, I expect that they can be excellent. They've just all got to get healthy and stay healthy so we can see. Drink some milk.

Columbus- The Jackets have had a decent start to this year but I wouldn't expect it to continue down the road. They just simply don't have enough to make a playoff run. Expect them to be a bottom three team in the Conference here shortly.

The question is: Who is going to come out of the Central division and when they do, are they going to have anything left? Teams are going to keep beating each other up in this division. It's very similar to the SEC in college football. It's the best conference in America and whoever comes out is usually the best team in the nation. Likewise, whoever comes out on top as the Central divsion could be looking at some serious success come postseason time. Right now, it's anybody's game.