Friday, April 29, 2011

303 Viewing Party

Come on out to Brewhouse South in Franklin on Saturday night to watch Game 2 between the Preds and Canucks. There will be lots of Preds fans there, so come on out and have some fun watching the game.

The Preds will be looking to rebound after an abysmal performance in Game 1. Barry Trotz, who was announced as a Jack Adams nominee today, was not happy with his team's performance on Thursday night.

Pekka Rinne played extremely well in Game 1, which is good news for the Predators going into Game 2. Nashville just has to regroup and play a much better game on Game 2. The effort has to be there.

The puck drops for Game 2 at about 8:08 p.m. Be sure to come on out to Brewhouse South in Franklin and have some fun with fellow Preds fans.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preds Play Worst Game of Season; Lose to Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Nashville Predators by a 1-0 score in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals. Very simply put, the Predators did not show up to the game.

Pekka Rinne played his tail off. He stopped 29 of 30 shots but it wasn't enough. His team played terribly in front of him.

Besides Rinne, there was not one player on the ice for the Predators that deserved and NHL contract tonight. Not one. They looked tired and out of sync. Vancouver was the one that, coming into the game, was supposed to look tired. It was just the opposite.

There's not much more to say. Nashville was terrible tonight. There's nowhere to go but up. Game 2 is Saturday at 8:00.

Round 2 Series Schedule

Below is the schedule for the Preds/ Nucks second round games. All times are Central and all games can be seen on Versus.
GAME 1 – Nashville at Vancouver – Thursday, April 28 @ 8:00 pm
GAME 2 – Nashville at Vancouver – Saturday, April 30 @ 8:00 pm
GAME 3 - Vancouver at Nashville – Tuesday, May 3 @ 8:00 pm
GAME 4 - Vancouver at Nashville – Thursday, May 5 @ 7:30 pm
— If Needed—
GAME 5 – Nashville at Vancouver – Saturday, May 7 @ 7:00 pm
GAME 6 – Vancouver at Nashville – Monday, May 9 @ TBA
GAME 7 – Nashville at Vancouver - Wednesday, May 11 @ TBA

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WCSF Game 1 Preview: Preds vs. Canucks

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators will begin play in the 2nd round of the playoffs on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. central time. Nashville will take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on VERSUS to start off the Western Conference Semi Finals.

The Preds and Canucks met twice during the regular season, with each team winning two games. The Canucks are coming off of a 7 game series with the Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver had the defending champions on the ropes with a 3-0 series lead, but was unable to close them out. The Blackhawks came back and tied the series at three games apiece. However, the Canucks were able to pull off the dramatic overtime victory in the Game 7.

Having not played since Sunday night, the Predators are going to be the more rested team. While I think this might give them the advantage for Game 1, I don't expect it to be a huge factor for the series. These guys are professional athletes and they know how to take care of their bodies and stay rested.

Nashville has already faced one superstar scoring line so far in this year's playoffs. They'll have to face another one in this series. The Sedin twins, along with Mikael Samuelsson, form another formidable line that Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will have to battle. However, that's not going to be the key. The key to this series is going to be how the Predators defend the Ryan Kesler line.

In round one, Teemu Selanne was a force to be reckoned with against the Preds. The Ageless One scored six goals in the six game series, and he played on the 2nd line for Anaheim. Kesler is the center piece of the Vancouver 2nd line that is equally as formidable. Kevin Klein and Jonathon Blum are going to have to play shut-down defense against that line.

As far as forward match-ups go, you'd have to figure that Mike Fisher will be out there win the Kesler line is out there, and David Legwand should be out there while the Sedin twins are out there. That means the 3rd and 4th lines of the Preds are going to have to continue contributing offensively.

Jordin Tootoo had a great series against Anaheim. Tootoo, Nick Spaling, and Jerred Smithson are going to be key to the Predators goal-scoring success this series. Yes, you heard me right. If that line can keep playing the way they have been, it's going to make life rough on the Canucks.

Vancouver has the added luxury of having Dan Hamhuis. No, not for his play. That works to Nashville's advantage. However, Hamhuis does know some of the tendencies that some of his former teammates may exhibit. Having said that, the Predators have the added advantage of having Shane O'Brien. O'Brien will have knowledge of his own about his former teammates.

Expect the Predators to come out flying in Game 1. They are well rested and, in my opinion, Vancouver seems to be overlooking them at the present moment due to them finally beating the Blackhawks in a playoff series. Honestly, I expect the Predators to win Game 1 pretty handily. That makes for an exciting Game 2!

2nd Round Opponent Set; Preds vs Canucks

The Nashville Predators will take on the President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in the 2nd round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vancouver was able to knock off the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks by a 2-1 score in overtime. Alex Burrows scored both Vancouver goals and pulled off the victory despite a tremendous effort from Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

In the regular season, Nashville went 2-2 against the Canucks. You can bet that this is going to be a good series. The Preds will have to start the series out on the road and the first game will either be on Thursday or Friday.

More later when days and times are set.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Preds Still Have Work To Do

The city of Nashville has been buzzing the last few days since the Preds eliminated the Anaheim Ducks and advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs. It's certainly something to celebrate and be proud of, but now it's time to shift the focus to the next goal: winning the 2nd round.

By the end of Tuesday night, the Predators will know their opponent. Whether it ends up being the Canucks or the Red Wings, the Predators know they can play with either of them. While it's true that the regular season means nothing once they playoffs start, Nashville did have a fair amount of success against both teams.

Against Vancouver, the Preds were 2-2-0 in the regular season. Nashville went 4-1-1 against their arch-rival Detroit Red Wings. The Preds know that their work isn't done yet.

Ryan Suter said it perfectly in Monday's Tennessean: "They don't remember who wins the first round." That's the attitude that the Predators have to have. Sure, it's great that the Preds won the first round, but they have bigger goals in mind.

So, enjoy the 1st round victory Preds fans, but remember that there is still work to be done. We're playing hockey into May for the first time in franchise history. Why not try to play into June?

Preds Await Result of Chicago and Vancouver

The Nashville Predators will know who they play in the 2nd round of the playoffs by the end of the night. If Vancouver beats Chicago, then the Predators will take on the Canucks in the 2nd round. If Chicago is able to complete the comeback, then Nashville will take on the Detroit Red Wings.

Vancouver had a commanding 3-0 lead in this series, but has since allowed the defending Stanley Cup champions to win three games in a row and tie the series. Tonight's game is in Vancouver, where the pressure is at an all-time high.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo, of the Canucks, struggled mightily in games 4 and 5. He didn't start game 6, but came in just in time to give up the game-winning goal in overtime. Dave Bolland returned to the lineup for the Blackhawks in Game 4, and has been the difference for Chicago since then.

Regardless of tonight's outcome, the Predators will start the 2nd round of the playoffs on the road. Tune in to VERSUS tonight at 9:00 p.m. central time to watch the game.

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Generation Preds Fans

On November 27th, 1998, there was a six-year-old boy who was highly anticipating going to his first NHL hockey game. The Nashville Predators were taking on the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and he was looking forward to seeing Charlie Conway run the flying V while Coach Bombay sat on the bench. He left that game with a new favorite team: The Nashville Predators. Since then, that boy's passion towards the team has grown each and every year. That boy was me.

Now 18 years of age, I've seen the Preds grow from the early stages of being the bottom feeders of the league to the Western Conference contenders they've turned into today. My generation is the first generation that has grown up with an NHL franchise in Nashville.

Last night, the Predators reached the point that fans have been waiting for since the 2003-2004 year when Nashville first made the playoffs. The Preds have finally gotten over the hump and advanced past the 1st round of the playoffs. It's an extra special feeling for me, and others like me, that have been going to games since their early childhood.

I've grown up with this team. I don't really remember a time when the Preds haven't been here. Being able to finally see them take that next step toward a Stanley Cup is an indescribable feeling. I've grown from the little boy who was scared to death of the goal horn, to the young man who acts like a maniac every time that horn goes off. Likewise, the Preds have matured into the team they are today and the hockey market itself has grown.

It's taken 13 years, but we've finally reached another path on that stepping stone to a Stanley Cup. Now, the march continues into unfamiliar territory. The 2nd round begins sometime this week, and Preds fans everywhere are more excited than ever before. Now, 2nd generation Preds fans are beginning to grow up and learn the game of hockey.

One thing is clear. Gary Bettman made a very wise decision when he decided that hockey would work in Nashville. So far, it has and it will only continue to grow from here. One day, my kids will become a part of the hockey family at Bridgestone Arena. On that day, I'll just look around and smile, remembering the six-year-old version of me standing around in awe of the game that I would grow to love.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Preds Win First Series in Franchise History

The Nashville Predators began their 1st round playoff struggle in April of 2004. Sunday night, they ended that struggle and won their first series in franchise history by a 4-2 score at Bridgestone Arena.

Teemu Selanne got the scoring started for the Anaheim Ducks in the first period when he just threw a wrap-around attempt past Pekka Rinne. Nashville would respond in the last minute of the 1st period when Nick Spaling scored on a shot in the slot.

In the 2nd period, the Preds came out flying and took the 2-1 lead early. J.P. Dumont made a great pass to Steve Sullivan, who deked out Ray Emery and put the puck past the goal line. However, Anaheim would respond later in the period on the power-play when Jason Blake put in his 3rd of the series. But Nashville would not be denied.

Nashville came out in the 3rd period with something to prove. Patric Hornqvist got a goal disallowed when he apparently made contact with the puck with a high stick on a tip in play. However, that wouldn't discourage the Preds. Jordin Tootoo would make a great charge towards the net and put it on goal. Spaling collected the rebound and put it top shelf past Emery.

The Preds would be tested, but they hung on. Fittingly enough, the longest tenured Predator put the game away on the empty netter. David Legwand.

There are no words to describe the emotion in Bridgestone Arena tonight. The Preds have finally made it to the 2nd round, and the Pred Nation faithful could not be happier. Now, the Preds await their 2nd round opponent.

Preds On the Brink Of History

The Nashville Predators have an opportunity to win a first round playoff series for the first time in team history on Sunday as they face the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is coming off of their first Game 5 win and team history, and their first win in overtime in the playoffs in team history.

Bridgestone Arena has been very loud before, but I think Sunday is going to be the loudest it has ever been since the Predators got to Nashville. For the first time, the home fans have a chance to witness the Predators move on past the first round and make a run towards a Stanley Cup.

Game 6 is going to be a hard fought game, just like every other game this series has been. Anaheim is going to be an extremely desperate team that will want to win at all costs. The Predators have to come out hungry and want to close them out.

Nashville has all of the momentum in this series after their unlikely win in Game 5 on Friday night. They know they have a chance to do something that most of them have never done before. You can bet they're going to bring it on Sunday.

My player to watch for the Ducks is Corey Perry. Perry is the offensive leader of this team, and will be flying all over the ice on Sunday. He'll want to antagonize people, and he'll also want to create offensive chances for the Preds. Nashville must find a way to shut him down.

For the Predators, my player to watch is Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo had arguably the best game of his entire career on Friday night in Game 5. He was all over the ice, and collected two assists on two very fine plays. He's coming into his own now and playing better hockey than he ever has before.

The puck drops at 5:00 in Nashville. If you're not going, tune in to witness history.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preds Capitalize; Win Biggest Game in Franchise History

Wow. That is the only thing you can say if you watched Game 5 between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. The Preds defeated the Ducks by a score of 4-3 in overtime to take a 3-2 lead in the series.

This was such an emotional win for the Predators. After last year's Game 5 against Chicago, the Preds found themselves facing adversity in this year's rendition of Game 5. This time, Nashville responded.

Nashville got the scoring started in the game when Jordin Tootoo created a beautiful play and fed Kevin Klein for the goal to put them up 1-0 in the 1st period.

In the 2nd period, Anaheim got themselves back in the game. Jason Blake got another power-play goal for the Ducks and tied the game at one apiece. What followed would be a 3rd period of epic proportions for Nashville.

Early in the 3rd period, Bobby Ryan scored one of the best goals that I've ever seen in my life. David Legwand made an extremely stupid play and turned the puck over to Ryan at the blueline, and then got flat out embarrased. That gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead. Joel Ward would tie the game at two after he got his own rebound off of the back wall. At 14:16 of the 3rd, Blake scored again for the Ducks to give them a 3-2 lead.

Then, the most timely goal in the history of the Nashville Predators happened. Shea Weber wristed one from the point and beat Ray Emery with 35.3 seconds left. The game would move into overtime, where the Predators would make history.

Just 1:57 into the overtime period, Jerred Smithson scored the winner for the Preds in the overtime to give the Predators the win. This is the first 3-2 series lead in franchise history. This is the first postseason overtime win in franchise history. And, it's the first Game 5 win in franchise history. Needless to say, this game was the most important game in the history of the Nashville Predators.

Nashville will be looking to close out the series on Easter Sunday for Game 6, where Bridgestone Arena is sure to be rocking like it never has before. The puck will drop at 5:00.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Second Chance Awaits For Preds

A five minute power-play with only seconds remaining in regulation of a Game 5 that would have put Nashville up 3-2 in the series. 13.6 seconds. That's all that stood between the Preds and their first Game 5 victory in playoff history. Patrick Kane wasn't about to let that happen. He tied the game and Marian Hossa won it for the 'Hawks in overtime.

Just 363 days later, Nashville has been given something that is rare in life: a second chance. Redemption. That's what comes to mind when you think about Game 5 on Friday.

The Preds are in a series tied 2-2 going into Game 5. Anaheim has regained home ice advantage, and has all of the momentum going back home. Martin Erat was knocked out of Game 4 on a cheapshot by Jarkko Ruutu, and Bobby Ryan is returning to the lineup for the Ducks.

Whoever wins Game 5 takes complete control of the series. All year, Barry Trotz and the players have talked about learning from last year's meltdown in Game 5. They've talked about playing a complete game each and every night. After Game 4, it's obvious that lesson has yet to be learned. However, what better cure than to be put in the exact same situation than you were a year ago?

Pred Nation has wondered all year long about how much different this team is than last year's. Up until this point, we have not been able to determine that. We're going to find out on Friday night.

Second chances are what makes sports great. If you fail, you know that one day you might have a shot to make up for it. Nashville has that shot on Friday night. Redemption begins at 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Game 4: Nashville Can Go Up 3-1

The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks will face off once again on Wednesday night for Game 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville currently leads the series 2-1, and will be looking to win their 3rd game in a playoff series for the first time in the history of the franchise.

Anaheim General Manager Bob Murray stirred the pot on Monday when he accused the Predators of diving. He also said that maybe it was time for Anaheim to start diving as well. For more on this, you'll have to ask an inmate at your local insane asylum.

Game 3 saw the Predators win a 4-3 contest in a game that Nashville really dominated. The Preds outshot the Ducks by a 37-16 margin.

Bridgestone Arena will be rocking on Wednesday night, as the Predators have a chance to take complete control of the series. Expect a hard fought game that's full of physicality. Each game is going to get more and more physical from here on out.

The player to watch for the Ducks is Teemu Selanne. Obviously, Selanne has been dangerous this series. He has four goals in three games in the series, and has been Anaheim's most dangerous offensive weapon.

Martin Erat is my player to watch for the Predators. Erat got his first goal of the 2011 playoffs on Sunday, and looks to continue that. Erat was the leading scorer for Nashville in the regular season. Plus, he's probably a little irritated after losing his grill in Game 2.

Puck drop is approximately 7:38 p.m. It could be a historic night in Smashville for the Preds.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crowd Must Be Ready For Game 4

The Nashville Predators have a chance to do something on Wednesday night that has eluded them since the inception of the franchise: Go up 3-1 in a series. Nashville was in this exact situation last year against Chicago, but fell short to the Blackhawks to give up home ice and allow the series to be tied at two. This year, they have a chance to find out how much they have matured since then.

With the suspension of Bobby Ryan, the Predators have the fortune of the "RPG" line being split up. It worked in Game 3, but Corey Perry was still able to rack up 2 assists on the goals by Teemu Selanne. The Nashville crowd was awesome in Game 3, and must be as good on Wednesday night.

Fans have a huge impact on the game Just ask Cody Franson. "I've never had more fun playing in front of fans like these." Sunday night, the crowd gave two of their trademark standing ovations, and lifted the Predators to victory.

The Preds, and their fans, have something to prove to the entire NHL. For too long, Nashville has been attacked and made the target of people up north. The Predators had 16 sellouts this year, and had a 94.3% attendance rating. Yet, the hate continues to pile on the Preds.

Respect has been shown a little more often this year. Keith Jones picked the Preds to go to the Stanley Cup Final. Several members of the Canadian media have picked members of the Preds for regular season accolades. But, the fact remains that Nashville still has work to do to prove itself. That starts by winning a playoff series. The Preds can put themselves in the best position they've ever been in on Wednesday night. Stand with us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preds Win Thriller; Take 2-1 Series Lead

Playoff hockey was at its best on Sunday night as the Predators defeated the Ducks by a 4-3 score in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd. A raucous home crowd, and the prospect of taking a lead in the series was enough to get things going for Nashville.

Martin Erat got the scoring started for the Predators when he scored on a rebound to put the Preds up 1-0 on the power-play 15:00 into the 1st period. Just 38 seconds later, Jordin Tootoo put the Preds up by two on a great individual effort. Tootoo got the puck and rang his first shot off the post, and then scored on the rebound while falling to the ice. The Preds went into the 1st intermission with a 12-4 shot advantage and a 2-0 lead.

In the 2nd period, the Preds dominated the play but almost let the Ducks take control of the game. Mike Fisher took on Ryan Getzlaf in a decent fight, but that seemed to provide Anaheim with a little jump. Teemu Selanne struck on the power-play for the Ducks and then scored 30 seconds later to tie the game at two at the end of the 2nd period.

The 3rd period can be summed up in one word: wild. David Legwand scored for the Preds at 5:25 of the period to put Nashville up 3-2, but that wouldn't last very long. Matt Belesky fell to the ice and had the fortunate luck of a puck hitting off of him and getting past Pekka Rinne at 6:48 of the 3rd to tie the game at three. Then came the defining moment of the game, and possibly the series. Sergei Kostitsyn got the puck down low and made a beautiful backhand pass that was one-timed in by Mike Fisher. That gave the Preds a 4-3 lead that they would hold on to.

Things to take away from Game 3:

The crowd in Nashville was simply sensational. The building had so much energy in it, and gave the Predators a huge jump. It was truly a treat to be a part of.

Mike Fisher has taken his game to another level. It's at a level that has not been seen by any Nashville Predator player in the postseason history of the franchise. He's hungry to win.

Corey Perry is one of the dirtiest players I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. Like one Preds fan said while leaving the arena, "If I were playing, he wouldn't make it through the next game in one piece".

The Ducks may have missed Bobby Ryan, but it's clear that Teemu Selanne is the impact player for them. What he's able to do at the age of 40 is simply unnatural.

Nashville did what it was supposed to do. They won on home ice, and now have the chance to go up 3-1 in the series on home ice on Wednesday night for Game 4.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Preds Host Game 3; Smashville Ready To Go

The series shifts to Nashville on Sunday when the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators face off in a critical Game 3 contest at Bridgestone Arena. Anaheim took Game 2 on Friday night by a 5-3 score to even the series at one game apiece.

Nashville has a huge opportunity in games 3 and 4. Bobby Ryan will have to sit both games out due to suspension after he stomped on Jonathon Blum's foot in Game 2. This presents a great chance for the Preds to take complete control of this series. The next two games are at home, and one of the top line guys for the Ducks is out. What more could you ask for?

Smashville will be rocking for this game. Sunday afternoon's game is expected to be sold out, and will be as loud as ever. The Preds have to get back to what made them successful in Game 1, and in the 3rd period of Game 2. That means putting the puck on net with quality chances, skating hard on the offensive and defensive side of the puck, and staying out of the penalty box.

Due to Ryan's suspension, the "RPG" line is obviously going to be broken up. However, the Ducks are still a dangerous team. In Game 2, Nashville was simply outskated in the first two periods. I wouldn't expect that to happen again on Sunday. The Preds are at home for Game 3 of the playoffs. You can bet they're going to come out fast and hard. The puck drops at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Golden Opportunity Lies In Front of Nashville

Winning on the road in the postseason is a must for teams that want to be successful. The Predators got their 2nd road playoff victory in the history of the franchise Wednesday night in Anaheim, and have a chance to get another one Friday night.

Due to last night's victory, home ice now favors the Predators in the rest of the series. However, that shouldn't be something that the Predators should be satisfied with. Going up 2-0 in the series would put the Predators in, by far, the best position they've ever been in during a playoff series. Winning both games in Anaheim and going back home up 2-0 would make the Ducks extremely nervous, and would make the Predators extremely confident.

If Nashville is able to capitalize on this opportunity, they have the chance to sweep the series by going back to Nashville. It's no secret that Nashville is one of the toughest places to play in the league. The Predators are especially good in the playoffs at home during Games 3 and 4. Nashville has never lost a Game 3 on home ice, and have only lost one Game 4 contest on home ice.

Obviously, the Predators have to take each game one at a time. Friday night is going to be more difficult than last night's game was. Anaheim will do all it can to win that game, especially with the prospect of going down 0-2 heading back to Nashville. If the Preds are able to win, however, they'll be looking at the best situation they've been in since the inception of the franchise.

Preds Destroy Ducks; Take 1-0 Series Lead

The Nashville Predators started their 2011 Stanley Cup campaign off with a bang, as they beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 at the Honda Center in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves on the night, and the Predators won their 2nd road playoff game in franchise history.

Shea Weber set the tone for his team right off of the bat. He absolutely destroyed Teemu Selanne into the boards, and then proceeded to blast a power-play goal past Dan Ellis to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. The 1st period was a very physical period, as was the entire game.

In the 2nd period, Steve Sullivan would put the Preds up by two when he came in on a breakaway and scored on his own rebound. Mike Fisher would add to that lead when he snapped a shot that ramped off of a Duck stick and past Ellis. The Preds would be leading 3-0 at the end of two periods.

Fisher picked up where he left off, and put the Preds up 4-0 56 seconds into the 3rd period. He carried the puck into the zone and put another wrister past Ellis from basically the point. That would be the end of the night for Dan Ellis. Anaheim called on Ray Emery to take the reigns of goaltender for the remainder of the game. Of course, it wouldn't be a game against the Ducks if Teemu Selanne didn't appear on the score sheet. The Ageless One scored on the 5-on-3 power-play to pull the Ducks within three, but that's all they would get.

Things to take away from Game 1:

This was an extremely physical game. Expect that trend to continue throughout the series.

Shea Weber and Ryan Suter did a marvelous job containing the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line for the night.

Speaking of Corey Perry, he got his face beaten in by Kevin Klein in a fight. I'm often critical of Klein, but I've got to give #8 props for stepping up like that.

Shane O'Brien was an agitator in this game, and it worked well minus the two penalties that he took.

Pekka Rinne was, once again, a huge factor in this game. That trend will have to continue as the series goes along. The Ducks are an extremely talented offensive team. Well, there 1st two lines are anyway.

It's a great win. Now, the Predators have to forget about it and come out even harder on Friday. Anaheim will be desperate for a win on Friday. They don't want to go back to Nashville trailing in the series 0-2. That's exactly what the Predators do want.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are you ready, Smashville?

Quick Notes:

I’ve never seen a Preds playoff series in which people were so excited about our chances. Sure, our first series against the Wings was great—but no one really thought we stood a chance. The 2 SJ series…no chance. B-Hawks…maybe a glimmer of hope, but not much. But this year…there is a confidence in Smashville. The boys can do this.

It’s almost time to shock the world…the funny part is, Smashville won’t be shocked. We got this!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playoff Pep Talk

The Nashville Predators take on the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. to kick off the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for both teams. My pep talk for the Predators is very simple:

Remember Game 5 in Chicago. Finish hockey games. Play your game for the entirety of the game and you'll come out on the winning end.

Don't worry about what anybody else is saying. Go out there and win the damn series. Take the Ducks by their throat, and choke them out. Keep the intensity at the highest possible level, and things will take care of themselves.

There's not much more to say at this point. The fun part for the players, fans, and really everyone else, begins now. The NHL playoffs is the most exciting time in sports. It's two months of battling and two months of clawing your way to the top. The journey begins now.

Regular Season vs. Playoff Hockey

As we’re gearing up for what hopefully ends up being a deep run by the Preds, I wanted to write a quick blog about the differences between Regular Season vs. Playoff hockey. As we’re all aware by now, the two “seasons” of hockey are completely different beasts. The successful teams are the ones that can turn these differences into advantages for their respective clubs. The question is, what are these differences? I’ve come up with a few and listed them below:

1) Refereeing
For better or worse, the zebras simply call post-peason games a little differently. To me, it seems that the rules revert back to pre-lockout hockey; meaning there’s more clutching and grabbing, more post-whistle scrums, and far fewer whistles. Many hockey fans feel that if a play is a penalty in the regular season, it should be one in the playoffs. To an extent I agree…however, it is a completely new season. Refs really don’t want a game, such less a series to be predicated upon a weak call. I’m a fan of letting the players play—unless the infraction is clear and advertant.

2) Politics
In post-season hockey, you’ve got to have the politics…meaning that coaches have to work the refs. The players have to work the refs. To an extent, they almost have to become Sidney Crosby and whine all the time. This is one area in which the Preds have always suffered. Barry Trotz is a stoic individual, at least in view of the public. While I will say he does show a little more expression now than a simple twitch of his eyebrow, as in years past, he is not one to hammer home a point with the refs. I recall a few years back in one of the San Jose series, reading an article that the SJ coach had a “meeting of the minds” post game with the referee crew, as his was unhappy with a lack of calls. From that point, SJ began to get more whistles in their favor. While we don’t want to be a team of whiners, the Preds have got to learn to stand their ground and try to get make-up calls.

3) Intensity
I don’t think there’s any explanation needed to this point. The hits come harder after the regular season ends. The players skate faster. The shots get a little hotter. The teams that are able to adjust their game to this style of play are successful. Period. We have not been able to consistently do that in our previous 5 trips. This year, however, I think will be a little different. To me, this Preds team is very well-equipped to make a deep run. We have established guys who will grind and muck it out in the corners, 4 D-men who are usually positionally sound and smart with the puck (and 2 who scare me every time they’re on the ice [55 & 8]) , and a goalie who is playing out of his mind. If the Preds are able to set the tone and speed, we WILL win the series.

4) Every Play Matters
Game 5 of the 2010 Opening round, anyone? Anyone? We can have none of that. Every dump & chase matters. Every time we make one pass too many on the PP matters. Every PK will matter, especially against the Big Line and the Ageless One. I believe the last man that will make a dumb pass through the middle will be Marty Erat this year!

Hopefully my ramblings have made sense. This series is ours for the taking. I believe that the Preds are the better TEAM. Now, it’s up to the guys to prove it. I’m jacked up. Are you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time Has Come For Nashville To Reach Next Level

In sports, the basis of judgement is on how a team performs in clutch situations like the postseason. Nobody cares about how good a team might have been during the regular season, or how consistently they make it into the postseason. It's all about how they perform once they get there. Nashville fans know this all too well.

This season's playoff berth marks the six one in seven years for the Nashville Predators. They're looking to win their first playoff series in franchise history against a talented Anaheim Ducks team. The Preds know that now is the time to take the next step.

Nashville's first playoff experience came in 2004, as the "little team that could" put up a valiant effort against their arch rival Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings would win the series in six games, but it was clear that Nashville had made progress.

In the two years that followed the NHL lockout of 2004-05, the Predators expected something more. They went out and signed Paul Kariya in 2005, and had the best year in franchise history up until that point. However, San Jose made quick work of the Predators in the 1st round. A year later, the Preds added Peter Forsberg at the trading deadline to try and make a push for the Stanley Cup. Again, however, San Jose had other ideas and eliminated the Predators in five games.

Then came another match-up with Detroit in the playoffs. The Preds once again put up a great fight against the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, but the Red Wings beat the Predators in six games.

Last year, the Predators looked to be ready to make that next step. They had Chicago on the run in Game 5 at the United Center with just seconds remaining, and an extended power-play after a Marian Hossa penalty. Nashville proceeded to gift wrap that opportunity and hand the game(and the series) to the Blackhawks.

This year, there are no excuses for Nashville for losing in the 1st round of the playoffs. This is the best match-up that the Preds have ever had going into the playoffs, and they've never had a player playing better than Pekka Rinne is going into the playoffs.

Hockey pundits everywhere are picking the Ducks to win the series. So? What else is new? Respect isn't something that is handed out like candy on Halloween. It's something that has to be earned! The only way that Nashville is going to earn that respect is to perform well in the postseason.

That doesn't mean putting up a great effort and being beaten in six or seven games. It means taking control of a series and winning it. The playoffs are a completely different style of play than regular season hockey is. Every single shift matters so much more. Whoever wants it more will end up getting it. That's just the way it works.

Leadership is something that is invaluable during a playoff series. The mental and emotional grind of a series can be equally as taxing as the physical grind. For the first time in franchise history, Nashville may have the leader that is able to get them over that hump. Shea Weber is a competitor unlike anyone that the Predators have ever had. That is something that cannot be over-valued in this series.

Barry Trotz also has to command this team. Trotz has been criticized for the way his teams play in the postseason. Some claim his style doesn't work, and others claim they get away from the style that made the Predators successful all year. One thing, however, is for certain. This is the year that Nashville has to make that next step.

Regardless of what any of the so called "experts" may say, Nashville has turned into a hockey town. The attendance this year reflects that. The overall increase of passion for the sport in general reflects that. That means the Predators have to take that next jump from average to elite. They have to buckle down, and go out there and get the job done.

To be the best, you have to beat the best. That's what the NHL playoffs are all about. That journey to the next level will begin for Nashville on Wednesday night. The mentality of Nashville needed to change, and it appears that it has. Look no further than the captain. "Let's keep it rolling and see if this beard can get a little longer".

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First Round Predictions

Here are my 1st round predictions for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs:


#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers- The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Capitals in the regular season. Washington is a different team than they were last year. They still have miles of capability on offense, but are a much better team defensively than they have been in the past. Henrik Lundqvist will be a huge factor in this series, as he led the league in shutouts during the regular season. PREDICTION- The Rangers had success against the Caps in the regular season, but I don't see that continuing. The Capitals are my pick to come out of the Eastern Conference. Caps win the series in 6 games.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres- Both teams won two games in the regular season series between these two teams. The Flyers and Sabres have been moving in opposite directions lately. Philadelphia is coming into the playoffs going 8-8-7 in their last 23, while Buffalo has been playing great hockey going into the playoffs. PREDICTION: I think this is going to be a great series. Philadelphia wins the series in 7 games.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens- This is one of the greatest rivalries in the NHL, and it was only amplified with Zdeno Chara delivered his controversial hit on Max Pacioretty. The Canadiens won the regular season series 4-2, but Boston destroyed the Candiens 7-0 in their last meeting. PREDICTION- Boston has something to prove after they let Philadelphia off of the hook last year. Boston wins the series in 6 games.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning- This is one of the most interesting opening round series in the league. Both teams won two games in the regular season series. It's unclear when or if Sidney Crosby will return, but this will be a great series regardless. Steven Stamkos and the Lightning are one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. PREDICTION: Lightning win the series in 7 games.


#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks- These are two teams that really do not like each other. The Canucks are going to have a chip on their shoulder after being eliminated by the Blackhawks in each of the two previous years. Chicago backed their way into the playoffs and are nowhere near the team they were last year. PREDICTION: This series won't last long. Vancouver wins it in 5 games.

#2 San Jose Sharks vs #7 Los Angeles Kings- This is going to be a great series with two divisional rivals. Both the Sharks and the Kings are blessed with size, and have considerable skill as well. The Kings are going to miss superstar center Anze Kopitar, though. PREDICTION- San Jose wins the series in 6 games.

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes- These two teams met in the 1st round of the playoffs last year, with Detroit winning the series in 7 games. Detroit is a team that has another gear when the playoffs come around. Phoenix is looking for their first playoff series win since moving from Winnipeg. PREDICTION: I think this is going to be another great series like last year. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, I think it produce the same result. Detroit wins the series in 7 games.

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Nashville Predators- The Predators won the season series against the Ducks 3-1. Anaheim's big line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan have been on fire. Teemu Selanne always plays extremely well against the Predators. Nashville has something to prove in this series, and have the best defensive pairing in the NHL in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Accompanied with that is arguably the best goalie in the NHL, in Pekka Rinne. PREDICTION: I think this is going to be a very entertaining series. Nashville wins it in 6 games.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Schedule is Set; Preds Going Duck Hunting

After a hectic weekend in the NHL, the regular season has come to its conclusion and the playoff match ups are set. The #5 seed Nashville Predators will take on the #4 seed Anaheim Ducks in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here is the schedule for the Preds-Ducks series:

Wednesday, April 13 at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m. CT.
Friday, April 15 at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m. CT.
Sunday, April 17 at Nashville, 5 pm CT.
Wednesday, April 20 at Nashville, 7:30 pm CT.

-If Needed-

Friday, April 22 at Anaheim, 9:00 p.m. CT.
*Sunday, April 24 at Nashville, TBD.
*Tuesday, April 26 at Anaheim, TBD.

Nashville won the regular season series 3-1 against the Ducks this year. That now means absolutely nothing. You can take it and chuck it into the Cumberland river. The new season begins on Wednesday night.

Predictions for each and every playoff series will come tomorrow...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Preds Clinch Playoff Spot; Rinne Shines vs. Columbus

Nashville found themselves up 3-1 going into the 3rd period of Friday night's game against Columbus. Several times this season, they've seen that lead disappear and end up as a loss. They didn't let that happen on Friday night.

The Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 4-1 score on Friday night to clinch their 6th playoff berth in 7 years. Patric Hornqvist scored two for the Preds, while Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn added goals of their own.

Hornqvist got the scoring started in the 1st period on a fantastic individual effort from Mike Fisher. Fisher got around a Blue Jacket defenseman and made a pass from his back to Hornqvist between two defenders, and Hornqvist buried it to give the Preds a 1-0 lead.

In the 2nd period, Nashville came out flying for the first part of the period. Halischuk took a great pass from Jerred Smithson, and then made a gorgeous move on Columbus goaltender Steve Mason to put the Preds up 2-0. Less than a minute later, Hornqvist added another goal when he backhanded one past Mason. However, as we all know, the three goal lead is now the toughest lead in hockey. The Blue Jackets got on the board when Derick Brassard fired a slapshot past Pekka Rinne to make it 3-1 after two periods of play.

This time, the Preds weren't about to let another comeback happen. Kostitsyn put the game away for the Predators when the puck went through Mason and off of SK74's skate. Rinne made some huge saves in the period, and Nashville walked away with a 4-1 victory in front of the 16th sellout crowd of the season at Bridgestone Arena.

Things to take away from Friday's game:

Pekka Rinne was phenomenal. He stopped 44 out of 45 Blue Jacket shots on the night, and some of them were truly unbelievable saves. Let's be honest, the only reason Nashville made the playoffs this year is because of Rinne. He has been far and away the best player on the team, and arguably the entire NHL. There's no player that matters more to his team than Rinne does. Period.

Matt Halischuk, once again, had himself a hell of a hockey game. He was hustling for the entire duration of the game, and was once again rewarded with a goal. The coaching staff is going to have a hard time sending him back down, or scratching him, if they start to get healthy bodies back.

Speaking of healthy bodies returning, Steve Sullivan returned to the lineup for the Predators on Friday night. He saw 10:05 of ice time, which is about what you'd expect for a player returning from the type of injury that Sullivan sustained. Overall, he didn't look too bad in his return.

Martin Erat did not play tonight for the Predators. There hasn't been word on the severity of his problem.

Nashville has a chance to clinch the 4th seed in the Western Conference with a win Saturday at St. Louis. Section 303 is having another road trip on Saturday to St. Louis for the game. Good luck guys and represent us well!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nashville Has Chance To Clinch in Home Finale

The Nashville Predators will be taking on a depleted Columbus Blue Jackets team tonight, and will be looking to clinch their 6th postseason spot in 7 years. The Predators will be taking on the Blue Jackets without Martin Erat, while Columbus will be without Rick Nash and Kris Russel.

Nashville can clinch in a variety of ways tonight. The Preds will clinch with a win, an OT or shootout loss, or a Dallas loss of any kind to the Colorado Avalanche. This is the final regular season home game for the Predators, and they wrap up the regular season with a game tomorrow in St. Louis.

The table is set for the Predators to punch their tickets for the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight. It's now just a matter of doing it. The puck drops at 7:08 p.m. This could be a special night in Nashville.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Three Reasons Why the Preds Will Win Round 1 of the Playoffs

Nashville has been to the playoffs 5 times in the history of their franchise, and are very likely going to make that 6 this year. If the Preds make the playoffs this year, there's going to be the same question asked of them that there has been in every playoff year recently: Can they make it past the 1st round? Here are three reasons why I think the answer to that question is finally yes.

1. Pekka Rinne- The Predators have never had the quality of goaltending going into the playoffs as they have this year. Not even close. He has a save percentage of .929 and a GAA of 2.14. Rinne is playing at the highest level of any goalie in franchise history this year, and literally has the ability to steal wins for the Preds. That's huge in the playoffs. Good goaltending can go a long way toward the end of the year.

2. Unfinished business- Nashville feels as if they should have won last year's playoff series. The fact is, Nashville REALLY should have won last year's playoff series with Chicago. Lackluster play late in the 3rd period and overtime of Game 5 in Chicago cost them the game, and essentially the series. This year, the Predators are going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder in the postseason. They know they can't let what happened last year happen again. The effort is definitely going to be there.

3. Better leadership- First off, this may be the best coaching job that Barry Trotz has ever done. Earlier in the season, he had his critics. I was one of them. But he has proven me wrong, and I respect the hell out of him. However, Trotz isn't the leader I'm referring to for this postseason. Stretching beyond Trotz, is a new captain that is a fierce competitor. Shea Weber simply brings a different mentality to the game than any other captain in Nashville Predators history has brought before him. He's got that look, that demeanor, and the sheer intimidation that he puts in the opposition that strikes fear into their hearts. More importantly, he's a guy that the rest of the team will play for. Weber leads by example, and doesn't accept anything less than 100% effort by himself and his teammates. That aggressive mentality is a very good thing for the Predators in a playoff hockey situation.

The intangibles for postseason success this year are there. It's now just a simple matter of clinching a playoff berth, and then going to work. This is the year that Nashville can get the monkey off of their back, and advance past the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Collecting 4 more points in the regular season would go a long way to helping their chances of doing that. The Predators are aiming for home ice adavantage in the 1st round, and a big step can be taken to reach that goal on Friday night vs. Columbus.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Preds Dominate Atlanta; Win 6-3

Coming into Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators were in position to add another postseason chapter to their history. With a win, and a Dallas loss, the Predators would clinch their 6th playoff berth in 7 years. They got the win against Atlanta by a 6-3 score in front of 16,756 at Bridgestone Arena. All that needed to happen after that was a Blue Jackets victory over the Stars. Unfortunately for the Preds, Dallas was able to defeat Columbus by a 3-0 score. That means the Predators will have to wait another day to clinch a playoff berth.

In the 1st period, Nashville would strike first when Matt Halischuk scored a gorgeous goal at 5:24 of the period. Jordin Tootoo attempted a pass that was deflected into the air, and Halischuk scored when the puck hit the ice on a beautiful no-look backhander. Tootoo would score at 19:18 of the period to put the Preds up 2-0. Atlanta goalie Chris Mason initially stopped a Martin Erat shot, but the pucked squirted through and Tootoo put it home. Sergei Kostitsyn would put the Preds up 3-0 at 19:58 of the period when he put it past Mason after Patric Hornqvist centered the puck. It was a wild ending to the 1st period, and Nashville had all of the momentum. Of course, the Predators have had trouble keeping the pace of play in their favor after jumping out to a lead, so Barry Trotz's message to the team was very simple. "Just keep going," said Predators centerman Mike Fisher. And, for the most part, the Predators would keep going.

Tootoo picked up right where he left off in the 2nd period, scoring the frosty goal at 1:56 of the 2nd period to put the Preds up 4-0. Halischuk flipped a pass from the corner and Tootoo swatted it in mid-air past Mason. After that goal, Mason was pulled from the game, and Ondrej Pavelec assumed the goaltending duties for Atlanta. The two teams would trade penalties for the remainder of the 2nd period, but the score would remain 4-0 after two.

A lot of emphasis has been put on finishing the games for the Predators this year. They somewhat did that on Tuesday night. Kostitsyn scored his 2nd goal of the night at 2:28 of the 3rd period, and Colin Wilson followed that up by winning a fight. However, the Thrashers would score Blake Wheeler beat Pekka Rinne high on the glove side at 3:06 to make the score 5-1. Eric Boulton took a roughing penalty on Tootoo, and Fisher scored on the ensuing power-play to give the Predators a 6-1 lead. Wheeler would add another goal for Atlanta to make the game 6-2, and then Antropov would pull the Thrashers within 3 with 2:50 remaining. but that would be all she wrote for the Thrashers.

Nashville walked away with a 6-3 victory, but was still outscored in the 3rd period by a 3-2 score. Jordin Tootoo had some thoughts on their recent 3rd period struggles. "We've been playing nonchalant kind of hockey in the 3rd, and that's going to come to bite our asses in the end here". However, Coach Trotz wasn't very concerned with the 3rd period tonight, saying "I got away from matchups and defense pairings. We were playing a lot of the kids and trying to spread the ice time. When we were up 6-1, I was just trying to make sure that no one was overextended".

Tootoo and Halischuk both had career nights. Tootoo registered 3 points on the night(2g,1a) and Halischuk had 2 points of his own(1g,1a). Kostitsyn and Hornqvist also had 3 point efforts on the night for the Predators.

It's possible for the Predators to clinch on Thursday night without them playing. If Dallas were to lose on Thursday against Colorado, the Preadators would clinch. Regardless of what the Stars do, if the Predators obtain at least one point in their final two games, they will clinch. Coach Trotz doesn't appear to be worried about it, saying "All I know is that we'll know something on Sunday. We don't have far to go." Only two games remain for the Predators in the regular season. The home finale is Friday night!

Game Preview: Columbus vs. Dallas

The Nashville Predators have a game tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers, but there is also another game that Pred Nation is going to be paying a lot of attention to.

Columbus heads into Dallas tonight for a critical game. If Nashville is able to win their game tonight against the Thrashers, they could possibly clinch a playoff berth if Dallas were to lose. Even an overtime loss for the Stars and a win for the Preds would clinch a playoff berth for Nashville.

Both Dallas and Columbus are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games. Columbus has lost their last three games, and Dallas is coming off of a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in a wild game.

The Stars currently have 89 points with four games remaining in their regular season. While their postseason hopes are not extremely high, they still have the chance to make it. It's probably going to require them to win each of their four remaining games, which would mean that Nashville would need to collect 3 points in their last three games in order to clinch a playoff spot.

The puck drops in Dallas at 7:30 P.M. tonight. That means the game will probably be over around 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Predators game(I know. Math whiz.). Of course, the outcome of the Dallas game won't have as much significance if the Predators don't take care of business against Atlanta. It's going to be an interesting night in the Western Conference for sure.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Atlanta Comes To Town; Preds Have Opportunity to Clinch

The Nashville Predators have an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena when the Atlanta Thrashers come to town. With a win and a Dallas loss of any kind, the Predators would clinch their 6th playoff berth in 7 years.

This is the second and final meeting between Atlanta and Nashville this year. The Thrashers took the first game by a 3-2 score in overtime. The Preds had a 2-0 lead at one point in that game, but allowed the Thrashers to come back and win on a Zach Bogosian overtime goal. Bogosian followed that goal with a failed celebration when he flipped over on his back.

Nashville and Atlanta aren't overly familiar with each other, but this is the 3rd straight season that they have been each other's "wildcard" opponent. The Thrashers have been eliminated from playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, but they will still be ready to play.

Atlanta is coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, and have alternated wins and losses in the last 10 games. If that trend were to continue, Atlanta is due for a win. The Predators will be looking to end that trend.

After Saturday's loss to the Red Wings, the Predators will be looking to rebound and get back on the winning track. The stakes are high with a possible playoff berth at stake, and 4th place in the Western Conference well within reach.

On paper, this is a team that Nashville should beat. Of course, hockey isn't a game that is played on paper. It's a game that's played on the ice. It could be a historical night in Nashville, so be sure to tune in to SportSouth at 7:00 if you're not going to the game.

The return of Sully and O'Reilly

For the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking about what will happen when/ if Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly were able to return to the lineup. Frankly, I didn't think this would be something that could realistically happen--as most of us probably thought. However, with the numerous practices both have participated in lately, it's looking highly probable.

A huge part of me thinks that things needs to be shaken up. That maybe we're missing veteran leadership on the bench. Would Saturday night have happened if #26 was on the bench? What about O'Reilly's sure hand in the face off circle, and the scoring touch he had discovered before his freak injury. Are they better than JP and Halischuk? (ok...that's an easy answer)

Does a shake up need to happen? Possibly.
Are we missing veteran leadership on the bench? Probably.
Can O'Reilly help? He can't hurt.
And hell yes they're better than 71 and 24.

But will they make a difference come playoff time? I dont think so. They're not in hockey shape. The Legs Feed the Wolf, and both are coming off severe lower body injuries--with Sully's being the scariest due to his history.

Steve Sullivan has not been the same player this year. Period. When he returned from his most recent injury, he was slow physically, was battling himself, and for the first time I can ever remember, was slow mentally.

I think O'Reilly might be able to help a little more, but he's not the answer.

The KEY to the Preds making a run is to improve their defensive game, which has been lackluster in recent games. Honestly, I think they're exhausted, as Weber and Suter are grabbing a ridiculous amount of ice time...yet, do any of us OTHER THAN Trotzy trust O'Brien and Klein? I doubt it.

I think the balance of this team would have been different had Lombardi not gone down early. Oh well. Crap happens. Good teams battle through.

What do yall think?

Friendly Reminder of What Happens When You Don't Finish Games

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Lesson Unlearned

The Achilles heel of the Nashville Predators for the 2010-2011 season has been playing hard for 60 minutes, which is mindboggling after what happened to them in Game 5 in the playoffs last year against the Chicago Blackhawks. On Saturday, that problem struck again as the Predators gave up a 3-0 lead to the Detroit Red Wings and lost the game 4-3 in overtime.

Failing to play hard for the entire game has been a problem with them all year, and it's beginning to haunt them again. The Predators have gotten away with relaxing a few times this year, but that's not going to happen at this time of the year.

The fact that Nashville is having problems finishing games this year is unacceptable. Pred Nation remembers the sting of Game 5 in Chicago last year. The Predators had the eventual Stanley Cup Champions on the ropes, and were threatening to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Of course, we all know how that one turned out. Given that, the thought of the Predators relaxing at any point of any game with any lead is utterly mindboggling. As coach Trotz said after the Anaheim game, "When the hell are we going to learn?"

With the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs looking extremely likely for the Predators, this problem needs to be addressed and a solution needs to be found. Maybe a good chewing by Barry Trotz to the players is needed. Maybe, instead of practice, he needs to call all the players into the film room and watch Game 5 over....and over.......and over.....again. The message has to be sent, and it has to be sent loud and clear.

Nashville has three more games to figure this out. After that, the Playoffs are here and the time for learning the lesson is gone. Simply put, if Nashville doesn't play a 60 minute game in the postseason, they can forget winning the game. It simply will not happen. This week marks the last week of the 2010-2011 regular season. Maybe, after 82 games, this problem will finally be solved by the coaches and players.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nashville Gives Up 3-0 Lead; Detroit Wins in OT

It took me a while to calm down after this game. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Nashville Predators by a 4-3 score in overtime after Nashville had a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd period.

Ryan Suter, Martin Erat, and Sergei Kostitsyn scored for Nashville, while Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader(2 goals), and Dan Cleary scored for Detroit.

Nashville jumped out to a 3-0 lead and had all of the momentum when Shane O'Brien decided to start another fight with Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi had already beaten O'Brien in a fight during the 1st period, but O'Brien decided to try and redeem himself. Instead, he got beaten again and gave the momentum back to Detroit.

There really isn't much more to say about a game like this. Nashville stopped playing and gave up another lead that ended up costing them. It's mindboggling that the Predators have not learned their lesson on playing a 60 minute game yet(Blog coming on this later). The good news is that the Preds only need to get three more points to clinch a playoff spot. Nashville's next game is Tuesday night against Atlanta.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Preds vs. Red Wings: Central Divison Clash

When the Detroit Red Wings come to Nashville, there is usually no build up needed. Neither team likes the other one, and the fans feel the same way. The Wings have been Nashville's biggest rival since the day the Predators franchise was first established. Saturday afternoon's game at Bridgestone Arena is the biggest regular season game that Nashville and Detroit have ever played.

The Predators are just four points behind the Red Wings coming into Saturday afternoon's game. With a win, Nashville would be just two points off of the Central Division lead with three games remaining.

Detroit is coming off of being blown out of their own arena by a 10-3 score on Wednesday night by the St. Louis Blues. They're obviously going to be looking for a better effort against Nashville. Jimmy Howard will return to the lineup for Detroit, and it's possible that Pavel Datsyuk will return to the lineup as well. The Red Wings are a completely different team with Datsyuk than they are without him.

The Predators are coming off of a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche where they just managed to hang on for the victory. Mike Fisher currently has a three game point streak going into the game, and seems to be healthy again. Martin Erat has overtaken Shea Weber for the team lead in points with 48.

Nashville is looking to win five games in the regular season against Detroit for the first time in franchise history. The Predators have won four straight games versus the Red Wings this year, and have killed off 20 of 22 Red Wing power-plays on the year.

Only four games remain for the Predators on the season, so each game from here on out is important. The Preds have 94 points and sit in 6th place in the Western Conference. If the season ended today, the Predators would be playing the Red Wings in the 1st round of the playoffs. Saturday's game could be a possible preview of the hockey we're going to see in two weeks. As is always the case between these two teams, it's going to be one hell of a game in Smashville.