Saturday, October 30, 2010

Detroit Dominates and Embarrasses the Predators 5-2

When you play the Detroit Red Wings, you have to bring your "A" game. Tonight, it would be generous to say that the best the Nashville Predators brought to the ice was an "F".

Numerous penalties, a depleted lineup due to injury, and a less than stellar effort doomed the Predators in this road contest at the Joe.

Pavel Datsyuk got the Wings on the board at 12:11 of the first period on a scrambled play in the Nashville zone. Pekka Rinne made two saves, but the defense lost sight of Pavel Datsyuk, who was left alone inside the faceoff circle. Henrik Zetterberg drew the defense to him and found Datsyuk, who had a wide open net in which to shoot the puck.

Detroit added to the lead at 18:24 of the first as Brad Stuart poked a puck past Rinne in a goal mouth scrum. Nashville did not do a good job of clearing the net all night, and it burnt them time and again.

It looked as if the Predators were going to start to make it a contest, as Joel Ward buried a shot from the low slot past a screened Chris Osgood, who got the start for an injured Jimmy Howard. Ward's marker came at 7:49 of the second period, a period in which the Predators put good pressure on the Wings.

The Wings would still the momentum back from the Predators as Pavel Datsyuk would strike again at 18:49 of the second. Datsyuk abused Nick Spaling with a great move out of the corner and walked in on Rinne. Alexander Sulzer was late coming over with defensive help and Rinne was beaten five hole by the shifty Datsyuk.

The wheels started coming off for the Predators in the third period. The Predators gave Detroit their fifth power play of the night as J.P. Dumont was called for tripping and Tomas Holmstrom made the Predators pay for their transgressions.

The Wings would score 1:08 later as Patrick Eaves beat Rinne with a shot that just seemed to completely surprise him. Rinne was under siege most of the night, but this was decidedly a soft goal.

Kevin Klein would bring the Predators to within 3 as he rifled a shot past Osgood at 9:39 of the period. This goal was made possible because Joel Ward was doing a great job of screening in front of Osgood and took away his vision on the shot.

The Wings spent the remainder of the game choking the life out of the Predators, and although they generated a few quality scoring chances, they were unable to solve Osgood.

The Predators sustained their second loss in a row, and frankly the effort in both was not up to what the Predators can normally bring to the ice. I will acknowledge that this team is playing with a a juggled lineup due to injury. Every team, however, deals with injuries. This team has to overcome them and bring a better effort.

For the second game in a row, Martin Erat, Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, and David Legwand all registered just one shot apiece on net. These are guys that are expected to carry the scoring load and in the last few games, they have not produced. It is time for these players to step up their games.

In particular, Marty Erat has been virtually invisible on the ice.He has too much talent not to generate chances and get on the score sheet. Taking one shot a game is not going to cut it.

It is a long season, and every team goes through a drought. This is one that  the Predators are enduring. The question is, how long will it last?

Each player in that locker room has to look at their effort and ask what am I doing to break out of this slump?

It's time to get back on track and stop being dominated and embarrassed.

My three stars of the game:

1. Pavel Datsyuk

2. Tomas Holmstrom

3. Chris Osgood

Friday, October 29, 2010

My View







Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Remember when Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker of the House (I know, many of you are trying to forget)? In her inaugural address, she vowed that there would be no new deficit spending. Well, how's that working out, you might ask? Since the day Pelosi assumed this lofty position, the national debt has increased by $5 trillion dollars. That TRILLION, with a "T". This is according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. When Pelosi assumed the office of Speaker of the House, the national debt was 8.67 trillion dollars. On October 22, 2010, the national debt was $13.67 trillion dollars. During the tenure of Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives has added more to the national debt than the first 57 Speakers of the House combined. President Obama has now convened a "Deficit Commission" to study the deficit. I will save them the trouble. Our deficit is huge- and growing exponentially. We do not need a commission to study the debt. We need leaders in Congress to grow some backbone and stop spending wildly. The financial future of our country depends on bringing our spending under control.

Jokes and sex- neither is funny if you don't get it.

Here is the crux of the problem with all this deficit spending: it takes money from the private sector where it can be employed to create jobs and build wealth and directs it to the public sector- the government. Remember my civics lessons? Government does not create wealth or jobs. It never has and it never will. Decreasing the funds held in private hands- your money; funds that are used by businesses to hire more people and expand- has a long term negative effect because it slows growth in the one area of the economy that creates jobs and therefore causes the economy to expand. We are whistling past the graveyard from a financial perspective because the increased levels of indebtedness are carried at historically low interest rates. Know this, interest rates will start to rise, and when they do, more money is going to come out the pocket of the private sector- yours and mine- to pay the interest on this debt. Less money in the hands of individuals and businesses means that unemployment will remain high and economic growth will stagnate or decline.

If you have one child, you are a parent. If you have two or more, you are a referee.

Remember when National Public Radio, the government funded "news" organization fired Juan Williams, one of its correspondents, because he said that he got nervous flying with Muslims? CEO Vivian Schiller was furious at the politically incorrect remarks and canned Williams because of them. While not debating the merits of this action, it is indicative of the mindset of the left and their intent to stifle dissenting opinions that don't fit into their world view. This has spawned a debate in Congress as to whether NPR should continue to receive government funds. The question everyone should ask is do we want the government to continue to fund an organization to disseminate the news? Especially since NPR's  Schiller is involved with a leftist group called Free Press. This organization is funded by ultra liberal George Soros and has as its mission the "reinvention" of journalism. This project involves nothing more than a government takeover of local and national news coverage and includes PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and American Public Media. The plan is to create local NPR bureaus to gather news and their plan is expected to cost $40-60 billion dollars over the next decade. Most of this will be paid by you, the taxpayer. Think this will be objective? If NPR and the other organizations are receiving government funding for their news gathering operation, do you think the slant might be pro-government? I do.Let NPR and the other entities compete as free market enterprises. If they are successful, so be it. But you and I do not need to be funding with our tax dollars a "news" organization.

I asked my wife if she thought I would lose my looks as I got older. She said, "Yes, if you're lucky."

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blues Hand the Predators First Regulation Loss 3-0

Eventually, the Predators were going to lose a game in regulation. The way the Predators lost to was particularly galling to the team and Predators fans as they dropped a 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues.

The troublesome aspect of this loss was the fact that as a group, the forwards for the Predators played their worst game of the young season, failing to generate consistent offensive flow and getting outworked most of the night.

The Predators were outshot in every period and mustered only 24 shot on goal for the contest.

Most of the night, they failed to support the puck in the offensive zone. Give credit to the Blues for their defensive effort, which took the Predators out of their offensive flow throughout the night. Nevertheless, the effort of the forwards was not up to the standards that the team has expected and has to have to win games.

The Predators had some chances, but failed to capitalize on their opportunities. Patric Hornqvist was stoned on a breakaway with a great glove save by Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak. When the Predators had scoring opportunities, they typically shot the puck right into the crest of Halak's jersey. Unlike the Predators first victory against the Blues, they failed to generate much traffic in front of the net and didn't make Halak work very hard to make his saves.

Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators and made some good saves to keep the game scoreless at the end of the first period.

That would change at 12:56 of the second period. The Predators had just gone into a 30 second power play when Frankie Buillon and Shea Weber both lost track of Alexander Steen in the low slot. He took a nice pass from David Perron from behind the net and roofed a shot over the defenseless Rinne.

With the lack of offense by the Predators, one had a sinking feeling that Steen's goal would be enough for the Blues to skate away with the win. As it was, that goal was enough, even though the Blues would add two more tallies.

Patrick Bergland buried a rebound of a Rinne pad save as he was left alone to Rinne's right side at 12:48 of the second period.

Jordin Tootoo received a five minute major and a game misconduct at 13:11 of the third as he was called for charging into Carlo Colaiacovo. Frankly, it did not look as if it was a charge, but Tootoo will never get the benefit of the doubt on those types of calls.

Matt D'Agostini scored at 15:11 of the third period during the power play. Pekka Rinne was obviously frustrated on the play as D'Agostini was left all alone at the front of the net for an easy goal.

Give props to the Blues for taking the Predators out of their offensive flow, but at the same time, the Predators forwards looked out of sync and frankly didn't work as hard as they have in previous games. For the game, Steve Sullivan, J.P. Dumont, David Legwand, Cal O'Reilly and Martin Erat all had just one shot on goal. Colin Wilson had no shots.

Frankly, that is unacceptable.

The Predators have failed to protect home ice, losing three games in overtime and this game in regulation out of six they have played in the Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have to hold serve at home and play with a greater sense of urgency on their home ice. Perhaps the extended road trip on which they are about to embark will be good for this team.

Production has to come from those players that are expected to produce. Tonight, Dumont, Erat, Legwand, Wilson, O'Reilly, and Sullivan were passengers.For the Predators to have success, they have to be producers.

It should be obvious to the team that an effort like the one put forth tonight is unacceptable. This team knows what it takes to win. Tonight, they did none of those things.

The road and some tough opponents await.

It's time to start bringing the effort that wins games.

My three stars of the game:

1. Jaroslav Halak

2. David Perron

3. Patrick Bergland

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Predators Check Presentation to A-Game Video


video

Since you will not see this on the local television stations in Nashville, here is the video of the Predators check presentation to A-Game sports that I shot at the event. (Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I some wonky software that took a while to get to work correctly).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Predators Invest In Local Hockey Programs


The Nashville Predators today made a significant commitment to local hockey with the presentation of a check in the amount of $150,000 to the hockey programs at A-Game Sports in Franklin. The funds will be used to support local hockey programs and involve more children in the sport of hockey.

Jeff Cogen, President of the Predators, told me after the presentation that the Predators were not taking an ownership interest in A-Game, but were making a grant from the ownership group to support local hockey. Cogen indicated that the team realized that these funds would be used to cultivate more participation in hockey and that the team looked at this as an investment in the future. More involvement of children in hockey will eventually mean more fans in the future.

Cogen referenced the Dr. Pepper Stars Centers in Dallas. He said that when he arrived in Dallas, there was one ice rink and no high school hockey. When he departed for Nashville, there were 16 rinks and 120 high school hockey teams in the Dallas Metro area.

Acknowledging that Nashville has a good base, he said that the intent is to grow the game of hockey with children, stating that they are  not only the fans of the future, but will involve their families as the fans of today.

The model that was used in Dallas was to convince municipalities to invest in ice rinks by issuing municipal bonds. The team would then take over the operation of the rinks and pay the bonds back from operating revenue. In Dallas, the Stars were able to secure the commitment of Dr. Pepper for naming rights and those proceeds along with operating revenues were used to pay back the debt on the facilities.

The same model will be attempted here in the Nashville market.

When asked how many more rinks the Nashville area needed to satisfy current demand, Cogen did not hesitate. "Six. Right now."

This is a decidedly positive development for hockey in Nashville and is a tangible sign of the Predators commitment to the market. The development and growth of youth hockey will yield a bounty of long term benefits. Predator fans should regard this investment as a sign of the long term commitment of the ownership group to the success of hockey in this market.

And that is a solid investment.














Monday, October 25, 2010

The First Hattie's of the 2010 Season

It's time to once again break out the prestigious "Hattie" Award, and early in the 2010 the field of "honorees" is surprisingly strong. Today, we honor two individuals who have distinguished themselves as real H.A.'s.

Ross McKeon

Stick tap to On The Forecheck's Dirk Hoag for pointing this one out. Seems McKeon thinks things are bad in Nashville because the Preds didn't sell out a Saturday night game against the Washington Ovechkins, and in his Yahoo Sports Power Rankings could only mention this and not the stellar play of the team. McKeon fails to acknowledge the consistent and significant rise in early season attendance for the Predators. I know it pains guys like McKeon to give any kinds of props to the the Predators, but it does not pain me to make this award to him. Ross, You are a H.A.






Ryan Lambert


Our second recipient is certainly no less deserving. Writing a feature on Puck Daddy called "What We Learned", Lambert decides to dredge up some old news. His quote, "The Predators were supposed to give the Nashville Metro Sports Authority some documentation of the team's net worth on July 1. they haven't done that yet, though. They're also trying to refinance a $75 million loan. Hockey in Nashville; it's TOTALLY working!" Well, besides being a lazy slug of a "reporter" and digging in to why the team has not certified its financial position (and no, I'm not going to tell you, Lambert. Do some actual work if you want to find out) and dredging up some old news, Lambert engages in a worn out attempt to tie in an unrelated fact ( the re-financing of the debt) to paint a negative picture of the Predators in this market. It has been known since the debt was initiated by the franchise that it would have to be refinanced at this time- that was the original term of the loan. How the refinancing of the debt relates to the success of hockey in this market is irrelevant. Sorta like your reporting, Ryan. Enjoy your Hattie, you've earned it.




Sunday, October 24, 2010

Predators Outlast Tampa 4-3

The Nashville Predators looked to be cruising to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning as they held that comfortable lead late in the third period. Two Tampa goals in the span of 57 seconds forced the Predators to scramble for the win, but win they did by a 4-3 margin.

With the win, the Predators moved to 5-0-3 and remain as the only team in the League that has not lost a game in regulation.

With the Predators playing the previous night in Dallas, Anders Lindback got the start.

The Lightning opened the scoring at 6:30 of the first period as Sean Bergenheim made a nice move on Lindback on a breakaway.

The Predators would answer at 11:54 of the period as Shea Weber would notch his first goal of the season. His defense partner, Francis Bouillon would take a shot from the point. Weber went to the net and roofed a beauty of a shot top corner to beat Lightning netminder Dan Ellis, who was getting the start against his former team.

Sergei Kostitsyn would get his first goal of the season at 15:04 of the first as he shoved in a rebound of a Jerred Smithson shot. Kostitsyn has been playing with a broken toe, and it is good for the team to see his game starting to round into shape. This goal was purely gritty, drive to the net hockey. Smithson's strong drive to the net didn't allow Ellis to control the rebound. Kostitsyn drove hard to the net as well and cleaned up the rebound lying free at the side of the net.

The second period was back and forth, with both teams getting scoring opportunities and both teams having good defensive stands. That would change at 17:55 of the second, and the change would come from an unlikely source.

David Legwand controlled the puck in the defensive zone and sent a pass to defenseman Cody Franson, who was breaking out of the zone. Franson went in alone on Ellis and made a sweet backhand to forehand move to beat Ellis for his second goal of the year and stake the Predators to a 3-1 lead.

Down 3-1 in the third period, the Bolts turned up the offensive pressure, but Lindback was very solid in net. He turned aside several quality scoring chances, including a breakaway attempt by Vinny Lecavalier. Lindback has looked very good in net and has given the Predators quality starts, which will be very important in a long season.

The Predators extended their lead to 4-1 at 14:10 of the third on a nice give and go between J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat, and Colin Wilson. Wilson was the beneficiary of the great puck movement as he buried a one timer past Ellis.

With six minutes left in the game and a three goal lead, the predators looked poised to cruise to an easy victory. The explosive Lightning had other ideas, however.

Martin St. Louis roofed a shot past Lindback at 15:01 to make the score 4-2. The Predators defensive coverage broke down and St. Louis was left alone at the side of the net.

Five minutes to go and a two goal lead. No problem for the Predators, right?

Riiight.

57 seconds later, former Predator Adam hall scored a fluky goal to make it 4-3 Predators. Hall was behind the net and threw the puck out front. It hit a skate and careened past a surprised Lindback between his skate and the post.

The Predators didn't make it easy on themselves as Martin Erat came dangerously close to boarding Steven Stamkos at 16:53 of the third. Luckily for the Predators, the call was two minutes for cross checking.

The Predators were able to kill off the power play, but looked as if they would ice the puck with approximately 25 seconds left in the period. Instead, icing was waved off on a great hustle play by Steve Sullivan. Sully hustled down the ice and dove to touch the puck first, forcing the Lightning to regroup and the clock to keep running.

The Predators were able to clear the puck and run out the clock for a quality win against on of the hottest teams in the League.

Quality win.

That can best summarize the effort tonight against the Bolts. The Predators contained a dangerous offense for much of the night. The goaltending by Lindback was superb. Scoring came from multiple lines.

All hallmarks of a quality win.

And a quality team.

It is early in the season, and the Predators have a lot of hockey yet to play. This team is learning a lot about itself, though. They are learning that they can deal with injury and adversity and that they can play winning hockey.

Take these lessons to heart and you will outlast the adversity and the rigors of the season.

My three stars:

1. Anders Lindback

2. Cody Franson

3. Colin Wilson

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Predators Shut Out Stars 1-0

American Airlines Arena has been anything but friendly to the Nashville Predators, with the Dallas Stars dominating on home ice with a record of 17-4-1. In those 22 contests, the Stars have outscored the Predators 66-29 on their home ice.

Doesn't really sound like a formula for success for a depleted Predators lineup against the Stars, does it?

This is a Predators team that has character, heart, and grit, however, and tonight those characteristics were prominently displayed as they knocked off the Stars by a score of 1-0.

Oh yeah, the Predators had one other thing to lean on tonight. Netminder Pekka Rinne, who was at the top of his game in blanking the Stars. Rinne stopped all 30 shots that he faced tonight to pick up his first shutout of the season.

The Predators got on the board just 42 seconds into the contest. The line of Cal O'Reilly, Patric Hornqvist, and Steve Sullivan did a great job of controlling the puck and cycling deep in the Dallas zone. A shot at the net caromed off the skate of Hornqvist out to Shea Weber on the blueline. Weber unleashed a blast that Leighton stopped with his pad, but the rebound kicked out to an open O'Reilly. He shot the puck off the rebound and Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen initially made a pad stop. The puck slid behind Lehtonen, who was desperately reaching for the puck lying on the goal line. O'Reilly followed his shot and was able to poke it past Lehtonen for the only score of the game.

Rinne was outstanding in this game, stopping several quality scoring chances by the Stars. He had to be especially sharp in the second period as the Stars peppered the Nashville net. In that period, the Stars outshot the Predators 13-5. For the game, the Stars outshot the Predators by a 30-24 margin.

Injuries continue to plague the Predators. J.P. Dumont left the game with a lower body injury after playing only ten minutes of the contest. The extent of Dumont's injury is unknown.

Predators defenseman Kevin Klein was battling an illness, but still logged 17:07 of ice time. The Predators recalled defenseman Teemu Laakso from Milwaukee and went with seven defensemen in the contest. Laakso played 2:43. Sergei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch.

Nashville fans were caught in the was of the dispute between Fox Sports and Direct TV. Fox refused to lift the blackout on the game, so there was no Nashville feed or feed from Dallas on Center Ice. The game had an old time feel to it for Nashville fans as we huddled around the radio to keep up with the contest.

Thanks, Fox Sports.

With this win, the Predators remain the only team in the NHL to be undefeated in regulation. The Predators are 4-0-3.

The Predators are on the road Sunday night at Tampa.

As children, we are told the only way to deal with your fears is to face them directly. The Predators faced their demons in Dallas and met the challenge.

New challenges await.

Time to face them.

My three stars of the game:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Cal O'Reilly

3. Kari Lehtonen

Friday, October 22, 2010

My View



Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...


This is part two of the civics lesson that we started last week. To see part one, go here.

We hear politicians pontificate all the time about government "creating wealth". This is especially true in an election cycle and the closer we get to election day. Besides having a vastly over-inflated view of themselves as individual politicians and government as a whole, there is one little thing wrong with this assertion.

It is not true.

In fact, government does more to destroy wealth than to create wealth.

To see how, we need to first understand what wealth is. Simply put, wealth can be described as the possession of items of economic and utilitarian value that is more than necessary to survive. Wealth can amassed over time through savings, investment, earning a higher income, the production of a desired product or from the transfer of assets, such as an inheritance, to name a few ways.

Focus with me on the accumulation of wealth. If you are a business or a productively employed individual, you are producing a "desired" good or service. Say you make widgets. You have certain costs that have to be covered: the cost of your land and building; your labor costs; raw material costs; and production costs, for example. To "build wealth", your firm has to make widgets that are competitive in price and also attractive to the buying public. They have to sell them at a profit to pay for all those costs we just mentioned plus allow the company to bank some funds for uses in other areas, whether it is expansion, or paying higher salaries.

Or suppose that you are a trained professional, say a nurse. You have a service that is "desired"- hospitals are desperately seeking nursing professionals. That service that you provide has value and generates an income. There are costs associated with the income that is generated- nursing school, continuing education, uniforms, and other costs associated with the profession. The income generated by the nurse that is above those costs goes toward creating wealth.

I will stop right here and get the obvious out of the way. We all know businesses that have a desired product but have gone bankrupt. Think Government Motors, uh, General Motors. We all know individuals that have made very good salaries that have filed bankruptcy. The point of this essay is not to discuss management of wealth, but the creation of wealth in the classical sense.

In the two examples above, the business and the individual, both created a desired product or service and generated income over and above the cost of the inputs. That is the classical definition of creating wealth.

The key aspect of these examples is that the product or service is desired by the marketplace.

Now, dear readers, tell me what goods or services that the federal government produces that the market (you and me) voluntarily desires to purchase?

I'll wait.

And wait...

What's that?

Can't think of any?

That's because the government produces no goods.

The services that it provides are not voluntarily paid for by the public and not necessarily "desired". Now I know that we can all argue that there are some "services" that the government provides that we want, and I agree. I am grateful for the best military in the world to defend our shores. However, when one honestly examines the majority of services that our government "provides", one finds that they involve a transfer of wealth from producers in society to non-producers. (I am using the term "producer" and "non-producer" in a strictly economic sense without a value judgement toward any group of individuals).

Folks, transferring wealth from one sector of society does not "create wealth". It provides instead a strong disincentive to continue to produce wealth since it will be confiscated through higher taxes and transferred away.

Here is, however, what government can do regarding the creation of wealth. First, provide clearly established "rules of the game"- laws and regulations that govern commerce, trade, and all aspects of business. Secondly, consistently enforce those rules of the game. Third- and this is the most important of all, create an environment that encourages the creation of wealth.

I will say it again. Create an environment that encourages the creation of wealth. Remove the disincentives to the creation of wealth by lowering taxes and removing regulatory barriers to businesses being able to create jobs. Allow individuals to keep more of what they earn, save, or invest.

Do this, and the overall wealth of this nation will grow. Substantially.

Now ask yourself this, since the government cannot create wealth, has it created an environment where wealth can be created and retained?

C'mon. Be honest.

You know that our government- at any level- has generally fostered an system that is hostile to wealth creation. High taxes, fees, and bureaucratic red tape serve to siphon off wealth rather than create an environment to grow wealth.

So the next time a politician of either party tells you that it is important for government to create wealth, know that this is a statement that has no basis in reality.



I have given up on getting buns of steel. Now I just want buns of cinnamon.

Is "laughing stock" a group of cows with a sense of humor.

We have enough gun control. How about some idiot control?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Penguins Pilfer Points From the Predators in a 4-3 OT win

The Nashville Predators dropped their third consecutive overtime game to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-3 as Kris Letang scored at 3:49 of the extra period to allow the Pens to sneak away with a win.

Nashville fielded a mix and match lineup as Ryan Suter, Matthew Lombardi, and Marcel Goc were out due to injury. Nevertheless, the Predators took the attack to the Penguins early on in the contest.

David Legwand put the Predators on the board just 53 seconds into the contest as he took a nice pass from Jordin Tootoo and beat Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury glove side to stake the Predators to a 1-0 lead. This goal was due to the effort by Tootoo, as his aggressive forecheck forced the Penguins defense to turn the puck over. Legwand was the beneficiary of Tootoo's effort as Fleury had no chance to stop Legwand, who was parked at the side of the net and buried his shot.

The Predators took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but not without a bit of luck. Pittsburgh slipped the puck into the net with a five hole shot against Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. Fortunately, the clock had run out and after a brief review, it was ruled no goal.

The Pens would get the tying tally at 19:06 of the second period as Evgeni Malkin would score off assists from Mike Comrie and Kris Letang.

Nashville would once again take the lead 2-1 on the power play as Cody Franson rifled a shot from the blue line that went top corner past a screened Fleury.

That lead would last approximately five minutes before Sidney Crosby scored a goal that Pekka Rinne would like to have back. With Crosby driving the net from the right faceoff circle, Rinne inexplicably pulled off the post and gave Crosby the tiniest of openings. Crosby exploited Rinne's mistake and scored a goal scorer's goal inside the near post to tie the game.

The Predators would once again regain the lead at 5:03 of the third period as Patric Hornqvist took a nice pass from Colin Wilson and beat Rinne top corner to the glove side.

That lead would stand until 12:56 of the third, when Sidney Crosby scored his second goal into a virtually open net. Malkin drove the net and fired a shot that Rinne stopped with his pads. The rebound kicked out to Crosby, who was alone at the side of the net and he buried the shot.

The game would remain scoreless for the remainder of the third period, thanks to the play of Rinne, who stopped a number of quality scoring chances. The Predators were on their heels for much of the third period and were outshot 17-5 in that period.

The Predators nearly won the game in overtime as a shot from J.P. Dumont hit the crossbar and then the back of Fleury. It fell tantalizingly close to the goal line, but would not go slide over.


The Letang game winner dropped the Predators to 3-0-3 on the season. The positives that can be taken from this is that the Predators have played some very good teams with a depleted lineup and have come away with points.

The negative aspect of these losses is simply this: the Predators have been outplayed late in these contests. For the Predators to have success, they are going to have to tighten up their game in the late stages. They have to maintain their offensive aggressiveness and capitalize on scoring chances. Sitting back on their heels is not they way this team has to play to have an opportunity to win games.

A brief word about the officiating. I feel that calls usually even themselves out during the course of the game. Tonight, the officials were cowardly in not calling Malkin for leaving his feet and boarding Jordin Tootoo. This was a dangerous play that was somehow, in the view of referees Gord Dwyer and Mike Leggo, was not a penalty. If the League is serious about protecting players, those are the calls that have to be made. This call did not decide the game, but was an egregious example of the inconsistency of the officiating in games this season.

It is imperative that the Predators continue to improve their play. This is a long season and it will be a war. Getting dominated late in the game like the Predators did tonight will come back to haunt this team. I am grateful for the points and playing some of the best teams to overtime without some key players.

This team will, however, have to develop a killer instinct. Protecting the late game leads is a matter of will and desire. It is a matter of maintaining aggressiveness. It is doing the things that got you a lead when you have that lead.

No doubt there are positives from this stretch. There are things that should be learned. The future of this team will be decided by learning these lessons and applying them in the contests to come.

My three stars of the game:

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Kris Letang

3. Jordin Tootoo

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flames Frustrate Predators With a 1-0 OT win

The Nashville Predators dropped their second consecutive overtime decision 1-0 to the Calgary Flames at the Bridgestone Arena. While the loss of the game hurts, the Predators face a potentially more hurtful loss as defenseman Ryan Suter was injured on his first shift of the game in a collision with Cory Sarich and did not return to the game.

Suter was racing to the red line to clear the puck and suffered a knee injury when he was run into by Sarich. Suter was not in a good position to take the hit and crumpled to the ice after taking what appeared to be a knee on knee hit. He struggled to get to the bench and had to be helped off the ice as the play continued.

Since the Predators only dressed six defensemen, the remaining five blueliners had to log some serious ice time. Shea Weber led all of the Preds D-men with 29:11 of ice time.

This was a choppy game all night. The Predators had decent effort, but frankly, the execution was lacking all night. Passes were not crisp and the Predators had a difficult time sustaining consistent offensive pressure. When the Predators did mount some offense, Calgary netminder Mikka Kiprusoff was solid in goal, shutting off any Predator scoring opportunities.

The Predators offense welcomed back Marty Erat, who had missed the last three games with back spasms. It was obvious that Marty was rusty as he never generated much in the offensive zone.

Like Erat, the Predators also had starting netminder Pekka Rinne between the pipes. Unlike Erat, Rinne was solid and showed no ill effects from missing three games with an injured knee. Rinne made several key stops when Calgary threatened.

With only five defenders, the Predators did a good job of keeping Calgary to the outside for a good part of the game. The Predators kept Calgary off the board in regulation and outshot the Flames 34-32.

The Predators were outshot 3-0 in the overtime period, and Rene Bourque got the game winner at 2:10 of the overtime period as he gathered in a Brendan Morrison shot in the low slot and beat Rinne. With the victory, Calgary has now won five straight contests in Nashville.

The Predators went 0-5 on the power play, mustering only nine shots for their effort. This, in my opinion, was the turning point of the game.

Head Coach Barry Trotz said after the game that the team did not have much "poise with the puck", and that was evident throughout the night. Passes were not sharp and decisions with the puck were not good. This prevented the Predators from establishing any consistent offensive flow.

The Predators were fortunate to get a point out of this contest, an effort that was definitely not their best. The top lines are going to have to gel and make good puck decisions.Offensive zone presence and pressure from the top six forwards has to improve for this team to get back on track.

Obviously, the concern is for the health of Suter. The loss of a steady, puck moving defenseman had a negative psychological effect on the team, but injuries are part of the game and this team has to show resilience in the face of the adversity that they are facing.

The value of a game like this is that it exposes the weaknesses that must be strengthened. It demonstrates clearly that Predator hockey is a formula for success, and failure to play their game will lead to more disappointment.

The character of this team will be tested. Two disappointing OT losses and mounting injuries will test the boys.

This is the time to rise to the occasion.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Washington Ekes Out a 3-2 OT Win over the Predators

The Washington Capitals defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime in a game that had some brutal officiating to go along with end to end action. The Predators lead 2-0 going into the third period and gave up two goals in that stanza to take the game to overtime. Brooks Laich redirected an Alexander Ovechkin shot past Nashville netminder Anders Lindback for the game winner at 1:44 of overtime.

The Predators opened the first period with lots of energy and outshot the Caps 18-7. Their effort was rewarded at 17:07 of the period as J.P. Dumont beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth high to the stick side with a shot from just inside the face off circle.

The Predators were able to roll four lines in the first and put great forechecking pressure on the Caps throughout the period. That pressure limited the Caps offensive opportunities and gave the Predators good offensive presence.

That pace continued into the second period when the Predators would stretch the lead to 2-0 on a great rush by Jordin Tootoo and Joel Ward. Tootoo drove the wing and Ward drove to the net. Tootoo fired a rocket at the net that deflected off Caps defenseman Brian Fahey's skate and through the five hole of Neuvirth. Ward's strong drive to the net occupied Fahey, who never saw the shot from Tootoo. Neuvirth did not have a chance on the carom off Fahey's skate, and the Predators had the momentum and control of the game.

That momentum would begin to dissipate late in the second period when Nicklas Backstrom would brutally board Marcel Goc. Goc was injured on the play and would not return to the game. Although there is no official word on the injury, it did not look good as Goc appeared to injure his shoulder. In my opinion, Backstrom should have been given a major on the play and a game misconduct. As it was, he only got two minutes.

This forced the Predators to juggle lines and effectively go to three forward lines rather than four. The effect of this was seen late in the third period and into the overtime as fatigue appeared to become a factor for the Predators. Their forechecking game, some effective in the first half of the game, became less of a factor as the game went on. This would have a major impact in the outcome of the contest.

The Predators would take a 2-0 lead into the third period, but were unable to hold that lead in the face of the unrelenting pressure from the Capitals.Alexander Semin scored a power play goal at the the 4:33 mark with Cody Franson in the box for holding the stick. Tomas Fleischman would tie the game with an even strength goal at 12:14. Neither team could score in the remaining time and the contest was heading to overtime.

In the overtime period, Ryan Suter was hit with what can only be charitably called a weak call for tripping Alexander Ovechkin. Replays indicated that Suter had tipped the puck away from Ovechkin first, but when Ovie flopped to the ice, the refs arm went up. Brooks Laich scored on the power play as he tipped a shot from Ovechkin past Anders Lindback for the game winner. Nicklas Backstrom, who, in my view, should not have been in the game also assisted on the game winner.

Four games in, the Predators are 3-0-1 and have garnered 7 out of a possible 8 points. That is the good news. The bad news is that the injuries are starting to mount. Injuries are a fact of life in hockey, so the Predators are going to have to muster up the drive and the strength to overcome them.

I spoke to Pekka Rinne before the game. He said he was fine and will be back in net on Tuesday against Calgary. Marty Erat is close to returning. It is unknown the extent of the injury to Goc, who has been playing very well, and how long he will be out of the lineup. He will be evaluated tomorrow.

The Predators have to be pleased with the play of Anders Lindback, who has filled in capably while  Rinne has been out of the lineup.

The Predators showed that they can play with one of the best teams in hockey, and realistically should have won this game in regulation. There are nights you have to overcome your opponent and the officiating. So be it.

Time to bounce back and start a new streak. It starts on Tuesday.

My three stars:

1. Brooks Laich

2. Jordin Tootoo

3. J.P. Dumont

Friday, October 15, 2010

My View



Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

A little different "My View" this Friday. Hold on for the ride.


You remember the the Civics class you took in high school? You know, the one where you learned that a bi-cameral legislature wasn't one that had two cameras, but two chambers. Well, it's time to re-visit our civics class again, because apparently our great nation is woefully out of touch with some of the basics that should have been learned a long time ago. Today, we will start with a discussion of "government" and more specifically, what government can and - more importantly- cannot do.

The scope of government is limited by the legal powers enumerated in its constitution. At the national level, our constitution and the accompanying amendments provide they framework in which our government operates and what we should expect out of our government. We expect our government to provide certain "services", if you will, such as a national defense, the protection of private property, and the guarantee of our rights as enumerated  in the Bill of Rights. Government also regulates industries through laws, regulations, and taxes and tax credits. The "fee" for rendering these "services" is the taxes that are exacted from the citizens and the business community.

Outside of these particular functions, the government can do nothing else. Oh, I know we are are inundated with the bloviation out of politicians of all stripe that say that government must "create jobs" or "create wealth", but the truth of the matter is that the government can do no such thing.

Pay close attention. If you get this point, you will have more understanding than most in Washington and just about all the mainstream media:

The government cannot create jobs that pay for themselves and it cannot create wealth.

Contrary to the rhetoric we constantly hear, government does not create jobs that PAY FOR THEMSELVES.

Think about it. Worker A is hired by Company X. To justify their employment, worker A has to produce a product or provide a service to the customers of Company X that has to create enough income to cover the cost of worker A's salary and benefits and add profitability to the company's bottom line. There is productive activity that results in income flowing back to the company to pay for the salary of worker A and provide resources for Company X to continue in business.

Contrast that to worker B (see what I did there- worker "B"/ worker bee? Oh nevermind) goes to work for the federal government. How does worker B's salary and benefits get paid? Out of the revenue that is extracted from the taxpayer. After all, the government produces no goods or services that have a market value like does worker A. Worker B's salary and benefits are extracted from resources in the productive sector of the economy and transferred to the non-productive sector of government. The work that worker B does in the government does not pay for itself. Government work never has, and it never will.

I will stop right here to address the immediate argument that there are some government functions that we are more than willing to pay, such as a strong national defense. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is the cancer like growth of government at all levels- federal, state, and municipal- that extract resources out the productive sectors of the economy and transfer them to  the non-productive sector of government. For instance, do we really need a department of the Federal government to tell us how our toilets should flush? Yet just one example of how our government continues to grow larger and more intrusive each year

Friends, it should be obvious to us what is happening. In the midst of one of the worst recessions in our nation's history, one sector has been growing rapidly, adding jobs at a remarkable clip. Yep, you know it.

Government.

This growth is being funded by working citizens and companies in the form of higher taxes and fees. Unless the trend is reversed quickly, our economic malaise will continue to worsen as more productive resources are sapped by a growing government.

So the next time that you hear a jobs report, and find that the bulk of the jobs are government sector jobs, realize that productive workers and business are transferring resources to a non-productive black hole that is known as government.

And know this. Government has never, and will never, create one single "job".

Next week: The myth of government wealth creation


Love is grand. Divorce is at least a hundred grand.

I'm wondering: does fuzzy math tickle?

Scientists have discovered that germs attack where people are the weakest. I guess that explains all the head colds.


And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Predators Survive the Blues 4-3

In their first back to back game of the season, the Nashville Predators came out flying in the first period, building a 3-1 lead against the St. Louis Blues, then held on for a 4-3 victory at the Bridgestone Arena. With this win, the Predators have won five consecutive contests against the Blues.

Marcel Goc opened the scoring for the Predators just 56 seconds into the contest. Goc was cruising into the low slot alone when he took a nice feed from Colin Wilson and beat Jaroslav Halak low to the stick side for his second goal of the season.

The Predators kept up the attack in the first period, and Steve Sullivan potted the first of two goals on the night at 11:16 of the first on a 5 on 3 power play. With Brad Boyes in the box for holding along with Eric Brewer for delay of game, Ryan Suter found Sullivan with a nice cross ice pass. Sullivan roofed a puck over an out of position Halak to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.

St. Louis cut the lead to 2-1 at 13:37 of the priod when Matt D'Agostini tallied to get the Blues on the board.

Just 15 seconds later, Sullivan notched his second goal with a one timer off a feed from Cal O'Reilly. Momentum back to the Predators with a 3-1 lead.

Sullivan nearly completed the hat trick with a breakaway, but was stopped by Halak with a nice pad save with just 2 seconds remaining in the period.

Going in to the first intermission, the Predators had to feel good about their play after taking it to the Blues.

Maybe they felt too good.

It took the Predators nearly 8 minutes into the second to register their first shot on goal. St. Louis tilted the ice to the Predators end of the rink and pressed the attack. The Predators had trouble even clearing the puck and gaining the offensive zone.

Rookie goaltender Anders Lindback was called upon to make some big stops to keep the Blues at bay. The Blues finally solved Lindback in the second as T. J. Oshie scored unassisted on the power play to cut the lead to 3-2. Oshie was left alone just inside the face off circle and he beat Lindback to the stick side.

The Predators finally got their legs moving and began to exert some pressure in the offensive zone. With the Predators on the power play, Cal O'Reilly fired a shot that was stopped by Halak. Patric Hornqvist was in his "office", parked at the top of the crease, and gathered in the rebound and slid it under the pads of Halak to give the Predators the two goal lead once again, 4-2.

The Blues cut the lead to one once more as Patrik Berglund tallied on the power play with Jordin Tootoo off on a weak roughing call.

The Blues pressed the attack, and when Joel Ward called for tripping at 18:57, the Blues had a golden opportunity to tie the game. The Predators PK came up big in the last 1:03 to seal the win and hand the
Blues their first loss of the season.

This was a good test for the Predators early in the season. Playing their first back to back contests, the Predators were without starting netminder Pekka Rinne and forwards Marty Erat and Matthew Lombardi. Erat continues to suffer from back spasms and will miss Saturday's contest with the Capitals. Lombardi was injured in the game with Chicago when he was run into the boards by the penalty box and sustained an upper body injury.

With the injuries to Erat and Lombardi, Sergei Kostitsyn saw his first action of the season, logging 13:17 of ice time and one shot on goal.

Positively, the Predators power play has shown marked improvement. This is critical for the team this season.

Younger players have stepped into critical roles and have performed well. This team shows great chemistry and hustle. The young guys are going to have to continue to step it up for this season to be successful.

Anders Lindback has shown that he is a dependable goalie, and the team can win with him in net.

There are some negatives. As we saw in the Chicago game, the Predators have an annoying habit of coming out flat in the second period. The Blues had the ice tilted for the first ten minutes of the second period. No doubt the Blues are a good team, and will be a force in the Central Division this season. It is imperative that Predators avoid the second period let down that has plagued this team over the past few seasons.

This game had the feel of the Predators just trying to survive. They did survive and pulled off a win. This however, is not a formula for long term success.

After outshooting the Blues 11-2 in the first period, the Predators were outshot 11-9 in the second and 12-2 in the third.

Surviving indeed.

Hopefully, the team learned from this game. There will be more like them- tough wars that demand your best.

The Predators will have to bring their best in order to survive

My three stars of the night:

1. Steve Sullivan

2. Cal O'Reilly

3. Patric Hornqvist

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Predators Best Blackhawks 3-2

So you want to play the defending Stanley Cup champs in your first road game of the year. And you want to do it with two rookie goaltenders.

Certainly doesn't sound like a formula for success, does it?

Even without starting netminder Pekka Rinne, who stayed back in Nashville nursing an injury, the Predators prevailed over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 behind rookie Anders Lindback first start in net.

Joel Ward got the game winner with 26.7 seconds left in the contest with the Predators on the power play. Ward took a nice feed from J.P. Dumont and had an open net in which to shoot the puck. Ward made no mistake in burying the shot and subsequently the Blackhawks.

Imagine how Lindback must have felt.

"Kid, you're getting your first start. Oh yeah. It's against the Blackhawks. On the road."

Chicago fired 10 shots on Lindback in the first period, scoring on their second shot 4:48 in as Patrick Kane lasered a shot over the glove side shoulder of Lindback while the Hawks were on the power play.

Steve Sullivan tied the game at 6:37 of the period, beating Corey Crawford off assists from Cal O'Reilly and Ryan Suter.

Jonathan Toews gave Chicago the lead once again at 16:58 of the first with a goal off a nice assist from Marian Hossa.

The second period was scoreless, but certainly not for lack of effort by both teams. Chicago shelled Lindback early in the period and outshot the Predators 8-1 the first six minutes into the period. Lindback was steady and got good help from his defense clearing the front of the net.

Nashville turned the tables and tilted the ice in the second half of the period, outshooting the Hawks 6-1. For the period, the Hawks outshot the Predators 11-7.

Lindback and the Predators held the Hawks off the board in the third period. Corey Crawford was also strong in net, making some good stops on the Predators. The Predators offensive intensity in the third period was excellent as they controlled play and kept the puck in the Hawks end for much of the period. They put ten shots on Crawford in the third.

The Predators would tie the game at 2 when Colin Wilson took a feed from Marcel Goc and fired a shot that was tipped by a Chicago defenseman and deflected over the shoulder of Crawford.

As good as the offensive effort was in the third period, the defensive effort was even better. The Predators limited the explosive Hawks offense to just four shots in the period. The Hawks had very few scoring chances and were stymied by the Predators defense in the offensive zone. They were unable to get a transition game going as the Predators controlled the neutral zone in the period and refused to let the Hawks establish an offensive flow.

For the game, the Predators outshot the Hawks 27-25.

The game turned on a delay of game penalty on Nick Boynton as he shot the puck over the glass at 17:47 of the period.

With the Predators on the power play, David Legwand slid the puck to J.P. Dumont at the side of the net. Dumont drew the defense to him and found a wide open Joel Ward who had an empty net to pot the game winner.

The Predators displayed perseverance and character in this win tonight. It would have been easy to say that they would not be in this game without their starting goaltender.

They did not.

This team did not back down. They took the best shot the Hawks had and were still fighting, still in the game.

And at the end, they were the best team.


My three stars of the game:

1. Anders Lindback

2. Joel Ward

3. Steve Sullivan

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Can the Culture of Hockey Change?



 

The 2010 hockey season is not yet a week old and already two incidents have occurred which have put a negative spotlight on the play on the ice. While each incident is different in nature, there is a common thread that ties the two events together.

One incident is all too painfully familiar to hockey fans. Jason Pominville of the Buffalo Sabres was brutally run into the boards from behind by Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson. Pominville would leave the game on a stretcher, suffering from a concussion and requiring 8 stitches to close a gash above his eye.

In the other incident, the New York Islanders James Wisniewski made an obscene gesture toward the New York Rangers resident pest Sean Avery. There was no doubt what the gesture meant and there was no doubt that it was obscene.

The result of both on ice incidents was a two game suspension for both Hjalmarrson and Wisniewski.

The thread that ties the two incidents together?

A lack of respect.

For the game and for the players by the players.

One could argue that what occurred in the the two games are totally unrelated. I think they are intrinsically related because in each incident a player failed to respect their opponent. In failing to respect their opponent, both Hjalmarrson and Wisniewski sullied the game we all love.

Yes, the results of the actions of Hjalmarsson and Wisniewski were decidedly different, but in my view, the root cause was the same.

Disrespect.

Look at the commonality in each incident. In the case of the Hjalmarsson's hit, a defenseless player was viciously run from behind. Pominville did not have the puck, and the blind side hit had the potential to do serious damage. As it is, Pominville was lucky not to be injured more seriously, but is out indefinitely.

Hjalmarrson said the right things after the game. He was sorry, hated to see someone injured, just trying to be physical- the standard platitudes that we hear all too often after this type of hit.

Some have said that Pominville was at fault (?) because he didn't protect himself, because he was floating along the boards and skating backwards. The fact remains that Pominville did not have the puck and was in a vulnerable position.

After the game, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, Pominville's team mate, said, "...you have to change the culture some time, and I hope the League sets a precedent for the year."

Two games for injuring a player with a vicious hit is probably not the precedent that Miller had in mind.

In the Islanders/Rangers game, Sean Avery was being his usual irritating self. After a stoppage in play, Wisniewski and Avery were exchanging words when Wisniewski made the overt and obvious gesture toward Avery. Everyone that saw it knew exactly what the gesture meant.

I will admit that my first thought was that it was funny and that Avery surely deserved it.

Those thoughts were immediately replaced with how I would explain that to my 11 year old son if he was sitting at that game and saw what Wisniewski had done. The game was an afternoon matinee game on Columbus day, and I am certain that some children had to be in attendance. Even if they weren't at the game, the subsequent media coverage made it difficult to ignore.

I should perfectly clear at this point. I love the physical play of hockey. A great open ice hit- cleanly done- revs me up about as much as my team scoring a goal. I do not want to see the physical aspect of hockey relegated out of the game.

I also know that chirping and trash talk goes on all the time. That is part and parcel of competitive athletics. I don't expect that to go away either.

What has to happen to keep physical play from crossing the line and jeopardizing the health of the athletes we admire is a healthy dose of respect. What has to happen to keep the chirping from attempting to get under the skin of an opponent to becoming obscene is respect.

Respect for an opponent's health. Respect for the game.

And respect for the fans.

Respect does not mean that physical play is removed from the game. Respect does not mean forgoing an attempt to get a mental edge. Respect does not mean that a player puts it all on the line to win a game.

However, respect establishes the firm boundaries of physical play and behavior on the ice.

A lack of respect creates the gray areas in which players are unsure of themselves and what they should do on the ice. A lack of respect for players and for the game causes some to step over the line with their physical play and their behavior after the whistle.

Without the firm boundaries that respect establishes, anything goes on the ice.

So can the culture of hockey change? Can the game evolve where players do not run a vulnerable player on the boards? Can they be feisty without crossing the line into the obscene?

Yes.

It starts at the top, though. If Wisniewski's obscene gesture is worthy of a two game suspension, how much more should Hjalmarsson's hit be suspension worthy? What the League has said is that they do not respect the players enough to appropriately punish a dangerous hit. In effect, a hit that could have permanently injured a player is no worse than a crude school yard gesture from one player toward another.

That has to change.

Players have to know that the League is consistent, fair, and intolerant of dangerous hits. Players need to know that there are no gray areas with these types of hits.

Players also have to respect the game and the fans that support them. It's fine that Wisniewski got suspended for his gesture. He disrespected the game and the fans of the game.

When the League send the message that disrespect of the game- and its fans- is no different than potentially injuring a player permanently, then respect for the players will continue to be inadequate.

And the culture of hockey will never change.

Predators Update

The Nashville Predators starting goaltender Pekka Rinne will not make the trip with the team to play the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Rinne was injured in a collision with Anaheim's Troy Bodie and Nashville's Francis Buillon. Although Rinne's injury does not appear to be serious, the Predators are going to give him some extra rest to receive treatment.

The Predators will go with rookie Anders Lindback as the starter and have called up Mark Dekanich from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee to serve as a backup.

Lindback saw 17:22 in ice time in the season opener as he came in in relief of Rinne in the third period. He allowed no goals on the 7 shots he faced.

The Predators will play their first back to back games of the season as they will be home to play the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

The Predators will also be without Martin Erat for the game with Chicago. Erat missed practice with back spasms, and the training and coaching staff thought it best to let him try to heal rather than push through this injury.

It is unknown how many games Erat and Rinne will miss.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Predators Pound Ducks; Rinne Injured

The Nashville Predators pounded the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 in their season opener. The thrill of that victory was tempered by an injury to starting goaltender Pekka Rinne early in the third period.

Rinne was injured when Troy Bodie of the Ducks and Francis Buillon collided with Rinne as Bodie drove the net. Several players piled in on Rinne as the Predators sought to protect their goaltender. Rinne looked shaken but stayed in the net. After freezing the puck on a shot on net, Rinne took himself out of the game. As he left the ice, he was flexing his right knee. Anders Lindback came in and finished the last 17:22 of the game, stopping all 7 shots that he faced.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Predators tally a 16-9 shot advantage, the Predators got on the board at 4:10 of the second as Marcel Goc gathered in a bouncing puck and fired a shot over the shoulder of Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller.

Anaheim tied the game 1:15 later in the second as Saku Koivu was left alone in the slot and wristed a puck over the shoulder of Rinne.

Steve Sullivan scored on the power play as Sheldon Brookbank was in the box for interference. The Predators had good puck movement and Sullivan was alone on the left wing. He fired a shot at Hiller who was screened by Patric Hornqvist. Hiller never saw the shot as Sullivan put it over the shoulder of Hiller to give the Preds a 2-1 advantage.

The Predators stretched the lead to 3-1 as Patric Hornqvist batted a floating puck out of the air. Shea Weber sent a soft shot toward the net and Hornqvist was able to bat the puck past Hiller to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

The Predators finished the scoring at 12:39 of the third period as David Legwand shot a puck at Hiller, who sprawled to make the save. The rebound came back to Legwand, who roofed the puck into the back of the net over the prone Hiller.

Rinne was called day to day by Head Coach Barry Trotz in his post game remarks. The Predators have a couple of days off, so it will give the team time to evaluate the seriousness of Rinne's injury.

While the injury to Rinne puts a damper on the Predators win, there are a number of positives that are to be taken away from this game.

The Predators have four lines that can put the puck in the net. This will obviously serve the Predators well during the season. having the ability to roll four lines that are a scoring threat is important to the success of this franchise. The offensive prowess of the Predators came in spite of the fact that the line of Lombardi, Erat, and Wilson- considered one of the top lines for the Predators- was held off the score sheet. It will be important for the Predators to get this line active and on the scoresheet.

The Predators defense did a great job of limiting chances by the Ducks. Nashville out shot the Ducks 47-39, being out shot only in the second period by a 19-12 margin. In the third period, the Predators held the Ducks to only 7 shot on goal. Most times, Rinne and Lindback had a clear look at the puck, with the defense clearing space in front of their netminders throughout the contest.

It's always good to get the first game under your belt, especially when you dominate on home ice like the Predators did tonight. They have to build on this win, and hopefully will not be without their starting netminder in their next contest.

The Predators exhibited the tenacity and toughness that this season will require. They have to continue to play as they did tonight to have continued success.

Do that, and they will continue to confound the pundits that count them out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My View




Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...


Have you ever experienced buyer's remorse? You know, you make a big purchase and then regret the cost associated with that purchase. Seems the voting public has been experiencing buyers remorse when it comes to Obamacare, the socialized medical program rammed through Congress earlier this year. In a Hill/Anga poll of voters in 12 Congressional districts across the nation that were characterized as "battleground" districts- districts where the incumbent is in danger of losing their Congressional seat- the poll found some surprising results. 56% of all likely voters want the health care law repealed. Amazingly, 25% of Democrats in the surveyed districts want the law repealed. Undecided voters want socialized medicine tossed out by a margin of 49% to 27% who are in favor of it. Voters have been apathetic and in some instances naive about the issues. One of the legacies of Obamacare is that socialized medicine will galvanize voters of all political persuasions to action. Incumbent Democrats running for re-election should be very wary of buyer's remorse.


Time is a great healer, but a terrible beautician.


There is no doubt that we all want to save energy. It's good for the planet, not to mention good for our wallets. Appliance makers, automakers, home builders, and numerous other industries have all embraced energy efficiency, with profitable results. The aspect of  consumer and industry driven energy efficiency that is important is that each of us, whether an individual or a business, takes into account the cost of becoming more energy efficient. We do a cost benefit analysis and determine if the cost savings over time of a certain course of action, say installing an energy efficient water heater, is commensurate with the up front cost. These are market forces at work, and companies that make energy efficient products have to contain cost to satisfy this benefit analysis that we all do. That rational analysis is about to get skewed by the heavy hand of government. The Obama administration has initiated more than 20 energy regulations for everyday household appliances that is going to induce sticker shock for the American consumer. For instance, this year the Energy Department finalized regulations for residential water heaters, among others appliances. According to the Energy Department own estimates, these regulations will increase the cost of a hot water heater by $67 to $974, depending on the size and type. New regulations are coming for washers, dryers, and refrigerators. Unnecessary regulations and added costs are the end result of government intervention for negligible energy savings.


Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?


Regular readers of "My View" know that I constantly criticize our profligate spending at the federal level and the ineptitude that is constantly on display in Washington. Much of my criticism, rightfully so, is directed at liberals that have a socialist bent and the inability to constrain spending. That criticism can also be directed at the Republican Party, the party of so-called fiscal constraint. Think that criticism is unjustified? Here is Tom DeLay, then House Majority Leader, quoted in a September 2005 Washington Times story that sorta leaves you speechless:

Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that we are declaring an on-going victory, and there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget."
Wow! Just... Wow. If one is wondering why our country is in such a financial mess, look no further. We have a ruling class in Washington that is either so intellectually dishonest or so stupid as to be dangerous. Maybe both. It is time for citizens in this country to get involved and understand the future is decidedly bleak if we keep going down the path our great nation presently treads. It doesn't matter if one is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We are in financial shambles in this country and we are all going to have to sacrifice and make some tough choices to correct these problems.


"I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that "I do" is the longest?


And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SOB! Predators Add Gritty Defenseman


 
The Nashville Predators moved former first round draft pick Ryan Parent (again!) and second round pick Jonas Andersson to the Vancouver Canucks for Shane O'Brien and prospect Dan Gendur. The initial reaction from the Nashville fan base was an overwhelming...

"Huh?"...

followed by some questioning of General Manager David Poile's sanity. Some fans worried that all those years of operating on a shoestring budget to cobble together a team had finally made one of the best minds in hockey snap.

Once the dust had settled on this trade, however, it looks as if the mind of David Poile has not snapped, but is just as crafty as ever.

The Predators essentially swapped even on salary for O'Brien; the combined salaries of Parent and Andersson ($1,575,000) are replaced by O'Briens ($1,600,000).

In Parent, the Predators gave up a defenseman that was not at all physical and didn't want the puck in pressure situations. This is not to say that he wasn't a good person or teammate. Coaches have told me he was.

The coaching staff expects the race in the Central Division this year to be a war, and Ryan Parent was not a player with whom they wanted to go to war.

Jonas Andersson is a physically gifted player that just could not elevate his game to the NHL level. Frankly, Andersson had no chance of being full time on the Nashville roster, and with a one way contract for $675,000 became a costly and unproductive asset for the team.

So what do the Predators get in Shane O'Brien?

No doubt they get a gritty player that plays with an edge.

Sometimes, over the edge.

O'Brien has logged over 150 PIM's in three of his four NHL seasons. His ten major penalties were second most among defensemen in the 2008-09 season. Obviously, a player that pushes the limits.

Pushes the limits hard.

They also get a player that has had more than a few runs ins with his previous coach. O'Brien is a player that has had a few off ice incidents. Partying hard at the Roxy, a local Vancouver night club and sleeping in the next day and missing practice put him in the dog house in Vancouver. O'Brien has been known to frequent the Roxy and be quite the party animal.

Part of this is maturity, or the lack thereof on his part. Part of this is a sour relationship with his former coach, Alain Vigneault.

On the other hand, they get a defenseman that will stand up for team mates, one that is not afraid to drop the gloves when necessary. He has also shown the ability to be a responsible defenseman as evidenced by his career +/- of +15.

O'Brien also brings playoff experience, having been in the playoffs and logging quality time in three of the last four seasons.

While not a prolific scorer, he has recorded double digits in points in three of four seasons in the League.

Predators management felt that bringing in a tough, physical defenseman that has playoff experience was a plus for the team. A player that knows how to win and has experience.

So do I.

It will be incumbent on the coaching staff to get control of O'Brien early on in Nashville. Mold him into the type of player that can be an asset to the team. The raw tools and talent are there.


The Central Division- and the Western Conference- will be a war again this year with numerous teams fighting for playoff positioning. When you go to war, you want guys beside you that have experience. Guys that will not back down. Guys that will stand up and be counted.

The Predators have added a SOB that will do just that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Central Division Preview

The wait is over, as a long hot summer has given way to the crispness of fall and the return of hockey. Fans everywhere await the puck drop for their favorite team and dream of what might be in this upcoming season.

The Central Division has produced 2 of the last 3 Stanley Cup champions, and it can be argued that since the lockout, the Central has emerged as the toughest division in the NHL. This season shapes up no differently.

So let's take a look at the the teams in the Central and what we can expect from them in this upcoming season.


Chicago Blackhawks

2010 record: 55-22-8     112 points     Western Conference finish: 2nd

Departing:    

John Madden; Dustin Byfuglien; Ben Eager; Kris Versteeg; Brent Sopel; Andrew Ladd; Antti Niemi; Adam Burish

Arriving:       

Marty Turco

It would be tempting to look at the Blackhawks and say they sold their soul- well, maybe their immediate future- in order to win the Stanley Cup last season. Gone are key depth players that played essential roles in the success of last season. Oh, yeah, also gone is your starting goaltender that carried you to the championship. Most teams could not absorb the kind of losses the Blackhawks have and still be competitive, but this is a team that has some high end talent on their roster. Guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook make a formidable nucleus around which to plug in younger players. It will be those younger players that will have to step in early and log some quality minutes and their caliber of play that will be a question mark for this team, especially early in the season.

Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Blackhawks will be the play of Marty Turco in net.  Because of cap constraints, the team chose to walk away from the arbitration award of $2.75 million given to Niemi, instead choosing to sign the aging Turco for $1 million for one season. Conventional wisdom says that Turco will be just fine with the Hawks D in front of him. I think conventional wisdom is giving Turco a little too much credit for where he is with his ability. There is no doubt that Turco is talented and can win games. He is, however, no longer an elite goalie, and teams will find opportunity that put pucks on net.

This is a team that has the talent to be a force in the regular season and the playoffs. It remains to be seen if they have the talent to repeat as Cup champions.


Columbus Blue Jackets

2010 record     32-35-15     79 points     Western Conference finish: 14th


Departing:

None


Arriving:

Ethan Moreau; Nikita Filatov


I will go ahead and say it now. This is the Central Division team that will not make the playoffs. It won't be for lack of effort. New Head Coach Scott Arniel is going to do some good things with this team, and the Jackets have one of the best players in the game in Rick Nash. Unfortunately for Columbus and their fans, the talent around Nash has not come close to complimenting what he brings to the ice.

There is potential there, to be sure. Derrick Brassard and Antoine Vermette have the potential to blossom into upper echelon players. Nikita Filatov is a wild card. A potentially phenomenal talent that could not mesh with former Coach Ken Hitchcock and his authoritarian style before fleeing back to Russia on loan is now back with the team. And Steve Mason is attempting to round back into his Calder winning style of play after a precipitous drop in performance last season.

For Columbus, the question is can Arniel develop this talent up front so that it produces consistently, and can he coach up what is at best an average blue line?

Columbus will be better. I don't think Mason will be as bad as he was last season. The team will be better than 79  points.

Better, but not good enough to make the playoffs.


Detroit


2010 record:     44-24-14     102 points     Western Conference finish: 5th


Departing:

Brett Lebda


Arriving:

Jiri Hudler

It's easy to joke about the Red Wings needing to put skates on the walkers and canes of some of their players on the roster, but the fact is that the experience they bring to ice counts for something. Actually, it counts for a lot. This is a well coached team that know how to win and compete in the grind of an 82 game season. Last season, the Wings were decimated by injuries, and if not for the outstanding play of Jimmy Howard, could have possibly finished outside of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

You can't discount the talent of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Johan Franzen. These guys are good. It is the depth players on the third and fourth lines that have to produce for the Wings to get back to the playoffs and make another deep run. The aging Kris Draper has moved to the fourth line and younger players are logging more minutes in quality situations for the Wings. There is not doubt that the Wings have talent in the organization and they have proven they can develop that talent. The health of their stars will go a long way to determining the type of season Detroit will have.

Jimmy Howard has to avoid the sophomore slump that afflicted Steve Mason and continue to play at a high level. The defense is aging, but Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski are still very good, and the second pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart are experienced and physical. After that, the talent level drops a bit.


Nashville Predators


2010 record:     47-29-6     100 points     Western Conference finish: 7th


Departing:

Jason Arnott; Dustin Boyd; Dan Ellis; Dan Hamhuis


Arriving:

Matthew Lombardi; Matt Halischuk; Sergei Kostitsyn; Jonas Andersson; Aaron Johnson


The words "offensively challenged" and "Nashville Predators" are used so often in the same sentence that a casual fan may think the team's name is the Offensively Challenged Nashville Predators. The Predators, however, rank about the middle of the pack for NHL teams in goals per game (2.65, 18th). And it is true that there isn't a dynamic goal scorer like an Ovechkin or Crosby on the roster. What there is, however, is a team that has balanced scoring that can come from all four lines. Lead by 30 goal scorer Patric Hornqvist, the Predators had ten players that logged ten or more goals this past year. For the Predators to get into the playoffs and move beyond the first round, production is going to have to improve from veterans like David Legwand, Marty Erat, and J.P. Dumont, and some new contributors will have to emerge. Players like Cal O'Reilly will be given every opportunity to stick with the big club. Newcomer Matthew Lombardi brings blazing speed to the ice and is expected to be the top line center for the Predators, replacing the departed Jason Arnott.

The Blue line is solid with Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and veteran Francis Buillon anchoring the back. Cody Franson has inked a new deal and is expected to continue to improve. Kevin Klein's play improved after being split with his D partner last season, Dan Hamhuis. Aaron Johnson is expected to contend for the 7th D position or provide depth from Milwaukee.

Pekka Rinne is the man between the pipes for the Predators. The undisputed starter, Rinne has been focused and sharp in the pre-season. Predator fans hope he can carry the load as his backup will be rookie Anders Lindback, who beat out Mark Dekanich for the role.


St. Louis Blues


2010 record:     40-32-10     90 points     Western Conference finish:     15th

Departing:

Paul Kariya; Keith Tkachuk, Chris Mason


Arriving:

Jaroslav Halak; Vladimir Sobotka


Well, ha-ya-lak me now? At least that is what the Blues fans are saying after the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens. Yes, that Halak, the goalie that took le bleu, blanc, et rouge on his back and an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals. The acquisition of Halak has already made the Blues a sexy pick among pundits and has the fans of the Blues dreaming of the post season.

For the Blues to get there, however, some of their younger players are going to have to elevate their game. David Perron, T.J. Oshie,  and Patrik Bergland are all players the Blues will rely upon to increase their production in the upcoming season. If these players do so, the Blues could surprise in the division.

They will benefit from having Erik Johnson back for the second season after injuring a knee in a freak golf cart accident. His game continues to improve. Barrett Jackman and Roman Polak are steady on the blueline, and  Alex Pietrangelo is a talent that will attempt to stick with the big club this season.


So there you have it: a quick and dirty analysis of the teams in the Central Division.

What's that?

You want a predicted order of finish?

Well, never one to shy away from a challenge, here is my predicted order of finish in the Central Division for the upcoming season:

1.     Chicago

2.     Nashville

3.     Detroit

4.     St. Louis

5.     Columbus