Saturday, October 18, 2014

Predators Fall In OT to the Blackhawks 2-1

The Nashville Predators played their second road game of the year, the second of a back to back, against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators went with Carter Hutton in net while the Hawks had Corey Crawford between the pipes.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring on the first shot of the game as Johnny Oduya blasted a slapshot between the pads of Hutton at 1:49 of the first period.

Certainly not the way you want to start a game against a high powered team like the Blackhawks.

The Predators would answer at 11:17 of the first period as Shea Weber unleashed a bomb from inside the blue line that beat Crawford over the shoulder.

Both teams would make those scores stand up for the remainder of regulation. it was not for lack of effort by the Blackhawks, however, as they attacked all night and kept the Predators on their heels. The Hawks peppered Hutton with shots and had numerous quality scoring chances. Hutton had to make some excellent saves to keep the Hawks off the board.

In the overtime, the Predators had a power play, but Craig Smith tried a blind back pass to Roman Josi that was picked off by Jonathan Toews. Toews broke in alone on Hutton, who made the initial stop but Toews was able to gather the rebound and slide it into the net for the game winner.

After not giving up a shorthanded goal all last season, the Predators were victimized by this turnover and goal and it cost them a point.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton got his first start of the season and was scored on with the first shot he faced. Johnny Oduya blew an unscreened shot through the legs of Hutton. Game speed must be different than practice speed. That said, Hutton was under siege all night and made some great saves to keep the Predators in the game.

  • The first period saw the Predators revert to last season's form as the Blackhawks totally dominated possession and shots on goal. The Blackhawks out shot the Predators 11-3, and the Predators were extremely fortunate to escape with the game tied. For the game, the Hawks out shot the Predators 34-17 in regulation and 3-1 in the overtime period.

  • Anton Volchenkov continues to deliver big and timely hits and is a strong physical presence for the Predators. he absolutely blew up Brandon Saad at the blue line in the first period.

  • The Blackhawks speed created problems all night for the Predators, resulting in them taking too many penalties, five in all. Playing a talented team like the Hawks a man down is not a formula for winning a critical divisional contest.

  • The Predators finally got their legs going in the third period and created some good scoring chances, most notably a shot by Craig Smith at a wide open top half of the net, but he was not able to lift the puck over the pad of Crawford. That is a shot that Smith has to bury.

  • Frankly, the Predators were lucky to steal appoint in this contest. Whether it was fatigue from playing the night before (I hope this was it) or that the Hawks clearly have a superior talent advantage (in reality), the Predators could not find an offensive rhythm and were backed into their zone most of the night. The Hawks did a good job of disrupting the Predators breakouts and shutting them down in the offensive zone. Admittedly, this team does not have the talent of the Hawks, but this team has to have a better effort from the forwards to create scoring chances if they want to compete in the division.

  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 28:21.
As badly outplayed as the Predators were tonight, they still managed to pick up a point and have not lost in regulation this season. This team is going to have to scrap and fight for every point.

So far, they have shown they will do that.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Toews

2. Carter Hutton

3. Shea Weber

Friday, October 17, 2014

Predators Pass Their First Road Test, Ground the Jets 2-0

The Nashville Predators ventured to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in the Predators first road game of the season. This first road test for the Predators would come against a divisional foe in front of their rabid fans, and it would be a good indication of how this team is going to perform in a hostile environment.

They passed this test with flying colors.

Pekka Rinne picked up his first shut out of the season with a 31 save effort, and the Predators got goals from Mike Ribeiro, his second of the season, and James Neal, his first, to seal the win.

Ribeiro re-directed a slap shot from Seth Jones past Ondrej Pavelec at 16:20 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators added to their lead as Filip Forsberg controlled the puck in the corner in traffic and found James Neal in the slot. Neal's quick wrist shot bounced over the shoulder of Pavelec to make it 2-0 at 7:31 of the third period.

Rinne had a strong game and thwarted some very good scoring chances by the Jets to maintain the shutout. This was Rinne's this win in four outings this season.

Some observations:

  • Viktor Stalberg saw his first action of the season after being injured during training camp. he played on a line with Derek Roy and Craig Smith and moved well and had some scoring chances.

  • I continue to like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He is a fierce hitter, plays a sound positional game, and showed some good wheels to speed down the ice and negate an icing in the second period.

  • Pekka Rinne had to make some exceptional saves when the Predators were on the power play. the Predators gave up some short handed chances- okay, way too many short handed chances- and Rinne had to come up with some big stops.

  • Filip Forsberg has shown me that he belongs on the top line. He is strong on the puck, sees the ice well, and has great hockey sense. He is fast becoming a very good playmaker, and in the third period almost single handedly created a great scoring chance. He later gathered an assist on James Neal's goal with strong work in the corner.

  • Ryan Ellis took a vicious hit from Bryan Little that was borderline boarding midway of the third period. Although he remained on the bench, he did not return to the game.
The first road test was passed, but now it gets tougher as the Predators travel to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks Saturday night.

Continue to bring this kind of effort and this will be a test they can pass.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. James Neal

It's Official! NHL Annouces Nashville to Host 2016 All Star Game

The NHL and the Nashville Predators made official what has been known for a few days- that Nashville will be the host city for the 2016 All Star game. Commissioner Gary Bettman was in town to make the official announcement at a press conference at the Bridgestone Arena.

Here are some pictures from the event:

George Plaster and Terry Crisp served as emcees for the event. On Stage are (from left to right) Predators President Jeff Cogen, NHL Governor and Chairman of the ownership group Tom Cigarran, Bridgestone North America CEO Gary Garfield, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Commissioner Bettman makes the official announcement awarding the All Star game to Nashville.
The Predators organization honored three long time fans and supporters of the organization, presenting them with sweaters that has "All Star" on the name plate and the number 16.
Dignitaries show off Predator sweaters that say "NHL All Star Weekend"
Some notable quotes from today's event:
"We are no longer struggling. This franchise will be in this city forever."
-Tom Cigarran
"This is a huge win for Nashville, and it is golden opportunity for our city. We look forward to welcoming the NHL to our Southern hospitality."
-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
"Let me go ahead and deal with the inevitable question 'When are we going to get a Winter Classic?' Let's take them one at a time."
-Commissioner Gary Bettman
"That standing ovation you got is a dress rehearsal for when you hand that big silver cup to us."
-Predators President Jeff Cogen, to Commissioner Gary Bettman 
The All Star game coming to Nashville is a testimony to the strength of this franchise and the growth of this area as a hockey market. It also speaks well of Nashville as a city and the ability to accommodate an event of this magnitude.
Many groups besides the Predators and the NHL had to come together to make this happen. Bridgestone, the Nashville Sports Council, and the Nashville Sports Authority to name a few were integral in their cooperation and support. And it goes without saying that this event could not happen without the support of the Mayor and the Nashville City Council.
All are to be commended for their efforts.
Those efforts will now showcase Nashville to the NHL and the sports world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Predators Fall to the Flames 3-2 In A Shootout

The Nashville Predators got out-Predatored at Bridgestone Arena, dropping a 3-2 decision in a shootout to the Calgary Flames.

Joe Colborne scored the lone goal in the shootout for the Flames to secure the win.

Throughout the night, the Predators lost puck battles and for the most got out skated and out worked by the Flames. The Flames did a great job of limiting the Predators breakouts, clogging the neutral zone and making entries difficult. As a result, the Predators offense never really got in sync and struggled to find consistency.

The Predators were out shot 28-21, the first time they have been out shot this season.

Filip Forsberg staked the Predators to a 1-0 lead at 8:46 of the first period with his first goal of the season. Forsberg took a pass from Derek Roy and  ripped a shot past Flames netminder Kari Ramo from the face off circle.

The Flames answered with a goal by T.J. Brodie. They got a break when Anton volchenkov went dow to block the shot and it hit his stick and ramped over the Shoulder of Pekka Rinne at 10:01 of the first.

Calgary took a 2-1 lead at 5:19 of the second period off a goal from Mark Giordano on the power play.

The Predators would answer with Mike Ribeiro getting his first goal as a Predators. He gathered in a rebound of a Craig Smith shot that Ramo could not control that slid to the off side of the net, and he was able to bang it in at 15:10 of the second period.

A scoreless third period and overtime led to the shootout. The Predators sent Derek Roy, James Neal, and Olli Jokinen out in the shootout and Ramo was able to stop them all. Rinne gave up a goal to Colborne and stopped Jiri Hudler.

Some observations:

  • Rinne made some great saves through the course of the game and got some bad luck on the deflection off Volchenkov's stick. the flames did a good job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone and keeping pressure on the Predators, and rinne bailed out the defense on more than a few occasions.
  • As good as Rinne was, Ramo was outstanding. He made some very good saves, including off a re-direct from Craig Smith in the third period.

  • The Predators had a difficult time handling the aggressive forecheck of the Flames, which disrupted their offensive flow all night. The flames attacked the puck in all zones and the Predators struggled to handle the pressure.

  • Colin Wilson, who has generally been invisible so far this season, was moved up to the wing on the line with James Neal and Mike Ribeiro in the middle of the second period. I liked the way that line looked with Wilson on it. May this is what it takes to get Wilson's game jump started. He used his speed well to compliment his line mates.

  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 30:53.

  • The Predators were 0-2 on the power play.

  • Craig Smith was +2 and had 2 assists on the night.
The Predators struggled tonight, but they can learn from this game and hopefully improve, especially when it comes to handling the aggressive pressure and the intensity of their opponent.

They get their chance Friday night in Winnipeg against a divisional foe.

My three stars:

1. Kari Ramo

2. Mark Giordano

3. Craig Smith

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Predators Pound the Stars 4-1


That is probably the best way to describe the Predators and their style of play. That relentless effort paid off in a 4-1 victory over division rival Dallas in front of a sell out crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators are not flashy. But they just keep coming for 60 minutes, and that effort paid off in another win.

Once again, the Predators fell behind 1-0 off a goal from Antoine Roussel, a deflection that got past Pekka Rinne at 7:14 of the first period.

The Predators responded late in the second period as Shea Weber wristed a shot from the blue line that eluded Stars netminder Anders Lindback to tie the game at 19:19 of the second the second period.

As in the first game, the third period belonged to the Predators as they tallied three goals. Paul Gaustad broke  the tie at 8:33 of the third with his first goal of the season off an assist from Taylor Beck. Eric Nystrom stretched the lead to 3-1 on a backhand shot at 9:54 . Roman Josi ended the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:57.

Some observations:

  • Paul Gaustad has been playing lights out. He had a goal, an assist, and fought Vernon Fiddler for a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight. In two games, Gaustad has a goal, 3 assists, was a +3, and has arguably been the Predators best center.

  • Shea Weber recorded his second goal in as many games, had an assist, and was a +4 on the night. Weber delivered a huge hit and was a force all game. I especially like how Weber has joined the rush on occasion and is more active in the offensive zone. Weber has shown leadership and an offensive flair early in this season.

  • Once again, the Predators out shot their opponent by a wide margin. The Predators out shot the Stars 33-18.

  • Rinne was excellent tonight, stopping 17 of 18 Dallas shots. He moved well and did a good job of tracking the puck. He got a lot of help from the Predators defense that limited the scoring chances for the Stars.

  • The fans got on Jason Spezza all night. Spezza turned down a trade to the Predators in the off season, opting for the Stars. Spezza was limited to one shot on the night and was a non-factor.

  • I really like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He delivers big and timely hits, is positionally sound, and is responsible in the defensive zone. Volchenkov may prove to be the best off season signing by the Predators.

  • I am not sold on the line combo of Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, and Gabriel Bourque. This line was a -3 on the night and combined for 7 shot, 4 by Neal. I think that Neal needs a more dynamic center, and although it is only two games from which to draw a conclusion, I am not sure that Ribeiro is the answer.

  • Roman Josi lead the Predators with 23:37 TOI. Shea Weber lead the team with 5 blocked shots.
The Predators are certainly not flashy, but they have shown they can move the puck, gain the zone, and get quality scoring chances. This effort, if consistently applied through the season, will be a formula for success.

It's a long season, but the start has been good.

Now it's time to build on it.

My three stars:

1. Paul Gaustad

2. Shea Weber

3. Eric Nystrom

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Have you heard of "civil asset forfeitures"?

Since the events of 9/11, local and state police departments have stepped up highway interdictions and other police actions designed to spot potential terrorists, drug dealers, and money launderers. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security has spent millions of dollars training local and state police to spot potential targets.

In fact, this mandate has created a cottage industry of private firms that train police departments on the techniques of highway interdiction . One of those firms, Desert Snow, has created a program used by many police departments called Black Asphalt Electronic Networking and Notification Systems that allows police departments across the country to share detailed information such as social security numbers, addresses, and identifying tattoos of drivers, both criminal and innocent.

And while on the surface, that effort may seem worthwhile, it has spawned an aggressive form of policing that has resulted in the seizure of billions of dollars from citizens that have not been charged with a crime.

In fact, these interdiction programs can (and many are) be used aggressively to seize the assets of innocent citizens.

Think I am exaggerating?

Deputy Ron Hain, a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, said, "all of our home towns are sitting on a tax liberating gold mine." He calls for turning our police forces into modern day "Robin Hoods".


Civil asset forfeiture is a powerful program that allows the government to take cash and property without pressing criminal charges against an individual. The individual then has to prove that the assets seized were acquired legally.

If you think this program will be used circumspectly, think again. The Washington Post examined Justice Department records and found:

  • There have been 61,998 asset seizures since 9/11 and the total taken is over $2.5 billion. More than 50% of the seizures were for less than $8,800.

  • Because of the cost of challenging these seizures in court, only 10,291 were challenged in court. When they were, the government returned 42% of the assets seized. The process on average took over a year to resolve, and in each case, the owners of the assets were required to sign an agreement that they would not sue the police department.

  • Although there is a federal ban on using seized assets to fund annual operating budgets, 298 police departments and 210 special task forces use these proceeds to support their annual operations, according to Justice Department statistics.

Now there is no doubt that we live in much more dangerous times than we did before 9/11; and there is without question that our police officers have a dangerous and tough job. I am thankful that we have dedicated men and women that will put their life on the line for us.

But the tension between security and civil liberty is probably higher now than it has been in our lifetime. The desire to be secure does not mean we as free citizens have to give up our liberties. Yet the creep of federal intrusion in all areas of our lives is growing, and the civil asset forfeiture program is one of the more egregious examples of the loss of our freedoms.

As citizens, we cannot sit idly by and allow these kinds of actions to continue. We must push back and demand accountability from law enforcement and from our elected leaders to preserve our freedom and our liberty.

"Power must always be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous."

                                                                   William Proxmire

And that, my friends, is my view.

Know your rights: During traffic stops on the nation’s highways, the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects motorists “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The law also gives police the power to investigate and act on their suspicions.
1. Police have a long-established authority to stop motorists for traffic infractions. They can use traffic violations as a pretext for a deeper inquiry as long as the stop is based on an identifiable infraction.
2. An officer may detain a driver only as long as it takes to deal with the reason for the stop. After that, police have the authority to request further conversation. A motorist has the right to decline and ask whether the stop is concluded. If so, the motorist can leave.
3. The officer also has the authority to briefly detain and question a person as long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion is based on specific and articulable facts but falls short of the legal standard for making an arrest.
4. A traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion alone do not give police authority to search a vehicle or a closed container, such as luggage. Police may ask for permission to search; drivers may decline. Police do not have to tell drivers that they have a right to refuse.
5. An officer may expand a roadside investigation if the driver’s responses and other circumstances justify a belief that it is more likely than not that criminal activity is occurring. Under this standard, known as probable cause, an officer can make an arrest or search a vehicle without permission. An alert by a drug-sniffing dog can provide probable cause, as can the smell of marijuana.
6. Police can seize cash that they find if they have probable cause to suspect that it is related to criminal activity. The seizure happens through a civil action known as asset forfeiture. Police do not need to charge a person with a crime. The burden of proof is then on the driver to show that the cash is not related to a crime by a legal standard known as preponderance of the evidence.
Sources: Jon Norris, criminal defense attorney; David A. Harris, University of Pittsburgh law professor; Scott Bullock, civil liberties lawyer, Institute for Justice; Department of Homeland Security.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Predators Open the Season With a Win Over Ottawa

The Nashville Predators opened the season and the Peter Laviolette era with a come from behind 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in front of a sellout crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The arrival of Laviolette promised a focus on offense for the Predators. through two periods, it looked like more of the same as the Predators could not solve Sens netminder Craig Anderson and trailed 1-0.

That changed in the third period, as the Predators erupted for three goals and held off a late flurry by the Senators to capture the first game of the season.

This version of the Predators will certainly shoot the puck as they out shot the Senators 37-20 and constantly peppered Anderson with shots.

The Senators had a 1-0 lead going into the third period on an even strength goal by Kyle Turris, but the Predators would have a power play to open the third period and needed something to get momentum on their side.

That would come as from fillip Forsberg, as he found Craig Smith with a pass at the side of the net and smith tapped the puck past Anderson to tie the game at 1:36 of the third period.

The Predators would take a 2-1 lead at 8:53 of the third on a nifty drive to the net and wrap around goal by Shea Weber. Weber showed he could handle the puck as he drove around the net and deftly lifted the puck over a sprawling Anderson.

The Predators extended their lead to 3-1 as Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom broke in on a 2 on 0 rush. Gaustad put a nice pass on the stick of Nystrom and he buried the shot at 10:20 of the third.

That goal proved to be the game winner as the Sens made it 3-2 on a power play goal by Alex Chiasson  at 13:48 of the third.

Pekka Rinne and the defense held off the Senators late push and captured the win.

Some observations:

  • Holy Shnikey, does Filip Forsberg have some sweet hands! The kid can stick handle in a phone booth and was very good on defense, picking the pocket of several of the Senators. He has great vision that allows him to make good passes, and he is calm with the puck. He looks stronger, battles well, and is dangerous in the offensive zone. Forsberg had two assists tonight.

  • This iteration of the Predators is certainly not afraid to shoot the puck. And that is a welcome change that will pay dividends this season. While Anderson had to make some routine saves, he was challenged in every period by the Predators and that consistent push finally broke through in the third period. This team is not the most talented team in the NHL, but this type of effort will produce wins.

  • Rinne was solid, but not spectacular. The goal by Turris was just blown past him and it is one that he has to stop. that said, he made some very good saves, especially late in the game to preserve the win.

  • The Predators honored David Legwand with a tribute video in the second period.

  • But I guess old habits die hard. Legwand was called for a penalty in second period for tripping, and as he took his skate of shame to the penalty box, he skated to the home penalty box and tried to enter the door. he was waved to the visiting team penalty box by the off ice official.

  •  Paul Gaustad picked up two assists and was 14 of 17 in the face off circle.

  • Mike Ribeiro centered the first line with James Neal and Gabriel Bourque on the wings. The chemistry between Ribeiro and Neal was evident, but that line still needs to gel. Ribeiro took 23 faceoffs and won 9, and that is going to have to improve.

  • This was Laviolette's 390th win behind the bench.

  • Roman Josi led the Predators in ice time, with 27:59.
All in all, this was a solid effort by the Predators. This team is a work in progress, but I like the energy of the youngsters and the leadership of the veterans.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Fillip Forsberg

3. Paul Gaustad