Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Stinging Defeat

The Predators fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in a battle for the 6th spot in the Western Conference. The injury bug continues to bite the Predators as Antii Pihlstrom goes down with an undisclosed "upper body injury", and he will be re-evaluated by the team doctors after the team returns to Nashville tonight. Cal O'Reilly continues to shine as he buries a shot in the first after taking a sweet feed from Steve Sullivan. After that, the Preds didn't mount much offense and didn't really threaten Steve Mason even with a 5 on 3 power play in the third. It is apparent that the juggled 2nd and third lines have yet to develop the chemistry that you would like to see. It remains to be seen what lines will be on the ice for Friday's game against the Blackhawks in Chicago. This was a gritty effort against a good team, but the results, unfortunately for the Preds, were not what we wanted.

Injuries are ravaging the team. Young, inexperienced players are being thrust in to key roles. The schedule doesn't favor the Preds. So we have a choice. We can hang our heads; we can roll over. Or we can fight. We can leave it on the ice for the remaining five games. I think we fight. This team was bred to be warriors, adversity be damned. Time to get it rolling again on Friday night in Chicago.

Clash in Columbus

With the injuries to Jason Arnott, David Legwand, and Marin Erat, 141 points of offensive production have disappeared from the lineup. One could look at this situation and feel despair. I think this team looks at it as another challenge to surmount on the road to the playoffs. This is a group of players that refuse to hang their heads. They will just shut up and play. Tonight's contest finds the Preds coming in having won their last three games; the BJ's come in having lost their last two games convincingly to the Blues. The Preds are 5-1-4 in their last ten games; the BJ's are 6-2-2. Columbus is 6th in the Western Conference with 86 points; Nashville is 7th, with 84 points. The similarity between these two teams is striking as they both play an uptempo and yet gritty style of play. The animosity level is always high as Nashville has been like the big brother to Columbus, holding the upper hand in seasons past. This year, however, with the emergence of Steve Mason in goal, Columbus has been much more competitive. The season series still stands in Nashville's favor at 2-1-1. This game features a battle between the two goalies that could very well be finalists for the Calder Trophy this year, as Nashville"s Pekka Rinne has had an outstanding year in his own right. Nashville has been in the playoffs for the last four years, and they know the pressure of a playoff hunt. Columbus is in the hunt for the first time, and one has to wonder if they are not starting to feel the pressure as the season winds down.

Expect a real battle tonight. With a win, Nashville can move into a tie for the 6th slot in the playoff race. The challenges are there; the road is steep; but this is a team that refuses to give in to their circumstances. They have been bred to meet these challenges. The puck drops at 6:00. Time to swat some bugs, boys.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Voices

"Good evening Predator fans and welcome to Nashville Predators hockey."

These familiar words from play by play announcer Pete Weber greet Predator fans at the outset of each Predator broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee when the Preds are on the ice. Pred fans have been serenaded by the humor and knowledge of Pete and color man Terry Crisp since we have had a team on the ice. I want to take a moment to acknowledge the expertise and professionalism of our broadcast tandem. If, like me, you have listened to other broadcasters, you realize what a treat it is to have Pete and Terry provide the play by play and analysis for our games. I had the opportunity to visit with Pete and Terry on the recent west coast swing that the Preds completed two weeks ago, as well as the road game in St. Louis a month ago, and I want to share some of my observations.

Pete Weber is often referred to by partner Terry Crisp as "Peteypedia", and rightfully so. Pete possesses an encyclopedic knowledge not just of hockey, but sports in general. Many fans may not realize Pete's extensive sports background. He has been the voice of the Buffalo Bills (and yes, he endured four straight Super Bowl losses), and has been involved extensively with the Buffalo Bison AAA baseball franchise. Pete was the radio voice of the Buffalo Sabres. Pete also worked for the Los Angeles Kings hockey club as a color commentator, as well as the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA. Pete has been inducted in to the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. He has an an extensive sports background in minor league baseball as well as college sports. This wealth of experience and contacts comes to the fore when Pete calls a game, and he has a variety of anecdotes and humor that he brings to each broadcast. Spending time with Pete in St. Louis was an experience. There are few people in sports that have his extensive contacts, and he can relate a variety of stories that tie in to the nightly broadcasts. Perhaps the greatest compliment that I heard about Pete is what Gerry Helper, Senior Vice President of Communication and Development for the Predators, said about Pete. He told me that the best decision he made regarding the franchise was hiring Pete.

Color man Terry Crisp brings a wealth of experience to the broadcast. Crispy has his name on the Stanley Cup three times, two as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers and once as the Head Coach of the Calgary Flames. Crispy knows what it is like to be on the ice competing as a player and what it means to stand behind the bench and coach a team to the pinnacle of success in the NHL. Crispy is an interesting individual, who can regale you with stories from his days as a player and a coach. That perspective is priceless, because he knows what to look for as a game unfolds. Crispy has a great sense of humor and is quick with a laugh, and his insight into the game flows easily during a broadcast. I had the opportunity to just sit and listen to Crispy and Bobby Pflager, a former NHL player, trade stories from their playing days, and it was fascinating. Crispy understands the life of an NHL player, both on and off the ice. We are fortunate to have a color man the caliber of Crispy to provide his views for each game.

The Predator games are second to none when it comes to production quality. While Pete and Terry are the faces and voices of the broadcasts, there are a number of unsung heroes that make it happen each night. While in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to go in the truck and watch the broadcast team in action. These guys (men and women) are true pros and very skilled at what they do. During a broadcast, Pete often refers to "Helmut". Helmut is Bob "Helmut" Kohl (Helmut Kohl was the former was the former Chancellor of Germany for you non-history buffs), the Producer and Director of Broadcasting for the Preds. Helmut is the man that runs the show and is responsible for the overall production of each Preds broadcast. Helmut is a true professional that personally cares about each broadcast and the quality of the production. He is ably assisted by his director, Karen Roncelli, a focused and very talented professional. Brett Newkirk is the Editor/Font Coordinator/Videographer and jack of all trades. David Raynack is the EVS Operator. During the trip out west, I saw the professionalism that each of these individuals bring to their craft. I also saw how they functioned as a team, and it was impressive. Pred fans may not realize what goes into the broadcasts we enjoy, but be assured that we have a team of consummate professionals that ply their craft with enthusiasm and competence that is unparalleled.

Finally, they newby to the team this year is radio man Tom Callahan. Tom has extensive experience in radio and broadcasting, most recently with the Peoria Rivermen Hockey Club, an affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Tom brings his expertise and enthusiasm to each broadcast on the Preds radio network.

Preds fans are fortunate to have these talented individuals that bring us the action each game. From the faces (and voices) of the team to the folks that make it happen so well each game, these people deserve our praise and thanks.

Colin Wilson Interview

David Laurila of Puck Prospectus has a good interview with 2008 Preds first round pick Colin Wilson, playing this year at Boston University. The article can be found by following this link: http://puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=53

Shea Weber Gets Some Love; And, Reinforcements Arrive

A great interview with Preds stud Defenseman Shea Weber by Greg Wyshinski over at Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Shea has, rightfully so, been receiving some great accolades throughout the year. Follow the link to the right to read the interview.

Also, David Legwand will miss at least two more weeks, according to the Forechecker. The Preds have called up Mike Santorelli for his second stint with the big club.

Right now the squad is an interesting mix of battle tested veterans and young pups hungry to stick with the club at the NHL level. It is going to be interesting to see how this group meshes. I believe the chemistry is going to work surprisingly well.

An Interview with Sully

James Mirtle, who recently visited our fair city to take in some hockey, has a great interview with Steve Sullivan on his blog, From the Rink. Follow the link to the right to read the interview.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Win, Big Loss

The Forechecker first reported the news from ESPN that Marty Erat had a fractured leg, the result of getting hit by a blistering slapshot from Shea Weber. I have been able to confirm with the coaching staff that indeed Marty has a broken leg and will be out at least four weeks. The ranks of the injured continue to grow for the Preds, and this is a big loss as Marty had recently figured prominently on the scoresheet. The road gets a little tougher now.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In tonight's 4-3 win over the Red Wings, the Nashville PP clicked for two goals, both on penalties called against Chris Chelios. Chelly was called for tripping in the first, which led to a Steve Sullivan power play goal; and for cross-checking in the third, which led to Ryan Suter's game winning goal. When asked for a response to his play, particularly the penalties, Chelios responded thusly....





A Monster Win In Motown

The injury riddled Preds prevailed 4-3 over the Detroit Red Wings in a win that only be described as character shining through. The Preds jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Steve Sullivan pots his 10th goal since returning in January, but give up a shorthanded goal and a 5-3 PP goal and trail going into the third 2-1. During play in the second period, Marty Erat is knocked out of the game after taking a Shea Weber slapshot in the leg. Moments later, Patric Hornqvist is temporarily knocked out of the game after getting hit in the face with an Antii Pihlstrom shot (he would later return to the game). In the third, the Preds simplified their game and threw pucks on the net. Joel Ward continued his amazing season as he slapped in a rebound in a goalmouth scramble for his 17th goal of the year. 20 seconds later, Jerred Smithson dug a puck out of the corner and, after taking a nice pass from Cal O'Reilly, fired a shot past Osgood for his fourth goal of the year to give the Preds a 3-2 lead. Good to see Smithers rewarded on the scoresheet for his efforts. He is playing solid hockey for this club right now. After Johan Franzen tied the game at 3 with a wicked slapper, Ryan Suter scored on the PP with a slapshot blast that cleanly beat Osgood for the game winner. Radek Bonk was screening in front of the net on the game winning goal, paying the price with his body to impede the vision of Osgood.

This win exemplifies the character of this team. It would have been easy to say we played an overtime game last night and were tired. It would have been easy to say that the Joe has been our own house of horrors. It would have been easy to say that our injury depleted lineup couldn't compete. Easy, however, is not the road this team chooses to travel. Once again, they reached down deep inside to find a way to get a critical win and capture two vital points. Once again, who this team is was on display. A team that has been bred never to quit. Two points that could have easily gone the other way. Two points closer to securing a spot in the playoffs.Two points that defines this team.

The magnitude of this win is amplified by the fact that St. Louis continues to win, beating Columbus 5-2. The Preds sit in 7th in the Western Conference playoff race with 84 points; Columbus is 6th with 86 points; St. Louis is 8th with 83 points. We now start to get some separation from Edmonton (9th with 81 points) and Anaheim (10th with 80 points).

The dogfight that is the Western Conference race continues on Tuesday with the Preds taking on the slumping Bluejackets in Columbus. Another opportunity for character to shine through.

Showdown in Motown

A 4:00 start in Motown today as the Preds play their second to last back to back series of the season. The Preds should expect an angry Red Wings team that will come out flying. Angry because of the 8-0 shellacking the Preds laid on the Wings the last time they played; angry at a 2-0 shutout at home by the Islanders in their last game. The Preds have to be prepared for the intensity of this game and match Detroit from the opening faceoff to have a chance. The formula for victory is the same as it has been- exceptional goaltending, solid D; and throwing pucks at the net and crashing the crease. It's simple hockey that can lead to a Preds victory.

Congratulations to Steve Sullivan and Marty Erat for milestones reached in last night's game against the Kings. Sully's assist on Shea Weber's goal was his 600th NHL point. Marty's four assists pushed him to 300 NHL points.

Two games left against the Wings, Jackets, and Hawks, with a finale against the Wild. Seven games, 14 precious points. No doubt there is pressure with the ultra tight Western Conference race. This is the time where winners excel, where your breeding rises to the fore. Show us what you are made of, boys.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

From A SinKing Feeling To Elation

Okay, seriously guys. Enough with the overtime excitement. Four of the past five games going to OT; 10 of the last 21. Regulation wins are not a bad thing. The Preds rallied back twice from one goal deficits to take a 3-2 lead in the third, only to have L.A. tie the game with 1:02 remaining in the period. Steve Sullivan garnered the extra point for the Preds after taking a nice feed from Ryan Suter and burying the game winner. This was a huge win for the Preds with the two points vaulting them back into 7th place over Edmonton by one point and extending their lead over 9th place Anaheim by two points. The Preds now have 82 points with seven games remaining.

Congratulation to Cal O'Reilly, who notched his first NHL goal to tie the game at one in the first period. Trailing 2-1, Joel Ward took a nice pass from Marty Erat and scored short handed to tie the game at 2. Shea Weber blasted home a goal to give the Preds a 3-2 lead that held up until Jack Johnson tallied late in the third to send the game to OT. As mentioned, Sully hammers home the game winner on an OT power play. Cal O'Reilly has been impressive, showing poise and skill as he centers Marty Erat and Steve Sullivan. Nice to see him notch his first goal. What can you say about Joel Ward? There is no stronger player on the boards, and he brings hustle and energy every night. His short handed marker changed the complexion and energy in the game. To wit: L.A. had been 21-3-1 this season when leading after two periods. After Wardo's marker, the energy level of the team increased notably. Kudos to Jerred Smithson for his quietly strong game. Smithers draws the top players from the other team, and he has done an exceptional job holding them off the scoresheet. Tonight was no exception.

Preds fans should be proud of their effort. There is no louder barn in the league when we are energized. And there are no more enthusiastic fans than those in Nashville. Call me a homer, but having watched games in all the Canadian barns and several in the U.S., I will say that no group of fans can will their team to victory more than those in the Sommet Center.

It's now time to take the energy and momentum of this home stand and take it on the road. A 4:00 tilt tomorrow at the Joe against the Wings, and the Preds have to continue to build on this string of games that have amassed points. It's a 7 game season now. Heart and jam, boys. It's the way you have been bred.

A Battle Royal With The Kings

A special 5:00 start time awaits the Predators and their fans tonight as the L.A. Kings come to town. The Kings won their last game 1-0 in a shootout over Dallas. It was a costly win for the Kings, as they lost Jarrett Stoll for the remainder of the season with a groin injury. the Kings are also expected to be without explosive winger Alexander Frolov tonight. The Preds will be without Jason Arnott (who skated yesterday), David Legwand, Wade Belak, and Ryan Jones. Nashville sits in 8th in the Western Conference with 80 points. Edmonton leapfrogged Nashville to take the 7th spot by virtue of their 4-3 win over Anaheim last night. Anaheim holds the 9th spot in the playoff race with 80 points as well.

It goes without saying that this is another huge game for the Preds. A win tonight moves them to 7th and provides some separation from Anaheim and St. Louis. To win tonight, the Preds have to continue to use the formula that has brought them success- exceptional goaltending, solid D, throw the puck at the net and crash the crease. Oh yes, the 7th man has to bring it tonight as well.

This team is bred for the challenge- the opportunity- they have tonight. Time to be who you are, boys.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Updated Attendance numbers

Today's Tennessean reported the Preds official attendance numbers as of March 3 at 13,102. Apparently, it was too difficult for the local daily to get more current numbers. After extensive research (okay- I went to ESPN's website) the updated numbers as of March 23 for the Preds is 14,763. This obviously doesn't include the Ducks game on Tuesday (16,418) or the Sharks game on Thursday (16,562). 14,000 average attendance is the magic number for revenue sharing. The Preds have three home games to go and are inching toward the 15,000 average attendance number. Very positive news for the Preds and congratulations are in order to the fans for supporting the team and the organization for attracting the fans to the rink. Unfortunately, the Tennessean can't seem to get current numbers to report.

DNA

Deoxyriboneucleic Acid. The fundamental building block of cells that makes us what we are- short, tall, slender or husky. We are what our DNA says we will be. A sports team has a DNA as well. Competitive, skilled, gritty. A team's DNA says what they will be. Last night, after the game, Brandon Felder asked a question of Greg Zanon that I believe captures the DNA of the Predators.

Felder- "Over the years it seems like you guys, when everyone counts you out, that's when you guys rise to the moment. Where do you think that comes from?"

Zanon- "It's just the love we have for each other in here. It's a team and that's the way we look at it. We lose a big part with Leggy not playing tonight but everybody steps up and we get it done. That's the way it works around here and that's the way we are bred here."

That's powerful. To hear a skilled pro athlete talk about the love the players have for each other. To know that whatever happens, they will shut up and play. It's bred into them. Do what it takes, regardless of the obstacles and challenges that are before you. It is in the makeup of this team. Call it DNA, heart, or character. It is who the Predators are game after game. That's the way we are bred here.

The DNA of a team comes from the coaches. Barry Trotz, Brent Peterson, Peter Horachek, Robert Bouchard, and Mitch Korn have instilled into this team a DNA of caring for each other, competitiveness, and a never say die attitude. This DNA, this essence of who they are, translates into play on the ice. Last night, against the Sharks, it would have been easy to quit, easy to say it won't happen being down 2-0. Instead, this team reached down and captured a critical win against a superior opponent. That's the way we are bred here.

At the All-Star break, this team was dead in the water. Since then, the team has gone 16-7-5 to play themselves back into playoff contention. That's the way we are bred here. Injuries have exacted a major toll on this team, yet they manage to not only be competitive, but win. That's the way we are bred here. Sure, this team is offensively challenged, but the D has stepped up and the goaltending has been exceptional. That's the way we are bred here.

Take heart Preds fans. This is a team that has been bred to handle adversity and deal with obstacles. It's in their DNA.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Did We Quit When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?"*

So we have lost our number one center and leading goal scorer. Oh, by the way, we lost our number two center to a freak accident in practice. Nevertheless, we put a patchwork lineup on the ice against the best team in hockey. And we endured horrific officiating. Never mind that the Sharks were 2 for 2 on their first two power plays. And the fact that the Sharks wanted to be physical and chippy all night long. All it took was 2:38 of the second period and the Preds captured a monstrous 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks to climb to 80 points and stay in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Radek Bonk, Martin Erat, and Greg Zanon tallied for the Preds in that 2:38 span to propel the Preds to a much needed victory. The Preds outplayed the Sharks five on five all night, and after some PK adjustments, shut down the Sharks PP to cement the win.

It would have been easy to pee on the fire and call the dogs home. We were hurt and shorthanded. We were playing the best team in hockey. The odds were against us. But how do you measure heart. What is your standard for jam and grit. Tonight we saw heart exhibited in all phases of the game. Pekka Rinne was his usual stellar self; the D held Joe Thornton and his line off the score sheet. Cal O'Reilly, thrust into a key role, played a solid game. You can go down the roster and call out every player's name- Ward, Nichol, Tootoo, the D corp- all these guys played in a way that should make Pred fans proud. These guys never quit. NEVER QUIT. Heart and character was on full display tonight, and heart won out. Talent did not.

Once again, cheers to the Predator fans for amping up your team. Your emotion and passion fueled this team. The 7th man is invaluable to this team, and your presence was felt tonight.Three more home games, and your enthusiasm and fervor are going to be needed.

The Preds are now tied for 7th with Anaheim, each with 80 points. As of this writing, Edmonton is trailing Phoenix 3-0 in the 3rd. This win puts the Preds back into the playoffs. There are eight critical games remaining. Our next opportunity is Saturday, with a special start time of 5:00 as we entertain the L.A. Kings. Heart and character must shine through again for the Preds.

*Gratuitous Animal House reference

A Very Hairy Situation


It's Scott Hartnell night in Philadelphia, and the first 5,000 fans and all kids under 14 get a Scott Hartnell wig (hat tip to Puck Daddy). Harts, as you remember, was once a Predator and was traded to Philly in the great Leipold salary purge. Harts always kept his curly red locks closely shorn while a Pred, but has not cut his hair in 18 months. The View considers this a bold sartorial statement, to say the least. Oh well, at least he can grow hair.


*Harts is the one in the middle, in case you don't remember. And that is his real hair.

The Injury Bug Bites and the Sharks Attack. Time to Man Up

The Sharks rolled into Nashville late last night after dropping a 6-5 shootout decision to the Blackhawks. Team captain Patrick Marleau was not with the team in Chicago due to his wife giving birth to a son, Brady. David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Marleau is joining the team and is expected to play in tonight's game.

The injury bug continues to bite hard on the Predators, as C David Legwand took a puck in the face at practice on Wednesday. The injury is severe, and the word this morning from the coaching staff is that he will miss the games this week and could be out for the year. Cal O'Reilly is expected to join the team from Milwaukee to fill the roster spot.

The team (and the fans) have one of two choices here: sigh deeply, shrug our shoulders, and say the playoffs weren't meant to be. Or, take the hand that has been dealt, shut up and play, and leave it all on the ice. I think this team chooses the latter. No, I KNOW they will choose the latter. This squad has shown too much heart and character to roll over now. I know the coaching staff refuses to just accept fate. They are still coaching their rear ends off. So we as fans have to do our part as well- bring the energy, the noise, and the passion to help carry this team.

Nine games to go; 18 points and a playoff position hang in the balance. One game at a time. The puck drops at 7:00.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Great Event for a Great Cause

On Friday, April 3rd, the Predators will again hold their very popular wine tasting and silent auction event at the Sommet Center from 6:00 until 10:00. This is a great event on many levels, from the fine wines and other adult beverages and foods to sample, as well as some very interesting and exciting items, events, and travel packages on which attendees can bid. Gerry Helper, President of the Nashville Predators Foundation, and Rebecca Ward, Community Relations Director for the Predators, do an amazing job of securing sponsors that donate fabulous prizes to this event. The proceeds of this event are used by the Predators Foundation to support numerous charitable and community causes in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased on the Nashville Predators website. That night, the Preds are on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks, and the game will be shown in its entirety on the jumbotron. Unfortunately, The View will be in Chicago cheering for the Preds that night, and will miss the event. However, Mrs View is going to carry the banner for the home team by attending the wine tasting. I just hope my credit card can survive.

We hear a great deal in the press, and rightfully so, about the many good causes that are supported through the efforts of the Predators Foundation, and we in Middle Tennessee are blessed to have the Foundation and folks like Gerry and Rebecca that work so diligently for the good of our community. While on the trip this past week, I had an opportunity to talk with Rebecca not only about the work of the Foundation, but of the individual players toward bettering the lives of so many in our area. I will not name any players because they intended for their actions to be private, but Rebecca told me of many players that have, on their own, reached out to those that are less fortunate and have taken a genuine interest in those people to try to improve their lot in life. This was not just a monetary effort, but a giving of themselves as well. I was truly impressed that these athletes have taken such an interest in our community and in the welfare of those that have been dealt a difficult hand by life. As Predator fans, we cheer their exploits on the ice and marvel at their athletic prowess. As citizens of this great community, we can cheer their real interest and involvement in making this an even better place to live and work. The View expresses his heartfelt gratitude to the very visible efforts of the Predators Foundation and to Gerry, Rebecca, and all the people that make it work. He is thankful for the Predators organization that has fostered a culture of giving. And he is impressed and moved by the athletes that see beyond themselves and the game they love to extend a hand to those that need lifting.

I encourage you to come out to the Wine Tasting on April 3rd, not for just a good time, but for what it enables the Foundation to do for others in our community. If you need additional information, contact Rebecca Ward at 770-2321.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ducks Waddle Past the Preds

The Anaheim Ducks topped the Preds 2-1 in a shootout victory to drop the Preds to 9th place in the Western Conference. Both teams have 78 points, but Anaheim claims the 8th spot by virtue of having one more win than the Preds. This was a tight checking game, with shots limited through the first two periods and scoring chances at a premium. Drew Miller put the Ducks up in the second 1-0 on a nice feed from Teemu Selanne. Shea Weber tied it in the third with his 20th goal of the season, scoring on a power play. Webs has the record for most goals by a Predator defenseman. The Preds out shot the Ducks 15-4 in the third, and had some glorious scoring chances, but couldn't bury the puck. Selanne had the only shootout goal, beating Pekka Rinne with a top shelf backhander.

The Preds now have 9 games left, and one would have to say that the advantage rests with the Ducks due to the strength of their remaining schedule. They have two games against the Avalanche, the last place team in the Western Conference, and one against Phoenix in their remaining nine games. The Preds are one point out of the playoffs with the Sharks coming to town on Thursday night. The road to the playoffs is not going to be easy- no one said it would. The guys showed heart tonight and have to bounce back and play with determination, grit, and heart over the remaining 9 games.

Kudos to the fans who cheered throughout the TV timeout at the 15 minute mark of the third period. This seemed to give an added boost to the team for the remainder of the game, and Coach Barry Trotz said as much in his post game remarks. The Preds are going to need their fans for the final four home games.

This loss hurts, not only from the standpoint of the standings, but because this team had a chance to put the win away in regulation and couldn't so so. So how do we respond? I think this team just shuts up and plays- with jam and heart. We believe in the guys on the ice. Dig deep, and just play, boys.

No Ducking This Reality

Game day finds the Preds back at the friendly confines of the Sommet Center for a 7:00 faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks, a team the Preds faced last Wednesday. The Preds picked up a point in that game, losing 4-3 in OT. What had been a non-existent power play for the Ducks awoke in that game, clicking at a rate of 60% (3 for 5 with the man advantage). Since then, the Duck's power play has been scorching, most recently going 5 for 5 against the Desert Dogs on Saturday night, and 7 for 12 in their last three games. Anaheim is now on a three game win streak and starting to play with some of the swagger that we are used to seeing from this team. Currently, the Ducks sit 9th in the Western Conference playoff race with 76 points, one point behind the 8th place Predators. I would expect Anaheim to hit the ice with lots of intensity tonight, and it is essential that the Preds come out flying and match that intensity.

Jason Arnott and Wade Belak are out tonight, and it is doubtful that Ryan Jones will play. Jonesy tweaked his back lifting weights on Monday. The severity of the injury and how long he will be off the ice is unknown at this time. On a positive note, Radek Bonk will be back on the ice tonight after missing 12 games with a separated shoulder.

This is playoff hockey. Heck, it has been playoff hockey since the All-Star break. We are now down to 10 games left in the regular season: 5 home and 5 road. This week begins a critical week of hockey for the Preds as they have 3 home games,all against teams they faced last week on their west coast swing. Win tonight, and we separate from Anaheim and make it more difficult for them to overtake us for the playoffs. Lose, and the shoe (or the skate) is on the other foot. This is desperation hockey against a strong opponent and playing shorthanded. The team has taken the approach of "Shut up and play", dealing with whatever situation that have to face with grit and intensity. Tonight, their play will speak loudly to their playoff chances. Pred fans- while this team may shut up and play, it's time to bring it. Noise, energy, and passion.

The puck drops at 7:00. Time to leave it all on the ice, boys.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Can the NHL Stand Jim Balsillie?

In an action that has received little publicity here in the states, Jim Balsillie and three executives of his company, Research In Motion, have settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission a charge of back dating employee stock option grants. CFO Dennis Kavelman, VP of Finance Angelo Loberto, and co-CEO's Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie have settled with the SEC the charge of back dating options from 1998 through 2006. These four executives, while neither admitting or denying the charges, have settled with the SEC for $1.4MM cumulatively. "As alleged in our complaint, RIM and its highest level executives engaged in widespread back dating of options which provided them and their employees with millions of dollars in undisclosed compensation," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. Additionally, the Ontario Securities Commission brought a related action against the Rim executives, which was settled for $76.85 million Candian dollars as well as other sanctions related to this action.

This is remarkably similar to the situation that Broadcom founder Henry Samueli found himself in last year. Samueli is the owner of the Anaheim Ducks, which he purchased in 2005. The total in the Samueli case was $2.2 billion of backdated options. Samueli is awaiting sentencing, which will occur August 30, 2009, and he could face up to five years in prison for his role in the scheme.

The last thing the NHL needs is an owner (or owners) of questionable character and judgement. This type of behavior is reflective of the character of the principals involved, and shows a blatant disregard for the rules. Can the NHL really stand an owner that can't play by the rules?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Heard on the Road

Here are some of the things heard on the road this past week as spoken by coaches, team officials, broadcasters, and traveling companions during some of the down times between games.

"Call hotel management- there is a wookie in the hot tub."

Brandon Walker of the Nashville Predators upon seeing Preds video coach Robert Bouchard in the hotel hot tub in Phoenix.

"Arizona is my favorite city."

Preds video coach Robert Bouchard, commenting on how much he liked Phoenix.

"I think I have a wine concussion."

One of my fellow travelers at lunch after a hard night during a discussion of player concussions.

"Tony Rangers? Who is that?"

Preds color man Terry Crisp, reading about a player trade that indicated a player was traded To: NY Rangers.

"You're the bomb."

A comment made to our middle Eastern cab driver in L.A. after doing some good driving around town. Political correctness was not a strong suit here.

"Nevertheless."

A great story told while sitting around the campfire (okay, it was a fire pit on the balcony of the bar of the Omni Hotel in L.A.) one night. The story is that at a NY Rangers game, John Condon, the PA announcer asked the crowd to stand for the national anthem as Patty LuPone, star of the Broadway play Evita, was going to sing the anthem. A drunk and rowdy crew in the upper bowl shouted in unison that Ms. LuPone uh, well, um, performed a particular sexual act. This reverberated throughout the arena in the still before the performance. Condon, never missing a beat, came back on the PA system and said, "Nevertheless, Ms. LuPone will sing the national anthem." Listen to future broadcasts to see if at least once during the game, a "nevertheless" reference is thrown in.

"You just got to have a little faith"

Spoken to Preds coach Robert Bouchard as he was waiting for service at the hotel bar as the cute young blond bartender walked up. Her name happened to be Faith. Awkward, to say the least.

"Is that a flying taco?"

Spoken upon seeing a Taco Bell balloon flying around Jobing.com arena during the first intermission. I think it was actually a chalupa.

Being with the players, coaches, team officials, and broadcasters for a week on the road provided an opportunity to interact that was priceless and showed a very human side of these folks. We should be proud of the way they represent Nashville and the quality of these individuals.

Obviously, this was not everything heard on the road, but it is a sample of some of the banter and conversations that occur. The impression that I took away is that this is a group of people that care for each other and play and work hard for each other.

The View From Up North, Part 3

James Mirtle of the blog From The Rink has posted part 3 of his series on hockey in Nashville. Follow the link to the right to read what James has to say. Send me your thoughts on the series so far.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pictures from the Road


The entrance to Jobing.com Arena from Westgate Mall, a shopping and dining venue adjacent to the arena


Jobing.com Arena prior to the start of the game


A view of the Coyotes bench and the lack of fans five minutes into the game


The Staples Center in L.A.


The Gretzky statue at the entrance to the Staples Center. Gretzky is the one on the left.


Only in Hollywood will you see a Transformer walking down the street


The Honda Center in Anaheim


The HP Pavilion

Inside the Shark Tank

No Tanking in the Tank

The Preds drop a 3-2 decision to the Sharks, taking the home team to a shootout to gain another vital point and remain in the 8th playoff spot in the West. The physicality of the Sharks was on display all night as the Sharks used their size and ability to control the puck to fire rubber all night at Pekka Rinne. The Preds were playing the second of back to back games and were coming off an overtime loss to Anaheim, and this would have been an easy game to go into the tank (sorry for the bad pun). Instead, this team battled all night, and had some good scoring chances in the third for a chance to capture the second point. After a 2-2 first period, the D solidified and held the potent Shark attack off the boards for the remaining two periods and the overtime period. Untimely and undisciplined penalties cost the Preds as SJ scored on a 5-3 power play for the first tally of the game. Joel Ward continued his strong play with a power play goal, and Vern Fiddler atoned for an earlier penalty with a breakaway shorthanded goal to give the Preds a 2-1 lead. San Jose scored with 3.1 seconds left in the first as they pushed a puck past Rinne in goal mouth scramble. From there on, it was a defensive contest that ebbed and flowed with both goalies coming up with big stops in the remaining two periods. Rinne was beaten twice in the shootout, with Jonathan Cheechoo getting the game winner.

As the game went on, I expected the Sharks to wear down a depleted Preds squad. This team played last night with grit, heart, and character. These players realize what is at stake in every game, and they responded with an effort that garnered another point. Sure, two points would have been ideal, but this team picked up 6 of a possible 8 points in some very tough barns- places that have in the past been a house of horrors for this team. They showed me what they are made of in this game and on this trip, and should be commended for their effort.

About the fight between Toots and Staubitz: Toots fearlessly took on a tough guy that had a sizeable size advantage and stood toe to toe with him. Staubitz got in some shots with his fists AND his elbows, and left Toots bloodied and injured. He was able to return and take regular shifts in the third. Trainer Dan Redmond told me after the game that Toots has a badly broken nose, but is expected to play when the Preds take the ice against Anaheim on Tuesday. Getting patched up and playing in the third after this fight is the epitome of heart and courage, friends.

Some observations from last night's game:

The Shark Tank was sold out (17,996) and this was by far the most engaged and energetic crowd of the entire road trip. The San Jose fans are vocal and knowledgeable; most of the crowd wore Sharks sweaters, and they were loud and spontaneous. HP Pavilion is a non-descript and sterile arena from the outside and is not much different on the inside. Being in Silicon Valley, they have wonderful technical displays and visuals in the arena, and they have a surfeit of corporate sponsorships and promotions. This is a great venue for hockey- the sight lines are good and the acoustics are great. Overall, the plainness of the venue notwithstanding, this is a good barn in which to watch a hockey game.

The Preds have some time off before they hit the ice again on Tuesday. I was talking to the coaches on the plane back to Nashville, and they think Radek Bonk will most likely be ready to go on Tuesday. Jason Arnott could still be questionable for Tuesday's game as he is still feeling some concussion like symptoms. Belak's status is still unknown as of this writing.

We will face these same teams again in our barn next week, and it is imperative that we protect our home ice. I think the guys will respond to the challenge. Pred fans should take heart from the effort that this team put forth on this road trip and be prepared to bring the noise and energy that our team feeds on when they are in our barn.

In the upcoming posts, I will have some pictures from the road, as well as what I hope is an interesting (and humorous) post about things heard on the road.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Tennessean "A-tax" On The Predators

The Tennessean's Brad Schrade has an article today about the Predators under paying $400K in seat taxes to the City of Nashville. Dirk Hoag of the blog On the Forecheck has done a great job of looking in to this matter and gives the full story on his blog. Follow the link to the right to get the complete story on this non-story. Seems like the Tennessean and their reporter could do some additional questioning of the parties involved before running a story of this nature.

De-Duck-tions for Penalties

The Preds managed to steal a point last night against the Ducks. falling 4-3 in OT. Untimely, and frankly, some inexplicable penalties cost the Preds last night as Anaheim shredded the PK, converting on three of their five chances including the game winner 34 seconds into the overtime period. In their prior eight games, the Ducks had gone 1 for 28 on the PP. Go figure. I talked to Coach Brent Peterson before the game, and he said that Anaheim would come at the Preds hard in the first, and he was right. Pekka Rinne kept the game from getting out of hand, giving up the first goal of the game to Cory Perry, who was alone (it seemed like forever) in front of the net. Pekka later stopped a 2 on 0 rush to keep the Preds close. Joel Ward continued his strong play, tallying two goals, and J.P. Dumont added another marker as his scoring touch seems to have returned on this road trip. There were stretches in the game when the Ducks seemed to dominate, working their cycle to perfection in our zone. Weathering those stretches, the Preds responded with two power play goals by Ward, the last to tie the game with 2:42 remaining in the third. The Vern Fiddler tripping penalty was just inexcusable, and it cost the Preds in the OT on the PP carry over, as Selanne tipped in a slap pass from Pronger for the game winner.

There are positives from this game. The Preds are undermanned with the loss of Bonk and Arnott, neither of which will play on this road trip, and the injury to Belak, who is now back in Nashville. Yet they continued to battle and fought back to gain a precious point to remain 7th in the Western Conference. The PP clicked for two goals last night, with Ward doing battle in front of the net to tip home two goals. This team continues to dig deep, knowing that each game is in essence a playoff game. They have captured 5 of a possible 6 points; I thought at the beginning of the trip they would need at least six points out of this swing to stay in contention. A chance for another two points tonight against San Jose, another big, physical team that is going to come after the Preds hard. The puck drops at 7:30.

The coaches have told me that Pekka Rinne is scheduled to get the start tonight.

Some observations about last night's game environment. The Honda Center is a magnificent facility. The main concourse is all marble and very ornate- probably the nicest arena that I have seen. I was in the lower bowl for the pre-skate, and the seating area surprisingly shows a lot of wear. All of the seats were dirty and many showed some wear. The sight lines are great for hockey and the video displays are awesome. Not only do they have video's that are displayed on the jumbotron, but they also have large video boards at each end of the arena that show the game and the replays. This is a great hockey venue.

The arena was at about 70% capacity last night- lots of empty seats in the upper bowl and a surprising number of empty seats in the lower bowl. The crowd last night was incredibly laid back. Lots of cheering for a goal and not much else. No spontaneity and energy whatsoever. Must be that California lifestyle.

No morning skate today for the Preds as the coaching staff has decided to hold team meetings at the hotel and keep the guys off their feet. I expect tonight's game to be a physical contest, and it is essential that the Preds play with discipline and stay out of the box. We all know only too well the Sharks PP can make you pay for penalties. I talked with several of the players this morning and there is a workman like attitude to tonight's game. They know where they are in the playoff hunt and what they have to do to lock down a berth. The fact this team is not at full strength is just a fact of life, and they are dealing with it appropriately. I look for the guys to step up and play with the heart and character that they have exhibited so far.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Ducking It

The third game of the West coast swing and the first of back to back games as the Preds take on the Ducks in the Honda Center with a 7:00 face off. The four game tour through the Pacific Division has started well with two victories. Tonight's contest should provide a stern test as the very physical Ducks will battle a wounded Preds squad. Wade Belak has been sent home and Patric Hornqvist joined the team last night to take his spot on the roster. Arnott and Bonk will still be out of the line up and Klein is sore from taking the brunt of a very hard shot against L.A., but is going to be in the lineup. Nashville occupies the 8th playoff spot with 75 points; Anaheim sits 12th with 70 points. In the battle for playoff positioning in the West, no team has been able to seperate from those in the hunt- Columbus (6th) has 78 points; Edmonton (7th) has 75 points; Nashville (8th) has 75 points; Dallas (9th) has 74 points; and Minnesota (10th) has 74 points. This indicates the critical nature of capturing points for the Preds and not wasting opportunities to distance themselves from teams that are chasing.

I had an opportunity to visit with Scott Nichol this morning. Scott is one of the truly good guys and offered his perspective on his game. He is still shaking off some of the rust and getting back into form to play his high energy game. His comment that was most telling was that he is ready to do what it takes to help this team win. The team will benefit from the energy he brings to the ice and the presence he provides in the locker room.

The guys understand the magnitude of these games and what it will take to bring home a victory. Time to translate it from the mind to heart and bring it to the ice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Honor Where Honor Is Due

Congratulations to Ryan Jones who was named as the NHL's second star for his effort in the L.A. game. Jones battled in front of the net all night and was rewarded for his efforts with the game winning goal at the 17:42 mark of the third period. Jonesy has been a force in front all season, and it is good to see his efforts recognized.

Reinforcements

Forward Patric Hornqvist has been recalled by the Nashville Predators and will be joining the team in Anaheim for tomorrow night's game against the Ducks. The Preds have lost Wade Belak for an indeterminate time due to an abdominal injury, and Hornqvist will be taking his place on the roster.

I Love L.A.

The Randy Newman song title is appropriate after the Preds came away with a 4-3 victory over the L.A. Kings in a game that ebbed and flowed all night. After Anze Kopitar put the Kings up 1-0 in the first, Shea Weber answered with a rocket from the blueline that tallied with 14.2 seconds left in the first. That score seemed to energize the team, which had been outworked by the Kings for most of the first period. The Preds came out of the locker room and controlled play for the first 10 minutes and took a 2-1 lead on Joel Ward's power play goal. One of the keys to success for this team is to get scoring from multiple lines and players, and tonight the Preds were able to do that. After L.A. tied the game, Steve Sullivan put the Preds up 3-2 going into the third with his 8th goal of the year. The game winning goal by Ryan Jones was a thing of blue collar beauty. Jones was parked in front of the net and was battling for position when he was able to corral a rebound and slide it past Ersberg. A gritty goal resulting from battling in front of the net and doing what it takes to win exemplified the team effort tonight. A special mention to Dan Hamhuis on that play to keep the puck in at the blue line and fire it to the net, where Jones was stationed.

INJURY UPDATE: Wade Belak is being sent home to be examined by team doctors for an abdominal injury. Kevin Klein was hit by a shot late in the game, and although able to finish the game, was in some pain. He is being examined by the training staff on the off day.

Some observations from L.A.: A larger and more energetic crowd last night. The Staples Center is cavernous, and a lot of that energy dissipates in the mammoth open spaces. This is an arena designed for entertaining as there are almost as many seats in the three levels of suites as there are in the lower and upper bowls. The Kings have a good group of fans that support the team and there a lot of jerseys in the crowd. This is a good young hockey team, and if they continue to win will draw good crowds. In walking around the main concourse, I found that you could get gourmet food offerings, sushi, as well as standard arena fare. None of it is cheap.

A huge win by the Preds last night. Talking to the guys this morning, they are loose but focused. They understand the task at hand. I like the attitude these guys are displaying. Gotta get some players healthy. Gotta keep up the momentum.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Game Day In L.A.

Just got back from the morning practice, and this was a loose and energetic bunch on the ice. A very spirited and brisk morning skate by the team. Pekka Rinne will be in net tonight, and the Preds will continue to be without the services of Jason Arnott until at least the San Jose game. Radek Bonk will be out of the line up for at least another week.

The Preds have to continue to win on the road on their march to the playoffs and must improve on their 13-18-2 road record. Disciplined hockey is a must and the PP has to continue their stellar work when called upon (31 of the past 32 PK opportunities). Solid D is critical, as the L.A. squad boasts some explosive forwards with Kopitar and Frolov leading the way. The Preds have to generate scoring chances by throwing the puck at the net, and hopefully have scoring from other than the top line. Congratulations to David Legwand, whose empty netter against Phoenix put him at 20 goals for the season. Gotta have more scoring and strong skating from David.

L.A. has won three straight in their barn, and they are coming off a two game road losing streak. We will be facing a hungry team that sits 5 points behind the Preds in the playoff race in the West. The road is never easy. Tonight will be a scrap. Time to play with some jam and grit, boys.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The First Step

A workmanlike victory last night for the Preds as they blank the Desert Dogs 2-0. The Preds D absolutely stifled the Coyotes through two periods, allowing only 8 SOG. The offense poured 27 shots at Ilya Bryzgalov but only J.P. Dumont was able to score, blasting a wicked one timer from the high slot. The Preds gave up several good scoring chances in the third, allowing Phoenix to get good looks from the low slot. Fortunately, Pekka Rinne was able to clean up any defensive breakdowns and recorded his 7th shutout of the season. Pekka appears to bear no ill effects from the stomach flu that shut him down for two games.

The team emerged relatively healthy from this contest, although Radek Bonk now looks doubtful for the remainder of this trip as his injured shoulder has not responded as hoped. Vern Fiddler is wearing a walking boot on his right foot, but is expected to be able to play tomorrow night against L.A.

Some thoughts about last night: the crowd was announced at 13,197, but there did not appear to be more than 10,000 people at the game. This has to be the deadest arena in the NHL as far as energy from the crowd. Pred fans cannot underestimate what they bring to the team as far as energy for a game in the Sommet Center. I was sitting in a suite on the opposite side of the arena from the team benches and during the course of the game could hear our coaches yelling to players on the ice. An incredibly lethargic and dead atmosphere inside of Jobing.com arena. The arena itself is a beautiful facility and a great venue for hockey. The problem for the Coyotes is that not enough people come out to see the team, and I have to believe that the lack of energy affects the home team. Pred fans- you are to be commended for the energy you bring to our barn for each home game.

As the Preds continue this trip, scoring must improve. We will continue to be without our leading scorer in Jason Arnott and leading faceoff man Radek Bonk. This is the hand we have been dealt, and this team is resilient. The hustle and effort is being shown by every player on the ice. All lines will have to continue to shoot the puck and crash the crease. It is basic hockey, and it is the type of hockey we will need to play to continue to pick up points. There is among the players a healthy sense of what they have to accomplish on this trip, and I expect them to continue to bring the effort that it will take to pick up these precious points. The puck drops at 7:30 tomorrow night. You know what you have to do, boys.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In the Desert

Currrently in Glendale, AZ., with the Preds as they prepare to take on the Coyotes at the start of a crucial four game road trip. The outcome of this trip will probably determine if the Preds make the playoffs, so it is essential to get off to a good start. Jason Arnott will be out of the lineup and will not return to action until the San Jose game at the earliest. Radek Bonk is probable for tonight's game, and should be back in the line up consistently beginning Monday. Pekka Rinne is expected to start in goal.

Glendale is well north of Phoenix (way north of downtown and an hour from the airport) and in the middle of.... nothing. There is a a shopping and dining area that is adjacent to the Jobing.com arena; the team hotel is next door; and the University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) is across the street. This means that a hockey night in Glendale doesn't generate the same kind of foot traffic and energy that a hockey night in Nashville would. It makes you wonder if some of the financial woes of the Desert Dogs are a result of their venue.

The mood of the team is calm and focused and is reflective of their head coach. In talking with Coach Trotz, he indicated that the team knows what it has to do and knows the challenges they face in trying to accomplish their task. The will to win, regardless of the injuries and shortage of personnel, courses through this team. Veteran leadership and the youthful exuberance of the young guys must meld and produce the results that will carry us to the playoffs. Time to shine, boys.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On The Road

The View is going to travel with the Preds on their four game west coast swing and will be posting blogs from the road over the next week.

On The Outs

Out played. Out worked. Out hustled. Outscored. This pretty well sums up the night as the Preds could not hold a 2-1 lead and squandered two precious points. This team has shown an annoying habit of losing their intensity in the second period and having that, unfortunately, carry over into the third period. Tonight was another example of this disturbing trend, as the Preds drop a 4-2 decision to the Rangers.

On the road and trying desperately to get their mojo back. A huge four game west coast swing that will probably determine the Preds playoff fate. It's now time to out work and out play the opponents and lock down a playoff berth.

Blueshirts on Broadway

The last of the Eastern Conference opponents roll in to the Sommet Center tonight as the Broadway Blueshirts take on the Predators in a battle of two teams fighting for playoff positioning. The Preds hold down the 8th spot in the Western Conference, tied with 7th place Edmonton at 71 points, with the Oil having a game in hand on the Preds. Close on the heels of the Preds are Minnesota, Dallas, and Anaheim, each with 70 points. The Rangers occupy the 9th position in the East with 76 points, trailing 8th place Florida by one point and 7th place Carolina by two points.

This shapes up a a battle between two hungry, desperate squads looking to solidify playoff positioning. The Rangers Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net tonight after missing several games with a stomach ailment. Pekka Rinne also returns tonight after missing the last game for the same reason. The current reigning NHL bad boy, the cowardly Sean Avery (see if he will ever drop the gloves), brings his sideshow in for the Rangers. I'm guessing that somewhere between now and the end of the season volatile and opinionated Coach John Tortorella's head might actually explode from dealing with Avery and the current composition of his Rangers squad. Jason Arnott is questionable tonight after a major collision he sustained in the Caps game.

After tonight, the Preds embark on a 4 game West Coast swing. Counting tonight's game against the Rangers, there are 10 critical points up for grabs in the next seven days. I believe we have to get a least 8 of them to continue our playoff hopes. This is not a time for finesse or the faint of heart. This is the time for focused, intense, full-bore hockey. Pucks at the net, crash the crease and leave it all on the ice. We will take what happens if you play that way, boys. Don't disappoint.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The View From Up North, Part 2

James Mirtle has posted the second part of his series about hockey in Smashville. Follow the link on the right to his site, From the Rink.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Capital Crimes


The Caps prevailed in overtime over the Preds 2-1. The Preds pick up a precious point and remain in the 8th spot in the Western Conference with 71 points. Edmonton lost in overtime to Montreal and pick up a point to remain in 7th with 71 points. Columbus shut out the Bruins to move to 74 points, solidifying their 6th position, and Dallas lost to St. Louis 5-2 to remain at 70 points and in the 9th spot in the playoff race.

The Preds dominated the first period, controlling play and spending the majority of the period on Washington's end of the ice. After the first period, the ice started to tilt in favor of the Caps. In the second the Preds had several scoring chances, but couldn't bury them. In the third period, the Caps dominated and outshot the Preds 17-8. Give Kudos to Dan Ellis for some remarkable saves and turning aside 42 shots to gain a point for the Preds. The D was solid in front of Ellis, forcing many of the Caps shots from the outside and limiting the explosive Alexander Ovechkin to five shots and one assist on the game winner by Sergei Federov. The Preds blocked 25 shots tonight and for the most part held a potent Capital offense in check. If there is a negative from this game, it was the fact that the Predators returned to some old and frustrating habits by not taking shots and favoring the pass instead. This team has to win in a workman like manner- throw the puck on the net and crash the crease. That was lacking tonight. Captain Jason Arnott was dinged by a hard open ice hit midway in the second period and did not return for the remainder of the game. This forced Coach Barry Trotz to juggle his lines, and it seemed to affect the rhythm of the offense. Wade Belak punished Donald Brashear in a fight, knocking him out of the game; and Jordin Tootoo absolutely whipped Matt Bradley in a subsequent fight, leaving Bradley bloodied and with a possible broken nose, although he did return to ice later in the game. Unfortunately for the Preds, the energy from these bouts did not translate into offensive production as the Preds were held off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.

There are positives that can be taken from this game. A point was earned against the third best team in the East; the goal tending from Dan Ellis was outstanding; and the D was solid (Suter and Weber were outstanding tonight). This game proved that we have to stick with what has brought us success offensively- shoot the puck and crash the net. This is not a finesse team, rather it is a blue collar team that wins by playing hard hockey. We lost that focus late in the game and it cost us a point. We have to get back to what has brought us success and not attempt to be something we are not. Redemption time comes Thursday night against the Rangers.

Desperately Needing Some Chicken Noodle Soup

The flu bug has decided to descend upon the team as numerous players are battling a rather nasty bout of gastrointestinal distress. This will probably force some line up changes for tonight's game against the Caps. Of note: Pekke Rinne is one of the victims and will be on the bench. Dan Ellis gets the starting nod.

A Special Day

A non-hockey related post here. 17 years ago, my wife and I had the privilege to adopt our daughter. Born March 10th, she came in to our lives on March 11th. Seven years later, we were blessed to adopt a second child, our son, who was also born on March 10. Seventeen years have flown by since our daughter came into our lives, and I have watched her grow into a beautiful young woman. Over the past ten years I have watched my son develop a love for life, sports, and friends that has no bounds. Like every parent, my wife and I have agonized over decisions that our children have made; worried about their well being; and have been frustrated at times beyond measure. And like every parent, we have watched with pride as they have accomplished success in school or an outside endeavor and have started to grow into good and responsible people.

Happy Birthday, Meg and Matt. I love you.

Capital Offense

The Washington Ovechkins, uh, Capitals roll into the Sommet Center tonight as the Preds look to get back to their winning ways against another Eastern Conference opponent. Nashville currently sits in the 8th spot in the Western Conference with 70 points; Washington is 3rd in the East with 86 points. Nashville is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games while Washington is 4-5-1, having lost their last four. The usually potent Capital offense has hit a slump in the four losses, scoring a combined total of 8 goals. Production for Washington has come from the usual suspects of Ovechkin, Semin, and Fedorov. Washington has, however, only managed one goal from someone not on their top line in these losses. For the Preds to be successful, the will have to contain the potent top line of the Caps and limit secondary scoring. The Preds top line has to be productive, but we must continue the positive trends of shooting the puck and crashing the net as all lines have done recently. Scoring from our second, third, and fourth lines have been solid and consistent during the win streak. After a hiatus in Philly, it is time to see this type of play.

The Preds welcome back Scott Nichol tonight. "Scooter" is a dynamic and integral part of this team who brings high energy and a strong work ethic to the ice. I had a chance to talk to Scott while he was out, and he was anxious to get back on the ice and frustrated that the process was taking so long. 38 games- we missed you Scooter. Good to see a good guy work his way back.

The puck drops at 7:00. Time to bring it boys.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The View From Up North

James Mirtle, Toronto Globe and Mail writer and author of the blog From the Rink was recently in our fair city to see what the hockey experience was like. James has begun a multi-part report on his experiences and impressions of Preds hockey, the city, and the fans. His first post is up today. Follow the link to the right to see James' blog.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

No News is No News

The Tennessean has made a significant change in their coverage of the Predators. John Glennon, beat reporter for the Tennessean who primarily covers the Preds, is no longer traveling on the road to cover the away games. Today's sport section had AP wire reports for the Preds game last night in Philly. Glennon will continue to provide local coverage of the team. All newspapers are suffering financially, for a variety of reasons, and this is one way to contain costs. In the view of The View, the coverage of the Preds by the Tennessean has been average at best. This only serves to lower the bar for that coverage. And that is pathetic.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bullied

The Preds 6 game winning streak came to a screeching halt as they ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite outshooting the Broad Street Bullies 32-26, the Preds could only solve Marty Biron once with a tally by Martin Erat for his 16th goal of the season. The Flyers shut down the Pred offense and gave Biron good looks at the shots the Preds put on goal. The Preds took more penalties than normal (8) and gave up a second period power play goal, ending their streak of seven games without allowing a PP goal. The Preds PP was ineffective, going 0-7.

Streaks eventually come to an end- every team and fan knows that. What we do after this loss is the important thing now. It is imperative that the Preds bounce back against a very good Washington Capital squad that rolls into the Sommet Center on Tuesday night. Back to the basics- throwing pucks on the net and scoring in the hard areas, winning battles on the boards and in the corners, and playing solid D. Time for leadership in the locker room to assert itself and get the focus back.

As of tonight, Columbus now has 72 points and is 6th in the Western Conference; Dallas is in 7th with 70 points; and Edmonton sits in 8th with 70 points. Nashville occupies the 9th spot with 70 points as well, but the 7th and 8th teams have a game in hand. This is playoff hockey. Every game, every point is precious. Put this one in the rear view mirror and start a new streak, boys.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Exerting Their Will

A slug fest occurred at the Sommet Center with the 6th place BJ's taking on the Preds in a battle for Western Conference standing. The Preds took the best shot that Columbus could throw at them and prevailed 4-2. Impressive in this victory was scoring from all four lines for the Preds; killing off two minutes of a BJ five on three power play in the first period; and the outstanding play of Pekke Rinne as he outdueled his counterpart Steve Mason. Rinne has to now be given serious consideration as a Calder Trophy candidate.

This team is 6-0 in their last six games, and more importantly captured all 10 points in this five game home stand. This team has exerted their will in these five contests and has shown the heart that refuses to lose. The Preds have now climbed to 6th in the Western Conference, and in this drive to the playoffs have shown the heart, the drive, and the desire to capture vital points in the playoff race. Down 2-1, the Preds scored three straight goals and stymied the BJ offensive effort. That is grit, heart and the will to win coming to the fore.

On the road Saturday at Philly. The drive to the playoffs continues. The will to win has been exhibited in this home stand. Time to take it on the road, boys.

One Rung at a Time


The climb toward the playoffs continues tonight as the Preds wrap up a five game homestand against division rival Columbus. Columbus is 6th in the Western Conference with 70 points, Edmonton sits in 7th with 68 points, and the Predators occupy 8th with 68 points because Edmonton has a game in hand on the Preds.This is another huge game tonight as the Preds look to move further up the Western Confernce standings and start to seperate themselves from the teams that are out of the playoff picture.


We have been able to laughingly in the past refer to Columbus as the "Dinner Jackets", but no more. The coming of age of Steve Mason in goals for the BJ's has given this team confidence and the talent level has improved around Rick Nash. Columbus is fighting for their first ever playoff berth, and for this franchise, it is considered to be critical to their fan support to get into the post season. Newly acquired Antoine Vermette could be in the lineup tonight provided that he can clear up a problem with his visa (not the credit card) and get into the States.


The Preds now face their final 18 games with the roster that has brought them back in to playoff contention. This group has shown they can score and play solid D. Pekka Rinne has established himself as a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate. We all know the talent to win is there. Now we are seeing the drive, the grit, and the heart to win and carry this team back to the postseason. Gotta have the focus, consistency, and intensity tonight, boys, for this playoff game before the playoffs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Standing Pat

The equivalent of Christmas day has come and gone for fans of NHL teams as the trade deadline is now but a memory. 22 trades occurred involving 45 players and 21 draft picks being exchanged between trading partners. The Preds chose to do nothing on this day, maintaining the status quo with their roster and with the expectation that injured players (Bonk, Erat, Sulzer, and Nichol) will soon be back in the line up and (hopefully) contributing. In the Western Conference, Edmonton traded F Erik Cole to the Hurricanes for F Patrick Sullivan (acquired from LA via Carolina in an earlier trade) and a second round pick. The Oil also pick up speedy forward Ales Kotalik from Buffalo for a second round pick. San Jose acquired F Travis Moen and D Kent Huskins from Anaheim for prospects and a conditional draft pick. Anaheim aslo shipped F Sami Pahlsson to Chicago for D James Wisniewski. Pahlsson is still recovering from mono, but is expected to be in the line up in the near future. Columbus acquired F Antoine Vermette from Ottawa for Goalie Pascal Leclaire. And it what was arguably the biggest trade of the day, Calgary acquired D Jordan Leopold from Colorado and F Olli Jokinen from Phoenix. The Flames sent F Matthew Lombardi and F Brandon Prust along with a first round pick to Phoenix and D Lawrence Nycholat, D Ryan Wilson, and a 4th round draft pick to the Avalanche.

As a Preds fan, one can look at this in either a positive or a negative light. Negatively, we could say that we missed opportunities to add second line scoring with someone like Nik Antropov or Dominic Moore, or even picking up Miroslav Satan off waivers. The positive perspective is that this team is playing with heart and grit, has great chemistry, and is doing what it takes to win games. Locker room chemistry is a delicate balance and can easily be upset, and we have seen how talented but troubled players can quickly take down a team and a season (think Sean Avery). The test of our decisions today will play itself out over the next 18 games.

For another take on today's action, follow the link to the Forechecker's sight On the Forecheck.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oil Embargo

In a game between two teams fighting for their playoff lives, the Preds prevailed in an overtime slug fest 6-5. The Preds now are tied with Edmonton and Anaheim with 68 points. The Preds have a game in hand on Anaheim and as of tonight occupy the 8th spot in the Western Conference.

This was a contest between two desperate teams, and the game reflected that desperation. The lead was swapped often, and the downside for the Preds is that they couldn't hold a 5-4 lead in the third, allowing Edmonton to take the game to overtime. The Preds stymied the Oil in the OT, with Jason Arnott scoring the game winner on a power play and extending the Oilers woes in the Sommet Center. The Oil has not won a game in the Preds barn since 2005.

David Legwand continues his torrid pace as he potted two goals in the first period. Steve Sullivan continues to round into form as he nets two goals. Ryan Suter scored on a power play blast from the blue line, and Arnott gets the game winner in overtime on a 4 on 3 power play.

This team has now won a season high 5 games in a row, and continues to exhibit the heart and drive that is necessary to carry them to the playoffs. Heart shows itself in many ways, and this team showed it tonight by answering the challenge from the Oil time after time. It would have been easy to lay down when Edmonton came back and took the lead with two quick goals in the third. There was no quit in this team as they answered the challenge and got the vital two points. Barry Trotz described it in his post game press conference as "climbing the ladder, one rung at a time." This team continues to climb the ladder to the playoffs. That is what heart is all about. Another critical game against Columbus on Thursday night. Continue to play with heart, boys.