Friday, April 29, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

According to USA Today, more Americans now depend on the the federal government for assistance than at any other time in our nations history, including the Great Depression. 18.3% of the nations total personal income was a payment from the government, whether in the form of Social Security, food stamps, Medicare, unemployment benefits, or other government payments. Earned income accounted for the lowest share of total income- 51%- since the government began tracking the data in 1929. The sharp increase in the transfer of wealth began in earnest in 2008 with the expansion of federal programs and the advent of socialized Medicine in the form of Obamacare. Expect this trend to continue as the population in this country ages and more people are eligible for social security and Medicare. This is the dilemma that leaders in Washington face: exploding social programs for which they have no will to bring under control, and this will be the political battleground for years to come. These numbers point out the fact that as a nation we have to get serious about reforming our social programs to keep them financially viable without confiscating a greater percentage of the income that you and I earn.

Not to brag, but I am good in bed. I can sleep for days.

Prices are going up at the pump, and we all feel the pain when we fill up our cars. President Obama blames the rising prices on speculators. Here is the President's opinion on what is happening,

"The problem is...speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there is a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt the oil supply, so we are going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes prices significantly."

Oh, really? Here is a reality based alternative that the President might want to consider. Since he has assumed office, our country has embarked on a systematic weakening of our dollar through printing gobs of new dollars through quantitative easing. Not to mention that we have added $4 trillion dollars in new debt over the past two years. All have served to have the effect of making our dollar worth less. And a weaker- cheaper- dollar manifests itself in higher prices for everything we buy. Higher gas prices caused by speculation? I think if we want to find the real cause of higher gas prices, we look no further than our inept and dangerous monetary policy in this country.

My wife wanted me to take her somewhere expensive, so I took her to the gas station.

Forest Laboratories is a $4 billion pharmaceutical company that derives a large portion of its revenue from the sales of Celexa and Lexapro, both anti-depressants. The federal government brought a lawsuit against the company for improper marketing of Celexa as a treatment for children and adolescents  before final approval for this use was given by the Food and Drug Administration. The company settled with the FDA and agreed to pay a $13 million fine. One would think this would be the end of the case, but with the current administration, that is not so. The Department of Health and Human Services has notified Forrest Labs that it can no longer do business with the federal government unless the company removes its CEO. Failure to do so would mean that Forrest Labs could no longer sell its drugs to the Veterans Administration, Medicare, and Medicaid. Barring the company from these sales would be a death blow. This move shows how far the federal government is willing to reach into the affairs of a private business for which it has a conflict. To say that this will have a chilling effect on any company that does business with the federal government is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. Imagine if the CEO of a company that does business with the government is a large donor to the Republican party or to conservative causes and runs afoul of the myriad laws and regulations that come with interacting with the government. This move is indicative of a government that will go to any extreme to insert itself into the inner workings of a legitimate business, and this climate will not be good for business in this country.

In my experience, I have found that the number of people that are paying attention to you is directly proportional to the stupidity of my actions.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nashville Drops Game 1 to the Canucks 1-0

The Nashville Predators dropped a 1-0 game one decision to the Vancouver Canucks in a game that saw the Predators play some of their worst hockey in the playoffs. Sure, the score was only 1-0, but without the amazing play of Pekka Rinne, the score could have been embarrassing. By contrast, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo was rarely challenged by the Predators offensive effort.

This is the second round of the playoffs, and the Predators found out quickly that the intensity ramps up markedly in the second round. The Canucks were flying and generating quality chances while the Predators could not muster much in the way of offense. This was evidenced by the fact that the Canucks out shot the Predators by a 16-5 margin in the opening frame.Even more disturbing was the fact that the Predators looked disjointed and out of sync throughout the opening frame.

Fortunately for the Predators, the Finnish Wall, Pekka Rinne, was on his game, swallowing up shots and giving up only one rebound opportunity. The Predators managed to kill off two penalties with the stellar play of Rinne in net, but the fact is that the Canucks had several glorious scoring chances both on the PP and at even strength.

It was going to be imperative that the Predators offense join the party if they were going to have a chance to win this game. Relying strictly on the play of Rinne to keep them in the game was going to be disastrous.

Yet Rinne would keep the Predators in this contest. The Canucks continued to dominate the play in the second period, outshooting the Predators 13-6 and holding a 29-11 margin through the two period of play. Rinne made great save after great save, while the team in front of him lost puck battles and gave up the neutral zone.

The Predators were tempting fate.

That style of play finally came back to bite them at 12:14 of the second as Chris Higgins got loose in the low slot and roofed a shot over a sprawling Rinne. The Predators defense was caught running around and lost Higgins who had an uncontested shot to beat Rinne.

The Predators had been absolutely outplayed through two periods, and fortunately only trailed by one goal. Everything that is Predator hockey- sound defense, aggressive forechecking, and controlling the neutral zone- were completely absent in the first two periods of play. The Predators ere getting outworked in all phases of the game.

With 20 minutes left, the Predators were going to have to show the mental resolve and fortitude to change their fortunes.

The Predators generated more offense and a better compete level in the third period, where they out shot the Canucks 9-4. Mike Fisher and his line was particularly strong. yet the Predators could not get a puck past Luongo. When the Predators created some chances, the Canucks netminder was up to the challenge the Predators presented.

The Predators pulled Rinne for an extra attacker with one minute left, but it was to no avail for their offense, and the clocked ran out with the Predators looking at a 1-0 game and series deficit.

Can there be positives to be taken from this game?

Oh, absolutely.

The Predators were outplayed by the more talented Canucks for 50 minutes in this contest, yet lost by one goal. Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net. The Predators finally decided to play late in the game and showed they could create a lot of problems for the Canucks.

Here are the secrets, boys: the Canucks put their jock straps on just like you do. The game is 60 minutes, not the final 10.

Stop standing around in awe of these guys. You skate just as well as they do. Start hitting. These pretty boys don't like the contact and the gritty game. Amp up your intensity. This is your game, but you have to play your game from the opening faceoff to the final whistle.

Oh yeah, shoot the puck. Make Luongo work. Stop looking for the pretty pass and go get the dirty goals.

You know what all that is, boys?

Predator hockey.

And it is time to start playing that game.

A Look Back at the First Round of the Playoffs and Second Round Predictions

Time to take a look back at the View's fearless first round playoff predictions and see how they stacked up against reality, dear readers, and then look ahead to the second round (predictions can be found in the April 13th blog post). Without further delay, here we go:


Predators vs. Ducks

The Pick:     Nashville in 6

Reality:        Nashville in 6

Vancouver vs. Chicago

The Pick:     Vancouver in 6

Reality:        Vancouver in 7

San Jose vs Los Angeles

The Pick:     San Jose in 7

Reality:        San Jose in 6

Detroit vs Phoenix

The Pick:     Detroit in 7

Reality:        Detroit in 4


Washington vs New York Rangers

The Pick:     Washington in 5

Reality:        Washington in 5

Philadelphia vs Buffalo

The Pick:     Buffalo in 7

Reality:        Philadelphia in 7

Pittsburgh vs Tampa Bay

The Pick:     Tampa Bay in 7

Reality:        Tampa Bay in 7

Boston vs. Montreal

The Pick:     Boston in 6

Reality:        Boston in 7

Proving that blind hogs can occasionally find an acorn, this blind hog went 7-1, a sparkling 88% success rate. In an attempt to prove that I am not a one hit wonder, however, I am going to put my reputation on the line with some insightful second round picks...

okay, ya got me. I'm putting the names in a hat and drawing out my winners. So here we go:


Nashville vs Vancouver

Oh, you know this is a pick that everyone will say is the "homer" pick. Well as this guy might say...

Of course it's a Homer,uh, homer pick, but it is a choice that is grounded in reality. The Predators and the Canuckleheads split their season series 2-2, and the Predators have shown their ability to contain the high flying Cancuklehead offense with their rock solid defense. They will need plenty of that and they will need to see Pekka Rinne take his game up a notch to have a chance. I think they will. One of the key match ups to watch will be Mike Fisher matched against Ryan Kessler. Also critical will be the play of the second defense pairing of Kevin Klein and Jonathan Blum. If the Predators can get outstanding play from these guys, they can win the series. Should Vancouver fall behind in the series, the pressure on the team will be immense, both internally and from their fans. I think they will

My Pick:     Nashville in 6

Detroit vs San Jose

The Winged Wheels were smacked out the playoffs last year by the Sharks, and they would like nothing better than to return the favor this year. The Wings have had a good bit of time off to rest and to hone their game, courtesy of their sweep of the Coyotes, and their hope is the team will get back a relatively healthy Henrik Zetterberg who can contribute to their effort. The Sharks have demonstrated quite capably that when they want to turn it on, they are very difficult to stop. The problem for San Jose has been the consistency of their effort. Antti Niemi has looked great at times in the playoffs, and has at time been very pedestrian. Heck, you can say that about the entire Sharks team. This one is a close call, but I think that playoff experience and the hunger they are going to bring to this matchup will be the deciding factor.

My Pick: Detroit in 7


Washington at Tampa Bay

The Washington Ovechkins against the Tampa Bay Stamcavlouis' should be a pond hockey kind of series. The offensive output of these two teams could overheat the scoreboards in the Phone Booth and the Newspaper Stand. This game, in my view, comes down to the play of Dwayne Roloson and Michael Neuvirth in net, and which one can best withstand the onslaught of vulcanized rubber coming at them. I think that will be the wily veteran Roloson. This means that the Lightning are going to have to put the puck on net and make Neuvirth's life miserable to keep the pressure off Rolie the Goalie. Let Ovechkin and company play in the Lightning end of the ice and it will get ugly.

My Pick:     Tampa Bay in 7

Boston vs Philadelphia

Hide the women, children, and small animals for this one. When these two teams meet for this series, it will be a matter of who can inflict the most punishment on the other and goal scoring just might be a secondary consideration. The fact is that both teams have some quality scorers that can challenge the opposing goaltenders, and therein lies the deciding factor in this series: the netminding. Bahstan will go with Tim Thomas, while Philadelphia will counter with Sergei Bobrovsky... no, wait, Michael Leighton...uh... Bobby Brian Boucher. Hey! You, that guy sitting in Section 104. Wanna play goalie for the Flyers? The unsettled nature of the goaltending situation in Philadelphia does not lend itself to a confident group that will take the ice. But, you will say, the Flyers beat Buffalo. yes, but that was getting to be an AHL team by the end of that series because of all their injuries, and the Sabres took the Fly Boys to 7 games. This will come back to bite the Flyers in this series.

My Pick:     Boston in 7

There you have, friends. We will see if this blind hog can find another acorn in the second round.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Predators-Canucks Second Round Preview

The Nashville Predators are about to embark into uncharted territory as they prepare to meet the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Predators won their first round series against the Anaheim Ducks by a 4-2 count and have been off since Easter Sunday. The Canucks were taken to overtime of the seventh game of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks before winning 2-1.

The Canucks were the President's Trophy winner, with 54 victories and 117 points, and occupied the number one seed in the Western Conference for much of the season. By contrast, the Predators were unsure of their final seed until the last day of the season, where a final game loss dropped them to the fifth seed with 44 victories and 99 points. The Predators spent all of the latter part of the season first fighting for a playoff spot and then for the highest seeding they could obtain.

The Canucks boast Daniel Sedin, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader. D. Sedin had 104 points (41G-63A) in the regular season.

The Predators leading scorer? Both Marty Erat (17G-33A) and Sergei Kostitsyn (23G-27A) had 50 points.

Quite a contrast between the teams, eh?

So how are the Predators going to continue to make history and vanquish the Cancukleheads?

Here are the keys to this series for the Predators:

Make Bobby Feel Like A Lu-ser

When the Canucks jumped out to a 3-0 series lead over the Blackhawks, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo looked completely in control of his game. He was tracking the puck well, was positionally sound, and was making stops without giving up rebounds. By the start of Game 7, Bobby Lu had more nervous tics than a drawer full of cheap watches and was revealed to be of Italian heritage because he was "fra-gil-e". The Predators need to implement their version of shock and awe and turn Bobby Lu into a quivering mass of luserliciousness. How? Shoot the puck. Early, often, and from all angles. Make Bobby luse his confidence. Make him see Predators crashing his crease even in his dreams. The Predators play the type of game that can make Bobby luse his his sanity: gritty, drivng to the net with lots of traffic hockey. They are going to have to do that all series.

Know This Guy Is Not On Your Roster

Which guy? This one:

He is the 800 pound gorilla that was sitting on the bench with "Never Won A Playoff Series" on the back of his jersey. This team has moved into new territory with their series win over the Ducks. It is time for the Predators to play relaxed but focused hockey. The Predators need to play Predator hockey- tough defense; outstanding goaltending; and opportunistic offense. The onus of never winning a series has been vanquished, and the feeling has got to great for the Predators. They cannot rest on the series win against the Ducks, and I don't think they will. They cannot, however, grip their sticks too tightly and play in awe of the Canucks. Play your game, boys, and this series is yours for the taking.

Make Them Cough Up A Hairball, uh, Puck

Predator fans know that former Predator defenseman Dan Hamhuis can be counted on to cough up the puck in his own zone at least once a game. The Predators forecheck is going to have to pressure the Canucks D all series. Their speed and aggression should create numerous turnovers. Do this and capitalize on those mistakes and Luongo will turn into a wide-eyed, shell shocked goalie.

3 And 4 Have to Score

The Predators got excellent all around play and scoring from their third and fourth lines in the Ducks series. This has to continue for the Predators to be victorious against the Canucks. The play of Jordin Tootoo, Nick Spaling, and Steve Sullivan was a difference maker against the Ducks, and it will have to be again the Canucks. In particular, the line of Sullivan, Blake Geoffrion, and J.P. Dumont on the fourth line presented serious match up problems for the Ducks. I expect the return of Marty Erat will move Matt Halischuk down to the fourth line, and this line needs to effectively use their speed and skill against the Canucks third D pair. If the third and fourth lines can continue to contribute, this will bode well for the Predators chances.

Remember, They Are Eh-Holes

The expectations of the Canucks by their fans are that they will bring the Cup back to their barn. Pressure? Out the roof. Jump on the Canucks early and often, and their crowd will turn against them. The Canucks have been built up as the best hope in years to bring the Cup back to Canada, and that expectation sits on their shoulders like, well, this guy:

Nice to see him sitting on the other team's bench, eh? Exploit the pressure the Canucks feel as a team and the expectations that the fans have placed on them. Play your game with a sense of joy and with a sense of purpose. The Canucks are playing with a weight that the Predators do not have, and this is to the Predators advantage. Make the pressure palpable. Make this big guy take up more space on the bench. As he starts to take up more space, the advantage is yours. Get early leads in the game, get an early series lead, and the Canucks will not see him on their bench. He will be on their backs.

 Make The Fail Whale Real

The talented Rachel Addison created this logo, a variant of the Twitter "Fail Whale":

The Predators have to create doubt in the minds of the Canucks. Do this by playing tough hockey and scoring early and often against the Canucks. Shut down the high flying Vancouver offensive machine and frustrate them. That doubt and frustration will spawn an oppressive Orca that will work against the Canucks throughout the series. And when this happens, this series will swing to the Predators.

There you have it. The keys to a Predators series victory against the Canucks. You have made history this season, boys, by getting to the second round.

Time to make some more history.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Predators Down the Ducks 4-2, Take the Series 4-2

If the Nashville Predators were going to defeat the Anaheim Ducks, they were going to have to get scoring from their bottom 6 forwards, stay out of the box, and play very strong defense in front of Pekka Rinne in their game 6 match up at Bridgestone Arena.

Mission accomplished.

The Predators defeated the Ducks 4-2 to capture their first round series by a similar margin of 4-2 and in the process the Predators captured their first ever Stanley Cup playoff series.

The understatement of the year would be to say that this was a huge step for this franchise.

More times than I care to recount, the denizens of Smashville have watched their heroes skate off the ice after a game 6 clinching victory for the opposition. The disappointment and frustration were palpable.

Not tonight.

Everyone knew that the Ducks were going to come out with a sense of desperation as they were attempting to stave off elimination. It was going to be imperative that the Predators match their intensity and control the play, especially early on in the contest.

The Predators did a great job of thwarting the pressure of the Ducks in the first period as they limited the Ducks to just 4 shots. However, one of those shot was an amazing goal by Teemu Selanne as he found the tiniest of openings between Rinne and the post to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead at 10:22 of the first period.

I want to say that Selanne is just flat out unbelievable. His play was outstanding throughout the series and he did not engage in the cheap shots and extra-curricular activity that so many of the Ducks chose to do. His play almost single handedly carried the Ducks to victory in the series as he tallied 6 goals.

The Selanne goal was an "uh-oh" moment for the Predators. No team in this series had won two consecutive games, and his goal put the Smashville faithful in a state of high anxiety.

That tension was relieved at 19:32 f the first period as Nick Spaling tied the game as he buried the puck off a rebound of a Jordin Tootoo shot past Ray Emery. All along, the Predators knew they were going to have to get scoring from their bottom six forwards to have a chance in this series, and time and again, they came up big time.

Thank you, Mr. Spaling.

The Predators would take a 2-1 lead at 3:29 of the second period as Steve Sullivan absolutely undressed Emery with a nice forehand to backhand move. Sullivan was playing on the fourth line with Blake Geoffrion and J.P. Dumont, but that did not mean this line wasn't a threat. Sullivan used his speed to create the opportnity and his wiles to fake out Emery. A veteran move and a big time goal for the Predators.

The Ducks weren't going to go away quietly, however. Jason Blake tallied a power play marker at 18:23 of the second to tie the game heading into the third period.

Once again, the potent Ducks power play had torched the Predators. In this series, it was apparent that the Ducks could not beat the Predators 5 on 5, and it was going to be incumbent on the Predators to stay out of the box to have a chance to close out this series. A transgression by J.P. Dumont for tripping had allowed the Ducks to get back in the contest, and it set up a tense third period.

A period where heart and character would shine through. A period where the team with the biggest heart and strongest character would emerge victorious.

That team would be the Predators.

The Predators appeared to have taken a 3-2 lead as Patric Hornqvist tipped the puck past Emery early in the third period. However, the goal was waved off as it was deemed that Hornqvist had played the puck with a high stick.

Deflating? Yes. Defeating? No.

Nick Spaling would strike again at 4:23 of the third period off an assist from Pekka Rinne and Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo took a pass from Rinne and put the puck on net. Spaling was right where he should have been, crashing the net. Spaling gathered in the rebound from Rinne and potted his second marker of the game to give the Predators a 3-2 lead.

Once again, the play was created by the hustle and the shot of Tootoo. He was very solid in this series and played the best hockey that he has played since donning a Predators sweater. One could argue that he was the difference maker in this series.

The Predators did a good job in the bulk of the period keeping the Ducks to the outside and not allowing prime scoring chances. Rinne made several good saves to hold the Ducks off the board, and the offense continued to press the Ducks.

As the period wore on, one could see the frustration, desperation, and fatigue hit the Ducks. You knew that the overtime loss in Anaheim on Friday had to weigh mentally on the Ducks, and it showed in their play.

With the 7th Man in full throat, exhorting their team on to victory, the Predators caught a break as Saku Koivu was called for interference at 19:22. With the net empty for an extra attacker, David Legwand buried an empty netter at 19:50 to give the Predators a 4-2 victory.

The demons for this franchise had been exorcised! The 8000 pound gorilla of never winning a first round series was gone! The Predators were now advancing to the second round and this franchise had made a huge- HUGE- step forward.

The Predators survived the cheap shots that the Ducks threw at them all throughout the series. The dirty play of the Ducks was uncalled for and off the chart. Yet this team persevered and fought through the adversity of losing one of their top scorers to a blatant head shot. They were able to win this series without a "star" but with a team concept that would not be daunted and refused to yield in the face of the talent and thuggery of the Ducks.

Congratulations to head Coach Barry Trotz. Trotzy has nursed this franchise through its infancy and growth pains to this point. This team is a reflection of his steady hand and determination.

The Predators await their second round opponent, which will be determined by the outcome of the Chicago/Vancouver series, which is going to a 7th game. Now is the time to heal and get ready for another war.

Savor the win, boys. Congratulations! You deserve the kudos and the adulation of Smashville.

This is the first step. A big step. A monumental achievement for this franchise.

You can't rest on your laurels, however.

There are new steps to take.

My three stars:

1. Nick Spaling

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Teemu Selanne

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Predators Take a 3-2 Series Lead with an Amazing 4-3 OT Victory Over the Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks scored what will arguably be the prettiest goal of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Nashville Predators, however, scored the gritty goals, the heart goals to defeat the Anaheim Ducks in overtime 4-3. With this win, the Predators have now taken a 3-2 series lead for the first time in the history of the franchise, and have a chance to close out the Ducks on Sunday in Bridegestone Arena.

This was not an easy game for the Predators. Randy Carlyle in game 4 sent career goon Jarkko Ruutu to take out one of the Predators leading scorers in the regular season and in the playoffs in Marty Erat. Erat missed game 5 and will probably miss the rest of the first round because of a hit to his head for which Ruutu received a one game suspension. This play embodies all that is wrong with hockey and the lack of class in the Ducks organization. An Oil can- a goon with little value to a team takes out a star for their opponent. Congratulations, Randy Carlyle. You are a classless piece of work.

In spite of that adversity, the Predators were determined to make a game of it at the Honda Center. The Predators have never won a first round game five in the history of this franchise. Would this trend change?

Would history be made?

The game opened well for the Predators as Jordin Tootoo made a spectacular assist to Kevin Klein, who was driving the net from his defensive position. Tootoo got leverage on the Ducks defender and got the angle to slip a pass to Klein. Klein was breaking in all alone, and made not mistake in burying the shot to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 8:32 of the first period. Klein abused Ray Emery, who does not have the speed to come across the crease,

There was no more scoring in the first period, but not for lack of effort. Both Emery in net for the Ducks and Pekka Rinne for the Predators had to make some great saves to keep the other team off the board.

The Dirty Ducks would tie the game at 13:39 of the second period as Jason Blake would power home a a power play goal. Jonathan Blum played the puck at the front of the net instead of the man and it allowed Blake to get several jabs a the puck after the initial save by Rinne. Blake finally manged to poke the puck under Rinne to tie the game at 1.

There was no further scoring in the period, but this only set the stage for an exciting and dramatic third period.

The Dirty Ducks opened the scoring just 40 seconds into the third period as David Legwand was guilty of a lazy pass and then was abused by Stompy McStomperson Bobby Ryan. Stompin Bobby stole the lazy lateral pass and avoided the back check from Legwand and beat Rinne high glove side to give the classless Capons a 2-1 lead.

Joel Ward tied the game at 11:20 with a nice snap shot that beat Emery. Ward got open in the slot and fired the puck to the back of the net to tie the game on a shot that Emery could not have stopped if he wanted to. Heart was beginning to show itself.

Heart was going to have some work to do, however, as Jason Blake would tally his second goal from the slot as the Teemu Selanne found Blake in the slot and he beat Rinne again to his glove side at 14:16.

Clock running down and a one goal deficit on hostile ice. Doesn't look good for the good guys, does it?

This was a matter of heart, however, and the Predators have that in abundance.

Tick, tick, tick.... the clock melting away and a band of thugs looking as if they would take a 3-2 series lead.

That would change with just 35 seconds remaining in the contest as a warrior would step to the fore. Shea Weber would get a shot through traffic and tie the game at 3. The final seconds would melt off the clock and the Predators would play their third overtime in the last 5 first round series.

Would they get their first win?

That question was answered just 1:57 into the bonus period as Jerred Smithson would notch his first playoff goal. Smithson would beat Emery off a nice assist from Jordin Tootoo, his second of the game, and all of a sudden the Predators had entered uncharted territory with their third win in a first round series.

How fitting that a solid citizen, a blue collar plugger who kills penalties and is solid in the defensive zone would score the game winner? Class has won out over flash and thuggery in this contest.

I have contended that for the Predators to advance into the second round and beyond, they would need scoring from the third and fourth lines. Tonight, they got that.

Tonight, class won out.

One more, boys. One more win for class over the goons from Anaheim.

Sunday in Nashville.

Hell awaits the classless thugs from Anaheim.

My three stars:

1. Jerred Smithson

2. Jordin Tootoo

3. Jason Blake

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rinne, Thomas, and Luongo Named Vezina Finalists

Nashville's Pekka Rinne was named as a finalist for the NHL's Vezina Trophy. Here is the press release from the League office:

NEW YORK (April 22, 2011) -- Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins are the three finalists for the 2010-11 Vezina Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position,” the National Hockey League announced today.

      The general managers of the 30 NHL clubs submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2011 NHL Awards from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas. The 2011 NHL Awards will be broadcast by VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.

      Following are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

      Luongo backstopped the Canucks to their finest regular season in franchise history, capturing the Presidents' Trophy for best record and posting the lowest team goals-against average (2.20). Luongo went 38-15-7 in 60 appearances, registering the best goals-against average in his 11-year NHL career (2.11) and his top save percentage since joining the Canucks in 2006-07 (.928). He tied for the League lead in victories, ranked second in goals-against average and fourth in save percentage. Luongo is a Vezina finalist for the third time, having finished third in the voting in 2004 and second in 2007.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

      Rinne played a critical role in securing the Predators' sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons by registering career-best totals in all major categories, going 33-22-9 with a 2.12 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and six shutouts in 64 games. He ranked second among NHL goaltenders in save percentage and placed third in goals-against average.

Beginning with a 4-1 win at Minnesota on New Year's Eve, the first-time Vezina Trophy finalist started 42 of the Predators' final 46 games, allowing two goals or fewer 28 times. He posted 25 wins in that span, second in the League behind San Jose's Antti Niemi (27).

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

      Thomas enjoyed a record-setting bounceback season after undergoing off-season hip surgery. He won his first eight decisions, which broke a club record set by Tiny Thompson in 1937-38, and won his first nine road games -- becoming the first NHL goaltender to do so since Chicago's Glenn Hall in 1965-66. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner finished the season with a 35-11-9 record and .938 save percentage, eclipsing Dominik Hasek's .937 with Buffalo in 1998-99 as the best since the statistic was introduced in 1976-77. Thomas also led all goaltenders in goals-against average (2.00) and ranked second in shutouts (nine).


      Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich, former owners of the Montreal Canadiens, presented the trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina, the outstanding Canadiens goaltender who collapsed during an NHL game on Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later. Until the 1981-82 season, the goaltender (s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season were awarded the Vezina Trophy.

My View

Those that are inclined to get up before the first light of day to await the sunrise must wait in the darkness for the beauty that is to come.

So it is with life.

Often, the darkness of life precedes the beauty. We all pass through those periods of darkness, some brief, some extended. The loss of a job, the breakup of a family, illness, and death create those moments of ebony blackness that cause us to wonder if the light will ever penetrate lives and shine again.

And no one is immune.

In the darkest moments of life, the message of Easter is that the light will shine once again. The world has been told that with the Son rise, the dark has been defeated and that the Light shines through. It is a word of hope, a glimpse of what can and will be.

One has to wait in the dark to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise. That is by choice. Life foists its dark moments on us; most do not have a choice. In that darkness, we long for the light.

And when that Light appears, its beauty is overwhelming. Hope is restored. Peace is delivered.

On this Easter, may each of you know that the Light is there. May each of you see its beauty and have your spirit refreshed.

And may you know that the darkness has not won.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ducks Cheap Shot Their Way to a 6-3 Win, Even Series at 2

The Anaheim Waterfoul blew open a 3-3 tie in the third period en route to a 6-3 victory in the Bridgestone Arena to even the series at 2-2.

The down and dirty, besides the play of the Ducks, was that the Predators absolutely fell apart in the third period. Not much to say about it except the play of the Predators was lacking. They fought back all night to tie the game on several occasions only to see their best efforts fall short the third.

Randy Carlyle sent Jarkko Ruutu out to target Marty Erat, and he was successful. Ruutu delivered a blow to Erat's head and knocked one of the Predators offensive weapons out of the game. Ruutu received a two minute minor for roughing, but my suggestion is instead of suspending Ruutu, the league should suspend the POS coach of the Ducks.

Think I'm over stating the case. Ruutu played 5:41 in the game, yet he was able to take out one of the Predators leading offensive threats. Class act that Carlyle is, wouldn't you say?

The Predators failed to capitalize on their series advantage, and now have lost one of their top players for an indeterminate amount of time. This team had dealt with adversity all season, and this is another hill to climb. I will say that the respect and esteem of Carlyle and the Ducks is completely gone. They are a classless bunch of players coached by a classless piece of sh*t.

So be it.

It's time for the Predators to strike back. They have played the game the way it should be played; the Ducks have thugged it up from the word go. If you want to play that way, boys, then Selanne, Perry, Getzlaf, and others should be looking over their shoulder in the next game.

The Ducks are a classless and cheap organization. Their Head Coach perpetuates the thuggishness. Their General Manager is a whiner. These are all just distractions.

Time to get your mojo back boys. Go to Anaheim and take care of business. Then the Ducks have to come back to our barn.

Know this, Carlyle, and your classless bunch of goons.

Hell awaits

An Interview with Ducks GM Bob Murray

The GM of the Anaheim Waterfoul, uh, Ducks, Bill Bob Murray accused the Nashville Predators of diving in the first three games of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in order to get calls from the officials.

I caught up with Murray for this exclusive interview at the Centennial Sports Complex, where the Ducks were practicing, to ask him to elaborate on his comments.

"What can you say about the Predators? They are dropping like the U.S. dollar," said Murray. "I mean, look at these guys, going down after a slew foot or a shot to their nether regions. Ridiculous!" screamed Murray.

When I asked Murray about the fact that his team is one of the most penalized in the NHL, his spittle flecked response was, "Penalties my ass! These are just hockey plays! I mean, jabbing a goalie in the nuts after the period is over is just part of hockey. He was wearing a cup, for goodness sakes."

Murray went on to say, "I have told our players to start diving as well, maybe we can draw some penalties to even things out. The officials just don't seem to understand that we can't beat the Predators at even strength. We need the man advantage."

"That big guy we have on the team... Randy, What's the big guy's name... Gallagher? Parros? Whatever. He can't hit anyone from behind or use his elbows without a penalty being called. Might as well put a dress on all of them."

At that point, Coach Carlyle scurried over and told Murray that being located in southern California, that whole "putting on the dress thing" might not be such a good idea.

Murray said the Ducks were just misunderstood by the officials. In fact, he said Head Coach Randy Carlyle, along with assistants Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer, were preparing the Ducks for game 4 by having them spend time off the ice working on their boxing and street fighting techniques. "Just the usual stuff," he said. "It helps to keep our game sharp."

I started to bring up the incident with Bobby Ryan, but before I could ask a question, Murray stomped on my foot and told me the interview was over. He did let me snap a picture before he left, though.

*this was not a real interview with Bob Murray. It could have been on with Bill Murray, however.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Predators Outlast the Ducks 4-3, Take 2-1 Series Lead

The Anaheim Ducks ventured into Bridgestone Arena and found out that the fans in Nashville aren't granola eating, patchouli wearing, tie dyed types as the raucous sellout crowd willed the Predators to victory over the Ducks by a 4-3 margin. Frankly, the game was much closer than it should have been as the Predators dominated the Ducks in all phases of the game.

With the win, the Predators now have a 2-1 lead in the series.

It is apparent that the Ducks need the power play to generate their offense. Five on five, the Ducks have been quashed by the Predators. Should the Predators decide to stop taking stupid penalties- I'm talking to you Shane O'Brien- this series could be over quickly.

Ray Emery got the start for the Ducks, and he was outstanding early on, making some big saves to keep the Predators off the board. Pekka Rinne, on the other hand, had plenty of time to listen to his I-Pod and relax as the the Predators only allowed 10 shots through two periods. Although Rinne didn't get a tremendous amount of work- the Ducks only mustered 16 shots total for the game- he was still challenged and was called upon to make some big saves for the Predators.

The Predators fired 37 shots on Emery.

The Ducks were without Stompy McStomperson Stompin' Bobby Ryan, who is serving a two game suspension for an egregious stomp with his skate on the foot of Jonathan Blum in game two.

The Predators opened the game with good pressure in the offensive zone and a stifling defense that throttled the Ducks. As good as the pressure was by the Predators, they could not get a puck past Ray Emery, who was solid and made some good saves to thwart the Predators.

That would change in a 38 second span of the first period.Marty Erat would lift a puck over the shoulder of Emery at the 15:00 mark while the Predators were on the power play. Erat tallied with just 8 seconds left on the man advantage as he took a pass from Cody Franson and was able to beat Emery with the high shot.

On the next shift, Jordin Tootoo would drive hard to the net and bang a shot off the post. Tootoo followed his shot and backhanded the puck into the net to give the Predators a 2-0 advantage.

The Predators would continue their domination of the Ducks in the second period, creating some good scoring chances but unable to pot the nest goal. While the Predators looked in control of the game, one knew that the Ducks would assert themselves at some point in the contest.

That would occur with just under two minutes left in the second period. The Predators took an ill-advised penalty for elbowing- I'm looking at you Shane O'Brien- and the Ducks made them pay. Teemu Selanne was the beneficiary of a nice cross ice pass from Corey Perry to beat Rinne to make the score 2-1 at 18:10.

Selanne would strike again just 30 seconds later as he tallied an even strength goal off an assist from Perry. This was just the Ducks 4th even strength goal in the series, and we were knotted at 2-2 going into the third period.

The third period would see the Predators take a 3-2 lead on a goal by David Legwand, his first of the playoffs.Legwand's tally came at 5:25 of the third period off an assist from Ryan Suter.

Anaheim tied the game at 6:48 of the third as Saku Koivu launched a shot from the point. The puck hit a falling Matt Blelesky and caromed off the skate of Cody Franson and past Rinne to tie the game at 3. At best, this was a fluke goal, but a goal nevertheless.

The Predators would take a 4-3 lead as Mike Fisher nailed the game winner off a beautiful pass from Sergei Kostitsyn at 10:21 of the third. Kostitsyn had the puck outside the faceoff circle and spied Fisher driving the net. He rifled a nifty backhand pass to Fisher who beat Emery for the game winner.

The final 10:21 of the contest saw the Predators defense choke the life out the Ducks, as they mustered only three shots on goal in the remainder of the contest. Saku Koivu was called for a hooking penalty at 17:10, effectively limiting the chances of the Ducks to get Emery off the ice for the extra attacker.

As this series unfolds, the Predators have shown that they can absolutely dominate the Ducks five on five. The key for the Predators is to stay out of the box, as the Ducks are dangerous and have made the Predators pay for their crimes.

I'm talking to you, Shane O'Brien.

It was good to see the third and fourth lines have such a strong game. Jordin Tootoo has been very strong in this series, and it was good to see him rewarded with a goal tonight. The Predators are going to have to continue to have strong play out of these lines in this series.

The acquisition of Mike Fisher looks better and better. Fisher now has 3 goals in this series, has been solid on defense, and tonight continued to frustrate Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf got so frustrated, he dropped the gloves with Fisher, who got in some very good shots before the linesmen stepped in to separate them.

The Predators are going to have to play another strong game in the fourth game. I expect another push back from the Ducks. If the Predators play their game, it won't matter. They are better than the Ducks.

This win feels good. You got to get two more in this series, boys.

Continue to take care of business. Continue to play the strong game that you are playing. Continue to frustrate the Ducks and this series is yours.

Oh yeah, stay out of the box.

The Ducks can't score otherwise.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Teemu Selanne

3. Jordin Tootoo

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Predators Hand the Ducks a 5-3 Victory

The Nashville Predators handed the second game of their Stanley Cup Series to the Anaheim Ducks by a margin of 5-3 to even their series at one. The Predators gave up a 5 on 3 power play as well as a power play goal and a goal one second after a power play had expired .

Nashville would open with their stalwart, Pekka Rinne, in net, while the Ducks would counter with a new netminder, Ray Emery.

The Predators opened the game in the worst possible way as Marty Erat was called for a ticky tack slashing call and that was subsequently followed up by a stupid slash by Shane O'Brien. Corey Perry tallied on the 5 on 3 advantage at  5:24. Jonathan Blum failed to clear a puck on a bad bounce and Teemu Selanne capitalized with the Predators still a man down to quickly make it  2-0 Ducks. Rinne had no chance on either of the Ducks goals, and for a while it appeared as if the Ducks were only going to be able to get a puck past him on the power play.

The Predators scored to make it 2-1 on a shot from Shea Weber, but the goal was waived off on a very close goaltender interference call against David Legwand.

As the period ended, the Predators were going to skate off the ice knowing they had not played a solid period of hockey. Now the test for the Predators was to going to be their ability to regroup and keep the game from getting out of hand.

The Predators brought the deficit to 1 with a goal on the power play from Shea Weber. The Predators did a good job o f getting the puck on net with traffic and that effort was enough to get the puck past Emery.

With the Predators threatening to seize momentum, the Ducks quickly swung Mo back their way when Bobby Ryan got behind the defense and beat Rinne with a follow up shot after a pad save at 7:12 of the second to make it 3-1.

The Ducks extended the lead to 4-1 as Ryan Getzlaf scored an even strength goal at 15:54. Game over, right?

The third period would prove that the Predators were not out of the game. Patric Hornqvist scored while doing the tough work in front of the net at 1:30 of the period. Hornqvist gathered in a rebound of of a Shea Weber shot and potted the goal to make it 4-2 Ducks.

Early in the period, Marty Erat was butt ended by Sheldon Brookbank and lost four teeth. Was there a call on the play? C'mon, this is the Ducks. This is their modus operendi. There was no call. Kudos to Erat for not missing a shift.

Joel Ward brought the Predators to within 1 at 4-3 with a shot from the slot that beat Emery at 10:17 of the third.

The Predators battled and generated some good scoring chances, but could not get another puck past Emery. Bobby Ryan sealed the win with an empty net goal.

As for the aforementioned Mr. Ryan. he was the perpetrator of a stomp on the top of the foot of Jonathan Blum in a scrum along the boards. The stomp was clearly caught on camera, and late word is that the NHL is going to review the play for supplemental discipline.

The Predators handed this game to the Ducks. Keep this factoid in mind: the Ducks have scored 6 goals; only 2 have been at even strength.

I don't think the Ducks can beat the Predators 5 on 5. So what does this mean? Simply put, the Predators have to stay out of the box. Stop taking stupid penalties and go back to simple Predator hockey: shoot the puck, crash the net, and make life miserable for Emery, Ellis, or whomever the Ducks drag out of the stands to play net.

I hope the boys learned from this tonight. Learn that you can't take stupid penalties; learn that you are going to have to amp up your intensity; and learn that you are better than the Ducks at even strength.

The Predators were not going to sweep the Ducks. They can beat them.

If you don't hand them the game.

My three stars:

1. Bobby Ryan

2. Shea Weber

3. Patric Hornqvist

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Remember Major Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood Army officer turned terrorist, who shot up the base 15 months ago? Do you recall how his trial turned out? You don't? You shouldn't feel badly, because that trial hasn't happened yet. The fact that Hasan was caught on camera and numerous eye witness accounts of the attack are on file, the trial has not started. Why is that, you ask? Hasan's lawyer, John Galligan, has requested another delay in the start of the trial until later this month. According to Galligan, it is because the White House, through the Justice Department will not disclose the evidence they have so that the defense can make proper preparations for the trial. The disclosure of evidence is a normal pre-trial procedure, so to delay releasing evidence to the defense attorney is to, in effect, delay Hasan from facing justice. This action defies rational thought, and the willful delay in bringing justice to a terrorist by this administration is despicable. In effect, the Obama administration is practicing a de facto Sharia law, which does not allow any insult to Islam. Bring this murderer, this terrorist, into the justice system and let it be meted out fairly and swiftly. To do anything less desecrates the loss of life of the soldiers killed at Ft. Hood.

Marriage means commitment. So does insanity. Coincidence?

There is no secret that the wealth that all Americans hold is an obsession of the left. Well, that is, except for their own, but that's another story. We can hear the shrill mantra of the Democrats and those on the far Left saying "the rich must pay their fair share" and you know that is code for "we want to tax the hell out them". Unfortunately for all of the productively employed people in the United States, we are all becoming "the rich" and our taxes are destined to go up. Substantially. I want to do a little exercise here to get you ready for the next time Pelosi or some liberal wag screeches the tax the rich meme. According to the IRS, in 2004 (the last year for which this data was compiled) there were 2.7 million adults in the U.S. with a net worth of more than $1.5 million- a total in that group of $10.2 trillion in assets. Let's say the government decided that no one could have a net worth over the aforementioned $1.5 million, and confiscated all the wealth above that level. That would give the government a one time windfall of $6.1 trillion to be applied against our exiting debt of $14.5 trillion. You can see that taxing the rich is not going to pay off the deficit, even if the government takes everything they have. And you and I both know that the rich will not sit by and let the government just take their assets. They create intricate and legal schemes to keep their assets away from the tax man. So, in this debate, why don't we think about this? The Democrats, rather than take a position that wealth should be confiscated and redistributed, should work to create an environment where there are way more than $2.7 million people with a net worth higher than $1.5 million dollars. Create that type of environment, tax that growing number of "rich" fairly, and see what happens in the economy.

"Antique"- an old Latin word that means "second hand".

Here is the truth about the current tax situation in our country right now: the top 1% of earners pay 40% of all the taxes collected at the federal level. The bottom 50% of earners in this country pay less than 3%. Stunningly, 47% of Americans pay no tax at all. Let me say that again: 47% of Americans pay no taxes at all. This is according to the Heritage Foundation. Good people, when you get nearly 50% of Americans not paying any taxes, this country is in peril, because once that number reaches 50.1%, we are on the road to unabated taxes, spending, and redistribution of wealth. Now you see why the fight to cut spending and restructure social programs to make them financially viable is so vicious. Now you see why the rhetoric coming from the Left is so vitriolic. Those Americans that pay little or no tax are their base, and the thought of raising taxes on their supporters is anathema to the Democrats in Washington. This is the backstory to the gridlock and the inability to craft viable solutions to what is becoming a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions. As you file your tax return on Monday, think about those numbers that I just mentioned. Realize that 53% of the wage earners are footing the bill for all the operations of the federal government, and especially recall this fact when you hear a politician lie about making the "rich" pay their fair share.

If there is a camp for kids with ADHD to help them learn to pay attention, would it be called a "concentration" camp?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Predators Paste the Ducks 4-1

The Predators opened their Stanley Cup match up with the Anaheim Ducks in the hostile confines of the Honda Center. The Predators made themselves right at home in the Ducks nest with a 4-1 victory.

It was obvious that the Ducks were going to try to exert their physical will against the Predators. The Ducks finished their checks with vigor, but the Predators answered with some thunderous checks of their own. As the period wore on, the Predators gave a solid physical response to the Ducks, showing that the physical play would not back them down.

The Ducks over aggressive play led to a cross checking penalty by Matt Belesky against Kevin Klein. The Predators made the Ducks pay for their transgression with the first goal of the playoff series with a blast from Shea Weber from the point that blew past Dan Ellis at 4:13 of the first period.

Pekka Rinne was called upon to make some big saves for the Predators, and the most amazing was a right pad save on Teemu Selanne. Selanne took a cross crease pass and had an open net, but Rinne was cat quick in sliding across and getting the pad on the shot.

The Predators were determined to put pucks and traffic on the net and did that often in the first period. Dan Ellis made some good stops with an abundance of traffic in front of him.

The second period was like a heavyweight fight with both teams trading checks and probing for the others weakness. Play was intense and up and down the ice. As the period wore on, the pace slowed a bit, but the Predators kept up a strong forecheck that bottled up the Ducks offense. When the Ducks did establish their offense, Rinne was strong in net.

The Predators finally cracked the Ducks defense when Cody Franson chipped the puck off the glass to the far blue line. Steve Sullivan gathered in the puck and broke in alone on Ellis, who stopped the first shot sprawling to the ice. Sullivan did not give up on the puck and was able to get his stick on the rebound lying in the blue ice and tap it under the pads of the prone Ellis at 15:16.

The Predators kept the pressure on the Ducks and capitalized at 18:08 when Mike Fisher  took a pass from Patric Hornqvist and blistered a shot over the shoulder of Ellis from the left face off circle.

The Predators outshot the Ducks for the period 14-8 and held a 22-16 advantage through two periods. So far, the defense had done a great job of shutting down the weapons of the Ducks.

You knew the Ducks would come out flying in the third as they attempted to get back in the game. Mike Fisher thwarted that momentum and ripped the heart out of the Ducks with his second goal of the game just 56 seconds into the period off an assist from Jonathan Blum. Fisher split the defense and rifled a shot from just inside the blueline that handcuffed Ellis for a 4-1 Predators lead and Fisher's second of the game.

The fourth goal by the Predators was a Dan Ellis problem, as he was pulled and Ray Emery came into the game.

The Ducks reverted to their thuggish ways in the third and goaded the Predators into penalties.Blake Geoffrion and Luca Sbisa got coincidental roughing penalties at 9:30. David Legwand got a hooking penalty at 9:50. Kevin Klein got a double minor for roughing and Corey Perry got a minor for roughing at 10:28. With a 5 on 3 advantage, the Ducks were finally able to find the back of the net as Teemu Selanne tallied at 11:24.

Since the Ducks could not solve Rinne and could not outscore the Predators at even strength, their strategy was to try to run Rinne and get the Predators to take penalties. For the most, the Predators did a good job of keeping their emotions in check and continuing to frustrate the Ducks.Keeping those emotions in check proved to be a Herculean task as the Ducks took every opportunity to try to draw penalties, hit after the play, and run at Rinne. Kudos to the boys for keeping their composure.

The best way to deal with the goons from Anaheim? Shane O'Brien did it when he pointed at the scoreboard after a late game scrum.

The Predators closed out the Ducks by playing solid defense and staying disciplined for the remainder of the game.

This feels good, but the Predators have to remember they are playing the NHL's equivalent of the Hell's Angels. The Ducks are a dirty team- witness Corey Perry's spear of Pekka Rinne at the end of the second period- and they will attempt to goon it up in the rest of this series. The Predators are going have to be physically AND mentally tough to survive this series. They cannot let the Ducks goad them into penalties. They have to control their physical play. This series will be a war. Be ready.

Punish the Ducks for their play, but do it within the confines of the rules.

This is one. One win out of 16 that you need for the prize. Your second step toward that prize comes on Friday night.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Steve Sullivan

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fearless First Round Playoff Predictions

It's time once again for the View to prove why he doesn't make his living as a professional gambler, as I am fearlessly launching into the first round predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Without further ado- or rational thought- here they are:


Vancouver vs Chicago

This match up of the President's Trophy winners and their demon from past seasons doesn't hold quite the same intrigue as years past. For one thing, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will not be facing his tormentor, the big butt of big Buff. For another, This isn't last year's Blackhawk squad that was clicking on all cylinders, but a team that backed into the playoffs courtesy of the Minnesota Wild. Still, the Hawks have some firepower up front, enough to make it interesting. They will not be able to overcome the talent and depth of the Canuckleheads, however, and Luongo will exorcise his demons against the Hawks.

Vancouver in 6

San Jose vs Los Angeles

Justin Williams is expected to return for the Kings and this will help their line up significantly if he can battle and be productive, but it's no secret the Kings aren't the same without Anze Kopitar. Nevertheless, I expect the Kings to give the Sharks quite a battle in this series, and whomever emerges victorious will not do so unscathed. The Sharks are a high powered group up front and solid on the blue line. The difference maker for the Sharks this year is Antii Niemi, fresh from a Stanley Cup season with the aforementioned Blackhawks. If the Kings can get timely scoring and stellar play from  goaltender Jonathan Quick, they could make a series out of it, but the Sharks ultimately will have too much bite.

San Jose in 7

Detroit vs Phoenix

In a reprise of last year's match up that saw the Wings take down the Desert Dogs in 7, this is another match up that will be very close. Detroit will open without Henrik Zetterberg but should have the full services of the the remainder of their roster. Phoenix will  have the services of Martin Hanzal, who returned late last week after missing 12 games. Last year, rookie Jimmy Howard out dueled Ilya Bryzgalov, and I expect the same to happen again in this series. Detroit is Detroit, and they have the ability to turn it up a notch in the playoffs. The backstory to this series is the rumor that the Coyotes are going to re-locate back to Winnipeg after their season is over. The is no substantiation to that whisper, but it can only serve as a distraction for Dave Tippet and the Coyotes.

Detroit in 7

Anaheim vs Nashville

Time for the Predators to finally shed the mantle of one and done, and this will be the year that they do so. They will need outstanding play from Pekka Rinne. They will get it. I believe that the RPG  line of Bobby Ryan, Cory Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf will get points, but not enough as they run into the Terminators, aka Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The series will hinge on the second D pairing being able to shut down Teemu Selanne and his line mates and for the Predators to get scoring from all lines. It will happen.

Nashville in 6


Washington vs New York Rangers

After failing to meet expectations in the playoffs the past several seasons, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has stored up a warehouse full of expletives to motivate the team. he will be using a bunch of them, as the Rangers will be a feisty group that can be dangerous. Backstopped by "King" Henrik Lundqvist, the Blueshirts will give  the Caps a tussle. They will succumb to the superior firepower of the Caps however. The greatest area of vulnerability for the Caps is in net. If Semyon Varlamov looks shaky, things could get interesting. I don't think they will.

Washington in 5

Philadelphia vs Buffalo

The Flyboys have some horsepower and the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs, but the last 3 weeks of the season has to have shaken the confidence of the team. They won only 3 of their last 10 games and just frankly didn't look confident. Buffalo will ride the strong play of Ryan Miller, who can carry this team past the first round if he gets some offensive help. If Buffalo can get to "Bob"- Sergei Bobrovsky and rattle him, this series could be the surprise of the first round. This is my upset pick of the first round.

Buffalo in 7

Boston vs Montreal

Hide the women and children- and the cop cars if you are in Montreal. This series will be a war between two teams that loath each other. Montreal would like nothing more than to continue the trend of knocking their hated rival out of the playoffs, and Boston would like nothing more than to exact a physical toll on the Habs en route to a series win. My guess is that this series will have, by a wide margin, the greatest number of fighting majors. Physicality and bad blood aside, I think the Bruins will have too much size and firepower for the Habs to overcome. I expect Carey Price to keep them in the games, but I think the size and depth of the Bruins eventually wears down the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.

Boston in 6

Pittsburgh vs Tampa Bay

This should be one of the most fun match ups to watch in the first round as both teams sport some explosiveness offensively and can play good defense. Here is the shocker: look for Sidney Crosby to play in this series, beginning in game 1. The other story line is Marc-Andre Fleury against the guns of the Lightning- Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis. Tampa's netminder, Dwayne Roloson, will have to avoid tripping over his walker be on his game. I'm not certain that Mike Smith will inspire the confidence of his teammates in a heated playoff series. This one could look like pond hockey at times, and should be very fun to watch.

Tampa Bay in 7

Remember, these picks are for amusement purposes only. Picking a match up the same way the View does may be a sign of mental instability.

We will come back after the first round is over and see how the games played out.

It's A Sign!

Three years ago, the View, along with several close friends, went along with the Predators on their West coast swing. One of our stops was, of course, the Honda Center, home of the Quackers. My good friend, Tracie Short, sent to today this picture that she made as we were walking up to the arena. Notice the truck in the foreground. Notice what is on the truck?


I think not.

A positive omen?


The First "Hattie" of 2011

Time to hand out the first "Hattie" of 2011, and continuing the trend of reporters receiving this esteemed award, this one goes to the Orange County Registers' Jeff Miller. Miller personifies laziness and irrelevance with his Predators/Ducks preview by dragging out the terribly original moniker of "Trashville" and numerous tired cliches.

Face it, Miller can't read a map much less find Nashville on one. I'm certain that Miller has never been to Nashville, content to dwell in the land of fruits and nuts reeking of patchouli.

Good satire is... well why bother explaining it to Jeff. He would understand anyway.

Tired and flaccid writing, Jeff. Very apropos that there was an "Extenze" ad juxtaposed by your article.

And for that, you have the dubious distinction of earning 2011's first "Hattie"

The Horse's Ass Trophy, or Hattie, is awarded to those individuals or institutions that personify stupidity, laziness, and an assholistic approach to life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dissecting the Ducks- How the Predators Will Win

When the Nashville Predators take on the Anaheim Ducks in their Western Conference playoff matchup, much of the focus will be on the Predators ability to stop stop the Ducks scorers. Obviously, the Predators are going to have to stop Ryan, Perry, and Getzlaf, the RPG line or at least keep them contained to advance to the second round. And while this has rightfully drawn much of the focus, I want to take a look at some of the other key variables that could decide the outcome of this series.

Finish the Finn

Teemu Selanne, the ageless wonder, has the potential to be a very dangerous player, and when he gets his mojo going, he can light up an opposing team. The Predators will throw their best defensive effort at shutting down the Ducks potent top line, but for them to win this series, Selanne's line had to be shut down as well. The Predators did an excellent job of that in the regular season by being physical and taking away his room to maneuver. This will be even more important in this series.

Everybody Antes Up

During the course of the season, the Predators got timely scoring from their third and fourth lines. They will need it even more so in this series. The top two lines from each team will get their points, but if the Predators can get opportunistic scoring from their third and fourth lines, this series will swing the way of the Predators. It remains to be seen if Cal O'Reilly can contribute in this series, as it does for Steve Sullivan as they round back into shape from injury. The production of Jordin Tootoo, Blake Geoffrion, and Colin Wilson will be critical to the Predators success.

Park Your Karma

You know it's coming boys- a bad bounce of the puck, a guaranteed blown call by the officials. You have to do what you have done all season: power through that adversity and seize control of the game. This is where the leadership of Captain Shea Weber will be tested. I give him high marks in his first year as Captain. Just like play elevates in the playoffs, so must Shea's leadership. He must be the one to rally the troops when it gets tough and keep them focused in a hostile environment and in the face of adversity.

No Primates

Read that header and figured that I had lost it for sure, dijint ya? Well, I haven't, and here is what I mean. Forget the fact that this team has not won a playoff series. Forget the fact that you SHOULD have won the Chicago series. There is no looking back. You got the monkey off your back last season with your first road playoff win. Now it is time to cast off that 800 pound gorilla that you have been carrying and win a playoff series. Yes, the vets have to take their experience in prior playoff series and learn from it. They have to let the young guys know what to expect. But there can absolutely be no looking back! No "here we go again" attitude. Eyes- and hearts and minds- facing forward boys. You make your own destiny.

Remember Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

California- and Californians- are like a bowl of cereal. Once you get past all the fruits and nuts, it's a bunch of flakes. My experience is that the Honda Center can be a laid back place, and while the fans of the Ducks will be amped up to start the game, it is important that the Predators get off to a good start and take their fans out of the game. Do that, and they will once again turn their attention to tie dying t-shirts and making reservations at the latest trendy restaurant and the energy in the building will turn negative. Bummer.

It's Not Brain Surgery

Former Predator goalie Dan Ellis compared being an NHL netminder to being a brain surgeon. Uh...OK. For the Predators to win this series, they are going to have to create numerous Dan Ellis problems. How? Simple. Throw pucks at the net and crash the crease. Predator hockey personified. Make Dan's life absolutely miserable. He should by the end of the series know what kind of cologne Patric Hornqvist wears. He should have nightmares of Predators flying at his crease ready to fricassee his Duck butt. This is no time for pretty hockey. It's time to get down and dirty and foul the Duck's nest.
Open It Up

Boys, this was delivered to your locker room today. It's time to open it up on Anaheim.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Central Division Wrap-Up

The View is never one to shy away from his predictions, and at the start of the season, I predicted the following as the order of finish in the Central Division:

1. Chicago

2. Nashville

3. Detroit

4. St. Louis

5. Columbus

The actual order of finish was:

1. Detroit          104 points

2. Nashville        99 points

3. Chicago          97 points

4. St. Louis         87 points

5. Columbus       81 points

Looking at the final standings, it was apparent that Chicago missed the players that departed in the year end salary purge. The strength of the Hawks last season was the strong play of their third and fourth lines, who scored timely goals throughout last season and their push to the Stanley Cup. Obviously, the Hawks still had a lot of firepower up front with the likes of Kane, Hossa, and Toews, and they still had their two big defensemen in Seabrook and Keith, but Brian Campbell spent a chunk of the year injured and the remaining D corp could not adequately take up the slack. The question is have Seabrook and Keith exhausted themselves with the enormous number of minutes they have logged in the regular season. The Hawks backed into the playoffs, and do not appear to be as solid as last season

The surprise of the division had to be the Nashville Predators, who challenged for the division title up until the final week of the season. The Predators got outstanding play from Pekka Rinne in net and the defense, lead by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter was very solid throughout the season. Weber emerged as a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate in his first year as Captain of the Predators. Shane O'Brien was a good acquisition for the blue liners. In what had to be the shrewdest acquisition by any GM, David Poile took a gamble on Montreal outcast Sergei Kostitsyn, and he responded with 23 goals and 27 assists. February acquisition Mike Fisher has been a solid add both on the ice and in the locker room. For a team decimated with injuries, the play of the Predators has been amazing, and in part that is due to the emergence of young players like Blake Geoffrion and Jonathan Blum. Both stepped in and have been positive contributors for the team.

Detroit is Detroit, and they captured another Central Division title with their hallmark of consistent play throughout the season. Jimmy Howard followed up a great rookie season with another solid campaign in net. The Wings got solid production from their forwards, lead by Pavel Datsyuk. Detroit also faced a myriad of injuries as both Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom both missed a number of games. A testament to their solid scouting and farm system is that many of their call ups, much like the Predators players, performed very well. The Wings D was lead by perennial Norris Trophy candidate Nik Lidstrom, although this season saw Lidstrom finish the year -3. Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart, and Nilas Kronwall log big minutes for the Wings on the blue line, but their depth is suspect behind their top 4 blueliners.

There was high hopes for the Blues season with the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak  to tend goal. With a bevy of young scorers on the roster, much was expected out of this season. Once again, the Blues failed to live up to expectations, missing the playoffs in a season marked by long winless stretches. The Blues struggled with consistency in net and with their scoring, and a team that on paper looked to be a contender fell flat. This is a team that has the potential, but one wonders if Head Coach Davis Payne is the one that can bring it out of his players.

Ah, Columbus. I should say "Good-bye Columbus" as the Jackets once again were done early in the playoff race. I think Head Coach Scott Arniel is a good coach, but it remains to be seen if the Jackets can play up to their potential. Steve Mason had a very pedestrian season in net, and outside of Rick Nash, no one on the Columbus roster performed consistently. This is a team that was to rely heavily on Mason, but I wonder if he will be on their roster next season. Nash lacks a strong supporting cast, and part of this is that Columbus has made some ill-advised trades, but more importantly, has not developed players in their system like other teams in the Central. Given the roster of the Jackets, I would expect them to finish in the same position in the Central for a while.

That concludes a look back at the regular season. Both Nashville and Detroit play on as the Predators will take on the Ducks and the Red Wings take on the Coyotes. The View will have his fearless playoff prognostications forthcoming for both the Eastern and Western Conference.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Predators Fall to Blues 2-0, Await Final Standings

The Nashville Predators dropped the last regular season game of the season to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 2-0. The Predators finish the regular season with 99 points on a the basis of a 44-27-11 record.

The Blues scored on a beautiful goal by T.J. Oshie off his knees and a wicked wrister from Alexander Steen after an egregious turnover by the Predators.

The Predators clearly looked like a team that played a tough game the night before as the Blues forecheck kept the Predators from generating a consistent offensive flow all night. When the Predators did get good scoring chances, Jaroslav Halak cleaned up any threats.

Pekka Rinne made some amazing saves for the Predators and kept the score from being much worse than it was.

Now the Predators wait for the weekend games to wrap up to see where they will wind up in the standings. Several games could affect their final standing. If they had won this game, they would have locked up fourth place in the West and home ice. As it is, they will now wait to see where they will be seeded.

Not much else to say about this game. The Predators are obviously going to be disappointed in the fact that they do not control their destiny as to their final standing.

That is a negative that they have to quickly put behind them. They should dwell on the positive of the brilliant run they made to the playoffs.

They should also learn from this loss about the drive and the intensity that they are going to have to bring to every game in the playoffs. They have battled to get to this point. The playoffs will be a war.

The focus is on the positives. This team survived injuries to key players that would have crippled other teams. They are not offensively gifted, yet they score enough to win. They amassed 44 wins against what some would say are improbable odds. They have a cohesive dressing room. This team is built to win, now they have to get over the mental hurdle of winning a round.

A new season starts next week. A season of dreams. A season of war.

A season to make a name for this team and silence the critics.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Predators Clobber Columbus 4-1, Clinch Playoff Spot

The start of the Nashville Predators game with the Columbus Blue Jackets was delayed 15 minutes because of a balky pane of glass. That delay just postponed the inevitable as the Predators won their 17th straight game on home ice over the Blue Jackets by a score of 4-1 and in the process clinched a playoff berth.

This was not an inconsequential game for the Predators, because if they had lost this game and the game tomorrow night at St. Louis, and Dallas won out, the Predators would be on the outside looking in when the playoffs rolled around. Would the Predators have the focus and the drive to do what was necessary against a team that always played them tough?

The answer was a resounding "yes".

Pekka Rinne got the start as expected and was stellar in net. Columbus outshot the Predators by a wide margin, 45-25. Yes, many of these shots were from the perimeter, but Rinne was called upon to make several solid saves. He was spectacular at the start of the second period, a period that saw the BJ's outshoot the Predators 22-7. Early in the second, Rinne made several amazing saves to hold Columbus off the board.

The Predators opened the scoring at 6:00 of the first period when Mike Fisher made a strong drive through the Jackets defense. He split two defenders on the rush, drew the defense to him and Columbus netminder Steve Mason to the post. He slid the puck to Patric Hornqvist driving into the low slot and Hornqvist had an easy tap in for the Predators first goal and the only goal of the period.

Rinne's strong play held the Jackets off the board and the Predators rallied around the Finnish wall.

Matt Halsichuk scored at 1:48 of the second with a nice move that got Mason moving from side to side. Halischuk slipped the shot from the slot under the pad of Mason to stretch the lead to 2-0. Halischuk continues to play well in both zones and has earned the confidence of the coaches with his play. It is nice to see him rewarded with his 4th goal of the season.

The Predators stretched the lead to 3-0 just 54 seconds later as Patric Hornqvist intercepted a lazy clear by the Jackets defenese and rifled a backhander over the shoulder of Mason.This was Hornqvist's 21st goal of the season, and his play continues to be full tilt every night. I have been impressed with the effort he brings to the ice every night.

Derek Brassard finally solved Rinne with a wicked slap shot at 18:38 of the second period. This goal was a result of a failed clear by the Predators defense, and cost Rinne his shutout.

The Predators regained the 3 goal lead at 12:25 of the third period as Sergei Kostitsyn notched his 23rd goal of the year off a pass from Patric Hornqvist. The pass caromed off the leg of Kostitsyn past Mason, and after a video review, it was deemed a good goal.

Game, set, and match.

Early on, when the Predators jumped out to the 3-0 lead, you could look at the faces of the BJ's and just see the "oh no, here we go again" expression. The fact that the BJ's haven't won in Nashville since April 2006 is in their heads. They look as if they expect something bad to happen when they step on the ice in Nashville.

It does.

Sure, the Jackets were without Rick Nash and Kris Russell, but the Predators are dealing with a myriad of injuries as well. This game was a matter of "want to". Who wanted to do what was necessary to win the game? Who had the better compete level? Who would do what it would take to win the game?

In all phases, that was the Predators.

With the win, the Predators record is 44-26-11, good for 99 points and 4th in the West. With a win tomorrow in St. Louis, the Predators could finish the year in 4th place and secure home ice advantage.

More importantly, the Predators have clinched a spot in the playoffs. Now it is time to get the first round monkey off their backs.

There is a lot more hockey to be played, boys. It's now time to bring a new level of effort for the playoffs.

Time to clobber some more opponents.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Matt Halischuk

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

All of us are by now aware of the budget crisis in our nation. There has been much posturing about cutting federal spending, with the Democratic incumbents wanting to make token spending cuts and say that is sufficient, and with the Republicans wanting to make more substantive but yet still insufficient cuts to the budget. Out of all this hue and cry has emerged a budget proposal from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that he calls The Path to Prosperity. Ryan has proposed cutting over $6 trillion from government spending over the next decade, and while that sounds impressive, understand that programs proposed by President Obama over the next ten years would require funding of $46 trillion dollars. Ryan's cuts amount to only 13% of the proposed spending over the next ten years! Perhaps more troubling is the fact that Ryan,one of the most fiscally conservative lawmakers in Washington, does not propose to balance the budget under his plan until 2040. Let me say it this way- our most fiscally conservative and level headed representative in Washington does not propose to balance the budget for another 30 years. What this means is that our country will deficit spend itself into oblivion and we will be content to let them if we do not force Washington to change their attitude toward managing the resources of this great nation. To continue down this path is not a path to prosperity but pure insanity.

"Vegetarian" is an old Indian word meaning "bad hunter".

Now that we are unraveling more of the monstrosity of socialized medicine that is Obamacare, we are finding more and more new surprises. Although, with this President and his willing accomplices in the Democratic Party that help create this fiasco, I don't think we should be surprised. Let me tell you about the latest one. Have you heard of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (EERP)? This is a $5 billion dollar grant program that is tucked away inside Obamacare that ostensibly is being used to pay for health insurance for individuals that take early retirement. So far, the majority of the money from this fund has been paid to states that Obama carried in the Presidential election, labor unions, and a few private companies. I don't know about you, but I would call that a "slush fund", but that's just me. Here is the interesting tidbit about the EERP: according to the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, both the Washington Post and CBS, the television network, have received funds from the EERP. The Post received $573,217 and CBS received $722,388 from the fund. These funds are ostensibly being used to defray the cost of insurance for early retirees, but once it gets into the company coffers, the government relies on the company to report its usage for this specific program. All well and good, but frankly, it is a bit disturbing that major national news outlets are receiving direct aid from the federal government. Think that they are totally impartial now on their reporting about Obamacare? If you do, I have a marvelous investment in a bridge that we need to talk about. The fact is, these two "news" outlets should put a proper disclaimer on every newspaper and television newscast that they are a "subsidiary of the Obama administration". At least then they would not have to keep up their charade of impartiality.

They say that absolute power corrupts. I'm okay with that, because we need the electricity.

Great Britain has gone down the path of socialized medicine years before the United States, so it is instructive to see how it is working out for the delivery of health care to the Britons. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), not so good. The BBC reports that Peter Kay, the President of the British Orthopaedic Association says that as a cost saving measure, hip and knee replacements are being delayed indefinitely. Imagine being in pain and needing a hip replacement and having your doctor tell you that it cannot be performed because the National Health Service has to save money. The BBC surveyed orthopaedic surgeons across Britain and 152 specialists responded that their patients are now more disabled and in greater pain because of the delays. According to the National health Service, the minimum wait time to have a hip or knee replacement is now 18 weeks after approval, and that is expected to get longer. As was discussed in the debate over Obamacare, when the money starts to run out- and it will in a government run health program- the delivery of healthcare will be rationed and the outcomes for the patients will be less favorable. America, unless Obamacare, the socialized medicine monstrosity that was rammed down our throats is repealed, this is your fate that awaits you.

My wife said she is glad to be married to me, because there are a number of things that go wrong that she can't blame on the government.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thrashers Trashed by the Predators 6-3

The Nashville Predators haven't clinched a playoff spot yet, and the three remaining games on their schedule are important. The Predators played with a sense of urgency and knowledge of how important these games are as they jumped out to 5 goal lead en route to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers at the Bridgestone Arena.

Early in the contest, the Thrashers did a good job of clogging the neutral zone and stifling the Predators offensive flow. In fact, the Thrashers had a bit more jump than the Predators at the outset. The Predators are a team that continues to push, however, and they kept challenging the Thrashers defense, probing for an opportunity to get the puck in the net.

They would cash in on their efforts at 5:24 of the first period as Jordin Tootoo shot the puck and Atlanta netminder Chris Mason kicked the puck out with his pad to Matt Halischuk driving into the low slot. Halischuk slid a backhand shot five hole for the game's first tally.

The rest of the first period was a back and forth affair, with both mason and Pekka Rinne making solid saves to keep the score 1-0.

Jordin Tootoo would change that at 19:18 as he would gather in the rebound of a Marty Erat shot and fire the puck past Mason to make it 2-0 Predators. Tootoo would take advantage of Nik Antropov's failure to clear the puck that was lying in the blue paint after a save by Mason and would tap the puck into the net.

The Predators were energized by that goal and would keep the pressure on the Thrashers. Mike Fisher controlled the puck behind the net and found Sergei Kostitsyn driving to the front of the net. Kostitsyn sent a wrist shot toward Mason that got under his arm and inside the far post to make it 3-0 with just .8 left on the clock.

Every Predator fan remembers what happened the last time we had a 3 goal lead, don't you? Sit back and let the other team dictate the play and watch the lead slip away. The question on the home crowd's mind was would we see a replay?

The answer was an emphatic "no".

Jordin Tootoo tallied his second goal of the night to make it 4-0 Predators at 1:56 of the second period. Matt Halischuk sent the puck toward the net, where it was tipped by a Thrasher defender and off Tootoo's skate for the goal. The beauty of that play was that the Predators put the puck on the net with traffic going to the front and they were rewarded.

Simple hockey. Effective hockey.

Mason was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 16 shots and Ondrej Pavelec was brought in to face the onslaught.

Pavelec held the Predators off the board for the remainder of the second period. Rinne was equally effective, and at the end of 2 periods, it was 4-0 Predators.

Sergei Kostitsyn welcomed Pavelec to the party at 2:28 of the third period as he took a beautiful pass from Cody Franson from the point and tapped the puck into the open net to make it 5-0 Predators. Kostitsyn had worked himself open at the side of the net and the Atlanta defense lost track of him. Franson had his head up and the pass was cross ice and right on the tape. On the play, Pavelec had no chance as the defense left Kostitsyn alone in prime scoring position.

Shoot the puck and go to the net. Simple hockey. Effective hockey.

Atlanta finally solved Rinne at 3:06 of the third as Blake Wheeler beat Rinne high glove side with a beautiful shot into a very narrow space.

The Predators would answer at 6:18 of the period on the power play as Kostitsyn found Mike Fisher driving to the net behind the Thrasher defense and hit him with a pass on his tape. Fisher slammed the puck into the open net to make it 6-1 Predators.

The Thrashers would add 2 late goals as Blake Wheeler would score at 16:25. Rinne was screened by Patric Hornqvist and did not see the shot until the last minute. Nik Antropov would score at 17:10 to make the score 6-3. The Predators changed line matchups late in the game and had their 4th line out against the 2nd line of the Thrashers, which contributed to the final Atlanta goal.

When scoring 3 or more goals, the Predators are 40-4-2. When scoring first, the Preds are 29-5-8.

With the win, the Predators currently are 4th in the Western Conference with a record of 43-26-11, good for 97 points. With one point in their final two games, or with a Dallas loss, the Predators are assured of a playoff spot.

This game points out the way the Predators have to win games: shoot the puck and drive to the net. When they do this, they generate scoring opportunities and are effective.

It really is a simple game.

Two games left. Time to lock down a playoff spot. Keep playing the way you did tonight and it will be yours.

It's simple.

My three stars:

1. Jordin Tootoo

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Patric Hornqvist

Honorable mention: Matt Halischuk