Friday, February 26, 2010

Hockey Tonk in Smashville

The Nashville Predators held their annual gala to raise funds for the Predators Foundation at the Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday night. The theme of this year's gala was "Hockey Tonk" and players, coaches, and guests were dressed in their finest western regalia to enjoy good fellowship and food for a wonderful organization. We in Nashville are fortunate to have a team that places such a high priority on community involvement and the betterment of life. This year, according to Jack Diller, the President of the Foundation, over $300,000 will be distributed to various charitable enterprises in Middle Tennessee.

Here are some photos from the event:


Pete and Claudia Weber with the View



J.P. Dumont and the missus, Laura



Dan Hamhuis, Jordin Tootoo, Peggy and Mark Blake at the blackjack table



With assistant coach Peter Horachek and his wife, Stacy. Notice the pistols that Coach Horachek has. Fortunately, no shots were fired during the course of the event.



Coach Horachek along with Sheila and Terry Crisp.



Predators video coach Robert Bouchard. Bouch is from Montreal. He and J.P. Dumont are the first French Canadian cowboys I have ever met.



The ladies on the floor of the Arena during the event



Wade Belak and the View. We threw down shortly after the picture was taken. (uh, not really)



Predators forward Joel Ward was our guest at our table. A genuinely friendly and down to earth guy.



Scott and Kristie Roland with Joel



Predators play by play announcer Pete Weber and his wife Claudia. Notice the lasso I have with me. I used it on several occasions to rope my wife away from bidding on too many silent auction items.



With Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz. Trotzy always gets into the spirit of these events.



All of the Predator players were there with the exception of the Olympic athletes. All of them are very personable and gracious. Here, forward Ryan Jones is with Kristie and Scott Roland.

My View


Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...



Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to declare the myth of man made global warming dead. In fact, myth is too kind of a word for this sham. It was a great big lie perpetrated by hucksters and con artists (Imma talkin' to you, Al Gore) to wrest control of global economies and make lots of money for the insiders in this massive fraud. Why the harsh words, you ask? Phil Jones, the professor at the epicenter of the controversy and one of the leading proponents of anthropogenic (man made) global warming, has said that he cannot reproduce the data on which much of the hype was based. Furthermore, he has now stated that the world climate was warmer in medieval times than today, refuting the false contention that humans and human activity are causing global warming. Even though the science is made up however, according to Jones, the concept is right. Huh? Look, these researchers were funded through tax dollars, the cap and trade system was a huge tax grab for the governments of the world, and Gore and others stood to make untold millions trading carbon offsets. Always follow the money if you want to find the truth.

I spend a lot of my time just trying to figure out what would Scoobey do.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." These familiar words from our Declaration of Independence become more pertinent today as our federal government is more and more governing against the wishes of the people. Even though the majority of Americans are opposed to socialized medicine, the arrogant Washington crowd still tries to foist this boondoggle on the public.Washington has become more about perpetuating power than governing with the consent of the people. Many percieve that the Federal government is a threat to our basic rights. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 56% of the people polled believe that the Federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses a threat to the rights of ordinary citizens. There is becoming a greater disconnect between the government and the governed, and this is a dangerous situation for our great country.

Outside of a dog, a book is probably a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

One of the problems with creating new jobs during this recession has been the uncertainty that the business community contends with from Washington. As long as the rules are clear and the expectations of the tax and legal environment are stable, businesses can make decisions about hiring and expansion. When those issues become muddied, businesses will go into a holding pattern- they will continue to function at present levels with a high degree of caution as to the future. They will not be hiring; they will not buy new equipment; they will not expand. They cannot do so because of the concern over changing tax rules, legal requirements, or accounting changes. What is a good decision today could be a horrific decision tomorrow because the rules have changed, sometimes dramatically. Until there is a some reasonable expectation by the business community of what Washington will be doing, they will be loath to hire and unemployment will remain high for a long time.

It takes a lot of balls to play golf the way I do.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My View



Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

One of the cornerstones of economic recovery after a recession is the ability and desire of banks to lend money to credit worthy borrowers. Borrowers- businesses and individuals- depend upon banks to provide capital through loans to purchase equipment, expand their business, and hire new employees. History shows us that contractions in lending have preceded recessions or lengthened the time it takes to recover from a recession. Simply put, if banks do not lend, then the ability to grow business and the economy in this country will be stunted for some time. Why is this point important? In January, U.S. banks cut their their commercial lending- lending to the businesses in our communities- by $100 BILLION, a -16% annualized pace. Banks are responding to the economic and regulatory environment in which they find themselves and have adjusted their lending activity accordingly. This does not bode well for a quick and sustainable economic recovery.

We had a tragedy at my house this past week. My dogma was run over by my karma.

MSN.com had an article this past week in their real estate section entitled "America's Most Miserable Cities" which was a subjective ranking of various municipalites based on their misery index. The metrics in the index were taxes (both sales and income), crime rates, unemployment, commute times, public corruption, and the performance of a particular city's pro sports teams, if applicable (?).  Cleveland was rated the worst; Memphis was third. The article and the list can be found at http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=23468980. One of the aspects of the quality of life in the cities listed is the fact that there is the presence of numerous government programs that range from transportation initiatives to public housing to welfare. T

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scenes From the Road


Nassau Coliseum at Sunset

 

Outside Nassau Coliseum

 

Inside the Coliseum before the pre-skate

 

The Stanley Cup banners for the Islanders


Hall of Fame banners

 

Pre-skate at the Islanders game

 

The snowpocalypse that hit New York City. View is from the 28th floor of the team hotel.

 

Snowy Times Square. About two blocks from the hotel.

 

Inside Madison Square Garden before the pre-skate

 

The scoreboard and the iconic roof at MSG

 

The main entrance to "The Rock"- the Prudential Center in Newark

 

Inside The Rock just prior to the start of the game

 

The Devils Stanley Cup banners. I can't wait to see those hanging in the Sommet Center

 

Looking up at the press box inside The Rock


 

The crowd inside The Rock ten minutes into the contest. I guess we can call the Devils a "failed experiment" and the League should consider moving the franchise?

 

The Igloo. Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh

 

Consol Energy Center, the Penguins new home, is being built directly across the street from the Igloo

 

We met Kevin Klein's parents, on the left, and god-parents, on the right, prior to the game

 

Inside the Igloo prior to the start of the game

 

Pre-skate at the start of the Penguins game

 

The scoreboard tells the story. Preds get a big win in the Igloo

 

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting some great Long Island folks and fellow Twitterers. From the left: Katrina Doell, The View From 111, Michael Schuerline (Islesblogger), and Doug Davison.

 

With B.D. Gallof, the publisher of Hockey Independent

 

 Dani Muccio, otherwise known as dani3boyz.

 

At lunch with Dee Karl, (7thwoman on Twitter), and Dani Muccio. Two of the nicest and most gracious people that anyone could ever meet. Dee is a regular contributor on Hockey Buzz.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Ruminations From The Road

Some thoughts and observations after spending a week on the road with the Predators...

Predator fans were well represented on the road. There were approximately 40 Predator fans at all three New York/New Jersey venues. It was certainly good to see all the Predator jerseys standing around the glass during the pre-skate Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, and the Rock. It is amusing to note the reaction of the fans of the other team when they see a Predators jersey in their rink. It is as if they are seeing an alien from outer space.

I saw something in Pittsburgh that I have never witnessed before in a hockey game. A bird that was apparently roosting in the upper confines of Mellon Arena decided to swoop down and buzz Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury. After flying around his head a couple of times, he flew up into the net behind the goal. Once the bird extricated himself, he flew back up to the nether regions of the arena. Fortunately for Fleury, the puck was the other end of the ice when this avian attack occurred.

Speaking of the Penguins, there is no doubt that Sidney Crosby is one of the two best players in the game today. But goodness, Sidney, stop all your whining when you get called for a penalty. During a sequence in the second period, Crosby slashed the Predators puck carrier not once, but three times as the puck was being skated down the ice. After the third slash, the official finally called the appropriate penalty. And Sid mouthed and whined all the way to the box. You have earned your rep as a whiner, and frankly, this detracts from your game, Sid.

The New York Rangers have one of the best openings that I have witnessed at a hockey game. Their theme is "I am a Ranger", and they incorporate man on the street responses with historic footage of the Rangers along with current videos. Very entertaining and very well done. The history of these teams is truly remarkable and something that they all use to their advantage in promoting hockey in their local market as well as energizing the crowd before the game.

The snow storm that hit New York City limited the crowd at Madison Square Garden to about 7,000 hardy fans. It was a surprising docile crowd, only getting in to the game in the last four minutes of the contest as the Rangers were trying to overcome a one goal deficit. The quietest crowd of any on the road.

Congratulations to the Predator bloggers. You guys have earned a well deserved reputation for quality writing and depth of coverage. I heard from several people who commented positively about the Nashville blogging community. The blogging community in all hockey markets continues to take up the slack from the mainstream press in covering their local hockey teams, and Nashville is second to no one in that regard.

It was interesting to note the level of animosity that each market felt about their local rivals. The Islanders hate the Rangers; the Rangers hate the Islanders, and the Devils hate the Rangers. How do I know? Spontaneous chants erupted in each venue regarding the particular hated rival. The Ranger fans were heard on numerous occasions chanting "Potvin sucks", in reference to Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Dennis Potvin. The Devils fans occasionally would belt out a hearty "Rangers suck" cheer during the course of the game. And the Islander fans would be quick to tell you how they felt about the Rangers. Obviously, the close proximity of those teams helps to foster the rivalry and intense hatred for the other teams.

I don't know if this portends roster moves before the trade deadline, but I saw General Manager David Poile in a huddle with the coaching staff in the team hotel after the Rangers game, and they appeared to be in intense conversation. The three days after the Olympic break and before the trade deadline could prove to be interesting.

Pete Weber and Terry Crisp are two men who are very well respected among those that follow the game. It is obvious that they are a great broadcast tandem, but they are also wonderful ambassadors for the Predators. Their presence in the broadcast booth gives the team an aura of credibility and respectability among the fans of other teams. I heard numerous positive comments about our guys, and we are fortunate to have them representing the Preds.

I will be doing a post about the various arenas that I attended this past week, but suffice it to say, fans in Nashville should be very glad we have a barn like the Sommet Center. It was interesting to talk to the folks on Long Island and hear their frustration in trying to get a new venue built for the Islanders. And they desperately need a new barn. Our barn stands out for being a fan friendly arena, and being in a vibrant downtown area is priceless.

One thing the Islanders have done that was different and innovative: they have set up a "blog box" that is at the top of the lower bowl at center ice. This is where credentialed local bloggers can set up and blog about the game. All power and communication hookups are available to those that use this area. I sat in the blog box for the first period of the game, and it is a great vantage point. Kudos to the Islanders for embracing the presence of the blogging community at their games.

I didn't know this, but I found out that the roof at Mellon Arena opens. According to some of the local fans, it hasn't been opened in at least seven years. Imagine playing a game with the roof open.

Great fans in Pittsburgh. Lots of hockey knowledge and enthusiasm.

The Pens blue uniforms look very good in person. I like them better than the traditional black and gold.

The Penguins were the only team to acknowledge their Olympians on their squad. The Islanders had one more home game on Sunday, so I am going to assume they did so at that time.

You can't get grits up North.

And that, my friends, are some observations and thoughts from the road.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Predators Nip Penguins 4-3 in a Shootout

In the final game before the Olympic break, the Nashville Predators looked perilously close to getting blown out of the Igloo in the first period of their game with the Penguins. In fact, it looked as if the third period debacle against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night was being replayed on Sunday afternoon. As it was, the Predators were fortunate to get out of the period down 1-0.

Pittsburgh brought the attack from the opening face off, out-shooting the Predators 8-0 over the first six minutes of the period. Dan Ellis was called upon to make some big saves early to keep the Pens off the board. In fact, it appeared that the Predators were just content ot dump the puck out of the zone and play keep away from the potent scorers on the Penguins squad.

While not mounting any offense whatsoever, this tactic worked until 14:21 of the period when Ryan Jones was called for high sticking in a scrum behind the Pens net. Just :22 in and on the first shot of the power play, Sidney Crosby blasted a slapshot past Ellis for a 1-0 Pens lead. That score would stand for the remaider of the period.

The Predators were outshot 11-4 in the first and generated no serios offense. If not for the outstanding play of Dan Ellis, they could have easily faced a much larger deficit going in to the locker room.

I would certainly have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the locker room at the first intermission to hear what Head Coach had to say to his charges. I'm certain it was not fun to hear and most likely questioned the desire of the players, because a completely different team emerged from the locker room for the second period.

Evgeni Malkin and Dan Hamhuis were involved in a tussle at the end of the first period, and Malkin got an extra two minutes for the roughing call. The Predators availed themselves just :34 seconds into the period and the man advantage as Martin Erat whisteld a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. Suddenly, the Predators had life, and more importantly seemed to believe they could play with the Penguins.  The hitting for the Preds picked up and they had more jump.

At 2:09 of the second, Matt Cooke brought the home crowd to their feet with a goal off a shot by Jordan Staal. Staal was able to drive the net, and although Ellis made a great save, he could not control the rebound and Cooke was left alone to push the puck over the goal line.

Jordin Tootoo immediately stole the momentum back for the Predators as he fired a shot from a difficult angle that somehow got between Fleury and the post. In the span of 12 seconds, the building went from raucous to stunned as the partisan crowd realized that there was some serious fight left in the Predators.

There were times during the game where the Pens simply swarmed the offensive zone and the Predators looked to be hanging on for dear life. Ellis was called upon to make several huge saves, and he was equal to the task. Dan looked comfortable and in control and the team picked up on that and began to feed off the play of Ellis. He was steady in the face of the offensive pressure of the Pens, and it seemed to settle the team down as the game went along.

The one miscue of the game by Ellis gave the Pens a 3-2 lead. Brooks Orpik fired a low shot along the ice that Dan simply misplayed. The puck skipped off the inside of Dan's pads and found the back of the net at the 4:51 mark of the third. Once again, the crowd was in full throat and the momentum was back to the Penguins. Recent history would indicate that this was the time for the Predators to crumble under the pressure.

This time was different.

The Predators kept pressing the attack and would not back down from the Penguins. They finally broke through to tie the game at 12:17 of the period as Shea Weber sent a low scorching shot that beat a screened Fleury five hole. Once again the Predators had quieted the crowd and negated the home ice advantage through gritty play and hard work. This is Predator hockey. This is their formula for success.

The remainder of the period was scoreless, although each netminder was called upon to make some nice saves to maintain the tie.

The overtime period looked like a mirror image of the first period as the Penguins dominated the Predators, outshooting them 7-0. They were aided by a two minute holding penalty on Kevin Klein, and during the PP, Ellis made some big saves and the penalty killers did a great job to kill it off. The Preds were horrifically inept offensively during the overtime period, failing to even effectively get the puck in the zone.

Moving to the shootout, things looked grim for the Predators as the Penguins had not lost all season in the skills competition. Pittsburgh chose to shoot first, and Ellis stopped Kris Letang.

The first shooter for the Predators was young pup Cal O'Reilly. The coaching staff placed a lot of confidence in the rookie, and he proved that confidence was well placed as he beat Fleury five hole.

Next up for the Pens was the dangerous Sidney Crosby. With the crowd roaring at full volume, Crosby skated in on Ellis, but got close enough that Ellis was able to poke check the puck away from Crosby.

Martin Erat was the next shooter for the Predators, and with the game in the balance, beat Fleury with a nice backhand move. As improbable as it seemed after the first period, the Predators skated out of the Igloo with two points.

Five out of a possible eight points on this crucial road trip is huge for the Predators. They are in a dogfight for a playoff spot in the ultra competitive Western Conference, and every point is precious. This team could have folded in a tough environment against a quality foe, but they didn't. They responded. They reached down and did what it took to win a game they desperately needed.

With the opportunity to recharge over the next two weeks, the Predators have to come back ready to play. In March, they have 17 games in 30 days. Imperative for these guys is the necessity of coming back refreshed with a clear focus on amassing as many points as possible.

Today, the Predators showed that when they take to the ice and play Predator hockey, they can beat the best. After a brief break, there are lots of games coming up. Lots of games to play Predator hockey.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Dreams

The Olympics have begun and the eyes of the world are on Vancouver and the athletes representing their various countries. Years of training and intense qualifying now come to fruition for some of the world's most elite athletes. In response and respect to the Olympics, the NHL stops play this season so that its athletes can represent their respective countries.

There has been some debate in the NHL about its players representing their home country in the Olympics. General Managers and coaches worry about injuries or the physical demands of competing in intense competition, and they have valid concerns. After all, the teams are the ones that are writing the sizeable paychecks for these athletes. Losing a player due to injury in the Olympics will have a dramatic impact on the fortunes of an NHL team. With the compression of the NHL schedule to accomodate the Olympics, there is a legitimate concern that returning Olympic particpants will be fatigued during the critical stretch run to the playoffs.

These are serious concerns for any NHL club that has some of its members participating in the intense Olympic competition. This is sure to be an issue in the next negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement between the League and the Players Association.

I had an opportunity to visit with Ryan Suter and Martin Erat, two of the Olympians on the Nashville Predators team, and we spoke briefly about participating in the Olympics. Just a few moments into the conversation, it was very apparent that these two athletes relished the thought of playing for their respective countries. Competing on the world stage was a dream for them and they looked forward with eager anticipation the challenge that awaited them. Their excitement was tangible and their enthusiasm for what awaited them was real.

As a hockey fan, I look forward to watching those two athletes compete for my team in the NHL. They are valuable members of the Predators. I tend to focus on the NHL, the competition against other teams in the League, and where my team sits in the playoff race.

Our converstion made me realize that hockey, for these elite athletes that are called to compete on the international stage, is even bigger than my team or the League itself. The NHL athletes that will compete in the Olympics are competing against some of the best athletes in the world, but more importantly in their eyes, they are competing for their country. The pride in being called to represent their country is something that, as an NHL fan, I have not fully grasped.

The league will begin a two week Olympic hiatus and will take a backseat to the Olympic competition. This competition is not just about winning medals, important as that is. It is about the pride of pulling on the sweater of your country and representing your homeland with the world watching.

The labor negotiations will certainly be contentious between the League and the Players Association. There will be demands made from both sides as they work to renew the collective bargaining agreement. I, for one hope that the League will not take a hardline stand against allowing NHL players to participate in the Olympics. After talking to two of the participants from the Predators, I have a new understanding and appreciation of their desire to compete on this stage.

Olympic hockey, and hockey itself, will be showcased before the world. People that would not normally pay attention to hockey will be aware of the game. This is positive for the game. To eliminate that exposure would be, in my opinion, shortsighted.

The pride that these athletes feel in representing their country is real and the enthusiasm is tangible. The League should build on that energy to grow the game we all love.

Congratulations to all the NHL athletes representing your country in the Olympics. Live the dream and enjoy the moment.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Predators Bedeviled in 5-2 Loss

The Predators ran out of gas in the third period against the New Jersey Devils, dropping a 5-2 decision after entering the final frame tied at 2. After battling hard for two periods, the third period was twenty minutes of futility for the Predators as they failed to mount a serious scoring threat against a solid Devil defense.

Going in to the game, the Predators knew they would have to bring their best to have a chance for victory in the hostile environs of the Prudential Center. And for two periods, the Predators brought all they had and had skated well with the Devils.

The Devils got on the board first as Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Suter had a breakdown in communiction in the defensive zone. Both players got caught chasing the puck behind the net, leaving the slot wide open for a streaking Travis Zajac to cruise unmolested down the slot. He fired a shot past netminder Pekka Rinne, who had no chance on the play.

Cal O'Reilly tied the game at 1 on the power play with a wrister from the slot.The Predators moved the puck well and O'Reilly worked himself free for the score. O'Reilly is quietly improving his play each game and is becoming more comfortable with each shift on the ice.

Despite being outshot 14-7 and having to kill off a five on three man advantage for the Devils, the Predators were hanging tough. The first period felt as if the order of the day was survival at times, but the Preds weathered the storm and were in the game.

In the second period, Jordin Tootoo gave the Predators at 2-1 lead just :46 seconds in, as he blew a shot past Brodeur. Tootoo has played very well on this road trip, using his speed to create chances and playing smart hockey. He has been one of the best players for the Predators in the past three games, fighting for position in front of the net and winning puck battles.

Patrick Elias tied the game 1:30 after Tootoo's score as he rifled a hard knuckleball over the glove hand of Rinne. Pekka made some great saves at times, including a breakaway stop on Elias in the first period. There were times, however, when he looked to be fighting the puck. This was an unscreened shot that just beat Rinne, one that he would like to have back.

In the third period, the wheels came off for the Predators. Ilya Kovalchuk was able to circle behind the net with the puck and cruise into the slot. He fired a hard wrister that beat Rinne high to the stick side at 8:24 of the third. Zach Parise scored at 13:08 on the power play. Jamie Langenbrunner finished the scoring with an empty netter at 19:18 of the third. All the while, the Predators offense went in the tank.

In a game that the Predators needed, and in a game that they had an opportunity to capture two critical points, they imploded. In a game where the offense needed to step up, they mustered only five shots on goal in the third period. In a gut check, the Predators came up woefully short.

This team has reverted to the horrific habit of looking for the extra pass rather than taking the shot. And the players that need to be shooting are not. Consider this: Steve Sullivan had zero shots on goal; David Legwand had zero shots on goal; J.P. Dumont had one shot; Joel Ward had one shot; and Patric Hornqvist had two. This team has won in the past by shooting the puck and crashing the crease. Tonight, that was not the case.

It is not only shots on goal, but quality shots. Of the 21 shots taken, very few really challenged Brodeur. When this team works hard and goes to the net, good things have happened. When this team fails to play lunch pail hockey, the probablity of winning is slim.

Unfortunately for the Predators, the roster has become filled with "prairie dogs", those players that pop up for a while then disappear for long stretches of time. We do not have players that are going to be point a game producers- this is the reality of the talent we have. However, we have to have players that are playing tough hockey and doing the things it takes to win. Every shift. Playing sound defensive hockey and blue colllar offensive hockey. Every shift. Right now, that is not happening.

It is as if the Predators have lost their identity. Intead of being gritty, there is a tendency to float. Instead of winning battles and playing with the lunch pail mentality, there is a sense of just surviving on the ice.This is a formula for disaster for this team, which has to change immediately for them to have a chance at making the playoffs.

It is time for leadership on this team to exert itself. It is time to challenge each player to bring it every shift. That starts with the captain and extends to every player on the roster. It is time for each player to look at his game and ask if they are laying it on the line, doing what it takes to win a game. It is time to stop floating and start bringing your lunch pail, boys.

This has been a rough stretch. You have gone 3-5-2 over your last ten games. You have, in that stretch, lost your identity. It's time to re-discover Predator hockey. It's time to dig down deep and do what it takes to win.

Time to find your lunch pail and your shirt with the blue collar.

My View



Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...


Much of our attention has been focused on Washington and the federal budget and the deficits that we are running at the national level. Rightly so. However, ferocious budget battles are playing out in most states that will have a dramatic impact on taxpayers. Most states constitutionally require a balanced budget, and all but four states are currently running substantial deficits. Many states face underfunded pension liabilities for state employees and federal mandates for spending on certain programs without accompanying federal dollars. Just today, newly elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie froze all state government spending and unilaterally took over the budget process. The state faces a $2.2 billion dollar deficit that has to be eliminated. This is endemic to many states, and the options to remedy the situation are limited to cutting services, raising taxes, or some combination of the two. Many states have been very generous in their pension plans for state employees, often times much better than what is found in the private sector. States have also been guilty of creating new programs during good economic times that strain budgets in down economic times. There will be bruising legislative battles and difficult decisions ahead for most state legislatures. We would be wise to pay attention to these deliberations.

My wife asked me if I had trouble making up my mind. I told her "yes and no".

Regardless of your politcal stripe, the shenanigans in Washington are both interesting and sad. Leadership at the national level has degraded into pure partisanship to the detriment of our nation. Rather than ask "What is good for the country?", both sides ask "What is good for my party?". There are a multitude of difficult decsisions that our leaders in Washington will have to address, and there are no easy answers. By framing potential solutions in the context of party rather than country, our leaders have abdicated their responsibilty to the citizens of this country. Until both parties in Washington rise above the short sighted partisan view, this great nation will suffer. And valid and potent solutions to the problems we face will not be forthcoming.

I always thought I would like to ride the range, but I kept burning my pants.

I was in New York on Wednesday when the city received approximately 14 inches of snow.The snowfall started early in the day and continued through the time I went to bed late that night. The amazing aspect of this to a southern boy in the big city was not just the amount of snow that fell from the sky, but that the next morning the streets of the city were entirely cleared. Not just main streets, but side streets as well. New York is an amazing city for a lot of reasons. I will add snow removal to the list.

One should never steal. The government hates the competition.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Predators Get Much Needed Win Over the Rangers

The Nashville Predators garnered a much needed win over the New York Rangers by a 2-1 margin in a game that ebbed back and forth with neither team taking control of the contest. In a game that could have gone either way, the Predators prevailed to pick up two critical points in Madison Square Garden in front of a crowd of approximately 7,000 hardy fans that braved a major winter snow storm.

Dan Ellis got the start in net and played brilliantly for the Predators, making 37 saves and holding off the Rangers for the last 1:30 of the contest when they had a 6 on 5 advantage due to pulling Henrik Lundqvist. Ellis looked calm in net despite the pressure and made some excellent saves to keep the Predators in the game. When Ellis is on his game, like he was tonight, he is very good. He exuded confidence in net and cleaned up any mistakes that the defense made in front of him. he was especially sharp stopping a breakaway attempt in the first period.

The Predators got on the board first when Jordin Tootoo redirected a shot by Kevin Klein past Lundqvist at 17:45 of the first period. For the night, Tootoo played a solid game, establishing a strong net presence on the goal and a consistent forecheck.

The Rangers tied the game on a five on three power play at the 9:48 mark of the second period. Marty Erat was called for a phantom tripping call, and one minute into the penalty kill, Steve Sullivan was called for slashing. Vinny Prospal scored with three seconds left on Erat's penalty to tie the game as Ellis couldn't control the puck and Prospal scored from the low slot.

Colin Wilson tallied his second goal of the season and the game winner at the 16:10 mark of the second period on the power play with Michael Del Zotto in the box for a double minor. His goal was unassisted and resulted from his work around the net as he gathered in a loose puck and wristed a shot past Lundqvist.

The Predators had several glorious scoring opportunities in the second period, including four breakaways, but couldn't put a puck past Lundqvist. For a time, it appeared that the Preds were going to be stymied by a hot goalie until Wilson was able to solve King Henrik on the power play.

Again, enough cannot be said about the play of Ellis tonight. He made several key stops in the course of the game and was able to thwart the scoring chances of the Rangers. Just as goalies such as Nabokov have stolen points against the Predators, tonight Ellis was able to steal points from the Rangers.

There are some observations that I think should be made about the play of the Predators tonight. For a team that has some seasoned veterans such as the Preds, we made some plays that were, well stupid. Failing to clear the puck from the defensive zone nearly cost us on several occasions. Particularly egregious in this area was J.P. Dumont, who attempted several blind clearing passes only to give the puck to a Rangers defenseman. These silly mistakes more often than not will burn a team. Tonight, we got lucky. You expect a more veteran player to play as a leader and not commit these types of fundamental mistakes, and for the Preds to have a chance at winning games, this has to stop.

I'm about to say something that is meant as tough love, but it has to be said. The level of play from veterans like Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont has to improve. It's time to elevate your game, boys. Arnie, you're the captain, and you lead by example on the ice. Frankly, you're invisible too often and too long. It's time to re-focus and start bringing your "A" game back to the ice. This team needs your scoring, but more importantly, they need your leadership. They need to see you busting it every shift.

J.P., you have too much talent and experience to be making rookie mistakes. You have too much talent to be producing as sporadically as you do. Again, if this team is going to make the playoffs, you have to be stepping your game up to the next level.

Oh, and Marty Erat and David Legwand, time to get some consistent production out of you guys as well. Tonight, between the two of you, there was one shot on goal. This cannot happen consistently and the team have a chance to win. You guys are veterans and leaders, and frankly you have to provide better production and effort than what was shown tonight.

It's getting down to crunch time for this team. Two tough games remain before the Olympic break, then you have 17 games in 30 days in the month of March. It is going to come down to each player on this team reaching down inside of themselves and finding that extra drive, that desire to do what it takes to secure a victory. It's time for the veterans on this team to step up and show their character.

Tonight, we got lucky. It's two points and I will gladly take them. However, Lady Luck is fickle, and I don't want to rely on luck to get a win. I want the veterans to step up and play like winners. I want to see you leave it all on the ice. Grit and determination and heart will win out. From rookie to veteran,that has to be the way you play. That is what is necessary to win.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Social Media Changing the Nature of Sports

This is my fourth trip out on the road to watch the Predators, and this trip has been the most unique. Normally when I get into an NHL city, I interact with fans at the game that, upon seeing my Predators jersey, want to talk about Nashville and the Predators. The conversations are usually polite and short, with some locals surprised that Nashville fans are out on the road with the team.

My first stop on this trip was in Long Island, and I had the opportunity to meet with many of the Long Islands "tweeps", fans of the Islanders that are on Twitter. The time I spent visiting with them was exceptional, not only for the hospitality that was shown to me but also because of the hockey conversations that we had. The folks in Long Island were very knowledgeable of what was happening with the Predators as well as some of the off ice issues the team has faced. I fielded some great questions from real hockey fans in a market that has no connection to Nashville save for our hockey teams.

In turn, I was able to talk about the on going efforts to build a new arena for the Islanders. Because I was familiar with the issues and some of the struggles the team has faced, I could ask reasonable questions and get a better understanding of what was happening with their team.

There was a bond that existed even before I personally met someof the great people on the Island, and that bond was formed because we had gotten to know each other through our communications on Twitter. This relatively new form of social media had brought fans from disparate markets together because of their love of hockey and for their respective team.

"Tweetups"are a social phenomenon were folks that have communicated electronically on Twitter meet up in a face to face gathering. NHL Tweetups now occur globally, bringing fans that love the sport together united in the common bond of the devotion to their local team and love of the game. The driving force behind these events is a bundle of energy named Dani Muccio that goes under the Twitter name dani3boyz. Dani is passionate about bringing fans of the sport together to promote not only hockey but the interaction of fans that love the game. And she has been extremely successful in this endeavor, with tweetups conducted in every NHL market and also in foreign countries.

This new electronic medium has been embraced by the NHL, and props to them for doing so. NHL fans, according to most marketing surveys I have seen, are very tech savvy, moreso than in other professional sports. To use this medium successfully as the League has done puts them ahead of other professional sports in engaging their existing fans and attracting new devotees. And kudos to Dani for her efforts in making this work, because stumbling out of the gate with this new effort would have squandered an amazing opportunity.

Because of Twitter, I am able to meet with fans of the other teams we play on this trip, and I have been genuinely welcomed by the ones I met on the Island. This has not happened in the past trips that I have made. Engaging real hockey fans in different markets has put a new and positive perspective on this road trip.

As social networking continues to evolve, I expect the NHL to be in the vanguard of promoting the game via this medium. Solidifying the existing fan base and attracting new fans to this beautiful game are vital components to the survival and growth of the game we all love.

Thanks to all the Long Island tweeps that made me feel welcome. And thanks to Twitter that made this possible.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Predators Give Away A Valuable Point

The Predators began a four game road trip with an auspicious start, dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to the New York Islanders for a 4-3 loss. In a game that the Predators could have won and captured the critical two points, they wilted in the face of the pressure that the Islanders brought and gave away a point. How this loss affects the team for the rest of this road trip remains to be seen.

Playing in the aging but historic Nassau Colisseum, the Predators faced an Islanders team that brought an agressive forecheck and pressure all night. Scoreless at the end of one period, at times the Predators looked fortunate just to get the puck in the zone. The first period was a period of punch and counterpunch by both teams. Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators and was called upon to make some good saves early.

Marty Biron was in net for the Islanders and made some good saves to keep the score tied at zero. At times, both teams generated good pressure. At times, each team looked inept getting the puck in the offensive zone and setting up a quality attack.

Predator fans held their collective breath as Ryan Suter took a Shea Weber slap shot off his foot. Although he finished his shift, he left the bench with trainer Dan Redmond and headed to the locker room. Shades of Jordin Tootoo! Predator fans were left wondering about the condition of Suter, but fortunately he returned to the bench after some time in the locker room and was able to play the rest of the game.

One had to wonder which team would break through first, and the question was answered early in the second period as Freddy Meyer gathered in a rebound of a Rob Schremp shot and he slipped the puck past an out of position Rinne.

The Predators thought they had responded on a Patric Hornqvist goal, but it was waved off because the referees deemed that he had kicked the puck into the goal. The Preds kept up the pressure in the offensive zone, and Cal O'Reilly was rewarded for his hard work around the net with his first NHL goal to tie the game at 1. O'Reilly has looked more comfortable with each game played and has shown that he belongs with the big club.

The Predators took a 2-1 one lead on a breakaway goal by Joel Ward, his second such goal in as many games. Ward continues his strong play and has been rewarded on the score sheet, but his strength on the puck is exceptional and his game is just plain solid.

With Jerred Smithson in the box for interference, Shea Weber was called for cross checking just :20 into the PK. Bruno Gervais scored at 19:12 of the second to tie the game on the 5 on 3 power play and send the Isles into the locker room with some momentum.This game had an eerily similar feeling to the Sharks game on Saturday, with both teams trading scoring chances and ultimately goals. As a Predator fan, you had to hope that it wouldn't turn out like that Sharks game where a mistake would cost you points.

The Predators once again reclaimed a one goal lead on a one timer by Steve Sullivan on the power play at 4:12 of the third period. Good to see the power play click this time, although at times the PP was, in a word, inept.It was especially good to see Sully getting back on the scoresheet and finding the back of the net. This team needs him to heat up.

You know how I said that this game looked eerily similar to the Sharks game? Well, a dumb penalty put the Sharks, uh, I mean the Islanders on the power play. Marty Erat was called for a stupid boarding penalty that was completely unnecessary at 19:14 of the third period. With Biron pulled for the extra attacker, the Isles scored on the six on four power play with :11 seconds left in the game. ELEVEN seconds! Eleven freakin' seconds away from a critical win and two precious points. And because of another dumb penalty.

The overtime was a scoreless affair, and both teams were now headed to the shootout.

Frans Nielsen was the first shooter for the Isles, and he scored on a beautiful move to the backhand to beat Rinne. Steve Sullivan and David Legwand were stopped by Biron, and Rinne stoned Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson. needing to score to extend the shootout, Marty Erat absolutely undressed Biron to tie the shootout at 1. The next shooter for the Isles, John Tavares, scored. Patric Hornqvist failed on his attempt, and the Isles had the second point that the Predators so desperately needed.

In December, the Predators put together a string of wins that was predicated on hard work and smart hockey. I can't fault the effort of the Preds- they skated hard at times and generated some chances. But it is one or two dumb plays that is biting them in the ass. The boarding penalty that Erat took was completely unnecessary, and in a word, stupid. And it cost this team a point.

The margin between winning and losing now is razor thin. Every team is playing desperate hockey and fighting for the two points. The Predators do not have the talent to overcome dumb penalties. They do not have the talent to take off a shift. They have demonstrated that they have the talent to win when they play Predator hockey- Gritty, determined, SMART hockey.

Guys, the points are way too valuable to just give them away. And the road isn't going to get any easier as tomorrow night you will face another desperate hockey team. They want those two points that are out there, and you can't give it to them.

Time to play smart hockey. You're too deep into the season and too close to the prize to give away games and points. You have three games before the Olympic break and six points on the line. Be smart and go get those points

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sharks Slip By Predators 4-3

Ryan Suter summed it up best in his post game remarks when he said that the effort put forth by the Predators against the Sharks would beat most teams in the NHL. Unfortunately, the effort the Predators brought to the ice was not quite enough as the Sharks edged the Preds by a 4-3 margin.

In a game where the two teams played skate to skate and battled all night, it was an unnecessary and egregious boarding penalty by Dan Hamhuis that resulted in a third period San Jose power play that doomed the Predator effort. Danny Heatley was able to convert the power play for his second goal of the night and the margin of victory for the Sharks.

The Predators played the Sharks with energy and aggressiveness, and they had every chance to win the game. On three different occasions, the Predators held one goal leads, and challenged for more. Evgeni Nabokov made some amazing saves that kept the Preds from extending their lead and kept the Sharks within striking distance. He was able to rob Jason Arnott and Patric Hornqvist in close, and although the Predators did an excellent job of putting traffic in front of him, they could not get enough pucks past him for the win.

J.P. Dumont, recently a resident of Barry Trotz's doghouse, opened the scoring for the Predators as he gathered in a rebound and tapped the puck past a sprawling Nabokov at 1:39 of the first. J.P.'s goal was a result of crashing the net after Martin Erat skated the puck out of the corner and put a shot on net that Nabokov was unable to control.

San Jose tied it just :43 seconds later when Brad Staubitz was left alone at the side of the net  and was able to put the puck in an open net after a nifty pass from Kent Huskins. The defense lost track of Staubitz, and that breakdown allowed the Sharks to tie the game. The remainder of the period saw some good rushes and opportunities by both teams, but Nabokov and Nashville net minder Pekka Rinne were equal to the task.

Dumont would strike again at 8:47 of the second period with the Predators on the power play. Cal O'Reilly got control of the puck and found Dumont in the low slot. He rifled a wrister over Nabokov's shoulder and the Preds again had a one goal lead. Welcome to the back of the net, J.P. You were missed.

Danny Heatley scored his first goal of the night on the power play to tie the game at 2. He sent a shot past a screened Rinne as Patric Marleau and Dan Hamhuis battled in front of the net. It was obvious from the replay that Rinne never saw the puck until it was past him.

The Predators once again took the lead at 17:35 of the second when Cal O'Reilly sprung Joel Ward with a nice lead pass to send him in on a breakaway. Ward fired a quick wrist shot that beat Nabokov stick side. Ward's play has been very strong of late and it's good for the Predators to see him getting on the scoresheet.

The Sharks tied the game at 19:36 of the second as Rinne was scrambling as the Sharks were buzzing the net. He went down to stop a shot, stopped a second that hit him in the back, but Rob Blake was able to fire the puck past a prone Rinne for the tying goal. Giving up a score late in the period, one had to wonder if the Predators would see their momentum slip away in the third.

The answer was no, as the Predators skated hard and generated several quality chances. However, they were unable to solve Nabokov. The momentum would swing back to the Sharks as Hamhuis was called for a boarding penalty on Kent Huskins. The painful thing about that penalty was that it occurred 200 feet away from our own goal as Hamhuis was in on the forecheck. This is a penalty that just cannot be taken, an undisciplined penalty that allowed the Sharks to go on the power play and score the eventual game winner by Heatley.

This was a game the Predators could have won. They brought it against the best team in the Western Conference. One bad play, one great save by the opposing goaltender, and instead of a win, they skated off the ice with a tough loss.

The lessons to be learned are this: you are good enough to play with and beat the best. When you bring this kind of effort, like Suter said, you will beat most teams that you play.

The other lesson is that dumb penalties will kill you. You are not good enough to survive the unnecessary penalties. Putting a great team like the Sharks on the power play late in the third period was flirting with disaster.

Oh yeah, one other lesson. When you have the lead, you have to fight to protect it and extend it. No problems with the effort at extending the lead. Tonight you shot the puck and generated quality chances. Nabokov stole one. But fight to protect those leads. They are precious and you worked too hard to get it. No stupid penalties that lead to power plays. No losing track of guys around the net.

Know that you can play with the best and that you can beat them. Take that knowledge with you when you go on the road for these last four games before the Olympic break. Know that these eight points are vital to your playoff chase.

Know that when you play with the heart and grit and effort that you did tonight, you will beat most teams that you play. And know that will put you in the playoffs.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My View



Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...



We all have known someone who has a great job and a very good income. They also have an equity line of credit on their house and a credit card with a large credit limit. They spend all they make, and to live the lifestyle they want, they use the equity line on their house. Soon, the only thing that can be paid on the equity line is the interest. The credit card is maxed, and outside of the basic living expenses, the remainder of that great salary is going toward debt service. What happens to that individual? Some, many, file bankruptcy and walk away from their obligations. Some continue to pay and work toward reducing debt, and to do this, they radically alter their lifestyle. Luxuries are removed and the standard of living is dramatically scaled back.  We all know someone that has been in this situation. This is where the United States finds itself today. The sirens are sounding and warning signs abound about our periolous financial condition.  Those that are prudent will pay attention.

You know how they say you can catch more flies with honey? That's true, but you also attract bears, and those things will rip you to shreds.

Our national debt is over $13 trillion dollars, and a new budget has been submitted to Congress by the White House that will create another $1.6 trillion dollar deficit for the next fiscal year. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has looked at the current deficit and the unfunded liabilites that exist in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid entitlements  and concluded that in the very near future, the United States is going to have to either significantly raise taxes, significantly cut spending on social and defense programs, or some combination of the two. The other, unspoken at this time, alternative for the United States is to default on our debt. Simply put, the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. to honor our obligations would be worthless. Just as the individual that I used as an example above faces difficult decisions, so does our country. And the result of those decisions will affect our standard of living for generations to come.

The problem with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along.

Since the first of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial average has lost over 700 points, and as of today has breached the all important psychological barrier of 10,0000. The markets are expressing their displeasure and anxiety with new tax and regulatory proposals that have come out of Washington as well as heightened concern over the debt load this nation carries. Keep your eye on the money. The move to the sidelines is another indication that fiscal discipline and not politics is desired by investors. And realize this, every time a politician besmirches "Wall Street" and wants to tax or punish that euphemistic entity, they are punishing Americans. Over 60% of Americans own stock, either directly or through mutual funds in their retirement accounts. Understand that what is good for business in this country is good for you. And follow the money.

Never, EVER, moon a werewolf.

And that, my friends, is my view.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Predators Bury Avalanche 5-3

The Predators faced another opponent that was just above them in the standings, another big game, this time against the Colorado Avalanche. For a team that has struggled recently, every game takes on a new significance. Every game represents two critical points. And every game is going to be a battle. The team that would capture the victory would be the team that could withstand the best the opponent could throw at them and respond in kind. Tonight, that team was the Nashville Predators as they prevailed over the Avalanche by a score of 5-3.

You knew this would be a game of punch and counter punch. The first punch was thrown by the Avalanche as they scored off a two on one break. Cody McLeod staked the Avalanche to a 1-0 lead as he buried a a shot past goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had no chance on the shot. 1-0 at the end of the first period, and although the Predators had generated some quality chances, they found themselves in the hole going in to the second period.

This was the time to buckle down and respond. Gut check time in a game the Predators couldn't afford to lose. And respond the Predators did.

Jason Arnott fired a puck at the net, which was redirected off Patric Hornqvist to tie the game at one on the Predators power play. Arnott unleashed a blast from the point that careened off Hornqvist, who was camped in his familiar spot at the top of the crease. Tied at one, the Predators seemed to be re-energized and took control of the second period.

One minute later, the Predators controlled the puck in the Avalanche zone. Jerred Smithson got control of the puck after a scrum on the boards and fired a puck at Avalanche net minder Craig Anderson, who made the initial stop. However, Joel Ward followed the shot and was able to flip the puck past Anderson, and the Predators had a 2-1 lead.

Six minutes later, the Avalanche tied the game on a power play as Matt Duchene was alone in the low slot and fired a puck past Rinne. Punch, counter punch. The game in the balance. Who would respond and take control of the game?

This is the point of the game where the hockey gods have frowned upon the Predators. A breakdown here, a mishandled puck there, and the Preds would find themselves in a hole from which they could not emerge. This time would be different. This time, the Predators would exert their will and take control of the game.

Just :23 seconds later, Jason Arnott would tally his own goal to give the Predators a lead they would not relinquish. Arnott fired a puck at the net with Hornqvist screening Anderson, and the puck found the back of the net. Punch answered by an effective counter punch. Momentum back to the Predators.

With :41 seconds remaining in the period, the Predators controlled the puck in the Avalanche zone. Arnott got control of the puck and rifled a shot at the net. Hornqvist once again was paying the price to establish position ifn front of the net and was able to re-direct the shot past Anderson for a 4-2 Predators lead. Not only a punch, but a punch in the mouth by the Predators as they took a two goal lead into the locker room at the second intermission.

You knew the Avalanche would come out strong in the third period. They would punch the Predators and try to gain the momentum. They would try to capture the two points that both teams desperately needed. Who would respond?

The Predators answered that question at 10:31 of the third as Steve Sullivan found the top corner over the shoulder of Anderson with a beautiful shot from just inside the face off circle. It's been a long time since Sully found the back of the net, and it was good to see him get the tally. Welcome back to the score sheet, Steve. We have missed you, and we are going to need you in this critical stretch run.

Justin Mercier cut the lead to two, 5-3, at the 18:42 mark of the game, but the Avalanche never mounted a serious scoring threat after that, and the Predators had answered the bell with a decisive 5-3 win.

This is the type of game that the Predators have lost recently. A game where they have not been able to answer the bell and overcome the punches that an opponent has thrown at them. Tonight, it seemed that no matter what the Avalanche threw at the pres, they would answer. They took the punches that the Avalanche threw, and answered with their own effective response. They showed the heart and grit that had been missing in previous games.

Kudos to the entire squad for not relenting, for not succumbing to the punches the Avalanche threw. It would have been easy to say "Here we go again". Tonight, this team did not yield. They refused to lose this game, an important game that gives them not only two precious points, but the confidence that they can weather adversity, they can endure the best that a good team can throw at them and come out victorious.

This team demonstrated heart and a will to win. The hockey gods smile on those that refuse to yield. Tonight, the Predators refused to yield, and the gods smiled.

Big players have to step up in big games. All the games are big now, and it was good to see players like Arnott step up. The captain had a goal and four assists. Steve Sullivan got an important goal. Joel Ward not only scored, but was strong on the puck all night. And Patric Hornqvist was his usual annoying and strong presence in front of the net. How many would have thought that Hornqvist would lead the team in goals with 23 at this point of the season? He has done this by being willing to pay the price in front of the net in the hard areas. He has taken the punches, and has responded. Punch me, and I will make you pay.

Two vital points. Good to have this game in the win column. The Preds take the season series from Colorado 3-1. More importantly, this team had re-discovered what it takes to win an critical game. They know that they can take a punch, get back up of the mat, and claim a victory.

There will be many more punches thrown, and many more opportunities to respond. There is a lot of hockey yet to be played, but the lesson has been learned. You can take the punch, boys. And when you play Predator hockey, you can withstand those punches and respond in kind. And you can win.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Preds Drop a Ten Round Shootout to Coyotes 2-1

Two teams that were mirror images of each other took to the ice in the Sommet Center. Tight checking, limited offensive chances, solid defense were the hallmarks of both squads. It was inevitable that this game would be scoreless after sixty minutes. Scoreless through overtime. And tied going into the 10th round of the shootout. Unfortunately for the Predators, they blinked first and lost the shootout to the Phoenix Coyotes by a count of 2-1.

Watching the Coyotes is like watching a Lou Lamoriello or Andy Murray team on steroids. A trapping defense that limits chances was what the Predators faced in the resurgent Coyotes, and they played their system to perfection. At the end of regulation, Phoenix had 26 shots on goal, the Predators had 25. Quality scoring opportunities were at a premium for both teams, and when an opportunity emerged, both Ilya Bryzgalov for the Coyotes and Pekka Rinne for the Predators were up to the challenge.

The Predators were forced to go with five defensemen for the bulk of the game as they lost Cody Franson on his first shift to an upper body injury. Franson will be evaluated in the morning to determine the extent of his injury.

As a result, it was imperative that the Predators play a disciplined game to avoid tiring out the remaining five D men on the PK, and they did that, taking just one penalty in the game. In fact, each team committed only one penalty. The D corps got a lot of help from the forwards, as they back checked well and supported in the defensive zone.

There were times, especially in the second period, that Phoenix cycled the puck well and seemed to tilt the ice to the Predators defensive zone. When they did, Rinne made some quality saves, and the Preds were able to weather the challenge.

Offensively, the Predators struggled to get quality scoring chances. When those quality chances emerged, too often there was one pass too many. Here is a piece of advice for this team- SHOOT THE PUCK. STP. Learn it, love it, live it boys. Good things happen when you shoot the puck.

As it was, two teams that are remarkably similar battled for 65 minutes and remained tied at 0. On to the shootout.

The second Phoenix shooter, Lauri Korpikoski, scored. With the Predators needing to score to extend the shootout, David Legwand scored five hole on Bryzgalov.  The next six shooters from each side were held scoreless by both goalies.

In the tenth round, Adrian Aucoin beat Rinne stick side to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead in the shootout. Shea Weber was the tenth shooter for the Preds, and his shot whistled over the net and Phoenix skated away with two points.

The positive for the Preds is that that played a very solid game and got a point against a very good and hot club. Every point is precious and every team is fighting and clawing for points. To get at least one point out of this contest is important for the Predators.

Again, boys, shoot the puck. Too often, this team seems to pass up the shot for the additional pass. This team has won because they have fired pucks at the net, crashed the crease, and scored "dirty" goals. You are going to face teams that are desperate and are going to limit chances. That is the nature of the game when so many teams are battling for playoff positioning. You have to play your game; not fancy, not pretty hockey, but hockey that is blue collar.

Early in the year, Barry Trotz attributed the turn around for this team to realization of who they were and playing to their strengths. You can't deviate from that and be successful. You have to continue to bring your lunch pail and battle every night. You have to shoot the puck and crash the net. The fancy passes are nice, but the fact is that this team needs to get back to the basics of Predator hockey to start piling up wins.

Expect these kind of games from here on out. You know what to do to be successful. Remember, STP.