Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preds Show Resiliency; Defeat Columbus

The Nashville Predators got a huge two points as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-2 score Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. There were several storylines coming into this game. It was Blake Geoffrion's first NHL home game, the Preds were coming in on a four game slide, and they were facing a Columbus team that was 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

The 1st period began with pushes from both teams, but nobody could put the puck in the net. Martin Erat stole the puck in the Columbus zone and had a 2 on 1 with Sergei Kostitsyn. Erat probably should have shot the puck, but instead tried a pass to Kostistyn that wasn't successful. The Preds and Blue Jackets would battle to a scoreless 1st period.

In the 2nd period, Shane O'Brien took a holding penalty 59 seconds into the period to join Ryan Suter in the box. Nashville killed off the Columbus 5 on 3 powerplay. At 7:25 of the 2nd period, Columbus got a goal waved off. R.J. Umberger drove to the net and put the puck right by Pekka Rinne's skate. Derek MacKenzie of the Blue Jackets and Colin Wilson both tried to grab the puck, and it looked like the puck had crossed the line, but the goal was waved off. After one of the longest reviews I've ever seen, the call was officially a no goal. There simply wasn't a camera angle that gave conclusive video evidence of the puck.

While the Preds may have dodged that bullet, Columbus would tally on the powerplay with 5:43 left in the 2nd period after a Shea Weber hooking penalty. Matt Calvert would went to the front of the net and picked up the rebound of an Umberger shot. The Jackets would have the 1-0 lead after the 2nd period.

The complexion of the game would change in the 3rd period. Shea Weber shot a puck that deflected into the net off of Jan Hejda's face to tie the game at one. In one of the best examples of a tough hockey player I've seen, Hejda would later return to the game. The Preds would take a 2-1 lead when Jonathon Blum scored his first NHL goal. After a David Legwand penalty, the Blue Jackets would tie the game at two on another powerplay goal. Shane O'Brien tried to clear the puck right down the middle of the ice, but Kris Russel stopped it and scored.

Things looked ominous for the Predators when Shea Weber took a tripping penalty with only minutes left in the game, but the Predators were able to kill it off. As Weber was coming out of the box, the puck came to him and he led the rush down the ice. He passed the puck to Martin Erat who one-timed the puck on net, and David Legwand scored on the rebound to give the Predators a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Quotes from the game:

Colin Wilson

Robby: How big was that first goal to get the offense going?

Wilson: "It was good. I think, you know, we haven't had too much offense lately so I think that was a big goal by Webs, and a good bounce."

Robby: What can you take from this win as you go on the road trip this week?

Wilson: "Well, it's playoff hockey. A lot of games are going to be won and lost by one goal so we realize we have to be resilient, whether they go up or we go up, and play the same game."

Blake Geoffrion

Robby: How big is it for you to be a part of your first NHL win?

Geoffrion: "Yeah I mean that's huge, definitely, in a time like this in the middle of a playoff race. It's pretty tight. Huge goal by Leggy there at the end, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."

It was a privilege to be able to cover my first game on media row. A big thanks to Buddy Oakes, Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, and Jeremy K. Gover for all of their help tonight. The Predators will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night! The Preds are currently in 9th place in the Western Conference. Each game gets bigger and bigger as the season goes along.

Do or Die for Nashville

With Saturday's loss to Dallas, the Preds are in a difficult yet simple situation. It's difficult in the sense that the Preds have put themselves in a bad position. They currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference with 20 games remaining. They are on a four game losing streak. However, the simple part is the theoretical solution to this problem. The Predators are in a situation to where they must win Sunday's game against Columbus or they are in extremely serious trouble. In fact, it would probably mean trouble to the point of which they can't bounce back. Simply put, the Predators absolutely have to win this game.

It's possible that all of the injuries the Predators have sustained this year have finally caught up to them. There is a certain point where you can't outplay the injuries that have been sustained. This doesn't mean the Preds can't put together a run to make the playoffs, but it does mean that it's going to be significantly harder to do so. Think about it. Matthew Lombardi, Marcel Goc, Steve Sullivan, Francis Bouillon, and Cal O'Reilly are all injured right now. It's absurd the amount of injuries the Predators have had to deal with this season. We all thought that eventually it would stop and we'd reach a point where everyone has healthy and it just hasn't happened. People keep getting hurt and then they stay hurt. As a matter of fact, it's possible that each player on the injured list right now could be out for the remainder of the season.

I'm not one to make excuses, and the injuries are not my excuse for the way the Preds have been playing lately. However, they certainly do not help the situation at all. Sunday's game against Columbus is a must-win. I know they're not mathematically eliminated if they don't win but it will be a lot easier on them if they do. Columbus would jump them if they lose in regulation. Simply put, that can't happen.

Sunday's game will be the first game that I will have the privilege of attending with credentials for this blog. It's been a fun thing to do ever since Phillip and I started it, and we appreciate all of the readers we've had. Hopefully my first game with credentials will give the Preds some sort of winning vibe(I'm looking for anything I can to get them in the win column). The puck will drop at a special start time of 2:00 P.M. As Terry Crisp would say, see you at the rink!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Where Should Blake Geoffrion Play?

Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk were called up from the Milwaukee Admirals Friday following several moves by David Poile. Wade Belak was put on waivers, Alexander Sulzer was traded to Florida for a conditional 7th round pick, and Steve Sullivan was placed on injured reserve. Geoffrion will make his NHL debut against Dallas on Saturday at 1:00. Geoffrion is more of a playmaker than Halischuk is. That means the coaching staff has to put him on a line that can be successful. Sticking him on a line with Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo isn't going to do the trick.

You've got to figure that Mike Fisher is going to continue to be on a line with Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat. So where do you put Geoffrion? I think he automatically has to be the 2nd line center. Putting Geoffrion on a line with Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist would give him a chance to do something. That's a line that could be productive. I think the ideal lines today would look something like this:

Kostitsyn-Fisher-Erat
Wilson-Geoffrion-Hornqvist
Halischuk-Legwand-Ward
Spaling-Smithson-Tootoo

That leaves J.P. Dumont as the scratch. I think the Wilson-Geoffrion-Hornqvist line would be interesting to watch. Wilson would be able to actually play offense, instead of being on a checking line like he's been lately. Having said that, Wilson has not been playing well lately, but this might be the move needed to help him out.

It'll be interesting to see how Geoffrion handles his NHL debut. This is as close to a must-win game as it gets for the Predators.

Chicago Shuts Down Putrid Preds

First off, severe weather hit the middle Tennessee area on Thursday night so I hope all of you stayed safe and didn't receive severe damage. The pouring rain outside symbolizes the mood felt by Predators' fans after this game. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators by a 3-0 score in front of an announced crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Preds came out of the gate playing good hockey. They were sound defensively and kept putting the puck on net offensively. The first 10 minutes of the game would be close to the last bit of good hockey the Predators played on Thursday night. Tomas Kopecky got the 'Hawks on the board when he rifled one by Pekka Rinne with a delayed penalty coming up against the Predators.

Marion Hossa got the second goal for the Blackhawks on a terrible play by David Legwand. Legwand blindly threw a puck back towards center ice and Hossa caught up to the loose puck and had a breakaway. Patrick Sharp would add an empty netter to ice the game.

I don't know what the hell is wrong here. The Predators have been the most inconsistent team in the NHL all season and are holding true to that once again. It may not be this way in reality, but it appears as if they just don't give one damn about who wins the hockey game. They were outskated tonight, they made fundamental errors, and they turned the puck over way too many times.

The biggest problem that I had about this game is the blatant refusal to shoot the hockey puck. Yes, the Preds had 31 shots on goal. I can remember three shots that had a legitimate chance of going in. That's not going to get it done. Yeah, there where plenty of shots from the point tonight by Nashville. However, those shots don't do any good if you don't have people driving to the net. That used to be a speciality of Patric Hornqvist. He has not done it lately, which probably is why he hasn't scored. He's a below average skater so he has to get his goals in the hard areas. Hornqvist has got to get back to that.

With the loss, the Preds are now currently out of a playoff spot. They sit in 9th place in the Western Conference. What possible reason is there to not give 100% effort in the middle of a playoff race? It's absolutely maddening! I don't think there's one person who can look at the last three games the Preds have had and say that 100% effort was given. That is an extremely alarming sign, and I hope that is not a sign of the character of this locker room. But, you know, I'm starting to think it might be. There's simply no excuse for not caring at this point. Like I said before, maybe they do care but it's not seeming like it from a fan's perspective. That's the main thing that I heard walking out of the arena. One fan said "It looked like they would rather be sitting at home watching the game rather than playing it." Honestly, that's exactly what it's looked like the past week. It's mindboggling.

Jonathan Blum has been the lone bright spot during the past couple of games. He was defensively sound again tonight and really looked like the 3rd best defenseman behind Weber and Suter. Cody Franson and Shane O'Brien had an awful game tonight, and have really had an awful week. O'Brien especially has just lost his game. He needs to find it soon. Oh, and the Predators are now 0-3-0 since Jordin Tootoo has come back into the lineup......just saying.

The Predators are hoping(I think) to right the ship on Saturday as the play a Dallas team that ought to be equally as desperate as Nashville is. Dallas actually sits in 8th place right now, one spot ahead of Nashville. The puck will drop at 1:00 P.M. central time in Dallas.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sense of Urgency

The Nashville Predators take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena in a series that has become heated. The Preds haven't had good efforts in their previous two games, but this game is a perfect recipe for it to start. Need motivation? Here's some.

Last year they beat you in a playoff series in which they were not the better team. I understand they went on to win the Stanley Cup, but you gave away that series. The last time these two teams met, Chicago came out and destroyed you in the 3rd period. Oh, and you're right in the middle of a playoff race with an extremely important two points hanging in the balance tonight. Need more motivation? Ok have a go at this.

There are going to be several Chicago fans inside of YOUR building tonight. The Preds fans are going to be as loud as they have been all season. Feed off of that. Play with a sense of urgency. Play with a sense of desperation. This Chicago Blackhawk team CANNOT beat you if you play Nashville Predators hockey. Play tight defense, do not take stupid penalties, shoot the puck on net, shoot the puck on net again, and then shoot the puck on net again! Keep shooting the puck for 60 minutes and you'll come out victorious.

It's crunch time. This is when everything starts to really count. This is where everybody in North America finds out what this team is made of and what kind of character this locker room has. Play Nashville Predators hockey for 60 minutes and send them back to Chicago with their heads hanging down on the plane ride home. Play with some fire.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blue Jackets Destroy Predators

The Predators came out with one of the worst efforts they've had this year and gave up four goals in the 3rd period to lose 4-0 to Columbus. The Preds offense was literally almost non-existent. There you go. That's what happened. There wasn't any effort given tonight and there's really nothing else you can say.

Learn from it and move on. The Preds have got to stop playing to the level of competition of their opponent if they want to do anything. Consistency is key. This team has not matured yet. It's the end of February and these games have more importance than ever before this season. It's time to act like it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Importance of Two Goaltenders

One of the biggest strengths the Predators have is their goaltending. Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback have been excellent for the majority of this season so far. Being the tallest goaltending tandem in NHL history is proving to be a success for the two European goaltenders. Lindback has stepped in when called upon, and has done a better job than anybody could have possibly expected going into the season. I think he needs to see a little more action.

Pekka Rinne has been phenomenal for the Preds this year, especially recently. He's creeping his way up into Vezina Trophy consideration. But is he being played too much?

The Preds are right in the middle of the playoff race in the Western Conference. Rinne is obviously going to be key in where the Preds are going this year, but the Preds run the risk of him being gassed at the end of the regular season if they continue to play him at this pace. A perfect example of that is Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings last year. The Kings rode on his back all throughout the regular season and he had nothing left in the playoffs.

Rinne is a very good athlete. He's quick, he's mobile, and he's in great shape. Perhaps he can handle the constant playing time that he's being given. But what happens if, God forbid, he gets injured? Then, the Preds have to turn to Lindback, who has seen very limited action in the last couple of months. It's good to have two good goalies, but you need to have both goalies in a rhythm. I'm not saying the two need to be alternated every game, but I do think Lindback needs to see some playing time soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stupid Mistake Costs Preds

The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators by a 3-2 score on Saturday night in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena. The Preds were unable to consistently get anything going.

I am going to start this by saying that this game was not the refs fault. Sure, they missed some calls, but the most important event in this game came on the dumbest penalty in the history of the Nashville Predators. Shane O'Brien took a high sticking penalty when he deliberately smacked the Coyote defender in the head. This took away a Mike Fisher goal. There was absolutely no reason to do that and it's completely unacceptable. The Preds eventually scored another goal, which means the game would have been tied of O'Brien wouldn't have taken the penalty.

This stupid decision could ultimately end up costing the Preds a playoff spot and it is so maddening to even think about. Trotz needs to reconsider where O'Brien is going to fit into this team. We can't have plays like that. Not at this point of the season. Ryan Suter was injured on a cheap hit by Shane Span. No word on how long he's out. Overall, not an impressive night in Smashville.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Toots is back!

Forward Jordin Tootoo has been cleared to return to play by the league's substance abuse program.
The question is does Trotz sit Svatos to play Tootoo?

History of Nashville Jerseys

The Nashville Predators have had their share of jerseys in the time since the came into the league. From the original jerseys to the present day third jersey, the Preds have really been diversified in their design. So, as a fan, which jersey in the history of the franchise is your personal favorite?


































Photo Credit: coolhockey.com



My personal favorite is the mustards. I've found that it's either a love or hate relationship with those jerseys. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground. What is your favorite jersey in Predators history?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preds Defeat Vancouver; Get Important Two Points

The Nashville Predators defeated the NHL leading Vancouver Canucks by a 3-1 score in front of a raucous crowd at Bridgestone Arena. The Canucks were unable to solve Pekka Rinne as he had another outstanding performance, stopping 35 of 36 shots.

Martin Erat got the scoring started for the Preds. He put in his own rebound at point blank range against Roberto Luongo. Daniel Sedin would respond with a power-play goal with for the Canucks to tie the game 1-1 at 18:15 of the 2nd period. The score would stay tied for a total of seven seconds. Nick Spaling roofed a nice backhander over Luongo to put the Preds up 2-1. Mike Fisher would add to the lead 49 seconds later when he tipped in an Alexander Sulzer shot from the point to put the Preds up 3-1. That was Fisher's first goal as a Predator.

The injury bug reared its ugly head again tonight for the Predators. Mike Fisher took a Ryan Suter shot to the face and needed stitches. Luckily, Fisher would return in the 2nd period. Marcel Goc was injured in the 2nd period and did not return the remainder of the night. According to reports from the locker room, Goc was seen walking around with his arm in a sling. That's not a good sign at all. Steve Sullivan was also drilled in the face with a puck, and had to be taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center for tests according to Josh Cooper. It seems the Preds are not destined to be healthy this year.

This was not a good game for the officials tonight. There were several calls that were terrible in this game, and the crowd let the refs know about it. Ryan Suter was called for interference when he was the one being ran into. Steve Sullivan was called for goaltender interference, and minutes later a Vancouver player did the exact same thing that Sully did an no call was made. It was not a good night for the officials, and I'm not normally one to criticize them in a blog post.

The crowd really did its part tonight. They were loud and into the game for a full 60 minutes. Another TV timeout standing ovation was given by the crowd, and it worked once again. The Preds are now 4/4 when those have been given this year.

With the win, Nashville sits in 4th place with 70 points. Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes come to town in a very important Western Conference matchup. I'll see you all at the Bridge!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Call To Action As Preds Take On Vancouver

Vancouver comes calling in Nashville Thursday night in a crucial game for the Predators. The Preds are coming off of an overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night and need to rebound quickly against the best team in the West.

There have been many situations this year when the crowd has needed to be an extremely important part of the game, but tonight's game against Vancouver may be the one that is most necessary of them all so far. The Western Conference standings are freakin' tight. There's really no other way to say it. The Predators are going to need the crowd to be extremely loud from here on out.

Over the summer, Dan Hamhuis made comments about how Vancouver's "Summer Summit" was like a Nashville home game in November. While Hamhuis is highly unlikely to be playing in this game(due to a concussion), let's show his teammates how loud a crowd in Nashville can really be. Heck, we're playing against the best team in the NHL. What more of a reason do you need to be loud?

I expect a incredible hockey game tonight. Both teams are going to be flying around, but I expect Nashville to pull out the victory simply because they need this game more than the Canucks do. I have a feeling that we're going to see the best effort the Preds have to offer tonight. My prediction: Nashville wins 5-3.

Rinne Stands on Head; Preds Still Fall to Sharks

The Predators have had Pekka Rinne to thank for most of the year for giving them a chance to win. Tonight, Rinne did it again but even a 48 save effort wasn't good enough. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators in overtime by a 2-1 score.

Cody Franson got the scoring started. Steve Sullivan made a great cross-ice pass on the powerplay that Franson finished off to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. That's as good as the Predators offense got. Martin Erat hit the post on a wide open net, and Steve Sullivan failed to score on a breakaway(Of course, that's not really a surprise. If you'll notice, Steve Sullivan will always make a move and then shoot the puck on his forehand side. I've figured it out. So has every single goalie in the league).

Devin Setoguchi ripped a puck past Pekka Rinne in the 2nd period, which tied the game at 1-1. The game would stay that way until overtime when Patrick Marleau scored on a breakaway. Marcel Goc made a pretty harmless turnover but the two defensemen were too far up on the play, which allowed Marleau to coast uncontested. He literally had time to skate by the bench and grab a drink of water if he wanted to, and he still would have been all alone.

Overall, I guess you can be glad the Predators got a point out of this game. The Sharks had 50 shots on goal. Pekka Rinne was absolutely phenomenal tonight. Everybody else, except one player, didn't have their greatest game. I'm going to shock some of you and give some credit to Kevin Klein. He played a very strong game tonight. He was aware of where the puck was all the time, and was in great position all night. He was sent to the locker room late in the game, but is not injured by accounts from the locker room. So, in all honesty, who really knows whether he's injured or not? We'll find out on Thursday when the Preds take on the Vancouver Canucks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Preds Face Sharks in Pivotal Western Conference Matchup

It's now reached the point of the season where each game becomes bigger and bigger by the day. The Predators have a tremendous opportunity this week to put some distance between themselves and other members of the Western Conference who are chasing them. San Jose, Vancouver, and Phoenix all visit Bridgestone Arena this week. That's three opportunities to defend home ice against three teams in the Western Conference who are right in the thick of things.

The first opportunity is San Jose, and that opportunity comes Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators and Sharks have met twice so far this year, with both meetings resulting in Nashville victories. The Sharks will come into the game Tuesday night in 7th position in the Western Conference, while the Preds will come into the game in 6th position. With a win, Nashville would jump back up to 4th place.

Games between these two teams are always physical, and I don't expect this one to be any different. The Sharks have size on their side, but the Predators are faster than they are. Pekka Rinne is going to have to be sharper than he was on Saturday night if the Preds want to win the game, and the offense is going to have to continue with it's production.

Each game is continually having more and more at stake. The Preds are looking to distance themselves between teams in the Western Conference, and there is no better way to do that than beating the teams who are chasing you. This is, without question, the most pivotal week the Predators have had so far this season. We'll find out what this team is made of. Three games on home ice should translate into three wins on home ice. Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. central time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Forsberg Retires

Peter Forsberg has retired after playing only two games since returning, none of which were in Denver. Forsberg's foot is still bothering him and is the reason for this announcement. Saturday night's game in Nashville may have been the last NHL game that Peter Forsberg will ever play.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is Nashville Turning Into A Hockey Town?

It seems to me that Nashville Predators fans are more passionate about the Preds this year than they've ever been before. New blogs are popping up, attendance is high, and people have a genuine excitement around town that I haven't seen since the Preds have been here.

Attendance wise, the Preds are in really good condition. According to ESPN.com, the Predators have an average of 15,956 people per game through 24 home games so far this season. That means, on average, the building is filled to a 93.2% capacity level. The fans have been doing their part this year, and it doesn't hurt that the team has been playing good hockey.

It's well known that the Predators don't get adequate coverage from local media outlets. It's very rare for the mainstream media to put forth a respectable amount of effort into covering our hockey team, but luckily we have some of the best hockey bloggers in the nation. As a blogger, I'm lucky to have several dedicated bloggers in PredNation to learn from.

There is a vibe around this team and this season that is different from any other year that I can recall. Sure, in the past we've been excited to go to games and excited about the team, but something just feels different about this year. It's definitely a good thing.

PredNation has been an extremely passionate fan base this year. So is Nashville turning into a hockey town? I think we're defintely on the path to becoming one. Hockey is appreciated and followed in Nashville more than it has ever been before. The problem continues to be with the mainstream local media in Nashville. The lack of coverage is something that I don't understand. I get that every single media outlet in Nashville is completely and totally obsessed with the Titans. The thing is, we have another professional sports team in Nashville that is actually winning! The people of Nashville seem to be making note of this, and it's reflecting in the attendance numbers. Personally, I've taken 4 people to their first hockey game this year, and now they love it! That seems to be a common theme with people. It is the responsibility of the media in Nashville to adequately report on a professional hockey franchise in Nashville, and it is the responsibility of the bloggers to continue to keep up the work that we are doing.

It's also the responsibility of the fans to continue their dedication towards the team. Fans are more passionate, knowledgable, and excited about hockey than they've ever been before in Nashville. Let's keep this train moving right on into the playoffs!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Preds Defeat Avalanche Despite Bad Defense

The Nashville Predators defeated the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night by a 5-3 score in front of a sold out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators heavily outshot the Avalanche of the night by a margin of 38 to 18.

The Predators came out of the gate controlling the play, but Colorado was the first team to capitalize. Kevin Porter scored for the Avalanche to give them the lead at 11:05 of the 1st period. However, Shea Weber would diminish that lead 11 seconds later when he put a nice wrist shot on goal from the point and beat Peter Budaj.

Martin Erat got things started off in the 2nd period with a power-play goal that he jammed home. David Jones scored midway through the 2nd period to tie it 2-2. The rest of the period would go without any goals.

In the 3rd period, Pekka Rinne let up a really weak goal to Matt Duchene. Duchene slapped one from the right circle and it beat Rinne. That sort of thing doesn't happen often to the Finnish goalie, but it didn't end up hurting the Preds tonight. Patric Hornqvist would tie it at three with a shot from the slot, and Cody Franson scored the game-winner from the point on a snapshot that trickled past Budaj. David Legwand would add an empty netter that Mike Fisher would assist on to get his first point as a Predator

GAME NOTES
The Preds played a very strong offensive game tonight but the defense was not there. There were several turnovers tonight and several miscommunications that normally don't happen.

Mike Fisher played a solid game in his debut for the Preds. He was a plus-2, had an assist, got a penalty, and went 12 for 16 in the faceoff dot.

Marcel Goc was a scratch for tonight's game. It's good to see that he wasn't put on the injured list, but I did expect hime to play tonight. All of the indications were that he "wasn't hurt."

Peter Forsberg did not have a good game in his return to Nashville tonight. He took two really stupid penalties and was sloppy.

Pekka Rinne did not have his best game tonight, but the offense was there to bail him out. It's about time he was repaid a little. He bails the offense out all the time.

The crowd was a sellout tonight but was not loud at all until the third period standing ovation. It was really almost depressing for most of the game of how little the crowd was into it. The fans are a big part of the game, whether you know it or not. The standing O was needed to put a little jump into the building. That's 3 times it's been done in the last 5 home games though. I understand the meaning behind it and it was probably necessary for all 3 games, but we run the risk of overdoing it if we continue. Before long, it won't have any significant meaning behind it.

Overall, the Preds did not play their best game but played good enough to get the two points. That's really all that matters, and now they have regained the 4th position on the Western Conference. The Preds will host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Game Preview: Avs Come to Nashville

Peter Forsberg and the Colorado Avalanche make a trip to Nashville on Saturday night to take on newly acquired Mike Fisher and the Nashville Predators. The Avalanche have been losers of six straight games, while the Preds have only managed to win two out of their last seven games.

My player to watch for the Avalanche is Peter Forsberg. This will be his second NHL game this season, and it will be the first game he's played in Nashville since the Preds were eliminated by San Jose in the 2007 playoffs. It'll be interesting to see how he looks.

For Nashville, obviously my player to watch is Mike Fisher. It will be his first game as a Predator and it'll be interesting to see how he handles the nerves of playing for his new team for the first time in front of the home crowd.

It's going to be a fun night in Nashville! See you all there!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Does the Acquisition of Mike Fisher Mean for Preds?

As has been widely talked about in the past 24 hours, the Predators traded for Mike Fisher on Thursday in exchange for a first round draft pick in 2011 and a conditional draft pick in 2012. The condition in the 2012 pick is that if the Predators win the first round of a playoff series, the pick will be a 3rd rounder. If the Preds were to win 2 rounds or more, the pick would then be a 2nd rounder.

Fisher has been a pretty decent offensive threat throughout his career, and also is very responsible defensively. In other words, he's a dream fit for Barry Trotz's system. Here's a look at Fisher's numbers since he came into the NHL:

1999-2000- 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points(32 games played)
2000-2001- 7 goals, 12 assists, 19 points(60 games played)
2001-2002- 15 goals, 9 assists, 24 points(58 games played)
2002-2003- 18 goals, 20 assists, 38 points(74 games played)
2003-2004- 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points(24 games played)
2005-2006- 22 goals, 22 assists, 44 points(68 games played)
2006-2007- 22 goals, 26 assists, 48 points(68 games played)
2007-2008- 23 goals, 24 assists, 47 points(79 games played)
2008-2009- 13 goals, 19 assists, 32 points(78 games played)
2009-2010- 25 goals, 28 assists, 53 points(79 games played)
2010-2011- 14 goals, 10 assists, 24 points(55 games played so far)

The Predators are getting a 40+ point guy who will have a different role here than he did in Ottawa. He will be expected to score a little more here than he was in Ottawa simply because that's what we need. He's a great defender. In fact, he's been compared to David Legwand as far as defending goes. I think he's got a little more offensive skill than Legwand does and he's going to have to use that here. His salary for next year is $4 million, and it's $3 million the year after that. By no means is he a cheap player.

It's obvious that Fisher is hurt from being traded away from Ottawa, and understandably so. He's been there for a while and his world has changed in one day. Having said that, I do think he's genuinely excited to be in Nashville. He said that if he had to go somewhere, it would be here. Think about it. He's married to Carrie Underwood and this move is going to allow them to spend more time together, which he will obviously see as a positive thing. So, short term this looks like a great move for the Preds and for Fisher. However, this is by no means a rental player. So how does this thing shake up the long-term Nashville Predators?

This upcoming offseason, the Preds are going to have to sort out the log-jam at the center position. Fisher, Matt Lombardi, Cal O'Reilly, Marcel Goc, Nick Spaling, Jerred Smithson, and David Legwand are all centers on the team. Spaling and O'Reilly are going to be restriced free agents at the end of this year, and Marcel Goc will be an unrestricted free agent. So what do the Predators do? Lombardi, Fisher, Legwand, and Smithson are all under contract, but the Preds value O'Reilly, Goc, and Spaling. From the looks of things, it looks like Marcel Goc would be the odd man out because he's going to be able to test the market openly. The problem with that is that Goc has been one of our best center's this year. So would the Preds try to keep him? If so, who do they get rid of? That would be between Spaling and O'Reilly and I think it would be O'Reilly if it came down to that. The coaches are extremely high on Nick Spaling, and have really never been high on Cal O'Reilly.

The good thing is that this is a great problem to have. We've got a mix of forwards that, when healthy, are proven talent at the NHL level. That goes without mentioning AHL talent like Blake Geoffrion.

The Mike Fisher acquistion is a deal that will help the Preds this season, but will also help them in the long term. Fisher has played in 75 games of postseason action in the NHL, which is tremendous experience added to the roster. While it doesn't fully solve the scoring need that rears its ugly head from time to time, it does help it. Nashville didn't give up any current player in order to execute this trade. They traded a first round pick, but will also receive a second round pick(Not a first rounder like I said in the original post. Thank you Amanda DiPaolo!) from New Jersey via the Jason Arnott trade. And that pick might turn out to be pretty good judging by the way the Devils have played this season. Overall, I think it was a good trade for both teams involved.

Expectations

Now that the much expected trade for Mr. Underwood...I mean Mike Fisher...has been completed, I feel that we need to think about realistic expectations for his production over the next 27+ games.

At his current pace, he is statistically expected to get 12 points (7g, 5a) at .43ish points per game. However, he will be playing a much higher offensive role, with higher expectations for the Preds. IMO, 12 points will not be enough. To be a success, I feel we need Fisher to up that production to the .6-.75 ppg range (16 to 20 points) over the rest of the regular season.

The next question is who should he be paired with? Do you plug him on the Sully/Willy line? Do you break up the chemistry that Erat/Goc/SK74 have built up?

What do you all think?

Preds Acquire Mike Fisher From Ottawa

The Nashville Predators have acquired Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators via trade in exchange for a 1st round draft pick in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012. Fisher has 24 points on the season so far and is a good two way player. He is also married to Carrie Underwood, which is why rumors of this trade began months ago.

Much more on this later..........

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Preds Throttle Red Wings in Motor City

The Nashville Predators were coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Edmonton Oilers and had several players called out by head coach Barry Trotz. They also had the daunting task of going into Joe Louis Arena against the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings. Recipe for success, right? Well, apparently so.

Nashville defeated Detroit by a 4-1 score in a record setting game for the franchise. It was Nashville's 10th win in Joe Louis Arena in franchise history, and it was the first time they had won by more than one goal.

Martin Erat got the scoring going in the first when he fired a shot on the 2 on 1 rush. He ripped one past Jimmy Howard while Marcel Goc was driving towards the net. Later on in the 1st, David Legwand put home the rebound of a Ryan Suter slapshot to put the Preds up 2-0. Marcel Goc was hurt in the 1st period and did not return the rest of the game. He's not supposed to miss any more additional time and is expected to play Saturday against Colorado.

The Preds picked up where they left off in the 2nd period. Colin Wilson drove to the net and scored to put the Preds up 3-0. Sergei Kostitsyn scored the 4th goal of the game on the power-play after a Shea Weber blast from the point. Kostitsyn was down low at the net.

The Red Wings would tally one goal in the 2nd period, but wouldn't get any closer. Pekka Rinne had a sensational night in goal. He's 7-2-2 all time versus the Red Wings.

Did anybody else notice a common theme? Each and every Predators goal that was scored was due to somebody driving to the net. That's probably something the Predators should keep doing.

The Preds will play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The puck will drop at 7:00 central time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How has Nashville Faired Against Central Division Foes?

The Nashville Predators have been around since the 1998-99 season, and have played 280 games in the Central Division since that time. Since day one, familiar division foes like Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis have always been a part of the puzzle. In the 2000-2001 season, Columbus was added to the Central Division picture. So in the 280 games that the Preds have played against these 4 teams, how many have they won?

The Predators have won 139 games against Central Division foes in their history. This puts the winning percentage against the division at roughly 49.6%. This doesn't include ties or overtime losses. This is just strictly based on wins. All things considered, that's really not a bad winning percentage. Here is how the Preds have faired against each team in the division.(NONE OF THESE STATS INCLUDE POSTSEASON PLAY).

We'll start with the Detroit Red Wings. Going into tonight's game, the Predators have played 72 games against Detroit in the history of the franchise. They have come out on the winning side of those games 26 times. This puts the all-time winning percentage against Detroit at 36.1%.

Next up are the Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds have squared off against the Blackhawks 74 times. They have beaten Chicago in 34 of those games, which puts the winning percentage against the Blackhawks at 45.9%.

St. Louis and Nashville have also met 74 times in history. The Preds have won 37 of those games, which puts the winning percentage at exactly 50% against the Blues.

Finally, the Preds have battled the Columbus Blue Jackets a total of 60 times. Nashville has won 42 of those games, which puts the winning percentage at exactly 70%.

At the end of this year, Nashville will have played Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis a total of 75 times apiece. They will have played Columbus a total of 63 times(Columbus was not a franchise for the first two years of the Predator's franchise. The Preds played divisional opponents 6 times each of those two years, resulting in Columbus being 12 games behind DET, CHI, STL).

The two that stick out the most are Detroit and Columbus. Obviously, the Preds haven't had very much success against Detroit in their history. They've got 26 wins accounted for in a 72 game span. That's got to improve if the Preds want to knock them off in the near future. Columbus sticks out because the Preds have been particularly dominant against them. Nashville has beaten them 70% of the time out of 60 games.

Nashville goes into tonight's game vs. Detroit looking for win number 27 against the Wings, and win number 140 against Central Division opponents. It's going to be tougher than Saturday because it's in Detroit, and the Wings have Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup. The Preds are currently 2-1 against Detroit this year, but need to win each game remaining against them if they want a legitimate shot at winning the division this year. These are 4 point games. The puck will drop at 6:30 P.M. central tonight.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Preds Embarrased by Edmonton

One night, you shutout the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings and then 48 hours later you get shutout by the worst team in the Western Conference. That pretty much sums up the season so far by the Preds. They've been wildly inconsistent all year and that HAS GOT to stop.

The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Nashville Predators 4-0 in front of 14,388 at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators were outshooting the Oilers 12-1 in the 1st period, but the Oilers survived and went on to rout the Preds.

Pekka Rinne was in goal tonight and obviously was not sharp. However, the defense in front of him was even worse. Alexander Sulzer was a minus-3, Cody Franson was torched repeatedly, and only three Predators(Ryan Suter, Nick Spaling, and J.P. Dumont) finished the game with an even rating. Anders Lindback came in after it was 4-0 and stopped the only two shots he faced.

The inconsistency is ridiculous. There is never a good excuse for letting the last place team in the Western Conference shut you out in your building. There is never and excuse for losing 4-0 at home period.

As one of my friends(who happens to be a Detroit fan) pointed out to me on Saturday night, if the Preds played like they were playing the Red Wings every game they would be fine. They nearly always play a complete game against them. Tonight, they just didn't get it done. Defensively they weren't good and offensively they weren't good.

The best thing you can do with this game is learn from it and then throw it out of the window. Luckily, we play Detroit on Wednesday night. Hopefully that will mean the same good effort we're used to seeing out of the Preds when they play Detroit. Puck drop will be around 6:30

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rinne Shines; Preds Shutout Wings

The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings by a 3-0 score in front of a sold out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. With the win, the Preds are currently only 5 points back from Detroit in the division, and have regained the 4th spot in the Western Conference standings with 63 points.

The first period was really dominated by the Predators. They outshot the Red Wings 8to 3 but the flow of the period was all Nashville. Shea Weber blasted a puck home from the right circle to give the Preds a 1-0 lead that would be held throughout the remainder of the first period.

The second period was full of momentum swings that eventually ended up going Nashville's way. The Preds got two simultaneous penalties called on them to put the Red Wings on a 5 on 3 power-play. The Preds were able to kill off the penalty. The Preds would find themselves shorthanded again when Sergei Kostitsyn scored a beautiful goal off of a great pass from Ryan Suter. The best part about this goal was that he scored it with one hand on the stick, while being held. It really was a phenomenal goal. The second period would end with the Preds holding a 2-0 lead.

The third period consisted of an array of attacks by the Red Wings, but the Preds and Pekka Rinne were able to stand strong. Kostitsyn added another goal near the end of the 3rd period to ice the game away, and the Predators walked out of Bridgestone Arena with a 3-0 victory.

Game Notes:

-Pekka Rinne was absolutely outstanding. He stopped all 35 attempts to earn his 4th shutout of the year.

-Steve Sullivan made his return and played a good game. He had a prime scoring chance on a series of beautiful moves, but was stopped by Joey Macdonald. All he had to do was lift the puck and he would've scored. Also, Sully laid a great hit tonight out there, which is rare.

-Shane O'Brien was looking to fight somebody all night long, but never got the chance. Colin Wilson wanted a piece of Justin Abdelkader but the refs wouldn't let the two of them fight. I still haven't figured that one out. Willy looked pissed though.

-Vince Gill and Alice Cooper were a part of the 1st intermission festivites and it was a fun thing to watch.

-The Red Wings really missed Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. Henrik Zetterberg simply looked lost out there without them.

This was a great win for the Predators, but in the end it's worth two points for the win just like every other game. The Preds have reason to be proud of themselves after the way they played, but they also need to move on and focus on Edmonton. It all goes back to the old cliche' of taking it one game at a time. If the Preds to that, and play like they did tonight, they're going to be a tough team to beat each and every night. The next game will be Monday night against Edmonton at Bridgestone Arena. The puck drops around 7:07. The game is not on FS-Tennessee.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Locker Room Speech

The following is what I would say to the Preds tomorrow before the game if I was Barry Trotz: "Tonight is the most important game that we've had up until this point. You've got two choices. You can lie down and watch the Detroit Red Wings, or you can attack them with a mindset of catching them in the division. If you choose to attack, you can put yourself in a position to do some special things in the playoffs. You've got a packed house tonight full of fans who are behind you 100%. Who's to say you can't catch them? I know we've had injuries all year but we've battled through them and it's made us a stronger team. It all starts tonight. We've got four games left against these guys. That's four opportunities to catch the Wings. Get out there and play Nashville Predators hockey. Respect them, but don't make the mistake of giving them too much respect. This is our ice. This is our building. This is our city. Go out there and shove it down their throat."

Let's bring the noise tonight Nashville.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Flyers Defeat Preds

The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night in Philadelphia. That makes four losses in a row now for the Predators. Here's a few things to take away from the game:

-Marcel Goc and Joel Ward were the goal scorers for the Predators. Goc's goal was due to a stellar play by Cody Franson. Joel Ward had a wide open net after a Shea Weber blast produced a rebound.

-Ville Leino scored two goals for the Flyers, including the game winner.

-I'm not sure what to think about the disallowed goal. Goc scored in the second period but the goal was disallowed due to goalie interference. Hornqvist was in the blue ice but it looked like he was driven into the crease by the Philadelphia player.

-The bottom line is, whether the goal should've counted or not, we have to put the puck in the back of the damn net. In order to win the game it's neccessary to score more goals than the opposing team. The offense has to get better, and it's really just as simple as that.

-Luckily, we have Detroit to look forward to on Saturday night. The Red Wings seem to always bring out good play in the Predators. We've got to have this game on Saturday night.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Ten Moments in Predators History Airs Tonight

Tonight at 9:00 after the game against Philadelphia, FS-Tennessee will air a segment on the Top 10 Moments in the history of the Nashville Predators. I've compiled a list of a few things that could possibly be on there(This list is in no particular order). Feel free to comment below and have your say in what you think might be on there.

-May 4th, 1998 when Nashville was announced as the 27th franchise in NHL history.

-First game in franchise history on October 10th, 1998.

-First playoff series vs. Detroit in 2004.

-The signing of free agent Paul Kariya in 2005.

-The trade to acquire Peter Forsberg in 2007.

-Peter Forsberg's first goal in a Preds uniform in overtime vs. Detroit on February 24, 2007.

-Shea Weber being named Captain in the summer of 2010.

-Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in the 2010 Gold Medal Game in the Winter Olympics

-Franchise record for points in a season in 2006-07 with 110.

-August 1st 2007 when Craig Leipold signed a letter of intent to sell the team.

-December 7, 2007 when sale of the team was finalized to the new ownership group.

-Preds give away Game 5 in 2010 playoffs vs. Chicago.

-Alexander Radulov leaves team, despite contract, and heads to play in the KHL.

Information for this came from the history page on the Predators website. What do you think will be on the list?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flames Beat Preds Again

The Nashville Predators just simply cannot seem to solve the Calgary Flames. The Flames defeated the Predators by a 3-2 score that was decided by a shootout, after Nashville had given away the lead twice in the 3rd period. It was really and up and down game for the Preds, but they still managed to earn one point out of tonight's game. Here are some things to take away from Tuesday night's game against Calgary:

I'm as big of a fan of Colin Wilson as anybody, but he didn't have a good night tonight at all. He didn't seem to be on the same page as his teammates and he let Sarich burn him for the goal that tied it at two.

Pekka Rinne didn't play an awful game tonight. In fact, he was pretty good. But that first goal should never go in under any circumstance at all. Luckily, it doesn't happent that often so it shouldn't be a worry.

Kevin Klein, for the most part, played a pretty strong game tonight. He brought the physicality, for the most part made smart decisions, and put a few pucks toward the net. Hopefully he can keep that up.

The shootout wasn't very impressive. Erat and Franson did not make very smart shots at all. They literally shot the puck right at Kiprusoff. Legwand had Kiprusoff beaten but was unable to finish and floated it right over the net. I'm not a big fan of the group we chose to send out there tonight for the shootout. They're all capable, but it's really not the speciality of any of them. I'd love to see SK74 and Colin Wilson out there. I wouldn't mind seeing Ryan Suter either.

Nick Spaling went down with an injury but Barry Trotz said it's nothing major and he should be fine for the game on Thursday in Philly.

All in all, it wasn't a terrible effort from the Preds but they've got to learn how to keep a lead in the 3rd period. It's definitely been a problem for them so far this year and it's something that might haunt them down the road. As of the time I'm writing this, San Jose leads Phoenix 4-3 in the 3rd. If San Jose holds on, the Preds will be in 4th. If not, Phoenix will jump them and the Preds will be 5th.

The next game is on Thursday night in Philadelphia against the high-powered Flyers. The Preds need to get this win.