Friday, December 31, 2010

Losing Streak Over, Predators Tame the Wild 4-1

With every loss, the burden of the Predators five game losing streak weighed heavier. Despite playing with good jump and effort, the Preds just could not break through to the win column. Attempting to break the streak at the Xcel Energy Center against the Wild did not bode well for the Predators. Earlier this season, the Wild had embarrassed the Predators in this same venue by a score of 5-2.

The tables would turn in the re-match between these two teams as the Predators stifled the Wild offense and found the net four times to notch a 4-1 win.

The Predators opened the game with good offensive zone pressure, and it paid early dividends. Minnesota was called for a delayed penalty and the Predators got the extra attacker on the ice. Shane O'Brien did a great job at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone. He made a pass back to Cody Franson at the blue line, and he let a quick wrist shot go to the net. With lots of traffic in front, Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom did not see the shot and Franson found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season, coming at 4:32 of the first period.

The Predators would extend their lead to 2-0 at 10:28 of the second period as Shea Weber let a shot go from the point. Patric Hornqvist was in front of the net but was shielded by a defender. Hornqvist reached around the Wild player and deflected the puck five hole on Backstrom.

The Wild did have some chances in the first two periods as Martin Havlat hit a post, and the wild had moments of offensive zone pressure. Pekka Rinne was outstanding, shutting down any of the Wild scoring chances. The real story of the game was the Predators defense, however, as they thwarted the Wild's attempts to come through the neutral zone with speed. In the defensive zone, the Predators did a good job of clearing the front of the net and limiting second chance scoring opportunities.

 I do not have the final stats for zone time, but one of the impressive aspects of this game by the Predators was the offensive zone time they had in this game. They spent a lot of time in the Minnesota zone, forcing the Wild to expend energy playing defense rather than getting their offense in rhythm.

Minnesota would finally solve Pekka Rinne at 18:06 of the third period as Chuck Kobesew would deflect a shot from Martin Havlat .

Minnesota pulled Backstrom and the pressure was coming on the Nashville defense. The Predators thwarted the Wild offensive effort with two empty net goals, the first by Joel Ward at 18:53 and then Sergei Kostitsyn at 19:53.

Losing streak over. The weight off the slumping shoulders of the Predators. And a collective sigh of relief.

During this streak, the Predators have battled numerous injuries. One of those injured, David Legwand, made his way back to the ice tonight and logged 15:50 and recorded two assists.

The Predators welcomed newcomer Marek Svatos to the lineup, and although he did not score, I like his game. Svatos drives hard to the net, and more importantly, is not afraid to shoot the puck. He is not completely in NHL game shape, but did log 9:59 in ice time and recorded three shots on net.

While this losing streak has been painful to endure, the team is still in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Now it is time to get a win streak going and make up some ground.

This is a great way to end the year. Obviously the points are important, but as much as anything, it allows the players to relax and relieves them of the negative energy associated with the streak.

A new year, a new beginning, and a renewed sense of energy await for 2011.

My three stars:

1. Cody Franson

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Patric Hornqvist

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

The last "My View" posting of 2010 finds our nation in the midst of change. A new Congress will convene in January with the electorate having resoundingly rejected in the mid-term vote the slide toward socialism that the current administration has undertaken over the last 24 months. Our elected leaders will face some difficult decisions that will be fiscally painful but necessary. It is going to be interesting to see if the new Congress has the gumption to rein in spending, or if it was just election year rhetoric.

You know how some restaurants have a smoking section? Isn't that sorta like having a peeing section in a pool?

Many thanks to those of you who have graciously read the blog this past year and who have commented and offered support. Your kindness is sincerely appreciated. I am privileged to be part of a blogging community in Middle Tennessee that is one of the best in the country. The level of talent that my fellow bloggers have is in a word, incredible. Look at the the blogs that are listed to the right and take a read if you haven't already. You will be pleasantly surprised. Just promise to come back to the View occasionally for a visit.

I hate sex in the movies. Tried it once. The seat folded up and I spilled my drink and my Milk Duds.

Also, say good-bye to the smiling dog that has greeted you in the Friday column. He has served us well, but is retiring. His replacement has already been selected, and I think you will like him.

Now that I have gotten older, I have finally gotten my head together. Unfortunately, my body is falling apart.

As we close out the year, I do want to leave you with this factoid: the recently adjourned 111th Congress added more new debt, a total of $3.22 TRILLION dollars, than did the first 100 Congresses combined. Every man, woman, and child in the United States now owes $44,886 toward the debt. As we attempt to get our fiscal house in order, many will say we cannot cut programs and we have to raise taxes. These numbers alone indicate the problem in Washington is not a revenue problem, but a spending problem. To the first point I made in this post, it will be interesting to see if this incoming Congress is serious about cutting spending and doing the proper but painful things to get our nation's financial house in order.

If a mute child swears using sign language, does his Mom wash his hands with soap?

Some people say "Make love, not war". I say "Why choose? Get married and do both."

I have heard they are making a sequel to the movie "Brokeback Mountain". Some of the proposed titles are:

Prances With Wolves
Lonesome Doug
Very Raw Hide
Home on the Ranger

and my favorite...

High Nooner

And that, my friends, is my view for 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heroes, Heartaches, and Healing

All of us have had, or do have, heroes. For most, those that we admire are larger than life, particularly our sports heroes. They perform feats of athletic prowess that cause us to marvel. They elicit our cheers and our devotion as they compete in the arena, representing our team, our town, in athletic competition. For most of us, our heroes become almost super human.

Take off the sweater or jersey and you find that these athletes are very much like you and me, with foibles and weaknesses that beguile them no differently than the challenges that tempt  us and try our mettle. It is easy and all too common to look past the humanity and yes, even frailty of our heroes because, well, they are our heroes.

The humanity and weakness of one of our heroes, however, was put on display for all the world to see this week as Jordin Tootoo voluntarily admitted himself to the National Hockey League's Substance Abuse Program. All of a sudden, the fearless warrior on the ice was shown to be very human, being brought down  by an addiction that had taken control of his life. Superman was no longer wearing a cape, and for many, the perception of one of our heroes was shattered.

It would be easy to say that Jordin is no longer worthy of our respect, that he is weak and has feet of clay. It would indeed be easy to turn away.

And it would be wrong.

Jordin could have easily hidden behind the facade of being a beloved professional athlete, a hero. Why face the public embarrassment of admitting a weakness? The problem would have persisted, but no one would have known.

Until it destroyed his career, and perhaps himself.

His admission of weakness and his need for help point out not only his vulnerabilites, but mine as well.

And therein lies the most heroic aspect of Jordin's situation.

A hero has admitted his weakness and need for help.

The admission of the problem is the first step in the healing process. In acknowledging his humanity and all its attendant weakness, Jordin has shown that none of us are immune to the problems of this life. And at times, life's problems overwhelm us all, and we need help.

At his lowest point and in the midst of his heartache, Jordin has admitted that the problem is bigger than he and has sought help. That took courage.

The healing process will take time, and it will be trying- mentally, emotionally, and yes physically. This will be a far tougher challenge than any Jordin has faced on the ice. The process of healing and controlling an addiction will last a lifetime.

Certainly Jordin is wrestling with demons that have tried to take control of his life. I do not know the particulars of his addiction, nor do I want to. I do not condone the behavior that has caused him this heartache.

I do know that I will support Jordin as he goes through this healing process. He will be in my prayers. There will be others around him doing the same and lifting him up when he stumbles.

And that is the most heroic thing any of us can do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wounded Predators Waste a Solid Effort Against the Stars

The Nashville Predators depleted lineup gave the Dallas Stars a challenge before falling 4-2 at the Bridgestone Arena. With this loss, the Nashville Predators have dropped 5 straight games.

The Predators were missing five forwards, with David Legwand, Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, and Martin Erat all out due to injury. Jordin Tootoo is out of the lineup since checking in to the League's substance abuse program.

Steve "Cheap Shot" Ott opened the scoring for the Stars at 4:39 of the second period after taking a nice backhand pass from Loui Erikkson. Ott tapped the puck home past an out of position Pekka Rinne to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

The Predators would answer on the power play at 19:00 minutes of the second as Colin Wilson was lurking around the net and put a shot over the pads of Andrew Raycroft. Wilson corralled a rebound off a shot from J.P. Dumont and slapped home the tying goal.

Through two periods, the Predators outshot the Stars by a margin of  34-15, but could not solve Raycroft. The Predators had numerous scoring chances, but could not finish their chances. This inability to finish scoring chances was going to come back to haunt the Predators in this contest.

Wilson would strike again for his second goal just 32 seconds into the third period as he lifted a backhand past Raycroft on a breakaway. For the first time in five games, the Predators would have a lead. This was a very solid game for Wilson, perhaps the best he has played in his young career.

That lead was short lived, however, as Loui Eriksson would score from the slot with a quick wrist shot that beat Rinne high over the glove side. Erikkson was able to take advantage of a breakdown in the defensive coverage and was alone in the low slot.

Dallas would take the lead at  8:18 of the third as Mark Fistric would let a shot go from the point that beat Rinne. That goal seemed to take all the air out of the Predators. Krys Barch would tally the fourth goal for the Stars at 10:05 as he crashed the net and beat Rinne with a wrist shot.

The Predators could not answer and fell for the fifth straight time. Dallas evened their record against Nashville to 1-1 for the season.

The Predators outshot the Stars 46-25 for the contest, but the inability to bury some quality scoring chances proved to be their undoing.

Chris Mueller made his NHL debut for the Predators, and logged 3:17 of ice time. Linus Klasen played his second game for the Predators and had 14:48 of ice time and two shots on goal.

The injuries have obviously taken a toll on the Predators, but tonight's contest brings home the point that the Predators have to take advantage of their chances offensively and cannot have any defensive lapses. Three Stars goals were the result of defensive coverage that broke down.

The Predators are a team that has no margin for error. Tonight, a few defensive errors cost them a much needed win. This game also points out the fact that the offense has to finish the scoring chances that they have. Give credit to Raycroft for 44 saves, but frankly, he is not that good of a goalie. Bury a few of the chances that you have, and the Predators run the Stars out of the building. Tonight, the Predators made the Stars look good.

This is a painful losing streak. The only way that you get out of this is to play hard and bring this kind of effort every night. Keep up this type of play, and this streak will be broken.

This is part of hockey. You have to play with the guys that put on the sweater and bring it every night. Keep up this kind of effort and the wins will come.

Wounded or not, the only way to end this losing streak is to play your way out of it.

My three stars:

1. Loui Erikkson

2. Colin Wilson

3. Andrew Raycroft

Monday, December 27, 2010

Jordin Tootoo Enters NHL Substance Abuse Program

The Nashville Predators announced today that forward Jordin Tootoo has entered the League's substance abuse program and will be out of the lineup indefinitely. The Predators released the following statement:

"We offer Jordin the full support of his teammates, coaches and the organization. There is no timetable for his return and we will have no further comment at this time." - GM David Poile

Tootoo has appeared in 32 games and has 10 points (4G-6A).

This announcement comes on the heels of an announcement that forward Steve Sullivan is expected to miss 10 days to two weeks with a lower body injury.

The Predators have also lost forward Martin Erat to a lower body injury. His return is unknown.

The Predators have called up forward Linus Klasen from Milwaukee and today announced that they had signed forward Chris Mueller. He is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow night against Dallas.

* photo courtesy of P. W. Nicholson

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Predators Goal Drought Continues in 2-0 Loss to Blues

Dear Santa,

I know that Christmas is over, but I really want to ask for one more present. Can we please get the Predators some offense? They have been really good guys, but this inability to score goals is getting on everyone's nerves, and frankly, I don't think they can keep up their sunny disposition.

The last four games, the Predators have only scored 3 goals. That's awfully weak, Santa. So if you could find your way back to the Bridgestone Arena, I would appreciate it if you could leave Coach Trotz some scorers.


Your friend,


P.S. I will send you another letter to talk to you about that tie you left for me. Really, pink and purple are just not my colors.

A plea to Santa notwithstanding, the Nashville Predators fell to the St. Louis Blues 2-0 behind a shutout from Jaroslav Halak. Not that the Predators didn't have chances. They did. They fired 32 shots at the St. Louis net, and generated some quality chances. The problem for the Predators is that no one could finish a scoring chance. Halak made some good saves, but the Predators did not have anyone that could capitalize on the scoring opportunities they had.

Yes, the Predators were missing Steve Sullivan and Marty Erat, and that meant that lines were jumbled. This obviously affected the chemistry in the offensive end. The fact is that when the Predators generated chances, no one could bury a critical shot.

Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators, and generally was very solid in net. He had to be sharp early as the Blues swarmed the Predators net, and he was equal to the task.

Rinne did give up a goal to David Backes that he would like to have back. Cody Franson turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and Backes skated in and fired a wrister from the face off circle that beat Rinne over the shoulder on the glove side at 1:45 of the second period.

Frankly, after the Blues got on the board first, one would have to wonder and worry if that would be all the scoring they would need given the Predators anemic offensive production. Unfortunately, that proved to be the case.

Backes would add an empty netter at 19:43 for the final margin of victory for the Blues.

The Predators are going to have to get their offense going. The streaky nature of this offense does not bode well for the team, and our losing streaks have been directly related to our lack of goals. The offense has to get back to the basics: create turnovers with the forecheck; take good shots; and crash the net. There has to be a consistent effort in these areas every game for this team to be successful.

It is unknown how long Erat and Sullivan will be out of the lineup. Losing key players is a fact of life every team has to deal with during the course of a long season. Players have to step up and fill the vacated roles. They have to play like professionals.

Linus Klasen was called up from Milwaukee and was playing a top 6 forward role tonight. This is your opportunity, young man. Time for you to bring it.

Vets, you are in the lineup for a reason. It is time for you to elevate your game. The four straight losses mean that you have to show your leadership and do the hard things to win a game.

And it's time to end this drought

My three stars:

1. Jaroslav Halak

2. David Backes

3. Pekka Rinne

Friday, December 24, 2010

My View

Into the midst of darkness came an eternal light.

Chaos was replaced with order.

Despair was vanquished by hope.

And for the first time, all of mankind could experience peace.

That is the message of the Christmas season.


Christmas brings to all mankind a sense of peace. Relationships that have been fractured by the stress of daily living can be reconciled once again. The lost and lonely can find solace in the promise of the Christmas story. Christmas presents the offering of a peace that transcends the strife and trauma of this world.

To be sure, there is still trouble, there is still evil in this world that interjects itself all too painfully into our daily lives. Cares and concerns are still there for each of us.

The hope and peace that Christmas offers is that the evil of this world has not won. The advent of the Christ  assures us that evil and the cares of daily living do not have the last word. The hope that we have is permanent; the peace that Christmas brings is unfailing.

As this Christmas season unfolds, my hope is that each of you experience the true and everlasting peace that under girds this holiday. May the peace of this Christmas season be with each of you in your daily lives. May this peace influence your words, your thoughts, and your deeds.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Predators Offense MIA in 2-1 Loss to Sens

Okay, who is wearing the Predators sweaters and what have you done with the real team?

After going on a tear in the early part of December, the Predators have absolutely stunk up the joint in their last three games, this time falling to at best an average Ottawa Senators hockey team by a score of 2-1.

The game wasn't as close as the score indicated.

The Predators made the Senators look much better than they really are and made Brian Elliott, the Ottawa netminder look fantastic.

Merry Christmas. Enjoy your gifts.

In the first three minutes of the contest, the Predators were outshot 9-1. It didn't get much better as the game went on.

Sure, the Predators narrowed the shot total, trailing for the game 30-26, but the reality is that the Predators rarely challenged Elliott for the bulk of the contest. We certainly did a great job of making him look like a quality goaltender.

The Predator offense struggled all night, at times unable to get in the zone. When they did get in the zone, there was very little puck support and the puck was turned over frequently, often going the other way. The offensive zone presence of the Predators was abysmal. This continues the disturbing trend that has reared its ugly head in the three game losing streak that the Predators have endured.

The Predators welcomed back Pekka Rinne in net, and did nothing to help him throughout the night. I can fault Rinne for neither goal that was given up tonight, as the defense in front of Rinne once again broke down, as they often have in this three game slide.

Merry Christmas, Pekka.

The Sens first goal came when Cal O'Reilly threw a pass to Kevin Klein in the defensive zone that put Klein in an impossible position to handle the puck. Peter Regin slammed Klein into the boards with a clean check, got control of the puck, and flipped a back pass to Alexei Kovalev who was alone in the low slot. Kovalev beat Rinne high glove side as Francis Buillon and O'Reilly both were late to rotate back in coverage.

Ottawa made it 2-0 on the power play as Nick Foligno was left alone at the side of the net and buried the rebound off Rinne's pads for an easy goal.

The Predators cut the deficit to 2-1 as Marcel Goc tipped home a shot from Cody Franson, but that was the only offensive thrust that the Predators could muster.

The ineptness of the Predators offense was not helped when both Marty Erat and Steve Sullivan were lost to injury. Erat went hard into the boards and appeared to injure his back midway of the second period. Sullivan left in the third period with a lower body injury.

The Predators have now been outscored in their last three games by a margin of 12-3. The offense, once so effective in their early December streak, has seen the wheels come off. Their is no flow and no consistency from the forwards. The forecheck, once devastatingly effective, has disappeared. The Predators are now having trouble just entering the offensive zone.

The offense has to get their mojo back for this team to be successful. Right now, their is no semblance of that happening.

Two days off to enjoy the Christmas holiday may be what this team needs. Time to regroup and get their focus back.

If you believe in Santa, it's time to ask him to bring the Predators some offense.

We certainly need it.

My three stars:

1. Alexei Kovalev

2. Brian Elliott

3. Marcel Goc

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Predators Lose Ugly to the Blackhawks 4-1

Another lackluster effort, another loss for the Nashville Predators as the Chicago Blackhawks had their way in a 4-1 win at the United Center. This loss was the first of the season to the Blackhawks, and it follows a pathetic 6-1 effort against Los Angeles in their last game.

The Nashville offense was listless at best, and rarely generated many quality scoring opportunities. The Chicago defense dominated the forwards of the Predators, rarely letting them enter the offensive zone with speed and winning nearly every puck battle. This is the second straight game that the Predators offense has disappeared, and that is both disappointing and unacceptable.

When the offense is not clicking, it is imperative that the defense and goaltending be very good. Neither were tonight. Anders Lindback got the start in net and was involved in a strange play that led to the Hawks first goal. Kevin Klein passed the puck back to Lindback, who in turn tried to pass the puck back to Klein. The pass missed Klein badly and came to Dave Bolland, who walked in alone and deposited the puck top shelf over Lindback's glove at 12:29 of the first period.

With Shane O'Brien in the box for interference, Jack Skille tallied on the power play at 9:28 of the second period. Skille blistered a shot over the glove side of Lindback, and the way the Predators offense was playing, the game was essentially over at that point.

Skille wasn't done, however, as he got a shot through a a screen from the high slot to beat Lindback at 9:14 of the third period.

Sergei Kostitsyn tipped a Marty Erat shot past Hawks netminder Corey Crawford at 11:13 of the third with the Predators on a power play. Any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by Bryan Bickell as he beat Lindback glove side at 17:28 of the third.

What do the names J.P. Dumont, Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, Jerred Smithson, and Nick Spaling have in common? Five forwards for the Predators that did not have a shot on goal (yes, I know J.P. rang one off the post, but it is not officially a shot on goal). Quite frankly, this is a weak effort and cannot continue if the Predators are going to have success.

Success is a simple formula for the Predators: skate hard and bring the maximum effort to the rink every night. This is what this team did during their win streak. In the last two miserable losses, this team has not come close to giving the kind of effort that brings the opportunity for a victory.

The Predators can ill afford to win five games and then go on a five game losing streak. It is obvious that the effort has not been there the last two games, and we see the result on the ice and on the scoreboard.

It is time to stop the lackluster effort. It is time to stop the losing streak. Bring your best effort, and this skid will end.

Keep playing the way you have the last two games, and it will get ugly.

My three stars:

1.Jack Skille

2. Corey Crawford

3. Dave Bolland

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kings Crush the Predators 6-1

All good things come to an end. The Nashville Predators five game winning streak came to an end with a resounding thud against the Los Angeles Kings 6-1 at the Bridgestone Arena.

In a word, the Predators effort tonight was impotent. There was absolutely no fight from the Predators as they rolled over against the Kings.

And this was horribly disappointing.

Every team endures a loss, even a thumping. Tonight, the Predators were dominated by the Kings and showed no fire, no push back against the onslaught that the Kings unleashed. Frankly, the Kings had their way with the Predators and there was no response.

It is probably easier to say who didn't score for the Kings rather than who did, because it seemed that everyone on the roster as well as the equipment managers were finding the back of the net. The Kings scored just 15 seconds into the contest as Justin Williams tapped in his own rebound past Anders Lindback.

This was just the beginning.

Ryan Smyth tallied twice. Alex Ponikorovsky, Drew Doughty, and Trevor Lewis also found the net against a Predators defense that left the front of the net open and Nashville's netminders under assault during the contest. For the night, the Predators failed to clear the front of the net and gave the Kings numerous quality scoring opportunities on which they capitalized.

Lindback was chased in the first period in favor of Mark Dekanich, who fared no better, allowing three goals during the remainder of the contest.

Steve Sullivan had the only tally for the Predators.

This effort was pathetic. The Predators have been owned in their two contests with the Kings. The lack of fire, of fight , was particularly galling. As the Kings had their way with the Predators, the appalling aspect was that there was no one who stepped up to show any fight.

The Predators rarely challenged L.A. netminder Jonathan Bernier, making him look like the second coming of Patrick Roy.

You can call it one of those nights. Those happen, but dammit, at least show some fight.

You were owned, boys. And you did nothing about it.

And that is unacceptable.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Smyth

2. Justin Williams

3. Jonathan Bernier

Friday, December 17, 2010

Predators Bedevil New Jersey 3-1

The Nashville Predators made a rare trip to the Rock to take on the New Jersey Devils in a contest that presented itself as a trap game. A game against an Eastern Conference foe that the Predators rarely see; a game against a team that has been struggling; a game that is sandwiched in between important Western Conference contests. This is the type of game that has bedeviled the Predators in the past.

Not tonight.

The Predators notched two power play goals to capture a 3-1 victory over the Devils. Marty Erat tallied two goals and Steve Sullivan opened the scoring for the Predators, who have now won five straight games.

The first period was a generally listless first period for both teams. New Jersey generated several good chances against Nashville goaltender Anders Lindback. Rod Pelley rang a shot off the post, and the Devils cycled the puck and created some scoring chances. Fortunately for the Predators, Lindback was equal to the task.

Lindback has gone 6-0-1 in relief of injured starter Pekka Rinne.

With time running down in the first period, Shea Weber sent a shot screaming toward the net that was tipped by Steve Sullivan and trickled over the goal line past Martin Brodeur. Brodeur got a piece of the tip, but could not squeeze the puck under his arm, and the Predators were on the board at 19:43 of the period.

Nashville would extend the lead to 2-0 at 4:56 of the second while on the power play. Ryan Suter got the puck to Marty Erat who had camped just inside the right face off circle. He uncorked a quick one timer that cleanly beat Brodeur high to the glove side.

The Devils kept pressing in the second period, and at times dictated play in the Nashville zone. Patrik Elias found the pipe from the slot, and when the Devils weren't hitting the iron, Lindback was making some big saves to keep the off the board.

The Predators made it 3-0 at 4:55 of the third period with another power play goal as Marty Erat re-directed a Ryan Suter shot past Brodeur. On this play Sergei Kostitsyn picked up an assist to record a point in his eighth straight game, tying a club record.

Rookie Mattias Tedenby  scored on the power play for the Devils at 7:06 of the third. Tedenby walked in from the face off circle and beat Lindback high glove with a wicked wrist shot.

From that point on, the Predators played shut down hockey. That isn't to say that the Devils didn't generate chances. They did. There was a stretch of 1:30 in the last four minutes where the Devils kept the Predators trapped in their own zone and unable to clear the puck. The Predators were saved by an interference penalty on Jamie Langenbrunner as he slapped Lindback's goal stick away from him after he dropped it on the ice.

After the penalty, they Devils were unable to generate another scoring chance and the Predators skated away with another win.

A big win from the standpoint that the team showed mental toughness, something that had been lacking in their game earlier this season. A big win because it was a solid road game for the Predators that featured opportunistic scoring and solid defense.

A big win because it was two points that the Predators did not give away.

With this win, the Predators ran their record to 17-8-6, good for 40 points.

After some early season struggles, this team has played consistent hockey. They have played Predator hockey- not always flashy or pretty, but very effective.

It is winning hockey.

The kind of hockey that will get this team back to the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Marty Erat

2. Ryan Suter

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

After the November mid-term elections, President Obama pledged to eliminate the process of "earmarks" in budgets that were submitted to him. The public overwhelmingly disapproves of earmarks- specific funding to be used in a legislator's district that is not subject to normal budget scrutiny. Earmarks in the budget process allow pork projects to escape the public discourse that should occur every time Washington spends one of our dollars and is a contributing factor to the profligate spending that comes out of Washington. Guess what? In the  proposed omnibus spending bill that is under consideration by Congress there are -you guessed it- earmarks. $8 billion of them. BILLION.  Apparently the lesson that President Obama said he learned after the November election- that the American public is tired of Washington wasting money and engaging in pork barrel spending- really wasn't learned after all. Old habits die hard, and we as the taxpaying public are going to have to hold Washington accountable if there is ever to be a meaningful change in the way our leaders spend our money.

I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I heard that most people die from natural causes. Now I only eat foods with lots of preservatives.

In my comments above, I mentioned that the $1.2 trillion dollar budget proposal contains $8 billion dollars of earmarks. Money that will be allocated by one of the elected representatives that is, for the most, outside the purview of the normal budget process. This morning (Thursday), during discussion of the budget, Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) added a proposed $48 BILLION earmark, all of which would go to the not-for-profit Quality Day Campus, a child day care center in Kansas City, MO. This day care center is run by Cleaver's close friend Lamar Mickens, who is the President, and his wife , Cynthia Mickens, who is the Vice President. With an earmarked request of $48 billion, one would think that Quality Day Campus must be serving thousands of children in Kansas City and parts beyond. The truth is that Quality Day Campus is a day care operation that is run out of the home of the Mickens. Dear reader, I don't care what your political views are or what party to which you affiliate. This type of attitude and action by an elected representative  is unconscionable. If we are going to change the financial fortunes of our nation, people like Representative Cleaver must be removed from office by the voters. That is the only way that the prevailing attitude of those in Washington who view themselves as a ruling elite will ever change.

I wonder if coffins have a lifetime guarantee?

Kay Hagan, Democratic Senator from North Carolina, appeared on CNBC yesterday morning to discuss her opposition to President Obama negotiating an extension of the current levels of taxation for the next two years. Although she voted to increase the national debt by $3.2 trillion over the past two years, she did not believe that it was wise to extend the tax cuts that Congress passed in 2003. She was particularly incensed that President Obama did not raise the estate tax to a higher level. Her premise is that "we are giving  that money back to the richest Americans, who do not need it" (paraphrasing very accurately her statement, but not quoting it exactly). This sentiment sums up the crux of the problem the nation faces with our elected leaders and in solving our fiscal crisis. Washington views your money as theirs, and our elected leaders are doing us a favor by letting us keep some of our income. This is so illogical as to be absurd, but tragically, it is the mindset of most in Washington. Spending will never get reined in and brought back to normal levels if this mindset does not change. As voters and taxpayers, it will be up to us to enforce the fiscal discipline that Washington so sorely lacks.

When I was a child, I had "lazy eye". As an adult, it has spread to the rest of my body.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sharks Bitten by the Predators 3-2

When the Nashville Predators play the San Jose Sharks, it is often a grinding affair. The Sharks use their size and strength to grind on the Predators and wear them down, usually on their way to a victory. The formula has worked well for the Sharks against the Predators, as they have won 9 of their previous 12 meetings.

Tonight, that formula looked as if would produce another victory for the Sharks. Nursing a 2-1 lead with five minutes to go, it appeared as if the Sharks would once again exert their will against the smaller Predators and skate away with another win.

The physical advantage of the Sharks was no match for the heart and desire of the Predators, however, as the Predators scored two goals in a span of 44 seconds and held off a 6 on 4 Sharks power play in the last minute to win 3-2 and continue their torrid December.

The win ran the Predators record in December to 6-0-1 and 7-1-2 in their last ten games. The Predators have now won four straight contests.

San Jose opened the scoring at 7:25 of the first period as Niclas Wallin was alone in the face off circle and blistered a shot to the far side post past Nashville netminder Anders Lindback. Lindback was not screened on the shot and was beaten by a rocket that was perfectly placed just inside the far side post.

San Jose used their size to muscle the Predators away from the net and refused to give them many quality looks in the first period. The Predators continued to work the puck throughout the period and did generate some chances, but were unable to get one past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi. The effort that the Predators put forth made one feel that eventually they would manage to solve Niemi. It would just be a matter of time.

That time would come at 12:14 of the second period.

The Predators would dump a puck deep to the right of the net. Jordin Tootoo pursued the puck and made a hit on the Sharks defender at the wall, jarring the puck loose. Tootoo would control the puck and flip a centering pass toward the crease. The puck hit the stick of former Predator Scotty Nichol and would bounce past Niemi for the Predators first goal. One could say the goal was a fluke, but that score was a direct result of hustle by Tootoo and putting the puck back into a scoring position. Good things happen when you put the puck on the net.

San Jose would answer at 17:26 of the second as Dany Heatley would knock in a rebound on a Sharks power play to make it 2-1.

With that lead going into the third, San Jose played most of the period like they have played the Predators in games past: a suffocating defense and timely chances generated by the scoring line of Thornton, Heatley, and Marleau. Time was melting away off the clock, and it appeared that the Sharks would once again get the better of the Predators. Their size and strength was starting to take its toll on the Predators.

Size and strength are one thing; heart is entirely another matter. Tonight, the heart, the fight, belonged to the Predators.

Sergei Kostitsyn would continue his solid play and would tie the game at 16:44 of the third. Shea Weber skated the puck into the zone and found Kostitsyn driving the net. Kostitsyn was being harassed by a Sharks defender but fought to get his stick on the puck and was able to slide it between the pads of Niemi for the tying score.

Momentum to the Predators.

The heart was always theirs.

 The Predators would take the lead 44 seconds later as Colin Wilson took a nice pass from Steve Sullivan on a 3 on 1 break and made no mistake in burying the shot past Niemi.

The Predators did not make the finish easy, however. Jordin Tootoo was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass. Initially, a linesman ruled that the puck was tipped, but was overruled by referee Francois St. Laurent. So at 18:08, the Predators were down a man and fighting to kill off the remainder of the period with a man down.

Niemi went to the box and the the Predators were fighting a 6 on 4 advantage for the Sharks.

And fight they did.

The Predators PK was outstanding, clogging shooting lanes, clearing the front of the net, and challenging shots. A few timely clears, and the clock ran out with the Predators on top.

The Predators managed to reverse their fortunes against the Sharks by seizing momentum in the third. They put themselves in that position by fighting all game, refusing to yield to the size and talent of the Sharks.

Tonight, the Predators displayed the heart and the will to win this game. Character won out.

The Predators were without Patric Hornqvist, who was injured in the previous game with the Islanders. A very big hole in the lineup, one that would require the entire team to step up and take up the slack. Another challenge to fight through; another opportunity for others to show heart and character.

That fight, that character was shown in little things that won the game. Taking a hit to make a play; hustling back, as J.P. Dumont did, to stop a breakaway attempt; fighting to clear the front of the net; all things that don't show up in the score sheet but often determine the outcome of a game.

It is this type of effort that it takes to be a talented team like the Sharks. It is this type of effort that it takes to build a winning streak like the one the Predators enjoy.

Keep playing with heart and character like you displayed tonight, and the wins will pile up.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Anders Lindback

Monday, December 13, 2010

Predators Pound the Islanders 5-0

Let's face it- the New york Islanders have struggled this season. Their lineup has been wracked with injuries and is full of call ups from their minor league affiliate. They are a wounded team that was making a rare visit to Nashville for an inter-conference tilt against the Predators.

This was a game that had all the makings of an upset. A trap game.

In these types of games, it is important that the favored team come out with some jump and put the hammer down early and take the underdog out of the contest.

Looking at the final 5-0 score, one could surmise that the Predators did just that to the Islanders. The truth is that the Predators got through a flat first period with just a 1-0 lead, and without the stellar play of Anders Lindback in net, the outcome could have been disastrously different for the Predators.

The game opened with the Islanders displaying much more jump than the Predators. The Islanders cycled the puck well and controlled much of the play early in the contest. Indicative of the tempo was the fact that the Predators did not record their first shot on net until five minutes had elapsed in the first. Lindback was tested early and answered the challenge that the Islanders presented. His steady play kept the Isles off the board and the Predators in the game early.

Lindback has now recorded his second consecutive shutout, and is 4-0-1 since taking over for an injured Pekka Rinne. He ran his season record to 7-1-2 for the season. Tonight, he faced 28 shots in his shutout effort.

The Predators finally got a puck past Islanders netminder Dwayne Roloson at 11:15 of the first period. Cody Franson had the puck at the blue line and absolutely undressed Frans Neilson with a nifty move to keep possession of the puck. Franson walked the puck into the high slot and fired a shot that was tipped by Sergei Kostitsyn and past Roloson glove side to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

 This was the sixth straight game that Kostitsyn has recorded a point. It is good to see his game mature and that he is starting to show the potential that many thought he had. It is obvious that Kostitsyn is feeling more comfortable each game that he plays.

The Islanders are 0-15-2 in games where they have trailed 1-0, but the feel of this game after the first period was not necessarily a good one for Predator fans.

The mood of the home crowd would brighten considerably in the second period as Nashville would get their legs under them and step up the attack.

Patric Hornqvist would notch his 7th goal of the season at 5:22 of the second as he shoved home a rebound of a Shane O'Brien shot past a sprawling Roloson. The play, however, was made by O'Brien, as he controlled the puck and jumped over a sliding Isles defender, re-gathered the puck and unleashed his shot. A truly amazing play by O'Brien, showing the presence of mind to avoid the defender with a spectacular move and control the puck for a shot on net. Hornqvist was doing what he does best, lurking around the net, creating havoc, and poking home a rebound.

Nashville would add their third goal at 7:31 of the second as Jerred Smithson fought for the puck and controlled it as he drove  into the Islanders zone. He flipped a wrister at Roloson that somehow slipped between his arm and the post. One might call it a soft goal given up by Roloson, but the play was made  by Smithson who would not give up on the play and did the right thing by flipping the puck at the net.

Good things happen when you shoot the puck.

While the offense was starting to generate chances, Lindback was sharp in net, stopping Rob Schremp on several occasions and making some big saves. Lindback did give up some rebounds, but when he did, the defense was there to clean up the front of the net and not allow second chance scoring opportunities.

Patric Hornqvist would tally his second goal and make it 4-0 Predators at 13:55 of the third period. He drove down the right side and fired a shot that Roloson stopped with his pad. The rebound caromed behind the net, and Hornqvist continued his drive to the net, gathering in the puck and beating Roloson with the wraparound. Rollie was late sliding to the far post and gave Hornqvist the opening, and he made no mistake in burying the shot.

Matt Moulson took a high sticking penalty at 17:09. He was shortly thereafter followed to the box by James Wisniewski at 17:49 on another high sticking call. With the 5 on 3 power play, Nick Spaling found himself alone at the side of the net and he nailed a shot into the open net for his first NHL goal and the final score for the Predators.

5-0, and the fears of a trap game were dispelled.

The Predators started slowly, but as the game went on, exerted their will against the Islanders. Again, one should realize that the Islanders are a wounded team contending with numerous injuries.

The San Jose Sharks come to town on Wednesday, and as Head Coach Barry Trotz said in his post game remarks, the Predators will have to find another gear for that game.

Start slowly, and I will guarantee you the outcome will be markedly different.

Late in the game, Sergei Kostitysn was hit with a Shea Weber slapshot and injured his foot. The extent of the injury is not known, but according to Coach Trotz, it does not appear to be serious.

This means that Kostitsyn will miss at least a month. (Just kidding. I hope).

The Predators showed some maturity and mental toughness tonight. This was a game they should have won. A game where they should have come out and taken care of business and snuffed out any emotion and opportunity that the Islanders might have had.

It was good to see them efficiently take care of business.

Now it will be time to find another gear.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Anders Lindback

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Predators Pounce on Panthers 3-0

When an old friend comes to visit, it is always nice to give them a warm welcome, and sometimes some nice gifts. The Nashville Predators did just that, welcoming Tomas Vokoun, a former Predators goalie with two first period goals en route to a 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Vokoun was welcomed back to the Bridgestone Arena with a goal on the first shot of the game. Ryan Suter, pinching in on the off wing, snapped a wrist shot low to Vokoun's stick side off a nice assist from Marty Erat to make it 1-0 just 1:14 into the contest.

Suter would also figure into the Predators second goal as he would carry the puck deep into the offensive zone and behind the net. He found Shea Weber at the top of the face off circle, and Weber ripped a shot over Vokoun's glove side and inside the far post to make it 2-0 at 16:49 of the first period.

Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Predators and pitched the first shutout of his career. He faced 22 shots and was solid in net, making some key saves to thwart the Panthers. Lindback continues to look poised and grows more confident each game. Lindback gave up very few rebounds and second chances to the Panthers and was able to track the puck very well through traffic. This win was the first shutout of Lindback's career, and runs his record to 6-1-2.

The Predators did a good job of keeping the Panthers to the perimeter most of the night. Florida was able to cycle the puck well at times, but failed to generate many quality chances against the Predators defense.

The Predators were the more physical of the two teams. In a highlight hit, Jordin Tootoo absolutely smoked Michael Frolik with a devastating- and clean- hit that flipped Frolik head over heels. Tootoo was jumped by two Panthers after the hit and amazingly was called for roughing along with the Panthers Bryan McCabe. Tootoo's hit set the tone for the night and delivered the message to the Panthers that they were in for a physical contest.

The game was scoreless in the second period, as the Predators generated some good chances, but could not get another marker past Vokoun.

The Predators would add an empty net goal in the third period on the power play as Joel Ward would tally an empty net goal with Vokoun pulled at 19:06 of the period.

This game could have easily been a trap game for the Predators. Facing a team that they do not see often and from the Eastern Conference, the concern was the intensity that the Predators would bring to the contest. This question was answered early and resoundingly by the effort of the Predators. Overall, it was a solid win by the Predators, and more importantly, it was two precious points in the standings.

The intensity and the effort were good, and that is a positive. The negatives to this contest were the failure to finish some of the scoring chances that they had and the ineffectiveness of the power play. These are facets of their game that still has to improve. The forwards for the Predators created chances but did not finish. For this team to be successful over the long haul, they are going to have to do that consistently.

With this victory, the Predators are 4-0-2 against the Southeast Division.

This win was one that the Predators should have won, and taking care of business like they did is good for their psyche.

With a stretch of home games on the schedule, it is time to build on this momentum and take care of business.

My three stars:

1. Anders Lindback

2. Ryan Suter

3. Shea Weber

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

President Obama faced the realities of his political world when he agreed earlier this week to extend the tax cuts enacted under President Bush by another two years. The extension is yet to be finalized and sent to the President for his signature, but I believe it will be done soon. This is good news for an economy struggling to climb out of a very deep recessionary hole. However, we should view this deal for just what it is: a two year reprieve from the confiscatory grasp of the federal government to fund runaway spending programs. An individual or a business invests based on the estimated return on the capital invested over time. One of the critical components of determining return is the expected tax rate. We have delayed what were to be substantial tax increases by 24 months- not necessarily an inducement for business to put more money into capital equipment, expansion, or new hires. Because the tax cuts are temporary, there is less of an incentive to make these major investments than if there were more permanence to the tax code. Positively, there is a 100% expense deduction for businesses that make capital investments in 2011 and 50% in 2012. This will, however, pull growth forward from 2013 and beyond, which forebodes another slump in this area.  Liberal Democrats are steamed that Obama has agreed to this extension and other provisions, and I think their reaction is instructive for all of us. Although they argue that we don't need tax cuts for the "wealthy" in the midst of a recession, the reality is that they do not want to cut spending. Liberal Democrats have proposed insignificant and symbolic cuts to federal programs while being irritated that the producers in our economy get to keep a greater portion of the fruits of their labors. Liberal Democrats should realize that they have not been betrayed by Obama, but that their economic agenda is one doomed to failure.

I once asked my parents is I was a "gifted" child. They told absolutely- that there was no way they would have paid to have a child like me.

Remember when then President George W. Bush said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that was one of the principles used to justify the invasion of that nation? Remember when the chemical and nuclear weapons were not readily found, and the outcry against Bush and the war in Iraq? The mainstream press trumpeted the mantra "Bush Lied, People Died", and the President was castigated and vilified in the press as being inept and invading a sovereign nation to benefit his "oil buddies". Well, along comes WikiLeaks and the thousands of cables and classified information that have been revealed to the public (I'm not going to delve into that one right now. That is for another post)? And what do they reveal? Let Noah Shachtman, a non-resident fellow of the liberal Brookings Institute tell you,

By late 2003 even the Bush White House's staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks newly released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins, and uncover weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield."
In 2008, our military shipped out of Iraq 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium, a precursor to enriching nuclear fuel. If you are expecting the mainstream media to step forward and say they were wrong about the lack of WMD's in Iraq, I wouldn't hold your breath.

My son asked me if it was true that in some parts of the world a man did not know his wife until he married her. I told him that was true in every country.

War is viewed as an armed conflict between two nations. The bellicosity between warring nation states has evolved from throwing stones and hand to hand combat to launching sophisticated guided weapons from thousands of miles away. The nature of war is changing once again and we are glimpsing one of the ways that it will be waged with the whole WikiLeaks saga. After the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks supporters initiated directed denial of service (DDOS) attacks on MasterCard, Visa, and The first two because they had stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks; Amazon was hit with a DDOS attack because it revoked the use of the WikiLeaks computer servers. According to the group "Anonymous", a loose confederation of hackers and technogeeks that support Assange, they launched other waves of attacks as well. The group has vowed to continue to cyberattack any perceived enemy of WikiLeaks and Assange. The leaked State Department cables also show that the Chinese were involved in cyberterrorism against the U. S., and specifically Google. As I type this on my computer,there could be a cyberwar going on about which I am clueless. I do know, however, that the attempt to infiltrate and disrupt a company or a nation's computer and technological systems, if successful, can create economic havoc. And that is one of the new faces of modern warfare.

Alcohol leads nowhere, but I gotta tell ya, the route sure is scenic.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Predators Clip the Wings 3-2

The Nashville Predators have shown that they have had an inability to close out teams teams in tight contests. Tonight, the Predators found themselves in another such contest against Detroit at the Joe. Leading 2-1 going into the third period, the conventional wisdom was that the Predators would not hang tough and get a much needed win.

The conventional wisdom was wrong, as the Predators played solid, tough hockey and defeated the Red Wings 3-2.

The difference in this game was simply that the Predators did not back off when they held the lead. They played tough defense and their forecheck was aggressive in all three periods, creating havoc in the the Detroit zone and doing a great job of forcing the Wings to play defense and not set up clean breakouts.

This is the formula for the Predators to secure a victory, and tonight, they mastered that formula with an good effort in all three zones.

Oh yeah, the Predators got a stellar effort in net tonight from Anders Lindback. Lindy is going to carry the load while Pekka Rinne is out with a knee injury, and against the best team in the NHL, he demonstrated that he is more than equal to the task.

The Wings outshot the Predators 37-24 for the game. They outshot the Predators in every period, including a 16-4 advantage in the third period. This is typical of a Detroit team as they put pressure on the net. Lindback was poised in net and moved well all night. He did not give up many second chance rebounds and did a good job of tracking the puck. During the course of the game, he was called upon to make some quality saves, and he came up big when he had to do so.

The Predators opened the scoring at 19:27 of the first period as Colin Wilson took a beautiful centering pass from Cal O'Reilly, who drove the net and drew the defense and Wings netminder Jimmy Howard to him. O'Reilly slid a nice pass to Wilson, who was parked alone at the top of the crease and had an open net yawning before him. Wilson's sixth goal of the season made it 1-0 for the Predators.

Nashville extended the lead to 2-0 just 49 seconds into the second period. Sergei Kostitsyn sent a low, hard shot toward the net. Howard got a pad on it but gave up a rebound that Marty Erat was able tip tip back toward the net. The puck hit Marcel Goc and a Detroit defender and caromed into the net to give the Predators a two goal advantage.

The Predators had a glorious chance to extend the lead as Tomas Holmstrom was called for a double minor for high sticking Marty Erat. Instead, the Predators managed to give up a short handed goal to Pavel Datsyuk two minutes into the power play. Detroit managed to kill off the rest of the power play as the Predators were unable to generate any quality scoring chances.

Momentum to the Wings. And a huge "uh-oh" for the Predator nation.

In the third period, the Predators faced a hard charging Detroit squad. You knew that the Wings would be coming and coming hard. Lindback made some great saves to keep the Wings off the board. The Predators did not go back on their heels, however. The defense did a good job- for the most- in keeping the Wings to the perimeter and not allowing many chances from in close. The Predators foreheck forced the Wings to use up valuable time in their zone and slowed them in the neutral zone.

Unfortunately, the Predators offensive effort was virtually invisible in the third period. Again, there was that nagging sensation that the Wings would somehow manage to tie the game due to their offensive prowess.

That feeling would change at 14:37 of the third period, as J.P. Dumont skated the puck through the neutral zone with speed and rifled a shot from the faceoff circle that would beat Howard high glove side.

That goal gave the Predators some breathing room and amped up the sense of desperation for the Red Wings. Their effort would be rewarded at 18:27 of the third with the Detroit net empty and the extra attacker on the ice. Johan Franzen launched a shot from the point which found its way through traffic and past Lindback to cut the margin to 3-2.

With time running down and the Wings net once again empty, Detroit was in the Nashville zone and applying great pressure. Nick Spaling attacked the puck at the point and was able to clear a hand pass all the way down the ice to melt the final seconds on the clock and the Predators had secured just their 10th win in their history in the Joe.

In this win, they Predators did the things that they haven't done in previous games that they have given away: a continued strong forecheck; refusing to sit back on their heels in their zone; and sound defensive coverage. Kudos to Marty Erat, Joel Ward, and Nick Spaling who were superb on the penalty kill and on the forecheck in the Wings zone.

The win is tempered somewhat by the fact that David Legwand, who was playing for the first time in 9 games due to an injury, left the game in the second period and did not return. It is assumed that he aggravated the same lower body injury that had previously sidelined him.

The Predators have shown an annoying propensity to blow leads and not play with mental toughness. Tonight, that was not the case.

You have seen what it takes to beat the best.

It's time to bring that effort to the ice every night, boys.

My three stars:

1. Anders Lindback

2. J.P. Dumont

3. Marty Erat

Monday, December 6, 2010

Predators Waste a 2 Goal Lead, Fall to Thrashers in OT 3-2

The Nashville Predators went to the overtime session for the tenth time this season in their contest with the Atlanta Thrashers, falling 3-2. This is a disappointing loss for the Predators as they failed once again to hold a lead going into the third period.

Nashville opened the scoring at 8:39 of the first period as Colin Wilson took a nice drop pass from Sergei Kostitsyn and buried a quick wrister past Atlanta netminder Ondrej Pavalec.

Colin Wilson would whistle a hard wrist shot at the net at 11:39 of the period. Steve Sullivan was parked at the net and tipped it past Pavelec to make it 2-0 Predators.

The Predators controlled play for much of the first period as they were skating hard and forechecking aggressively. They managed to keep the Thrashers back on their heels for much of the period and the play in that period was dictated by the effort of the Predators.

The momentum in the game would start to swing in the second period. Atlanta came out more aggressively and started to out skate the Predators. Ominously, the Predators could not win faceoffs and allowed the Thrashers to control the puck off of draws in both zones. This would come back to haunt the Predators in the course of the game.

Atlanta cleanly won a draw in the Nashville zone and slid the puck back to the point. Tobias Enstrom unleashed a rocket at the net that was tipped by Jim Slater and past Nashville goalie Anders Lindback at 14:25 of the period. Lindback was helpless on the redirect of the puck, and the Thrashers had new energy.

Nashville generated a quality chance while on the penalty kill as Joel Ward was alone in front of the net with Pavelec out of position. Amazingly, Pavelec got his stick on the shot to deny Ward.

The Thrashers came out energized in the third period and generated several quality chances. Lindback had to make some big saves to keep the Birds off the board. This game had the appearance of heading to overtime as the Predators were back on their heels for much of the period.

The premonition about the game being tied and heading to overtime came to fruition at 6:49 of the third period. Shea Weber was in the box for boarding, and Andrew Ladd was able to gather in a rebound of a Dustin Byfuglian shot and put it past a sprawling Lindback. The Predators had killed off 37 straight penalties to that point, including three in this game against the number one power play unit in the NHL in the form of the Thrashers. Unfortunately for the Predators, they played with fire one time too many as the Atlanta power play finally connected.

The Predators has a glorious scoring chance on a give and go with Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly, but Pavelec denied the scoring chance by O'Reilly. This was the last good scoring chance for the Predators in the period.

In overtime, Kevin Klein lost his stick at the blue line and could not clear the puck. Ben Eager controlled the puck and slid a pass to Zach Bogosian, who drilled a shot past Lindback glove side to end the contest at 2:11 of the overtime session.

Once again, the Predators disturbingly failed to show any killer instinct, letting a team up off the mat and blowing a two goal lead to lose the game. The inability of this team to close out an opponent demonstrates a lack of mental toughness, and this is disappointing. The Predators cannot keep giving away leads- and games- and remain in the playoff hunt.

After outshooting the Thrasher 12-7 in the first period, the Predators were outshot 14-7 in the second; 14-9 in the third; and 2-1 in overtime. This is unacceptable. The effort, the aggressiveness of the first period slowly disappeared as the game went on. The Predators were guilty many times of sitting back on their heels, and this style of play came back to bite them.

It's time to stop squandering leads. It's time to stop sitting back and letting the opponent dictate play.

It's time to go balls to the wall for 60 minutes boys.

My three stars:

1. Ondrej Pavelec

2. Zach Bogosian

3. Colin Wilson

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Predators Hammer Hurricanes 5-2

Two weeks ago, the Nashville Predators played the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center in a contest that was an absolute grind. Tonight, the Predators met the Hurricanes in the Bridgestone Arena, and this contest was a decidedly different affair. The Predators blew away the Hurricanes 5-2 in a wide opening tilt.

This was the first contest for the Predators without starting netminder Pekka Rinne, who is out 2-4 weeks after having his left knee scoped on Friday. Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Predators.

Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring for the Predators at 2:33 of the first period as he gathered in a rebound of a Cody Franson shot and fired it past Carolina goaltender Cam Ward.

Joe Corvo answered for the Hurricanes just 18 seconds later as he drove into the offensive zone and fired a shot from the right face off circle that hit Lindback's shoulder and bounced into the net. It was a goal that was soft and one that had the Predator nation saying "uh-oh".

The Predators would regain the lead at 10:08 of the first period as Shea Weber went low and took a beautiful pass from Marty Erat. Weber buried the shot for his fourth goal and second in consecutive games.

Nashville continued to buzz the net and fire shots at Ward, who gave up many juicy rebounds. The offense effort tonight was very solid and challenged Ward and the Carolina defense all night.

That effort would pay off in a Marcel Goc score that came at 15:01 of the first period. Marty Erat shot a puck at Ward, who gave up a rebound that slid into the slot. Goc and Kevin Klein converged on the puck and Goc whistled a wrister past Ward for his first goal in seven games to extend the lead to 3-1 for the Predators.

Nashville exerted good offensive pressure throughout the first period and outshot the Canes 17-10. The Predators were strong on the puck and fired numerous shots at Ward, who was prone to give up rebounds all night. The Predators were also strong in the neutral zone and rarely allowed Carolina to enter the offensive zone with speed.

Carolina came out with good jump to open the second period and at times had the Predators back on their heels. When they did, Lindback came up with some key saves to keep the Canes off the boards.

Carolina finally solved Lindback at 9:43 of the second as Jiri Tlusty gathered in a rebound in the low slot and beat Lindback high to the stick side. All of a sudden, we had a game again.

Nashville would stretch the lead to 2 again as the line of Sergei Kostitsyn, Marty Erat, and Cal O'Reilly, who was still on the ice on a long shift, clicked for a goal at 8:44 of the third. Kostitsyn made a beautiful drop pass to Erat, who whipped a pass to O'Reilly alone in the low slot. O'Reilly buried the shot over the stick side shoulder of Ward to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Predators.

Steve Sullivan would cap the scoring with an empty net goal at 17:44 of the third, and the Predators would dominate the Hurricanes for their third straight win and their second over the Canes this season.

The Predators played a complete game to notch this victory. Lindback was solid in the start, stopping 28 of 30 shots. The Predators dominated the neutral zone, rarely allowing Carolina to enter the zone with speed. The defense did a great job of limiting secondary scoring chances. And the offense shot the puck and crashed the crease, generating scoring chances, and more importantly, finishing on those chances.

The line of Goc, Kostitsyn, and Erat have emerged as a true scoring line for the Predators. They are creative and do a great job of generating scoring opportunities. Sergei Kostitsyn was around the net all night, and played The emergence of this line gives the Predators another quality scoring line that takes the pressure off the top scoring line of O'Reilly, Sullivan, and Wilson. For the Preds to have continued success, they have to have another legitimate scoring line, and this second line has stepped into role of a scoring line in a big way.

The Predators will be without Rinne for a while. Lindback is more than capable of shouldering the load. Tonight, he settled down after an early soft goal and demonstrated that he is capable of carrying that load. This bodes well for the fortunes of the Predators.

For the Predators to have continued success, they have to do what they did tonight: strong on the PK (Carolina was 0-4 with the man advantage); solid goal tending; and perhaps most importantly, an opportunistic offense. The Predators shot the puck and took advantage of rebounds. They outshot Carolina 39-30 for the game. This is their formula for success, and if they play this way every game, they will come out on top in most contests.

This game should give the Predators some confidence as they continue on in their schedule. They now know that they can be successful playing Predator hockey. They know that they will be in the hunt for a playoff spot with this kind of effort.

Play like this, and you will hammer some more teams.

My three stars:

1. Marty Erat

2. Anders Lindback

3. Marcel Goc

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rinne Injured, Out 2-4 Weeks

The Nashville Predators announced that starting netminder Pekka Rinne has a knee injury and is being evaluated today by team doctors. He will be out of the lineup an indeterminate amount of time, but according to Rinne's agent, Jay Grossman, he is expected to miss several games.

It is unknown at this time the nature of the injury. Rinne was hurt in the first game of the season in a collision with Anaheim's Troy Bodie and missed the next four games. I do not know if this injury is a recurrance of that injury or a different injury. Rinne last played in the Wednesday night game against Columbus, recording a shootout victory.

Anders Lindback will get the start on Saturday against the Hurricanes. Lindback filled in spectacularly for Rinne earlier this season, going 3-1-1. For the year, Lindback has a 2.78 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
Mark Dekanich has been recalled from the Predators AHL affiliate in Milwaukee to serve as the backup for Lindback. Dekanich is 10-3-3 for the Admirals with a 1.71 GAA and a .941 save percentage.


Rinne experienced pain and swelling in his left knee, the knee that was not injured in the first game with Anaheim. He was evaluated on Thursday and it was decided to give the knee rest and begin rehab. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. At this time surgery is not indicated.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

One of the most contentious debates going on in the lame duck session of Congress is whether to extend the Bush tax cuts that were enacted in 2003 and which will expire at the end of this calendar year. More specifically, should tax cuts be extended to all individuals, regardless of income? The Democrats want to cap the cuts at $200,000 for individuals and $250,000. for families. Their argument is that in these tough economic times, the top 1% of earners should not get a break on their taxes.  "The rich," it is argued, should pay "their fair share". Here is news for the Democrats.  According to the National Taxpayers Union, the top 1% of earners pay 38% of all federal taxes. The top 5% of wage earners pay 58.7% of all taxes. And the Democrats know this. They have always known this fact. This is a straw argument to take the focus from their tired tactic of class warfare and envy. The reality is simply this: the top wage earners in society are not evil; they didn't take money from those less fortunate to achieve their economic status. The top wage earners in our society have taken risks to build businesses and employ others. They have worked incredibly hard over a long period of time to achieve their success. And, as the numbers show, they pay an incredible amount of taxes already. To attempt to take more from them in the guise of "fairness" is disingenuous and ultimately hurts our national economy.

Santa's helpers no longer want to be referred to as "elves". From here on, call them "subordinate clauses".

Remember all the hue and cry over global warming led by (Spotted) Al Gore? The earth is heating up and we are all going to die if we don't change our ways, we were all told. One of the effects of the scare tactics was to divert corn from agricultural uses to the production of ethanol as an additive to gasoline. Most grades of gasoline are now 15% ethanol. Ostensibly, this causes the U.S. to consume less gas and therefore create less greenhouse emissions. Here are two key things that you as a consumer should know about the ethanol subsidies. First, since corn has been diverted from the agricultural stream to the energy stream, food prices have been consistently going up. In 2010, corn hit an all time high on a per bushel price. You and I pay more at the grocery store because there is less corn production from farmers making it to the shelf. Secondly, ethanol reduces the useful life of a car's engine. So the citizens of this country are paying higher food prices and seeing less useful life from our autos because of the forced introduction of ethanol into the energy chain. And Spotted Al? Here is what he said at an energy conference in Europe, "One of the reasons that I made that mistake (originally supporting ethanol subsidies) is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in Iowa because I was going to run for President." So there you have it, friends. The environmental "champion" knowing that he was not voting for what was best for us a nation, but what was best for him politically. Always follow the money- or the votes- when people start telling you the climate is getting out of control.

I caution all of you to be wary about dangerous religious cults. Remember, always practice safe sects.

Congress, at the urging of President Obama, is considering another stimulus bill in an attempt to revive our moribund economy. This is on top of the $814 billion that was spent in 2009. This is typical Keynesian economic thinking, where the government has to jolt the economy with massive amounts of spending to get it moving, and it is a position typically occupied by most in Washington. The only problem with this thinking is that it is wrong. Keynesians (so called because they follow the tenets of famed economist John Maynard Keynes) believe that if the government spends a dollar for, say, a road, then there is a multiplier effect. This simply means that the company that builds the road buys supplies and pays its employees, and those dollars, in turn, get spent in other areas of the economy. This theoretically lifts the entire economy. Keynesians are right, to a degree. A very small degree. According to a detailed statistical study by Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago, the multiplier effect of government spending is non-existant by the second year after the initial stimulus. Studies by the firm of Volker, Weiland, and Tobias Cwik demonstrate that government spending at any level increased economic output by only .2% of GDP. So how do we grow our stagnant economy? Former Obama advisor Christina Romer suggests a tax cut. Her studies show that for every dollar of lower taxes, there is a corresponding $3 in increased output in our economy. So in this debate about how to jump start our economy, the decidedly favorable course of action is to lower the tax burden on the job creators and the producers in society. The corresponding fiscal growth would be outstanding.

Damn right I'm good in bed. I can sleep for days.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Predators Beat Blue Jackets 4-3 in a Shootout

The Nashville Predators journeyed to the Nationwide Arena once again for a divisional tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Unlike their first foray into enemy territory, the Predators effort in this contest was decidedly better than the first meeting with the Jackets. The Predators took the game to a shootout, defeating the Blue Jackets 4-3 behind Pekka Rinne's outstanding goaltending.

The Predators decided that they were going to crash the net and challenge Jackets netminder Steve Mason, something that they did not do in the first meeting. The Predators shot the puck and crashed the net and generally created havoc in front of Mason, making him scramble to make saves and making his life difficult.

Nashville scored first at 17:02 of the first period when Colin Wilson was the beneficiary of a beautiful saucer pass from Cal O'Reilly from behind the net. Wilson was crashing the crease and lifted a shot over the shoulder of Mason to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Anoine Vermette tied the game at 7:11 when the Predators lost defensive zone coverage and allowed Vermette to break in alone on the backside of the coverage. Marty Erat and Shea Weber lost the coverage, and Rinne was rightfully livid with his defense after the score.

Nashville would regain the lead at 16:29 of the second period as Marty Erat found Sergei Kostitsyn braking to the net. He got the pass to SK74 in traffic, and he was able to control the puck and lift it over Mason's shoulder.

Nashville would give up the equalizer at 2:01 of the third period as Kris Russell would get his first goal of the season. That goal would energize the Blue Jackets as their forecheck picked up and created turnovers and put the Predators back on their heels.

The Jackets pressure would pay off as Rick Nash walked in on net and put a shot in on Rinne, who made a great toe save. The puck was caromed off the skate of Colin Wilson, who missed the clear at the side of the net. Antoine Vermette, following the play, tapped the puck into the open net to give the Jackets their first lead of the night.

It was disappointing to once again see the Predators fail to hold a lead in the third period. Having played the previous night, there was concern about how much gas Nashville would have in the tank. More importantly, would this team have the mental toughness to mount a comeback against a tough divisional opponent?

That question was answered at 11:38 of the period as the Predators were crowding the crease and Kevin Klein unleashed a rocket that went low along the ice. Mason never saw the shot until it went into the back of the net. Tie game, question resoundingly answered.

The game remained scoreless for the rest of the third period and the overtime session, but it was not for lack of effort as both Rinne and Mason made some big saves.

Once again, the Predators were going to a shootout, their sixth of the season.

Columbus elected to have Nashville shoot first, and Mason got a piece of Cal O'Reilly's shot. Rinne answered by stopping Jakub Voracek.

Nashville's second shooter, Steve Sullivan absolutely undressed Mason, faking to his backhand and causing Mason to slide completely out of the net. Sully drew the puck back and slid it into the net with a gentle forehand shove.

Rinne stoned Rick Nash and Mason stopped Marty Erat.

With the game on the line, Rinne faced his nemesis tonight, Antoine Vermette. Rinne ate up his shot, and the Predators had the all important second point.

After a four game losing streak, the Predators have now won two in a row.

The tenor of this game was decidedly different than the first contest. Nashville skated better and the forwards were not going to be denied the dirty areas in front of the crease. Two of their three goals came from shots in the hard area, with players paying the price to establish position and challenge Mason.

Kudos to Pekka Rinne. This win was squarely on his shoulders, as he made some outstanding saves. Rinne is a beast in net and is playing with confidence. His game is on, and it gives the Predators an opportunity for victory every night. The three goals that were allowed were goals for which I do not fault Rinne.

The win feels good, but there are still holes in the Predators game that have to be plugged. There are still lapses in the defensive coverage that one would not expect with the D that Nashville puts on the ice. There are still times that the offense disappears.

The win is positive. The mistakes have to be corrected. Take the positives and build on them. You played a very good team tonight and you did what it took to win the game.

Play Predator hockey, and you will see the wins add up.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Antoine Vermette

3. Steve Sullivan