Monday, October 31, 2011

Predators Fall to the Blackhawks in OT 5-4

The Nashville Predators journeyed to the United Center for a Halloween night tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks, and in a game befitting the night of tricks and treats, it was a wild affair as both Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford will have nightmares about this contest. Crawford will probably sleep a bit better than Rinne as the Hawks outlasted the Predators in overtime 5-4.

For the second game in a row, Patric Hornqvist wasted no time getting the Predators on the board. Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford misplayed the puck behind his net, failing to stop the puck. David Legwand picked up the puck and found Hornqvist driving the net for an empty net tap in just 26 seconds into the contest. For Hornqvist, this was his third goal of the season, and as he has started to return to 100% health, his game has started to heat up.

The Predators gave the Hawks three power plays in the first period, and against an explosive offensive like Chicago has, this is tempting fate. Fortunately for the Predators, they were able to kill off all three penalties.

The Predators did a good job of limiting Chicago's speed through the neutral zone in the first period, and once Chicago gained the zone, were hard on the puck, limiting the scoring chances. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne, making his 11th straight start, was solid in net, turning away the Hawks chances...

Until there were 49 seconds remaining in the period. The Predators had the puck in their zone but failed to control it and clear the puck. Patrick Sharp got control of the puck and slipped it to Patrick Kane, who whistled a quick wrist shot by Rinne to tie the game at 1.

As this season has progressed, the Predators have started to discover their identity, and that is one that incorporates speed, solid defense, and aggressive forechecking. Those characteristics were on display in the second quarter. After being outshot 9-8 in the first period, the Predators came out skating hard in the second and recorded the first 6 shots on goal en route to outshooting the Blackhawks 11-6.

That effort paid off with a Craig Smith goal at 6:00 of the second. Marty Erat broke into the zone, drew the defense to him and found Smith alone just inside the face off circle. Smith roofed a shot over the shoulder of Corey Crawford to make it 2-1 Predators.

This lead would stand until 11:51 of the second as Patrick Kane found Nick Leddy with a nice pass from behind the net and he lasered a shot past Rinne to tie the game at 2.

The Blackhawks gave the Predators a prime opportunity to take the lead again as Patrick Sharp was called for goaltender interference and just 25 seconds later Dave Bolland fired the puck over the glass to give the Predators a 5 on 3 advantage. Patric Hornqvist made the Hawks pay for their transgressions as he took a pass from Ryan Suter and used Brent Seabrook as a screen to fire the puck past Crawford to make it 3-2 at 18:48 of the second period.

Once again, a young team early in the season was going into the third period with a lead. Would this team show maturity and be able to hold the lead?

The Blackhawks opened the third period buzzing and the Predators were back on their heels. The pressure paid off for the Hawks as the Predators turned the puck over at  the Chicago blue line and Patrick Kane broke in on Rinne and fired a shot that trickled through between his arm and his body to tie the game at 3 at 14:59. This was a goal that Rinne would like to have back.

The Predators then started to go into self destruct mode. Marty Erat was called for slashing and almost immediately Jerred Smithson was called for roughing and Matt Halischuk got a 10 minute misconduct penalty. The Blackhawks would now have nearly 2 minutes of a 5 on 3 power play.

The Predators penalty killers did an amazing job killing off the 5 on 3 with great hustle and determination. Kudos to those guys on the PK unit, because their play throughout the night was spectacular.

Brian Bickell put the Hawks ahead 4-3 as the cycle down low worked to perfection for Chicago and he rocketed a shot past Rinne at 13:08.

That lead lasted 1:41 as David Legwand buried a rebound of a Jordin Tootoo shot at 14:49 to tie the game at 4.

Once again, the Predators PK unit was going to be called upon to hold off the Hawks as Ryan Suter was called for slashing. The Predators kept tempting fate, giving the Hawks their 7th power play of the night.

And once again, the PK unit did their job, aided by an amazing save by Rinne as he sprawled to take a way a scoring opportunity by Kane who was alone in front of the net.

Regulation ended with the teams tied at 4. The Predators were not able to hold another third period lead, but unlike some earlier games in the season, they fought back to take the powerful Hawks to overtime and earn a point.

In the third period, the Hawks outshot the Predators 18-8. Frankly, as much pressure as the Hawks put on the Predators, the Preds were lucky to get a point.

Just 30 seconds into overtime, Pekka Rinne made an incredible save to keep the Hawks off the board.

Viktor Stalberg ended the contest with a blast at 2:37 of the overtime period, beating Rinne stick side.

This is a game that the Predators will look back upon and realize that they gave away a point. Kudos to the team for fighting back, but this is another instance of sloppy play and sitting back on their heels that cost the Predators a win. Once again, this team failed to seal the deal in the third period.

There were bright spots for the Predators to be sure. I liked the way they fought back in this contest, and their work ethic was good.

This team is on the cusp of being good- very good. But it will take some more maturing for this team to get to that level. There are painful steps in that learning process.

Like tonight.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Patrick Kane

3. Viktor Stalberg

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dirty Ducks Downed by the Predators 3-0

The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at Bridgestone Arena in a contest that can only be characterized charitably as "chippy".

Heck, let's just call it the way it was. The Ducks were their typically classless and dirty selves.

The Predators set the tone for the contest by scoring just 14 seconds into the contest as Patric Hornqvist banged home a rebound of his own shot past Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller to make it 1-0 Predators.

The Ducks dirty play began at 7:14 of the first period as Francois Beauchemin hit Mike Fisher in the head from the blind side in open ice, knocking Fisher out of the game. Kevin Klein cam over to seek retribution against Beauchemin, but the Ducks defenseman turtled and wouldn't fight. Both players were assessed four minute double minors.

The Predators made it 2-0 at 18:59 of the first period as Marty Erat, playing in his first game since the opening game of the season, gained the zone and left a drop pass for Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo made a sweet pass to Erat, who one timed the puck from just inside the face off circle past Hiller. It was good to see Marty back on the ice and playing a strong game tonight.

Pekka Rinne started his 10th straight game for the Predators, and was strong in net in the first period. Although he didn't see a lot of work in the first- the Ducks only had 7 shots- he made some quality saves to keep the Ducks off the board.

The Predators tallied 16 shots on net in the first period. Yes, you read that correctly. The Predators outshot their opponent by a wide margin. The two first period goals were a direct result of making Hiller move and scramble throughout the period.

The second period was scoreless, with the Ducks outshooting the Predators 10-7. The Predators generated some scoring chances, but could not get one past Hiller. Once again, Rinne locked down the net for the Predators.

Throughout the contest, the Predators did a good job of limiting the Ducks on secondary scoring chances. Often, the Ducks would get one shot on goal and the Predators were in good defensive position to prevent shots off rebounds.

The Ducks reverted to form in the third period, taking four penalties, the cheapest of which was a Corey Perry spear of Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo had a strong game all night, and was clearly under the skin of the Ducks. Perry's frustration boiled over with his egregious cheap shot. If there is any justice, he will hear from the Shanahammer and be suspended for this cheap shot.

The Predators made it 3-0 at 2:14 of the third, as Shea Weber notched his first goal of the season on the power play with a blast from the blue line that Hiller never saw with a screen in front. It is good to see the big cannon unleashed from Weber and finding the back of the net.

Any thoughts of the Ducks getting back into the game were erased when Sheldon Brookbank to a double minor high sticking penalty at 14:05. The Predators stifled the Ducks for the remainder of the period to capture their second win in a row on home ice by a 3-0 margin.

Congratulations to Pekka Rinne, who recorded his 100th win for the Predators and his 22nd shutout, a franchise record. Rinne was solid, and his level of play has been consistently strong even when the team in front of him has struggled.

Now that it appears the team has found their identity and has begun to play Predator hockey, this team could start to make some noise.

With the win, the Predators go to 5-4-1 and 11 points. The positive aspect of this is that the team is starting to play Predator hockey. They are skating hard, aggressively forechecking, and the defense has begun to settle down and play sound hockey. This is Predator hockey, and it is a winning formula for this team.

We all knew that there would be growing pains for this young squad, and it was going to be important that they grow quickly. They last two games show me that they are starting to "get it" and hearing what the coaches are telling them. They are playing Predator hockey.

And that is winning hockey.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Jordin Tootoo

Friday, October 28, 2011

Predators Send Cal O'Reilly to Phoenix

The Nashville Predators sent Center Cal O'Reilly to the Phoenix Coyotes for a 4th round draft pick in the 2012 draft. Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired a fourth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft in exchange for forward Cal O’Reilly. The trade is pending O’Reilly passing a physical.

            The Predators now have nine draft picks for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to be held June 22-23, 2012 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. – their own picks in the first, second and fourth through seventh rounds in addition Toronto’s third-round pick and the New York Rangers’ sixth-round selection, and now, Phoenix’s fourth-round selection.

O'Reilly had been out of the line up recently because of a pulled groin. 
One has to wonder about this trade. O'Reilly had provided depth at the center position and had played some quality minutes for the Predators. In 74 games for the Predators, O'Reilly had 11 goals and 24 assists. It leads me to speculate that O'Reilly was considered expendable with the depth at center and perhaps GM David Poile is amassing some draft picks to use as possible trade fodder.

It is no secret that the Predators need scoring, and now Poile has nine draft picks for the draft. Poile has to be keenly aware of the need for more scoring on this team, and he could package some draft picks with a player to pick up some offensive punch. Regardless, this gives him a few more cards in his hand to play as the trade deadline approaches.

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The Occupy Wall Street protests that have spread around the country have demanded a lot of things, but the centerpiece of their irritation with America is income inequality and the desire to see said income redistributed. Let me say right now that there is greed and corruption in America's business community. Always has been, and always will be. That statement is not to dismiss this condition, but to acknowledge it. That being said, the question that I have to the OWS protesters is simply this: is the total reason for income inequality in this country because of greed, corruption, or gaming the system? Perhaps there are other factors at play, factors that weigh even more heavily on income inequality in this country. As the global economy has expanded and created new opportunities, one has to ask if our educational system has kept up and continued to turn out graduates that are equipped to compete in the global economy? (Answer: No). One has to wonder if the public policy of bailing out institutions and companies that make horrible business decisions, like GM, Chrysler, and numerous banks, has spilled over to personal decisions as well (Answer: It Has, and it is the wrong decision in both cases). Taking on enormous student debt to get a degree that provides no marketable skills was the choice of the student, but I shouldn't be asked to pay off your student debt because of that unfortunate choice. The OWS crowd decries "income inequality" and demands that incomes and wealth be redistributed as a solution to this problem (Answer: It Has Never Worked). Cut to the core of the OWS demands and what you find are demands that are nothing but income redistribution, which has ALWAYS stunted an economy and lowered a country's standard of living.
While the OWS has raised some valid points, their focus is mis-directed and will not provide for long term economic growth in this country that will benefit everyone.

I think that auctioneers are proof that white guys could rap if they tried hard enough.

Halloween is a time where we enjoy some scary moments. Here is one that may have escaped your view, but should scare the daylights out of you. Right around Halloween, the National debt of our country will surpass our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Now I know that doesn't necessarily make you quake in your boots as if Jason is chasing you with a chainsaw or if there was a socialist in the White House... wait...what? Anyway, here is the significance of this event: the world notices and you can count on interest rates going higher as we have to pay more to purchasers of our debt to entice them to take on more risk by buying our bonds. This affects credit card debt, mortgage debt, and most importantly the amount of money that our country has to pay in the form of interest payments to our creditors. As a nation, we have enjoyed the benefit of a lower rate environment, but with this change in condition, I would look for rates to rise in the near future. This means more of our budget will be spent on debt service and it will crowd out other spending. Look for quite a battle in Congress as we are forced to cut domestic spending on social programs as well as defense spending. It will be gruesome and scary.

My life is like a Lamborghini. It's going way too fast and costs too much money.

Have you heard of HARP? This is the latest scheme...uh, program from Washington, and it stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. The program is designed for home owners that want to refinance their house to take advantage of the current low interest rates but cannot do so because their house isn't worth what it was when originally purchased. This is a condition in which many homeowners find themselves due to the collapse of home prices in 2008. This is all well and good, but someone has to pay for this program. HARP falls under the auspices of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and they have said that they are not paying for these refinances, which are supposed to be without fees to qualified customers of the participating financial institutions. Fannie Mae, who ultimately buys the refinanced mortgages, says they are not paying for this program. Instead, the said the Treasury Department is paying for the program. Treasury says, uh... no we are not. Here is the point: this is typical of Washington programs that grow dramatically and cost the taxpayers billions of dollars and have little to no oversight. Ultimately, we all know who pays for these programs, and that is you and me.

My wife treats me like a god. She doesn't know I exist until she wants something.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Predators Light Up the Lightning 5-3

The Nashville Predators re-discovered the simplicity of hockey in their home tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Shoot the puck, and you have a good chance to score.

The Nashville Predators shot the puck and did so very efficiently, notching 5 goals on 27 shots en route to a 5-3 win over the the Lightning at Bridgestone Arena.

For the Predators, this was their first win on home ice in four attempts, and could not have come at a better time for a team struggling to find its identity.

The Lightning went with Mathieu Garon in net, while the Predators had their stalwart, Pekka Rinne between the pipes.

There is no doubt that the Lightning have an offensively explosive team, and for the Predators to have a shot at victory, they were going to have to play solid defense and force the Lightning to spend time in their zone defending the Predators.

The home team did that pretty well tonight.

Rookie Craig Smith continued his stellar play as he connected with Sergei Kostitsyn on a two on one rush up the ice. Smith fed Kostitsyn at the side of the net with a beautiful pass and Kostitsyn buried the shot at 6:25 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Kostitsyn figured into the second Predators goal of the period as he corraled the puck in the offensive zone and patiently waited for an opening. He found Mike Fisher alone at the side of the net and got him the puck through traffic for an easy tap in to make it 2-0 Predators at 14:05 of the first.

The Lightning got on the board at 16:36 of the first as Ryan Malone dug the puck off the board to Teddy Purcell. Purcell found Steven Stamkos alone in the slot and he roofed a backhand over the shoulder of Rinne to make it 2-1.

The Lightning tied the game on the power play with just 27 seconds left in the first period. With Jordin Tootoo in the box for a questionable charging call, Teddy Purcell tallied to make it a 2-2 game going into the first intermission.

The first period saw the Predators exert some good offensive pressure and skate as well as they had skated all season. The two goals were a direct result of their effort in the neutral zone with good breakouts and in the offensive zone with good puck movement and quality- and numerous- shots.

The fact remained that the Predators were in this game as Pekka Rinne made some outstanding saves and held the Lightning off the board early in the contest. For the Predators to have a chance to win this game, they were going to have to play a consistent game for all three periods. The second period was going to be critical for the Predators.

The question of how they would play in the second period was answered resoundingly by the Predators, as they chased starting netminder Garon from the game with 3 goals. Dwayne Roloson came on in relief of Garon.

Two of the three goals were from players that desperately needed to get off the schnide, as both Patric Horqvist and Nick Spaling found the back of the net. Hornqvist recorded his first goal of the year at 7:43 of the second period as he crashed the net and banged home a rebound. Spaling was camped at the top of the blue paint and slid a rebound through Garon's pads at 11:20.

The final nail in the coffin for Garon was Mike Fisher's second goal of the night, a rocket that hit both posts and went in at 12:10 of the second. Fisher now has four points in his two games back in action after missing the first seven games of the season.

Garon must hate facing the Predators, as his lifetime record fell to 2-8-2 against them.

Steven Stamkos tallied his second goal of the night at 17:03 of the third to make the final margin 5-3 for the Predators. The Predators shut down the Lightning for the remainder of the period, and finally a home win. Iit must have felt good to celebrate at center ice to the cheers of the home crowd.

The Predators played their game in this contest, and when they play that style- using their speed, aggressively forechecking, blocking shots and controlling the neutral zone- they are usually successful. The difference tonight is that the Predators shot the puck and forced the Lightning netminders to make saves. The shots came from all angles and created numerous chances, something this team has been unable or unwilling to do in previous contests. This is reflected in the shot totals, with Tampa Bay outshooting the Predators by only five shots 32-27. This is the first game this season that the shot differential has been in single digits, and although the Predators were outshot, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Unlike the loss to San Jose, when 9 forwards had one shot or less, only one forward, Blake Geoffrion, did not record a shot on goal. This is much improved, and for continued success, must happen every night.

This game is a clear indication of the ability of this team. The mark of their maturity will be to string together games that have this kind of effort, especially on the offensive side of the ledger.

I know Pekka Rinne appreciates the goal support. It's time for this team to start making his life easier.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Nick Spaling

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ekholm Diaries: The Return Home

Predator fans are aware of the abrupt departure of rookie defenseman Mattias Ekholm back to Sweden to play for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League. Many felt that it would have been better for the young defenseman's development if he would have stayed in North America and played in the AHL, but it was reported that he was under a contractual obligation to return home if he did not stay with the Predators.

I do not have a blog entry from Ekholm to report, but I do have an article from Gelfe Dagblad, the newspaper that covers the Brynas Hockey team. The article quotes extensively from Ekholm about his experience in North America and the Predators as well as his reaction to Coach Trotz's reaction to his play in the Vancouver game.

 Back With the Gang- Ekholm Hopes to Play this Evening

It took only a second or two before he was in the group, again. Mattias Ekholm came directly from a long flight over the Atlantic, he was picked up at Arlanda by sport’s director Micke Sundlöv and practiced with Brynäs a quarter hour after arriving at Läkerol Arena.

“Now I am terrible eager to play, also. I hope to be ready against Timrå,” says Mattias.

He had just got on his uniform, sauntered out in the playing area in easy conversation with Jonathan Granström before he stepped on the familiar ice, again. Calle Järnkrok and Simon Bertilsson boxed Ekholm’s shoulder pads as a welcome home greeting and then everything was normal, again.

“Damn nice to be home. Obviously, it is a big advantage that I already know all of the guys. I was here last year and practiced the whole preseason with the team before I went over at the beginning of September. It helps, of course.”

The adventure in Nashville and the experience he now has gained about how a NHL team works, he wouldn’t have undone.

“I, obviously, regret nothing. It was positive and damn fun to get to be there. I got to play two NHL matches which were fantastic to get to experience and something I more than gladly would do again. It became what it became this time, but I have two years remaining on the contract and gladly will make a new try next year,” says Ekholm, who hopes that he did not burn his chances when he came home.

The 21 year old knew fairly early that there would not be a permanent place on the NHL team. With injuries on the defensive side he was still the seventh back and got to play sporadically. After the Canadian trip last week he got the word that there would be no more NHL play this season.

Coach Barry Trotz was not gracious in his outward criticism and said that Ekholm was horrible – absolutely horrible in the loss against Vancouver.

“The words stand for him and I don’t think it was so bad. They are brutally honest over there and as a NHL player you must be able to take the criticism. I have no problem with it at all”, explains Mattias.

To come home to Sweden again was not an easy decision to make. Nashville preferred to have him in the AHL to adjust to matches on the small rinks and naturally it would be easier to follow his development.

“But I must think about myself, too. I believe simply that I am better off to play here at home in the Elite Series. Certainly, I went back and forth, but after having talked through the situation with the teams, we decided this.”

It went quickly to pack together things and get on a plane. After a layover and plane change in Amsterdam, he was a Brynäs player, again. Now, only the paperwork needs to be completed so that he can play in the match against Timrå this evening.

“I have followed everything in Sweden on the computer and talked with some here at home, also. I am really eager to play. There were only two matches over there with 10 minutes playing time,” says Ekholm who was naturally, both, tired and worn out after the long trip.

Ekholm practiced together with Jonathan Carlsson on the fourth defensive pair during the 45 minutes which Brynäs worked yesterday morning. How it goes in the match remains to be seen.

“I will just try to play my own game and help by doing what I am good at. Like last season,” Ekholm concludes.

And all remember how that ended. As the rookie of the year, national team player, and a lot of goals and assists. Brynäs has probably gotten back their dream defenseman.

Below is an article that appeared in Darlarna Tidninger, the newspaper that published Ekholm's blog while he was in North America

8:45 landed flight KL1107 from Amsterdam at Arlanda.

Brynäs sports director Michael Sundlöv had at the same time driven nearly 140 km to pick him up, on his significance:

“Dream defenseman. He was our best back last season,” commented Sundlöv.

Same time was the meeting the end for Vikarby’s son Mattias Elkholm’s NHL adventure – this time.

Last Friday night Mattias Ekholm played his second NHL match for Nashville. It was a loss against Vancouver and afterwards Coach Barry Trotz was anything but gracious in his criticism of Mattias Ekholm’s effort.

“He was horrible, absolutely horrible.”

“Many perhaps think it was harsh, but it is much more honest there, even if I think it was a tough lecture,” says Ekholm about Barry Trotz’ judgment.

The NHL adventure, thereafter, quickly came to an abrupt end.

Saturday, Nashville put out a press release that Ekholm would return to Brynäs and on Monday at 11 o’clock the 21 year old had his first practice with his new-old club.

DT-sport was onsite and followed the talented national team defenseman who drew his bow but missed in the world’s hardest hockey league.

The choice stood between the AHL and Brynäs and for Ekholm it became quickly obvious to return to Sweden.

“If my goal had been to get to the NHL as quick as possible, I should have stayed there. Right or wrong to go home – it shows itself in four, five year,” says Ekholm and continues, “Certainly there are mixed feelings, but I understood fairly early, when we had seven defensemen, that it would not go.”

Instead, says Mattias Ekholm, the ability to develop into a better hockey player is in Sweden and the Elite Series than in the American farm league.

“They wanted me to stay, and of course, think well of their own house, but somewhere I must think about myself and this was not an easy decision.”

Already, today, if the last paperwork reaches Sweden, Mattias Ekholm will make his debut when Brynäs meets Timrå at home in Läkerol Arena.

Today the situation stands that Mattias Ekholm is loaned out to Brynäs this season, at the same time he sits with a two year contract with Nashville.

“It is nice to be home again and now I am eager to play.”

Although it was reported that the Predators had no choice but to return Ekholm back to Sweden, the tenor of the articles implies that it was Ekholm's decision to return home. He almost seems casual about the development, saying that his return home will work itself out in "four or five years" as to whether or not he plays in the NHL.

Ekholm seemed unfazed by the criticism of his play by Coach Trotz, saying that it is just the honest nature of the coaches in the NHL.

Ekholm's paperwork did reach Sweden, and he scored a power play goal for Brynas in a game Monday night.

Once again, the View offers his gratitude to Patricia Blair, who secured and translated these articles for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sharks Stymie the Predators 3-1

When opposing goalies face the Nashville Predators, they should refund part of their pay.

They are certainly not having to work hard to earn their check.

Once again, the Predators were outshot by a wide margin, 36-20, in falling again at home 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks. For the year, the Predators are winless at home.

I cannot fault the effort of the Predators. They skated hard all night. The painful fact is that the Predators have no finishers now- guys that can get the puck on the net or in the net. And until that changes, the Predators are going to struggle mightily.

In the first period, the Predators were outshot 17-7. The Predators did a good job of breaking out and getting the puck in the offensive zone, but once in the zone were unable to generate any quality scoring chances. Antii Niemi got the start for the Sharks, and was never really threatened in the first period. Or the second period for that matter.

Logan Couture opened the scoring for the Sharks at 14:22 of the first period as the Predators gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season. Couture broke in past the defense and fired as shot that starting netminder Pekka Rinne stopped with his pad. Couture continued to the net, beating the Predators defense back to the puck and flipped a rebound over the Rinne's shoulder for the Sharks first tally.

The lack of serious scoring chances by the Predators made this goal look as if it would stand up as the game winner.

After a scoreless second period that saw the Predators outshot by a 10-5 margin, the outloof for the home team was grim. I cannot explain the lack of chemistry or offensive push by this team. Once they enter the offensive zone, it is as if they go into a shell and cannot figure out how to get shots on net. The secret to the Predators success has been to shoot the puck and crash the net. The first part of that formula is to shoot the puck, something the Predators have failed to do in every game.

There was fight left in the Predators in the third period, as Jordin Tootoo, who had a very solid game, absolutely blasted Logan Couture with a clean check. Ryan Clowe came over and dropped the gloves to fight, saw that it was Tootoo that he would be matched up with, and proceeded to turn tail and run.Clowe was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and on the ensuing power play, Craig Smith was able to jam the puck home from in front of the net to tie the game at 13:12 of the third period.

The Sharks sucked all the life out fo Bridgestone Arena with a Joe Pavelski goal at 14:09. Pavelski beat Rinne glove side as he was late sliding back across to the post. Pavelski would add an empty net goal at 18:48 to seal the win for the Sharks.

The Predators have always relied on the solid play of Rinne, but the fact is that early in this season, the team has leaned too heavily on their netminder. Their failure to shoot the puck and get scoring chances means that Rinne has to be perfect every night, and that is a tall order for any goalie.

Until this team develops a scoring mentality, they will struggle. Right now, there is now pure goal scorer on this team. This simply means that the Predators have to get back to shooting the puck and crashing the net. This team is not doing this, and until they do, the losses will pile up.

The team welcomed back Francis Buillon and Mike Fisher, and their contributions were noticeable. Fisher had an assist on Smith's goal and logged 19:30 in ice time. Buillon had 17:30 in ice time and was even in plus/minus for the night.

The predators continue to be a work in progress. Here is the stark fact this team has to overcome: Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Jerred Smithson, Matt Halischuk, Blake Geoffrion, and Brian McGratten (why is he in the line up again?) all had no shots on goal. Sergei Kostitsyn, Colin Wilson, and Nick Spaling all had one shot on gaol. That is nine forwards with one shot or less.

That is unbelievable and unacceptable.

It is time for this team to realize that no shot is a bad shot. NO shots are bad. The difference is not subtle. This team will not win with this kind of effort.

See the opposing team's net, guys. That is where you HAVE to shoot the puck.

It really is a simple game.

My three stars:

1. Joe Pavelski

2. Logan Couture

3. Craig Smith

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kick Start, or Kick in the Ass?

This past week, Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz very publicly called out one of his players for his poor play. Rookie defenseman Mattias Ekholm was singled out after his play in the Vancouver game, a 5-1 loss by the Predators. Trotz called the play of Ekholm "horrible, absolutely horrible."

Trotz went on to refer to his younger players as needing to either step up their game against the best players in the League or "go get a dog" if they couldn't man up and elevate their level of play.

The next contest saw the Predators break a 4 game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.



Call it a coach pushing the right buttons to get his team's attention. A team that was desperate to break out of their funk needed a kick start.

Or a kick in the ass.

The play of the Predators in this early season has been spotty at best, and their 3-3-1 record belies the fact that they have generally been outplayed in every contest, giving up an average of 12 more shots on goal by their opponents. In fact, the Predators have been outshot in all but two periods they have have played.

Barry Trotz is known as a master motivator and a coach that can squeeze everything out of the squad that he puts on the ice. Trotz usually conducts any chastisement of his players behind closed doors, treating discipline and motivational efforts as a "family matter" that doesn't need to be aired in public.

So why did Trotz publicly chew on Ekholm and his younger players?

The Predators are the youngest team in the NHL, with an average age of 26. After a 7-1 pre-season effort and a 2-0 start to the regular season, one has to wonder if the team- especially the younger players- were not hearing the coaches. Had they started to believe it was easy to win in this League?

One doesn't know the answer to that question, but I have to believe that whatever the coaches were doing and saying behind the closed doors of the locker room or at practice was not being received in a manner that translated into the team playing Predator hockey. The defensive breakdowns and lack of effort for stretches in a game are evidence that what was being said by the coaches and practiced on the ice were not translating when it counted the most, in games.

Obviously, one of the tools that any coach has is to limit ice time of a player or players that are not buying into their system. Trotz does not have this luxury available due to injuries to key players, so the young players are seeing ice time regardless of their level of commitment.

This team is going to rely on young players to carry a big work load this season, and their game is going to have to grow.


Unfortunately for the Predators, the growth spurt of this young team had stopped and taken a step backwards. Something was needed to get their attention.

Is the public thrashing of some of the players a "new" Barry Trotz?


I have talked to Coach Trotz after the team has played poorly. I know what he has said to the team on those occasions, and he can peel the paint off a locker room wall. He has chosen in those instances to keep it within the confines of his team.

This public criticism is a masterful motivator pushing another button to get his team to elevate their level of play. Watch closely, for if this team plays like they are capable, you will not see public criticism again. As fun as it is to watch John Tortorella publicly explode at his team, you will rarely see this out of Trotz.

Unless this team needs a kick in the ass to get them started.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Predators End the Streak, Snuff Flames 2-0

The Nashville Predators looked to salvage their western Canada road trip with a win at the PenGrowth Saddledome in Calgary in an afternoon matinee. This trip had so far exposed the young Predators squad as not being ready to compete at a level that would allow them to win consistently. With a young team, bad play can become habit forming, and the Predators were attempting to break some of these bad habits against a team in the Flames that had struggled as well early in this season.

Pekka Rinne was once again in net for the Predators, and as has been the normal course of business for the Predators, they gave him lots of work in the period.

Mikka Kirrusoff got the start for the Flames, and unlike Rinne, did not see much action on his end of the ice.

The positive for the Predators was that the first period ended scoreless.

The Flames outshot the Predators 8-3 in the period, but spent a lot of time in the Predators zone. By contrast, the Predators never seriously threatened Kipper, save for one quality scoring chance by David Legwand.

The offense continues to struggle with chemistry and finding a rhythm in the offensive zone. The challenge for this mix and match squad is to keep their game simple and get pucks on net. In their losing streak, this has been consistently difficult.

Sometimes, you need a little luck to break out of a funk. Finally, the Predators had a bit of good luck, as Jack Hillen floated a shot toward the Calgary net. The puck bounced off the chest of Niclas Bergfors and past Kiprusoff to put the Predators on the board at 2:34 of the second period.

Although Calgary outshot the Predators 11-9 in the period, there was much better energy by the Predators. They did a good job of getting the puck deep on the Flames defense and creating offensive chances. They cycled the puck well and were much stronger on the puck. This is what this team has to do to be successful, and they executed much better in the second period.

Once again, this team was going to head into the third period with a lead. Part of the maturing process for any young group of players is learning how to lock down a game with a lead. This was going to be another opportunity for the Predators to learn how to win a game.

Everyone in the Saddledome knew the Flames were going to push in the third period, and they pushed hard. The Predators just managed one shot through the first 10 minutes of the period and had no offensive pressure. Calgary was living in the Predators offensive zone, and Pekka Rinne made some great saves to hold off the Calgary threat.

Perhaps the biggest save of the period came when Jonathan Blum dove across the crease and blocked a shot from Olli Jokinen when he had a wide open net. Sometimes, it helps to be lucky. Sometimes, you have to make your own luck.

The Predators made it 2-0 off a rush by Craig Smith. Smith drew the defense to him and slipped a nice pass to Sergei Kostitsyn  who buried the shot past Kiprusoff at 14:36 of the third period.

Great hustle and challenging the Calgary net resulted in a goal. Sounds a lot like Predator hockey.

The Predators held off the Flames for the remainder of the period and thankfully, the losing streak was over.

There are still areas of concern for the Predators. The often failed to clear the puck when they had opportunities to do so. The offense disappeared for stretches as evidenced by the fact that the Flames outshot the Predators 33-14.

These are areas that have to improve, but one cannot take away from the fact that this team battled all game, hustled, and did what it took to win the game.

Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net for the Predators. This team will continue to ride his effort and he will have to continue to be strong for this team.

Learning from losses is painful and certainly no fun. There are lessons to be learned from winning as well. This team needs to take the lessons from this win and bring them to the ice next week in a three game home stand.

Time to learn some fun lessons.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Craig Smith

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trotzy's Tirade Goes International

Fans of Mattias Ekholm in Sweden have, by extension, become at least casual fans of the Nashville Predators. After the debacle in Vancouver last night, Trotz specifically called out Ekholm, calling his play "horrible, absolutely horrible." While we might brush that off and say that is a coach trying to kick start a team and a player that needs a good kick in the hockey pants, it was big news back in Sweden.

Don't believe me?

Here is the headline from Aftonbladet

The quote in the bubble is what Trotzy actually said about Ekholm. The headline below the picture loosely translates to the Coach "sawed up" his player.

While not as sensational as Aftonbladet, this is the headline from Expressen, and the translation is that Ekholm was brutally cut up by his Coach.

The obvious interest in a local athlete playing in the NHL is high. The perception of his treatment is... different.

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Remember when the Republicans took control of the House after the mid-term elections and vowed to cut spending? In April, Republicans in Congress succeeded in getting a bill passed that ostensibly cut a meager $38 billion dollars from the federal budget. Additionally, some legislators in Washington have proposed cutting $2.4 trillion from federal spending over the next decade. Makes one feel good that perhaps Washington is making the first steps toward fiscal sanity, doesn't it? Well, not so fast, friends. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, there have been NO spending cuts at all. Zero. Zip. Nada. As a matter of fact, again according to the Treasury Department, there has been $120 billion dollars more in federal spending through the first nine months of 2011 than there was in 2010.. That is an increase of 5% in spending over the same period a year ago. "But wait", you say, "weren't the Republicans going to cut spending and restore fiscal discipline?" In the bizarro world of Washington, a cut in the rate of growth of a federal program is considered a cut, even though real dollar spending has increased. The problem that we face in this country is that we have no leaders on either side of the aisle- or not enough of them- that will truly commit to limiting the spending of the federal government. A balanced budget amendment would go a long way to injecting some fiscal discipline into the process, but until that happens, we as voters and taxpayers are going to have to involve ourselves and demand that Washington enact REAL cuts to the budget.

I always cry at weddings because I know what it is like to be married.

Armed with the facts that I presented above, you should be aware that the liberal left and their accomplices in the media are claiming that these so called budget "cuts" are responsible for the slowdown in our economy, and if the government would just spend more money, everything would get back to normal. The figures don't back up this claim. If government spending at the federal level is 5% higher than last year, doesn't it make sense, if the lefts claims are valid, that we should be seeing economic growth? Some will say that the growth in federal spending was offset by declines in state government spending, and this has contributed to the economic slowdown. Not so, according to the Treasury Department. In the same survey, overall spending at the state government level in this country grew sharply. Spending at the state level in 2010 was 10% higher than it was in 2008 when our economy toppled over into the recession in which we now find ourselves. Part of the increase in spending at the state level was the injection of federal stimulus dollars, and those dollars are now gone, so it is going to be interesting to see if the states will do a better job of reining in spending than have their counterparts at the federal level. Here is what you should know: the burden to productive individuals and businesses from state and federal government has grown to unprecedented levels. Until this stops and is truly reversed, our economy is not going to grow and produce the jobs we need.

We have enough youth. How about a fountain of smart?

It's no secret that our economy is struggling and that jobs are not being created at a rate that will start to get people back to work. There are a number of reasons for this, but here is one of the most important. According the "2011 Structural Costs of Manufacturing in the United States" report by the Manufacturing Alliance and the Manufacturing Institute, U.S. manufacturers face a 20% structural cost disadvantage in the global market as compared to our nine largest trading partners. Structural costs are the costs a business incurs just to "do business", and in a era of global trade, a high structural cost gap is extremely detrimental. This simply means that the widget produced in the U.S.- all things being equal- is going to have a higher cost than the widget produced in a lower structural cost country. According to the report, the five key components of structural costs are: corporate tax burden; tort costs; pollution and environmental regulatory cost; employee benefit costs; and energy costs. The report identified two critical areas where U.S. manufacturers are at a distinct competitive disadvantage: health care costs and corporate tax rates. While U.S. manufacturers face stiff competition from overseas competitors, we as a nation and Congress in particular should be aware of the self inflicted burdens that we place on our companies and how it impacts job creation. Until we make the domestic environment more favorable for our manufacturers- and all businesses- we will struggle to create much needed jobs.

We had a tragedy at my house this week. I spilled spot remover on my dog and now he is gone.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Canucks Embarrass the Predators 5-1

The Nashville Predators took on the Vancouver Canucks in Rogers Arena looking to correct the mistakes that had plagued them in three straight losses.

School is going to continue to be in session for the Predators.

They were just embarrassed in 5-1 loss to the Canucks.

There were a few bad breaks for the Predators, but they were out played from end to end in this contest.

It is always a bad sign when you have more than double the number of penalty minutes than shots on goal. Yes, that is what the Predators managed to do.

Daniel Sedin opened the scoring, as he banked a shot off the back of Pekka Rinne from behind the goal line at 2:11 of the first.

Matt Halishcuk answered for the Predators at 4:01 of the first period as he took a Colin Wilson shot off the end boards and slammed the rebound past a an out of position Roberto Luongo to tie the game. A great hustle play by Halischuk and a good answer by the Predators. Maybe the momentum was turning.

Not so fast.

From that point on, it was all downhill for the Predators.

Henrik Sedin scored on a power play with Colin Wilson in the box for a double minor for high sticking at 5:56 of the first.

Rinne attempted to clear a puck around the boards, but it was held in at the point by Alex Edler. Edler shot the puck toward the net and it was tipped by Dale Weise past Rinne at 12:02 to make it 3-1 Canucks.

Chris Higgins broke in 2 on 1 against Jonathan Blum, and attempted to pass the puck. Blum blocked the pass right back to Higgins, who had an open net in which to shoot the puck as Rinne was out of position to play the pass.

Not only did the wheels come off for the Predators in the first period, the car ran into to the ditch and caught fire.

Fortunately for the Predators, the Canucks did not score in the second period. Unfortunately, the Predators did not either. In fact, they failed to generate many quality scoring chances.

Anders Lindback came on in relief for Rinne to start the second period, and he was a busy goaltender. Although the Canucks did not score, it was not for lack of effort and help from the Predators. The Predators took three straight penalties, including a span of 90 seconds where they were down two men.Kudos to Lindback and the Predators PK unit for a solid effort.

The penalties and the lack of offensive punch contributed to a 31-19 shot advantage for the Canucks through two periods, continuing the troubling trend of the Predators being outshot by a wide margin.

This is a team that is not built to score a lot of goals, and they have to play disciplined, fundamentally sound hockey. Right now, this team is doing neither.

The third period saw the Canucks add another tally to make it 5-1 as Ryan Suter was called for Shea Weber took a selfish and undisciplined double minor unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Ryan Kesler made them pay with a one timer at 6:06 of the third for the final margin.

If you think my statement about the Predators not being built to score goals, consider these two facts: the Predators did not record a shot on goal in the third period until there was 7:47 remaining; and for the game, the Predators were once again outshot by a wide margin, 40-26

That is pathetic.

The level of play of this team is not remotely where it needs to be to be competitive. They are undisciplined and error prone and lack the intensity necessary to compete.

I know this team is young, but the core of veterans remains, and there is a break down between the coaching and the play on the ice. Veteran leadership, save for the fiery Jerred Smithson, is absent.

This is a formula for a disastrous season.

Bad habits developed early in a season can carry over throughout the season. It is time for those mental breakdowns and lack of intensity to be addressed and corrected.

Otherwise, it is going to be a long and embarrassing season for the Predators.

My three stars:

1. Daniel Sedin
2.Ryan Kesler

3. Roberto Luongo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ekholm Diaries: Western Canada Road Trip

Mattias Ekholm and his Predator teammates departed Nashville on Sunday for a week long road trip to Western Canada. Here are his blog entries from Edmonton and from Vancouver.

Canada 10-17-2011

Hello again,

Now, we check in from a fairly cold Edmonton. Just arrived at the hotel, here, and thought to pull off a few lines. We can start by reviewing yesterday when we played New Jersey at home. The day began by going down to the arena at 9 o’clock for meetings. There was, in fact, no ice only a little “active rest” plus the meeting before the match. Then, lunch and home for relaxation and the customary nap before the match gathering.

Then at five, down at the rink again for warm up and build up, unsure at this point if I would play or not. Unfortunately, a little later I got the information that I was not part of the team this evening, so I hit the gym and worked through a session during the first period.

The match, itself, began very well with a 2-0 lead after the first period, but the Devils crept closer and when the final horn sounded it was tied. After a scoreless overtime, they took the extra point with a shootout win.

During the day, today, we have arrived in Canada and the city of Edmonton, who we meet here tomorrow evening! After a meager 4 hour and 30 minute plane ride we landed about 45 minutes by bus outside the city. We landed at 4 so we have just taken it easy this evening and ate a terribly good dinner at a nearby “steakhouse”. Always good with a steak!

So the match here tomorrow, today, I have no idea if I will get some playing time or if it will be in the stands this evening, also, remains to be seen! Can say that we have just begun a week long “road trip”. After the match, we will go on to play against Vancouver on Thursday evening and Calgary on Saturday! Fairly nice to get to see some other hotel rooms, other than the one you have become used to “at home” in Nashville!

The Olympic City 10-20-2011


Must begin (again) by apologizing for the lack of updates the last couple of days, primarily due to the fact that we do not have a lot of time when we are out on “the road”. But I will try to summarize a little bit the latest days that have passed. If we begin where we ended last, it was time for the match against Edmonton on Monday evening. We began the day as usual with a lighter morning skate for about a half hour. And today, already in the morning, I got word that I would not play the match, so had an extra half hour practice with the coaches and the others who would not play, so got a really good ice session there!

The day continued with a little lunch and rest at the hotel, just took it easy before the match. Here, also, if you do not play, we have a gym session/cycling session during the first period so you get in a little extra training! Then I followed the match in the press box during the last half of the match. No further achievement from the team, but was still close to getting a point, had a 1-0 lead before the last period. Unfortunately, Edmonton succeeded to turn the match into a 3-1 win.

On Tuesday, we had a morning practice to work the legs a little after the previous day’s match. Immediately after practice, onto the bus and out to the plane which stood and waited for departure to the last Olympic city, Vancouver! Damn what great scenery it is here, you see the big mountain peaks while at the same time you have water flowing through the city below. Striking is the word!

So, we’ve been here, now, since yesterday when we landed in the evening. Ate dinner together with the team, damn good for me, being new, to come in more and get to know teammates a little better! Appreciate it! Today, we just had practice in the middle of the day, then lunch in the city with several buddies on the team. After that I have just taken it easy in the hotel and went out and ate dinner! Charge the batteries for tomorrow’s match, must see if I get the chance to play or not! Just keep my fingers crossed and continue to work hard in practice!

So there, now I feel happy with this update on the team.

I guess if you have flown over from Sweden to the U.S. to play hockey, a 4 1/2 hour flight from Nashville to Edmonton is a "meager" flight.

I do like the way that he phrases the Edmonton game. The Predators had a 1-0 lead when he got to the pressbox after his training session, but there "was no further achievement". I think many Predators fans probably were not as kind in their description of the effort against Edmonton.

Again, many thanks to Patricia Blair, who has done a great job translating these blogs for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Touring the Home of the Predators

Predator fans have made Bridgestone Arena one of the loudest arenas in the NHL. The home of Predator nation can be an intimidating barn.

As much as the arena is home to the fans, it is the home away from home for the players. Ever wonder what their home is like?

I'm glad you asked.

Why don't we take a tour of the part of the arena that is home to the Predators.

This is the Predators Locker room where they dress before the games. The locker room is located at the end of the tunnel that leads to the ice. Here you see the practice jerseys and equipment set out for the players.

Immediately off the locker room at one end is the stick room. The room contains a multitude of sticks for the players that are stored for future use. The players have several sticks at the bench in case one breaks, and this is where the extra sticks are held. Notice too that they game jerseys (last year's model) are stored in this room as well.

Each player will shape the blade of the stick to their preference. The equipment room, also located off the locker room is equipped with equipment to shape sticks as well as sharpen and repair skates and other equipment.

The training room is where players receive treatment or stitches during the game, and where the trainers work on injured players when the team is in town. Although you don't see it in this shot, there is a host of medical devices here for the maintenance of the players physical health.

This is a lounge area/meeting space for the team. As you can see, there is a television for the players use, as well as several computers. There are comfortable couches and chairs for the team members as well as tables where they can have lunch. As Mattias Ekholm has mentioned in his diary, the team likes to have lots of meetings. The meeting space for the players is very accommodating.

The Predators have a state of the art work out facility. This is used for off ice testing at the start of the season as well as in season conditioning. This large facility is located across the hall from the locker rooms.

Predator fans will recall that the arena flooded in May of 2010, and one of the casualties of that event was the team's locker room, meeting space, and work out areas. All had to be rebuilt after the flood. After taking a tour, it can be said that the facilities are first class.

This is a glimpse of where the Predators spend much of their day. While we see them on ice for practice, the hub of their activity occurs in these facilities.

I want to thank Colin Wilson, who was gracious enough to take an afternoon that he had off to give me the tour.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Predators Blow Another Third Period Lead, Fall to the Oilers 3-1

The Nashville Predators made their first trip of the season to the great white North, taking on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. In the Oilers, the Predators faced a young, talented, speedy squad that could be very dangerous with the puck. Sorta like what the Predators had hoped to be at the outset of this season.

Pekka Rinne got the start again in net for the Predators, while the Oilers went with Nikolai Khabibulin.

It was scoreless after one period, but not for lack of effort by the Oilers. Once again, the Predators allowed a flurry of shots on Pekka Rinne, getting outshot by a 12-4 margin. Rinne was once again called upon to make some critical stops to keep the Oilers off the board. I hope you are taking your vitamins and getting lots of rest, Mr. Rinne, because this team in front of you is certainly going to give you all the work you can handle.

Both teams went 0-2 on the power play, and all 4 of Nashville's shots in the period came on their power plays. To say the Nashville offensive effort was absent in the first period is generous.

There is no doubt the young Oilers squad is talented, and they are only going to get better. The young talent of the Oilers seemed to be a step faster throughout the period, and it was the aforementioned Rinne that kept the Predators in the game. Here is a blinding flash of the obvious: the Predators are going to have to improve their defensive zone coverage and cut down on the shots and scoring chances of the opponents. Fail to do so, and this is going to be a long season.

One has to wonder what Head Coach Barry Trotz says to his team during an intermission. It is probably not suitable for those with sensitive ears, because the Predators opened the second period playing the type of hockey of which they are capable. The Predators were skating better, getting good breakouts, and getting the puck deep.

Nevertheless, the Oilers were still pressing, and a shot was rocketed toward Rinne, who blocked it out with his stick to the blue line. The puck was picked up by Sergei Kostitsyn, who skated the puck in on Khabibulin and fired a backhand shot that trickled through the Oiler netminder for a 1-0 Predators lead at 18:58 of the period.

The remainder of the period was an up and down affair, as both teams moved the puck well and created some scoring chances. The Oilers were defensed much better by the Predators, who held them to 7 shots for the period while the Predators recorded 5 shots.

Nursing a one goal lead going into the third period was going to be another test for the young Predators to see if they could shut down a potent Oiler offense.

Throughout this contest, the Predators played with fire by taking a number of penalties. They finally were burned when Ryan Suter was in the box for holding and Taylor Hall took a nice cross ice pass from Ryan Nugent Hopkins and had an open net in which to shoot the puck. Hall's first goal tied the game at 1 at 5:29 of the third period.

It was now up to the Predators to respond.

At 7:31 of the third, we saw how the Predators responded. Their response? Blowing defensive zone coverage and allowing Shawn Horcoff to make a beautiful pass to Ryan Smyth who was wide open in front of the Predators net and easily beat Rinne to make it 2-1. Both Jonathan Blum and Kevin Klein slid toward Horcoff and left Smyth wide open to attack the net. On the play, the Predator forwards on the ice were late getting back in defensive support, and this comedy of errors cost the Predators a goal.

Ryan Jones scored an empty netter at 19:22 to seal the win for the Oilers.

The absolutely horrid statistic from this game? The Predators only mustered 12- count, em, TWELVE shots on goal for the entire game. Three shots on goal in the third period. THREE shots. Now I am not a hockey coach, but to me that is not a formula for winning hockey games.

Here is the fact that all Predator fans must deal with: this is not a good hockey team. The young guys are making too many mistakes and the veterans have not stepped their game. Missing in action to date this season are Nick Spaling, Patrick Hornqvist, Matt Halischuk, and Cal O'Reilly, none of which have produced any sort of offense.

This is the second game that the Predators have blown a third period lead. This is a sign of tentativeness, lack of confidence, lack of experience, whatever it might be. Regardless, it is a problem that must be corrected quickly or this team will find itself way outside the playoff race early.

I have given this team a pass in their recent contests and called their flaws "learning experiences". The time for these painful learning experiences is, in my view, over. It is time for this team to begin to play disciplined hockey, gritty hockey, Predator hockey.

Right now, they are not even close to doing so.

My three stars:

1. Shawn Horcoff

2. Taylor Hall

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

The Ekholm Diaries: The Season Starts

We have followed rookie Mattias Ekholm from his departure from his home in Sweden and arrival in the United States, through rookie camp and training camp with the veterans. With a solid camp, Ekholm made the final roster, and now we are going to follow the young rookie through the season. here are his entries to his blog from the start of the regular season:

Entry 27 10-6-2011

Hello again!

New day and new possibilities, with that introduction nothing can go wrong . . . Yes, today, Wednesday, has, in fact, almost been a little hectic. Although, I can still say, the day started as usual with breakfast about 9 o’clock. Then down to the rink with a fine breakfast in my stomach. We began the day’s training with a half hour in the gym, mostly for maintenance. Followed by a meeting (no comments) and after that out on the ice and work for about an hour.

Notice, now that the premiere is near, practices are not so long anymore and there is a lot of rest in them. But when we work, we work! We began with some warm up drills, followed by some game drills, and a lot of power play. A lot of different details that we want to polish the last days before the season starts!

After practice a friend (Jon Blum) and I went and ate lunch, little pasta to refill the stores. After that I took a swing by the bank that I use over here and fixed some things. Must say that it is really nice to have such small tasks to do so you avoid sitting and rotting in the hotel all day!

Now, this evening I was invited to an excellent dinner with the Hörnqvist couple! Really nice, it was a little Swedish dinner, he invited the other two Swedes here (Lindbäck and Bergfors) with their respective. A lot of good food and good conversation. But above all, it was terribly good to get home cooked food again, appreciate it just now. Don’t really know why, because there is good food in the restaurants here, too, but it is something special when it is “Swedish” home cooked. (I cannot think how good mom’s home cooking would be just now!) So, for that, much thanks!

So, in broad strokes, that is how my day went. Tomorrow, we fly to Columbus in the afternoon. Must see how the opportunities look for an update. It will be really awesome with the premiere on Friday, even if it is from the stands, since it is the first NHL match that I get to view in person! I hope, of course, that I will get to play, but we must simply see how it goes!

The Premiere 10-8-2011
I have time to get in a quick entry before bedtime in St. Louis where we just landed, or have, actually, just reached the hotel room! Today was the season premiere for the team! Really fun to get it going, now. Even though I didn’t play, it feels good! I spent the match in the stands with a number of other players who didn’t get to play or are injured!

The match went really well for the team, opening the NHL season with a 3-2 road win against Columbus was really strong. Must say without the goalie (Pekka Rinne), in all likelihood, it would not have been a win. Terribly good. He saved them on several occasions! But, otherwise, it was a team effort that led to the 2 points.

So, now, we are in St. Louis where the team plays tomorrow evening. We flew here immediately after the match and have a little warm up in the morning and then lunch and rest before the battle begins at 7 o’clock. (I believe) Little unsure, there.

Nightmare Night 10-10-2011

Happy hello to all!

Peek in a few minutes before bedtime, here, in Tennessee. As you can see from the heading, everything has not gone according to plan the last few days. Almost exactly 2 hours after I posted the last entry from the hotel room in St. Louis, I succeeded in getting some type of upset stomach! Really difficult, could have been one of the worst nights of my life. You all know how it is to have an upset stomach, so any further explanation of what happened, I think we can skip . . .

Consequently, it was not a fun visit for me, but I felt better the next day and went to the match and could follow the team home in the evening. The match ended with another win! After the goalie, again, played very well the team was able to win 4-2. Pekka Rinne (The goalie) is a great security for the whole team, terribly good start to the season on his part.

Today, Sunday, we have had a free day, no match again before Thursday or Friday (little unsure there). So, mostly, I have just taken it easy and tried to take in food after the stomach trouble. A little American football and a little Swedish TV spruced up the day. Bloody nice to get to just be and take it easy for a day!

But tomorrow the serious work begins again; practice is on the schedule and I will try to fight for and show that I am worthy of a chance. If it is to go that way, I need to sleep now

Debut! 10-15-2011

Hello again blog!

Peek in a bit before bedtime on a Friday evening here in Nashville; intend to talk a little about the big event that happened yesterday. For you who don’t know, I got to make my NHL debut! It was a terribly intense feeling to step on the ice during the introduction before about 17,000 home fans! It was jaw dropping.

As you know, there had been a little uncertain/unclear status about who would start yesterday’s game. About an hour before face-off I got the word that I would play! My pulse rose fairly substantially I can report. But I thought I could keep the nerves under control during the game, anyway. The game, itself, was not a happy story really; we ended up behind 0-3 after the first period and then fought back with 2 goals to 2-4 but that was it and Phoenix, who was the opponent, took home the win, unfortunately!

For my own part, it was an intense experience to get to step into the world’s best league and, at last, get to experience what it is like to play. Must say that the fans here in Nashville are really good! Was probably the loudest I have played in front of. Always fun to play in front of so many people also, obviously.

That is probably enough about the match now, today we had some meetings and about an hour on ice. Everything directed towards coming back with a win tomorrow when the New Jersey Devils come to visit. I don’t know, yet, if I will get to play or not, just cross my fingers during warm up tomorrow. Now, my eyelids begin to fall, I will try to get some sleep, here. Bye!

Ekholm points out what all Predator fans know all too well: this team would be in serious trouble without Pekka Rinne.

Sounds like a bit of a bug was running through some of the team members, as we know Rinne battled a stomach problem before the Columbus game, and Ekholm got something before the St. Louis game

For a young man that stepped on to the ice for his NHL debut, his entry on 10/15 is surprisingly understated. I like the props he gives the Predator fans and their vocal support of the team.

As Ekholm continues to post, we will follow his exploits and his perspectives throughout the season.

Once again, a major stick tap to Patricia Blair, who has done excellent work translating these entries from Mattias.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Devils Defeat the Predators in a Shootout 3-2

The Nashville Predators fell to the New Jersey Devils in a shoot out 3-2 at the Bridgestone Arena. In this contest, there were aspects that were good, bad, and ugly.


Unlike their previous effort, the Predators opened the contest with good jump and were able to solve the Devils trap game. The Devils cycle the puck well, and the Predators weathered the early pressure exerted by the visitors. The breakouts were crisper, and the Predators were able to cycle the puck in the offensive zone and create pressure of their own.

This effort resulted in a 2-0 lead after the end of the first period. The Predators first tally came at 12:22 of the period on the power play as Colin Wilson continued his solid play, re-directing a pass from Sergei Kostitsyn past Devils netminder Johan Hedberg. Wilson has played with fire in his belly and has been consistently good in all aspects of his game.

The Predators notched their second goal 1:21 seconds later, at 13:53 as Jerred Smithson was the beneficiary of a great cross ice pass from Jordin Tootoo. With Nick Spaling in front occupying Hedberg, Smithson was able to fire the puck into an open net for a 2-0 Predator lead.

Pekka Rinne was solid in net, making some great stops early to keep the Devils off the board. His play in net continues to keep the Predators in contests, and he is moving well and exhibiting the great glove hand that he has shown throughout his career.


Once again, the Predators gave up double digit shot totals in every period, and a total 38 in three periods and another 3 in overtime. This is entirely too much, and gives the other team numerous opportunities to score. The reliance on Rinne is a tribute to his skill, but the Predators have to tighten up their defense.

There were stretches where the Predators seemed totally unable to get out of their defensive zone, much less exert any offensive pressure. At times, it was a victory for the Predators to get the puck out of the defensive zone. The lapses are problematic because it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on the defense and Rinne.


Sergei Kostitsyn took a slashing penalty at 19:50 of the second period. On the ensuing power play to start the third, Pekka Rinne was run into by Patrick Elias. Shea Weber responded by taking a shot a Elias and was called for cross checking. On the power play, Ilya Kovalchuk blasted a shot by Rinne to cut the deficit to one. Apparently, it was permissible for the Devils to run Rinne with no call or consequence. That was a big momentum swing for the Devils, as they controlled play for much of the third period.

David Clarkson, he who had served a five minute boarding major earlier in the game, tied the game at 7:57 of the third. The Devils had dominated play and had been swarming the Predators in their own zone, and the effort by the Devils was rewarded with the tying goal.

The Predators did muster a few offensive chances late, but were unable to bury their chances. Once again, a lead had been squandered late.


The overtime was scoreless, forcing a shootout. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise scored on beautiful moves against Rinne, while Cal O'Reilly and Matt Halischuk were stopped by Hedberg.

This is a painful learning experience for this young squad. The game is 60 minutes and this team cannot take rest on a lead, but must continue offensive pressure throughout the contest.

The ability of Rinne is without question, but when teams pour an abundance of shots on the net every night, it is not a formula for consistently winning games. The defensive effort has to get better.

There are flashes of great play. Those flashes are often surrounded by lapses that cost this team. Those lapses have to be eliminated for this team to be successful.

Brian McGratten showed why he is on the roster, as he toyed with the Devils heavyweight Cam Janssen while pummeling him in a lengthy bout. McGratten even took his free hand and used it to exhort the crowd while holding Janssen at bay. The fact is, however, that McGratten, didn't see the ice in the third period, effectively putting the Predators down a forward.

The Predators continue as a work in progress. This young team is going to experience some growing pains. We are seeing them now.

If this team is going to make a strong push to the playoffs, they are going to have to grow up quickly.

My three stars:

1. Johan Hedberg

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Ilya Kovalchuk

Friday, October 14, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

So Warren Buffet thinks the rich are "coddled" and should pay more in taxes. In his recent New York Times Op-Ed piece, Buffett wrote, in part,

"Our leaders have asked for shared sacrifice. But when they did the asking, they spared me.... While most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks...These and other blessings are showered upon us by our legislators in Washington..."
Readers of this column know that one of the first things I say to do is to always follow the money. Mr. Buffett feels that he has been coddled, eh? Tell me this, dear readers, if he is being coddled so much, why is his company, Berkshire Hathaway fighting with the IRS over a tax payment of over $1 BILLION dollars? According to the Berkshire Hathaway annual report, the company's auditors have mentioned in the footnotes that there is unrecognized tax benefits of this amount, meaning that the company will likely have to pay the taxes in this dispute. C'mon Warren, you don't want to be coddled anymore, so pony up the funds. Write the check immediately and stop wasting government (taxpayer) resources trying to collect the funds from your very own, coddled company.The hypocrisy of Buffett and his ilk is gag inducing. The next time someone trots out Buffett as an example of why the rich should pay more, stop and ask if he has paid the $1 billion tax bill that is owed by his company.

The other night, my wife asked me to whisper some dirty things in her ear. So I said "laundry, the bathroom, the kitchen floor."

In its simplest form, "crony capitalism" is the inter-relationship between a private company and government officials that innure special benefits to that company that are not available to other competitors. A company that has ties to high ranking government officials may have an inside advantage on landing government contracts or business. One of the persistent memes from the Left during the Bush adminsistration was that we invaded Iraq so that Haliburton, an integrated oil service company, could benefit. There was always an attempt by the Left and their accomplices in the main stream media to tie any wrongdoing with Haliburton to Dick Cheney and George Bush. Tell me this, how much have you heard from the MSM about Solyndra? Who is that, you ask? Solyndra is a failed "green energy" company that left tax payers with a $500 million dollar tab after it failed. No big deal, you say; companies fail all the time. This one was special, friends. Guaranties for the loan from the Department of Energy were rushed through by the White House. Furthermore, the largest shareholder in Solyndra, George Kaiser, was a prominent donor to the Democrats in the last election cycle and even hosted a fund raiser in his home for then candidate Obama. Now I don't know about you, but this certainly sounds like "crony capitalism" to me. As much as the MSM decried- and rightfully so- the instances, real or perceived, of crony capitalism in the Bush administration, they have been strangely silent on this blatant example of crony capitalism. Keep your eye on this, and be aware, there are some more instances that are coming to light that suggest that crony capitalism is very alive and well in the Obama administration, even if you will not hear it in the MSM.

You know what is awkward? When the zombies are coming for brains, and they just walk right past me.

If you go back to December of 2007, the U.S. economy was at "full employment" meaning that our unemployment rate was less than 4%. Of course, we know that in 2008, the financial crisis in this country came to full flower, and the result has been a very severe recession. Numerous jobs have been shed over the course of the nearly three years, so that now our real unemployment rate is approximately 17%. The coming elections in 2012, coupled with this dire employment picture, have focused our leaders in Washington on the fact that we have to create more jobs. How many jobs? I'm glad you asked. We will need to create 262,000 NEW jobs a month. For the next FIVE years. 16,200,00 new jobs. All to get back to the December 2007 employment levels. Currently, we are creating just over 100,000 new jobs a month. So the next time someone in Washington proposes a new tax, a new piece of legislation, or even a new "jobs" bill, ask yourself what this is really doing to help our country, our businesses, create new jobs. If you cannot simply and clearly answer that question, then know that it will not aid in creating the jobs we so desperately need.

I drive waaay too fast to worry about cholesterol.

And that my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Phoenix Pounds the Predators 5-2

You remember how as a young child you learned to ride a bike. There were moments of sheer ecstasy as you rode along with the wind in your hair. There were also moments of sheer terror as the wheels wobbled and you eventually crashed to the ground with your knees skinned up, bloody and sore.

Tonight, the Predators fell off their bike and wound up with the skinned knees, sore and beaten, as the Phoenix Coyotes dominated the Predators in a 5-2 win.

The euphoria of the first two games, wobbly but wins nevertheless, disappeared as the Coyotes manhandled the Predators.

This is part and parcel of fielding a young team.

The callow Predators struggled in the first period of the game as they went over seven minutes without a shot on goal. In the meantime, they hung starting netminder Pekka Rinne out to dry. The Coyotes peppered the Predators goaltender with shot after shot, and Rinne could only hold the fort for so long, as the Coyotes overwhelmed the Predators for three first period goals en route to a 3-0 advantage that they would never give up.

The disappointing aspect of this loss was the fact that the Predators lost puck battles all night. They struggled to enter the offensive zone, and they could not clear the defensive zone. The Predators were outworked in all zones tonight, and the Coyotes made them pay for their lack of effort.

This was reflected in the shot totals. In the first period, the Coyotes outshot the Predators 16-7, arguably the worst period of hockey that the Preds have played in this young season. It didn't get much better in the second period, as the Coyotes held a 12-8 shot advantage. Only in the third period did the Predators muster an effort worthy of Predator hockey, out shooting the Coyotes 1-3. By then, it was too little, too late.

Here are the ugly details: Dave Schlemko scored at 12:00 of the first; Ryan Whitney at 14:28; and Lauri Korpikoski at 18:45.

In the second period, Mikkel Boedker tallied at 11:26. Ryan Suter finally got the Predators on the board with a short handed blast at at 14:01.

In the third period, Colin Wilson gave the Predators some life with a blast from just inside the face off circle to make it 4-2. The Coyotes sealed the win with an empty net goal at 19:06 by Derrick Morris.

The young squad of Predators was without Marty Erat, who has been place don IR; Patric Hornqvist, who was out with an injured foot; and Mike Fisher, who has yet to play this season.

The youth of the Predators was victimized by, well, their youth. They spent much of the night chasing the puck and seemed to forget their discipline on too many occasions. That lack of discipline often resulted in good scoring chances for the Coyotes, and if not for the solid play of Pekka Rinne, the score could have been much worse. I really can't fault Rinne for any of the goals that were given up tonight, as many times he was under siege by the Coyotes.

On the other end, the Predators had some scoring chances early, but couldn't solve Jason Labarbera. Labarbera has been a Pred killer back to his days with the Kings. He continued his dominance over the Predators, making some very good saves early to keep the Predators off the board. For this young team, the ability to bury a shot early is critical to their psyche, and tonight, their psyche was severely bruised by the play of Labarbera and the Coyotes.

As I mentioned, this is what you get with a young squad. Some nights, they come out flying with energy and enthusiasm. Some nights, they fall off the bike and have to get back up and ride again. Tonight, they fell off the bike, numerous times, and had trouble staying on.

The team has an opportunity to rebound on Saturday night. I don't expect this young squad to come out and dominate. I do expect them to compete.

Tonight, they did not.

As with any young group, some painful lessons have to be learned. The game tonight will be of benefit to this team if they learn the painful lessons and bring the effort in their next contest.

Fail to do so, and the fall off the bike is going to be painful.


My three stars:

1. Jason Labarbera

2. Ray Whitney

3. Ryan Suter

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Ekholm Diaries: Training Camp

The intensity and the action goes up several levels for our Mattias Ekholm and all the rookies, as the veterans report to camp and the competition for roster spots begins.This is going to be a rather lengthy post as we are going to follow Ekholm through the entire training camp, so here we go...

Entry thirteen- 9-16-2011

Entry thirteen already, it has gone fast I must say! Soon, I will have been here two weeks, feels like three days.

The day, offered an early morning, the alarm rang at 6:30. Got up, ate a little breakfast, then down to the rink for this year’s skating test. Terribly hard, but I must say that it went better than expected. I bettered my time from the summer by more than a second! Really good to get a little acknowledgement that I trained properly. Afterwards, it was really calm before I was picked up by our Swedish “star” here in the form of Patric Hörnqvist. It was really nice that I was invited to lunch and a tour of his, to say the least, fine home. Cool to see where you can end up, if you work hard in hockey here!

Day 1 9-17-2011


I planned to make a little report about the day’s exploits as “Main Camp” (So they call the big training camp) started today! However, no ice today, only a lot of different tests! They are really careful to check up on all of the players’ health over here. I really have had my whole body examined.

The day began with a % body fat measurement. I have no answer on what mine is, but I have been told I’ll probably get it during the week. After that, we did all the “off-ice tests”, really easy tests, in fact. Little stamina, muscle strength, and wrists. I thought it felt good, about the same as summer camp. After that, it was time for a thorough check up with tests: teeth, eyes, blood test, agility, urine test, and some flu shot. Should have been a quick little eye test, but it was fairly unpleasant because you got eye drops which made the pupils dilate and you couldn’t see much! It stayed that way, in fact, until early in the afternoon before it stopped and you could see normally, was very sensitive to bright light the whole day!

So that was my morning, then in the afternoon there was the “team dinner”, a little inauguration of the season with speeches from several coaches and general managers. They even honored those who died in this tragic hockey summer. Especially, the former Nashville player, Wade Belak (Rest in Peace!) who they showed a real nice video about, many who were nearby shed a tear during this! Many who currently play here were close to him, tragic.

Then we were away and bought some poker chips to pass time with. It becomes tough, really easily, in the hotel when we have several hours to kill. So they make it easier big time! Tomorrow it is time to listen and give all! Should be really fun to push myself hard and truly fight for a spot here, so good luck to me.

First day, check! 9-18-2011

Today we started on ice work with a regular tempo, really fun! It feels a little great to skate around with all of these NHL stars, but you never get to admit it, only see them as competitors! It is tremendously inspiring to get to be with them and get a picture of what is required to play in “The Show”. Nashville, now, in fact, possesses one of the league’s best defensive groups, so it is really good for me to get to see and learn from these guys! You pick up a lot of small things the whole time, or try to at least, as much as possible!

Must say it feels good after the first ice practice, thought it felt very good, overall. Legs hung in well despite the different tests earlier in the week and my focus was good almost the whole practice. Was a little tired toward the end, I admit, but I am still happy with my first practice, here. Was a fairly tough ice practice, almost 1.5 hours. It began with some skating technique drills, followed with 1 hour of game drills. Going through Nashville’s systems, there is a lot to think about, but so it should be at the beginning of the season!

After that, followed up with a little work in the gym, media and shower! Had lunch at a little pasta place in town. Good food, I must say, for it was a little fast food like restaurant! But nothing wrong with the food, I think. After that it was the obligatory “chat-hour” before everyone goes to bed, there at home. Called home to mom and dad, girlfriend, and talked with some buddies! Have about 1 to 2 hours you can do it before it becomes too late at home in dear Sweden!

I can report that I won the “credit card game” today. Really nice, so we earned back the dough lost earlier in the week! We ate dinner at an Italian place where, in fact, the owner knew us; he is a big Predators-fan. So he offered us free dessert after the meal.

Otherwise, tomorrow looks exactly like today. Same times, for example, practice at 11:30 then free for the rest of the day! Match on Monday, so I’d like to have a good practice tomorrow as we prepare for the Florida trip! But that is all for today ladies and gentleman. Thanks and goodbye!

Match Time! 9-19-2011

Today’s agenda was, in fact, exactly like yesterdays! Up at 8:30, breakfast, and then down to the rink. There we continued with meetings (Yup, they like meetings here), went through game details, presumably, nothing you would think is especially entertaining. So, we skip it. After that it was on with things, and out on the ice. 1.5 hours today, tough practice, I must say. A lot of skating, but it is good, because you get in form quickly.

I am quite happy with today, it feels better and better every ice session that passes. I learn new things and pick up things the whole time. Really nice to feel that it goes in the right direction, especially now when there are matches in the coming days, we will, as you know, go to Florida tomorrow for two matches. Since there is so many of us, just now, we play one match at 3:00 PM and the other at 7:30 PM, or some such. I will play in the later. We will go home directly afterwards, so we don’t have a hotel where you can prepare, probably go around the rink and watch a few hours . . . Everyone doesn’t get the opportunity to play, so we will not complain!

Then there is a match on Tuesday, away against Washington, but there is only 1 match, so we must see how it goes, if I play or not. Just give it all tomorrow, so we get to see how long it can go. Saw that Markström will play the second match, so we must try to crush one there this time!

Otherwise, the evening has not offered so very much, little card playing, and call home. Went and ate at the Chinese place where they cook in front of you, again. Very good again, then I got the news that I got the bill, again! (D*N!) Believe that is the end of that crap game, now.

Must see if there will be time to update tomorrow, since we fly home immediately after the match, it might be a little tight, there. We must simply see how it goes. But now you are, in any case, warned that there may not be an entry tomorrow!

Back on track! 9-22-2011

Hello there again!

I must first and foremost explain why updating has been poor the last two days. It is fairly simple, lack of time. There has been two away matches, first against Florida Monday evening and then against Washington before 13,000 (99% Washington fans) in Baltimore.

We will go through the days. It began with the flight to Florida at 9:00 Monday morning. We got there by lunch and bussed directly to the arena for those who played the first match. We played two matches since we still have 50-some players remaining with the team. The first match for the split squad was at 3:30 and our match was at 7:00. Those of us who played at 7 got a day room at the hotel so we could prepare a few hours with sleep, or whatever you prefer!

The match was fairly even. We took an early 2-0 lead, but they came back and won 4-3, unfortunately. Was an experience for me since it was my very first “NHL preseason match”. I was, in fact, a little nervous before the match, I will say, but I thought that I managed decently, overall. Got a lot of playing time and had a good feel throughout the match. Always nice to get by the first game nerves, it doesn’t work to check them, they show up at special events.

After the match it was straight to the airport and fly home. I will say briefly that the airplane, itself, is probably the finest I have flown on. The seats are like a big leather sofa almost! World-class. Well, on the plane I found out that I was on the team that would go to Baltimore and meet Washington the next evening. So, at the hotel there was no time to write an entry, prioritized sleep there . . .

The next day we had a little morning warm up, 45 minutes, a little practice on the ice to skate off the previous days match and get ready to go again. Then lunch and out to the airport, again! This time the flight went to the city of Baltimore, a city which lies outside Washington. (Don’t know how far) But an arena of 13,000 and it was full, always fun when a lot of people are at the match!

But the big thing with this match was that they played their 6 best players plus some juniors. In other words, Ovechkin, Bäckstöm, Semin, Green, Laich, Knuble played! Real fun! They are, despite all, childhood idols, but all such respect you must sweep under the rug when the puck is dropped!

The match was a fairly even affair! We traded little chances back and forth, but in the end we won the match 2-0. For my own part, I liked it, not a great match, but fairly stable. Fun that I continue to get the trust to play all situations, I have played both penalty kill and power play in both matches.

So there has been a lot of hockey these 2 days as you, perhaps, can imagine! Little difficult to find occasion to “blog”, must apologize for that! So now, in the coming days, several matches await. Tomorrow there is only practice, but then we have a match on Friday and Saturday! Friday’s match is in Carolina and Saturday at home in Nashville, so we must see if I get to play one of the two. Keep your fingers crossed!

Match tomorrow, or? 9-23-2011

Yes, that is the question, match tomorrow or not? I have, in fact, no answer, just now. Currently, I will not play tomorrow’s away match with Carolina, but one of the defensemen who will play is a little injured. So, therefore, I’ve been told that I should be ready in the morning to travel with the team! So we must let time decide, that simple!

Today has, otherwise, been calm. Nice, if you ask me, after the two matches at the beginning of the week. Breakfast at 10, and then down to the rink. Today’s schedule included an on ice practice for about 1.5 hours, after that a quick change, and in the gym for about 30 minutes. Nothing hard, mostly to maintain strength training.

I will capture a little difference which you really see here compared to Sweden. During my gym session today one of the coaches came in and said that the “management” (Coaches, scouts and general managers) wanted to meet with me when I was finished. Okay, I said, and immediately my pulse shot up to 1000. When I went in there in front of all of them, they only told me that I should be prepared to, perhaps, play tomorrow. Know, well, in Sweden the coaches come over and say that straight out, nothing more to it. But, now, when they all want to meet you, you manage to, well, think one thing and then another. But as luck had it this time, I was neither sent home, nor had I done something dumb!

Afterwards, the day was passed with a little poker playing and dinner at “Stoney River”, the fine restaurant where I lost my first “credit card game”! But today it went better, avoided the bill, so now we work again, here! Otherwise, I don’t know what I should report about a day such as this, we don’t have a lot to do besides poker. Oh, by the way, today we downloaded the American equivalent of “wordfeud”. Scrabble in English, really addicting I must say! If you want to take part in this game, it is named “Words with Friends”. A lot of fun when it is another language, little more challenging.

Day 19 9-24-2011

Yes, as you see in the headline, I have been here 19 days now, feels like 3 months, in fact. Hotel life is not always as luxurious as it sounds. Like now, when we only practice, the days can be really tough with not much other than card games to entertain you. Lucky, that there is a group of us who live in the hotel here, makes the days go much faster than they would normally!

We will step through the day a little quick, I can begin with - there was no match. We practiced on ice at 12 for about an hour. Nothing hard, mostly, little competitions and battles. It was nice to have a little calmer practice, since I will play tomorrow. It will be terribly fun to play before the home fans! The opponent is the new team in the NHL this season, the Winnipeg Jets. So now, I’m recharging the batteries for a discharge tomorrow. I have heard a little rumor that there will be a fairly big thinning out of players after the match tomorrow, so it’s the last chance to make an impression!

Otherwise, the day has been spent taking it easy, only relaxing at the hotel and playing cards. (Slam!) Then a little dinner and crap talk!

Match + NFL debut! 9-26-2011

Hello again blog! Must ask you to excuse me for not making an entry yesterday, I will share a little more today, instead!

Yes, yesterday was match day again, first home match of the preseason and first ever for me! The day began with breakfast at 8, then down to the rink for a short warm up on ice for about half an hour. Then lunch at an Italian place (Maggianos), unbelievably good pasta there! After that it was back to the hotel and the usual match routine each has. Myself, I don’t have one so much, at all. Usually, I try to sleep one hour, anyway, and then just take it easy and recharge!

The day’s opponent was the Winnipeg Jets. The match began with a really bad first period by us which we lost 0-2. We got a boot in the intermission and went out and won the second clearly 4-1, a good period from our side, 3 power play goals! The match ended with the score 4-3. For my own part, it went a little in waves, which perhaps you understand, a worse first period, then I played better and better in step with the team raising itself.

It was an awesome experience to play in front of the home fans. There is starting to be a really big interest in hockey in the Country Music City! There were, in fact, almost 14,000 at the match. There was a really good atmosphere (except in the first, perhaps) the whole evening.

I can happily report that I have cleared the first big cut down of players. 20-some players were sent down to the farm team yesterday, but I am still here, so it is huge fun! Just keep grinding, here. There are 11 of us defensemen still in camp. Two are injured. So, there are not too many who still have to go away, in fact.

Today, we got, for the first time in 3 weeks, a whole day off! Really nice to get to rest up a little. I thought the day would be spent at the hotel taking it easy. But we had a quick change of plans! One of the coaches had two tickets to the day’s American football game with the Tennessee Titans which is Nashville’s team’s name! So, we (Roman Josi and I) went down and watched the game played between the home team and the Denver Broncos. It is one thing which you almost must do when you are over here!

The arena held almost 70,000 (And I thought it was cool to play in front of 14 . . . .) and almost sold out. Perfect tickets about 15 rows from the field. The sun shined the whole game, so it was a perfect game, simply. I will admit that I did not know the rules so well before the game, but you learn really quickly. Very enjoyable sport to watch, in fact. But the coolest was probably, above all, the atmosphere in there, seeing 65,000 shrieking fans all at the same time! Not every day one gets to experience something like that.

The game itself could not have been better; Tennessee came back and won with a “Touchdown” with about 4 minutes remaining! The fans were crazy, they high fived with everyone around them and happiness was total! It was a really fun experience which I would gladly do again. It is almost impossible to try to describe how big football is over here. But it was fun!

After the match we went out and about with Patric Hörnqvist and got a fine dinner and hung out a bit. It was nice to be away from the hotel and out and about! Appreciate it! Then we relaxed a little in the evening and prepared for practice tomorrow. We have a match on Wednesday, again!

Entry 21 9-27-2011

Hello again, entry 21 today! I have, exactly on the day, passed 3 weeks since I landed here and I continue in the race, it feels really cool! Today we started practice at 9:00 in the gym, followed by meetings before the on ice practice. (Yup, they like meetings over here) On ice practice was, as usual, about 1.5 hours with quite a lot of stand and watch today, in fact. Happens when we go through game systems and such, becomes no real fire in practice, but such is hockey life in the preseason!

But it felt good to be back on the ice again after the free Sunday we had. No problem, except that I, in some strange way, managed to be head butted by the back of someone’s head, so my lip split a little bit. I got 2 stitches, but no big thing, mostly a precaution. I carried on with practice after the little incident, so not serious at all!

After practice, had lunch at Subway and then back to the hotel for a little conversation with home and then only relaxed. (Begins to be a daily routine, now) I got half an hour of sleep in the afternoon, real nice. So, I have the energy to stay awake.

I was invited to dinner with Hörnqvist again today. Real good guy, I must add. He invited me and Roman (My best buddy here from Switzerland) to his house and cooked for us. Today, we had steak and potatoes, really good! He takes care of us, like a little extra papa, you could say!

Otherwise, nothing that happened today is worth taking up here. I will see tomorrow if I get the chance to play the home match on Wednesday, Washington comes to visit! Would be fun, so we must keep our fingers crossed, I will report about it tomorrow!

Tough day 9-28-2011

Hello, again!

Today was really like any other day. Nothing fun happened except that we went to the movie! Began the day as usual with gym at 9:30, then meetings (Yup, they like to meet over here) followed by on ice practice for about 1.5 hours. In other words, same as usual!

After that we went to the shopping center where the theater is and ate lunch and strolled around a little, then we watched an early movie. We saw Moneyball. A baseball film with Brad Pitt. Completely, okay I think! I had expected a little more, perhaps, because there has been a lot of talk about the film over here! Not that it was bad, but I had, well, perhaps, expected a little more.

After that we drove to dinner at a steakhouse down in the city, loaded up with a big steak before the match tomorrow! I will play tomorrow! Real fun, as you know at home against Washington. I will play with the Finn, Teemu Laakso, who I have played with a few matches, now. It has worked well! He is a defensively strong back, so I have someone who can clean up during my offensive outings! I have not heard how big interest is, but we hope for a lot of people! Not really the same conditions with the weekend and premiere like last home game, but we will see how many people think to come!

You must satisfy yourself with a shorter entry today, because, simply, not a fig has happened over here worth reporting . . . but I will try to squeeze in an entry after the match tomorrow. On Thursday the team goes to Winnipeg for a match on Friday, so must see if I get to go or not! Now we will get a few hours sleep. Good night!

Long time no see 9-30-2011

Hello again!

There were several days with less free time, here. It began Wednesday with the match at home against Washington which we succeeded to comeback in after a little mistake from me and in the end won 4-1. I somehow successfully managed to trip at the blue line, leading to a breakaway, and they scored. Nothing to do but shake it off and I think it went okay after that! I got to play quite a bit (Around 18-19 minutes) and continued to play on the power play!

I was home at the hotel after the match by 11:00 and we had to be at the airport at 9:00 the following morning. So, once again, I prioritized sleep over writing here. (Sorry) We flew on Thursday morning to Winnipeg for today’s match. Had an easy practice yesterday afternoon and a quick warm up this morning!

The happy news is that I, in fact, will play this evening which I really had not believed because we go with 9 defensemen and there were 3 who did not play against Washington. So, I simply thought it was their turn, but I will play! Really fun. I have heard that it will be a sell out and TV this evening! Really nice!

So, I will go and get my afternoon nap that I always have before a match! I will make an update before the match tomorrow, so that it is not so long between times. Have the best, so long!

Match 10-1-2011

Hello again!

Must be quick here again, because, namely, I will play again this evening. I will make a longer report on these two matches this evening after I come home!

I can say that we won yesterday’s match against Winnipeg 3-2 in a shootout! I, also, made my first point during the match, an assist on the 2-1 goal. But I will return with a little better analysis of the match this evening.

I will, also, play again this evening, 3rd match in 4 days! Good that I experience this many matches direct! Carolina waits on home ice at 7:00 American time (about 2:00 AM at home).

I will take my afternoon nap now, so we will talk this evening. Bye!

Summary of the week 10-3-2011

Hello blog!

I will begin with an explanation for the fairly poor updating I did this last week. There has been a lot of traveling and a lot of matches. I began the week with pretty good updates, overall. Then came matches Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! So, we will make a summary of the week, here and now!

The match on Wednesday, we have already gone through, so enough of it. It ended, as we know, with a win against Washington. Then the next morning, we hopped on the plane to Winnipeg, we went the day before the match because of the longer plane ride (about 2 hrs and 40 min). After we arrived we had a practice session, of the easier type, followed by an afternoon/evening on our own. We spent it just relaxing in the room and went out to eat dinner. (As usual) Then, on Friday it was time for the match! The new team in the NHL for this season, Winnipeg was, again, the opponent and the match was fairly even.

We began well in the first period and quickly took hold of the match, it felt even good for my part. Then they worked themselves into the match more and more. It stood 2-2 after regulation and overtime, so the match went to a shootout. There we made the first and only shootout goal! So, we won 3-2. I even got to throw in an assist on the 2-1 goal which was my first point in a Nashville sweater. Little nice to have that out of the way, so it doesn’t become a curse.

After the match we had to pack things as fast as possible, and then off to the airport and home to Nashville, again. We landed at 2 AM and I was in bed by 3 AM! So, it was a little tough when I woke up on Saturday morning. But it was nice that we skipped the morning warm up. So, the only time we had to prepare for was the gathering 2 hours before the start of the match. It was the last preseason game for this year, at home against Carolina. My third match in four days. Will not complain at all, only happy to get to play the matches!

The match was a goalless affair the first two periods, 0-0 before the last period. Still, I think the play went fairly well for my part. This match, I played with the Canadian junior star, Ryan Ellis. It worked very well. So, 0-0 before the last period, then Carolina took an early 1-0 lead. Then we got a power play goal immediately, thereafter, to tie. Then this match, too, went to overtime, but there we were able to bang in the winning goal! Fairly unbelievable preseason with only one loss in eight matches, I believe it was! (Pity that they don’t count)

Yes, the preseason is completely finished! Now, the fun begins. Where it begins for me is, well, still a little unclear. I have not had any indications, so far. We will see in the morning at practice if we get some new information. So, for all who wonder, I have no news to give, only have patience and wait.

Today, (Sunday) has been a free day from hockey. So, I have just taken it easy at the hotel. I, also, went out and got some teeth work done, after a little incident during yesterday’s match. So a little rehab day with a lot of lying in bed and watching TV! That is all for today, I shall try to update the blog here as soon as I get some news, if I get to take a spot or not!

Now, I can even pass on information to follow me, because today I started a Twitter account. If you have this little social network, I go under the name MatEkh14. So, check in there and follow me! Goodnight!

A lot to enter 10-5-2011

Hello again blog!

There wasn’t an entry yesterday for several reasons, none that I want to go into. I still get to hold some things secret. Can say that I got a completely different message from what I got first, so now I don’t know a lot, only take it day by day. Anything in the world can happen!

But I feel good and I have continued to practice with the team the whole time. I am, currently, one of 23 who have been announced for the first match. I try to fight on and show that I want to play, also! So, both of these days (Monday and Tuesday) have in principle looked exactly the same! On ice practice at 10:30, and before that, a half hour in the gym and various meetings. (Yup, they continue to like meetings) Practices have been about 1 hour long, some final polishing before Friday!

Otherwise, if feels like I haven’t managed to do much during my free time beyond talking on the phone. Oh, I had a dentist visit on Monday and fixed little things there! Not fun, but always nice to have it done. Very fine office they have here, you get your own little TV beside the lamp so you can watch it. And the time went, in fact, much faster when I could watch some sports while they fixed my teeth!

No, I have, in fact, nothing really fun to report at the moment. I am beginning to be bloody tired of our hotel, now. But you know that already, so nothing new.

Several things jump out to me from Mattias' writing. He seems amazingly calm about games ("matches") although he did admit to nerves for the first one.

In his entry for 10/3, he mentions that he is unsure of where he will begin the season, and the fact that he made the Predators roster is just sort of a matter of fact, afterthought statement in his 10/5 entry.

I liked how he referred to Patric Hornqvist as "a little extra papa", but was really appreciative of how Hornqvist has taken an interest in his fellow countrymen.

I enjoyed his perspective of playing his first game in front of the Nashville fans.

Oh yeah, the Predators like team meetings.

In the next installment, we will follow Mattias through the opening week of the season,

Once again, a major stick tap to Patricia Blair, who has done a marvelous job translating these entries from Swedish to English.