Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Predators Continue Kings Road Woes With 4-3 SO Win

The Nashville Predators faced off against the L.A. Kings at Bridgestone Arena, and while the Kings have struggled on the road this season, that didn't mean this would be an easy game for the Predators.

It wasn't.

A game that saw both teams swap leads went to a shootout before the Predators finally won in the 7th round 4-3.

James Neal potted the only goal in the 7th round to win the game for the Predators.

The Predators opened the scoring as Colin Wilson found a streaking Craig Smith behind the Kings defense and Smith burned Martin Jones five hole to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 6:24 of the first period.

The Kings would answer as a Justin Williams shot deflected off the skate of Jamie McBain and past Pekka Rinne at 11:32 of the first period.

Just 61 seconds into the second period, Jeff Carter launched an aerial pass from his own zone that Marian Gaborik ran down and then roofed a shot over the shoulder of Rinne to make it 2-1.

The Predators answered with two late goals to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. Ryan Ellis tied the game with a blast from the top of the face off circle that beat Jones cleanly.

The Predators took the lead off of hard work by Taylor Beck. Beck got control of the puck and with a Kings defender on his back, spun and fired a backhand shot that Erick Nystrom tipped past Jones.

Momentum to the Predators and the crowd at the Bridge was rocking.

That changed just 38 seconds into the third period as Drew Doughty took the puck from his own end, skated through the Predators team, and using a defender as a screen, fired a shot that fooled Rinne and squirted through his pads to tie the game.

The overtime period saw the Predators hit the post on a sweet drive by Filip Forsberg and from a shot by Shea Weber. The Predators also had a shot hit Jones, go over his shoulder, and trickle just outside the post.

The scoreless overtime set up the heroics by Neal, but Rinne was also spectacular, stopping all 7 Kings shooters to seal the win.

Some observations:

  • Although James Neal scored the game winner in the shootout, the Predators top line was held without a point. The production of this top line has drawn the attention of the oppositions top defenders, and it is going to become tougher for these guys to score. Their effort was outstanding, including a sequence in the first period that saw then possess the puck in the Kings zone for over a minute and fire four shots on net. As long as the effort is there, I am not worried- this unit will get their points.

  • That said, it is good to see scoring coming from the other lines of the Predators. I especially am liking the play of the Wilson, Smith, Jarnkrok line. their speed accounted for the first Predators goal and they were active and energetic all night. Their play is going to have to continue at this high level, and if it does, it will give the Predators another legitimate scoring line and will take some pressure off the top unit.

  • James Neal has a wickedly quick release. That was evident on the shootout winner, but when he loads up his shot, the puck is not on his stick long. that makes him a consistent scoring threat.

  • Sigh... the Predators power play. Tonight, they were 0-4, including the last 1:32 of the overtime period when it was 4 on 3. This unit is just going to have to improve.

  • The Predators were 45% in the face off circle, including numerous lost draws in the offensive zone.

  • Shea Weber picked up an assist tonight to give him 223 for his career. Weber has moved to first all time among Predators defensemen, passing Kimmo Timonen. Weber is third all time among all Predator players.

  • Last season, the Predators struggled in the shootout. This season, they are 3-1.

  • Matt Cullen became the oldest player to play for the Predators at 38 years, 23 days. He surpasses Hal Gill (38 years, 21 days) for that...honor.

  • The ability to win close games is going to be critical for any team to have success. The Predators are 9-3-2 in one goal games this season.

  • The Kings are 10-2 at home this season. With this loss, they are 1-4-4 on the road.

  • Defenseman Drew Doughty played 33:40 tonight. Shnikey!

  • Shea Weber led the Predators with 27:49 of ice time.

  • The Kings like to play a big hit, physical game. The Predators answered that style with physical play of their own. Eric Nystrom had a booming hit on Brayden McNabb. Shea Weber had a monstrous hit along the wall, and although it was a shoulder to shoulder hit, referee Tim Pell (one of the absolutely worst officials in the league) called it a head shot.

  • The Predators are 5-1-1 against Pacific Division teams.

This was a solid win against a good team, road struggles of the Kings notwithstanding. The ability of the other lines besides the top line to come up with timely scoring is a strong positive for the Predators.

One quarter of the way through the season and this is the second best start in team history.

Stay grounded and build on this success and more good things will happen for this team.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Colin Wilson

3. Marian Gaborik

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Predators Blow 2 Goal Lead But Defeat the Panthers In A Shootout 3-2

The Nashville Predators returned home to face the Florida Panthers, and for 59 minutes, they dominated the Panthers.

Unfortunately for the Predators, it is a 60 minute game. with the Predators sitting on a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead, the Panthers scored 2 goals 12 seconds apart in the final minute of the game to force overtime.

The Predators eventually won the game in a shootout thanks to a goal by Filip Forsberg and solid goaltending by Pekka Rinne.

The Predators threw 50 shots at Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo. This game had the makings of one in which the Predators would throw a monstrous number of shots at the net but couldn't solve the goaltender.

That changed when Colin Wilson somehow snuck a shot through Luongo at 18:28 of the second period. Wilson put a shot on net from almost at the goal line and it trickled through Luongo to make it 1-0.

The Predators looked to salt the game away when Matt Cullen chipped a puck over Luongo at 13:01 of the third period to make it 2-0.

To this point of the game, the Predators had limited the scoring chances of the Panthers, and when they had a good look, Pekka Rinne had cleaned up any scoring chances.

That changed in the last minute of the game as first Rocco Grimaldi was able to redirect a puck past Rinne at 19:17 to make it 2-1.

Nick Bjusgstad tied the game just 12 seconds later with a shot from the face off circle that beat Rinne.

Improbably, the Panthers had tied the game and forced overtime.

The Predators had 5 shots on goal in the extra period while the Panthers did not register a shot on net.

In the shootout, fillip Forsberg was the only scorer, beating Luongo five hole, while Rinne made some good saves and looked sharp in stopping all the Panthers shooters for a 3-2 win.

Some observations:

  • This game never should have gotten to a shootout. With one minute to go, this team needs to lock down the opposition. They had done a good job of limiting a talented Panthers team to that point, but fell apart in the last minute. Frankly, they were lucky to get the second point.

  • I really like the play of the line of Calle Jarnkrok, Colin Wilson, and Craig Smith. this line is creative and plays with speed and energy. they created some good scoring chances and are emerging as a threat when they are on the ice. Wilson in particular is playing with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.

  • Roberto Luongo was spectacular for the Panthers. He was under pressure all night as the Predators peppered him with 50 shots on goal and he made some good saves. Kudos to the Predators for keeping up the intensity and pressure and finally cracking him for two goals.

  • The geriatric line- Matt Cullen, Derk Roy, and Olli Jolinen are playing well and have recorded goals in the last two games. They are developing some good chemistry and starting to contribute offensively, which this team needs them to do.

  • The Predators are 7-1 when leading after two periods.

  • The Predators power play continues to struggle. Tonight, they were 0-4. this unit needs to get their success rate up quickly.

  • The 50 shots on goal was a season high for the Predators.

  • Aaron Ekblad is going to be a very good NHL defenseman. He is strong, positionally sound, and was a +2 with an assist tonight.

  • Nick Bjugstad continues his strong play with a goal tonight to tie the game. He has been a very good player for the Panthers, especially over the past 10 games with a real nose for the net and a scorers touch.
Well, this was a game of mixed emotions. Solid, consistent offensive pressure all night and a two goal lead looked to have this game locked up. A collapse in the last minute forced the Predators to win in a shootout.

It is a win and that is a good thing.

Next time, let's play for the full 60 minutes.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. Roberto Luongo

3. Pekka Rinne

Predators Foundation Starts Mobile and e-Bidding for Auction Items

If you have been to a Predators game, you have most likely stopped by the Foundations silent auction table. Every game, fans have the opportunity to bid on autographed jerseys and action pictures of their favorite players. Signed sticks and pucks, unique fan experiences, and some very creative items are up for bid.

The in-game silent auctions are one of the key fund raising events for the Foundation, which has used the generosity and support of fans to raise funds to distribute to over 400 charitable organizations in Middle Tennessee.

If you found a particular item that you really wanted and made a bid, the process was that you usually had to visit the auction area several times during the course of the game to check your bid and the progress of the auction.

Now that has changed as the Predators Foundation has introduced mobile bidding for all auction items. From your smart phone, you can type http://preds.myab.co/ to download the app or you can text "Preds" to 52182 and follow the link.

Each item at the silent auction area now has a 3 digit number. If you decide to bid on an item, you enter the 3 digit number and the amount of your bid (for example: 110 100, which is item 110 and a bid of $100) from your smart phone.

Now, fans can bid on auction items from their seat and not have to miss any of the action on the ice. The system will also alert you when your bid has been surpassed.

The silent auction always has some exceptional items. Now bidding has gotten even easier for the fans.

Sign up for free and begin using the app at the next Predators home game.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Predators Lousy Second Period Costs Them in 3-2 Loss to the Senators

The Predators visited Canadian tire Center to face the Ottawa Senators in their second and final meeting of the season.

The Predators played like the Predators in the first and third period with Shea Weber tallying a power play in the first and Olli Jokinen getting a goal in the third.

Unfortunately, the Predators didn't play anything like the Predators have been playing recently in the second period as they sat back on their heels and let the Sens take the game to them.

The Predators horrid second period resulted in the Senators scoring three goals on Carter Hutton en route to a 3-2 win.

Bobby Ryan scored on a power play and Alex Chiasson and Jared Cowen scored even strength goals. Cowen's was the game winner.

Robin Lehner picked up the win for the Senators.

The Predators tried to Pressure and got some good scoring chances in the third period, but they could not get the equalizer and dropped a game they never should have.

Some observations:

  • Since returning from missing a few games because of injury, Colin Wilson has played with purpose and energy. When he plays that way and uses his speed and puck handling skills, he can be a dynamic contributor to the team. I really hope Colin can play this style of play consistently and not revert back to a severe case of Legwanditis.

  • The Predators seemed to lose their intensity and focus in the second period and got back on their heels and were scrambling in their own zone. This team cannot play like that and expect to win games. Yes, the talent is better on this team and they have been playing well, but they are not good enough to play without energy and focus. The result: Nashville gives up three goals.

  •  Good to see Olli Jokinen get his first goal and first point as a Predator. The Predators need him to start heating up.

  • Shea Weber is just a complete defenseman. Yes, he is known for his booming shot and hard hits, but he is rarely caught out of position defensively. He did a great job breaking up a 2 on 1 in the third period with an exceptional play. It seems to me that he is skating better this season than I have seen him skate in years past.

  • Good pressure in the third period with lots of chances, but frankly, the Predators never should have been in that position. The brutal play in the second period cost this team the game.

  • Carter Hutton is winless in his three starts. I don't put this loss solely on Hutton, but wow, he is going to have to give the Predators some wins when he is called on to start.

  • The Predators out shot the Senators 35-19
The Predators are certainly not going to win a game when they take a period off, which is what happened tonight.

Hopefully they learn from this and return to the Bridge with a renewed focus.

My three stars:

1. Robin Lehner

2. Jared Cowen

3. Shea Weber

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Predators Destroy the Leafs 9-2

The Nashville Predators visited the Air Canada Centre to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first of a three game stretch against Eastern Conference teams.

The Predators went with Pekka Rinne in net while the Leafs net was manned by Jonathan Bernier.

Taylor Beck opened the scoring at 1:52 of the first period as he drove wide around the defense and  rifled a shot over the shoulder of Bernier to the far post for his second goal of the year.

Derek Roy scored an absolutely beautiful goal at 10:14 of the first period to make it 2-0 for the Predators. Roy drove the net and took a pass from Matt Cullen. With former Predator Cody Franson hanging all over him Roy got his stick on the puck and was able to slide the puck five hole on  Bernier.

Taylor Beck struck again, this time on the power play. A shot from the point by Seth Jones hit Beck in the chest and dropped straight down on the ice. Beck felt Bernier behind and swatted the puck between his legs and into the back of the net before Bernier could drop to the ice. Beck's goal came at 16:49 of the first period.

James Reimer came in to net for the Leafs to begin the second period.

The second period saw both teams get some scoring chances but neither could score. The period looked as if it would end scoreless unless Taylor Beck fed Eric Nystrom, who carried the puck to the high slot and beat Reimer with a wrister over the glove at 18:45.

Just 53 seconds into the third period, the Predators swarmed the Leafs net and Mike Ribeiro was the beneficiary of a nice slap pass from Ryan Ellis as he re-directed the pass past Reimer to make it 5-0.

Filip Forsberg deflected a puck off his skate past Reimer at 1:26 of the period. After a video review, it was ruled a good goal, and Forsberg had his 9th goal and the Predators had a 6-0 lead.

Calle Jarnkrok took a sweet pass from Colin Wilson and Jarnkrok buried it for his first goal of the year and a 7-0 Predators lead at 3:06 of the third.

Roman Josi made it 8-0 at 5:14 as he wrapped around the net and his shot hit Mike Santorelli's stick and bounced over the shoulder of Reimer and trickled into the net.

The Leafs spoiled Rinne's shutout as the Predators turned the puck over behind their net and Mike Santorelli was able to slap the puck past a scrambling defense and Rinne to make it 8-1 at 8:18 of the third.

The Leafs made it 8-2 as Nazem Kadri redirected a shot from the point past Rinne at 10:33.

Colin Wilson gathered in a Craig Smith shot  a snuck the puck between Reimer and the post to make it 9-2 at 17:28. Another goal that was the result of good pressure around the Leafs net.

For the Leafs, the game mercifully ended with no more pucks in their net, and the Predators put on a show of dominant hockey in a city that believes it is the center of the hockey universe.

Some observations:

  • The Predators tried changing up the power play with James Neal on the point. Uh... let's not do that again. A couple of turnovers and a shorthanded chance by the Leafs on the first power play should quash that experiment quickly.

  • Speaking of the power play... Beck got some time on the PP unit and scored a goal. And tonight, the power play unit got shots on net, which they failed to do in four attempts in their previous game. Puck movement was better and they did a good job of getting pucks through.

  • I have to say it again, that goal by Roy was a beauty, and it was good to see him get his first goal as a Predator. That goal was Roy's 500th NHL point.

  • The speed difference between the Predators and the Leafs was noticeable. The Predators speed created matchup problems for the Leafs and scoring opportunities for the Predators.

  • Taylor Beck's second goal was a smart play as he knew Bernier was not down on the ice and slapped the puck between his legs to the net. Beck is playing with lots of confidence to go with the energy he brings to the ice, and it is good to see him getting rewarded for his efforts.

  • Good to see the Predators get secondary scoring, which they are going to need to continue their success.

  • The Predators scored on their first four shots of the third period.

  • Early in the contest, Rinne made some very good saves to thwart the Leafs attack.

  • A disgruntled Leafs fan tossed their sweater on the ice in the third period.

  • The Predators tied the franchise record for most goals in a game.

  • 14 Predator skaters recorded a point tonight.

That was fun, eh?

This was a complete game by the Predators. All phases played well, secondary scoring was there, and the effort was for 60 minutes. One aspect that was especially encouraging was that the Predators didn't sit back with the lead but kept coming at the Leafs all night. That is the formula for success for this team.

Now, they have to bring that effort every game.

My three stars:

1. Taylor Beck

2. Shea Weber

3. Pekka Rinne

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Predators Win a Tough Game Over the Jets 2-1

The Nashville Predators are arguably the surprise team- in a good way- of the Central Division, challenging for first place.

Perhaps just as big of a surprise are the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets came into their divisional contest against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena in third place in the division and 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.

Two teams that are playing good hockey and fairly evenly matched played the kind of game that one would have expected: a tight checking contest that limited scoring opportunities. The Predators made the most of their chances in capturing a 2-1 win over the Jets in front of a sellout crowd.

Both teams have rode hot goaltending so far this season, with Pekka Rinne and Ondrej Pavalec having outstanding seasons. Rinne entered the contest with 10 wins, a .929 save percentage, and a 1.92 GAA. Pavalec had almost identical numbers, with 7 wins, a .928 save percentage, and a 1.99 GAA.

Both goaltenders were solid and made good saves throughout the course of the game.

The Jets got on the board first with a short handed goal. With the Predators on the power play, Matt Cullen turned the puck over and Blake wheeler took advantage, beating Rinne over the glove to give the Jets a 1-0 lead at 6:57 of the second period.

The Predators looked to have tied the game on a Mike Ribeiro goal off a scramble in front of Pavalec, but the goal was waved off as the officials said the Predators had played the puck with a high stick before the goal.

Just 8 seconds after that goal was disallowed, James Neal lasered a shot past Pavalec to tie the game at 1 at 15:45.

Justice served.

In the third period, Craig Smith took a pass from Calle Jarnkrok and buried the game winner past Pavalec at 17:58.

The Predators were able to hold off the Jets in the remaining time to secure the win.

Some observations:

  • Colin Wilson was back in the line up after missing two games with a lower body injury. He was on a re-shuffled line with Jarnkrok and Smith and I really liked the way that group played tonight. They played with purpose, especially Jarnkrok, have great speed, and are a threat offensively. I hope the coaching staff keeps that line together and lets them gel. I think they could develop into a very good line.

  • I am coming around to the defense paring of Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. Both show some good offensive instincts and rarely caught out of position defensively.

  • Shea Weber and Roman Josi are just outstanding at shutting down the oppositions top scorers. They draw tough minutes and do an excellent job of taking the other teams forwards off their game.

  • The Predators played very disciplined hockey tonight. They did not take a penalty in the game. In the last meeting with the Jets, the Predators were victimized by two power play goals.

  • The Predators power play was absolutely putrid. A turnover on the power play led to the Jets only goal. In 8 minutes of power play time, the Predators did not register a shot on goal. This has to change and change quickly.

  • That said, the Jets came into the game with the 5th best PK in the NHL. It showed tonight as they outworked the Predators and gave them no room.

  • Pekka Rinne has never lost to the Jets, going 6-0-0 in his career.

  • With this win, Peter Laviolette picked up his 400th career win. Congratulations, Coach!
Good bounce back win by the team after a tough loss in St. Louis and against a quality opponent.

The Predators are 11-4-2, good for 24 points and second in the Central behind the Blues, who have 25 points.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. James Neal

3. Pekka Rinne

Predators Host the Jets In Hockey Fights Cancer Night

One of the great initiatives of the NHL and its teams is the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. This disease has impacted all of us in some way, and the NHL and the teams around the League do a fantastic job of raising awareness and funds for research.

At the Bridgestone Arena, several things will be happening tonight. Here is the press release from the Predators:

On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Nashville Predators hit the ice at Bridgestone Arena in a special 6 p.m. start to take on the Winnipeg Jets in support of the National Hockey League’s Hockey Fights Cancer, a month-long awareness initiative that began in mid-October and is supported by all 30 NHL teams. Saturday’s game marks the first of two Hockey Fights Cancer games the Predators will host this season, with money raised during Nashville’s Hockey Fights Cancer games benefiting the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General. The 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General works to fund childhood cancer research at Vanderbilt University’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.

There will be several opportunities throughout the game for fans to contribute funds for pediatric cancer research, including:
·         Members of the Nashville Predators will wear special lavender Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys during warm-ups that will be auctioned off online (preds.myab.co), by texting “PREDS” to 521-82 and at the Predators Foundation area (section 106/107). The Preds new online/texting auction system allows fans from across the world to get into the bidding action on one-of-a-kind items like the Preds lavender jerseys, previously only available to those in attendance at the game.
·         Fans can purchase a Kids Club pack for the 365 Fund at the Foundation Area (section 106/107). Packs will be given to patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
·         Special Hockey Fights Cancer items will be up for auction online and at the Predators Foundation area.
·         Purchase team autographed mystery pucks at the Predators Foundation Area (section 106/107) and at the Community Corner (section 120)
·         Donate $1 from any purchase at all DNC-Sportservice concession stands
·         Drop change into donation buckets and coin machines located around the arena
·         Visiting nashvillepredators.com/365fund
Serving as Child Ambassador and Mayor of Smashville for the game will be 10-year-old Elizabeth Cronin. Cronin was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor attached to both of her ovaries in March. During her fight against the disease, Cronin has had many tests, four rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries. The second of her two surgeries came in July when doctors removed the tumor and she has been in remission since. Despite everything she’s been through, Cronin continues to enjoy playing soccer, softball and the violin and always keeps a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Cronin will be given the honor of dropping the puck in a pregame ceremonial faceoff, welcoming the team back onto the ice after the first intermission with an air-raid siren, riding the Zamboni and participating in a postgame meet and greet with the players.
Other initiatives from the game include:
  • Lavender Hockey Fights Cancer ties donned by Nashville Predators coaches and broadcasters.
  • A Flashes of Hope photo shoot from 4-6 p.m. in Bridgestone Arena meeting rooms for patients and their families from Children’s Hospital (flashesofhope.org).
  • Beanies for Baldies will be handing out beanies, created by Preds staff members, to families visiting the Flashes of Hope area.
  • A suite sponsored by Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber will be used by patients and families from Children’s Hospital.
  • Several young patients from Children’s Hospital will sit in the penalty box to watch pregame warm-ups and ride the Zamboni during pregame and intermissions. Children’s Hospital mascot Champ will also ride a Zamboni.
  • A patient will stand with the anthem singer during Saturday’s game.
  • A patient will participate in a pregame visit with Zebras Care, a charitable organization started by the NHL Officials Association that provides underprivileged and sick children the opportunity to meet NHL referees and linesmen and to attend an NHL game.
  • Patients will high-five players as they come on the ice through the Lexus Lounge tunnel.
The Nashville Predators and the Nashville Predators Foundation raise money annually for the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General (formerly the Nashville Predators Pediatric Cancer Research Fund), established in 2010, through Hockey Fights Cancer games, silent and blind auctions, mystery pucks, fan donations and more. In June 2013, more than $130,000 was given to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Through the fund, the Nashville Predators have made donations totaling more than $800,000 for the hospital and its programs over the past five years. For more information about the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund presented by Dollar General, visit www.nashvillepredators.com/365fund.
Hockey Fights Cancer is a charitable initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League® and National Hockey League Players’ Association.  It is supported by players, NHL member clubs, NHL alumni, the NHL Officials’ Association, professional hockey athletic trainers and equipment managers, corporate marketing partners, broadcast partners and fans throughout North America.  The goal of Hockey Fights Cancer is to raise money and awareness for national and local organizations involved in cancer care and research.  To date, through the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, the NHL's U.S. and Canadian charitable foundations and NHL supporters and fans have donated more than $14 million to support national and local cancer research institutions, children's hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations.  Hockey Fights Cancer is also a component of The Biggest Assist Happens Off The Ice®, the National Hockey League’s and National Hockey League Players’ Association’s social responsibility program that builds on hockey’s long-standing tradition of addressing important social issues in North America and around the world.  For more information about Hockey Fights Cancer, please go to hockeyfightscancer.com.