Monday, January 31, 2011

Preds Finally Return Home

The Predators will finally return to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night as they face the Calgary Flames, who have been a thorn in the side of Nashville so far this year. Calgary has won each of the previous two games the two teams have played this year. Miikka Kiprusoff has played exceptionally well against the Predators and Nashville hasn't helped themselves in either game. The offensive effort really wasn't there in either game.

My Predator to watch in Tuesday night's game is Martin Erat. Erat has 22 points in 28 career games against Calgary. Another interesting stat is that Pekka Rinne is yet to defeat the Calgary Flames in his career.

My Calgary Flame to watch for Tuesday night's game is Miikka Kiprusoff. In the two previous games against Nashville this year, Kiprusoff has only given up one goal. I'd expect this game to be a pretty low-scoring affair once again.

Nashville sits in 4th place in the Western Conference going into this game, while Calgary sits in 12th place. This game will be one of 13 games played in the NHL on Tuesday night. The Preds have Philadelphia and Detroit coming up later on this week. Tuesday night's game against Calgary will start at 7:00 P.M., and will be televised on FS-Tennessee.

Dub's Monday Quick Hits

Just a couple things:

Just saw on the news wire that Jordin Tootoo has been cleared to return to practice, which should begin the ending part of his rehab. I honestly hope he can keep his nose clean and the pedal to the medal. He's still a kid, and he's got a huge upside to his game. Given the right atmosphere, he could be a 20 goal scorer, ala Scotty Walker. Glad to see him battling his demons head-on.

New Tampa Bay Lightning Identity and Jersey set
One word: LAME!!!! Anyone could have designed his new, oversimplified logo in MS Paint...but I guarantee that they spent Lord knows how much on it.
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The jerseys look like The Leafs and Wings did the Funky Watoosie and had a child. Come on, Stevie Y...I know you're a Red Wing at heart, but this is pitiful. This is not a traditional team...they're called the LIGHTNING for God's sakes...they need to be exciting.
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Go Preds!

-Dub

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shea Weber's Weekend Wrap-up

As touched on in my previous post, Shea Weber was drafted by Nick Lidstrom for the All-star weekend. Saturday brought with it the NHL skills competition and with it, the hardest shot competition.

The hype going into the competition was Shea Weber vs. Zdeno Chara and neither one of them disappointed. Shea Weber won the preliminary round. Weber registered 104.6 and 104.8 mph shots in the preliminary round. That is what I call absolutely destroying a hockey puck. Zdeno Chara didn't even get over 104 mph in the preliminary round. But the two would meet again in the finals.

Weber started out with a 103 mph shot, but then Chara let loose on a puck and blasted a 105.9 mph shot. Weber tried to hammer the next puck but only managed a 103.4 mph shot, which is nothing to be ashamed of. It's clear that Weber and Chara have the hardest shots in the league. Team Staal ended up winning the skills competition.

The All-star game itself was odd. Team Staal came out firing and got out to a 4-0 lead, but Team Lidstrom responded and was leading 7-6 at the end of two periods. Team Lidstrom ended up winning the game by an 11-10 score. Interestingly enough, Weber was paired with Lidstrom. The Red Wing was combined with the Predator again(Ryan Suter and Brian Rafalski in the Olympics last year), and again the results were mindboggling. Nick Lidstrom finished with a plus-7 rating on the night, and Shea Weber finished with four assists and a plus-6 rating. How in the world Shea Weber didn't get the MVP I do not understand. Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Sharp won the MVP on the losing team! That doesn't make much sense to me. Shea Weber deserved to win the MVP tonight, and I think he would have had he scored one goal to go along with the four assists.

All in all, Shea Weber had the best All-Star weekend that any Nashville Predator has ever had. He is a Top 5 defenseman in this league without any doubt. Hopefully he can keep up his stellar play from before the All-Star break as the Preds get back to business this week.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weber To Play for Team Lidstrom

It's no secret that the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings aren't particularly fond of each other. However, for one weekend, the all-world defensemen that play for each team will unite. Shea Weber was selected by Team Lidstrom for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. He was selected in the 4th round(8th overall, 3rd defenseman selected).

Weber will be joining the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Nick Lidstrom, and Matt Duchene just to name a few. It's been speculated that Weber will be paired with Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Duncan Keith, although I'd like to see him paired with Lidstrom. It would be an odd sight and I think they'd work well together(Kind of like Suter).

A really cool moment from tonight came from Montreal goaltender Carey Price. Price had a microphone on and it caught him having a conversation with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas about Weber. "We were down in Nashville once, he took a clapper from right between the dots, it almost took my head off. It hit the glass before I moved....so happy it missed my head."

It ought to be fun tomorrow watching Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara in the Hardest Shot Competition. The Superskills competition will start at 6:00 central time tomorrow night on versus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Report Card: All-Star Break Edition

We've reached the All-Star break of the 2010-2011 NHL season and the Nashville Predators find themselves in 4th place in the Western Conference. With only 32 games remaining in the regular season, Nashville sits six points behind Detroit in the central division. The most impressive part about this is how the Predators have done it. During the course of this season, the Predators have had injuries to J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat, Marcel Goc, Sergei Kostitsyn, David Legwand, Matthew Lombardi, Cal O'Reilly, Steve Sullivan, Marek Svatos, Francis Bouillon, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne. Lombardi, O'Reilly, Sullivan, Svatos, and Bouillon are all still injured. So, in total, the Preds have had 12 different players injured so far this year. This is even discounting the situation with Jordin Tootoo.

So, given the situation, it's remarkable that the Preds currently sit in 4th place. I've got to give all the credit in the world to Barry Trotz. I ripped him earlier this season, but I think this is his best coaching job yet. The key will be reaching the post-season and advancing. TEAM GRADE- A-

Now, here is a grade for each individual player:

#3 Wade Belak- The guy is a tough, physical player but really doesn't have much value to the team on the ice. He's a good guy to have in the locker room though. GRADE- C-

#4 Cody Franson- Franson has played pretty well throughout this season. The kid has the size of Weber, and a pretty hard slapshot of his own when he decides to crank it up. He can be a bit sloppy defensively sometimes, but is normally good. GRADE- B+

#6 Shea Weber- Weber is the captain of the team and the only member to be selected to the All-Star game. He started off slow but has recently been on a blistering pace offensively, and is the leading scorer for the Preds. GRADE- A

#8 Kevin Klein- Klein's game has slightly improved recently. He's not doing the stupid things he normally does as often. He's starting to just make the easy play instead of trying to force things. The beginning of the year was awful though. GRADE- D+

#9 Marcel Goc- Goc has been pretty good this year. He was injured for a while off of the cheapshot by Backstrom in the Washington game, but has since returned and is playing well. GRADE- B

#10 Martin Erat- Erat has been up and down this year. He has had injury problems, but has also played well at times. He seems to be cutting down on the mental mistakes. GRADE- B-

#11 David Legwand- Ah. Legwand. He's been pretty good defensively so far this year and occasionally chips in on the offensive front. I'm going to surprise Phillip with this. GRADE- B+

#13 Nick Spaling- Spaling is a kid that everybody roots for. He works hard every night and has recently been rewarded with a little bit of offense. He's played his role effectively so far this year. GRADE- A-

#15 Matthew Lombardi- I'd sure like to tell you because the kid can fly. I don't know if people really understand how good this team can be if we're healthy. GRADE- N/A

#16 Cal O'Reilly- Cal was playing extremely well at the beginning of the year, but his play declined a bit before his injury. It will be nice to get him back in the next month hopefully. GRADE- B-

#20 Ryan Suter- Sutes really proved how valuable he was when he was injured. The team really just fell apart. He's the quarterback of the power-play, he's the best puck handler on the team by far, and he's great defensively. He should be in Raleigh alongside Weber. GRADE- A

#22 Jordin Tootoo- Jordin has had some off of the ice problems, but was playing smart hockey before that. Also, he delivered the hardest hit so far this year in the NHL to Michael Frolik of the Panthers. GRADE- B-

#24 Matt Halischuk- In the few games that he's played for Nashville, I've been really impressed by him. GRADE- B

#25 Jerred Smithson- Smitty has played pretty well so far this year. He's a great faceoff guy and kills penalties well. He's earned the contract extension that he was given. GRADE- B+

#26 Steve Sullivan- Sully was having a pretty solid season before the injury. However, he passes up attempts on the rush more than anybody on the team(including Erat and Ward). GRADE- B-

#27 Patric Hornqvist- Horndog has had a pretty solid year so far. He's always in the grill of the opposing goaltender and really has a knack for finding lose pucks and creating traffic. So many goals have been scored from the point this year simply because Hornqvist was screening the goalie. On those plays, he wasn't even credited with points, but his work is obvious. GRADE- A-

#29 Joel Ward- I've not been very impressed with Ward all year. His work along the boards isn't what it has been previously, and his offensive touch isn't there at all. Also, he's made several stupid decisions. GRADE- D-

#33 Colin Wilson- Willy has played well this year. He's good with the puck, has the ability to score goals, and has played smart defensively. He's really coming along nicely. GRADE- B+

#35 Pekka Rinne- Peks went through a bit of a slump in November, but has been lights out since. He's had a couple of injuries, but they haven't had a negative reaction towards his play. He should be in Raleigh with Weber as well. GRADE- A

#39 Anders Lindback- Lindback has turned into a fan favorite because of his play and his personality. When Rinne was injured, Lindback was crucial to the success of the Preds and has played well. There have been a few hiccups lately though. He's going to be an important piece to the puzzle down the road. GRADE- B+

#40 Marek Svatos- Svatos has been a good pickup off of the waiver wire. Until he was injured(notice a pattern here?), he was playing well. GRADE- B+

#51 Francis Bouillon- The Cube has been a valuable player for the Preds so far this year until he was injured. He is very sound defensively and brings a physical edge to his game every night. GRADE- B+

#52 Alexander Sulzer- I'm not a big fan. His play has gotten better during the last 5 games, but before that he was awful(worse than Klein). He's a step or two slow and makes very bad decisions sometimes. GRADE- D-

#53 Chris Mueller- I was impressed with this kid when he was up here(was sent back to Milwaukee yesterday along with Halischuk, but I'd expect them to be back at some point). He's a hard worker and chipped in offensively. GRADE- B+

#55 Shane O'Brien- I like this guy. He's a good guy off of the ice, and has played admirably well on the ice. Much better than I expected. GRADE- B

#58 Linus Klasen- I saw touches of offensive capability when he was up with Nashville, but he still has a lot of work to do(especially defensively). GRADE- C

#71 J.P. Dumont- Up until recently, I was disappointed in Dumont's play. He's picked it up as of late, but I expect more out of him the rest of the year. GRADE- C-

#74 Sergei Kostitsyn- SK74 started off injured and not very good, but he's gotten a lot better since. He's one of the best offensive threats on the team, and looks comfortable here in Nashville. GRADE- A-

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Mistakes Cost Preds in Vancouver

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night by a score of 2-1 at Rogers Arena. The Preds finished the 6-game road trip with a 3-3 record. This game was favoring the Preds for the first two periods, and the first half of the third period. Then it fell apart.

Two mistakes cost the Preds two goals. On the first goal, the Preds had three players who were unable to clear the zone and Alex Burrows made them pay to tie the game at one. Minutes later, Joel Ward lost control of the puck in his own zone and that led to another goal by Vancouver, which proved to be enough.

Pekka Rinne played an amazing game. He was sharp and I'm sure he is extremely frustrated by this loss. A part of me is extremely frustrated with the loss as well, but I'm calmed by the fact that we're going into the All-Star break in 4th place. Having said that, Joel Ward has to pick up his game. He just hasn't been very good this year. He's making stupid mistakes that he normally doesn't make.

Shea Weber scored the lone goal for Nashville. His dad was in attendance and I'm sure that Shea wanted to score pretty badly. Their family had a rough summer when Shea's mother lost her battle with cancer. I'm sure it was really nice for Shea to score for his father. It was a heart-warming moment for me in a game that was really intense and chippy.

Vancouver is a dirty team. Several elbows were thrown at Pekka Rinne, and Joel Ward's face was jabbed with a stick repeatedly by Ballard. It's always going to be chippy when these two teams meet.

The Preds are off until Tuesday due to the All-Star break, and they really need the break. For one thing, they need to recover from the long road trip they've just been on. Also, the layoff might give a few players some time to heal and get back in the lineup.

Tomorrow, Phillip and I will have our report card for the team's play so far this year. We'll also discuss injuries and what this team might actually be capable of if they ever get fully healthy. See you all then!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Absurdity from Canada

It's really not even funny anymore. It's just annoying and absurd. Ed Willes, sports writer for The Province in Vancouver, is the latest to write unfounded stories about the Nashville Predators and their players. This time the target is Shea Weber.

Chris Burton of On the Forecheck, has a good piece that can be seen right here. Willes' piece is just another example of wishful thinking by members of the Canadian media. They have no clue what it's like down in Nashville. They have no clue about anything that goes on down here at all.

Willes claims that Weber might want to leave Nashville because he'd "like to win." Well, before I go any further, let's take a look at the history of the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks entered the NHL in 1970 as an expansion team. They have never won a Stanley Cup in the 40 years that they've been in the league. They have been to two Stanley Cup Finals in 1982 and 1994, losing both times. They are the only franchise currently in Canada that hasn't won a Stanley Cup. The reason I'm saying this is because Willes implied that the Canucks would be interested in Weber. If what he says is true, and Weber would "like to win", I don't think going to a place where zero championships have been won in 40 years would be very appealing. Willes really just tried to make this seem credible by quoting Paul Fenton, who is the assistant general manager of the Preds. He took quotes from Fenton that really had little significance, and tried to blow them out of proportion.

Shea Weber is the captain of our team and really seems to love it here. Weber hasn't said anything about wanting to go somewhere because he'd "like to win." Weber wasn't quoted in the story at all. In fact, as Chris Burton points out, Weber has commented on the contract situation. He simply said "I'm not going anywhere."

It's things like this that make me strongly dislike Vancouver. The unusual thing is that, with the exception of Dan Hamhuis, I really don't have a problem with the players of the team. It's the fans and the media. If you'll think back to 2007 when our franchise's security was in doubt, people from Vancouver were ripping on the city of Nashville. Ironically, the next year the Preds made the playoffs as the 8th seed. Vancouver missed the playoffs as the 9th seed.

As citizens of the greater Nashville area, and Predators fans, there's really just one thing we can do. Just ignore it. It's gotten to the point where it's not worth the time to even comment on it. The only reason I'm even writing a post about this is just to make people aware of where this news is coming from, and how unreliable it really is.

The Preds will play Wednesday night(Not Thursday night like Willes thinks. Go look at the photo of Shea Weber in the story and read the caption. Thumbs up for getting the day of the game wrong). Hopefully the Preds rip into the Canucks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Preds Lose in Calgary

The Calgary Flames defeated the Nashville Predators on Monday night by a 3-1 score in a game that wasn't very entertaining to watch. The Preds just didn't have it tonight, which can happen from time to time.

There's really not much to complain about. The Preds have still won 10 out of their past 13 games. The key is going to be bouncing back from this loss on Wednesday at Vancouver. I've really looked forward to playing Vancouver for a while now. It'll be a great test for our team, and I really want somebody to knock the hell out of Dan Hamhuis. His comments over the summer about the attendance of Vancouver's Summer Summit being reminiscent of a Nashville home game in November really pissed me off to be quite frank. So, yes, the Vancouver game is personal to me. Check out the attendance now Dan.

There was really only one decision that I didn't understand vs. Calgary and that was the decision to start Pekka Rinne. He didn't play a bad game, but I still don't understand why coach Trotz decided to start him. I understand that he played well vs. Edmonton and has been playing well lately, but it was the second game of a back to back. Anders Lindback isn't the starting goalie, but he still needs to see action from time to time to keep his groove. Now, Rinne will not be rested for the Vancouver game on Wednesday night. I just didn't understand the move.

The Preds have to just move on from this. They will take on Vancouver on Wednesday night at 9:00 P.M. in Vancouver. Hopefully they'll bring some serious physicality and their scoring sticks.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preds Pull Out Fortunate Win in Edmonton

The Nashville Predators defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 by way of a shootout on Sunday night at Rexall Place in Edmonton, but were extremely lucky to escape with a victory. The Preds played a sloppy game that allowed the Oilers to hang around and almost win the game. Cody Franson scored in the shootout for the first time in his young career to give the Predators a win. Sulzer and Ward got the goals for Nashville in regulation.

Things got scary in overtime when Edmonton beat Pekka Rinne, and would've won the game had the puck not hit Rinne's vacated stick. After review, it was clear that the puck did not completely cross the line, but who knows what can happen on a video review after the other night in Colorado.

Edmonton has a bright future. They're not a good hockey team right now, but they will be in a few years down the road. They have pretty good talent on their team. Taylor Hall is going to be a stud.

The defensive combination of Kevin Klein and Alexander Sulzer is like messing with fire. You're gonna get burned. And trust me, both of them are pros at getting burned. It hasn't been fully exposed yet, but keep your eye on it.

The Preds were lucky to escape with this win. They're going to have to play much better tonight vs. Calgary if they hope to win. The Preds are only four points behind the Red Wings........It's going to get interesting.

The Growth of PredNation

It's true that the Nashville Predators' fan base isn't as big as other franchises in the NHL. It's true that the Preds haven't been around nearly as long as most of the franchises in the NHL. It's true that the Preds don't have the history that other teams do. But I think it's also true that we have some of the best fans in the NHL.

It's been said that Nashville is one of the toughest places to in the NHL. And I think the great thing is that our fan base is growing. The city of Nashville is finally starting to really support our hockey team, and I think it's fair to say that Nashville is becoming a hockey town.

I haven't been exposed to other hockey cities throughout my life time, but I would be willing to put our fan base up against any fan base in the NHL. I know we don't have the numbers, but we do have the passion of any fan base in the league. And I'm proud to be a part of it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Game Preview: Preds vs. Avs

The Nashville Predators will take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight in Denver for the 1st of 4 meetings between the two teams this year. Both are right in the thick of things as far as the race for playoff positioning in the Western Conference goes. Nashville comes in at 4th with 56 points and Colorado comes in at 7th with 54 points.

Don't look now but the Predators are only six points back from the mighty Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division.

Super Sophomore Matt Duchene will be the player to watch for the Avalanche. Duchene has 18 goals and 25 assists on the year which is good for 43 points. His 43 point mark so far this season is good for 15th in the NHL.

My Predators player to watch will obviously be J.P. Dumont. Dumont has 5 goals in his last 2 games, including a hat trick in Tuesday night's game at Phoenix. Will he continue his productive play?

I would expect Pekka Rinne to be in goal tonight for the Preds. Speaking of goaltenders, Anders Lindback continues to prove his great personality. According to Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean, there was only one hat that hit the ice when Dumont had his hat trick on Tuesday night. And it belonged to Anders Lindback.

Puck drop will be at approximately 8:07 P.M. The Preds look to continue their good play and keep space between them and the Avs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Great Debate

After watching last night's game against Phoenix(you can get our recap here)I stumbled upon a topic with Phillip that seems to be a popular one in PredNation. David Legwand. Is he the most valuable Nashville Predator? Is he vastly overrated?

Phillip and I have very different opinions on this matter, which really is very similar to how most of PredNation feels. There are people on both sides of the aisle when it comes to David Legwand.

I happen to think Legwand is vastly overrated. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm well aware that Legwand brings qualities to the game that are valuable to this hockey team. He is a great skater, he is a good forechecker, and will occasionally make a play or two on the defensive side. He chips in on the offensive front from time to time(although not nearly as much as he should with the amount of money he's making.) But there are a few reasons why I think he is overrated.

Now, before I get to my reasons, I'm aware that there is another side to this argument that has valid points. For example, Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck had a great arguement for Legwand a few days ago. However, here are a few stats that still don't have me sold on Legwand.

Over and over again, you here about how Legwand is a great defender. And, at times, he can be. But over the last 3 full seasons(not counting this year), Legwand's plus/minus rating is a minus-12. He's been on the wrong side of the plus/minus scale for the last three years. That's not a very good stat for someone who is supposed to be defensively sound. As a matter of fact, I've even heard some people complain that Legwand has never been nominated for a Selke Trophy. Sorry, but it just doesn't happen when you're a minus-12 over the past three years. Now, he is a plus-4 so far this year. Maybe by season's end he will maintain his progress.

Another thing is his production is on the decline. His points per season have gone down in each of the last three years and are on pace to go down again this year. In the past 4 seasons, Legwand has had point totals of 63, 44, 42, and 38. He's on pace for less than 30 points this year. The man is getting paid $4.5 million per year to produce offensively. He wasn't paid that money to play defense, he wasn't paid that money to turn into a 3rd line center(Yes, I know he's first line right now. That's because the two in front of him are hurt.)

His faceoff winning percentage this year is at 43.7%, which is good for dead last among all of the centers for the Nashville Predators.

Does he have the talent to be our most valuable player? Yeah he does. In 2006-2007 he was a plus-23. He had 63 points(granted he was on a line with Paul Kariya) and had a great year. That is why he was signed to such a lucrative contract. But the guy is not that player anymore. Look, I want Legwand to be as good as he can be. I want him to prove me wrong and be the most valuable player on the Nashville Predators. But he's not. And he's making way too much money for 5 goals.

What do you think of David Legwand?

Preds Beat Coyotes; Dumont Gets Hat Trick

The Nashville Predators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night in Glendale, Arizona. The story of the game was J.P. Dumont's 4th career hat trick. The first period was really an up and down period for the Preds.

Dumont got the scoring started on a one-timer in the slot. Just a mere 12 seconds later, the Preds got a 2nd goal on a great individual effort by Patric Hornqvist. Phoenix would respond shortly after, however, when Shane O'Brien effectively put the puck in his own net to give the Coyotes a goal. The Yotes later tied it up on a great deflection by Lee Stempniak.

In the second, J.P. Dumont completed the hat trick by scoring two goals in the period. His line played well all night, withe Chris Mueller and Matt Halischuk both getting 2 assists on the night. Patric Hornqvist added another goal in the 3rd for his second of the night. Hornqvist now has 10 points in his last 10 games.

Shea Weber's scoring streak was snapped tonight. Pekka Rinne made some key saves throughout the game to keep the Preds afloat. The Coyotes outplayed the Preds for most of the game, even though the score might show otherwise.

This was a great win for the Preds. They jumped the Coyotes in the standings to take control of 4th place in the Western Conference. The Preds are in action again on Thursday night at 8 P.M. in Colorado.

Monday, January 17, 2011

On A Tear

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber has been on fire as of late. He's got a 9 game scoring streak going right now, which is the longest of his career so far. In that time, he's tallied 13 points(3g, 10a).

He was selected as Nashville's lone representative for the NHL All-Star Game in Raliegh, North Carolina. Currently, he's playing the best all-around hockey in the league as far as defensemen go. In fact, I don't know if he's played better hockey in his career.

He started out the season slow, and I wondered if the pressure of the Captaincy was weighing him down. Regardless of if it was or wasn't, he's definitely gotten over that.

Weber and Suter are the key to how this team does. When they're both on, the Preds are an extremely difficult team to beat(barring a physical, mental, emotional breakdown like on Sunday night in Chicago). If Weber keeps up this All-World play, the Preds are going to put themselves in a very comfortable position.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

7th Man Ignites the Fire; Preds Defeat Hawks

Is it April already? No, not quite. But man it sure felt like a playoff game Saturday night when the Nashville Predators played host to the Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville defeated Chicago by a score of 3-2 in a shootout in a game that was far and away the best game of the year from an excitement standpoint.

It felt like a playoff atmosphere. As predicted, there were a lot of Blackhawk fans in the building. And I mean A LOT! If I had to guess, I'd say the crowd was about 60-40 in favor of the Preds. That's something that needs to be corrected when they come into town for the next game in Nashville on February 24th, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

The first two periods of this game were controlled and dominated by Chicago. They had possession of the puck, they played very soundly on the defensive end, and had chances to put the game out of reach. And then came the third period.

Jerred Smithson got the Preds on the board at the 9:46 mark of the 3rd period. That's when you could start to feel it. I was fired up, the Preds fans around me in 303 were fired up, and you could tell it was time. The crowd gave one of its famous standing ovations throughout the TV timeout, and it worked like a charm. The building was alive, and it gave the team a jolt of energy. I touched on it yesterday about how important an energetic crowd could be. Saturday night proved it.

Phillip said it best. When Shea Weber skated out onto the ice after the TV timeout, he had that look in his eye. You knew they were going to give him the puck. And he blasted an absolute missle right past Crawford to tie the game at the 12:20 mark of the 3rd period. You just knew the Preds were going to pull it off after that. The momentum had taken a complete 180 degree turn towards Nashville. Marcel Goc got the only goal in the shootout and the Preds came out with a victory.

This was the most fun game to be a part of so far this year by far. This game was what hockey is all about. You had fans jawing back and forth at each other. You had fights in the lower bowl. And you had two teams on the ice skating their tails off.

Predator fans learned something about themselves and their team Saturday night. The group of guys on the Nashville Predators team are resilient. They never quit and they really showed me something. They got after it in the 3rd period. And the crowd had just as much to do with this win as the players did. The Bridge was rockin' Saturday night and it was fun to be a part of.

It was so great seeing all of those jackass Blackhawk fans walking out without saying anything! Finally, their mouths were closed. This is by no means revenge for the playoffs. We'll deal with them their one day, but it's still very sweet. That was just a hell of a game. Hopefully Sunday night's game at the United Center will end in a Preds victory. It'd be nice to stick that knife in their back a little deeper.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bring the Noise

I happened to be walking downtown last night around 10:00 and I was appalled at what I saw. Yes, there was a man who was belligerently intoxicated and talking about how he was wearing the same pair of underwear for the third day in a row, but I'm not referring to that at the moment. I am, however, referring to the Blackhawk fans that were roaming around the downtown Nashville area.

I really hate the Chicago Blackhawks. What Pred fan wouldn't? They put us out of the playoffs last year when they were not the better team. To their credit, they went on to win the Stanley Cup. I don't like their players. I don't know how Hossa wasn't suspended for his hit in Game 5, which caused me to hate the Blackhawks even more. And, I think it's pretty fair to say that the players on the Predators roster aren't too fond of the Blackhawks either. But I think the Hawks have now reached a category that only one other team has reached with me. The Hawks have now joined the Detroit Red Wings in having the most annoying fans in the NHL.

Last time the Hawks were in Nashville on November 13th, I had the misfortune of having an entire row of them behind me, all of which were belligerently drunk(seems to be a common theme). Most of the Hawks fans seem to be just down right obnoxious. I don't know if it's the annoying accent, the general lack of respect for people, or just the overwhelming lack of intelligence that exudes itself from their mouths. What I do know is that it makes me want to beat them even more.

If the game on the 13th of November at Bridgestone Arena was any indication, there are going to be quite a few Chicago fans at the game tonight. As Preds fans, we really need to step up our game for tonight. Think about it. We hear the players talk about the loss to Chicago in the playoffs all the time and how it motivates them. It puts a chip on their shoulder. As fans, we can't go on the ice and control the outcome of the game. But we can do our part.

We can vent our frustration with the Hawks by bringing the noise for tonight's game. We can get loud and give the Preds some jump. When our building is electric, it is one of the loudest buildings in the NHL. More important than that, it provides the team with a boost of energy. If we're fired up and ready to go, they will be too(theoretically). We have a home-and-home stretch with the Hawks this weekend. One game tonight. One game Sunday. Let's do our best as fans to give the boys as much energy as we can and be as loud as we possibly can. The juice that we can give the Preds tonight can very easily carry over to tomorrow's game in Chicago and beyond. They know that we're behind them. Let's not be overrun by Blackhawks fans. Bring the noise early and often and keep it going. No 2nd period lulls. Keep it coming.

Additionally, this is the last home game until February 1st. So we might as well give it our best effort now. We'll have almost 3 weeks to rest the pipes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quick Notes from the Preds Loss to Florida

The Preds fell to the Panthers by a 3-2 score in a game that they went from not deserving to win, to giving the game away. Two defensive breakdowns in the 3rd period proved to be the difference.

David Legwand had a goal and an assist, extending his scoring streak to four.

Shea Weber extended his point streak to 7 by adding an assist on Legwand's 3rd period goal.

Tough one to give away, but the Preds have more important business to take care of this weekend against Chicago. Not that these 2 points given away weren't important, because they were, but Nashville needs to send a message to the Blackhawks. A weekend sweep against the hated Hawks would tremendously help the confidence of the Preds, ans shove a knife straight in the back of Chicago.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Game Preview: Preds vs. Panthers

The Nashville Predators put their 6-game winning streak on the line Thursday night as they take on the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. The Preds and Panthers have already met one time previously this year, and that game saw the Preds take the 3-0 victory over Florida.

The game in Nashville this year is remembered for two things. It was Anders Lindback's first career NHL shutout, and Jordin Tootoo layed one of the hardest hits in the history of hockey on Michael Frolik.

The Panthers are coming off of a 4-3 win over the high-powered Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. The Panthers had a 3-0 lead but let the Capitals come back and tie it at 3 goals apiece. Florida eventually was able to escape with the victory in overtime.

Florida currently sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points. Nashville Captain Shea Weber is currently on a 6-game point streak, which is the longest of his career. The Preds are 4-0-2 against the Southeast Division this year, and they look to continue that trend. The key to this game is going to be how Florida defends Suter and Weber. The All-World defensive tandem tore the Panthers up last game, and both of them have been on fire lately. If Suter and Weber continue their stellar play, it will be a long night for the Panthers. When Suter and Weber are on, it significantly opens up the Predators offensive attack, while also providing shut-down defense.

Prediction: Nashville 4 Florida 2

Preds Tame Wild 5-1

Last night was a very solid win for the Good Guys in front of an "announced crowd" of 15,311 crazy fans. While the cold kept at least 2,000 of that home, the Bridge was definately ready for some hockey last night.

First Period
The game started out with a lost of back and forth neutral zone play, with neither team gaining an edge until Svatos brought the puck in and fired a lot of Leggy tipped while skating by. There really wasnt much to the goal, other than a well-timed shot and good ice presence by our top defensive center. The Wild tied it up late in the period on a goal by Koivu that he earned by making a nifty deke on the Cube. After that, Peks settled down and played shutdown hockey.

Second and Third Periods
Preds hockey. The Preds dominated the last two frames, and the Wild never realluy mounted much of a threat to score. Pekka did leave a couple of juicy rebounds, but the boys stepped up and gained possession of the puck to neutralize the threat. Wardo buried an easy goal in the second frame, and missed on a couple more attempts later, including one where he had a wide open net and snapped his twig. Spaling netted 2 straight in the second, with the last goal scored by Marcy Goc.

All in all, last night's game is how we have to play on a consistant basis. We're not going to win every game, but we cannot win 6, then lose 4. As it stands, we're in 4th place in the conference, 7 points behind the Wings. My Red Wing loving friend Josh, who came with me last night, is definately feeling the pressure.
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Stars of the game

1st Star: Nick Spaling – 2 Goal, +3 in 17:51 of ice time. The kid was everywhere, and has his best game so far with the big club. I'm really starting to warm on him.

2nd Star: Joel Ward – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +3 in 17:25 of ice time. Wardo left a couple more goals on the ice tonight, as well.

3rd Star: Marcel Goc – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 in 15:51of ice time. Marcy played a very solid game defensively as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weber named All-Star Representative for Nashville

Shea Weber has been selected to the 2011 NHL All-star game in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is the only representative for Nashville even though cases can be made for Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne, and Anders Lindback for the rookies. Weber is the sexy pick for Nashville. He's got a blast of a shot, he's a physical player, and he was a key player for the Canadian national team on the gold medal run. But is he the best pick?

Many people have argued that Ryan Suter is more deserving to go than Weber is. Let me first start by saying that both of them deserve to be in the game. When they're on, there's not a better defensive tandem in the league. Having said that, you're not going to see two defensemen from the Nashville Predators go to the All-star game. We're just not in the national spotlight enough. I agree that Suter is every bit as valuable as Weber, but I believe that Weber should be the one to go. He leads the team in points, and his all around game is slightly better than Suter's in my mind.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Weber vs. Chara in the hardest shot competition. Weber shot a puck through the net in the Olympics and is reported to have done it again in practice this year. Chara is a big man with a rocket of a shot and is the defending champion of the hardest shot competition. It should be an interesting weekend to say the least.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Preds Complete California Sweep

The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-1 Saturday night at HP Pavilion, completing the California road trip sweep. David Legwand and Sergei Kostitsyn got the two goals for the Preds, but the real star was Pekka Rinne.

Rinne stopped 42 out of 43 shots on the night and played a really solid game. The Preds have now won 5 games in a row, even though they're not anywhere close to having a healthy roster. Nashville has now reached the 50 point mark on the season and currently sit in 4th place in the conference.

They've been playing really well lately. Let's just hope they can keep it up.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Eating My Words......For Now

If you'll recall, a few months ago I was calling for a changing of the guard in the Predators locker room. I wanted Barry Trotz out and I wanted him out immediately. I was wrong and I'm not afraid to admit it.

What he's done with all of these injuries so far this year is nothing short of amazing. Right now, I think he's the runaway winner of the Jack Adams award and it's really not even close. Now, if we go into April healthy and still don't make it out of the first round of the playoffs, then some things may have to be discussed again.

I don't particularly like the way Trotz's gameplan and style is used some of the time, but hey he's obviously doing something right. I think he's getting the best out of the players he has. A lot of that has to do with Suter and Weber stepping up like they have the past few weeks.

So, for now, I will eat my words willingly and submit my full support for Barry Trotz and give him credit where credit is due. Now, don't even get me started about Jeff Fisher.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Preds Continue Winning; Defeat LA Kings

It all looked dark for a while when the Preds fell down 2-0 midway through the 2nd period to the Los Angeles Kings. After all, the Kings had annihilated the Predators in the previous two games this year. But the Preds weren't having any more of that. They defeated LA by a score of 5-2 on the second part of a back-to-back strech.

Colin Wilson decided that enough was enough and began to make plays. He got a goal and two assists in the 2nd period to give the Predators a 3-2 lead after the second period, where five goals were scored.

Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist added two more insurance goals in the third period to give the Predators a 5-2 lead that was never relenquished. The Predators outshot the Kings 28 to 26 and Anders Lindback played a pretty strong game in net, giving Pekka Rinne a night off.

Several Predators ended the game with multiple point nights. Colin Wilson had 3 points(1g,2a), Sergei Kostitsyn had 3 points(1g, 2a), Patric Hornqvist had 2 goals, Ryan Suter had 2 assists, and Shea Weber had 2 assists.

Marek Svatos got his first goal as a Predator. Nick Spaling suffered an upper body injury in the game and did not return. Hornqvist now has a 4-game goal streak, as does Sergei Kostitsyn. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are playing at the high level that we've come to expect from them. I think they've finally started to settle in together and are now playing at the level that makes them the best defensive pairing in the NHL.

The Predators showed a lot of heart tonight. They found themselves down 2-0 to the Kings once again. Last time they lost 6-1. This time they put it into gear and scored five unanswered goals to win the game. With the win, the Predators now find themselves sitting in 4th in the Western Conference with 48 points. You've really got to love the attitude of Anders Lindback. He is such a laid back guy and is ready to do his job when called upon. He played a pretty good game tonight.

The Preds hope to make it 5 in a row on Saturday when they take on the San Jose Sharks.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Imaginationative Thought

Just a quick thought today before tonight's game in Anaheim. If you could go to any arena(past or present) to watch a hockey game, which one would it be?

Sorry for the lack of substantial posts lately. I was bitten by a Rottweiler 15 minutes into the new year and have been trying to get that to heal. Everything will be back to normal soon.

Wilson Coming Along;Impact of O'Reilly's Injury

Colin Wilson is the most versatile player for the Nashville Predators and he's shown how effective he can be lately. So far, Wilson has 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points, which is tied for 2nd on the team in points with Patric Hornqvist.

During the month of November, Wilson took a lot of criticism for his lack of scoring and lack of production. He seems to be hitting his stride as of late, posting 4 points in the last 3 games(2g, 2a). He can play on the wing, but is also a natural center. He hasn't been utilized at the center position very much during his time here so far, but he has adapted to the wing well.

With Cal O'Reilly's injury, there is a center that will need to be added. Before O'Reilly was hurt it was O'Reilly, Goc, Legwand, and Spaling. Now that O'Reilly is out of the picture, one may wonder if Colin Wilson is going to be put into a center position. I don't think he will. He's simply been playing too well on the wing and we have options at the center position. I think the middle is going to look something like this: Goc, Legwand, Smithson, Spaling. Doesn't sound very threatening on the offensive front does it? However, I would like to see a Wilson-Legwand-Hornqvist line work together. I think that's a combination that could be successful.

Losing O'Reilly means that Linus Klasen will likely be reinstated into the lineup on Wednesday night versus the Ducks. I don't think we're going to see anybody else get called up from Milwaukee(unless, God forbid, there is another injury). Tom Callahan is taking the approach that we're getting all of our injuries out of the way early on so we'll be healthy come April. I don't know if that's true or not, but I sure hope it is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Preds Swat Jackets 4-1

Edit: looks like we have a double recap today!

Last night’s game was one of those “Must Haves”, as the good guys will be away from the friendly confines of the Bridge for the majority of the month…and our boys pulled out a solid win.


First Period

The game started out with a very lax effort by the Preds, resulting in a quick goal from the blueline. I don’t blame Peks on this one, as he never saw the puck since we didn’t clear the lane. After that, the remainder of the period was pretty ho-hum, except some decent hits by Belak (who played a pretty decent game last night).

Second Period

Two words: Preds hockey. The Preds dominated the second frame, tallying 3 goals by Weber, Spaling, and Horny on very solid play. Oddly, two of those goals were scored while the shooter was on their rear. Weber’s goal was scored due to very creative puck movement on the PP. He and Suter’s knowledge of what they want to do with the puck is a pretty cool thing to watch when it clicks. Unlike the first of the year when we tried to set Webs up at the center of the point everytime, the D is moving around creating lanes for good shots. The other two goals were created by working hard for lose pucks on second attempts.

Third Period

For once, the Preds didn’t let up with a 2 goal lead, and kept the pedal to the ground. We were buzzing all period, and could have scored a number of goals,

But Mason bounced back from a weak second period. SK74 pulled through and knocked home a Wilson shot that came off of the crossbar on a weird bounce. Belak closed the period with two good checked, one of which sparked a near line brawl as time expired. He wanted to go, but Jared Boll didn’t. Belak then tried taking on the BJ’s entire bench. Pretty funny stuff!
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Stars of the game

1st Star: The Beast, Shea Weber – 1 Goal, 2 Assists in 24:31 of ice time.

2nd Star: Patrick Hornquist – 1 Goal, 1 Assist in 16:16 of ice time.

3rd Star: a) Pekka Rinne – Did not allow a goal that he saw all night

              b) Colin Wilson – 2 Assists in 16:23 of ice time. Was very close to scoring on his crossbar shot that freakishly did not go in.

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I’m a firm believer that the Hockey Gods hate us, as we cannot keep our top line players healthy. As we all are probably aware, O’Reilly went down with a broken leg on a freak play that looked harmless as could be. To me, it seemed that he got twisted up and lost his balance…which apparently resulted in a broken fibula. Who breaks their leg when they fall down? He looked pretty pitiful crawling across the ice, which was probably 100% instinct.

If you think about it, we’re without Sully, Erat, Lombardi, O’Reilly, and Tootoo…that’s a nearly 2 full lines of out top producing players. I’d love to see the Wings win games without Zeddy, Dats, Franson, Holmer, and Filpula. I venture to say they wouldn’t.



We hope everyone had a Happy, and safe, New Year!

Bittersweet Victory for Preds

The Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-1 on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena, but you wouldn't have thought that after the first period. The Preds did not have a very good first period at all, and really have Pekka Rinne to thank for keeping them in the game. "We came out flat," said Shea Weber, who had 1 goal and 2 assists on the night.

In the second period, the Preds got things going and never looked back. Shea Weber scored a goal on a blast of a shot to tie the game at one. Then, the Preds started crashing the net. Nick Spaling got his second goal of the year while falling away from the puck and down to the ice. Hornqvist later got a goal on the power-play while he was falling down as well. Weber recorded assists on both Spaling and Hornqvist's goals. The Preds went into the third with a 3-1 lead.

In the final frame, Kostistyn scored a goal off of a shot by Colin Wilson, who played a pretty strong game. The Preds were never really in danger of surrendering their lead. Cal O'Reilly was injured in the period and began trying to crawl his way to the bench. Play was stopped and it didn't look good when he was going into the locker room. We later found out that he had broken his fibula. It doesn't look good for him and I would expect him to be out for a significant period of time. My guess would be somewhere around a month and a half to two months.

The Preds did a great job of shutting down Rick Nash, holding him to one shot on goal throughout the game. In particular, Ryan Suter was all over him and really played a strong game. I had a feeling that Wade Belak was going to get a goal tonight, but.............no. Pekka Rinne was very sharp in goal tonight, minus the goal given up less than a minute into the game.

The Preds are off until Wednesday when they began their California swing.