Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kings End Losing Streak to Predators With 2-0 Win

The law of averages caught up to the Nashville Predators as the Los Angeles Kings broke a seven game losing streak to the Preds with a 2-0 win at Bridgestone Arena. Jonathan Bernier got the start tonight, and was never seriously challenged by the Predators in recording his first career shutout.

After two scoreless periods of hockey, this game took on the appearance of the first team to score would win the game. Sure enough, the Predators lost coverage in the defensive zone and Scott Parse was cruising into the low slot alone and roofed a puck over the shoulder of Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne, who had no chance to stop the shot. The score came at 7:50 of the third period.

The Kings would extend the lead to 2-0 as Sean O'Donnell corralled a bouncing puck and beat Rinne to the stick side at 17:59. The Predators would never mount a serious scoring threat after the tally, and suffered their first loss to the Kings in 8 games.

In the first period, the Predators were fortunate to escape with a scoreless tie, as the Kings outshot the Predators 18-8. Rinne was called on to make some spectacular saves to keep the game scoreless.

The Predators generated some good scoring chances in the first few minutes of the first period, but couldn't put anything past Bernier. After the first five minutes of the period, the Kings asserted themselves and it looked as if the Predators were just hanging on for dear life and trying to survive the period.

The ice tilted in favor of the Predators in the second period, as they outshot the Kings by a 15-4 margin. As Head Coach Barry Trotz said in his post game remarks, the aspect of the Predators game that was missing all night was a strong net presence. Bernier was able to see the shots cleanly and rarely had traffic in front. Most of his saves tonight were very routine. That disturbing trend continued throughout the third period for the Predators.

One can look at this game and say that the Predators were fatigued, and that was probably a factor. 17 games in the month of March, the most of any team in the NHL. Fatigue is an excuse, however. Every team is fatigued. Tonight, the effort in the offensive zone was not what this team needed to do to win a critical game.

The Predators win games by playing lunch pail hockey- gritty hard working hockey. Tonight, especially in the offensive zone, that effort was lacking.

There are positive aspects of this game that the team can build upon. Pekka Rinne was spectacular, especially in the first period. The defensive effort was solid after the first period, except for two breakdowns that ended up in our net. Marty Erat and Joel Ward were back on the ice.

The fact is that the Predators got away from what has made them successful in the offensive zone, and it cost them tonight. This team cannot get away from who they are: gritty, blue collar hockey players that work hard for dirty goals. That aspect of their game was missing tonight.

In looking at the compressed schedule, everyone knew that 17 games in the month of March would be a grind. For the Predators to be successful and get into position to secure a playoff spot, they had to be strong in this stretch. In March, the Predators went 11-5-1, capturing 23 out of a possible 34 points.

There are four games left in the regular season. Eight vital points. There are teams chasing the Predators that would like nothing more than to see us falter in these last four games. Those eight points determine a playoff seed. Those eight points are critical.

The next opportunity to get back to playing Predator hockey comes Thursday night against the Blues. They would like nothing more than to steal those two points from the Predators. This team has to vanquish the teams below them in the standings. It's your opportunity to do just that, boys. It's your opportunity to get back to playing Predator hockey.

It was a solid March campaign. There is no resting on this effort however. On Thursday, it's time to bring it.

It's time to start playing Predator hockey again

Monday, March 29, 2010

Predators Creep past the Cats, Beat Florida 3-2 in Overtime

In a game that could only be described as a trap game, the Nashville Predators outlasted the Florida Panthers in overtime by a 3-2 score.The Predators frankly survived the game in the Litter Box at Sunrise to go to 94 points with the win.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators took a 1-0 lead on David Legwand's 11th goal of the season, his first goal in 84 days. Welcome back to the scoring column, David. You have been away for far too long.

The remainder of the period remained scoreless as Dan Ellis made some solid saves to keep the Panthers off the board. Ellis was strong in net, and was especially solid in fending off three Panthers power play opportunities.

The third period saw the Panthers come out flying and putting pressure on the Predators in the defensive zone. The pressure put the Predators back on their heels and gave the Panthers great scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Predators, the Panthers were able to turn the pressure into goals.

Keith Ballard tied the game for the Cats as he was able to get the puck past Ellis at 3:12 of the third. The Panthers continued to press the attack and Stephen Weiss put the Panthers up 2-1 with a deflection past Ellis at 5:53 of the period. Two goals in under three minutes and the Panthers pressure was overwhelming the Predators.

As the period continued, the Predators seemed unable to muster much of an attack. When the Predators did get a quality chance, Panther netminder Scott Clemmensen was able to turn aside the threat. This game had the appearance of an opportunity that would be lost by the Predators, thus tightening the race in the Western Conference.

The momentum would swing back to the Predators at 16:53 of the period as Patric Hornqvist notched his 30th goal with a shot from the right board that beat Clemmensen to tie the game. Hornqvist continues to shine as he scored a timely goal for the Predators to take momentum away from the Panthers.

The game would remain scoreless for the rest of the third period. An important point in the books for the Predators, but the all important second point was hanging in the balance.

That precious second point would be secured just one minute into the overtime period and on the first shot of the extra frame. Francis Buillon launched a shot that cleanly beat Clemmensen for the game winning goal, and the Predators skated away with the two points.

One can look at this game and say the Predators stole two points; that they didn't play with a lot of jump for most of the game; that they just didn't look good. True, to a point. The aspect that is so very positive for the Predators is that they won a game with a depleted lineup. Missing were Jason Arnott, Joel Ward, and Marty Erat, all vital cogs to this team. Young players were called upon to step in to prominent roles and contribute quality minutes. The lines were jumbled, which affected chemistry. This team wasn't hitting on all cylinders.

When it looked as if this game was slipping in to the loss column, this team didn't quit. It would have been easy to fall back on any number of excuses and let this game go in to the tank. They didn't do this. They kept pushing. They didn't relent. They showed some heart.

Key players out of the lineup meant that others had to step up to secure a win. David Legwand, you have been invisible for a long time. Tonight, you stepped up with a critical goal. Hornqvist continued his strong play. Frankie Buillon contributed with the game winning goal to go along with his continued solid play on the blue line.

Florida had nothing to lose in the game tonight. The Predators took their best shot and persevered. They showed some resiliency and heart. This is the mark of a team that believes in itself.

With the win, the Predators go to 94 points and remain if 5th place in the West. Detroit has 91 in 6th; L.A. has 90 in 7th; and Colorado has 89 in 8th. One can see how important the points are to this team.

The rest of the regular season schedule will be a test of wills, a test of character. Tonight, the Predators passed the test. The next one comes tomorrow night against  L.A., and they won't get any easier. This is the time to reach down deep and call up what it takes to win.

This is the time for heart and character to shine through.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wings Outlast Predators 2-1 in an 11 Round Shootout

Two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference decided that 65 minutes of hockey wasn't enough to settle the contest at the Bridgestone Arena as Nashville and Detroit went skate to skate in an important tilt for playoff standings. The shootout appeared for a time as if it was going to cycle through every shooter on the bench before the Red Wings won in the 11th round.

This was a game that took on the aspect of two heavy weight fighters slugging it out. Both teams had opportunities to score. Both teams played solid defense. Both teams got stellar goaltending. And neither would yield in regulation or in overtime.

The Predators came into the contest with a 10-4 record since the Olympic break. Detroit came in 11-2-1. This was a game that each team wanted, and neither would give an inch in the quest for a victory.

The Predators had opportunities in the first period as they came out flying and generated some chances. The negative aspect of the Predators game tonight was that they couldn't finish chances. Credit goes to Wing netminder Jimmy Howard for being solid in net. It is going to be incumbent on the Predators in the remainder of the regular season and in the playoffs to bury the chances they get. Tonight, that didn't happen.

The Predators did an exceptional job of controlling play in the neutral zone and preventing the Wings from entering the zone with speed. The Wings have an explosive offense and generate scoring opportunities  when they enter the zone with speed. Tonight, the Predators did a great job of slowing the rush down and refused to allow the Wings to use their speed and explosiveness to enter the zone.

The Predators did a great job of clearing the front of the net as well. The Wings are very good at generating scoring chances off rebounds. Tonight, there were very few second scoring chances as the defense was solid in front of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The Predators outshot the Wings 13-11 in the first period. In the second period, Detroit stepped up the pressure and cycled the puck very well. As a result, they outshot the Predators 15-7, and Rinne was called upon to make some spectacular saves.He also got an assist from Kevin Klein, who swept a puck that had gotten behind Rinne off the goal line.

In the third period, both teams traded chances, and it felt that the team that made the first mistake would wind up on the losing end of the score. Neither team made that critical mistake, and the period ended scoreless. Nashville outshot Detroit 12-11 in the third, with each netminder continuing their solid play.

In the overtime period, each team only recorded one shot on goal and didn't generate much in the way of offense.For 65 minutes, the Predator defense had held the explosive Wings offense in check. In turn, the Wings defense thwarted the Nashville scoring committee.

In the shootout, both goaltenders were solid. Todd Bertuzzi finally broke through for the Wings in the 5th round with a nice backhand move that beat Rinne. Needing to score, the Predators sent out Steve Sullivan, and he practically undressed Howard to tie the game.

Both goaltenders stopped the next five shooters with sound positioning and patience in net.

In the 11th round, charging Niklas Kronwall slipped a shot five hole that beat Rinne for the game winner. The Nashville shooter, Francis Bouillon, was stopped by Howard, and the Wings had the second point and the win.

As disappointing as the loss was for the Predators, the take away from this game is that they played a solid game against one of the best teams in the West. The defense was very good and the goaltending by Rinne was exceptional.The offense has to bury the chances they get for this team to go far in the playoffs. Some nights, it just doesn't happen.

After playing solid games against Phoenix and Detroit, the Predators should have a measure of confidence in their play. They will need it in the push to the playoffs and in the playoffs themselves. The steady play has to continue.

The season is drawing to a close, but there are important games to play. Consistency in effort will be key for the Predators.

Play like you have lately, and the victories will continue to come your way.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The First Ever "Hattie" Award

The View is proud to announce the winner of of the first ever H.A. Trophy, or "Hattie" Award. This special trophy is awarded to an individual who distinguished himself with bush league reporting and the spreading of unfounded rumors like manure in a garden.

Ken Campbell, a "reporter" for The Hockey News reported that the Predators could be a team that is relocating. Unfounded and no basis in fact, this didn't stop Campbell from publishing this "rumor". First class reporting there.

Congratulations, Ken, on being the first ever recipient of a Hattie. You deserve it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Do you recall from your civics classes (if you had them) what a "bill of attainder" was? This was a serious point of contention for colonial Americans with England. A bill of attainder was a fairly common practice at that time where the state could declare a person to be in violation of a law or regulation and therefore seize their property without the benefit of a proper trial. One can see the possibility for egregious abuse by the state- declaring someone in violation of the law and taking their property without due process. Bills of attainder are expressly prohibited under Article 1, Section 9 of our Constitution. Why bring this up? Under the now sanctioned socialized healthcare program approved by Congress and signed into law by the President, the state is authorized to seize your property- in this case in the form of financial penalties- from citizens that decline to purchase private health insurance. All without due process. Without the citizen being given a right to state their case in court. The problem with this aspect of the socialized healthcare system that has been passed into law is that the Congress of the United States has assigned to a bureaucracy, in this case the Internal Revenue Service, the right to make determinations of guilt without involving due process and the judicial system. This is just one of many problems that will be unearthed once the details of this bill are made public.

I saw a turtle without a shell. I didn't know if he was naked or homeless.

One of the dangerous aspects of the socialization of our healthcare system is the fact that the government can now compel citizens to buy a certain product- health insurance specifically. Never before in the history of our country has the government had the power to compel its citizens to buy a product as a condition of lawful residency. This begs the question, what's next? How about being forced to buy a General Motors product? The taxpayers own the company anyway, so it would be good to own a Chevy, right? The precedent established under this bill is dangerous and provides a heretofore unheard of invasion of our individual rights. Providing quality healthcare for all our citizens is something we should strive to accomplish. Forced government mandates are not the way to solve the problem, and will create many more problems than they will solve.

If a man with no arms has a gun, is he armed?

It was projected that the Social Security system in this country would begin to pay out more in benefits than it was taking in through taxes on wages in the year 2017. Guess what? This year, 2010, that will happen, as benefit payouts have increased faster than revenues coming in through taxes. Oops. This is understandable since the level of benefits increases as more people retire and begin to draw Social Security payments. More people are retiring, and with a real unemployment rate in this country of approximately 17%, fewer people are paying in to the system. Furthermore, people are living longer, which means that the payments to a recipient are being paid over a longer period of time. This 800 pound gorilla is sitting in the room with us, and up to now, our legislators have not had the courage or political will to address this problem. It gets worse every year, and we will eventually be forced to deal with a problem of gigantic proportions. And it will be ugly. Look for taxes to go up and benefits to be cut to continue to support this legalized Ponzi scheme.

A friend of mine who is a scientist has been working on a time travel project. I told him there was no future in it.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Predators Beat Their Mirror Image, Down Coyotes 4-3

For the Nashville Predators, playing the Phoenix Coyotes is like looking in the mirror. The Coyotes and Predators are both hard working teams that can roll four lines, play sound defense, and have solid goaltending. Tonight, the mirror images decided that regulation play and overtime was not enough, and once again went to a shootout to determine the winner. Fortunately for the Predators, they prevailed 2-1 in the shootout to pick up a 4-3 win and two vital points.

After coming off a listless loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, it was important for the Predators to get off to a good start. Lee Stempniak thwarted that good start as he netted a goal at 5:54 of the first with a forehand that fooled Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. The shot seemed to flutter and drop and found its way under the arm of Rinne, and once again, Nashville found itself starting in a hole.

That deficit would be erased by Patric Hornqvist at 13:09 of the first. Marcel Goc lead a rush into the Phoenix zone and got the puck to Hornqvist, who was driving the net. He was able to sneak a backhander low to the stick side of Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for his 29th goal of the season. Hornqvist continues to shine in this, his first full season of play.

Tied at one at the beginning of the second period, the Predators came out strong and put pressure on the Coyotes. J.P. Dumont, working the puck low in the zone, drew the attention of four Coyote defenders. He was able to get the puck to Marcel Goc, who found Steve Sullivan, alone just inside the faceoff circle and he roofed a puck over the shoulder of Bryzgalov for his 15th goal of the year and a 2-1 Predators lead.

The Predators continued to put pressure on the Coyotes, controlling the puck and keeping Phoenix in their end for much of the period. The pressure paid off as Dan Hamhuis unleashed a shot from the point that beat Bryzgalov over his shoulder at 9:28 of the second. The Predators kept the Coyotes boxed in their zone for much of the period and exited the second with the 3-1 lead.

The Coyotes are a talented team, and it was inevitable that they would keep pushing and make it a game. They cut the lead to 3-2 at 13:28 of the third as Wojtek Wolski scored through traffic.At 3-2 and six minutes remaining in the game, Predator fans knew that this game was not over.

Sure enough, the Coyotes tied the game at 16:03 of the third as Keith Yandle jumped into the rush and put a puck past a screened Rinne. All of a sudden, a game, and two precious points, that seemed in hand now hung in the balance.

Scoreless for the remainder of the third period, the game went to overtime. The Predators generated more offense and created some chances, outshooting the Coyotes 4-3, but couldn't solve Bryzgalov. And once again, these two mirror images were going to a shootout. The last time they faced each other, it was a ten round affair, eventually won by the Coyotes.

Lee Stempniak was the first shooter for the Coyotes, and he slipped the puck through Rinne's five hole for a 1-0 lead.

Young Cal O'Reilly popped the water bottle on the net on his shootout attempt, as he beat Bryzgalov top shelf. Cool, calm, and collected, O'Reilly is money in the shootout.

Rinne stopped Adrian Aucoin, who remarkably had never missed a shootout attempt in all five chances this season, and Marty Erat missed over the crossbar. Tied at one, Rinne now faced Radim Vrbata.  Vrbata drove wide and Rinne forced him to shoot high. The shot pinged off the crossbar to keep the score tied at one.

David Legwand was the third shooter for the Predators, and he beat Bryzgalov five hole for the game winner.Two points- two important points- for the Predators as they skated off the ice with the win.

The response of the Predators after the lackluster effort in the previous game was encouraging. This is a team that the Predators could possibly meet in a first round matchup in the playoffs, and tonight they acquitted themselves well. Good intensity and resiliency allowed them to skate away with the win.

There are concerns. Two power plays and no shots for the Predators. Failure to lock down a lead in the the third period. These have to be addressed and corrected.

The positives are that the Predators persisted. Giving up the lead would have caused a lesser team to fold. You did not. You played some solid hockey against a very good team. You showed that you can compete with one of the best in the Western Conference.

These are confidence builders. These are building blocks to a successful run to the post season.

Tonight, you looked into the mirror and saw a very good team. Tonight, you saw that you can compete and win against one of the best.

Remember what this looks like. You will be seeing teams like this again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rumors, Recklessness, and Responsibility


Want to hear a rumor?

The Hockey News could be acquired by the National Enquirer.

In the realm of possibility? Sure.

Probable? Not very.

A rumor. Somewhere in the realm of the possible, but not likely. If I threw this rumor out there, based on the fact that , yes, it is possible although not probable, I am trafficking in the laughable.

Yet the Hockey News and Ken Campbell would chose to traffic in a rumor that the Predators COULD POSSIBLY relocate to Kansas City and the vacant Sprint Center. In his March 22nd column "Campbell's Cuts", Ken Campbell speculates that the Nashville Predators could be a team on the move, specifically to the aforementioned Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Campbell is no stranger to his venom and hatred toward the Nashville Franchise. In a February 12, 2008 blog on the Hockey News website entitled "Why Not Just Move the Predators Now?", Campbell asserts that the Predators should just pack up and move to Kansas City. This article appeared AFTER the new ownership group was announced and the lease between the Predators and the City of Nashville was re-worked. Campbell's money quote in his article of 2008 was this,

"We all know that this lease simply bought Nashville a little more time to play hockey with the big boys before it goes back to being the minor league hockey city it should have always been. We all know the Predators will leave after the 2009-10 season when they lose $20 million or don't average 14,000, or both."

Sorry to disappoint you, Ken, but it ain't happening. And no matter how much you disparage the Nashville market or the Predators franchise, hockey is solid and growing here, and is here to stay.

You want to traffic in rumors, Ken? Then you at least owe your readers full disclosure of the basis for your rumors. To throw this nonsense out there with no basis in fact is like me starting the rumor that the Hockey News is going to be acquired by the Enquirer.

Let's talk about that vacant Sprint Center for just a moment. AEG owns the Sprint Center. AEG is also the owner of the Los Angeles Kings. Phillip Anshutz, the owner of AEG, was victimized by that slick con "Boots" Del Biaggio to the tune of $17MM which was ostensibly used as part of his payment to buy an interest in the Predators. Oh by the way, Anshutz didn't bother to disclose this loan which would have represented cross ownership of another NHL franchise in violation of the by-laws and constitution of the NHL. There is no doubt that Del Biaggio was Anshutz's mole in the Predators operation and was attempting to backdoor the local ownership to move the franchise to Kansas City.

So the only connection to Kansas City, and it is a tenuous one, is with a convicted felon working clandestinely for another owner to move an existing franchise into that owner's vacant building. Sneaky is the nicest thing you can say about this tangled mess and the actions of AEG and Anshutz. Did you bother to include these facts in your reporting of a rumor that has no basis in fact or truth?

Does this checkered past mean that the Preds are moving to Kansas City? Absolutely not. Does the rocky relationship with the rocket scientists on the Nashville Sports Authority mean the Predators are doomed in Nashville? Definitely not.

The relationship with the Sports Authority is less than stellar. Tell me of any franchise that has a perfect relationship with their landlord. Tell me of any franchise that has an exemplary relationship with the city in which they reside. There are none. Sure, some are better than others, but none are perfect. They never will be.

Your "rumors" about relocation of the Nashville franchise are reckless and border on the sensationalism one would expect from the Enquirer. Keep it up, and you have a future there.

It's obvious that you have never liked the fact that Nashville has an NHL franchise. That's fine. You have a responsibility to your readers to state honestly why you don't like the NHL in Nashville. More than anything, you have a responsibility to traffic in truth and not specious rumor. If you want to report rumors, there are several blogs out there that would welcome you. Reckless reporting such as this does a disservice to your readers and to your employer.

Sure, the Predators have had difficulties during their short time in the NHL. These were the making of an absentee owner and a con man that wormed his way into the local ownership group. That's unfortunate, and it has created problems for the franchise. But the fact you refuse to acknowledge is that hockey is growing and succeeding in Nashville.The Predators have sunk deep roots in the community and they are growing the fan base and corporate support every year. Your vitriol and rumors will not change that fact.

You have a wide audience, and spouting these rumors are nothing but an attempt to damage a franchise. That is reckless and irresponsible. You are better than this.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't expect better out of you.

By the way, did you hear the rumor about Ken Campbell...

Predators Foundation Wine Festival- Fun for a Great Cause

Love a good glass of wine? Better yet, love a good glass of wine and hockey? Even better- a good glass of wine, hockey, AND a chance to interact with the players, coaches, and such luminaries as Pete Weber and Terry Crisp? Then you need to be at the Predators  Foundation Wine Festival and Tasting on Wednesday, March 31st from 6-10 at the Bridgestone Arena. Over 175 different wines are available to satisfy the palates of  the most discriminating oeneophiles. For less sophisticated people like me, there are ample selections of beer and liquors. Heavy hor d'ooeuvres are also served.

Perhaps the best part of the evening is the wonderful silent auction items that are available. Everything from vacation packages, hockey and sports memorabilia, to entertainment and dining packages are offered. The proceeds of the evening benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation.

While this is a great evening to meet players, coaches, and other fans as well as sip some fine wines and bid on great auction items, the real star of the event is the Predators Foundation. This year, the Foundation will give over $300,000 to charitable enterprises in Middle Tennessee. The Foundation has been active in the betterment of the lives of people in this area since the team has been here, and every year has increased their involvement in our community. It doesn't happen without your support, however.

So come out to a great evening of entertainment and fun, but more importantly, come out to support a wonderful organization that does so much for our community. Tickets can be purchased on line at www.nashvillepredators.com/wine or by calling 770-2331.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dallas Drops the Predators 3-1

The Nashville Predators 6 game win streak ended with a thud against the Dallas Stars, as the Predators dropped a 3-1 decision on home ice. Although the Predators outshot the Stars by a 35-14 margin, they were unable to solve Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen.

The Predators came out strong in the first period, outshooting the Stars 14-5 but didn't generate much in the way of quality chances. As Head Coach Barry Trotz said after the game, the Preds didn't work to get in the hard areas and create enough traffic to make it difficult on Lehtonen. This is the Predators game, and tonight, it just wasn't working. Many shots were from the point, and Lehtonen was able to see the puck clearly, making for some easy stops.

After a scoreless first period, Dallas got the first score at 8:10 of the second when Pekka Rinne fell on top of a puck and thought he had it smothered. Instead, the puck squirted out from under Rinne directly to Trevor Daley, who was alone in the low slot. It was easy pickings for Daley, who fired the puck into an open net while Rinne was still down on the ice.

The Predators would answer at 16:02 of the period as Shea Weber unleashed a cannon shot that blew past an unscreened Lehtonen. The score would remained tied at 1 through the end of the period.

The Stars took control of the game early in the third period as Loui Eriksson broke in on the left wing on rifled a shot over the shoulder of Rinne at 1:30 of the period. Just :30 seconds later, Dallas tallied again as Matt Niskanen shot the puck to the net with traffic in front. The puck got past a screened Rinne to give the Stars a 2 goal lead that the Predators would never challenge again.

The Predators jumbled their lines as Jason Arnott and Joel Ward were absent due to injury. Missing these two key players seemed to affect the chemistry of the lines as there were numerous breakdowns in the offensive zone and the Predators just didn't seem to click like they had during their winning streak.

One can give the Predators some slack because they were missing some vital cogs, but the troublesome aspect of this loss is that the Predators got away from doing what worked during their win streak. Tough, gritty hockey. Going to the front of the net. Doing the little things that turn the tide of a contest. Tonight, these characteristics of their game were missing.

It would have been beyond optimism to think the Preds would win out their regular season schedule. This loss points out that the difference between winning and losing is very fine, and the Predators can't get away from the type of game that produced the wins we have enjoyed.

The schedule doesn't get easier, with the red hot Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings coming to town. The loss is in the books. So be it.

Learn from this loss. No more soft hockey. Remember that it is the tough, workmanlike hockey that you played to produce six wins in a row. Remember that it is not easy to win right now. Soft hockey is a formula for loss. No sustained pressure is a formula for loss. Less than 100% effort is a formula for loss.

The streak is over. It's now time to start a new winning streak

A streak built on heart, grit, and tough hockey.

It's time to start again.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Predators Refuse to Lose, Come Back to Beat the Blues 3-2

The Nashville Predators extended their winning streak to six games by surviving a listless first period to thwart the Blues in St. Louis by a 3-2 margin. The Predators victory continued the Blues home ice misery, as the loss ran the Blues home record to 12-18-1, while the Predators notched their sixth consecutive win.

St. Louis came out with good jump and put pressure on the Predators is their offensive zone. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne, getting the start after playing the night before at home against Columbus, was called upon to make some big saves early to hold the Blues off the board.

The Blues finally broke through at 16:28 of the first on the power play. The Predators had a chance to clear the puck, but it was held in at the blue line by David Perron. He passed to Andy MacDonald in the slot, who then found Carlo Colaiacovo streaking in uncontested to Rinne's right. He fired a shot that Rinne barely got a piece of, but it went under the crossbar for a 1-0 Blues lead.

At the end of the first period, the Blues had outshot the Predators 12-10 and had more jump. When the Predators got scoring opportunities, Blues tender Chris Mason was able to come up with the save. For the Predators to have an opportunity to win the game, the intensity was going to have to improve in the second period and they were going to have to work harder to generate quality scoring chances.

The Predators did just that, as they outshot the Blues 13-6 and generated some quality scoring chances. Mason was equal to the task until 15:03 of the period. Jordin Tootoo worked hard in the corner to fight for control of the puck. He spied Dustin Boyd coming off the board and slipped a pass to him, and Boyd fired a wicked wrister far side over Mason's shoulder to tie the game. This was Boyd's first goal as a Predator (okay- I know the goal in San Jose should have counted. It was his first OFFICIAL goal) and it came at a time when the Predators needed to cash in on their scoring chances.

Chris Mason is a good goalie, and when he plays the Predators he gets stronger and more confident the more saves he makes. Scoring on Mason showed there were chinks in his armor and that the Preds could score against him. Getting that tally was a psychological boost for the Predators.

This game was shaping up as another goaltender's duel involving Rinne and an opposing netminder. Each goalie turned away high quality scoring chances in the first two periods.

St. Louis would score early in the third to take a 2-1 lead as David Perron batted a shot out of mid-air with a backhand past Rinne. The score occurred at 3:29 of the period, and now the Predators were going to have to turn it on.

It would have been easy to wilt under the pressure the Blues brought. They were desperate. They needed this win. And they weren't backing off. This was time for the Predators to show their character and claw back into the game. Time to refuse to end the win streak.

For much of the period, the Blues did a great job turning back the Predators. Mason continued his strong play in the net and the Blues kept up the pressure with an aggressive forecheck. The clock was melting down and the Predators were the desperate team.

Desperate, but not despairing, as the Predators kept playing their game. Steve Sullivan controlled the puck just inside the face off circle and slid a puck toward the net just as he was flattened by a Blues defender. The puck slid to Patric Hornqvist in his "office" at the top of the crease, and in one motion he spun and whipped the puck past Mason. Tied at 2 with 16:29 off the clock.

The Predators controlled the ensuing face off and got the puck to Marty Erat. Erat drove in to the Blues zone and sped around the net. He found Dustin Boyd streaking in just inside the face off circle and fed him a pass. Boyd ripped a shot past Mason just as he was being leveled. Just :48 seconds since they tied the game, the Predators had improbably taken the lead.

The Predators were able to stave off a furious attempt to tie the game over the last 2:46, with the Blues with the extra attacker for the last 1:30. The Blues frustration at the loss boiled over at the end of the game as David Perron took a run and a cheap shot at Dustin Boyd at the glass after time had expired. A very manly move by Perron. Enjoy the long off season, pal.

It can be easy to say the Predators "won ugly", and this certainly was not the prettiest win that they have recorded. It is important to remember that every game we play between now and the end of the season is desperate hockey. Trying to survive hockey. Teams want what we have- a playoff spot. We are going to get their best shot every night. They are going to throw everything at us.

St Louis did just that tonight. They gave it their best shot. They wanted the win.. They NEEDED the win. We took their best shot and refused to buckle. We didn't fold when it was tough. We continued to fight, to scrap, to work for the victory. We would not be denied.

This is what it takes to secure a playoff spot. This is what it takes to break the will of our opponents. This kind of hockey is difficult to defeat. This is Predator hockey.

Bodies are sore, injuries are nagging, players are out of the lineup. Every team deals with this- you are no different in that regard. The difference that you possess is the belief in the guys that put on the sweater and the effort you will bring every night. This is the mark of a champion.

Time for some rest and to nurse some injuries. Time to get ready to do battle again.

It will be a battle.

Refuse to lose.

Connecting and Communicating in a Wired World: Using Social Media to Build a Fan Base

 Surveys have shown that hockey fans are the most tech savvy fans of all the major sports. They are quick to embrace and utilize new technologies in their business and personal lives, and in response, the NHL has opened new channels by which to disseminate news and games using the new technology. Streaming videos, podcasts, Twitter, and Facebook are some of the avenues that fans are using to get information and view games, and the League has started to provide content through these channels. Twitter became a source of instantaneous news on trade deadline day; Facebook pages cultivate contact with players and with teams; and streaming video provides content to fans of the game wherever there is a computer and an internet connection.        

While the League has been in the vanguard of embracing social media, teams in local markets are prone to move at a slower pace. Often times, if there is attention paid to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, it falls as an ancillary duty of someone in the Marketing/PR department of the local club. However, with more fans getting information and communicating via the various social media channels, it will become more important for teams to not only give attention to these forms of communication, but also to provide quality content to fill these channels.        

This week, the New York Islanders announced a new position in their front office, the Director of Social Media. Dani Muccio, known to many on Twitter as dani3boyz and the founder of the NHLTweetups, has been named to fill this position. Dani was gracious enough to spend a few moments out of her very busy schedule to talk about this position and what she envisions it will mean for the team.        

When asked how the Islanders decided to create this position, Dani said the team was familiar with the NHLTweetups, where fans of a team communicate through Twitter and meet to support their team and meet other fans. “The Tweetups have been great for generating support and building relationships among the fan base, and the Islanders believed that a focused effort could benefit the team.  The Islanders executives knew they needed to get into this area of communication, but were unsure of how to proceed. They asked if I could provide some advice and a proposal for getting started. I gave the President of the club a ten page proposal about how to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with our existing fans and to attract new fans. The first question I asked him when we met to discuss this was ‘Does anything in this proposal scare you?’ and he said no. He recognized that this area of communication had not been utilized and could be a very effective tool to reach out to fans."        

"After discussion of the proposal, I asked them if they had anyone in mind for the position. Their response was that they were talking to that person. I am still shocked but excited about being offered the position, and I believe that this can be very positive for the Islanders and their fans."        

"The channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, are there, but it is important for us as a team to provide relevant and quality communication to fans. That is one of the aspects of the job on which I will be very focused.”        

Ask Dani how she envisions social media working for the Islanders and you will hear the excitement in her voice as she talks about her vision for the team. “Our players are so involved in our community and do so many wonderful things here. Why not communicate this to our fans and give them a chance to see our players as they get out into the community? When we have player events, such as signings or appearances in different venues, we can communicate this through Twitter and Facebook. We already have a number of Islander fans that follow the team through those mediums, so we can broadcast this information and get it out to them on a timely basis and have more fan involvement. The channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, are there, but it is important for us as a team to provide relevant and quality communication to fans. That is one of the aspects of the job on which I will be very focused."        

"I see Twitter and Facebook not only as a means of communication, but as a vehicle to draw the Islander fan base closer together. Why not have a Tweetup at a game? Have a special place that Islander fans on Twitter can gather and interact, whether between periods or before and after the game?  I see this as a tool to draw the Islander community closer together, and in doing that, it will be good for the team. The team will benefit from the cohesiveness of the fans that support them."        

"Twitter, Facebook, and the team web site have to work in harmony. Content on all three has to be timely and of the highest quality. Fans are discerning, and you want to be accessible, relevant and top notch when it comes to communication and content. Social media channels are not in competition with the team web site or vice versa, but each are designed to complement and enhance the other.”        

 What can the fans of the Islanders expect now that someone in the front office is focused on social media? “Accessibility to information will be one of the first things a fan will notice. Communication through whatever channel they choose- Twitter, Facebook, the team website, or other channel, will be easy, timely, and of the best quality. Not just with the hockey team, but the way information is disseminated today has changed radically. Rather than chase after our fans, we want to be there when the fans need information. We want to be in the channels they use to find out about the team. We want to be accessible and entertaining to the casual fan as well. If we are not easy to find and entertaining and informative, then we will miss those fans. And when the trends change, we want to be current with those changes.  Who knows what the Twitter of tomorrow might be, but we want to be ready to move into that channel when it emerges.”        

 The Islanders have recognized the advent and the importance of new channels of communication, and are to be congratulated for embracing the new social media. They have an experienced and energetic new director spearheading this endeavor, and it will be interesting to see what the team and Dani can do together. Thanks to Dani Muccio for her time and all the best in this exciting new venture.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Predators Beat Little Brother, Down Jackets 1-0

The Columbus Blue Jackets are like an annoying, yappy little brother that hangs around and makes the life of their big brother miserable. Tonight, the little brother was certainly annoying the big brother Nashville Predators. Annoying, that is, until the big brother finally took a 1-0 overtime victory.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net and had to be very sharp from the outset as the Jackets tilted the ice and swarmed the Nashville net in the first period. Rinne was strong in net and made some outstanding saves, turning aside all 14 BJ shots.

Nashville, on the other hand, started slowly and never mounted a serious challenge to Columbus netminder Steve Mason. For the period, the Predators only put 6 shots on net. Scoreless at the end of the first period, the Predators felt as if they survived the push that Columbus brought.

The Predators stepped up the attack in the second period, and Mason was equal to the challenge, turning aside all 13 Predator shots. The Predators managed to kill off a 5 on 3 power play in the period, which seemed to swing the momentum to the Predators. With Ryan Suter in the box on an interference call, the Preds were called for too many men on the ice during the kill. The PK unit was strong, limiting the Jackets chances and doing a good job of clearing the puck. Shots that got through were turned aside by Rinne.

The Predators had a glorious scoring chance as Ryan Suter came out of the box and took a lead pass to break in on Mason. He beat Mason stick side only to have the puck ring off the post.

Tied at the end of two, one had the feeling that the first score would be the one that would be the game winner. Neither Rinne nor Mason would yield that score as both tenders were strong in their net.

In the third period, Jason Arnott was slew footed by the boards and fell hard on the ice, hitting his head. He left the game and did not return. According to post game reports, there was a cut on his eye and he was woozy. He will not make the trip to St. Louis tonight, but will evaluated tomorrow, There is a possibility that he could join the team for the late afternoon game.

The third period saw the Predators out shoot the Jackets 11-6 and more importantly, start to take control of the action on the ice. The Jackets were limited in their scoring opportunities, and you could sense the Predators starting to wear down the Jackets physically, but more importantly, were wearing them down mentally. Although the Predators would not score in the period, they were starting to control play.

Moving to the overtime, Columbus got a glorious scoring chance as Mike Commodore broke in alone on Rinne. He tried to go high glove side, but Rinne stoned him with a lightning quick glove hand. The Predators then got the puck in the offensive zone, where Cody Franson fired a shot from the blue line. Mason got his right pad on the shot, but it climbed over his pad and trickled into the net. Game, set, and match-Predators.

The Predators have now won 14 straight home games against the Jackets and took the season series 5-1. Three of the home wins against the BJ's have gone to overtime or a shootout. The annoying, yappy little brother is a pest. They are, however, still just an annoying, yappy little brother.

The Predators have now won five straight games. They have to keep winning, keep taking care of their business. Don't worry about the teams chasing you. As long as you keep playing with purpose, they will be doing just that- chasing. You are nipping at the heels of the the teams in the five and six slots.

More importantly, you are playing solid hockey. Gritty hockey. Winning hockey. Scoring is coming from all over. Defense is solid. Goaltending is outstanding. That is winning hockey.

Kudos to Pekka Rinne. The big netminder is settling in to the starting role and he is outstanding. Three shutouts in four games. 132 minutes of scoreless hockey by the opposition. Rinne has taken the starter's role and he has excelled. Ride this big horse into the playoffs.

Every game from now to the end of the season is big. And you won't be playing yappy little brothers. The big boys are coming.

Keep bringing the effort. Keep playing with heart and grit. Do that and you will keep on winning.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Amity Shlaes, Senior Fellow in Economic History at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote an article for Forbes Magazine looking back at the Great Depression and some of the factors that prolonged this grim economic period. Her observations are very interesting and serve as both warning and instruction to us in today's economy. She states that there were three factors that deepened and prolonged the economic crisis of the 1930's. They were: Taxation- President Hoover raised the top income tax rate from 25% to more than 60%. Franklin Roosevelt continued this trend by eventually raising the top rate to more than 90%. Labor costs- Part of Roosevelt's New Deal was to raise wages under the premise that it meant more purchasing power for workers. While good for those that were employed, job creation slowed to a halt. Executive discretion- Roosevelt seized the power to make the rules away from a weak Congress under the guise of needing "bold initiative" to revive the economy. Because the rules of taxation and regulation were constantly shifting, businesses stopped spending capital to grow and hire new employees. Take a close look at our economic and regulatory landscape today and see if these same circumstances are in place. I think they are. And that means our economic recovery is going to be weak.

I saw a red breasted bird sitting in the warm sun today. It was a Basking Robbin.

As Congress considers nationalizing our healthcare system, we have heard this week that they, our elected representatives, may not actually vote on the bill in the House of Representatives. The House is considering using a parliamentary procedure called "deem and pass" which would allow the House to strip out controversial provisions of the bill but "deem" that the entire bill had passed without requiring a second vote. Follow that? It is Nancy Pelosi's cowardly way of letting the House vote but not vote on socializing our healthcare system. It is an out for those representative's that don't have the courage to face their constituents and say that they voted for this package. We elect our representatives to do that, to represent our wishes in the Legislature. The American public overwhelming opposes socializing our healthcare system. Our representatives should have the courage to put your actual vote on record.

If the House of Representatives can "deem" to have voted without really voting, I wonder if I can "deem" to have paid my taxes this year?

I had an opportunity to have lunch with Arthur Laffer several weeks ago. If that name doesn't ring a bell, let me refresh your memory. As an economist in the 1970's, he proposed that the best way to boost tax receipts for the government was to first boost growth in the economy. He said the best way to do this was to cut all taxes- capital gains, corporate tax rates, income taxes, estate taxes- to a level that didn't impede growth. Although many economists tried to dismiss his theories, he was resoundingly proven right in the 1980's when President Ronald Reagan cut taxes substantially, which started a twenty year cycle of economic expansion.  Today, many economists attempt to discredit the work of Laffer and the interrelationship of taxes and growth in the economy. Be sure of this: we are in a period of economic contraction. Tax receipts to local, state, and federal governments have fallen significantly because of that. Raising taxes will not bring in more revenue to the government and will further slow growth, compounding the problems we face in this country.

I am over 50, and proud to say I still have my looks. Problem is, I can't find them.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Preds Gone Wild, Whip Minnesota 5-0

The Nashville Predators whipped the Minnesota Wild 5-0 at the Bridgestone Arena in a totally dominating effort. With the win, the Predators go to 85 points and have won four straight games. Pekka Rinne recorded his fifth shutout of the season, making 17 saves in the win.

The Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with an aggressive, attacking game that kept the Wild back on their heels. Colin Wilson opened the scoring for the Predators as he blocked an outlet pass by Wild defenseman Nick Schultz and broke in on goalie Josh Harding for his 7th goal of the season. Wilson whipped a quick wrist shot that beat Harding to the glove side for a 1-0 Predator lead at 7:07 of the period.

Rinne was tested early, as the Wild put pressure on the Nashville netminder in the first. Rinne was strong in net and turned aside all 9 shots he faced in the first period. His stellar play set the tone for the game, as the Wild could not solve the big Finn.

J.P. Dumont scored the second goal for the Predators as he took a nice pass from Jordin Tootoo, who controlled the puck in the corner. Tootoo found Dumont cruising down the slot and he fired a shot over Harding's glove hand for the second Predator tally and his 16th goal of the year.

With time running out in the period, Jason Arnott gathered in a puck at the half board and shot a puck at the net. Harding was inexplicably looking the other way and the puck went behind him and found the back of the net. After the game, Head Coach Barry Trotz said that Harding had broken a strap and was trying to clear the buckle out of the crease and not watching the puck. Arnott was opportunistic with his shot to the net and his effort made the Wild pay with his 18th goal of the year. 3-0 Predators at the end of the first period.

The start of the second period would see the Wild try to exert pressure and get back in to the game. That momentum was quickly derailed by a Marcel Goc goal at 2:19 of the period with a quick blast from just inside the face off circle. Goc recorded his 12th goal of the year to make it 4-0 Predators, and they appeared in control of the game.

If this game would have gone true to form, the Wild would have surged and made it a game, but the Predators had other ideas.They would allow only four shots in the period, while logging 14 of their own. The defense was solid and thwarted any serious scoring chances by the Wild. The defense was smothering the Wild and refused to give them an opportunity to get back in to the game.

The third period was more of the same for the Predators as they continued to dominate the Wild. They only allowed four shots in the third period as well, and outshot the Wild 37-17 for the game. Patric Hornqvist would notch his 27th goal of the season on the power play at 7:35 of the period to make it 5-0 Predators and this game was over. It was just a matter of playing out the clock and getting the win in the books.

This effort against the Wild was total domination by the Predators. After the first period, the Wild rarely got a quality scoring chance as the defense was solid in the zone, limiting the Wild chances. The Predators were exceptional in the neutral zone, refusing to allow the Wild easy entry into the offensive zone and limiting their space.

This was a game that was textbook hockey by the Predators. They exerted their will early and took control of the game. More importantly, they refused to let the Wild get established in the offensive zone and did not allow quality scoring chances. This was Predator hockey to the max.

This is the type of hockey that the Predators have to continue to play. Solid hockey in all zones. A dominating effort from start to finish. They kind of play that breaks the will of your opponent.

Keep playing this way, boys. Go wild on the opposition. Dominate from start to finish. And lock down a playoff spot.

This is the game you have to play. You were built for this type of game. Confident, determined, dominating.

Predator hockey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Predators Win Ugly, Gound Flyers 4-3

The Nashville Predators were back home after a successful four game road swing to take on the Philadelphia Flyers in a game that was destined to be a physical contest. Physical it was, as the Flyers had free reign to trip, high stick and slash with impunity. The Predators withstood a late third period rally and the Flyers' nasty game to prevail in a shootout and skate away with a 4-3 win.

The Predators fell behind early as a clearing attempt misfired and left the puck in the low slot. Jeff Carter scooped up the puck and roofed it over the shoulder of goaltender Pekka Rinne at 1:21 of the first period. Rinne had no chance to stop the golden scoring chance, and once again, the Predators found themselves in an early game deficit.

The Predators would answer just over three minutes later. Goaltender Michael Leighton stopped the puck in his crease off a shot by Steve Sullivan. Sully would continue around the net and poked at the puck that was lying in the crease. Leighton couldn't control the puck and Sullivan was able to knock it in for the tying goal.

Nashville kept the pressure up on the Philly netminder as the Predators aggressive forecheck forced a turnover. Marty Erat took a pass from Patric Hornqvist and fired a shot over the shoulder glove side of Leighton for a 2-1 Predator lead.

Several minutes later, Leighton was injured blocking a shot well out of his crease, and was unable to continue. The Flyers then turned to backup goaltender Bobby Brian Boucher.

Boucher was welcomed to the game when Jerred Smithson was crowding the crease when Joel Ward took a shot, which Boucher stopped but was unable to control the rebound. Smithson was able to get control of the puck and slip a backhander into the open side of the net.

Seven shots, three goals, and the Predators had the momentum and the Flyers back on their heels. It is, however, a three period game, and Predator fans knew that this game was still going to be a scrap.

The second period was scoreless, but not for lack of effort from the Flyers. Outshot in the first period 17-9, the Predators continued to allow the Flyers to pepper the net, The Predators were outshot in the second period 12-6, and Pekka Rinne was stellar in net, thwarting all the scoring opportunities the Philadelphia had.

Predator fans knew that the Flyers would be bringing the pressure in the third period, and they did. They were abetted in their effort by several missed call by the officials, the most egregious of which was a tripping call when Jason Arnott was blatantly tripped at the Flyer blueline. This set up a rush into the Nashville zone, and Simon Gagne was able to cash in for a score as he banged in a puck in a goalmouth scramble to cut the margin to 3-2 with 8:46 remaining in the game.

Dan Hamhuis was called for delay of game when he knocked the net off its moorings, and Chris Pronger was able to score on the ensuing power play to tie the game. For the game, Philadelphia had one penalty called against them, a fighting major against Ian Laperrier. Unbelievably, the trips, slashes, and high sticks were not called. And the game was tied.

The Predators ramped up the offense in the third and registered ten shots on goal,  but could not solve Boucher. In the overtime, the Flyers outshot the Predators 6-5, but neither team was able to score.

In the shootout, Rinne stopped Danny Briere, Claude Giroux, and Mike Richards. Boucher stopped Marcel Goc, but Marty Erat tallied the game winner as his shot hit Boucher and climbed over his shoulder into the net. Two points, two precious points for the Predators.

Although the Predators jumped out to the early lead, this was not the best game they have played. The offense went dormant in the latter stages of the first period and the entire second period. Too often, the Preds relied on Pekka Rinne to clean up defensive mistakes or turn back the pressure from the Flyers. This was a win, however, and nothing can take away from that fact. Sometimes, you have to win ugly. Ugly it was, but fortunately, wins are not graded on style points.

There are positive aspects of this game that the Predators can fall back upon. There are four legitimate lines that Coach Trotz can roll onto the ice, four lines that can pressure the puck, can score, and can give the team quality minutes. This will be critical in the drive to the playoffs.

Rinne looks to have seized the reins as the starter. The more he plays, the stronger he gets. Yes, he gave up three goals tonight, but he had virtually no chance on two of the goals. I think it is a wise decision to ride this horse all the way to the playoffs.

Obviously not the best game for the Predators from start to finish, but a win nevertheless. This is a win that showed the resiliency of this team, a characteristic that Coach Trotz refers to often. This team is not the most talented, and sometimes breaks don't go their way. But they keep coming, keep working, and never quit. They take whatever happens and they deal with it and they don't back down. This character trait continues to define this team.

83 points and firmly in 7th place. Teams are chasing you and want what you have. You have to continue to take care of business and not let them have it. You have to be resilient. You have to continue to play with heart and grit.

And sometimes you have to win ugly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kings De-Throned by Predators 3-2

The Predators completed a successful west coast road trip by downing the L.A. Kings 3-2 in a Sunday afternoon matinee. With the victory over the Kings, the Preds won three of four games on the road, wins that are vital in positioning for the playoffs.

The Kings are always a test for the Predators, as they bring speed, talented forwards, and an aggressive style of play to every game. The Predators were going to be challenged from the gitgo, and it was going to be imperative that they come out strong to have an opportunity for the victory.

Nashville opened the game with aggression and took the attack to the Kings. This style of play paid off early for the Predators as Steve Sullivan scored from a severe angle on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Sullivan was flying down the wing and took a pass from Marcel Goc, and when he saw an opening, fired the puck. Quick seemed surprised by the shot, and it slipped under his arm and found the back of the net.

The Kings would answer just over four minutes later on the power play as the Predator defense lost Anze Kopitar and he was able to cruise into the low slot alone and blasted a puck past Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. Rinne is owed an apology from his D on that goal.

The second period would be scoreless, as both teams fought to gain a territorial advantage on the ice, and neither team giving an inch. Nashville recorded eight shots on goal; L.A. had four. L.A. came close to scoring in the period, but Rinne appeared to make a spectacular save on a goal that surely would have been reviewed. However, the official waved the goal off as Ryan Smythe interfered with Rinne, making the review moot.

In the third period, each team traded chances with neither backing down. That would change when Dustin Brown beat Rinne with a wrister from between the faceoff circles at 5:56 of the third period. Momentum to the Kings, and the crowd was in full throat exhorting the home team to victory.

Every Preds fan knew that the Predators needed to answer the Kings score, and answer the Predators did just :39 seconds later. Colin Wilson followed a strong drive to the net by Marty Erat with a tap in of the rebound off the initial save by Quick. Wilson was smart on the play as he followed Erat and parked himself at the side of the net. The rebound came right to him and he knocked the puck in for his 6th goal of the season. A smart play by a young man that is solidifying his role on this team.

With the game tied and the period winding down, both teams were still pushing for the game winning tally. Each team generated some chances, but it was the Predators that broke through as Patric Hornqvist got a rebound at the top of the crease and banged the puck past Quick. Hornqvist was doing the dirty work in his "office" and once again it paid off for the Predators. The game winning goal was Hornqvist's team leading 26th goal of the season, and it came at 16:29 of the third period.

The Predators were able to turn back the Kings over the last 3:31 of the period and skated off with their seventh straight victory over L.A. More importantly, they come back home with 6 of 8 points in their pocket.

All Predator fans are scoreboard watching at this time of year. Watching Colorado and L.A., who are just in front of us in the standings. Watching Calgary and Detroit, who are chasing us for a playoff spot. Watching the scoreboard is fine, but the Predators are doing what they need to do to secure a playoff spot.


Don't worry about what the other teams are doing. Be concerned only with your game and the effort you bring to the ice every game. And you have to bring it. Like you did on this road trip. That is your key to the post season.

There was a worry about the psyche of this team after their meltdown against San Jose. Would they be resilient? Could they bounce back?

The Predators resoundingly answered those questions with two gritty one goal wins, in Anaheim and L.A. They skated hard and were aggressive. They played Predator hockey.

Between now and the end of the regular season will be a dogfight. It's going to be tough every night. It's going to require heart and grit. You're going to have to reach down deep and secure the wins and points you need. You can't depend on anyone else but the guys that put on the sweater and step out on the ice.

Play like you did on this road trip, and you won't have to worry about what the other teams are doing. Play like you did on this road trip, and you will be in the playoffs.

Time to translate that road mojo into wins on home ice, boys. Looking forward to seeing you back at the bridge on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Introducing a New Award

After the season is over, the NHL hands out numerous awards for individual achievement. Awards such as the Hart (most valuable player), Vezina (top goaltender), and Calder (top rookie) are awarded to deserving recipients. The end of the year awards are one of the highlights of a a summer without hockey.

In the spirit of acknowledging those who are deserving, The View From 111 has come up with its own award. This award can be given to a player, coach, official, front office person, or anyone associated with the great game of hockey. Unlike the NHL awards, which are given at the end of the season, this award can be given at any time to a deserving person or entity that has distinguished themselves by their actions or words.

The award will be called the H.A.trophy., or "Hattie". Here is a picture of the very, uh, special trophy that will be awarded:

Nominations will be accepted at any time, either by sending me a comment at the end of a post, or you can e-mail your nominations to me at usc49@comcast.net 

Some early, and I might say worthy nominees are already under consideration. They are: the Nashville Sports Authority; the Toronto War Room; and Alex Burrows.

Remember: you can submit nominations throughout the course of the season, and eligible nominees are anyone that has anything to do with hockey.

I look forward to your submissions.

Predators Down Ducks 1-0 Behind Rinne's 31 Saves

When the Nashville Predators took on the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, there was concern that the third period meltdown in the game against the Sharks the previous night would carry over to tonight's game. Fortunately, that was not the case, as the Predators turned in a stellar effort to defeat the Ducks 1-0 behind the 31 saves of Pekka Rinne.

Any game against the Ducks is going to be a physical contest, and in times past the Ducks would use their physical game to grind down the Predators. Tonight was different, as the Predators matched the Ducks physical play and refused to let them dictate the tempo of the game. Kudos to Francis Buillon as he played a very solid game tonight. 

Both teams had numerous scoring chances in this penalty marred game, but both Rinne and Jonas Hiller for the Ducks came up with big saves to keep their teams in the contest. The only scoring in the game came from a Shea Weber blast with the Preds on a 5 on 3 power play. The Ducks had Aaron Ward in the box for interference and Ryan Getzlaf in for high sticking. Weber teed one up from the blue line and absolutely blew the shot past Hiller at 17:54 of the first period.

This game would turn out to be an ebb and flow battle for the remaining two periods. Each team would mount offensive pressure, and each time the goalies would answer. Both Rinne and Hiller made several quality saves over the course of the two periods as neither team could get a puck past the opposing goalie. Hiller stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced tonight.

The impressive aspect of this game tonight is the job the coaching staff did to purge the sour taste of the Sharks game from the psyche of this team. To implode as the Predators did and lose a game badly they should have won in the previous night could have carried over into this game. Although the Predators didn't light up the scoreboard, they played a very relaxed and solid game tonight. They did not let the aftereffects of the Sharks game bleed into this game. To do so would most likely have resulted in another painful loss.

The Predators have the capability to make life very difficult for any opponent; they have the capability to win any game they play. As we have seen, however, they also have the ability to absolutely stink up a period or a game. For the Predators to finally lock down a playoff spot and make any kind of run in the playoffs they must get consistent. The defining characteristic of tonight's win was that the level of play for the Preds did not change from the drop of the puck to the final horn. That did not happen last night between periods. At times this season, it has not happened from game to game.

Bring it like you did tonight, every period, every game, and you will make the playoffs and make some noise once you are there.

There were some painful lessons to be learned from the Sharks game. There are positive lessons to be learned from the Ducks game. Learn from both and bring them to the ice in the remaining games this season. Be consistent with the effort and you will secure the wins and points you need.

And be ready for the playoffs.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Ten years ago, the average cost of an MRI and Lasik surgery were approximately $3,000. Today, an MRI costs about $3,500 and Lasik surgery averages under $1,000. Why the difference? MRI's are covered by most insurance plans; Lasik surgery is not. Because of that, candidates for Lasik surgery shop more carefully for price and quality, and as a result, competitive forces in that market have driven prices down while maintaining the quality of the service. Why bring this up? Simply because if we are going to make a serious attempt at reducing healthcare costs in this country, consumers must have the ability to shop for health care providers and services in a competitive environment. Existing regulations limit the ability of consumers to really shop for services in a true market environment. Introduce that aspect to the healthcare market and watch what happens to the cost of these services.

My wife told me that I'm proof that not all men are pigs. She said pigs are intelligent, gentle creatures... hey, wait!

What happens to a commodity when there is a scarcity of that item? Typically, the price of that commodity goes up. What happens when the supply of a commodity is limited AND prices are set by an outside entity, such as the government? Rationing of that commodity can occur, or production of that commodity can stop altogether if the producers cannot break even on the sale of that commodity. Now think of healthcare as a commodity, a service that we consume. If we have healthcare "reform" as proposed, we will have socialized medicine. Production, so to speak, of healthcare cannot stop, but what you find in countries that have nationalized their healthcare systems are generally: long waits, rationing of service, and- this is very improtant- a lower quality of care. Think about it; a doctor is told what he will get paid regardless of how hard he works. Where is the incentive to go beyond the minimum level of service required? Removing market forces from the healthcare arena, rather than letting them work, is a long term formula for lowering the quality of care in this country.

Red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy, green meat is bad for you.

Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen are Democratic pollsters who have done polling work for Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. There are some amazing, interesting, and scary revelations from some of their latest polling data. As regards health care "reform", they cite a Rasmussen poll that indicates that Americans feared the government more than insurance companies as regards healthcare decisions by a 51 to 39% margin. Given the negative perception of insurance companies, this is amazing. They also cite a CNN poll that says 56% of Americans now believe that the federal government constitutes an immediate threat to the freedoms and rights of its citizens. Look at these numbers again. Over 50% of the respondants fear our government and think that it compromises our rights and freedoms. Stunning isn't the word for this. What can be done to reverse these horrific trends. First and foremeost, the electorate has to become engaged in the process rather than just voting for a candidate with a "D" or and "R" after their name. And we are going to need to delve into the issues this country faces and force our leadership to be accountable to resolving those issues. Most importantly, we are going to have to make our leaders accountable to us. It starts in November with the mid-term Congressional elections.

If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Preds Embarrassed When They Find Out the Game Lasts 60 Minutes, Not 40, Drop 8-5 Decision to Sharks

Up 4-2 to start through two periods of their game with the San Jose Sharks, the game looked in hand for the Nashville Predators and two precious points were going to be secured. Unfortunately for the Predators, it's a three period game, and in the third, the Predators absolutely fell apart. As a result of their horrific effort in the the third, the Predators dropped an 8-5 decision.

Words do not even begin to describe how painful this is for the Predators. This game was in hand. Just play solid hockey for one period and skate out of the Shark Tank with the win. Instead, the Predators gave of six- SIX- freaking goals to the home team. Unbelievable is all I can say. Actually, I could say a lot more, but this is a family oriented blog.

Nashville outshot the Sharks 17-6 in the first and 17-5 in the second, building their lead. At the start of the third period, however, the Predators looked as if they were content to just sit on the lead, and this bit them in the butt. The Sharks scored two quick goals to to tie the game. The tying goal by Manny Malholtra was reviewed to see if he had kicked it in, and if there had been any consistency whatsoever by the War Room, it would have been disallowed as was Dustin Boyd's goal in the second. However, it was allowed to stand.

Although momentum was in the Sharks favor, the Predators fought back and still were in the game. Sloppy defense allowed the Sharks to swarm Dan Ellis, and he was unable to keep pucks out of the net. For the night, he allowed 6 goals on 17 shots.

After the Sharks had taken a 5-4 lead, the Predators came back to tie the game at 5. Shea Weber casually played a puck at the Predators blue line and Joe Pavelski stole the puck and broke in on Ellis to score the game winner. For the night, the number one D pairing of Suter and Weber were -6 and -5, respectively.

Kudos to Colin Wilson for a strong game; and to Patric Hornqvist and J.P. Dumont, who each notched two goals.

Frankly, this game is not worthy of a recap. Folding in the third period like this team did is unacceptable and inexcusable. Attempting to sit on a lead instead of pressing the attack and doing what got the lead in the first place was a formula for disaster.

Listen guys, you had two points for the taking. Two points that, hopefully, you will not back upon with regret at the end of the season. Two points you just pissed away.

It's not going to get any easier for you guys, and no one feels sorry for you right now. There are teams that are hungrier and more desperate than you and they will step over you to get in the playoffs.You have to get that hunger and that desperation back into your game, or you will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

I'm disgusted with the performance in the third period. As bad as I feel, I hope you feel much worse. I hope this eats at you. I hope you're so angry that you can't see straight. I hope the coaches or the captain or someone on this team ripped you a new one in the locker room. Because you deserve it.

The first 40 minutes of this game were exquisite hockey. You stunk it up in the last 20. Beyond anything I could imagine.

You get your chance for redemption tomorrow night. Show some heart. Be mentally and physically tough. Play like you did in the first 40 minutes of this game.

Oh yeah. Try playing that way for all 60 minutes tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It Wasn't Pretty, but the Predators Secure an Important 2-1 Victory

Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz notched his 400th victory in a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers in Phillips Arena. The win was not a thing of beauty, but fortunately, they don't grade wins on style points. The only thing that matters for the Predators is another "W" and two more valuable points.

The Predators started the game strongly, skating well and putting immense pressure on the Thrashers with an aggressive forecheck. When the Thrashers entered the offensive zone, they were smothered by a ferocious Predator defense that limited their offensive chances. When Atlanta threatened, goaltender Dan Ellis was strong in net.

The Predators got on the board first at 4:48 of the first as Ryan Suter unleashed a shot from the blue line with Patric Hornqvist and Martin Erat screening Thrasher netminder Johan Hedberg. The shot got through cleanly, beating Hedberg to the glove side.

In the five games since the Olympic break, Patric Hornqvist has been held off the scoresheet, and one has to wonder if he is beginning to hit the wall in this, his first full season in the NHL. The aspect of Hornqvist game that has not changed, and one that is positive relative to his play, is that he continues to go strong to the net and create traffic in front of opposing goaltenders. Several of the goals that the Predators have scored in these past five games have been a direct result of Hornqvist "taking away the eyes" of the goalie. His physical presence provides a great distraction for opposing goaltenders and scoring opportunities for his teammates. This is his game, and he continues to play it well.

Late in the first, Colin Wilson was the beneficiary of a turnover deep in the Atlanta zone by Mark Popovich. His attempted clear hopped over his stick, and Wilson slapped the puck toward the net. Getting the puck under control, Wilson made a nifty backhand to forehand move and beat Hedberg high stick side. Wilson continues to play strong hockey and his game is maturing. Tonight, he was paired on the top line with Jason Arnott and Martin Erat and seemed to mesh well with the two veterans.

As strong as the first 20 minutes was for the Predators, the team that emerged from the locker room after the first period was not the team on the ice for the remaining two periods. At times, this team was downright ugly in its play. Nik Antropov cut the Predator lead to 2-1 just :19 seconds into the second period as he beat Dan Hamhuis to the front of the net and re-directed a shot past Ellis, who had no chance to make the save.

From that point on, the Thrashers seemed to have more jump than the Predators. The Thrashers applied more pressure in the offensive zone and kept the Predators back on their heels. As the game wore on, Predator fans had the sick feeling that one mistake could cost the team an opportunity for a critical win.

It appeared that Chris Thorburn had tied the game at two when he muscled the puck past Ellis in a goal mouth scramble. The goal was immediately waived off as Thorburn was ruled to have interfered with Ellis. For once, the Predators caught a break.

Even with the disallowed score, Atlanta kept up the pressure on the Predators. When the Predators mounted offensive pressure and generated good scoring chances, they could not get another puck past Hedberg. As the game wore on, his play picked up and he was solid in net. He stopped Marty Erat on a shorthanded breakaway to keep the score at 2-1 and Atlanta in the game, and made several critical saves to keep it a one goal game.

As good as Hedberg was, Ellis was spectacular. Much like the Rangers game before the Olympic break, Ellis was strong in net and preserved the victory for the Predators with some excellent saves. It remains to be seen if Coach Trotz will continue to rotate goalies with the Preds playing on Thursday night in San Jose.

There is no doubt that this is a game that the Predators had to win. They secured the win in ugly fashion, but got the win nevertheless. For this road trip to be successful, however, the Predators are going to have to step up their play. It certainly does not get any easier for them as they venture into the Shark tank.

As Coach Trotz said in his pre-game remarks, the Predators are playing a 31 game season. If they play well, they will be in the playoffs. If not, they go home in April. This team cannot rely- should not rely- on other teams to help them out in this tight race. They have to take care of business.

They have to play Predator hockey.

You know what is before you, boys. You know what you have to do to win and to secure a playoff spot. The onus is on you. Your fate is in your hands.

Time to man up and play hockey. Time to grab the prize that is out there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Predators Give Away a Game and Two Vital Points to Vancouver

Going in to the third period with a 2-1 lead over the Vancouver Canucks, the Predators needed to keep playing the way they had played through two periods: keep pressuring the Canucks in the zone and play solid defense. Unfortunately, the Predators did neither in the third period and dropped a 4-2 decision.

Alexander Edler gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead as he was alone in the low slot and fired a puck over the shoulder of goalie Pekka Rinne.The Predators defense, minus Shea Weber for this game, lost track of Edler, and Ryan Kessler found him alone in the slot for a shot on which Rinne had no chance to stop.

The Predators answered with a Jason Arnott goal as his shot bounced off Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo, who then knocked the puck into his goal with the knob of his stick. The score would remain tied at the end of one period of play.

Jordin Tootoo gave the Predators their first lead of the game as he roared in on Luongo and sent a heavy shot at the Canuck netminder. Luongo made the initial stop, but the puck bounced back to Tootoo, who was continuing to the net. He was able to get his stick on the puck and arced a shot over the shoulder of Luongo for his 6th goal of the season. There was no further scoring in the period, as the Predators did a good job of controlling the neutral zone and kept pressure on the Canucks, thwarting their potent offense.

With 10 minutes gone the third, Pekka Rinne gave up a soft goal to Mikael Samuelson. Samuelson sent an unscreened slapshot from the half board toward the goal. Rinne got a piece of it with his arm, but not enough to stop the puck from finding the top shelf. This goal would prove to be the momentum changer as the Predators looked disjointed after the tying tally.

Jannik Hansen would score the go ahead goal on a breakaway as J.P. Dumont and Dennis Grebeshkov collided and fell down at the Canucks blue line. Hansen was streaking out of the zone and Kyle Wellwood found him with a beautiful stretch pass. He broke in alone on Rinne, who made a great stop on the initial shot. The puck was lying in the crease and Rinne could not find it before Hansen swatted the puck into an open net.

Henrik Sedin would add an empty netter with four seconds remaining for the final margin.

The Predators have now dropped two straight games and have seen their five point margin over eighth place Detroit dwindle to one point. The Predators head out on the road for a four game trip that begins in Atlanta, and it is time for the team to regroup..

This is a painful loss for the Predators as they gave away a game they should have won. As painful as this game is, the team has to get back to playing Predator hockey and securing wins.


  Alex Burrows is a certified piece of fecal matter. Early in the game, he left his feet to take a shot at the head of Dan Hamhuis. Both players dropped the gloves and each was assessed a fighting major. Burrows has a history of leaving his feet to take shots at other players heads, and the league should review his actions. Burrows says he likes to play with an edge. There is, however, a not so fine line between playing with an edge and taking cheap shots. Burrows consistently crosses that line and is a consummate cheap shot artist.


The Predators are now in a serious dogfight for playoff position. Their backs are against the wall with 18 games to play.

You have a choice to make now, boys.

You can play the remaining 18 games with fire, grit, and passion and secure your playoff spot.

Or you can fold your tent, pee on the fire, and call the dogs home. The choice is yours.

I would hope that you will respond to the fact that you gave a way two points. I hope that you respond to the challenge that is in front of you. I hope that you have the heart to seize the opportunity that awaits.

No more giving away games. You are better than that. No more wilting under pressure.

Time to man up and take the opportunity that is before you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wings Whip the Predators 5-2

In their game the previous night against the L.A. Kings, the Nashville Predators did the little things that led to a victory. They controlled play in the neutral zone and forechecked aggressively. In their game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, they did very little right and paid for it with a 5-2 loss.

If the Predators could make a mistake, they did so against the Wings. An egregious turnover by Kevin Klein, who had his pocket picked by Pavel Datsyuk right in front of goalie Dan Ellis led to Detroit's first score. Datsyuk came from behind Klein who was starting up the ice with the puck. He deftly lifted the puck away from the unsuspecting Klein and lifted a backhand over Dan Ellis, who had no chance to stop the shot.

Tomas Holmstrom made it 2-0 on the power play as he gathered in a rebound of a shot that had been deflected and put it into an open net at the 14:00 minute mark of the first.

The troubling thing about the first period was that all the positive aspects of the Preds game against L.A. completely disappeared. They were back on their skates and showed no aggressiveness. There was no offensive push from the Predators, and save for a shot from David Legwand that rang off the post, there were scant few quality scoring chances.

The second period was more of the same for the Predators. Nashville took a penalty :19 seconds into the period as Patric Hornqvist was called for tripping. The Preds were able to kill off the penalty, but shortly after the Wings Power play expired, Darren Helm made it a 3-0 advantage for the Wings as he rifled a shot over the shoulder of Dan Ellis. Ellis had gone down to the butterfly, and Helm perfectly placed the shot over the shoulder of the Predators netminder.

The Predators had a chance to get back in to the game as Jason Williams was in the box for hooking. Instead, disaster struck for the Predators as Ryan Suter and Dan Ellis had a miscommunication that allowed Helm to take control of the puck and put it past Ellis for a shorthanded goal and a 4-0 Red Wing lead.

With the Predators on their heels and frankly looking like road kill, J.P. Dumont tallied his 200th NHL goal on a nice give and go from Steve Sullivan to make it 4-1 at the 10:54 mark of the second. Although things looked grim, the Predators still had some life.

Joel Ward cut the margin to 4-2 at 3:15 of the third as he whistled a shot from just inside the face off circle past Jamie Howard for his 13th goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Predators, they could not generate any additional quality scoring chances or mount consistent offensive pressure. Henrik Zetterberg buried an empty netter with 3 seconds left in the game for the final margin.

Of particular concern to Predator fans is the health of Shea Weber. The big defenseman was checked from behind by Tomas Holmstrom and crashed into the boards and the ice. He appeared to have hurt his arm or wrist, and did not play after the first period.

This game was a polar opposite of the previous night's game, and the most disturbing aspect of this game was that no one on the Predators squad stepped up to provide a spark when one was desperately needed. This team exhibited no fire tonight in a game that could have provided more separation from a team that is frantically chasing them in the playoff race. Tonight, there was no heart on display by the Predators.

The Predators had ample opportunity to change the course of the game with four power plays. In these four powerplay opportunities, the Preds mustered only two shots TWO SHOTS! That is totally unacceptable and, as this game showed tonight, will cost them dearly.

We know that this team will not win out. No team in the NHL is going to do that. It is important to bring it every night, however, and tonight, the Predators mailed in their effort. This is the kind of outing that, if it occurs with regularity, will have the Predators cleaning out their lockers in April.

I am upset.Upset at the lack of consistency. Upset at the lack of Grit. Upset at the absence of heart and drive.

I hope the players are upset.

Look at how you played in the L.A. game, boys, and see what brought you victory. Look at the Wings game and see what got your head handed to you. Learn from your mistakes tonight. Learn what it takes to win. Incorporate that into your play every night and you will be fine.

Don't and you are going to get whipped some more.