Thursday, March 31, 2011

Preds Leave Mile High City Victorious

The Nashville Predators held on to defeat the Colorado Avalanche by a 3-2 score on Thursday night in Denver. The Preds had another lackluster 3rd period with only 4 shots on goal to Colorado's 15. However, the Preds were able to hold on and come out with a much needed two points.

In the 1st period, Nashville came out with a pretty good pace of play. The Preds outshot the Avs 12 to 9 in the period, and got a goal from Colin Wilson to put them up 1-0. Blake Geoffrion cycled the puck behind the net to Matt Halischuk, who made a pretty backhand pass to Wilson in front of the net.

There is one word to describe the 2nd period: Eventful. The Preds took a 2-0 lead when Jordin Tootoo tipped in a Cody Franson snapshot from the point. Things got scary for Nashville after that. On the power-play, Shea Weber unloaded an absolute bomb of a shot right into Martin Erat. Erat went straight off of the ice and back into the locker room. He would return, however, and have a big impact on the game. Jordin Tootoo was also hurt when he was hit by John-Michael Liles along the boards. He didn't return and apparently has an "upper-boy injury".

In the 3rd, the Preds got a goal by Martin Erat on the power-play to give them a 3-0 lead. However, the situation would quickly become hairy. Paul Stastny put in a wrist shot to pull the Avalanche within two. With 1:02 remaining in the 3rd, the Avalanche made a game out of it when David Jones shot one that found it's way past Pekka Rinne through a scrum of bodies in front. Colorado ran out of time, and didn't manage to complete the comeback.

With the win, Nashville moves back up into 6th position in the Western Conference standings. Also, they are just four points behind the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings, which makes Saturday's game against them the biggest regular season game between Nashville and Detroit in the history of the franchise.

Nashville still had trouble in the 3rd period, which has been a troubling trend all year long. They have got to correct that problem soon. Against a team like Detroit, that will be the difference in the game. It was on Tuesday night against Vancouver.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preds Look to Rebound in Colorado

The Nashville Predators are looking to rebound from their Tuesday night loss to Vancouver on Thursday night against Colorado. The Preds and Avs have met three times this season, and this game will be the final meeting between the two teams in the 2010-2011 season.

Nashville has won all three previous meetings this year against Colorado, and they are looking to make it four. The Preds only have five games remaining in the regular season, and still have to win to secure a postseason position. The Avalanche are in 14th place in the Western Conference, and are eliminated from postseason contention. That means that Colorado has nothing to play for, which can make them even more dangerous.

Nashville sits in 7th place in the Western Conference with 92 points coming into Thursday night's game. This game is extremely important to the Predators. The Preds need to win at least 3 out of their last 5 games.

The puck will drop at 8:00 P.M. central time at the Pepsi Center in Denver. This is one of two remaining road games for the Predators in the regular season. The game can be seen on FS-Tennessee.

Preds Need to End Trend

The Nashville Predators have been a streaky team throughout the 2010-2011 NHL season. Big winning streaks have been followed by big losing streaks. That is a trend that cannot continue at this point in the season if the Predators want to have success.

Going into Tuesday night's game against Vancouver, the Preds had won 6 games in a row. That streak was snapped when the Canucks defeated the Predators by a 3-1 score. If the Predators want to continue there march to the playoffs, they must not let the streakiness continue.

During the course of this season, Nashville has significant winning streaks of five games, six games, and the most recent six game winning streak. The Preds have also had three separate 3-game winning streaks. On the flip side, the Preds have had streaks of three consecutive overtime losses, a five game losing streak, a four game losing streak, a five game losing streak, another four game losing streak, and a three game losing streak.

Nashville can't go on a losing streak at this time in the season. The Preds have five games left and currently sit in 6th position in the Western Conference with 92 points. They still have to finish out the regular season on a good note in order to secure a postseason spot. That starts on Thursday night when the Preds take on the Colorado Avalanche.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canucks Clip Preds, 3-1

On an cold night in Smashville, the league leading Canucks ended the Preds 6 game winning streak with a 3-1 win.
In this Blogger's opinion, neither team seemed very interested in the outcome of the game, and it was fairly clear that the Preds were simply playing for a point...or at least it seemed that way. There was no jump, heart, or fire, except for a couple hits by Jordin Tootoo and a few scrums that didn't amount to anything.
The Preds led off the scoring late in the 2nd when Mike "Mr. Underwood" Fisher buried a very nice goal. It's great to see him start producing on the scoresheet, and we hope this trend continues. After that, it seems that the hometown team coasted the remainder of the game trying to ensure one point.
The Canucks converted a very nice goal early in the 3rd, caused by hard work and quick feet behind the goal, and net presence by Alex Burrows. It did not help that Ryan Suter was late getting to #14. The remainder of the period seemed to be a simple puck protection game by the Canucks, capped off with a second goal by Burrows. The game was iced with an empty netter with less than 10 seconds left.
The Preds only put two shots on the net in the 3rd. TWO. They will not win many games doing this. While the Canucks played defensively strong, it seemed that the Preds made dumb passes, many of which ended up in our own skates.
Maybe this game will look better in the morning light, but it wasn't a good effort against  team that could have been beat. Yes, there were some questionable calls, and non-calls, such as a penalty shot that Marty Erat should have been given...but I don't think the loss can be placed on that. I blame the team that only got 16 shots on net.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Game Preview: High-Powered Canucks Visit Nashville

The 1st place Vancouver Canucks will make their final regular season visit to Nashville for the 2010-2011 season to take on the Predators on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has won two out of three meetings so far this year against Vancouver, and will be looking to make it four on Tuesday night. In the most recent game between these two teams, the Predators shut out the Canucks by a score of 3-0 at Rogers Arena. In Vancouver's last visit to Nashville, the Predators took the game by a 3-1 score and Mike Fisher scored his first goal as a Nashville Predator.

Former Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis will not be playing in Tuesday night's game due to a concussion that he suffered on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both teams are coming into this game on a hot streak. Vancouver has won three games in a row, and have taken nine out of their last 10 games. Nashville has won six games in a row coming into Tuesday night's game.

As is always the case with Vancouver, the Sedin twins are the key to the Canucks' offense. They have 185 combined points on the season, and Daniel Sedin leads the entire NHL in points. Stopping the twins is obviously going to be a huge key for the Predators if they want to win.

Nashville's line of Kostitsyn-Fisher-Hornqvist is going to be key in this game. All three of them have found their offensive touch in the past couple of games, and that trend is going to have to continue. The Preds are going to need at least two reliable offensive units every night.

This is a possible playoff preview for the Predators, so there's going to be some intensity in this game. It's been widely said that Vancouver won't show much effort in Tuesday night's game because it really doesn't mean anything for them. I don't think that's true at all. They are going to want to beat Nashville because they haven't had much success against them so far this year. The puck drops at 7:00 P.M.

Role Reversal

Throughout the past few seasons, David Legwand has received criticism for his lack of scoring from multiple sources, including myself. He has been on a scoring role as of late, and many wonder what it is about the end of the year that causes Legwand to break out on the score sheet. For instance, Legwand was the leading scorer for the Preds in the playoffs against Chicago. He was playing at a high level and had 7 points in six games for Nashville.

While playing in more important games toward the end of the season might have something to do with Legwand's rise in production, I think there is another reason that has brought about his most recent rise in production. Legwand has 22 points in 21 games since February 12th. What is significant about February 12th? Mike Fisher made his debut for the Predators.

Fisher's value for the Predators has been as misunderstood as Legwand's was prior to Fisher's arrival. Since February 12th, Fisher has been taking some of Legwand's minutes against the opposition's top line. That has allowed Legwand to focus more on his offensive game, and has been a key factor in Legwand's rise in production.

Until Saturday night against Dallas, Fisher had been held off of the scoresheet without a goal or an assist for 12 consecutive games and was starting to draw criticism from some of PredNation. There are two reason's behind Fisher's drought. One, he was obviously hurt during that stretch. He wasn't playing at the same level that he was when Nashville first acquired him(for more information on this, vist The second reason is that he was playing the role that Legwand had played before Fisher was acquired.

It's clear that Fisher is a great defensive forward. He leads the league in blocked shots by a forward, and is always in the right position defensively. Naysayers will argue that his plus-minus rating is a minus-21. Come on, he played for Ottawa. Since joining the Predators, Fisher is just a minus-2. Considering that he is also playing against the other team's top line every night along with Legwand, that's really not that bad. That minus-2 has come while Fisher has been injured, and kept off of the scoresheet for a considerable amount of time.

This has caused me to gain more respect for Legwand. It's clear that Legwand has the offensive talent to produce. Don't give me that crap about him being out there for empty-net goals. There's a reason Legwand is out there when the net is empty. It's because Barry Trotz trusts him to be out there when the game is on the line. The acquisition of Fisher has also caused me to have more respect for the job Legwand did before Fisher got to Nashville.

Now that Fisher seems to be getting healthier, the Predators could have a very good situation on their hands. If Legwand continues to produce offensively, and Fisher starts to contribute on the offensive end, the Predators could have special run in the postseason. Both of them are extremely good defensive forwards, and they could be on their way to becoming extremely good two-way forwards. So, I'll eat my crow on the ripping I gave Legwand earlier in the season. It's clear now how important the role he and Fisher plays is to the success of the Predators.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Concussions in the NHL

Concussions have become the main issue in the NHL recently. General Manager meetings and tougher enforcements of head shots are steps that are being taken to try and reduce the concussion rate in the NHL. However, there isn't a way that concussions are going to be completely taken out of the game. Hockey is an extremely physical sport, and there's no way to take the physicality out of the game if you want to keep hockey the way it is today.

This issue of concussions in the NHL took center stage when Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby suffered one in the Winter Classic, and has not played since January 5th. Earlier this month, head shots and concussions were the number one item on the list during the GM meetings. It's clear that the league is trying to take stands to reduce the type of hits that will lead to concussions. A perfect example of that is the suspension of Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs, after he deliberately elbowed New York Ranger defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Also, they will be taking a more aggresive approach to examining players that have suffered concussios, or possible concussions, before allowing them to play again.

The Nashville Predators have had their fair share of problems with concussions this year. Matthew Lombardi has been out with a concussion since October 13th, and has been ruled out for the remainder of the year. Francis Bouillon has also been sidelined with a concussion, and his return is doubtful for the remainder of this year. It's an injury that doesn't have a timetable for a possible return. Each individual reacts and recovers from concussions differently. Added to that, is the fact that a player is more susceptible to concussions after they have already suffered a first one.

Take Dan Hamhuis, a former Nashville Predators defenseman who now plays for Vancouver, for instance. Hamhuis has had two concussions this year, with the most recent one coming on March 27th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's now had a total of four concussions in his career and has said he would consider retirement if he continued to suffer from concussions. "If I ever felt like it's like putting myself at risk long term, then I'll have to step back and think about things", he said.

The NHL has a much better system of diagnosing and treating concussions than other sports like the NFL do. There are more tests you have to pass to return to action, and it usually takes longer for players in the NHL to return than players in the NFL. If you think about that, it makes perfect sense. Football is a violent sport and there are extremely hard hits. However, in hockey the players are moving at speeds close to 30 mph on the ice. Obviously, the impact of players going at that speed is going to be higher and far more dangerous.

Concussions are one of the most serious injuries that a player can sustain while playing hockey. Methods are being developed to make the game safer for players, but there is still always going to be the risk of suffering a concussion in the NHL. The NHL is doing the right thing when it comes to trying to reduce the amount of concussions in the game. Senseless, illegal hits need to be taken out of the game, and the NHL is rigorously stepping up their efforts to make sure that message is sent loud and clear. It's now up to the players to abide by those rules.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Preds Complete Sweep of Important Week; Defeat Dallas

The Nashville Predators defeated the Dallas Stars on Saturday night by a 4-2 score to complete a sweep of the most important regular season week in franchise history.

Nashville got two goals apiece from Mike Fisher and David Legwand and Pekka Rinne was great in goal once again. Dallas would strike first, however, when Alex Goligoski put one past Rinne on the power-play. The Predators would respond when Legwand put home the rebound of a Martin Erat wrap-around attempt.

In the 2nd period, the Preds would take the lead when Fisher blasted a one-timer past Kari Lehtonen to put them up 2-1. Dallas would respond less than two minutes later when Brenden Morrow scored on a fluke goal. The puck flew up and went in the net off of Rinne's back. That's three fluke goals against Rinne in a two game span. Fisher would give the Predators the lead again at 9:57 of the period when he scored a beautiful backhand goal off of the rebound.

In the final frame, the Preds would overcome a series of terrible calls by the referee to hang on for the victory. Legwand would add an empty netter to ice the game away. With the win, the Preds find themselves in good position with 92 points and a 6th place position in the Western Conference. They have given themselves a slight cushion going into the final six games, but are still going to need to keep winning games.

Nashville has six games remaining, and are probably going to have to win three of those to secure a playoff berth. While it's obvious that this week was huge for the Predators, their work is far from over. They have a big test awaiting them against Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Preds vs. Stars in Vital Week

Coming into this week, Nashville had the three most important games of the season for them. They took care of business by defeating Edmonton, and held on to come out with a victory over Anaheim. The third phase of that important week takes place Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena against the Dallas Stars.

Nashville comes into this game in 6th place in the Western Conference with 90 points and with 40 wins. Dallas comes into this game in 9th place in the Western Conference with 86 points and 38 wins.

The Preds have won 5 games in a row and are playing good hockey. In fact, the Predators are just 5 points behind the division-leading Detroit Red Wings. Nashville is getting hot at the right time. The key to the Predators' recent streak has been the play of Pekka Rinne and the rise in offensive production. When the Predators are playing this way, they're a difficult team to beat.

Dallas is coming into tonight's game with their backs against the wall, and are sure to come out with maximum intensity. The Preds have to match that intensity if they want to keep on the winning path.

So far this season, Nashville is 2-1-0 against Dallas. However, the Stars won the most recent game between the two teams in comeback fashion by a 3-2 score. With a win, the Predators will be sitting in great position. The puck drops at 7:00 P.M. tonight and the game will be televised on FS-Tennessee.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Preds Rise To the Occasion; Defeat Ducks

The Nashville Predators held on to defeat the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 5-4 at Bridgestone Arena in front of the 14th sellout crowd of the season on Thursday night. It was a game that Nashville had in hand, but almost gave up.

Nashville and Anaheim came into Thursday night's game staring each other in the face in the Western Conference standings. The Predators had taken 2 of 3 games against the Ducks this year coming into the game, and this game was more important than ever before. Anaheim entered the fray with 87 points, one point behind the Predators. Jonas Hiller made his return to the lineup for Anaheim after missing 16 games with Vertigo. His return wouldn't go well. "We knew it was Hiller's first game back here, so we wanted to pepper him with some pucks and get traffic," said Predators forward Jordin Tootoo. They certainly did that.

In the 1st period, Nashville came out flying, and Sergei Kostitsyn tallied at 2:04 of the period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Nick Spaling decided that he would get in on the scoring action at 11:18 of the 1st period to put the Preds up 2-0. Just 19 seconds later, Kostitsyn tipped in a wrist shot from Patric Hornqvist for his second goal of the night to put the Preds up 3-0. "We knew it was going to be a big game for us. We need those points so we came out hard and scored a couple of goals," Kostitsyn said. Former Predators goalie Dan Ellis was then called into action for the Ducks. Anaheim would then respond, however, when Corey Perry put a rebound past Pekka Rinne to put the Ducks on the board and pull Anaheim within two. Nashville would lead 3-1 after the 1st period.

Andreas Lilja took a slashing penalty at 4:23 of the 2nd period, but Nashville was unable to capitalize. As he was getting out of the box, Lilja found the puck and had a breakaway. Rinne made a huge stop, and the crowd a Bridgestone Arena responded with one of their famous T.V. timeout standing ovations. Nashville got the frosty goal at 18:40 of the 2nd period on a weird play. Spaling dropped it back to Tootoo, who gave it to O'Brien. O'Brien then gave it back to Tootoo who shot it through a cluster of people and into the net to give the Predators a 4-1 lead.

David Legwand resumed the scoring for Nashville in the 3rd period after a Shane O'Brien Delay of Game penalty. Legwand came in shorthanded and wristed one past Ellis. On the goal, Ward was given a roughing penalty for making contact with Ellis after the goal was scored, which gave Anaheim a 5 on 3 power-play. Teemu Selanne would tally 10 seconds later to make the game 5-2 in favor of Nashville. The Ducks wouldn't go away, however, as Selanne struck again on another 5 on 3 power-play after two Predators hooking penalties. Kostitsyn and Legwand missed an opportunity for SK74 to get his hat trick goal on the empty net on multiple occasions, which could have cost them given what was about to happen. "It's not the time of year or the team that you want to do that against. They tried to feed him twice for the hat trick and it didn't work; they came back and countered and almost scored both times," said Coach Trotz. Anaheim pulled within one goal with 26.5 seconds left in the 3rd period when Perry flipped a puck up in the air that was kicked in by Nashville's Ryan Suter. However, the Ducks wouldn't have enough time to tie the game and Nashville escaped with the regulation win.

With the win, Nashville reaches the 90 point mark on the season. More importantly, it puts them three points ahead of Anaheim and four points ahead of Dallas.

Leftover thoughts from tonight's game:

Barry Trotz was heated in his press conference. He ripped the Preds and it almost seemed as if the Preds lost the game. He was particularly disturbed about how the game ended, saying "Our defense was atrocious in the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period". It's clear that Trotz is hellbent on teaching Nashville how to play with, and maintain, the lead.

Nick Spaling, Jordin Tootoo, and Patric Hornqvist all finished with multi-point nights for the Preds.

Two Anaheim goals deflected off of Ryan Suter and into the net.

Pekka Rinne's spectacular performance in the first two periods saved the game for the Predators tonight. Anaheim could have easily scored 10 goals tonight if it weren't for Rinne's play.

Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Teemu Selanne had a big night for the Ducks. They kept the pressure on the Predators all night long and really pushed them every shift. Perry is making a late run at a possible Hart Trophy nomination.

This was a huge game for Nashville, but they don't have any time to get comfortable. They have an equally important game on Saturday night against Dallas. Nashville knows these games are important. "Obviously, playing against Anaheim and the next game against Dallas, these games are huge," said Pekka Rinne. As the season winds down, each game just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preds Take On Ducks In Western Conference Showdown

The Nashville Predators will play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night in a pivotal Western Conference showdown. With the Ducks defeating the Stars in overtime on Wednesday night, they enter Thursday night's contest just one point behind Nashville with 87 points. The Preds have 88 points and have played one more game than Anaheim has, so this game is obviously huge for both teams.

Anaheim is coming into this game winners of their last four games, which is exactly the same as Nashville. Two of those wins have come on the road and two of them have come at home. The Ducks are 1-2-0 in games played on Thursday night so far this year.

Nashville is coming into this game with eight games remaining, six of which are at home. This is a vital game for the Predators. They are 9-4-3 in games played on Thursday night, and have won all three contests played on a Thursday night in the month of March.

Corey Perry has been a stud this year for Anaheim with 40 goals and 40 assists. Also, Teemu Selanne has been sensational. The 40-year-old winger has 68 points on the year. Obviously, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf are huge contributors to this Anaheim team as well, so the Ducks have no shortage of talent. The Preds will have to play a great defensive game to contain the Ducks.

On the offensive side of the puck, the Preds have to keep up the good work. David Legwand, Martin Erat, and Joel Ward are all playing well right now and that has to continue on Thursday night.

Words can't really describe how big this game if for both teams on Thursday night. Expect the game to be extremely hard fought, which should work to the Predators' advantage given that Anaheim played last night. Bridgestone Arena will be rocking all night and it will feel like a playoff game. The puck drops at 7:00.

What To Do With O'Reilly?

The Nashville Predators announced today that Cal O'Reilly was to skate for the first time since his injury on January 2nd. While this doesn't necessarily mean he's going to return to the lineup anytime soon, it is interesting to think about what the Predators might do if he does return.

O'Reilly has 18 points in 38 games played this season before he was sidelined with a broken leg that he suffered on January 2nd against Columbus. He had been one of the Predators most reliable offensive options before he went out.

So if O'Reilly happens to return to the Predators lineup at some point, what do the Predators do? They have called up Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk to fill in spots due to injuries the team has suffered. Halischuk has been the healthy scratch in the last two games, so you'd have to think he would be sent down to Milwaukee. However, that still leaves the question of who would be scratched.

J.P. Dumont seems to have reasserted himself into the lineup and does have an offensive skillset. At the center position, where O'Reilly plays, spots are currently set. Mike Fisher, David Legwand, Jerred Smithson, and Blake Geoffrion are all playing good hockey. Would Trotz be willing to move O'Reilly to a winger position? Would someone else be moved to the wing to accommodate O'Reilly's skillset at the center position? Who would be the scratch? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Preds Take Care of Business Against Oilers

The Nashville Predators had struggled against the Edmonton Oilers all year coming into this game, and had just a 3-4-5 record when playing on Tuesday. The Preds improved on both of those aspects tonight as the beat the Oilers by a 3-1 score.

Martin Erat got the scoring started for the Predators in the 1st period on a great tic-tac-toe play from David Legwand and Joel Ward. Legwand faked the shot at the point and passed it to Ward, who passed it off to Erat on the back door. Nashville would tally again 3:32 later on the power-play when Patric Hornqvist converted on a great pass from Sergei Kostitsyn.

In the 2nd, Legwand would put the Preds up 3-0 on a great backhand shot that snuck past Devan Dubnyk. Jordan Eberle would put Edmonton on the power-play when he put the rebound past Rinne.

Nashville controlled the play for the majority of the 3rd period. Pekka Rinne made an unbelievbale stop on Tom Gilbert. Erat was denied another goal when he apparently made a "distinct kicking motion" that resulted in an empty net. The Preds would hold on and close out the game to get the win.

With the win, Nashville is now in 6th place with 88 points. They have a huge game on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nashville Begins Important Week Against Edmonton

The Nashville Predators will open their four game homestand on Tuesday night against an Edmonton team that has given them all sorts of trouble this year. So far this season, Edmonton has a 2-0-1 record against the Predators. The Oilers are dead last in the entire NHL, but are a very tough team for Nashville to play against.

You can bet that the Oilers are going to be ready to go for this game. Former Predator Ryan Jones tweeted "Morning! Thanks to everyone who came out to meet a bunch of my tweeples. Heading 2 Nash to steal a couple pts from the Preds". Games between Edmonton and Nashville are always special to Ryan Jones. After all, the Predators put him on waivers, so he will be looking for a chance to get on the scoresheet each and every time he plays Nashville. Tuesday night will be no different. Edmonton has just 56 points and have lost 6 games in a row coming into Tuesday night's game. They have just 11 wins on the road all year, which is the fewest in the NHL. One of the 11 road wins came in a 4-0 shutout effort against Nashville on February 7th.

Nashville is coming into this game winners of their last three games, and have gone 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. The comeback victory against Buffalo on Sunday will almost definitely give the Predators a boost. It was one of the best moments of the 2010-2011 season for the Predators so far. The Preds have got to get two points against the Oilers, especially given that there is only nine games remaining for them. Each point is important, and they need to be capitalized on when playing teams like Edmonton who are already eliminated from postseason contention.

The puck will drop at 7:00 P.M. and the game will be televised on FS-Tennessee. Nashville is 3-4-5 in games played on Tuesdays this season. They will look to make that 4-4-5 against Edmonton.

Home Sweet Home in Huge Week

The Nashville Predators have the biggest week in the history of the franchise this week. They will play host to Edmonton, Anaheim, and Dallas this week and six huge points will be on the line.

Edmonton has given the Predators fits this year. The Oilers have defeated the Predators twice, with one of the wins coming in Nashville by a 4-0 score on February 7th. Edmonton is currently 30th in the league, and on paper should be an easy out for the Predators. However, it's clear by now they won't be easy. Edmonton is a team that Nashville is going to have to take seriously and get two points from.

On Thursday, Anaheim makes their first visit to Nashville since opening night on October 9th. The Preds won that game 4-1, but the line-up is completely different now than it was in that game for Nashville. Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, Cal O'Reilly, Francis Bouillon, and Marcel Goc were all playing in that game. They will not be on Thursday night. Nashville is 2-1 against the Ducks so far this season, and Thursday night's matchup is huge. Currently, Anaheim is just one point behind Nashville with one fewer game played.

Dallas comes to town on Saturday for a huge tilt with the Preds. Nashville is 2-1 against the Stars this year, but Dallas won the latest meeting between the two teams on February 26th in comeback fashion. The Stars are also currently one point behind the Preds with one fewer game played.

Nashville really needs to capitalize on this homestand to put some distance between Anaheim and Dallas, and to compensate for the game in hand that they both have on Nashville. The good part is that the Predators have played well in their home building lately. This truly will be the biggest week in the history of the franchise. A successful week this week could mean the difference in a playoff birth and being on the outside looking end when the regular season is over.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Geoffrion Leads Comeback; Preds Beat Buffalo

In one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of the franchise, the Nashville Predators defeated the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on Sunday by a 4-3 score. Blake Geoffrion recorded his first career Hat Trick on Sunday, leading the comeback for Nashville.

Geoffrion got the scoring started in the 1st period at 6:44 when he threw a pass across that was intended for J.P. Dumont. The puck deflected past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller off of a Sabre skate.

Buffalo came out flying in the 2nd period. Nathan Gerbe got the scoring started for the Sabres when he spun around Kevin Klein right in front of the net to beat Anders Lindback. Tim Connolly scored for Buffalo again just 42 seconds later when Shea Weber turned the puck over at the blue line. Tyler Ennis would add a power-play goal for Buffalo at 19:00 of the 2nd period on the rush. He just wristed a shot that trickled right past Lindback.

In the 3rd, Buffalo controlled the play for the majority of the period. That would change, however, when Geoffrion scored again at 17:33 of the period. Geoffrion shot and then whacked at the puck while it was under Miller, and ended up putting it past him to bring the Predators within one. Just 1:04 seconds later, Cody Franson wristed a shot from the point that was tipped in by Geoffrion to complete the Hat Trick, and that would put the game into overtime.

Martin Erat would score the game-winner in overtime for the Predators just 27 seconds into the period. He took a great pass from David Legwand and finished it off to give the Predators an important two points.

With the win, the Predators moved up to 6th place. However, Chicago and Phoenix are currently playing each other as I'm writing this. If Chicago wins, they would move past the Predators.

The Preds have an important game against the irksome Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. With only 9 games remaining, each game is now more important than it's ever been before for Nashville.

Preds Hang On Against Detroit; Travel To Buffalo Sunday

The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night by a 3-1 score in front of a sold-out crowd at Bridgestone Arena. Pekka Rinne stopped 39 out of 40 Detroit shots to help Nashville secure the victory.

Dan Cleary got the Red Wings on the board with a power-play goal in the 1st period after a great pass by Henrik Zetterberg. The goal came after a Sergei Kostitsyn elbowing call along the boards.

In the 2nd period, Nashville would respond when Blake Geoffrion tipped it in on a pass by Patric Hornqvist. It was the first goal that Geoffrion has scored on home ice since being called up by the Predators. The 2nd period would end in a 1-1 tie.

Jonathon Blum would score the game-winning goal in the 3rd period on the power-play when the puck trickled out to him on Jimmy Howard's right side. Blum had a wide open net to shoot into and didn't miss. The Red Wings came after the Preds with a fury towards the end of the 3rd period, but Nashville was able to ice the game when David Legwand scored the empty-netter. With the win, Nashville moves back into the top 8 in the Western Conference.

Now, the Preds have to travel to Buffalo for a game on Sunday with the Sabres. Buffalo is also in 8th place in their respective conference, so both teams are going to play with desperation.

Barry Trotz has indicated that there is a 50/50 chance that Anders Lindback will start the game versus Buffalo. Personally, I think Lindback should start because Pekka has got to be tired. Lindback is capable of doing an adequate job in net, which he has proven earlier this year.

The game in Buffalo will start at 4:00 P.M. Both teams played on Saturday night, and both teams won Saturday night. Buffalo absolutely destroyed the Atlanta Thrashers by an 8-2 score, so they are definitely going to be feeling confident going into Sunday's game. The Preds will also be confident after knocking off one of the league's best teams in Detroit.

This is a critical game for both teams because both of them are clinging on to the last playoff spots in their conferences. Nashville and Buffalo are both going to desperately want the two points. This is one of only three remaining road games for the Predators. The game will be broadcasted on FS-Tennessee.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Perfect Night In Smashville

There's nothing quite like a Saturday night in Smashville against the Detroit Red Wings. Each and every game is hard fought, has non-stop action, and usually ends up being a very close game. Added to that is the fact that Predators' fans despise the Detroit Red Wings.

Smashville is like a family. We all love our team, we all are passionate about them, and we all develop a bond with the players and fans everytime we're at Bridgestone Arena. Detroit is like the big bully on the playground that's messing with our family member. We don't want to have any conversation with them, we just want to walk up to them and hit them square in the teeth.

What more could our family ask for than a night like this? It's Saturday night. It's Nashville vs. Detroit. It's nearing the end of the season and the Predators are in the middle of a playoff race. The Preds have a chance to win the regular season series against Detroit with a win Saturday night. And to top it off, PredNation has a chance to chant, jeer, abuse, harass, and humiliate their rival for a few hours.

It's nights like Saturday night that make you appreciate why Smashville does what it does. We're loud and proud, we love our team, and we are dedicated to helping this team reach ultimate success. Nights like Saturday night are special. As a fan, it feels like you're the one putting on the gear and going out there when Nashville plays Detroit. Each and every second of each and every game that these two games are constant playoff style hockey.

What else needs to be said? It's Nashville vs. Detroit. It's the middle of March. Let's bring all that we have to Bridgestone Arena and beat these guys again. Because let's be honest, is there anywhere else you'd rather be?

Weber Ends the Curse; Preds Defeat Bruins

The Nashville Predators defeated the Boston Bruins on Thursday night by a 4-3 score IN OVERTIME. The Preds were finally able to break the curse and when a game in the actual overtime period when Shea Weber absolutely destroyed the puck right past Tuukka Rask to give the Preds the much needed two points.

Tyler Seguin got the scoring started in the 1st period when he wristed one past Pekka Rinne. Sergei Kostistyn would tie the game up at one when he put home a rebound in a cluster around the net.

In the 2nd period, Colin Wilson put the Predators ahead when he launched a simple wrist shot from the face-off dot that deflected off of a Boston stick. The Bruins would tie it up again when David Krejci put home the rebound.

Boston would jump out to an early lead in the 3rd period when Patrice Bergeron scored just 1:42 into the period. David Legwand would tie the game again when he put home the rebounds of Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn. Erat came out of the box and was on a breakaway when Rask made the initial save, followed it up with a save on Kostistyn, but was unable to deny Legwand.

In the overtime period, Mike Fisher drew a holding penalty when he was tackled by Steven Kampfer. Shea Weber would get the puck at the point and score to give Nashville the win.

Thoughts from the game:

Tim Thomas didn't play for Boston, so the Vezina Trophy showdown didn't take place.

Patric Hornqvist hit Tyler Seguin in the 1st period and was given a game misconduct and a 5 minute major penalty. The hit was clean. However, the GM's meetings were held this week and head shots were the emphasis. I haven't seen the reverse angle on the hit, but I'd expect Hornqvist to be suspended.

The Predators are still one point out of the Western Conference playoff race, but got an important win against Boston. It was a hell of a hockey game. The Preds will take on the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Showdown in Nashville

The Nashville Predators will take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday for a St. Patrick's Day showdown. This is a huge game for the Predators, as they are hoping to collect points to move into the top 8 in the Western Conference.

This game has a couple of super-star matchups. Hard shot heavyweights Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber will go head to head on the ice, as will Tim Thomas and Pekka Rinne who are the best two goalies in the NHL. This is a perfect game for a fan to go to. There will be beer, there will be blazing slapshots, and there will be physicality throughout the entire night.

My player to watch for the Bruins is Rich Peverley. Peverley was drafted by the Predators and has since gone to play for Atlanta and Boston. So far this season, Peverley has 37 points on the year. He'll want to come out hard against the Preds.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Mike Fisher. Fisher has played in his entire career in the Eastern Conference besides the past month and a week that he has spent in a Nashville Predator uniform. In fact, he was in the same division as Boston when he played for Ottawa, so he's going to have a lot of familiarity with the Bruins.

The matchup between Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas is particularly interesting. These are the two leading candidates for the Vezina Trophy, so one can expect a fairly low-scoring game. Both goalies have been phenomenal this year. No build up is needed for the Weber-Chara matchup. They have the hardest two shots in the league, and it's really not close. They can both smash the puck offensively, and are extremely good in their own end defensively.

With a win, the Nashville Predators can possibly move back into the top 8 in the Western Conference standings. They missed an opportunity to do so on Tuesday night when they fell to the Los Angeles Kings. Thursday night's game is important. It's a little different because of Boston being in the Eastern Conference. The Preds don't have to be afraid of this game going into an overtime or a shootout. Boston is an Eastern Conference team, so it doesn't really matter. However, the Preds really need to come away with two points in this game.

All fans in attendance for Thursday night's game will receive St. Patrick's Day beads presented by MY MAPCO. Come out and enjoy a great night for hockey in Nashville, and hopefully a Predators victory. The game starts at 7:00.

Calling Mike Fisher

(Photo Credit: The Tennessean)

On February 10th, the Nashville Predators acquired Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators via trade for a 1st-round draft pick. It came as a surprise to many fans of both Nashville and Ottawa. Since that time, Fisher has accumulated one goal and three assists as a Predator.

With the injury to Matthew Lombardi, Fisher is the number one center on the Nashville Predators. That means that he is going to be expected to produce offensively, but has not done that yet.

There are many things that Mike Fisher is very good at. He plays the game at a very high level. Unfortunately, it's at a much higher level than a lot of his teammates. He's very good defensively. He backchecks very well, and is excellent at blocking shots. He's also very good with the puck. He doesn't turn it over and is a good skater. Why does this not translate into offensive production?

Some of it has to do with his line. Fisher has been on a line with Sergei Kostitsyn and Wilson/Erat/Hornqvist. Kostitsyn rarely decides to shoot the puck. Fisher would have about three more assists if SK74 would simply have decided to shoot the puck. However, that still doesn't explain why he isn't scoring goals.

Fisher has never been a player that has been superb on the offensive end. He's a good offensive player, but is not a consistent scoring threat. However, he is very good at one thing that all goal-scorers have in common: Creating good shots. He can get the shot off from almost anywhere, and has an excellent wrist-shot. The problem is, he is simply not finishing off the scoring chances that he is creating.

Nashville is an offensively challenged team, so it's imperative that the number one center contributes offensively. Obviously, Fisher is not a legitimate number one center in the NHL, but that doesn't mean that he's not an extremely good hockey player. He simply has to finish when he gets his scoring chances. The Predators cannot afford for him not to do so.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board; Kings Defeat Preds

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night by a score of 4-2 in front of 15,761 at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville had way too many costly turnovers and bad breaks in this game, which allowed the Kings to escape with a victory.

Los Angeles got on the board first in the 1st period when Anze Kopitar scored on a great pass from behind the net by Dustin Penner. Nashville would respond later on in the period when Jonathon Blum scored his 2nd goal of the season against his former favorite team. At the end of the period, the Preds seemed to gain a lot of momentum when Shea Weber and Jordin Tootoo delivered great hits to get the crowd going. However, that momentum wouldn't last long.

In the 2nd period, the Kings once again struck when Alec Martinez scored on the rush to put them up 2-1. Wayne Simmonds would score at 12:03 of the 2nd period on a one-timed snap shot to put Los Angeles up 3-1. Shea Weber gave the puck to Matt Halischuk, who turned it over to create the play for LA.

The 3rd period started off extremely slow and extremely uneventful. Ten minutes into the period, there had only been one shot combined in the entire period for both teams, with Nashville having the only shot. Then, a flicker of hope seemed to come for Preds fans when J.P. Dumont tipped in a Cody Franson shot from the point to pull the Predators within one. However, that's as close as they would get. Los Angeles would add an empty netter and win the game 4-2.

Thoughts from the game:

Pekka Rinne did not have his best night, but wasn't helped by the amount of turnovers that Nashville committed.

Sergei Kostitsyn is not getting as much criticism as he deserves. He is not putting the puck in the net, and really is not producing at all offensively. He was hot at one point in the season, but has now gone drastically cold at the wrong time. Sometimes it seems as if he simpy refuses to shoot the puck, which is a common theme on this team.

I posted a blog the other day about the success that Martin Erat and David Legwand were having lately. Yeah, well they were not good Tuesday night at all. They had a lot of turnovers and never got anything going, which could partially be due to the fact the Joel Ward was out with a "lower body injury."

Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson have got to start putting the puck in the net. Period.

Los Angeles is a hell of a hockey team. They have now moved up on my list to the number one team that I would least like the Preds to see in the first round of the playoffs. They're bigger, faster, and stronger than the Preds. Nashville does not matchup well at all with Los Angeles.

The Preds are going to face a similar team to Los Angeles on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins. Nashville and Boston don't face each other often so there isn't going to be much familiarity between the two teams. This is a game where Mike Fisher's experience can be valuable. I think the Preds toughest game of the week is behind them, but that doesn't mean they can't lose the next two games. They've got to come out with a intensity that we haven't seen so far this year. There are only 12 games left in the regular season. It's literally now or never for the Predators.

Weber Will Appear in Hendersonville Tomorrow

Captain Shea Weber made an appearance on Monday at the Cool Springs Wal-Mart. Weber will once again make a Wal-Mart appearance on Wednesday in Hendersonville from 3:30 to 4:30.

The Wal-Mart in Hendersonville is located at 204 North Anderson Lane, which is right by the area where Cheddars is. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet the Predators captain if you haven't already done so. Even if you have already done so, go talk to him again. He's stated that he is going to stay here, but let's still go out and show him that Nashville and the surrounding area are serious about their dedication to the team.

More tonight after the game....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Game Preview: Preds Take On Kings

The Los Angeles Kings come into Smashville on Tuesday night to take on the Preds in an extremely important Western Conference matchup. Nashville is coming off of two straight wins over Minnesota and Colorado, and Los Angeles has won three games in a row coming into the game.

Currently, the Predators sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with 80 points, and Los Angeles currently sits in 5th place with 83 points. This is a big game for both teams, but it's huge for the Predators.

Anze Kopitar will play in his 325th straight game for the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, which is a franchise record. That's an impressive streak, especially given how easy it is to get injured in hockey. PredNation knows that as well as anybody does right now.

This is the first game in a big week for Nashville at home. The Predators have games against Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit and are capable of winning all three games. As a matter of fact, I think the Los Angeles game is going to be the toughest for the Predators to win.

Los Angeles destroyed the Predators in the first two games between the two teams this year, but Nashville was able to win the last game between these two clubs by a score of 5-2. The Predators are going to have to play their best game if they want to beat the Kings.

Prediction: It's going to be a hard fought game, that will feel like the playoff game that it essentially is. I think this one's going to be three point game. I'm going to make a bold prediction that Nashville wins the game in overtime by a 3-2 score.

Weber's Wal-Mart Adventure

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber took some time on Monday to have a little meet and greet with the fans at the Wal-Mart in Cool Springs. He gave autographs to fans and took pictures with them for over an hour.

Weber really is a great guy. He took the time to actually talk to the fans he was meeting and was willing to interact with them. The line in Wal-Mart was long. Fan after fan came up to him, and he seemed to be just as excited to see them as they were to see him(although I doubt it).

It was good to see Weber get out in the community and do something like this, especially right in the middle of a playoff race. That's why hockey players are the best athletes to be around.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Emergence of Martin Erat

It seems like this happens every year. Martin Erat has a stretch throughout the course of a season where he is on fire. Erat currently finds himself in one of those stretches.

In the last five games, Erat has nine points(3G, 6A)and has tallied at least two points in the last four games, which ties a franchise record for consecutive multi-point games. He has 13 shots on goal in the same five game span, which shows that he's all over the puck and the net.

Erat is currently second on the team in points behind Shea Weber with 42(Weber has 43). So, what caused the sudden outbreak in production from Erat, and why doesn't it happen consistently throughout a season?

Erat, and his entire line, have been on fire lately. David Legwand and Joel Ward are also kicking their scoring into gear, and they're doing it at the best possible time for the Predators. Nashville finds itself right on the cusp of the Top 8 in the Western Conference.

One problem with this team this year, and really most every year, is the fact that they do not put up a ton of goals. Martin Erat and David Legwand are guys that are paid to score goals, and they are currently doing a good job of it in this last little stretch of games. However, that brings us to the 2nd problem that has plagued the Predators this year: Inconsistency. The Preds have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NHL this year, which has contributed to the fact that they're currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoff race goes.

Nashville has 13 games left on the schedule, 10 of which are at home. Bill Clement said it best Friday on NHL Live when he said "The table is set for Nashville to make the playoffs". Erat is going to be a big determining factor in whether or not that is going to happen. He's supposed to be a consistent offensive threat, and a veteran winger on the team. Guys like Erat and Legwand, not Geofrrion and Halischuk, are going to be the key in whether or not Nashville makes the playoffs. Obviously Geoffrion and Haslichuk are fine hockey players, but Erat and Legwand are the guys who have a leadership role on the team. They are the two longest tenured Predators that are currently on the roster.

Lines don't often last very long in the world of Barry Trotz, but Legwand and Erat have always worked well together in the past. If the production keeps up for them, there's no way that line should be changed. These are the guys that are paid to do the job. It's time they were made to do it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two wins is a streak!

Big win for the good guys tonight, as the Preds out play, out work, and out hit the Avs tonight for a 4-2 victory.
The Preds dominated play early in the first with some very strong physical play, and a few scoring chances: 4:16 into the first, "El Captiain" Shea Weber led off the scoring in front of the Sold Out Bridge when he buried the puck amidst a minor cluster in front of the net, which got the home crowd going. WIth 11:36 left, Matt Halischuk netted his second goal of the year, showing some pretty quick thinking.
However, the Preds got a little lax after that, and seemed to go back on their heels, and Ryan O'Reilly got on the board. Pekks got a tad too far out of the net, and the Preds did a piss poor job of clearing the trash. Our D-Men both stood behind Pekka instead of trying to clear the puck, and O'Reilly buried one of their several chances on the play.
The Preds 3rd goal was a thing of beauty! As we entered the zone, Wardo snapped his stick (big shocker, huh?). He immediately circled out and picked up a new twig as the Avs gained possession. Ward cut back in to the O-zone, and apparently the Avs D-Man didnt look up and fired a pass right to Ward's stick. Uncontested, 29 carried it in and rared back for a shot, which he faked. He then toe drug around the goalie and pretty much buried it from behind the goal, thanks to his 10 foot long stick. On a side note, as I question Ward's play two straight games, he immediately scored. I think I need to start talking more crap about our guys!
None-the-less, 6 minutes later, the Avs scored to bring it to 3-2. With about 20 second later, the crowd finally got what it wanted...Toots fought. This wasnt a normal Tootoo with the quick punches and the other guy falls down...Toots and Wilson went toe-to-toe, for what seemed to be over a minute. Both boys threw some haymakers, but Toots whooped some ass. It was almost like a vintage fight. It also jacked the crowd, and Jordin, up. (EDIT: YouTube Flick HERE! Jordin Tootoo vs. Ryan Wilson)
After a back and forth 3rd period, Marty Erat iced the game with 1 second left on the clock for the 4-2 win. Which, as I have been advised, Robby predicted. Way to go, kid!

Stars of the Game:
1. Joel Ward. 1G, 1A. Smart play all night. Showed some sick hands.
2. Marty Erat. 1Assist, and 1 empty netter. I kind of discount that goal, but he did have to jump over someone, which was pretty nifty.
3. Pekka Rinne. 38 shots, 2 goals allowed. He left some juicy rebounds late, but they didnt bite him.

On a side note, Hockey Night is Nashville is officially taking up the #Pekka4Hart campain. Let's Twitter Trend the heck out of this!!!

Good night, folks!

Game Preview: Preds Must Beat Avalanche

The Nashville Predators play host to the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Bridgestone Arena in the second game of a five game homestand. The Avalanche are coming off of a 6-2 loss to Anaheim Friday night, while Nashville is coming off of a 4-0 victory over Minnesota on Thursday night.

Nashville got back on the winning track against the Wild on Thursday night, but that trend has to continue if they want to reach the postseason. Simply winning one and then losing one isn't going to cut it anymore. Having said that, the Preds have a very beatable opponent tonight in Colorado.

The only thing that means is that Nashville has to come out with the same focus and intensity they did on Thursday night against Minnesota. Currently, the Predators sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with 78 points. There is no way the Preds can move into the top 8 with a win tonight, but they can put themselves within a point of the Flames, Coyotes, Kings, and Blackhawks.

Colorado has been struggling of late, going 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. They are currently in the middle of a 7 game losing streak, going 0-6-1 in their last seven games. However, they have the offensive talent to explode with players like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny and Milan Hedjuk.

The Predators have won both of the previous meetings between the two teams this year(5-1 in Colorado and 5-3 in Nashville on February 12th). This one, however is more important for Nashville and they must come out strong.

Prediction: This is the perfect setup for a trap game for Nashville. However, I think they're going to come out focused and ready to go. Nashville wins the game 4-2.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recap of Friday Night

Games that had an impact on the Predators playoff race:

Anaheim defeated Colorado by a 6-2 score.
Los Angeles defeated Columbus by a 4-2 score.
Dallas defeated Minnesota by a 4-0 score.

The teams that Nashville is chasing keep winning, so that means the Predators must keep winning. The Predators must beat Colorado tonight. They have not been playing well at all lately but that doesn't mean the Preds can come out flat. This is the definition of a trap game for the Preds. Hopefully, the sense of urgency will be there for Nashville. These are two points the Predators need to take from Colorado.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Preds Plow Minnesota

In Thursday morning's game preview, I guaranteed a victory for the Nashville Predators over the Minnesota Wild. Thank goodness I was right.

The Nashville Predators blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night. Pekka Rinne earned his 6th shut-out of the season and the Predators got a much needed victory.

Nashville came out flying in the 1st period, and drew an interference penalty at 1:07 of the period on former Pred Greg Zanon for interference. The Preds would not convert on the power-play, but Joel Ward scored on the continuation of the power-play to put the Predators up 1-0. The scoring wouldn't stop there for Nashville in the 1st period. Nick Spaling put the Preds up 2-0 less than a minute later on a great pass from Jerred Smithson. Martin Erat would add another Nashville goal at 12:32 of the period to give the Predators a 3-0 lead after one period.

In the 2nd period, neither team would get on the board, but both teams had pretty steady play. Nashville had a few chances to extend their lead, and Minnesota had a couple of chances to get on the board. However, nothing would be capitalized and the period would end with the same score as it began.

The 3rd period would see the same sort of play from the Predators and Wild as the 2nd period did. Pekka Rinne really wasn't tested very much, and Nicklas Backstom made a few good saves. However, Nick Spaling would score his 2nd goal of the night on an absolutely beautiful pass from Shea Weber between three Minnesota players. That would be the final goal of the game as the Preds won 4-0.

Thoughts from the game:

Mike Fisher left the game with about 17 minutes left in the 3rd period. Barry Trotz said the he was "fine", but that has no bearing with me whatsoever. We're all hoping for the best with Fisher.

Pekka Rinne got the shut-out tonight and really wasn't tested very much at all. He was not a very busy man in tonight's game, which is a welcome change of pace given the way things have gone lately for the Preds.

Nick Spaling played a fantastic game tonight. He was all over the ice, forechecked extremely well, and got 2 goals to show for his hard work.

Sergei Kostitsyn got his first point since February 19th with his assist on Spaling's last goal.

On Spaling's final goal, the Preds actually scored the goal 4 on 4. If you've been following this team at all this season, you know how big of a deal that is.

This was a needed and welcome win for the Nashville Predators. They now sit only one point out of a playoff spot and have passed Minnesota for the time being. However, this win becomes mute if the Predators do not take care of business on Saturday against Colorado. The Preds played just about as good of a game tonight as you can expect from them, but they have to do that again on Saturday night. One win is fine and dandy, but the Predators need to put together a series of wins if they want to reach the postseason. That's what this homestand is all about.

The Preds will take on the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The puck will drop at 7:00 P.M.

Puck Movement

The Predators have trouble scoring goals. Everybody knows that. However, there are games in which the Predators look like they have all the offensive talent in the world. Why is that?

It all comes down to puck movement. When the Predators offense is clicking, they're making quick decisions with the puck. Take Shea Weber's goal from the other night against San Jose. David Legwand had the puck down low and made a great, quick pass to Weber for the goal.

Hockey is a game of quick decisions and reactions. You don't have time to mull over something you want to do. If you do, the defense is already on top of you and you don't have anywhere to go. Puck movement is the key, especially on the power-play.

Against San Jose, the Predators' power-play looked much better. Why? They rapidly moved the puck on the power-play and that created great shot opportunities.

If the Predators will continue that trend of moving the puck with quickness, it's going to give them a lot of opportunities to score goals. After that, it's up to the players to finish the goals.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Three Keys to a Predators Victory Thursday Night

The Nashville Predators will face off against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. This will be the first of 12 remaining home games for the Predators in a 15 game span, which is the most in the NHL. If the Preds are going to make the playoffs this year, this homestand is going to be where it was made. The Predators have five straight games at home against Minnesota, Colorado, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit. However, the biggest game is always the next game so the Preds have to concentrate on beating the Wild. Here are three keys to beating the Minnesota Wild:

1. Shut down Martin Havlat. Havlat is a force against the Predators and always has been. If the Preds are able to keep him off of the scoresheet, their chances of winning the game are going to go up dramatically.

2. Bury quality scoring chances. Obviously, that's a whole lot easier said than done, but the Predators do not have a choice at this point. The key to that is going to be Mike Fisher. Fisher puts himself in the positions to take quality shots, but he has to bury them.

3. The crowd must be electric. For all intents and purposes, this is a playoff game. The Preds are battling the Wild for a playoff spot. The playoffs have to start now for the team, and they have to start now for the fans.

I think the Predators are going to play well against the Wild. As a matter of fact, I'm going to take a bold step and guarantee the Preds are going to win this game. Negativity has surrounded this team lately(some due to me) but I just have a feeling that the boys are going to get it done Thursday night. They better because they're in trouble if they don't.

What's the problem?

I’d like to get a little dialogue going on what is at the heart of the Preds’ problems.

Is it coaching? Have other teams figured out our systems, and exposing weaknesses?
Is it leadership? Was Weber really the best fit for the captaincy?
Does the entire team not have heart?
Was the team simply playing above its head earlier in the season, and now are we seeing the true ability of the team?
Are injuries to blame?

Or is it something not mentioned? What do you guys think?

Preds Fail To Get Two Points; Still On Outside

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators by a 3-2 score on Tuesday night in overtime. Pekka Rinne once again played a fantastic game and once again was not rewarded.

The Predators scored both of their goals on the power-play, which is the first time two power-play goals in one game have been scored by Nashville since January 16th. None other than Patrick Marleau scored the winning goal in overtime for the Sharks to give them the victory.

With the point gained, the Preds now sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with 76 points. The Preds will face the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in a pivotal Western Conference match up. The Preds can pass the Wild on Thursday night with a regulation win.

All in all, it was a better effort from Nashville tonight......until the 3rd period. That trend has to change or the Preds aren't going anywhere. With the loss, Nashville is now 0-6 in overtime games and further confirms their inability to play 4 on 4 hockey.

If the blog seems a little short tonight, it is. My computer is experiencing problems so I had to do this on my phone. I apologize and I'll have everything fixed later today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Preds Must Win Against Sharks

The Nashville Predators have reached the point in which they have lost the luxury of being comfortable. Obviously, they can't be comfortable when they currently sit outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

That feeling of anxiety and tension will be put on hold Tuesday night as the Preds take on the San Jose Sharks. The Preds have to come out and play like their life depends on it. Good forechecking, tight defense, and shooting the hockey puck are going to be essential steps that will have to be taken if Nashville wants to win this game.

So far this season, the Predators are 2-0-1 against the Sharks. In their latest meeting, the Sharks defeated the Predators in overtime by a 2-1 score at Bridgestone Arena in a game that San Jose shot the puck on net 50 times. Obviously, the Predators cannot allow that to happen again. Pekka Rinne has been unbelievable this season, but expecting to win a game when you allow 50 shots is absurd.

San Jose had won eight games in a row before they were defeated by Dallas. They're on a good stride right now, which is opposite of the Predators.

Prediction: I'm trying to muster up all of the optimism that I can, but I don't have a good feeling about this one at all. I think the Sharks are going to win this one in a walk. Sharks 4, Preds 1.

Maybe a little reverse mojo will work. The puck drops at 9:30 P.M. central time at H.P. Pavillion in San Jose, and the game will be televised on FS-Tennessee.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Monday Morning Mullings; Have Injuries Finally Caught Up to Preds?

Following Sunday night's loss to the Flames, the Predators find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference playoff race. The Preds are in 11th place with 75 points, but are just one point out of a playoff spot.

Let's think about this rationally for a second. Matthew Lombardi, Cal O'Reilly, Steve Sullivan, Francis Bouillon, and Marcel Goc are all out of the line-up for Nashville. That is three centers, one winger, and one defenseman. Let's take a look at each one of them individually:

Matthew Lombardi: Set a career high in points last season with 53. He has not played for the Predators since the 2nd game of the season in Chicago. He is one of the fastest(if not THE fastest) skaters in the NHL. He's had continual symptoms of a concussion throughout the entire season and is almost definitely out for the rest of the season, perhaps longer.

Cal O'Reilly: Suffered a broken leg on January 2nd versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. O'Reilly was having a career year for the Predators before his injury. He had 18 points in 38 games and was our top-line center when he went out.

Steve Sullivan- Is out with a groin injury and will be out for the next 4-6 weeks, which is essentially the rest of the season. Sully has not been playing well this year. Out of all of the injured players, this is probably the one that hurts the team the least. He hasn't had the same jump(partially due to injury) and hasn't had the same Hockey IQ.

Francis Bouillon- Led the Predators in hits before he was injured, and is also out with a concussion. He's a valuable player who is defensively responsible. No time table for his return has been listed.

Marcel Goc- Arguably has been the best forward for the Predators this year. He's come up clutch in some games, and had a career year before injuring his shoulder for the 2nd time this season. He's out for the rest of the year.

As you gaze on the standings in the Western Conference, you have to ask yourself what the Preds can do to right the ship. However, after looking at the list of injuries the Preds have, is it possible that the struggles of late have been simply due to a team whose injuries have finally caught up to them?

Lombardi, O'Reilly and Sullivan are all thought to be offensive threats. I'd even throw Goc into that category the way he was playing this year. Added to that, is the J.P. Dumont situation. While it's painfully obvious that Dumont has not produced at all this year, he's another player who was thought to be a legitimate offensive threat coming into the season.

So how do the Predators fix this problem? They've got a lot of players hurt(more than the average NHL team does). The start to solving the problem has to be in showing a little more sense of urgency. I'm pefectly sure that the Preds are frustrated. I'm sure they're desperate. I'm sure they want to win just as much as I do(hopefully more). However, it doesn't come across that way when you watch this team in the 3rd period.

Nashville doesn't have the luxury of making crucial defensive mistakes or turnovers. The Predators do not want to get in an offensive struggle with other teams. Their game is to play lockdown defense and try to grind out a few goals to get a victory. The Preds are not going to blow anyone away offensively. Having said that, the Predators have got to get better on one fundamental aspect of hockey: communication.

The Preds have had breakdowns in communication that have cost them this season. If they'll get better with knowing where people are and where the puck is supposed to go, they'll find more success offensively and defensively.

This is the most important week of the season, and possibly in the history of the franchise. The Preds have got to make a push if they want to reach the postseason. If I had to guess, they need to win 11 out of the last 16 games. That's a tall order, especially given the way that Nashville has been playing lately. However, they don't really have a choice at this point. It's time to put up or shut up.

Preds Get Dominated in Last Forty Minutes; Lose Again

The Nashville Predators have been a good team for about 30 minutes of a hockey game lately. Tonight, it was more like 20 minutes. The Nashville Predators were defeated 3-2 by the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. With the loss, the Predators once again lost ground in the Western Conference and currently sit in 11th with 75 points.

The Preds got on the board first when Martin Erat scored to give them the lead in the 1st period. Mark Giordano tallied a power-play goal at 7:15 of the period to tie the game. However, Ryan Suter would answer for the Preds at 15:58 of the 1st period to give the Preds a 2-1 lead.

The 2nd period was completely dominated by Calgary. Jarome Iginla scored a penalty shot goal on a beautiful move that beat Pekka Rinne. The Flames outshot the Predators 13-4 in the period.

In the 3rd period, the Flames outshot the Preds 14-10 and would score the only goal in the period. David Legwand had the puck in the Predators' offensive zone but got it stolen. The Flames would go down and Curtis Glencross would score the game-winning goal for the Flames.

Leftover thoughts from Calgary:

Pekka Rinne still has not beaten the Calgary Flames in his career. He's 0-3-2 in his career against them.

David Legwand and his turnovers are killing this team lately. He had one against Chicago that led to the Marion Hossa goal, and he had another one tonight that led to the Glencross goal.

I do not see the sense of urgency from this team in the 3rd period. If we haven't seen it by now, I don't think we're going to see it.

The Preds will take on the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. There's no other way to say it. The Preds absolutely must win that game.

The Final Seventeen Games

Including tonight's game against Calgary, the Predators have 17 games remaining on the regular season schedule. The Western Conference is just as tight, if not tighter, than it's ever been before. The Preds are going to have to have a really strong performance in these last 17 games if they want to reach postseason play.

Nashville has played average hockey as of late, and that's not going to get it done. Realistically, the Preds are going to have to win at least 11 of the last 17 games if they want to get in, and that would be cutting it close. Currently, Nashville sits at 75 points. Winning 11 games would put them at 97 points, which would be almost a lock for a playoff birth any other year. It might get them in this year but it's going to be extremely close.

The best approach the Predators can take to this final stretch is the old "one game at a time" cliche. That phrase is used a lot throughout the course of the season, but never is it more relavent than it is right now. The Preds have to focus on getting two points each and every time they step on to the ice. Obviously, it's highly unlikely that the Preds are going to flick on a switch and win 17 games in a row but that's the mentality they have to have. One game at a time. One win at a time.

They look to start that final 17 game stretch run tonight against the Flames.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Preds Face Pesky Flames

The Nashville Predators will take on the Calgary Flames on Sunday night at 7:00 in Calgary. The Preds have yet to beat the Flames this year, and Pekka Rinne hasn't beaten the Flames yet in his career. This is an extremely important game for the Predators.

My Calgary Flame to watch for this game is Jarome Iginla. Iginla always plays extremely well against the Predators, and has really been heating up as the year has progressed. The Flames play as Iginla plays. If he's on, the Flames are an extremely difficult team to beat. If he's not, they're an average hockey team.

My Nashville Predator to watch in this game is Shea Weber. Weber has been playing extremely good hockey lately(minus the bullrush he had into the stationary net in Edmonton). Weber is the captain of a team that is fighting for a playoff spot in the mega-tight Western Conference. He leads by example, and now is the perfect time to do that. I expect him to have a big game defensively and offensively.

Mikka Kiprusoff and Pekka Rinne will once again go to battle against each other. Kiprusoff has gotten the better of Rinne so far this year, but I expect this game to be an extremely tight defensive game. Two is the magic number in this game. Whoever gets two goals is going to win this game.

Prediction: The Preds have to win this game, and I think they will. However, I don't think it will be in regulation. I think the Preds will escape with a 2-1 shootout victory.

Possible Round 1 Matchups

Assuming that the Predators finshed the year somewhere in the 5-8 positions in the Western Conference, which team would you be the most comfortable playing? If the season ended today, the top 4 would look like this: Vancouver, Detroit, San Jose, Chicago. The Predators have already played 3 out of those 4 teams in the playoffs before.

Which team would you be most comfortable playing? As of right now, the Predators are an impressive 10-6 against those four teams. The Predators and Canucks have played three games so far this season, with the Preds winning two. The Predators have beaten the Red Wings three out of the four times they've played so far this year. The Preds have beaten the Sharks two out of three times so far this year, and the Preds have split the series with Chicago at three games apiece.

Personally, I'd love to see us draw somebody in our division like Detroit or Chicago. We're very familiar with how they play and we'd have a huge chip on our shoulder against either one of them, especially Chicago. Who would you prefer to play?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hamhuis Humiliates Himself; Preds Beat the Best

I've been waiting for this one for a long time so I'm going to have a little fun with it. The Nashville Predators defeated the top team in the NHL in Vancouver on Thursday night by a score of 3-0. Pekka Rinne was fantastic in the game, stopping all 29 shots that he faced.

The 1st and 2nd period had a lot of up and down action for both teams, but nobody was able to find the back of the net. Each team was skating pretty hard and had good opportunites to score but both goalies were phenomenal in the first two periods.

Then came the 3rd period. Blake Geoffrion got the scoring started for the Preds on a terrific pass from Jordin Tootoo, who recorded his first point since he returned to the lineup.

Then came the moment. The moment I've been waiting for since the season started. Dan Hamhuis was skating the puck out of his own zone and tried to get by Patric Hornqvist. Of course, that didn't work and Hornqvist stole the puck. About two seconds later a series of events happened. Hamhuis was sprawled out on the ice, Roberto Luongo's jockstrap was in the faceoff circle, and Patric Hornqvist was celebrating a beautiful goal that put the Preds up 2-0. Hamhuis just got the puck ripped from him by Horn Dog.

That was the Dan Hamhuis I remember! I knew it would only be a matter of time before he pulled a really stupid move. I'm just so happy that it came against the Nashville Predators. Ah........gotta love karma.

David Legwand would tally an empty netter to give the Preds a 3-0 win, and Pekka Rinne's 5th shutout of the season. The Preds currently sit in 7th place in the Western Conference. They've got a big game on Sunday against the Calgary Flames.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wilson Can Provide Offense

It's no secret that the Nashville Predators have problems when it comes to scoring goals. The Predators are 28th in the league with an average of 2.44 goals per game, and 27th in league on the power-play with a conversion rate of 15.0%. Colin Wilson has the offensive tools needed to help those numbers out.

Wilson is only 21 years old and is still developing as a hockey player in the NHL. His natural born position is center, but he's been playing on the wing since he has been with the Predators. In his rookie campaign last season, Wilson had 8 goals and 7 assists in 35 games played. So far this year, Wilson has 14 goals and 16 assists in 64 games played. Wilson has three components to his game that could make him a huge offensive threat if he would apply them nightly: Size, skill, and speed.

Listed at 6'1" 214 pounds, Wilson has the size to be a successful player. He's a big kid. There's not many people who are going to physically be able to push him around like they would with someone like Steve Sullivan. His size is a valuable asset, particularly when he drives to the net. You'll find that the majority of his goals this year are from driving to the net.

Secondly, the kid has a pretty good skill level. The next time you go to a Predators home game, watch Wilson in warmups. He has the best hands on the team and it's really not close. He has tremendous skill with the hockey puck and knows how to finish when he's on a breakaway. I've always questioned why Trotz never sends him out for a shootout attempt. Wilson is very good at converting on breakaway chances. He's also scored a few highlight reel goals in his short career.

Wilson also has pretty good speed. That's how he pulls away from people when he gets on his breakaways. He always has the speed to get to the loose pucks, he just has recently had trouble holding onto the puck.

If Wilson figures out how to put his size, skill, and speed together on a nightly basis, the Predators are going to have a legitimate scoring threat. The problem is that he hasn't figured it out yet. He's still a very young hockey player so you can't legitimately expect him to have figured it all out yet. However, the Preds need him now. The Predators are in diar need for offense, and they have someone already on their roster who can potentially give them a tremendous boost. It just hasn't come yet. The Predators need him to start to figure it out over the next 18 games if they want to make a playoff run this year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nashville Squanders Chance at Two Points

It's the first game on a road trip that's right in the thick of things as far as the Western Conference playoff chase goes against the worst team in the National Hockey League. Sounds like the makings of a much needed victory right? Apparently not.

The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Nashville Predators by a 2-1 score in a game that was decided by a shootout. The game started out at a pretty good pace by both teams. Nashville would take the lead at 12:45 of the 1st period when Blake Geoffrion scored his first career NHL goal. The play was set up by Ryan Suter who made a marvelous effort just to get the puck down there. It was a great moment in Nashville sports because Geoffrion is the first native Nashvillian to score a goal in the NHL.

Edmonton would respond, however, just 41 seconds later when Jim Vandermeer blasted one past Pekka Rinne. That would be all of the scoring for the remainder of regulation.

The game would eventually move along to the shootout where Jordan Eberle struck first for the Oilers. Martin Erat would respond for the Preds to even up the shootout at one after the first round. David Legwand had a chance to end it when he beat Martin Gerber but missed the net entirely on the backhand. That's the 2nd time this season that Legwand has missed the open net in a shootout on the backhand when he had the chance to put the game away. Linus Omark would score for Edmonton on a beautiful goal, and Cody Franson would miss for the Preds to give the Oilers the victory.

Nashville did not show a great sense of urgency for a team that is in the middle of the playoff hunt. So many quality scoring chances were passed up by taking no shot at all. The Preds have a scoring problem. One way to fix that might be to actually shoot the puck when you have an opportune chance staring you in the face.

The Preds will take on the best team in the NHL in Vancouver on Thursday night. I'd actually rather play the top teams than teams like the Oilers at this point. The Preds obviously would rather be somewhere else when they're playing teams that aren't in the playoff picture, so why not go right after the top dog? Maybe some desire might actually be shown on Thursday night. Harsh words? Maybe. I'd sure love to be proven wrong though.

Preds Don't Budge at Trade Deadline; Rely on Youngsters

David Poile and the Nashville Predators didn't make any moves on the day of the NHL trade deadline on Monday. Prior to the deadline, the Preds had already acquired Mike Fisher and traded away Alexander Sulzer. Rumors were flying through the air all morning long as to what the Predators might do. The main one that I heard was the rumor about the Predators possibly acquiring Ales Hemsky and Ladislav Smid from the Oilers, which would have made for an interesting swap considering the Preds play Edmonton tonight.

The trade deadline came and went and nothing happened for Nashville. Poile held a press conference at 3:00 on Monday and went on about how the asking price for players he had wanted was too expensive. Poile is hoping the youngsters can step up and contribute for the team down the stretch run.

There seems to be two ways that you can go on this one. One, you can raise hell about Poile and give him the old "You've got to pay to win" routine. Two, you can take him at his word and trust his judgement that the players were, indeed, too expensive to add and hope that the young players like Geoffrion and Blum can help this team down the line.

As for the first response, a fan could make a valid point. It's no secret that the Preds are in need of more scoring. Hemsky would definitely have provided an offensive talent that the Preds don't currently have on their roster. Smid would have provided the Preds with a veteran defenseman that could be useful down the stretch run.

A fan could also make a good argument for the second response. Poile is one of the best general managers in the NHL. We have no idea what the asking price for these trades were, and it's possible that the team the Preds have right now can have some success. I'm sold on Jon Blum. I think he's ready for the NHL and he's proved it in the first few games that he's played. Geoffrion still needs a bit of work but hasn't done anything stupid.

The emphasis down the stretch run is going to be on the guys who are paid to score. Mike Fisher, David Legwand, Martin Erat, and J.P. Dumont are all going to have to step up offensively on an extremely consistent basis. The defensemen will put the puck in the net every now and then, but that's not going to cut it if the Predators want to make the playoffs. The "March" to the playoffs begins tonight as the Preds take on the Edmonton Oilers to open their road trip. The puck drops around 8:30 P.M. and will be televised on FS-Tennessee.