Friday, December 30, 2011

Predators Stop St. Louis for the Third Time

The Nashville Predators brought a depleted line up to Scott Trade Center to take on the St. Louis Blues in the final contest of 2011. The Predators were without Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, and a late scratch, Colin Wilson, who was ruled out with and upper body injury.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, while the Blues had the resurgent Jaroslav Halak in net.

For the Predators, it was going to be critical that they come out skating hard and playing Predator hockey with this depleted line up. If the Blues got the lead, it was their style to trap the life out of their opponent, something that has given the Predators fits this season.

The Predators did just that, as Roman Josi pinched off the boards and drove the net. Halak kicked a rebound of Josi's shot into the slot, and Matt Halischuk drove the net and chipped the puck over Halak's pads to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 2:16 of the first period.

At 11:06, David Legwand took a saucer pass from Marty Erat, which hit his foot and ricocheted past Halak. The goal was disallowed as it was deemed that the goal occurred because the puck was kicked into the net.

Immediatley after the face off, he Blues rang a shot off the cross bar as Rinne acrobatically dove across the crease.

T. J. Oshie tied the game at 1 at 13:40 as he gathered in a loose puck in a goal mouth scramble and lifted the puck over Rinne.

The remainder of the period was scoreless, as the Predators killed off a questionable boarding call against Brian McGrattan. They ended the period on a power play as Chris Stewart was called for hooking Craig Smith on a great breakaway attempt. Smith's shot went over the crossbar and into the net as he was being harassed by Stewart. The Predators would open the second period with 40 seconds of power play time.

For the Predators, it was a solid first period as they skated hard and out shot the Blues 14-11.

In the second period, the Blues used their size to muscle the Predators defense and control play in the Predators zone. The defense battled and worked to force the Blues to the perimeter, but the Blues were starting to use their size to wear down the defense.

Pekka Rinne made some big saves to keep the Blues off the board. For the Predators, their best scoring chance came on the penalty kill as Marty Erat stole the puck and went in on a breakaway. He tried to go five hole on Halak, but Halak was able to close the five hole and stop Erat.

The Predators killed off two Blues power plays during the second period, and once again, would have carryover power play time- 50 seconds- to start the third period as David Backes was in the box for hooking.

The Blues out shot the Predators 14-10 in the second period, and this was a period that resembled a heavyweight fight. Both teams traded scoring opportunities and mounted offensive challenges. Both teams responded, and going into the third period, this was a contest that was typical of the Predators and Blues previous contests this season: tight checking and looking for any opportunity to capitalize on a mistake by the other team.

Once again, the third period was a back and forth tilt, as both teams had offensive chances and both netminders were up to the task. The Predators defense had one of their better showings, especially against a bigger and very talented group of forwards for the Blues. Each team kept up the pressure on the other, but neither was able to find the back of the net to end the third period tied at 1.

St. Louis out shot Nashville 8-7 in the third period, and for regulation, the Blues held a two shot advantage 33-31.

The conservative defensive style of the first 60 minutes went out the window in overtime as both teams had rushes up the ice and quality scoring chances. Neither team was able to tally the game winning goal as each had three shots on goal.

For the second game in a row, the Predators were going to a shootout. If you remember, this was the way the last game with the Blues was decided, a game that was won by the Predators 2-1.

St. Louis elected for Nashville to shoot first, and Mike Fisher was the first shooter for the Predators, and he beat Halak but rang his shot off the pipe.

T. J. Oshie was the first shooter for the Blues and he was stoned by Rinne as he closed the pads as Oshie tried to go five hole.

Craig Smith was stopped by Halak on a backhand attempt.

David Perron was the next shooter, and his shot hit Rinne's shoulder and then the crossbar for no goal.

David Legwand was stopped off the forehand by Halak's arm.

Patrick Bergland was stopped by Rinne, although the puck went in the net but it was double tapped by Bergland for no goal.

Matt Halischuk missed the net high for the Predators.

David Backes was stopped by Rinne's blocker.

Marty Erat finally solved Halak as he beat him top corner over his glove to give the Predators a 1-0 lead in the shootout.

With the game on the line, Pekka Rinne stopped Kevin Shattenkirk to seal the win for the Predators, again another 2-1 shootout win over the Blues.

For the Blues, this was their third loss in three attempts against the Predators this season.

The Predators showed immense heart and grit in this win. Make no mistake, St. Louis is a quality club and they are sitting in front of the Predators in the standings. That made this game even more important for the Predators, and they played like it. Going into the contest with several key players out of the line up, it would have been easy to roll over against the Blues. Instead, this team fought for 65 minutes and their compete level was as good as it has been all season. They were gritty and skated hard and refused to wilt in the face of the pressure of the Blues. This was truly a character win.

With this win, the Predators have closed that gap to three points, 47 to 44.

You can see this young team growing game by game in confidence and maturity. They are starting to believe in themselves and in the game they are playing.

And that is what it takes to win these kind of games.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Jaroslav Halak

3. Marty Erat

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

As this year comes to a close, I want to thank all of you that have been gracious enough to stop by and read the blog. This is the third year of writing this missive, and it has been the best year so far in terms of readership. I am honored that you would stop by and visit and that you take the time to read. My sincerest appreciation to all of you.

As we close the year, say goodbye to the smiling dog and the jealous cat. They have served well this past year as the picture that welcomed you to the Friday opinion blog. The critter for next year's "My View" blog has been selected, and I think you will like him.

If you haven't been to the Stadium Journey site, I invite you to do so. This is the brainchild of Paul Swaney, and he has engaged writers from all over the country to write reviews of sports venues, from college stadiums and arenas, to stadiums, rinks, and arenas in all of the professional sports. This is a great site if you are making a first time visit and wanting to know about a venue and the surrounding area. You can find the site here. The View has written three reviews for Stadium Journey- The Bridgestone Arena, LP Field, and Williams Brice Stadium, home of the Gamecocks.

Those that regularly read this blog know that I comment frequently about political and economic events, so you know that I cannot let a blog pass without some comment on where we are in this country. Over the years, there has been a sense of disconnect between the bureaucrats and elected officials in Washington and the electorate. Over the past three years, this had become blindingly obvious. As we move into the throes of the election cycle next year, it is easy to tune out the noise and verbiage to the point that we become disengaged in the process. That is the last thing any of us need to do. This election will go further than any in our lifetime toward determining the direction of this country for decades to come. As easy as it is to tune out the ads and the rhetoric, I encourage all of you to stay engaged in the issues- not the candidates- and really understand what is at stake in this process.

And here are some thoughts as we close out 2011:

The speed at which a woman says "Nothing" when asked "What is wrong?" is inversely proportional to the severity of the coming storm.

A smart person knows what to say. A wise person knows whether or not to say it.

Life is not like a box of chocolates. It is like a jalapeno. What you do today may burn your ass tomorrow.

Some people are just crazy, and when you think you have reached the bottom of their craziness, you find out that there is a whole underground garage of crazy.

Let's eat grandpa. Let's eat, grandpa. Remember, correct punctuation saves lives.

Only in math problems can you buy 60 cantaloupes and no one ask what the hell is wrong with you.

Don't you love how in scary movies a person yells out "Hello?" As if the killer is going to answer, "I'm in the kitchen, want a sandwich?"

Things are finally clicking in my life. Unfortunately, it is my knees, my shoulder, and my elbows.

I hope that 2012 is a fantastic year for all of you, full of great joys and blessings.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Predators Win Over the Wild in a Shootout 2-1

Watching the Minnesota Wild play hockey is a bit like watching (if it were possible) your arteries harden. You know those clogged arteries are going to be a problem, you just never know when.

The Nashville Predators took on the Wild at Bridgestone Arena and were able to do just enough against the sclerotic defense of the Wild to escape with a 2-1 shootout victory to extend the Wild's losing streak to 8 games.

Throughout the night, the Wild clogged the neutral zone and the offensive zone, creating problems for the Predators entering the zone and establishing their offense. Yet the Predators kept persisting, kept pushing, and kept fighting. The victory wasn't pretty by any stretch, but fortunately, they don't grade victories on style points.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, while Josh Harding was in net for the Wild.

Rinne got most of the work of the two netminders,as the Wild out shot the Predators 35-25 and created numerous scoring opportunities from in close. Rinne came up with some very big saves for the Predators as the Wild threw the puck at the net often and had several scoring chances from in close. Rinne was outstanding in goal and was exceptional in keeping the Wild off the board early.

The first period was scoreless, but the Wild carried the play early. With 6 minutes to go in the period, the Wild had out shot the Predators 10-4, but a late flurry by the Predators narrowed that margin to 11-10. The Wild threw pucks at the net, and there were times where the Predators defense had trouble clearing the front of the net, forcing Rinne to make some big stops from close range.

The second period was more of the same. The Predators opened with a strong offensive effort, really their only offensive thrust of the period. Colin Wilson rang a shot off the post from close in, but that was the best scoring chance for the Predators. The Wild spent most of the period bottling up the Predators and not allowing them to establish their offensive flow. In turn, they used their defense to create offense and control the puck in the Predators zone.

The Wild out shot the Predators 11-5 in the second period. Once again, the play of Rinne kept the Predators in the game, as he stopped several close in shots to keep the Wild scoreless.

The Predators defense was over matched in terms of size, but they battled throughout the night, working to keep the Wild to the outside and limit quality scoring chances. Ryan Suter was a workhorse and played a rock solid game. For the night, he logged 29:46 of ice time.

This game had the feel of a one goal contest, and the team that scored first would win the contest.

The team that would strike first would be the Predators at 7:00 of the third period. Jonathan Blum launched a shot from the blue line that caromed off Jordin Tootoo and past Harding to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. The key to this goal was that Tootoo was driving hard to the net and was able to re-direct the shot past Harding.

Those clogged arteries, uh, the Wild were not done, though. They tied the game at 16:01 of the third as Dany Heatley beat Rinne on a wrap around. Rinne scrambled to to get to the right post, but Heatley managed to squeeze the puck between Rinne's skate and the post.

Both teams had to kill off penalties int he last 3:30 of the regulation time, as Jordin Tootoo was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for something he said to an official after a scrum, and Jon DiSalvatore was called for cross checking. Neither team was able to capitalize on the man advantage, and tied at 1, the game was going to overtime.

The overtime was scoreless, but the Wild had 4 shots to none for the Predators, and despite their efforts, we were going to a shootout.

As is the Predators custom, the chose to shoot second. The Wild's first shooter, Matt Cullen, had the -puck roll off his stick and never got off a shot.

Colin Wilson was  the Predators first shooter, and he beat Harding with a nice forehand to backhand move to roof the shot over the diving Harding.

Mikko Koivu was stopped by the right pad of Rinne.

Craig Smith missed the net high on his attempt.

The Predators could win the game with a stop of the Wild's third shooter, Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Bouchard attempted a spin move that was stopped by Rinne, and the Predators had the win in the shootout.

With the win, Pekka Rinne continues his dominance over the Wild at the Bridgestone Arena. He ran his record to 5-0, with a .979 save % and a .55 GAA.

Gabriel Bourque was called up by the Predators to take the roster spot of Blake Geoffrion, and he logged 8:05 of ice time. He was strong on the puck and battled hard in the corners. He brings an element of grit, speed, and tenaciousness that the Predators can use, and his play will, in my view, merit more ice time in coming contests.

In one respect, this was not a pretty win. This was a grinding game that was going to be decided by which team made a mistake or cracked first under the pressure of a tight contest. It was not a pretty game to watch.

In another perspective, this was a beautiful win. The Predators were facing adversity with injuries (Weber, Klein) to their blue line, and some young players were thrust into key roles and asked to play some very big minutes. They performed admirably. This team refused to yield to the pressure the Wild brought, and they battled all night, eventually securing the win.

That is character.

These are the tough games that in the course of a season a team has to battle through to win. Sometimes, a win like this isn't flashy and doesn't look good.

Except on the score sheet.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Colin Wilson

3. Jordin Tootoo

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shea Weber Out With a Concussion

The Nashville Predators said today that defenseman and Captain Shea Weber would be out indefinitely after suffering a concussion from a hit by Mark Fistric in the Dallas game. The game was played Friday, December 23rd, and the symptoms manifest themselves at practice on Monday before the Detroit game.

Here is a video of the hit:

Fistric received no supplementary discipline from the League, although the hit was high and appeared to target the head.

For the League, the problem of consistency in meting out discipline continues to be a problem. If Brendan Shanahan and the League disciplinarians are serious about getting these types of hits out of the game, then there has to be a consistent application of discipline. As it is, players are receiving mixed signals about what is an acceptable hit and what isn't.

The Predators have said they hope to have Weber back for the Predators game Friday against the St. Louis Blues. Ryan Ellis has been recalled from Milwaukee to take the roster spot of Weber.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Predators Offense MIA in 4-1 Loss to Detroit

The Nashville Predators faced the Detroit Red Wings at the Bridgestone Arena in a Central Division tilt that saw the Predators try to win their second in a row over the Wings.

The big news for the Predators was that they were going to try to do this without their Captain, Shea Weber, and with two rookie defensemen in the line up. Weber was scratched with little information given as to why he was absent. Speculation was that he was feeling the effects of a crushing hit by Mark Fistric in the Dallas game on Friday. Rookie Ryan Ellis was called up from Milwaukee and took Weber's place.

Detroit won the game 4-1, and despite the score, there were some positive aspects to the Predators game.

The Predators out shot the Wings 32-22. They skated hard and competed well. Ryan Ellis acquitted himself well in his debut. Roman Josi continues to play a solid game.

Those were the positive aspects of the contest.

Those positives were outweighed by the fact that the Predators offense could not finish their chances. This is the Achilles heel of the offense. Finishing their chances was a critical aspect to their effort against Detroit, and the Predators could not find a finisher when they had the puck in the offensive zone. And this bit them in the ass tonight.

Detroit opened the scoring at 10:57 of the first period as Valtteri Filppula beat Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne from the slot inside the face off circle low to the glove side. This looked like a stoppable shot, but it snuck under the arm of Rinne to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.

At the end of the first period and down 1-0, the Predators were still in the contest, but it was critical that they get a goal and not let Detroit extend their lead.

That did not happen, as Pavel Datsyuk scored on a wrap around attempt at 12:52 of the second. It looked as if Rinne had the post sealed off and he got pushed into the net.. The official,  Dan Hasenfratz, signaled goal, but the play went to review. The replay was inconclusive and did not show the puck crossing the goal line, but it was not overturned and the Wings had a 2-0 lead.

Just 13 seconds later, Dan Cleary beat Nick Spaling in the low slot and had an open shot over the shoulder of Rinne to make it 3-0. This was a young team that faced some adversity and failed to respond, and Detroit took advantage to extend their lead.

In the third period, Filppula struck again as he got loose in the low slot and beat Rinne to make it 4-0 at 5:22 of the third period. Rinne had slid to the right of the net, and when the puck reversed to the left, he stumbled getting over. This left Filppula alone and with an open net into which to bury the puck. Once again, a defensive breakdown hung Rinne out to dry and Detroit capitalized on the failure of the defense to maintain their coverage.

Jonathan Blum scored at 17:48 to make it 4-1, the final margin of the game.

Going back to the absence of Weber, one could say that the defensive coverage would have been better with him on the ice. Maybe so. The fact is that three of the Wings goals occurred because the Predators forwards were beaten on the play.These defensive lapses cost the Predators an opportunity to win the game.

The Predators potent power play was 0-5 and failed to generate many quality chances against the Wings penalty kill. This crippled the chances of the Predators.

The other aspect of this game is the inability of the Predators forwards to finish their chances at even strength. Once again, the forwards passed up too many shots in favor of a pass, and their shots were for the most fairly routine for Detroit's keeper Jimmy Howard to handle. Occasionally, the Predators created some quality chances, but were unable to solve Howard. The fact is, those quality chances were few and far between.

Two of the top six forwards, David Legwand and Colin Wilson, did not register a shot on goal. The necessity of these forwards being involved in the offense goes without saying, and when they do not register a shot on net, this team is in trouble. 12 of the Predators 32 shots came from the defense, which means the Predators were not getting the puck deep and cycling to create chances with any efficiency.

This is indicative of the fact that this team has to develop a better offensive mentality. It looks good on the scoreboard to say that we out shot an opponent, but the shots have to be quality scoring chances. Tonight, there were very few of them.

This team has to understand that the deeper into the season they go, the more the defensive pressure will ramp up. This means the forwards are going to have to work harder and develop the "shoot first, pass second" mentality. Right now, that is as absent as Shea Weber was tonight.

This team is going to have to regroup and get back on track. Quickly. They have to develop their confidence in the offensive zone, and that starts with shooting the puck and going to the net.

Otherwise, this is going to be a long season for the Predators.

My three stars:

1. Valtteri Filppula

2. Jimmy Howard

3. Pavel Datsyuk

Friday, December 23, 2011

Predators Early Deficit Leads to Defeat at Dallas

The Nashville Predators, fresh off their amazing come from behind victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, ventured to the American Airlines Center to take on the Dallas Stars in their second game in two nights.

Once again, Pekka Rinne got the start for the Nashville Predators, while the surprisingly feel good story in the form of Richard Bachman started in net for the Stars.

It was going to be critical for the Predators to put their victory from the night before behind them and come out hard against the Stars. They opened the game skating hard and creating some chances, but were unable to find the net.

By contrast, the Stars capitalized on their chances. Vernon Fiddler, a former Predator, got the Stars on the board early as he gathered in a puck alone at the side of the net and beat Rinne with a shot over his shoulder to give the Stars a 1-0 lead at 9:25 of the first period.

Just 1:16 later, Loui Eriksson tallied from the right side of Rinne on a quick wrister from the right side that went under his arm to make it 2-0 at 10:41.

Steve Ott added a third goal for the Stars at 12:30 as he tipped a shot from the point by Trevor Daly and re-directed it past Rinne. Three goals on seven shots for the Stars, and Rinne's night was done. Anders Lindback came on in relief of Rinne at this point.

Although the Predators were skating well, their offense was not finishing and their defense had broken down on two of the three Stars goals. Once again, the troubling tendency to dig an early hole was plaguing the Predators.

The period ended with the Predators on the power play, but not showing much movement and creating opportunities for quality scoring chances. Oh yeah, they were still trailing 3-0.

The Predators out shot the Stars 17-8 in the period, but the Stars efficiency in the offensive zone was the difference in this contest so far. It was going to be up to the Predators to elevate their game and get back into the contest.

The Predators finally got on the board at 8:56 of the second period as Jerred Smithson was strong on the puck and got through a check from Fiddler on the boards and drove into the zone. He shot the puck at the Dallas net and Bachman gave up a rebound that was met by a crush of bodies from the Predators and the Stars. The puck was lost in the maze of legs and bodies and slowly trickled over the goal line. Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk took whacks at the puck, and the goal was credited to Halischuk.

For the Predators, this goal was big, because up until that point their offense had been one shot and the puck was going back out of the zone. Finally, the Predators got forwards to the front of the net, and they were able to tally through their persistent in the dirty areas.

The Predators had a glorious chance to cut into the Stars lead at 8:54 of the second. Adam Burish was in the box for a knee on knee hit, and  on the ensuing power play Nicklas Grossman took a holding penalty to give the Predators a 5 on three power play.

Ryan Suter took the puck into the high slot and fed the puck to Marty Erat, who blistered a one timer past Bachman to make it 3-2 at  11:45 of the second period.

Mike Ribeiro scored a beautiful goal at 5:59 of the second period from a sharp angle. Ribeiro saw Lindback slide across the crease and waited until he dropped into the butterfly and lasered a shot into the short side top corner to make it 4-2. The goal was a goal scorer's goal and placed into the only area of the net that Lindback could not cover.

The second period ended with Jerred Smithson in the box for hooking and 1:04 of power play time left for the Stars to start the third period. Down by 2 goals, the Predators were going to have to bring their best game in the final 20 minutes to have a chance in this contest.

The second period saw the Predators continue to skate hard and get pucks on the net. They out shot the Stars 14-13 and 31-21 through the first 40 minutes. The outcome of this game would hinge on the Predators continuing to shoot the puck and get to the net for second chance scoring opportunities.

The potent Predators power play (yes, you read that correctly) struck again at 4:30 of the third period to make it 4-3. With Alex Goligoski in the box for delay of game, Colin Wilson sped drove down the right side of the slot a slipped a nice pass to David Legwand, who hammered the puck home to cut the Predators deficit to one goal.

Momentum to the Predators and a chance to seize control.

Not so fast.

Just 30 seconds later, Jamie Benn beat Mike Fisher in the low slot and took a great feed from behind the net by Loui Erikkson to bang home a back breaking goal for the Stars and put them up by 2 goals again.

The Stars used the Benn goal to propel themselves to a decided territorial advantage for the majority of the third period. The Predators spent much of the third chasing the Stars in their own zone and were not able to muster much in the way of an offensive thrust.

Michael Ryder iced the game for the Stars at 17:53 with an empty net goal to make it 6-3, which was the final score of the game.

I cannot fault the effort of the Predators. They skated hard and fired the puck at the net. They out shot the Stars 37-29 and showed good compete.

I can fault the annoying tendency of this team to continue to fall into an early hole and having to spend lots of time and energy trying to dig themselves out of it. Tonight, the Predators found out that the Dallas Stars are not the Columbus Blue Jackets, and falling into a deep deficit against a quality opponent almost always spells defeat.

The Predators now have the Christmas break off with Detroit coming to town Monday. It is going to be imperative that this team tighten up its defense and not hang their goalies out to dry. They are going to have to understand that an early game deficit is not a winning formula.

A better defensive showing from the second and third D pairing, a more consistent effort for the entire game, and avoiding the early game hole are critical for the team's success going forward.

I hope Santa is listening.

My three stars:

1. Loui Eriksson

2. Richard Bachman

3. Marty Erat

My View

The Christmas season opens our heart to giving to others. We focus on finding that perfect gift, the gift that creates a excited response and a memorable impression. We are encouraged to make it a "Christmas to remember" by car companies that depict THE present parked in the driveway adorned with a red bow. Our senses are assaulted as we enter stores as the merchandising screams at us to "buy".

Right now, there are scores of shoppers fighting their way through last minute crowds to find that perfect gift, attempting to complete the task of finding the obligatory and necessary gifts for every family member and maybe even a few close friends thrown in for good measure. Often, the process of giving is about the process of getting. Our gift has to be commensurate with the gift we expect to receive. Christmas cheer and all that, you know?

In the midst of the frantic searching for gifts, our consciousness is occasionally pierced by the heartwarming story of an anonymous gift to a worthy cause, or of those that spend some time serving at a local mission to benefit those that are needy or on the street. These stories catch our attention because they are good stories.

Perhaps more importantly, in a season of giving and getting, they catch our attention because we see generosity given to those that can give nothing in return. The street person, the homeless, the displaced, are  recipients of the gifts given by those that are capable, and in return, they can offer nothing but their gratitude.

And that is the real message of the Christmas season for all of us. When the light of the Christmas star pierced the darkness of the plains of Bethlehem, there was an announcement of a gift that was given to all mankind, a gift of hope and redemption, of which we were not worthy. WE are the street person, the homeless, the displaced. We had and have nothing to give to respond to that gift.

Nothing except our gratitude. And in our thankful response, our recognition of the gift that was given to us, we in turn respond to each other with gratitude and the joy of the hope we now possess. That is the gift of the Christmas season, a gift that  transcends stores, packages, and bows on cars.

In the material joy of this Christmas season, we pause and remember the real gift of this season. May our hearts always be moved to respond in gratitude.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Predators Wow the Home Crowd With a 6-5 Victory Over the Jackets


That sentiment, along with a few others, can only begin to capture what happened in the Bridgestone Arena as the Nashville Predators faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Central Division tilt. The Predators won the game 6-5 in spite of making it extremely difficult on themselves.

Heck, they didn't make it difficult on themselves. They nearly gave away the game.

Don't believe me?

The Predators gave up 4 power play goals, three in the first period on a 5 minute penalty kill after absorbing a major penalty to fall into a 4-1 hole after twenty minutes.

I will get to that in just a moment.

Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators, while Curtis Sanford was in net for the Blue Jackets.

These two teams typically play a tight checking game, with most contests decided by a goal. This game started no differently, with each team probing the others defense and looking for an opportunity to score.

That first opportunity would belong to the Predators, as Mike Fisher was left alone at the side of the net and had an easy tap in of a rebound of a Sergei Kostitsyn shot at 12:29 of the period. This goal was a result of the Predators playing their type of hockey-  shooting the puck and crashing the net. Simple hockey, effective hockey.

Predator fans had hardly settled back into their seats when the BJ's tied the game on a shot from Jeff Carter. Carter beat David Legwand on a drive to the net and launched a wrist shot from just inside the face off circle that beat Rinne over his shoulder at 12:56 of the first period.

The first "Wow" moment came at 14:26 of the first period as Brian McGratten boarded Derick Brassard as Brassard was going off on a line change. McGratten was given a 5 minute major for interference and a game misconduct. While the penalty can be debated as to the severity, the fact is that this was a boneheaded and selfish play by McGratten, who skated across the rink to deliver the hit. It is the type of hit that the League looks at closely and one which the officials have been quick to call. It was a totally unnecessary hit.

And it would cost the Predators.

Columbus would tally 3 times during the major to take a 4-1 lead. Jeff Carter got 2 goals to give him a first period hat trick, with his goals coming at 14:35 and 16:14. Sandwiched between those two goals was a gaol by Ryan Johansen at 15:30.

Yes, it was a major penalty, but the Predators penalty killers were manhandled by the Jackets forwards. Columbus peppered the Predators net and crashed hard to gather in rebounds and tally goals. Pucks were bouncing off legs of the defenders and the Predators could not clear the front of the net, and they were burned by the Jackets because of their ineffectiveness.

Down 4-1 at the end of the first period, the Predators were going to have to play Predator hockey and chip away at the Jackets lead in the second period.

Patrick Hornqvist would make it 4-2 with a tap in of a rebound of a shot from Shea Weber at 5:28. Once again, the Predators benefited from shooting the puck and going to the net.

The Jackets would again extend their lead to 3 goals on the power play. Ryan Johansen took a shot that hit Ryan Suter's leg and skidded by Rinne for the Jackets 4th power play goal to make it 5-2 at 7:52 of the second period.

The Predators did not deviate from their style of play, as they kept shooting the puck and going hard to the net. Nick Spaling was the next Predator to score at 8:53 of the second period. Spaling was working hard in the low slot and gathered in a rebound of a Colin Wilson shot and shoveled the puck past Sanford to make it 5-3 Columbus.

The Predators made it 5-4 at 13:41 of the second as Roman Josi took a pass from Francis Buillon and wired a shot over the shoulder of Sanford with Mike Fisher screening in front. Josi is rounding into a very solid defenseman who handles the puck well and has a good shot. Each game, he appears to be playing with more confidence.

The Predators caught a break in the second as Mark Letestu got free in the low slot and beat Rinne with a shot that hit the post and bounced out.

Going into the third period and trailing by one, I felt that if the Predators could tie the game, they would win it.

The Predators did just that at 16:14 of the period as David Legwand corralled a rebound of a Colin Wilson shot and banged home the tying goal. With that score, one could sense the fragile Jackets were on the verge of breaking, and with the partisan crowd roaring, the Predators were looking for one more improbable win over the BJ's.


Improbable? How about absolutely amazing?

The Predators were not done with their "wow" moments just yet.

Ryan Suter found Marty Erat streaking through the middle of the ice and hit him with a pass on his tape. Erat split the defense of the Jackets and fought off a hook to break in on Sanford. Erat made a nice forehand backhand move to open Sanford up and slid the puck five hole with 8.4 seconds to go to give the Predators a 6-5 lead.


As the horn sounded, a Blue Jacket player summed up their night by shattering his stick at the bench, just like their hopes for a victory were shattered by a gritty and never say die group of Predators.

Make no mistake, this win feels good. But as good as it feels, the Predators should have never been in that position. Frankly, the Predators kept Columbus in the game with the stupid major penalty and the resulting ineffectiveness of their penalty kill. Against a team that is not as fragile as the Jackets, the result would probably not have turned out as good as it did for the Predators.

Strong play tonight from Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson. Both of these players are skating hard and doing the little things that lead to big plays. this type of effort was instrumental in turning around this contest.

What this contest should point out to this team is that you are never out of it. Play your game- shoot the puck and go hard to the net- and good things happen. When this team was down early, rather than quit, they fought back and fought back hard.

That is character.

That is Predator hockey.

My three stars:

1. Marty Erat

2. David Legwand

3. Jeff Carter

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Capital Punishment: Caps Punch Out the Predators 4-1

There are times the Nashville Predators looks like Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.

No, not an offensive force.

Instead, like Sedin getting punched by Brad Marchand in the Stanley Cup finals, they often look like a team that is getting punched in the face and not responding.

In their game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, the Predators watched the Capitals out skate and out hit them consistently throughout the first period en route to a 2-0 lead. The Capitals did pretty much what they wanted and the Predators did not respond.

Anders Lindback started in net for the Predators, while the Capitals went with Michael Neuvirth. Lindback was under assault throughout the period, while Neuvirth had very little to do at his end of the ice.

The Predators recorded their second shot on net after 11 minutes had elapsed off the clock, if you want an indication of how ineffective the offensive effort was.

Alex Ovechkin notched his 11th goal of the season at 7:42 of the first period as he drove the net and beat Jonathan Blum to the low slot. His wrist shot beat Lindback over the shoulder to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.

Nicklas Backstrom got his 12th goal of the season on a nice wraparound goal. He used the net to scrape off Jerred Smithson and beat Lindback to the far post at 15:51 to make it 2-0 Capitals.

Frankly, if the Capitals had not missed some open shots, the score could have been much worse.

The Capitals out shot the Predators 11-4 in the first period, but totally dominated the play as the Predators offense failed to show up in this period. The Predators continued their poor offensive effort that started in the St. Louis game, and unfortunately, that game did not appear to be an aberration.

In the second period, the Predators skated better and generated 8 shots on net to 3 for the Capitals. The Predators once again caught a couple of breaks as they gave up two 2 on 1 rushes that the Capitals could not convert. Although they generated 8 shots, there were only a few quality scoring chances, and Neuvirth was up to the task of stopping the Predators.

The Predators had three power plays in the the third period, and never really challenged Neuvirth on any of them. One failed to generate any shots on goal. The power play has been surprisingly potent up to this point for the Predators, but the Capitals PK was hustling and shutting down quality chances for the Predators.

Through two periods, the Predators had reverted back to their old and frustrating ways by passing up shots in favor of an extra pass. The fact is that the Predators lack the elite finishers that make this style of play a solid offensive strategy. The Predators were going to have to commit to shooting the puck and crashing the net if they were going to get back in this contest in the third period.

The Predators finally found the back of the net at 4:40 of the third period as Sergei Kostitsyn stole the puck and weaved his way through the Capitals defense and let a snap shot go from the face off circle that beat Neuvirth. Good to see Kostitsyn find the back of the net again. This was his fifth goal of the year.

The Predators began to skate and challenged the Capitals (finally!). The started buzzing the net, firing the pucks, and controlling play. This was the Predators team that was finally employing their formula for success.

The Capitals seized momentum back at 10:21 of the third period as Alex Semin skated in and unleashed a laser to the top corner that beat Lindback to make the score 3-1 Capitals. Now the Predators faced the double challenge of overcoming a Capitals lead and the enemy that was the clock.

With Craig Smith in the box for hooking, the Capitals tallied on the power play as Troy Brouwer tipped a shot from the point by Dennis Wideman to make it 4-1 at 13:46.

The Predators had a chance to cut into the deficit as Joel Ward was called for slashing at 14:16, but the Predators failed to get a shot on the power play.

The Capitals spent the rest of the period choking off the Predators offense, and the final score was 4-1 Capitals.

The frustrating thing about this team is their consistently inconsistent effort. You would think that by now this team would have learned that they have to play a full 60 minute game. Apparently, that has not been ingrained into their psyche even this deep into the season. One bad period can and often does spell defeat for this team, and they have continued to struggle with this concept.

Until they grasp the concept of a 60 minute game, they will continue to get punched out by their competition.

Kinda like Daniel Sedin.

My three stars:

1. Nicklas Backstrom

2. Alex Semin

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Predators Stop St. Louis in a Shoot Out 2-1

The Nashville Predators defeated the St. Louis Blues in a shootout by the score of 2-1.

That's the good news.

The rest of the story?

The Predators were out hit, out worked, out shot, and generally out hustled all night. They were fortunate to escape with the win.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, and his effort was outstanding and he single handedly kept the Predators in the contest.

His counterpart, Jaroslav Halak, got the start for the Blues, and he was rarely tested by the Predators.

The Blues out shot the Predators in every period. Embarrassingly so. Here is the bad news in that regard: 14-2; 15-11; and 11-4. The only period where the Predators showed much offensive push was in the overtime session, where the Predators out shot the Blues 3-0.

The first period was scoreless, mainly due to the efforts of Rinne. The Blues controlled the puck throughout the period and fired 11 shots on Rinne. He was solid in net, rarely giving up rebounds, shutting down the Blues second chances.

The first period was a portent of things to come for the Predators. The Predators consistently lost puck battles and were easily taken off the puck. They had a difficult time entering the offensive zone, and when they did, the Blues defense thwarted their offensive effort.

The Predators did not help themselves by taking six penalties in the course of the contest. The Predators PK unit did a good job, but the Predators were flirting with disaster by giving the Blues the man advantage.

The Predators offensive effort was better in the second period, but they could not solve Halak. The Blues were similarly stymied by Rinne at the other end, and the second period was another scoreless 20 minutes. The Blues best scoring chance occurred late in the period when Jamie Langenbrunner gathered in the puck that had squirted out from under Rinne and lifted a shot toward the open net. Defenseman Jack Hillen, backing up Rinne, corralled the puck under his arm and froze it in the blue ice to negate the Blues scoring chance.

The game was taking a decidedly negative feel for the Predators, as their offense was impotent and it appeared to be just a matter of time before the Blues found the back of the net.

Those negative feelings among the Predator faithful would lift at 12:32 of the third period. Mike Fisher stole the puck from Kevin Shattenkirk, who stumbled at the Blues blue line and passed the puck to Shea Weber, breaking in on the left side. Weber drew the defense to him and forced Halak to respect his potential shot. Weber was able to slide the puck to Marty Erat and he buried the puck in the open net to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

That lead disappeared as the Predators were called for too many men on the ice and T.J. Oshie got loose in the slot and beat Rinne five hole to tie the game at 16:08 of the third.

The Predators were whistled for yet again another penalty, this time David Legwand for slashing at 18:31. Once again, the Predators PK killed off the penalty in regulation and the first 29 seconds of the overtime. The remainder of the overtime period was scoreless, although the Predators generated all the offensive chances.

Heading into the shootout, the Predators elected, as they always do, to have the visitors shoot first. Rinne stoned the three Blues shooters, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Patrick Bergland. Halak stopped Mike Fisher and Craig Smith, but the Predators third shooter, David Legwand, beat Halak with a great forehand backhand move over his glove for the Predators improbable win.

For the Predators to come out on top in this contest is amazing, considering the way they played. All night, they looked a step slower than the Blues. Frustratingly, they were beaten on the puck or to the puck all night. Yet Pekka Rinne held the Predators in the game with his solid play, and the Predators did just enough to hang around and finally win the game.

It was pretty incredible that the Blues were not whistled for a penalty until the very end of overtime. There will be games like that, and for the Predators, it was imperative that they fight through that type of officiating. Tonight, the PK unit held the Blues to 1 of 6 on the power play, and without that level of play, the Predators could have easily been blown out of the arena.

While it is good to get the win, this contest pointed out that the Predators cannot just skate out on the ice and expect to win many contests. Tonight, they were fortunate. That will not be the case very often.

This game shows the team that they cannot revert back to their former ways when they ere in their losing skid. They have to win puck battles, keep from turning they puck over- which they did a lot tonight- and limit the other team's scoring chances.

This is one of those games where the team can let out its collective breath and say they escaped with a win.

Hopefully, we will take this game and learn from what happened and return to playing a complete game again.

And we will not feel like we escaped with a win.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Marty Erat

3. David Legwand

Friday, December 16, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

If you want to get a sense of why the world economy is in a funk and the there is a generally glum feeling here in the United States, one has to look no further than the American middle class.Why? Because this group of people has driven global demand and spending for the last four decades. After World War II, the middle class grew exponentially because of several factors: steady job growth fueled by the building of homes and the purchase of autos, appliances, and the accoutrement's that made a great majority of us...well, middle class. Industry was centered around the "blue collar" worker that could make a very good living in an hourly job. Low unemployment meant that workers were in demand and job mobility was readily available to the work force. Not today. The foundation of our economy- the jobs that supported the middle class- has eroded as many of those jobs have disappeared and have been supplanted by lower skill (and lower paying) jobs. As our country tries to recover from the impact of job loss, keep in mind that there are three factors that are in play, and these critical areas will have to improve significantly before our job market and our economy turn around. The first: we must begin again to create net NEW jobs in our economy. The pace of job creation in our country is anemic, and at the present rate of new job creation, it will take us approximately another 3 years until we get back to 2007 employment levels. Second: we must get more people back into the work force. Currently, only 58.5% of the eligible work force is employed. This obviously ties in with job creation, and it is in our nation's best economic interest to have high labor participation. Finally, and this is the most difficult, we must create jobs that are productive and compensate well the employee. One of the main problems our nation faces right now is that the jobs being created will not sustain the middle class. The fastest growing categories of jobs? Food service workers, home health aides, and customer service representatives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are no easy solutions to our problems, but identifying accurately where we are and the problems we face are the first steps toward moving toward positive solutions.

The relationship my wife and I have is based on chemistry. She is on Prozac; I'm on Valium.

Here is some insight into some of the problems that we as a nation are facing when it comes to leadership in Washington. Congress pass the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, and act that has far reaching effects on the financial service industry and in turn, other industries in this country. The Act is 5,230 pages of proposed and partially finalized rules that is a morass of new rules, regulations, and added compliance costs for all companies in the financial sector. Unfortunately for those companies, the Act left open ended how some of the proposed rules would be implemented and the penalties for violation of those yet to be formulated rules. As of this date, only 25% of the rules have been established and implemented. This to me is truly amazing, that we have passed a set of "laws" that are as of yet unwritten and could completely change the way some banks do business. And the tentacles of this law reach into the manufacturing sector as well as there are certain provisions that mandate companies that sell finished goods imported from overseas certify that their raw materials are only from approved countries. If you wonder why job creation is sluggish and why more businesses in this country are moving jobs overseas, take a look at the way Washington works and you will see clearly some of the reasons.

Actually, my wife and I have a strange and wonderful relationship. She's strange. I'm wonderful.

Tucked away inside Obamacare is a provision called the "medical loss ratio", and this little detail has been called the "bomb" that will blow up the private health care system. Why? I'm glad you asked. This provision states that health insurance companies must spend 80% of the dollars they collect in premiums- 85% for large group insurers like Blue Cross- on medical care rather than overhead, marketing expenses, or retained as profits. Friends, this little provision has the power to cause most if not all private health insurers to face a grim future. The Department of Health and Human Services will determine in rules that they are formulating what will and will not be a medical expense for the purposes of meeting this requirement.The high bar that has been set for expenditures on patient care seems well meaning, but it is highly invasive and takes away the discretion of management as to how they run their company. Friends, I have railed against the power grab by Washington for some time; I have railed against socialized medicine; but now for all of us, it starts to get real. Washington and the bureaucrats that inhabit it are attempting a power grab of unprecedented proportions and the control over your life will be astounding if they are successful. This, my friends, is what the upcoming election in 2012 is all about.

Taking a multi vitamin with a beer for breakfast is the same thing as a bowl of Wheaties, right?

And that, my friends is my view.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Resilient Predators Dump Detroit 4-3

Persevere verb "to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of obstacles, difficulty,or discouragement"

The Nashville Predators faced the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena in a contest that required the Predators to persevere, fight, and claw their way to a 4-3 win for their fourth straight win and even their season series with the Red Wings at one game each.

The Predators faced a significant test against the Red Wings, who had been red hot and playing some of the best hockey of any team in the NHL. Everyone knew this one would be a tough test for the Predators.

It was that, and then some.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, while Detroit countered with Jimmy Howard. Rinne was tested early and often throughout the contest, as the Wings fired a total of 40 shots at the Nashville net. Jimmy Howard faced 21 shots from the Predators.

Detroit opened the scoring on the power play as Ryan Suter was called for a weak hooking call and was in the box. Ian White sent a shot toward the net that pinballed off several sticks and legs, eventually coming to Tomas Holmstrom alone at the side of the net. Holmstrom had an easy tap in to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.

The Predators answered the Wings score at 10:09 of the first period as David Legwand took a shot from the left side of the net that Howard stopped with his pad. The rebound came right back to Legwand, and he lifted the puck over a sprawling Howard to knot the game at 1.

Tied going into the second period, the Wings asserted themselves. They outshot the Predators 15-5, controlled the puck for long stretches, and thoroughly stymied the Predators offensive effort. Oh, by the way, they also scored two goals.

The first of those goals came at 10:03 of the second with the Wings on another power play. Jerred Smithson was in the box for hooking, and the Wings got control of the puck down low. A nice tic tac toe pass from Todd Bertuzzi to Juri Hudler to Henrik Zetterberg found Zetterberg alone at the side of the net and he had a virtually empty net in which to shoot the puck to give the Wings a 2-1 lead.

Nicklas Lidstrom made it 3-1 Detroit at 11:30 of the period as he beat Rinne with a shot from the blue line at even strength. For Predator fans, things looked grim. Detroit was 18-0 when they had a 2 goal lead and the Predators offense was virtually invisible, having failed to record a shot on net for 11 minutes in the period.

The Predators would show some signs of life as Jordin Tootoo tallied off a rebound of a Kevin Klein shot to beat Howard and make it 3-2 Detroit at 17:22 of the period. Tootoo continues his strong play with his 9th point in the last 10 games, and he has brought a spark and a scoring touch to his line that the Predators have long expected out of him and that they have desperately needed.

Detroit is strong on the puck, and in the third period, they continued to control the puck and keep the Predators hemmed in their own end. With the clock melting away, it appeared as if the Wings would strangle the life out of the Predators.

The momentum would turn toward the Predators at the 15:14 mark of the third period, as Jimmy Howard was called for hooking, the only Detroit penalty of the night. The Predators would make the Wings pay for this transgression at 15:36 of the third as Shea Weber unleashed a blast from just inside the blue line. Patric Hornqvist was screening Howard, and the puck flew past the Detroit netminder to tie the game at 3.

That goal energized the crowd, who was in full throat in support of the Predators, and the home team responded.

The Predators got the puck into the zone, and Jordin Tootoo got the puck to Weber at the blue line. He took a wrist shot that bounced about 10 feet in front of Howard and skipped over his shoulder to give the Predators a 4-3 lead.

The Predators were able to hold off the final push by the Wings with Howard out of the net and the extra attacker on the ice. As they horn sounded, the crowd erupted, and as improbable as it might seem, the Predators had the 4-3 win over their rival.

After the game, I heard someone say that the Predators "stole" that game from Detroit. Here is the aspect that one should keep in mind: the Predators kept themselves in a position to win that game- "steal" it if you insist- by persevering. It would have been easy to quit, to let Detroit continue to dominate and choke the life out of the Predators. The fact that this team didn't quit and kept fighting is telling.

The bottom line is that they put themselves into a position to win the game.

Here is a blinding flash of the obvious: Detroit is talented. They are well coached. They are experienced. Those characteristics overshadow the fact that the Predators faced adversity and they were in a 2 goal hole, but they continued to push, they continued to skate, and there was no quit in them.

This is a young team that is growing up right before our eyes. They are learning to fight, to scrap, and to persevere.

More importantly, they are learning to win.

This is the result of a total buy in of what the coaching staff has been teaching. It is a result of believing in the coaches and the teammates on the ice.

There will be more tests of this young squad, and more chances to persevere.

This contest with the Wings shows this team that they are never out of a contest.

Just keep persevering.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Jordin Tootoo

3. Nicklas Lidstrom

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Predators Put Out the Flames 2-1

The Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames played one of their typical games, a one goal affair characterized by stellar goal tending, fierce forechecking, and opportunistic scoring. The Predators prevailed on their home ice in an entertaining affair by a 2-1 score.

For the Predators, this was their first win on home ice against the Flames since 2008, a streak of six home losses.

The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Flames had Rinne's countryman, Mikka Kiprusoff, and both goaltenders were outstanding tonight.

The Predators have been a team that has struggled to find their identity this season, and if recent games are any indication, they have found it. The first period saw the Predators skating as well as they have skated in any game this season. They tilted the ice in their favor and poured shots on Kiprusoff. Kipper was excellent in net, and made two outstanding saves on point blank shots by David Legwand and Marty Erat.

Early on, this game appeared as if the Predators were going to run into the wall that was Kiprusoff and were not going to be able to solve his solid play in net. That would change at 11:43 of the first period as the Predators fourth line would get on the board. Brian McGratten sent a puck off the boards that Kiprusoff stopped with his pad. Matt Halischuk was lurking at the front of the net and made a nifty play to gather in the bouncing rebound and lift a backhand shot that beat Kipper short side for the Predators first goal.

Although that was the only score of the period, the Predators pressed the play and dominated in puck possession. They put 18 shots on net in the period to 6 for Calgary.

Everyone in the building knew that Calgary would have a strong push in the second period, and they did just that. Calgary started to tilt the ice in their favor, and the fear among Predator fans was that the Flames would eventually force a mistake by the Predators.

That happened at 6:12 of the second period as Curtis Glencross split the defensive tandem of Roman Josi and Jack Hillen and skated in on Rinne. He lifted a backhand shot over the shoulder of Rinne to tie the game at 1. This is a play that cannot happen and the concern was that it would deflate the Predators.

That was not the case, however, as the Predators matched the effort by Calgary as each team fired 17 shots on net in the period. Rinne and Kiprusoff both made some solid saves to keep the game knotted at 1.

The Predators would notch the game winning goal in the third period while on the power play. Craig Smith took a shot from the slot that Kiprusoff kicked out with his pad. Colin Wilson was crashing the net and slid the puck five hole for the tally at 3:31.

The remainder of the period was a back and forth affair that saw each goaltender make some big saves. Rinne was exceptional late in the period as the Flames pressed for the tying goal, and the Predators managed to keep the Flames tied up and having to work hard for shots. The horn sounded with Calgary scrambling around the Predators net, but unable to get the needed goal past Rinne.

This team has started to embrace fully the message that the coaching staff has been preaching all season: skate hard for 60 minutes; shoot the puck; and crash the net. Tonight, they did that for a full 60 minutes. Evidence of this is the final shot total: Predators 45 SOG to 36 SOG for Calgary.

Kudos to the power play unit, which continues to operate at a high level. Tonight, that unit was 1 for 3 with the game winning goal. This unit has displayed a growing confidence, much better movement, and good shot selection. this is a solid plus for the Predators.

Another plus for this team is they are starting to dominate in the face off circle. This is so important for puck possession and the effort in the circle has benefited this team over the last three games. It will be imperative that they continue to be successful in this area.

It takes time for a young team to learn who they are and start to gel. They are showing signs of learning who they are and playing to their strengths. This is what will make this team successful.

Three games, three wins. These three games do not make a season.

They do, however, point the way, to continued success.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mikka Kiprusoff

3. Colin Wilson

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Predators Down the Ducks 3-2

The Nashville Predators were looking to string together some wins and especially to reverse their fortunes on home ice, where they had the worst home record in the NHL. What better opponent to face than the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Nashville once again had workhorse Pekka Rinne in net, while the Ducks went with former Nashville Predator Dan Ellis.

The first period was scoreless but not without controversy. Colin Wilson scored for the Predators on the power play, but the goal was waved off because it was deemed by referee Stephan Auger that Wilson had kicked the puck into the net. The replay did not confirm this, but after a lengthy review, the call on the ice stood.

The first period was scoreless, but the Predators had a decided territorial advantage and out shot the Ducks 7-5. Ellis made some good saves to keep the Predators off the board, but the effort by the Predators was one of their best of the season. They controlled the puck for long stretches at a time and did not let the explosive Ducks offense get in gear. For the Predators, the task was to solve Ellis and find the back of the net.

The Ducks opened the second period with a score just 38 seconds into the second frame. Andrew Gordon took a feed from Brandon McMillan and walked out of the corner with it past defenseman Roman Josi, who had fallen and was scrambling to catch up to Gordon. Gordon fired a snap shot that beat Rinne to the far post to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.

The Predators appeared to tie the game when Mike Fisher banged home a rebound in a goal mouth scramble, but once again, the Predators had the goal waved off as it was ruled to have been kicked in.

Could it be one of those nights?

The answer would be a resounding "No".

Nick Spaling took a nice pass from Colin Wilson across the slot and beat Ellis high glove side to tie the game at 1 at 12:03 of the second period. This goal was not waved off.

The Predators once again dominated the period, maintaining a huge territorial advantage in the offensive zone and out shooting the Ducks 13-5, yet the game was tied at 1 heading into the third period.

The game was in the balance, and it was going to be important for the Predators to step up and take control.

And that is just what they did.

With Brandon McMillan in the box for slashing Jordin Tootoo, Roman Josi took a feed from Shea Weber and unleashed a rocket from just inside the blue line. The shot beat a screened Ellis over his glove to make it 2-1 Predators at 2:33 of the third.

Jordin Tootoo extended the Predators lead to 3-1 as Kevin Klein found Toots streaking in and hit him with a pass at the Ducks blue line. Tootoo drove hard to the net and his hard wrist shot beat Ellis over his glove hand at 5:25 of the third period.

Francois Beauchemin scored for Anaheim at 13:24, beating Rinne high over his glove to cut the lead to one for the Predators.

The Predators managed to shut the Ducks down for the remainder of the period and had won consecutive games for the first time since November 17th. More importantly, they had protected their home ice.

The Predators did a good job of overcoming adversity, having two goals waved off by the officials. Their ability to bounce back and persevere has been what this team has inconsistently done throughout this season, and it was good to see the resiliency of this team shine through.

I mentioned that the Predators had a territorial advantage throughout all three periods. The shot totals reflect that, with the Predators out shooting the Ducks 28-17. This would not have happened if the Predators had not been dominant in the face off dot. Particular mention goes to Mike Fisher, who was 10 of 13 in the dot, and was especially strong in the offensive zone. This was very important to the Predators as they were able to maintain possession, particularly on their power plays.

About that power play: although they were 1 of 4, they dominated with the man advantage. There was one power play that stands out. The Predators kept the puck in the offensive zone for 1:40 before the Ducks could get a clear. The movement was better and the chances that the man advantage created were good scoring chances. This has to continue for the Predators.

Although the Ducks are struggling- heck, let's call it like it is- they are inept, this was a solid win for the Predators. Their defensive effort against the Ducks offensive weapons was exceptional, shutting them down all night. A great effort from Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Having Frankie Buillon back in the line up settles the other pairings as well, and their work tonight was very good.

This team is developing their edge again. They are playing Predator hockey- aggressively forechecking, opportunistic offense, and solid defense.

Keep playing like this and you will down some more teams.

My three stars:

1, Jordin Tootoo

2. Roman Josi

3. Mike Fisher

Friday, December 9, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

As a nation, we import most of our oil from countries in the middle east, many of which are hostile to our nation and its interests. Why, you ask? The standard response is that is where the oil and energy resources are located that we as a nation need. Based on that premise, a movement to cut foreign oil imports and move toward more green alternatives, such as electric cars and solar energy, has arisen. In and of itself, that is not bad. Here is something you should know: in 1980, the U.S. government estimated that our proven oil reserves in this country was 30 billion barrels. Yet over the last 30 years, the U.S has produced 77 billion barrels of oil (source: Institute for Energy Research). So did that oil just magically appear? No. The fact is that our country has all the natural resources that we need to supply our energy needs for years to come. Consider the following (click to enlarge):

Again, this data is from a study by the aforementioned Institute for energy Research. The desire for a clean environment is something we all want, and a clean environment and utilization of our natural resources can co-exist. The continued transfer of the wealth of our nation to oil producing countries of the middle east is unnecessarily costing consumers billions of dollars and funding countries whose interests are counter to ours.

We know that much of the oil in our country is in Texas and Alaska. Perhaps we are having such a hard time finding it because all the dipsticks are in Washington.

In the last 100 years, the population of the U.S. has tripled; life expectancies have increased 70%; the per capita Gross Domestic Product has risen 600%; and standards of living have increased across all income classes. There are several reasons for this, one of which is readily available, reasonably priced energy sources. The automobile industry, for example, has grown because of reasonably priced and readily available gasoline. Petroleum based products, such as plastics, has changed our standard of living for the good and has improved our quality of life. So why are some wanting to limit the availability of these resources, which in turn will cost us more out of our pockets and in turn lower our standard of living? For some, their opposition to developing our own resources is rooted in a true philosophical belief that utilizing our own reserves of natural resources will harm the environment. The perception of the energy industry in this country of a horrific polluter (which at one time it was) drives their actions. I can respect that position. I would tell you, dear reader, that this is a minority of those that are opposed to developing our own resources. Instead, I will tell you what I always tell you- follow the money. Look closely at the government guaranties, grants, loans, and legislative support that the "alternative" energy sector has received and is receiving. There is a monumental pecuniary interest for many by promoting green energy and receiving government largess for doing so. Here is the bottom line that we should all keep in mind: environmental responsibility and stewardship is necessary and worthwhile; we cannot however, ignore the economic benefits we receive from affordable and readily available energy.

My wife is like nature: she abhors a vacuum.

Last week, the markets cheered an improvement in the unemployment rate, as the nominal rate dropped below 9% for the first time in 18 months. The stated rate was 8.6%. Here is what you should know: that "good" number is absolutely meaningless. Why? Because under the direction of the Obama administration, the labor force was arbitrarily reduced, which through a simple mathematical effect of working off a smaller base would make the number look better. In the latest calculation, over 425,000 adults that are out of work were "re-classified" (not counted) from the prior month, which shrinks the adult work force down to 64%. Where did those people go? Alien abductions? Perpetually stuck in a line at the Department of Motor Vehicles?We all know the economy is weak and the job market stinks. The blatant manipulation of the numbers is nothing more than a political ploy and cooking the books by the federal government. As investors, and more importantly as citizens, we should not be fooled.

How did I get over the hill without getting to the top?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Predators Stun the Jackets in OT 4-3

The Nashville Predators ventured to the Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets and were desperately looking for a win to turn around their fortunes. The Predators came into the game with a 3-6-1 record in their last ten games, while the Jackets have improved their play of late and entered with a 5-3-2 record in their last ten game.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, while the surprisingly solid Curtis Sanford started his 11th straight game for the Blue Jackets.

Stop me if you have heard this song before.

The Predators were dominated in time of possession and in shots in the first period. With 17 minutes gone in the first period, the Predators had been outshot 10-1, and except for some good saves by Pekka Rinne, the Blue Jackets would have blown the Predators out of the barn in the first period.

As it was, the Jackets had a 1-0 lead by virtue of a goal from Jeff Carter at 12:42 of the period. Carter skated from behind the goal and whipped a shot  from just outside the goal line that was in and out of the net so fast that play continued. After a stoppage of play and a video review, the goal was credited to Carter and the Jackets.

The BJ's made it 2-0 at 10:49 of the second period as Antoine Vermette eluded Jack Hillen and was able to gather in a rebound of a shot by Jared Boll and backhanded the puck over Rinne.

The Predators showed some life as Mike Fisher tallied at at 13:10 with a nice backhand shot off a feed from Sergei Kostitsyn. Finally, the Predators had a response and looked like they had some life.

Whatever momentum the Predators had was quickly squelched as Derek Dorsett absolutely blew through the Predators defense and skated in uncontested on Rinne. His snap shot beat Rinne high glove side just inside the post to make it 3-1 Columbus.

With Rinne pulled for an extra attacker late in the period, Shea Weber sent a shot to the net, and Patric Hornqvist, working hard in the dirty area, banged home a rebound for his 8th goal of the season to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 1:38 left in the contest.

The goal was on only the 4th shot of the period for the Predators.

With 1:06 remaining in the contest, Sami Pahlsson of the BJ's was sent to the box for cross checking. With Rinne pulled, the Predators had a 6 on 4 advantage.

The Predators tied the game with 12.1 seconds to go in the contest as Marty Erat took a shot from the face off circle and the shot was re-directed by Sergei Kostitsyn.

With this flurry at the end of the period, the Predators had amazingly managed to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Fortunately for the Predators, their slumbering offense finally awoke to salvage a point that this team desperately needed.

At 1:45 of the overtime period, Marty Erat skated in 2 on 1 with Colin Wilson. Erat hit Wilson with a perfect pass on his tape and Wilson buried the one timer for the game winning goal.

An improbable win?


A win that can turn the fortunes of a team?

Without a doubt.

This time, the song turned out differently for the Predators.

The Predators were badly outplayed for stretches at a time in this contest. The BJ's were dominant at times. Yet this team kept fighting and working, and finally were rewarded for their effort.

During this miserable period of hockey for the Predators, there have been times where this team hasn't worked and times where they have quit.

Not tonight.

I have mentioned on too many occasions that this young team has had to learn some painful lessons. Tonight, they learned that if they keep working and playing their game, eventually they will be rewarded.

This lesson is a lot more fun to learn.

Confidence can be fleeting. Over the past few games, this team has not been confident. The takeaway from tonight's game is that the team should be confident in their work ethic and they should know that if they keep fighting, skating, and working hard, they will be rewarded.

Now it is time to take the lessons from this game and the confidence that you should have from your effort and build on it.

That song is much more fun.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Jeff Carter

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Predators Fail to Finish (Again), Fall to Phoenix 3-2

The Nashville Predators fell to the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 at the Bridgestone Arena, dropping another home game and going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Once again, this was a contest that hung in the balance and the unfortunately for the Predators, they were once again unable to finish a game that they had a chance to win.

You can read the box score of the game here.

The Coyotes got on the board just nine seconds into the game on what can be charitably called a soft goal. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne fielded a shot that hit him in the crest of his jersey. Rinne did not control the puck and it dribbled out under his arm. Rinne thought he had the puck frozen, but it was sitting in the blue paint, and Taylor Pyatt swooped in and swatted the puck into the back of the net just 9 seconds into the game.

Jason Labarbera got the start for the Coyotes, who played last night in Chicago with Mike Smith in net, and he was stellar for the Desert Dogs until the last 10 seconds of the period. Labarbera had shut down any scoring opportunities that the Predators had created until this point, when Jack Hillen fired a puck at the net with Mike Fisher creating havoc in front of Labarbera. The puck eluded the Phoenix netminder and the Predators tied the game with 10.8 seconds remaining in the period.

The second period was scoreless, but not for lack of effort by the Coyotes. They dominated in time of possession and fired 11 shots on Rinne to just 5 for the Predators in the period. Rinne made some good saves to keep the Predators in the contest.

The Coyotes would take a 2-1 lead at 1:40 of the third period as 2 Predators were tied up with Radim Vrbata below the goal line. Vrbata got control of the puck and found Ray Whitney alone in the low slot. Whitney's one timer beat Rinne glove side to give the Coyotes the lead.

The Predators would tie the contest at 2 at at 12:53 of the third period on a 5 on 3 power play. Shea Weber would get loose just inside the blue line, and his rocket shot would beat Labarbera to knot the contest.

Labarbera made several huge saves to keep the Predators off the board, and it looked as if the two teams would be heading to overtime.

The notion of overtime would be squelched at 18:15 of the third period as Keith Yandle was able to evade the Predators defensive coverage, and take a cross ice pass from Shane Doan. His one timer beat Rinne for the Coyotes margin of victory.

The Predators did not muster much of an offensive challenge in the remaining time, having trouble even getting the puck in the offensive zone. Once again, the Predators failed to finish in a contest they desperately needed to win.

The Predators are a fragile team right now. This come with being a young team that is learning on the fly, and it is painful. When the Predators make a mistake, more often than not it is winding up in the back of their net. This has victimized the Predators too often in this skid.

It victimized them again tonight.

A defensive lapse, a soft goal, and the Predators are finding themselves in a hole. And once in a hole, the offense cannot generate sufficient firepower to overcome the deficit.

The Predators are hustling  and beginning to shoot the puck more. These are positives. I cannot fault their effort in the last few losses.

The fact is that this team, as it is constructed now, cannot overcome many mistakes in their game. They have to play nearly flawless hockey to secure a win, and right now, that is not happening.

This is what you get when you have a young team. The mistakes are more problematic and they tend to wind up in your net. This is part of the painful learning process that a young team has to endure.

Keep your head up boys. Keep working hard. The lessons that are being painfully learned now will pay off for you in the future.

There is only one way out of this funk in which you find yourselves.

Keep working hard.

And finish.

My three stars:

1. Jason Labarbera

2. Keith Yandle

3. Jack Hillen

Was Tootoo Suspended 2 Games for Lucic Hit on Miller?

Those reading this headline to the blog probably think I have lost my mind, but after the NHL today suspended Nashville Jordin Tootoo two games for the collision he had with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller in Saturday night's contest, the question bears asking.

The play itself has drawn out arguments on both sides: Sabres fans vehemently contend that Tootoo "ran" Miller; Nashville fans say that Tootoo could not help the collision when, after beating Sabres D man Christian Ehrhoff, he was pushed just enough to knock him off stride and force him into Miller.

That debate is never going to be settled, and each side can argue a valid point or points about about the play.

The problem for League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is the meting out of justice to Tootoo for just such a play that is open to those arguments when he failed to do so when Miller was legitimately run by Boston's Milan Lucic two weeks ago on a play that had absolutely no gray area.

Lucic demolished Miller on the play, hurting his back and potentially giving him a concussion in the process. Tootoo appeared to attempt to avoid Miller by leaping over him and mitigating much of the contact (he failed, but the attempt was there).

Helpful tip: turn off your speakers so you don't have to listen to the Buffalo announcers

And this is where it gets dicey for Shanahan and the League.

If the punishment to Tootoo was to make up call for the one you missed earlier, then this is an egregious miscarriage of the responsibility that Shanahan has to the players and the integrity of the game.

The appearance of any partiality or favoritism toward a player or a team undermines any credibility that Shanahan- and by extension,  the League- has. That credibility and impartiality must be paramount in the the administration of discipline and enforcement of the rules, and any appearance otherwise is detrimental to the League, its players, and its fans.

I don't blame Lindy Ruff for being incensed at the play, or Ryan Miller, Paul Gaustad and every Sabre on the ice going after Tootoo. I would want the Predators to respond the same way if that type of collision occurred with  Pekka Rinne. Don't tell me, however, that this hit was anything like the hit that Miller received from Lucic.

It wasn't.

And for Shanahan to say that Lucic's hit was a hockey play and this one wasn't is disingenuous at best.

So while I can disagree with the assessment that Tootoo was not steered by Ehrhoff toward Miller and with the suspension, I am making that judgement through Predator colored glasses, just as the Buffalo fans think that this hit was a heinous attack on their goaltender are viewing the play through their Sabres glasses.

The players and fans of the NHL hope that Shanahan's vision is 20/20.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sabres Stick the Predators 3-2

The Buffalo Sabres ventured to Bridgestone Arena to take on the Nashville Predators in what turned out to be a spirited contest between two teams that were evenly matched. Although these two teams rarely see each other, the venom was ramped up as the game went along.

Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Predators and Buffalo had Ryan Miller back after an injury from a collision with Boston's Milan Lucic.

You can read the game summary here.

Here are some thoughts from the game...

The first goal against Lindback was a scrambling kind of goal, as the puck was bouncing all over the place before it was buried by Luke Adam. I can't really fault Lindback on that goal as the puck was bouncing from side to side of the net and the defense could not clear the front of the net.

The second goal was a result of a momentary indecision by Roman Josi. That momentary hesitation allowed Zack Kassian to break in alone on Lindback and he roofed a nice backhand shot over the shoulder for the score. When you play a young player at any position, you have to live with their mistakes on their learning curve. This was that type of play, and it bit the Predators. Josi shows a lot of promise, and he owned up to his mistake after the game, which was a stand up act. Look for this young man to continue to develop and his game to get stronger.

The controversial play that got the blood boiling on both sides was a drive to the net by Jordin Tootoo that resulted in a collision with Ryan Miller. Tootoo was driving hard to the front of the net and was shoved by Christian Ehrhoff. Tootoo appeared to try to avoid Miller by leaping to try to miss Miller, but still collided with him. Tootoo went down, and Miller took five or six good punches at Tootoo. Miller got no penalties for his actions, but Tootoo got a 5 minute charging penalty and a game misconduct. Paul Gaustad got a 4 minute roughing penalty and a 10 minute misconduct out of the fracas after the play.

If Tootoo had really wanted to run Miller, the fact is that Miller would not have remained in the game. I know the officials were sensitive to protecting Miller because of what happened in the Boston game, but in my view overreacted. There was no consideration of the fact that Ehrhoff was beaten on the play and shoved Tootoo at the last moment, causing Tootoo to veer directly toward Miller.Obviously I view this play from Predator colored glasses, but it appeared that Tootoo did his best to avoid completely steamrolling Miller.

Buffalo fans- and players- will disagree with that assessment. So be it. It was a bang bang play that resulted in contact with the goalie. If this had been any other player than Ryan Miller, Tootoo would not have received the game misconduct.

Craig Smith scored with a blistering shot that beat Miller short side. He continues to be the most dynamic offensive player for the Predators, and I certainly hope the coaching staff has come to this realization. Playing Smith on the third line like they have is a failed experiment. Put Smith with some of the more talented players on the first or second line and he will produce. My hope is that he stays on the first or second line for the remainder of the season.

David Legwand notched another goal, his team leading 12th of the season. I wish Legwand would adopt Smith's attitude of shoot first and pass second. Legwand too often passes up shots in favor of passes, and if he would take a shoot first mentality in the offensive zone, his production would be exceptional.

Ryan Miller was very good in net. The Predators put 34 shots on net to 14 for Buffalo, but had a hard time solving Miller. Part of this is due to Miller's solid play, but part of this is due to the Predators being unable to finish chances.

Let me ask this: outside of Smith, does anyone really scare the opposition when they carry the puck into the offensive zone? Colin Wilson has flashes. Anyone else? And therein lies the problem for the Predators. This team is built with grinders and blue collar players. The finishers? Erat? Too inconsistent? Legwand? Also inconsistent. Anyone else?

I didn't think so.

Which means the Predators are going to have to overcome the mistakes that young players will inevitably make and they are going to have to outwork the opposition. Tonight, they could not beat a very good netminder that played an very good game.

However, if they keep shooting the puck like they did tonight and minimize their mistakes, they will win more than they will lose. The effort tonight cannot be criticized too much. It is important that this team continue to play to their identity.

If they do, they will stick it to their opponents.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Miller

2. Luke Adam

3. Craig Smith

Friday, December 2, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Today, friends, we are going to have a little different "My View", one that will address an issue that is going to impact all of us in the near future. That issue is one of the two certainties in life. Yes, we are going to talk about...


(cue the ominous background music)

So buckle up and hang on for the ride.

With the recent failure of the Congressional Super Committee fresh in our minds, it is a good time to talk about taxes. The Super Committee bogged down as Republicans held the line on tax increases and the Democrats demanded more tax increases. It is very easy to slip into a partisan mindset about taxes and point fingers at the other side, but it is critical that we in the public really understand the fundamentals about what is going on regarding taxes so that we can make reasoned decisions and provide valid input to our elected representatives.

So I think it is important for us to understand what is happens in a progressive tax system like ours, and why our system is not working efficiently.

We all talk about taxes and the tax rate, the rate at which a person or a business is taxed, but we really need to explore and understand what we are talking about. Here are some important definitions:

Nominal Rate- This is the stated tax bracket. This is also called the statutory rate. When someone says,"I am in the 28% bracket", they are referring to their nominal tax rate.

Marginal Rate- the tax on the last dollar earnings. This is important as one's income rises. For instance, one could earn a bonus in a calendar year that moves them from a 28% bracket to a 31% bracket for tax purposes. Individuals and business make marginal tax considerations an important part of their decision process if they are going to pay more in taxes to earn another dollar of income.

Effective Rate- This is the tax rate that an individual or business pays AFTER all government offsets or deductions are applied.

It is very important to have these concepts in mind, because understanding them will help us understand part of the financial dilemma that we are facing in our country.

Did you know that the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world? The current corporate tax rate is 35%. Do you think most corporations pay taxes at the 35% rate?

That would be a big UH-UH.

The effective corporate tax rate in the U.S. last year was 22%, significantly lower than the nominal corporate rate of 35%. Many companies did not pay taxes. One of the most frequently cited examples of companies not paying taxes is General Electric, which in 2010 had income of $14 billion and yet paid no taxes. How did that happen? They used legal deductions and offsets to pare down their tax liability to nothing.

And GE is no different than you or me. I deduct mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and claim the maximum exemptions allowed all in an effort to do what GE did, and that is to minimize my tax burden.

Do you see the problem starting to emerge? Congress can raise nominal rates to 50% in this country, but the EFFECTIVE rate will still be lower.

Why is this?

For several reasons. Washington views the world in a static way, which means their belief is that if taxes are raised, collections by the government will rise in a straight line to a certain amount. The reality is that the world does not work that way. You and I will legally avoid paying the maximum amount of taxes in any way possible. We may defer income; we may make more charitable contributions; or we just may not work as much and engage in more leisure activities to avoid generating higher income and higher marginal taxes (see where all those definitions start to mean something?).

Also, having a complicated tax code with numerous deductions, exemptions, and special credits gives Congress an enormous amount of power to bestow said deductions, exemptions, and credits on favored groups or industries. Think Congress wants to give up this power? Neither do I, but in so doing, could actually move the effective rates higher. We will talk about that in a minute.

So the real problem for leadership in Washington is to raise the effective rate, not the nominal rate. The discussion about nominal rates- "raising taxes"- is sound and fury with little net effect.

I want to stop right here. Those of you that have read these Friday blogs know that I disdain the inordinately high tax rates in this country and the subsequent wasteful spending that it engenders at all levels of government. So what I am about to talk about- improving tax collections- doesn't mean that I have gone to the dark side of the liberal left. You will see why.

The salient question for all of us is how do we improve tax collections- increase the effective rate- without decimating the economy?

I'm glad you asked.

There are several ways.

First, close the loopholes and eliminate all deductions except mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Congress should not be in the business of deciding to favor certain industries or interest groups with exemptions. This step alone takes away one of the primary tools used by Congress for legislative overreach and is a gigantic first step in reining in the power of Washington legislators.

Why keep mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions? Without the mortgage interest deduction, housing prices will fall even lower than their current levels, and since for many in this country, their house is the major component of their assets, this is essential to maintaining their wealth. As for charitable contributions, the elimination of that deduction would obviously impact the flow of dollars to these ventures and limit their outreach.

The second thing that MUST occur concurrent with the closing of the loopholes is that the tax rate at all brackets should be lowered. We currently collect taxes on individuals at an effective rate of 14%. If that effective rate doubled to 28%, can you imagine the profligate spending that would come out of Washington? Think if Washington flattened the tax code to two rates, say 10% below a certain income level and 20% above a certain income level. Do you think the effective rate would go up? Especially if the loopholes are closed? Simplify the tax code and impart certainty to the taxpayer, and the results would be astounding.

And here is why. Remember those marginal tax rates we talked about? Under our current system, an individual that makes $83,600 is in a 25% tax bracket. They owe a base tax of $4,750 PLUS 25% on the earnings over $34,500. However, say that individual closes one last sale in December and earns $85,000. Their situation changes significantly. Their base tax is now $17,025 and 28% of all income over $83,600. In effect, that last sale cost them some significant money by pushing them into a higher tax bracket.

This is the effect of rising marginal rates. At a certain level, they create a disincentive to earn.

Now go to the flattened rate that I mentioned above. Rather than rising marginal rates- meaning the government is going to take a progressively larger amount out of each additional dollar that you earn- the rate stays the same and the worker is not penalized for earning more money. Do you think this would lead to more economic activity and growth?

I do.

Obviously, both sides of the flat tax, or flatter taxes, can be argued, but here are two things to keep in mind. Washington vehemently opposes a simpler tax system, whether a flat tax system or some other. Why? Check the list of campaign contributions given to our elected officials and compare that to the tax breaks or credits that some of those groups have received. Remember what I have told you- ALWAYS follow the money. The current tax code is one of the biggest sources of power for those in Washington and consequently one of the biggest tools used to gather campaign funds. This has to stop.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the current system is not working effectively. All of us are avoiding taxes through any legal method available, and this behavior will continue. We all act in our economic self interest, and that includes legally keeping as much of our hard earned income as possible. Washington has to understand that this current system is broken and will not provide the vehicle to effectively collect revenue nor does it provide a framework the economy to grow.

Hopefully, this discussion will shed some light on what is happening with the debate on taxes and provide some understanding of how it will impact us as taxpayers.

And it will impact us.

Our engagement in this process will be essential to shaping the direction of our tax policy. Get involved and contact your elected representatives and let them know your feelings on this matter.

The federal government views your income as "theirs".

And remember, "theirs" can be also be "THE IRS".

And that, my friends, is my view