Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Predators With a Wild Comeback Win

The Nashville Predators hoped to pick up right where they left off before the All Star break, where they were the hottest team in the NHL. They would begin this quest at the XCel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.

The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Wild went with Josh Harding.

Dany Heatley got loose in the low slot and buried the puck past Rinne to give the Wild a 1-0 lead at 8:04 in the first period. The defensive coverage broke down completely on this goal as Heatley was completely left left alone and Rinne had no chance on the snap shot.

Craig Smith drew a hooking call on a nice drive to the net, but the Predators could only muster one shot on goal with the man advantage.

The Predators returned the favor to the Wild as Shea Weber was called for holding. The Wild made the Predators pay for their transgression as once again Dany Heatley got open right in front of the net and once again beat Rinne. The Predators defensive coverage down low was atrocious once again, and it burnt them at 12:36 of the first period.

The Predators were out shot 11-10 in the first period, but and created a few scoring chances, but the Wild looked to be more ready to play and definitely looked to be the more desperate team.

The Predators were going to have to ramp up the intensity in the second period and were going to have to tighten up their defensive coverage.

Well, so much for tightening up the defensive coverage. Cal Clutterbuck drove into the zone and all the way to the net where his backhand eluded Rinne to make it 3-0 at 1: 29 of the second period. The Predators have shown their ability to come back in games, but spotting the Wild a 3-0 lead was digging an enormous hole.

The Predators finally got on the board at 9:33 of the second period as Kevin Klein took a shot from the blue line with Matt Halischuk in front screening. Halischuk re-directed the shot past Harding to get the Predators on the board. For Halischuk, this was his 12th goal of the season, and he continues to impress with his hard work.

At the end of two periods, the Predators trailed 3-1, and failed to generate much of a sustained attack. The Wild were forechecking aggressively and disrupting the Predators breakouts in the neutral zone. The Wild out shot the Predators 6-5 in the second, and the shot totals were reflective of a period of hockey that had no flow to it.

The Predators were going to have to support the puck better and create offense in the third period if they were going to have an opportunity to win this game. It was going to be important for the Predators to establish offensive zone time and create some chances in the third period.

Once again the Predators gave up an early goal t begin the period as Kyle Brodziak tapped in a puck as Nick Johnson was allowed to walk out of the corner and to the front of the net. Johnson's shot was stopped by Rinne, but Brodziak was free to tap in the puck at just 16 seconds into the period.

The Predators showed that they were definitely not ready to play in this game, as the mental aspect of the their game was totally absent in this contest. The Wild had scored all their goals off defensive lapses by the Predators, which was indicative of the team not being mentally ready for this contest.

The Predators made it 4-2 as Brandon Yip and Matt Halischuk were banging away at the puck as Harding went down to block the shot. The play went under review, but the puck was spied by the officials across the goal line for Yip's first goal as a Predator at 9:22 of the third period. More importantly, the Predators kept fighting and were rewarded for their efforts.

Pekka Rinne made a huge save on Matt Cullen at 15:20 of the third as the Wild had a 2 on 1. Rinne once again bailed out the defense to keep the game within reach for the Predators, but the clock was melting away and it was going to be critical that the Predators get another goal quickly.

The Predators pulled to within one goal as Patric Hornqvist kept banging away at a loose puck in the crease and was able to poke the puck past Harding at 15:39. Hard work paid off for the Predators.

Improbable comeback on the way?

A resounding YES!

Just 21 seconds later, Mike Fisher pounded a puck past Harding to tie the game at 4. Unbelievably, the Predators had fought their way back into this game.

With 20.8 seconds to go, the Predators kept battling for control of the puck in the Wild zone. Mike Fisher got control of the puck along the boards by the face off circle and just threw the puck at the net. Somehow the puck eluded Harding and found the back of the net to give the Predators an unbelievable 5-4 lead.

The horn sounded and as unbelievable as it sounds, the Predators had an amazing come from behind win. A victory where they scored 4 goals in the third period, a period where they were down 4-1 early and seemed dead in the water.

That is character.

There are two take aways from this game: first, the Predators have to come ready to play. The success prior to the All Star game is history. Just stepping on the ice is not enough. Teams are desperate and they need the wins, and they are going to fight and scrap for every bit of ice and every loose puck. Tonight, the Predators were nearly bitten in the posterior because they did not come ready to play.

The second thing to take away from this game is that the game is never over until the final horn sounds. Keep fighting, keep grinding, keep playing, and good things happen. If this team ever forgets this fact, just pull the tape out and watch it again.

Let this game be a learning experience. Get ready boys, because the games down the stretch are going to be a war.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Matt Halischuk

3. Dany Heatley

Honorable mention: Patric Hornqvist Brandon Yip

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tryin for Ryan, Can the Predators Sign Suter?

Ryan Suter made headlines at a media event at the NHL All Star game by saying that he did not believe that he would sign with the Predators before the February 27th trade deadline.

That sound you just heard was Predators GM David Poile cracking open a bottle of Maalox.

Suter creates a problem for Poile with this stance because he is an unrestricted free agent July 1, and the risk by not trading him is that the Predators could see one of their All Star defensemen walk away for nothing in return. Suter said,

"I don't see it being a benefit by hurrying up and trying to get something done. I'm a Nashville Predator until July 1. I will focus on making my team better."
"I'm a Nashville Predator until July 1."

Sounds ominous doesn't it.

TSN's Bob McKenzie said "He's intimated that he wants to see what the Nashville Predators do between now and the deadline in terms of adding other components that would make the team that much stronger and show that they're legitimate playoff contenders."

"Legitimate playoff contenders"?

Currently the Predators have 64 points, solidly in 5th place and just 3 points behind Western Conference leader Detroit.

I think that qualifies as a legitimate playoff contender.

So, David Poile, you know what to do. Pick up the 40 goal scoring left wing hot line and get a "component" in here so that Suter knows the team is committed to being a "legitimate" playoff contender.

If it were that easy.

It's obvious that the Predators would like to add more scoring punch, a forward that can consistently put the puck in the net.

So would 29 other teams.

To be a team that is a buyer, there has to be a team or teams that are going to be sellers. Looking at the Western Conference, currently Columbus and Edmonton are in a position to be sellers. Anaheim is on the bubble. In the East, potential sellers are Tampa Bay, Buffalo, the Islanders, and Carolina.

Let's take Columbus as an example, since the Predators are very familiar with them. The two names that jump out a valuable components that would add scoring punch are Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. If GM Scott Howson is inclined to trade either of those two players, you can be certain that there will be substantial assets coming back the other way. Preds GM David Poile could try to package a depth defenseman, draft picks, and maybe a goaltender in the system to try facilitate a trade.

Think that would pry Nash or Carter out of Columbus?

Neither do I.

And this is the dilemma that Poile faces. The Predators are one of the better balanced teams in the NHL, with 9 players that have 10 or more goals. They score by committee, and the sum of their forwards is greater than the individual forwards themselves. To facilitate a trade for a stud forward will require a lot of these players to go back the other way.

Is this addition by subtraction, or is it tampering with a very good team chemistry? That is one of the risks that Poile confronts with trying to satisfy Ryan and land an elite player.

My question to Ryan Suter is this: are the Predators NOT a legitimate playoff contender?

Head Coach Barry Trotz has taken a very young squad and has them 3 points out of the first spot in the West. The Predators are 11-2-2 against Central Division opponents, the best record in the NHL against divisional opponents. Nashville is 5th in the NHL in wins; 2nd on the power play; 12th on the penalty kill; 12th in goals for; and 9th in goals against.

Like I said- sounds legitimate to me.

Is Suter saying he does not have confidence in his teammates to continue to play at the level at which they have been playing?

I don't think so.

I believe that he is saying some more punch up front is welcome and needed.

I don't disagree with that assessment.

If McKenzie's assessment is accurate- and I have a feeling it is- the corner into which Suter has painted himself, and by extension David Poile, is this: suppose the team adds the components that he- Poile- believes will be what the Predators need to contend for the Cup. Does Poile have to clear this with Suter? Obviously not.

But what if Suter does not think the player or players added to roster are what the Predators need?

"I am a Nashville Predator until July 1."

Has Suter made himself a de facto GM? I don't think that was his intention, but that is what he has done with the decision not to sign before the deadline.

The Predators ownership has said they will spend to the cap and do what is necessary to sign the team's key players, so one would believe that the money is not an issue to sign Suter. With a current payroll just under $50 million, the Predators have the room, and apparently the willingness to sign Suter.

A player's contract is personal, financial compensation and term that is negotiated between a player and his team. Suter's requirement that additional players that appear to have to be acceptable to him have removed this negotiation from the realm of the personal and into the realm of the personnel, which is usually the domain of the GM.

By doing this, Suter has exponentially made David Poile's job more difficult. For Poile, there is no net below this high wire.

Although Poile has said Suter is off the market, I think he has to entertain reasonable offers that will still come for this All Star. He would be foolish not to do so. Poile will still most certainly attempt to lock up Suter, but if he is unable to facilitate a trade or trades that help the team and satisfy Suter, I would not be surprised to see Suter moved before the deadline.

Crack open another bottle of Maalox, David.

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The rhetoric that all of us will hear as the we get closer to the November election day is going to get deafening. Claims, counter-claims, attacks, defenses, all will be at full volume. Here is a question that will help you cut through the clutter, and it is one that every voter in this country should be asking: "Are we better off today than we were when the current administration took office?" While you ponder the answer to that question, let me provide you with some information that may help you answer it. The number of people that are receiving benefits from the federal government is now 49%, including Social Security, workers compensation, pensions, subsidized housing, welfare, and other federal programs. Since President Obama took office, federal payments to individuals has increased 32% or $600 billion. Under President Obama, food stamp usage is 45% higher than it was before he took office, with 15% of all Americans on food stamps (46 million people). 45% of all health care spending in the U.S. comes from the federal government, and that is before the implementation of Obamacare. And even though in his State of the Union address he decried corporate welfare and subsidies to the energy industry, Obama and his administration have quadrupled grants and subsidies to the energy industry (many of them to now failed "green" energy companies). The present level of our spending and growth of all entitlement programs will consume 61% of all tax revenue coming in to the Treasury in just 9 years. As our current leadership in Washington moves us toward becoming a nation of dependents, can we honestly say that we are better off today than we were 3 years ago?

You know what would be an amazing concert? If Styx and The Stones performed together.

On aspect of my job is to look at numbers and spot trends. I attempt to find positive trends and take advantage of those when I make investment decisions, and avoid investments in areas where the trends are negative. Here are some numbers for your consideration which show certain data points from the time this administration came into office through the end of 2010, and I think it will be obvious to you which way the trends are going: Unemployment was 6.8% then; now it is 8.5% (and the validity of that number is questionable); regular gasoline was $1.69 per gallon and today it is $3.39, a 102% increase; electric utility costs now average $1,420 per household, up $300 and due mainly to new costs of complying with environmental regulations; median household income has dropped 7%; our nation's annual budget deficit is now $1.7 trillion and our total debt is $15.25 trillion compared to $10.6 trillion in 2009. Not only are these trends negative, but they are disturbingly and dramatically increasing in the wrong direction. So I return to the question that I asked in the first paragraph- "Are we as individuals and a nation better off today than we were when the current administration took office?"

My wife is always fussing and telling me I never finish anyth

Ask yourself this question: "What is the vision for America?" Specifically, is there a vision coming from Washington that says, as a nation, this is who we are and this is where we are going? "Fair" is not a vision. Life is not fair. Forced income redistribution is not a vision. It is antithetical to the spirit of freedom and productivity. Another government program, stifling debt, and more regulations are not a vision. And this is a fundamental problem with all of the leadership in Washington, from both sides of the aisle. Leadership in Washington does not have a vision about who we are as a nation and where we want to go, nor do they inspire our citizens to greatness.  Remember Ronald Reagan's vision for our country? "A great nation, set upon a hill." His vision was that our nation would be a model, a beacon of freedom and prosperity for the world. Someone tell me what the vision is for our country, what inspires us as citizens. There is none.The Biblical wisdom given centuries ago still holds true today: where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Our leaders would be wise to heed that wisdom

I joined a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Predators Keep Rolling, Defeat the Blackhawks 3-1

The Nashville Predators looked to continue their hot play as they trekked to the United Center to do battle with the Chicago Blackhawks in an important Central Division tilt. The Predators came into the contest with 62 points, trailing the Blackhawks, who have 64 points.

The Predators were playing their second game in two nights, having defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Monday. The Blackhawks last game was Saturday in Nashville, where the Predators claimed a 5-2 victory.

The Blackhawks were without their Captain, Jonathan Toews, who was placed on IR with a wrist injury. The Predators were without Jerred Smithson and Francis Buillon, both out with upper body injuries.

The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Blackhawks went with Corey Crawford.

Both teams opened the game moving up and down the ice and had some chances that both goaltenders turned aside. The Predators were cycling the puck well and were creating some scoring opportunities, and it was a solid start in enemy territory.

The Predators efforts were rewarded at 11:39 of the first period as Matt Halischuk jumped on a loose puck in the slot. He got the puck to Craig Smith, and he whipped a shot from the face off circle that eluded Crawford with Brandon Yip screening in front to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. This was the rookie Smith's 11th goal of the season.

The Predators were immediately besieged by the Blackhawks, as they trapped the Predators forwards deep in their zone. The Predators did not yield to the pressure from the Hawks, and were finally able to get the puck out of the zone.

Energized by that defensive stand, the Predators got the puck deep in the Chicago end. Patric Hornqvist dug the puck out of the corner and kicked it to Mike Fisher, who was cruising alone in the slot. His quick wrist shot beat Crawford far post to give the Predators a 2-0 lead at 17:34 of the first period.

The first period ended with the Predators holding a 2-0 lead and both teams recording 10 shots on goal.

Now the Predators faced their persistent demon, a second period that often saw them disappear and allow opponent s to claw their way back into a game. For the Predators, it was going to be critical to have a strong second period and not let Chicago seize back the momentum.

The Predators came out strong in the second period. They used their aggressive forecheck to control the Blackhawks in the neutral zone and prevent their speedy and dangerous breakouts. Their cycle game controlled the puck in the offensive zone and created some good chances. The defense did a good job of clearing the net in front of Rinne, giving him a good look at any shots the Hawks mustered on the net.

The Blackhawks got a good scoring chance as Patrick Kane had a breakaway. Roman Josi hustled back and forced him to alter his shot wide of the net.

Newcomer Brandon Yip showed that he wanted to stick in the line up as he had a good scrap with Steve Montador.

The second period ended scoreless, but it was a strong period for the Predators. Their defense was solid and they controlled the puck for much of the period. The Predators limited the Hawks to 7 shots on goal while logging 10 on the the Chicago net.

The third period was more of the same, as both teams traded chances. The Predators made a mistake that cost them, however, as Mike Fisher went to the box for delay of game. On the ensuing power play, Dave Bolland scored at 7:20 of the third period to make it 2-1 Predators.

For Predator fans, the pucker factor was off the chart.

The Predators took another penalty at 8:31 of the period as Marty Erat was called for a 2 minute penalty for high sticking. The Predators had survived the second period, but the Blackhawks were pushing now, and it was up to the Predators to survive the pressure.

The Predators were able to kill the penalty, but the Hawks were still pressing. It was up to the Predators to respond.

The Predators kept tempting fate as Shea Weber went to the box for elbowing  at 15:02. Late in the game, this was not a penalty that just made the task more difficult for the Predators. Once again, the Predators penalty killers were going to have to come up big.

Once again, the PK unit responded to the challenge and did their job, holding the Hawks without a shot. This was huge effort by the Predators.

The Predators had an opportunity to ice the game as Sergei Kostitsyn and Marty Erat broke in 2 on 1, but Erat's shot hit the crossbar and bounced out.

With 1:51 to go in the game, the Predators caught a break as Chicago was called for too many men on the ice, and the Predators went to the man advantage.

The Predators iced the game with 12 seconds as Colin Wilson buried an empty netter on the power play to make it 3-1. The Predators record against the Blackhawks is now 2-0-1, and against Central Division opponents, the Predators are 11-2-2.

Nashville had 26 shots on goal to 25 for Chicago, but for the Predators, the third period was a matter of tenacity and survival. They showed no quit and refused to fold in the face of the unrelenting pressure from a talented Blackhawks squad. This win was character personified.

For Pekka Rinne, this was his 9th consecutive win, a franchise record.

The Predators are now tied with the Blackhawks with 64 points. The win was the Predators 9th in their last 11 games and allowed them to close the gap on their competitors in the Central Division. The Predators now sit one point out of 4th place behind St. Louis.

This was a solid win, and January has been an exceptional month for the Predators. This win allows the Predators to go into the All Star break feeling good and with momentum. It will be important for the team to pick this momentum right back up after the All Star break.

This team has been growing before our eyes, and the compete level has been getting better in the second half of the season. Young players are quickly growing into prominent roles, and are performing exceptionally well. This is a team that can surprise not only in the regular season but in the playoffs

Keep it rolling after the All Star break, boys.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Fisher

3. Patric Hornqvist

Monday, January 23, 2012

Predators Crush Columbus 4-1

There are things that are certain in this life: the sun comes up in the East; taxes; and the Nashville Predators beating the Columbus Blue Jackets.

That trend continued tonight at the Bridgestone Arena as the Predators defeated the Jackets 4-1. This was the last meeting this season for the two teams, and Nashville took the season series with a 5-0-1 record en route to capturing 11 of the 12 points on the line in this series.

Since the 2006-7 season, the Predators are 31-5-3 against the Jackets.

Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators, while the Jackets went with Steve Mason.

The first period was absolutely dominated by the Predators, as they out shot the Jackets by a 12-3 margin on the way to a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. If not for some good saves by Mason, the score would have been much worse.

The Predators score in the first came as Marty Erat deftly stole the puck from Fedor Tyutin and slipped it to Mike Fisher in the low slot. Fisher popped a quick wrist shot that beat Mason stick side for the goal.

In the second period, the Jackets reversed the momentum and dominated the Predators during the first ten minutes. They peppered Rinne with shots, and finally broke through at 6:14 of the period as Rick Nash converted a Mike Fisher turnover to beat the defense back. Nash beat Rinne stick side with a nice backhand that slid between Rinne's stick and the post to tie the game at 1.

As the period wore on, the Predators started skating again and getting shots in on Mason. They created some good scoring chances, but could not get one past the Columbus netminder, and this game had the feel of another nail biter with a team the Predators should handle fairly easily.

That tension that the Predator fans were feeling would be allayed late in the period. Just 1:20 seconds after the Predators were called for too many men on the ice, Columbus would be guilty of the same infraction. The Predators went on the power play, and Shea Weber fired a blast from the blue line. Mason kicked out the rebound with his pad directly to Fisher, and he potted the goal into the net past an out of position Mason to give the Predators a 2-1 lead at 19:31 of the second period.

The Predators were out shot in the period by a 16-12 margin, but they had survived the push from Columbus and started to control play as the period wound down.

The Predators stretched the lead to 3-1 as Matt Halsichuk got the puck on his stick in traffic in the low slot. Halsichuk fired a quick wrist shot that beat Mason stick side at 7:37 of the third period

The power play clicked once again as Ryan Suter, who was back after missing three games with an upper body injury, let a shot go from the blue line that was re-directed by Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist was camped at the top of the blue paint, and his deflection easily beat Mason at 16:51 to make it 4-1 Predators.

The Predators thwarted any late push from the Jackets, and as the final horn sounded, the Predators possessed 62 points and their 11th victory in the last 13 games.

Good-bye, Columbus.

It was important for the Predators to take care of business against the Jackets. This was a game the Predators should have won, and more importantly, lets them keep pace with their Central Division opponents who have been playing outstanding hockey.

The Predators are on the road tomorrow night in Chicago, their last game before the All Star break, and this is another important tilt against a team that is just ahead of the Predators in the standings. It will be important for the Predators to play a full 60 minute game and be sound in all phases of the game.

Another challenge, and another opportunity.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Patric Hornqvist

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Predators Pound the Blackhawks 5-2

The Chicago fans in attendance in Nashville clapped and cheered during the national anthem.

Predator fans cheered when it was most important: as the clock wound down on a dominating 5-2 win over their Central Division rivals.

The Predators controlled the Hawks throughout the game, winning puck battles and stifling a very potent offense with an aggressive forecheck and solid defense to go with the solid goaltending of netminder Pekka Rinne.

The game opened as an up and down affair with both teams attempting to establish their offense, but unable to get any consistency. Both defenses were working hard in their zone and did not let either team establish a flow to their offensive effort.

That changed at 15:05 of the first period as Marian Hossa broke in on Shea Weber. Hossa made a great move to turn Weber around and slid a backhand from the slot under the pads of Rinne to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

That lead lasted 2:14 as the Predators tied the game with a power play goal. Ryan Ellis took a shot that Chicago netminder Corey Crawford kicked out with his pad directly to Craig Smith at the side of the net. Smith buried the shot over a sprawling Crawford to tie the game at 17:19. For the rookie, this was his 10th goal of the season, 6 of which have come on the power play.

The period ended tied at one, but the Predators had out shot the Hawks 7-2, although the Hawks hit a post in the period.. Throughout that period, then Predators won puck battles, were strong on the boards, and were thwarting the Hawks in the neutral zone.

This is the Hawks, and they possess an explosive offense. This effort in the first period was going to have to continue in the second if the Predators were going to secure a critical win against a team they were chasing in the standings.

Not only did that effort continue for the Predators, it got better.

The Predators continued their strong play, and it felt as if it would just be a matter of time before they broke through with another score.

Sergei Kostitsyn scored off a rebound, but that goal was waved off as it was ruled that Kostitsyn hit the puck with a high stick. No score and no break through against the Hawks.


That break through score came at 5:15 of the second, but not how anyone expected it to occur. Kevin Klein took the puck in over the center red line and flipped a puck toward the net. It landed on edge and took a high bounce over the shoulder of Crawford to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.

Good things happen when you put the puck on net.

Taking a cue from Klein, the Predators swarmed the Chicago net and pressured the Hawks defense and Crawford. Their effort was rewarded at 11:14 of the second as David Legwand drove the net and forced Crawford to slide to his left. Legwand deftly slipped the puck to Colin Wilson, who was alone at the right side of the crease, and Wilson knocked the puck into the open net to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

Roman Josi bodied Hossa off the puck and had a breakaway that Crawford stopped. Josi made a strong play to take Hossa off the puck and then showed his speed as he charged down the ice. More and More, I am impressed with his play.

Sergei Kostitsyn finally got his goal as he broke in on Crawford and deked Crawford to the ice. Kostitsyn lifted the puck over the prone goaltender for a 4-1 Predators lead at 16:03 of the second period. That goal sent Crawford to and early exit and Ray Emery came in to take over in net.

The Predators had controlled the second period, much as they had the first. The shots were 11-9 for the Predators, but they had a decided territorial advantage. When they Hawks did get shots on net, Rinne cleaned up the scoring chances. Chicago hit a crossbar in the second, but their quality scoring chances were limited by the Predators defense.

It was expected that the Hawks would have a push in the final 20 minutes, and they did just that. Hossa struck again as Roman Josi was caught pinching in the offensive zone and could not get back into the play. Hossa took an outlet pass from Niklas Hjarmalsson and beat the defense back into the offensive zone, His backhand shot beat Rinne five hole to make it 4-2 just 48 seconds into the third period.

Whatever momentum the Hawks had from that goal was snuffed out as Kevin Klein fired a slap shot from the blue line that was re-directed by Patric Hornqvist to make it 5-2 Predators at 3:08 of the third period.

Chicago out shot the Predators 11-5 in the third period, but most of those shots were from the perimeter as the Predators did a good job of clogging the shooting lanes and forcing the Hawks to the outside.

As the clock wound down, the Predator faithful stood and cheered when it counted most- a victory over a Central Division foe that they were chasing in the standings.

With this win, the Predators have won 8 of the 10 games they have played in January. This is critical, because their opponents in the Central have been winning as well. As for how the Predators their Central Division opponents? They are 9-2-2 so far this season.

The Predators lost Francis Buillon near the end of the first period and played the rest of the game with 5 defensemen. There were some mix and match combinations on the blue line throughout the rest of the game, but this unit played very well in limiting the chances of the potent Hawks forwards.

The Hawks lost Jonathan Toews for the third period as he went out with an injury, believed to be an aggravation of his wrist injury suffered in the game against the Panthers the previous night.

The Predators are a team that is growing before our eyes. They are gelling into a solid team that is getting balanced scoring and solid defense to go with their exceptional goaltending.

This is a formula for pounding the teams they face.

My three stars:

1. Kevin Klein

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Marian Hossa

Friday, January 20, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

One of the conceits of government is that the elected leaders know best how to run an economy, a business, or your personal life. Now that last sentence might sound like the ranting of a crazed libertarian, but unfortunately, those in Washington seem to subscribe to the mistaken notion that they know what is best for individuals, businesses, and industries. The latest evidence of this is a proposal from six House Democrats to establish a "reasonable profits board" for the the oil and gas industry. For these misguided Democrats, the oil and gas industry makes "too much money" and those sitting in Washington should be the arbiters of just how much profit a company can make. H.R. Bill 3784, called the Gas Price Spike Act and introduced by Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) wants to tax the profits of oil and gas companies from 50 to 100% of their profitability if those profits exceed a "reasonable" level. Who determines the "reasonable" level of profit? Industry leaders? Energy economists? Well, this being Washington, the bill excludes anyone in the energy industry from sitting on the panel that sets the "reasonable" profit target. Now, it might be easy to say that energy companies make too much money; that is an entirely different debate. The fact that elected leaders are seriously considering a bill that determines how much money any company or any industry can make should absolutely scare the daylights out of each and every one of us. Because it will not be just the energy industry that faces this kind of scrutiny if this bill passes. Washington will be emboldened to to move to other industries because of the conceit that they know what is best. Watch this closely, because the impact on our economy and on you and me financially can be horrifically devastating.

When I was younger, I studied to be a magician, but could not pass the exam. It was full of trick questions.

If you observe the way Washington interacts with the business community, it would be reasonable to ask why that relationship is so hostile. It almost appears if Washington views the business community as an entity that can be shaken down at will and from which resources can be arbitrarily extracted. Don't believe me? Consider this: just after the first of the year, PepsiCo, the maker of Pepsi products paid $3.1 million to settle a discrimination suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Good! There is no room for discrimination in the workplace, and those miscreants at Pepsi should pay dearly for their transgression. Think I will drink a Coke now! Well, what was the nature of the discriminatory acts of Pepsi? Pepsi conducted criminal background checks on every job applicant, and those that had arrest records were disqualified, even if it was for a minor offense. According to the EEOC, those disqualified were disproportionately black, and in the Alice in Wonderland world of federal thinking, therefore limited the employment opportunities for blacks. Never mind that blacks have a higher arrest and conviction rate than whites (another- explosive- discussion for another day), Pepsi applied the standard equally across all applicants and all positions. The EEOC did not find one- NOT ONE- instance of a white applicant remaining in the pool of job applicants if they had an arrest record. In fact, the EEOC in their findings said there was no intentional discrimination by Pepsi. If this strikes you as absurd- and it is- you are looking at this logically. Know that despite the lip service from Washington about wanting a healthy business community, the real view is that companies are intrinsically evil and must be brought under the warped world view of Washington's bureaucrats and elected leaders. And if money can be extorted from them in the process, so much the better.

I think my window of opportunity has been painted shut.

Government Motors (formerly known as General Motors) has had trouble selling their electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt. Forget that whole battery exploding into flames thing, the problem with the Volt is that it does not meet the needs of the the market. Yet the car is still being massed produced. So what, you say? Even if you never drive one, you are still on the hook financially for this boondoggle. How so? According to James Hohman, assistant Director of Fiscal Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, each Volt sold so far has approximately $250,000 in state and federal incentives behind it. According to Hohman, there are 18 government deals that includes loans, grants, and tax credits to GM, its suppliers, and the buyers of the vehicle. Here is your Econ 101 lesson: if the government controls production (and they do indirectly in the case of GM by virtue of their bailout and continued 26% ownership of the company), they can direct a company to build a product for the market. If that product does not sell, production either stops or is heavily subsidized by the government (read: taxpayers; you and me). As you can see, we are paying for the a product that the market does not want but does fit in with the vision of a government that believes it can centrally plan the economy and control the market.

I think the perfect name for a car repair shop would be "Auto Correct".

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Predators Blow Past the Jackets 3-0

The Nashville Predators looked to continue their mastery over the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Central Division foes met at Nationwide Arena. The last two games between these teams required some late game magic by the Predators to secure a victory, and the Predators were hoping to avoid finding themselves in such a situation again.

The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Jackets opened with Steve Mason.

The Predators welcomed Jerred Smithson back to the line up after missing several games with a knee injury, but were still without Ryan Suter, who was out with an upper body injury.

The game opened like a typical Predators and Jackets game, with both teams up and down the ice. All that effort by both teams yielded no shots, though, until after 6 minutes had passed in the first period.

As the first period wore on, the Jackets started to assert themselves and control the puck in the Predators zone. . Their effort was rewarded with some quality scoring chances that Rinne had to turn away. On the other end of the ice, the Predators offense never seriously threatened Mason. In the first period, the Jackets out shot the Predators 13-7.

The Predators were going to have to get their legs moving and get shots on net in the second period. Letting the BJ's hang around, and more importantly, create good scoring chances, was not the way for the Predators to win this game.

The second period saw the Predators move their feet better and begin to create some chances. Their work paid off on a 2 on 1 break that saw Sergei Kostitsyn carry the puck in and draw the defense to him. He slid the puck to Marty Erat, who buried a wrist shot from inside the face off circle to make it 1-0 at 11:08 of the second period.

The Predators went on the power play with Derek Dorsett in the box for goaltender interference, and the transgression was costly for the BJ's. Marty Erat got the puck to Mike Fisher at the side of the net through traffic and Fisher had an easy tap in to make it 2-0 at 13:11.

The second period ended with the Predators playing a much better 20 minutes of hockey and a 2-0 lead. They out shot the BJ's 10-7.

This period was a blueprint for the Predators success against a desperate team like the BJ's: get the puck deep, forecheck aggressively, and get shots on net. Oh yeah, play solid defense and limit the Jackets chances.

It was up to the Predators to execute this game plan in the final 20 minutes, because everyone knew the BJ's would have a push in the third period. For the Predators, there was the hope they would not any late game magic to secure a win.

The Jackets had their expected push to start the third period. They kept the Predators back on their heels, and aided by a questionable hooking call on Francis Buillon, bombarded the Predators net to challenge the lead. Pekka Rinne made some huge stops to keep the Jackets off the board, but the Predators were going to need to create some offensive pressure to counter the effort they faced.

Let me re-phrase that: Pekka Rinne made some amazing saves to keep the Jackets off the board. Sprawling, athletic saves that frustrated the BJ's.

To get an idea of how the Predators were being dominated in the third period- and how good Rinne was- they were out shot 17-2 through the first 11 minutes. They Predators offense was non-existent to this point in the third, and if this had been any other team than the BJ's, the Predators would have been in considerable trouble.

Late in the period, Sergei Kostitsyn was called for slashing, and the Jackets pulled Mason for the extra attacker. Off a face off, the puck was near the boards at the face off circle when Shea Weber cleared the puck down the ice and into the empty net to give the Predators a 3-0 lead and the game.

It feels good to win the game, but the Predators were horrid in the third period. The Predators were out shot 18-8, and they spent that period letting the BJ's dictate the play and attack the net at will. Did the Predators play down to their opponent? Or did they relax with the lead and expect Rinne play his usual outstanding game?

Either way, the Predators were lucky to survive the third period, and playing like they did in that period will more often than not result in a loss.

To be sure, this was a much needed win, and it's good to bank the 2 points. There were some positives that the Predators can draw upon as they head toward their game with Chicago. The fact is that this team cannot revert back to playing 20 minutes of hockey and expect to win most games.

Kudos to Rinne for a strong game and his 24th career shutout.

The win gives the Predators 58 points, good for 6th place in the West and 3 ahead of Los Angeles, which plays later tonight.

With the Blackhawks coming to town, the Predators will have to play a full 60 minutes of hockey.

Or they will be blown away.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Marty Erat

3. Mike Fisher

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Streak Ends as the Blue Shirts Blank the Predators

The Nashville Predators took their turn on the big stage with their only national television appearance as they battled the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. After playing yesterday, the Predators went with Anders Lindback in net while the Rangers went with their usual starter Henrik Lundqvist.

Notable for the Predators was the absence of Ryan Suter, who played only 7:14 of the first period in the previous game and was called out due to an upper body injury

The Predators opened with some good jump and controlled the play early. The Predators recorded the first 4 shots on goal were cycling the puck well. The Rangers, by contrast, iced the puck three times in the first five minutes.

The Rangers reversed that momentum at 6:15 of the first period as Dan Girardi took a shot that was going to miss the net but hit Jack Hillen in the leg and ricocheted into the net to give them a 1-0 lead. A fluky goal, but good teams create chances- fluky or not.

The critical aspect of this goal was that Hillen and his defense partner, Ryan Ellis, were caught on the ice for 2:10 and were completely gassed, making it difficult for them to maintain defensive positioning.

The Predators created some chances and got shots on Lundqvist, but did not get many second chances as the Rangers defense did a great job of clearing the front of the net. When the Predators did get some good looks, they were unable to get a puck past Lundqvist.

The first period ended with the Rangers leading 1-0 and the Predators holding an 11-10 shot advantage.

The second period saw both teams get some good chances, and Lundqvist making some good saves to keep the Predators off the board. The Predators created some solid scoring opportunities, but just could not get a tally.

By contrast, the Rangers added a second score at 10:42 of the second period as John Mitchell took a shot that seemed to surprise Lindback and went through the five hole to make it 2-0.

That was the only goal of the period, and the Predators were out shot by the Rangers 11-8.

Though the Predators had some chances, they had yet to get a puck past Lundqvist, and in the third period, it was going to be critical that the Predators not only continue to get shots on goal, but to have players battling for rebounds. Second chances and dirty goals had to be the order of the day for the Predators.

The third period saw the Predators once again frustrated by the play of Lundqvist and the Rangers defense. They got shots on goal, but could not get second chances and opportunities for rebounds and second chances.

The Predators took a penalty as Marty Erat hooked Ryan Callahan on a breakaway chance and the net empty for the extra attacker at 19:09 of the third. The penalty resulted in an automatic goal for the Rangers, and that would ice the contest.

The Rangers out shot the Predators 28-27 for the contest.

The word that sums up this game is frustration. The Predators offense created chances, but could not finish and get a puck past Lundqvist. There is absolutely no doubt that Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, but the frustrating part of this game is the failure to get second chances on the pucks that were laying around the crease. Finishing chances was essential for the Predators to have a chance in this contest, and they did not.

Let's face it: the Predators were not going to win out for the remainder of the season. And they did some good things in this game. They just did not have what it took offensively to bury some chances and get back in the game.

So what does this team do now?


You get back to the basics and start another streak Thursday night in Columbus.

My three stars:

1. Henrik Lundqvist

2. Dan Girardi

3. John Mitchell

Monday, January 16, 2012

Predators Continue Winning, Defeat the Islanders 3-1

The Nashville Predators ventured to Nassau Coliseum for their only meeting of the year against the New York Islanders in an afternoon matinee. The Predators looked to continue their hot play of late, as they have won 13 of their last 17 games their last 4 games.

The Predators went with (surprisingly since there is a game tomorrow) with Pekka Rinne in net, while the Isles gave Kevin Poulin the start.

It was going to be important for the Predators to get off to a good start against the Islanders and not let them get momentum in this game. The Predators did just that at 2:17 of the first period as Sergei Kostitsyn skated the puck over the blue line and using an Islanders defenseman as a screen blistered a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of of the Isles netminder Kevin Poulin to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. This was the Predators first shot on goal, and for Kostitsyn it continues his amazing shooting percentage as he has 11 goals on only 41 shots.

Matt Halischuk extended the Predators lead to 2-0 as he carried the puck across the blue and drove hard to the net. Halischuk wrist shot from the face off circle beat Poulin cleanly at 5:34 of the first period. This was Halischuk's 10th goal of the season.

The Predators added their third goal of the period on a beautiful give and go between Marty Erat, Colin Wilson, and David Legwand. Erat gave the puck to Wilson, who found the streaking David Legwand, who was unimpeded heading to the net. Legwand buried the shot past an out of position Poulin at 11:37 of the first period to make it 3-0 Predators.

The first period ended with the Predators killing off most of a penalty to Colin Wilson for elbowing. It appeared as if the Islanders were finally starting to get their legs as they began to generate some chances, and Pekka Rinne made a couple of big stops. In the period, the Predators out shot the Islanders 12-6.

The Islanders have very good speed, and it was going to be important for the Predators to keep their foot on the gas and not let them creep back in this game.

The Predators had some good chances in the second, but Poulin settled down and was able to stop the offensive attack. Unable to bury the puck, Poulin seemed to be more confidant, and in turn, the Islanders responded with good offensive presence.

The Predators gave the Isles a good chance to claw back into the game as both Gabriel Bourque took a penalty, followed shortly after by a high sticking penalty to Mike Fisher. The Isles had 1:10 of a 5 on 3. The defense did a good job of blocking shots and keeping the Isles to the outside. Pekka Rinne demonstrated his athleticism and made some huge saves to keep the puck out of the net.

The Islanders continued to pressure the Predators in their defensive zone and Rinne was called upon to make some quality saves to frustrate the scoring threat. He came up huge in the second period, stopping all 19 shots he faced. The Predators had 10 for the period.

Ryan Suter did not play in the second period, and was called out for the remainder of the game with an upper body injury.

Going into the third period, it would be critical for the Predators to get their offensive mojo back. There were too many stretches in the second where the Predators let the Islanders dictate the play, and this needed to change in the final 20 minutes.

The third period was back and forth, with both teams creating some chances, but neither able to solve the others netminder. The Isles finally broke through at 16:02 of the third when John Tavares got behind Francis Buillon and was able to tip a puck past Rinne to make it 3-1.

The Islanders pulled Poulin with 2:10 remaining in the game for the extra attacker and were pressing the Predators in an attempt to cut the lead to one.

The Predators were able to hold off the final push by the Islanders and secured their fifth straight win by a margin of 3-1. The Islanders out shot the Predators 37-32.

It is good to see the Predators get out to a fast start. Although the Islanders have struggled this season, they are a fast and dangerous team, and taking the wind out of their sails early was a big factor in this win.

Pekka Rinne was outstanding, making some great saves, especially in the second period when the Islanders were fighting to get back in the game. Keeping the Islanders off the board during with their aggressive play was critical to securing this win.

For the Predators, this win is another important 2 points. To keep pace with their competitors in the Wast, this is what the Predators have to do. They can only control their fate, not what their competitors are doing. And the best way to control their fate is to keep winning.

They will get another chance tomorrow against the Rangers, the best team in the East.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Matt Halischuk

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ryan Ellis Makes Wayne Simmonds Hurtle Through Space

Ryan Ellis is a smallish yet talented rookie defenseman for the Nashville Predators. One concern about Ellis was how he would fare against the larger forwards he would face in NHL competition.

Against the Flyers in a game in Nashville on the 14th, Ellis showed his ability to be positionally sound and use his body to separate a player from the puck. Here is a clip of the hit:

Ellis has to be sound from a positioning standpoint, but as the clip shows, he is able to use his body effectively.

Continue to look for Ellis to develop his game the longer he is in the NHL.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Predators Get a Humongous Win Over the Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers made a rare visit to Nashville to take on the Predators in a barn where they last won in the year 2000. The Predators continued the Flyers misery in the Music City with a 4-2 victory in front of a sell out crowd that had a number of Flyers fans in attendance.

Pekka Rinne started in net for the Predators, while media sensation Ilya Bryzgalov got the start for the Flyers.

The first period was an entertaining period of hockey, with both teams pouring shots on the net. Philadelphia out shot the Predators 15-12 in end to end action. Both teams generated some quality chances, and both goaltenders came up with some solid saves.

It appeared that the Predators had taken a 1-0 lead as Gabriel Bourque was able to direct the puck from behind the net off Bryzgalov and into the goal. The goal was waved off after a review that deemed that Bourque had kicked the puck at Bryz for the deflection.

The Predators got on the board with just 57 seconds remaining in the period while on the power play. With Patric Hornqvist screening Bryzgalov in front, Marty Erat took a shot from the face off circle that hit the ice in front of Bryzgalov and skipped up over his shoulder to give the Predtors a 1-0 lead.

The second period saw the Flyers use their size to assert themselves. They out shot the Predators 13-6, but were forcing the puck deep in the Predators zone, cycling well, and creating some chances. One had to wonder whether the Predators defense could hold up under this pressure.

Want an indication of how the Predators responded? Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, one of the massive forwards on the Predators roster, broke down the wing with no one but the smallish Ryan Ellis between him and Pekka Rinne. Ellis timed a perfect hip check and flipped Simmonds head over heels, separating him from the puck and thwarting the scoring threat.

The Predators kept grinding away at the Flyers defense, and their effort paid off with their second goal. The Flyers appeared to have control of the puck in their zone, but Gabriel Bourque fought for the puck and stole it away. He found Sergei Kostitsyn and got the puck on his stick. Kostitsyn fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Bryzgalov with Mike Fisher screening in front to give the Predators a 2-0 lead at 10:36 of the second period.

The Flyers sensational rookie, Sean Couturier, cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:18 of the second with a sweet wrist shot from just inside the face off circle that beat Rinne high glove side.

Going into the third period with a 2-1 lead, the Predators lead seemed tenuous at best, and everyone knew the Flyers would have a strong push.

Rather than wilt under the pressure of the Flyers, it was the Predators that struck first in the third period. Jordin Tootoo found Nick Spaling driving the slot and centered a pass to him. The puck actually bounced off the shaft of Spaling's stick and through the five hole of Bryzgalov to give the Predators a 3-1 lead at 4:30 of the third period.

The Flyers answered at 9:55 of the third as the Predators failed to clear the puck and Wayne Simmonds beat Ryan Ellis for control of the puck at the top of the crease. He was able to poke the puck past Rinne to cut the Predators lead to 3-2.

Rinne stepped up and made some big saves after this to keep the Flyers off the board. With time winding down and Bryzgalov on the bench for the extra attacker, Mike Fisher potted an empty net goal at 19:20 to seal the win.

The defensive effort by the Predators was very good tonight. Although they gave up 38 shots, most were not from quality scoring areas. The Flyers big line of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr, and Scott Hartnell were held off the board, and the play of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber was outstanding in this effort.

This game may not have taken on the importance of a game against a Western Conference opponent, but this was a humongous 2 points for the Predators. With this win, they sit just 4 points out of the lead in the Central Division and 5 points out of first place in the West. They also sit just 4 points out of 9th place in the West. The Western Conference is tightly bunched in the standings and is ultra competitive and it makes every point precious.

Make no mistake- this was a very big game.

The Predators have now won 13 of their last 17 games, essential for keeping pace with the other teams in the West that seem to keep winning as well. Nashville now has sole possession of 6th place in the West.

Tonight, this team battled against a very good opponent. Young players stepped up and veterans played like they should. It will be critical that they continue to do so in the unrelenting pressure cooker that is the Western Conference.

Keep playing this way, and you will have more humongous wins.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Wayne Simmonds

Friday, January 13, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident  curmudgeon...

Want to get an idea of how socialized medicine in this country could develop? Take a look at what is happening in Greece. If you have been following the unfolding Greek debt crisis, you know that the Greek government is in default on their debt and is attempting to implement austerity measures to rein in spending. One of the areas in which spending has been drastically cut is in the area of health care. The Greek government sets drug prices for an array of medicines, both prescription and non-prescription drugs, which pharmaceutical companies sell to wholesalers, who in turn sell them to hospitals and pharmacies. The government there has cut drug reimbursements to save money, cuts so deep that it is no longer profitable for drug wholesalers to sell the drugs to the pharmacists and hospitals. The result of this action is predictable. Wholesalers have been shipping the drugs to buyers outside of Greece at substantially higher prices than they can get in that country. It makes no economic sense for the wholesalers to purchase drugs only to turn around and sell them locally at a loss, so they are selling them on the international markets. Compounding the problem is that medicines sold in Greece are not paid for in a timely manner, as the Greek government has delayed payments to the wholesalers. At this time, the Greek government owes $422 million for drugs purchased since April. The government involvement in healthcare, as the situation in Greece dramatically shows, leads to inefficiencies and shortages. And the people that are in that healthcare system suffer the most. You have been warned.

My body isn't a temple. It's a maximum security prison for fat cells.

Three years ago, an application was filed with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. What is that? It is a 1,700 mile pipeline form the oil sands of Alberta to U.S. refineries on the gulf coast that has been proposed by TransCanada Corporation. The construction of the pipeline is expected to create 20,000 new jobs. More importantly, the pipeline, when fully operational, is expected to deliver 590,000 barrels of crude oil DAILY to U.S. refineries. Consider that much of the oil that comes to our refineries passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is becoming more unstable as Iran attempts to go nuclear and assert their military might. A reasonable question is why has this application been delayed for three years? Especially after Congress overwhelmingly voted to to expedite this application so that construction can begin? This delay has been part of the the current administration's policy of not developing the natural resources available to our country in a misguided attempt to "go green" and force Americans to use green energy. While there is nothing wrong with energy conservation, thwarting attempts to develop our own sources of readily available natural resources costs the economy- and you and me- dearly. Think about this the next time you go to gas up your car.

I used to be addicted to soap, but I'm clean now.

Let's engage in a hypothetical scenario for a moment. Say you need to buy widgets for your business. You can purchase them for a supplier that charges you .08 (8 cents) per widget, or you can buy them from a supplier that charges you .21 (21 cents) per widget. Both widgets are exactly the same and perform identically. Which widget would you buy? Unless you have a particular affinity for overpaying for a product, you will buy the cheaper widget. That scenario that I have just given you is exactly what is happening with green energy, specifically electrical power. The cost per kilowatt hour for electricity averages 8 cents from a traditional, coal fired plant; while solar, wind or geo-thermal electricity costs on overage 21 cents per kilowatt hour according to information from the Energy Information Administration. Until the cost of green energy becomes competitive with traditional forms of energy generation, there is no economic reason to "go green". This means that green energy projects are subsidized- heavily- by state and federal governments because they cannot economically compete in the marketplace. And that means that our tax dollars are being used to fund a product that cannot compete on price in the market place.

Age has its advantages. Too bad I can't remember what they are.

I invite you to follow the blog A Day in the Life of a Hockey Wife. Her blog gives you a different perspective on the sport that so many of us love, a perspective from not only the other side of the glass, but from a wife that holds together her family while her husband plays hockey overseas. It is a well written blog that provides insight to what it is like to support someone pursuing their career in hockey. You can find her blog here.

Give a man a job, and you have an employee. Teach a man how to shift blame, and you have a manager.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Predators Fight Back for a 3-2 OT Win Over the Avalanche

The Nashville Predators faced the Colorado Avalanche for the second of their back to back games at the Bridgestone Arena, and this game was a mirror image of their first meeting. The difference this time was that Colorado returned the favor and dominated the Predators in the first period en route to a 2-0 lead. The Predators, unlike the Avalanche in the previous game, fought back to take a 3-2 overtime victory.

The Avs were aided by two goals that Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne would like to have back.

The first occurred on a seemingly harmless play, as Rinne had the puck in front of his net with plenty of time to clear it. Rather than kick it over to a defenseman, Rinne chose to try to get the puck through the middle of the ice to Marty Erat. Rinne's clearing attempt was intercepted by Ryan O'Reilly and he buried the puck from the low slot to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 6:09 of the first period.

At that point, the Avs had out shot the Predators 5-4. To give you an idea of their dominance throughout the period, the Avalanche out shot the Predators 15-7.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado's rookie phenom, made it 2-0 with a shot off the boards that blew past Rinne through the five hole at 12:17. Landeskog got off a good shot from a difficult angle that seemed to surprise Rinne and went right between his legs into the back of the net. Certainly a goal that Rinne would not normally let in.

Colorado netminder J. S. Giguere had very little work in the first period, a circumstance that had to change if the Predators were going to get back into the contest.

Down 2-0 and outplayed at the end of one period, it did not look good for the Predators.

Yeti (see what I did there- the Avs have a Yeti on their shoulder patch), the Predators would come out in the second period and would start to fight their way back into the contest.

Colorado did a good job of forcing the puck deep and trapping all night. The Predators responded by being patient and moving the puck to break the trap and started to work the puck deep into the offensive zone and create some chances.

The Predators finally got on the board when Matt Halischuk fought for the puck behind the boards and came around the net and attempted a wrap-around shot. Giguere blocked the shot with his pad, but the rebound came into the low slot. David Legwand was crashing the net and got the puck cleanly on his stick and blistered a wrist shot over the shoulder to Giguere to make it 2-1 at 11:02 of the second.

There was no more scoring in the second period, yeti (okay- that's abominable) it felt as if the momentum had shifted to the Predators, and if they could tie the game, they would win it. The Predators effort in the second period was much better, as the peppered Giguere with 14 shots, to just 7 for Colorado.

Get that tying goal, and the game would go the Predators way.

That tying goal would come at 8:48 of the third period. Sergei Kositisyn broke in and unleashed a wicked wrister from just inside the face off circle and through the legs of the defender that was back. Giguere reacted as the puck sailed over his shoulder and hit the back of the net. This was a great shot, with Kostitsyn using the defender as a screen, and the shot was perfectly placed to the top shelf.

The Predators were flying now, and generated some great scoring chances, but just could not get the puck past Giguere for the regulation winner. The Predators threw 12 shots on net, while the Avalanche managed 7.

Heading to overtime, the Predators controlled the face off and got the puck into the Avalanche zone. David Legwand took a shot from the high slot, and Giguere could not control the rebound, which bounced into the low slot. Legwand followed his shot, and lifted over Giguere for the game winning goal 26 seconds into overtime.

For the Predators, this win showed the emerging confidence that this team has. Down early and off some bad goals, the Predators kept fighting their way back into this game. Rinne settled down and made some big saves as the game wore on. The forwards for the Predators kept attacking, kept chipping away, and eventually outworked and prevailed.

That is character.

This is a team the Predators need to beat. With this win, the Predators extended their lead over Colorado to 4 points. It is important to take care of business against the teams that are chasing you, and although the Predators started slowly, they did that.

The Predators overcame a slow start, some shaky goaltending early in the contest, and an 0 for 6 power play effort. Yet (no yeti) they found a way to win.

And there is nothing abominable about that.

My three stars:

1. David Legwand

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Ryan O'Reilly

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Predators Bury the Avalanche 4-1

The Nashville Predators ventured to the Pepsi Center to do battle with the Colorado Avalanche. Even though it is early January, this game took on some significance because the Predators stood just one point in front of the Avs in the standings, with the Predators in 7th place with 48 points and the Avalanche in tied for 9th with 47 points.

This would be the first of four meetings with the Avalanche and the first of two consecutive games between the two teams.

The Predators opened with Pekka Rinne in net, while the Avalanche had Semyon Varlamov tending the pipes.

The Predators opened the scoring at 4:31 of the first period as the line of Jordin Tootoo, Gabriel Bourque, and Nick Spaling continued their stellar play. Tootoo and Bourque battled behind the net for the puck, and Tootoo won the puck battle and slipped the puck to Spaling in the low slot. Spaling's wrist shot was hammered past Varlamov to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

With T.J. Galiardi in the box for tripping, the Predators potent power play continued the effectiveness as Ryan Ellis blasted a shot from inside the blue line over the glove of a screened Varlamov to give the Predators a 2-0 lead at 7:18 of the first. Patric Hornqvist was in front of the net and did a very good job of taking away the eyes of Varlamov on Ellis' shot.

The Predators continued their assault on Varlamov as Marty Erat unleashed a dart at Varlamov that absolutely fooled the Avs netminder and found the back of the net through the five hole to make it 3-0 Predators at 15:35 of the first period. Erat took the puck in the face off circle and did not hesitiate, letting go a quick snap shot. This is the what this team needs out of Erat- shots on goal, and he was rewarded with a score on his first shot.

At the end of the first period, the Predators out shot the Avalanche 13-6. That doesn't tell the whole story, however. The Predators were dominant on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and limiting the Avs breakouts theough the neutral zone. Their low cycle controlled the puck and created quality scoring opportunities. The line of Tootoo, Spaling, and Bourque were outstanding.

After this solid first period, the Predators were going to need to come out in the second period and continue their solid effort.

The Predators opened the second period with some good scoring chances, but Varlamov was equal to the task of turning aside the Predators chances. Colrado came with their inevitable puck back, and began to control the puck in the Predators zone. The Avs were aided by a questionable goaltender interference call on Matt Halischuk, but the the Predators PK unit was able to stymie the Avs chances. During this stretch, Rinne came up with some good saves to keep the Avs off the board.

Throughout the period, the Avs dominated play and kept the Predators bottled up in their zone and limited the offensive opportunities. The Predators were badly out shot by a margin of 18-6.

Late in the period, Francis Buillon was called for hooking, and the Avalanche made the Predators pay for their infraction. Ryan O'Reilly tipped a puck past Rinne off a pass from Paul Stastny to make it a 3-1 contest at 18:25 of the second.

The Predators survived the second period. That is about all that can be said about it. They were back on their heels and spent much of the period chasing the puck. This type of play set up a third period in which everyone knew that the Avs were going to come out again with another strong push. It was going to be incumbent on the Predators to come out with more jump and answer the push from the Avs.

The Avs opened the third period with a continued strong push. The difference in this period was that the Predators responded. After being out shot 5-0 to open the period, the Predators came back with a strong forecheck and started to get shots in on Varlamov. The Predators forecheck began to disrupt the Avs offensive push and forced them to get deeper in their zone. This created some chances for the Predators and it felt like the Predators were beginning to take momentum back to their side.

The Predators finally broke through at 15:34 of the third period as Ryan Ellis was able to hold the puck in at the blue line. He got a pass to Patric Hornqvist in the high slot, and his quick wrist shot beat Varlamov high over the glove side to restore the Predators 3 goal lead at 4-1.

The Predators held off the Avs for the remainder of the period and secured an important victory against a team that is desperately chasing them in the standings. The importance of this type of game is that it essentially a 4 point game, and with the win, the Predators extended their lead over the Avs to 3 points.

Kudos to the kids for their play tonight. Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi had solid games. This is what had been hoped- that these young players would mature quickly and contribute, and they did that  tonight.

The Avs out shot the Predators 33-26, and it goes without saying that Pekka Rinne kept the Predators in the contest in the second period when the Predators offense struggled. Rinne was outstanding, thwarting the Avs offensive chances.

This was a quality win by the Predators. We are watching a young team grow up and become a real force. This has to continue for the Predators to be successful.

Keep doing this and you will bury more opponents

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Ryan Ellis

3. Nick Spaling

Monday, January 9, 2012

Predators Mid-Season Report Card

The Nashville Predators are at the midpoint of the season with a record of 22-15-4, good for 48 points and 6th in the ultra competitive Western Conference.This young squad has shown an ability to learn quickly under the tutelage of Barry Trotz and the coaching staff, and they are quietly shaping up to be a team that once again can make the playoffs and can cause trouble once they are there.

So, half way through the season, it is time to take a look at the components of the team and hand out mid-season grades.


Rookie Craig Smith has been a very pleasant surprise for the Predators, playing in all 41 games and spending some time with the top six forwards as well as getting some first unit power play time. Smith leads all forwards with 112 shots on goals (SOG). His 26 points (9G 17A) leads all forwards. Smith is a shoot first forward with lots of creativity who is still growing his game, but Predator fans have caught glimpses of the dynamism that he brings to the ice.

Patric Hornqvist is second in shots, with 108, good for 18 points (11G 7A), and thrives on his crash and bang style of play around the net. For Hornqvist to have success, he has to be in the dirty areas around the net, fighting for rebounds. More importantly, he has to have teammates that are shooting the puck frequently when he is on the ice for him to have an opportunity to do the tough work around the net. Hornqvist has continued his tough play, although he has disappeared for stretches, which has been more of a function of the playmakers around him rather than lack of effort.

It is interesting when you examine the shots on goal at the mid-way mark of the season. Among the forwards, the player with the third most shots on goal is David Legwand, with 71. That is a deficit of 37 shots between the second and third forward. Looking at the other top six forwards, Mike Fisher (7G 12A 19 points) has 69 SOG; Colin Wilson has (8G 15A 13 points) 65 SOG; Sergei Kostitsyn (8G 11A 19 points) has 39 SOG; and Marty Erat (8G 17A 25 points) has 50 SOG. This means that the top six forwards are averaging 2 SOG or less for the games they have played.

If there is a criticism of this group, it is that they have to shoot the puck more often. The talent and experience of this group of forwards would indicate that they can and should be putting the puck on net more often, and for this team to have success in the second half of the season, they are going to have to do this consistently.

Tied for second in goals with two others is Matt Halischuk, with 9 goals. Hustlechuk is the epitome of an opportunistic, grinding forward that thrives in the Predators system, and his offensive contribution has been surprising and welcome.

Like Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo is having a very strong campaign. Tootoo is the type of player that every team hates and covets. He is a high energy player that brings a punishing physical presence and can drop the gloves when necessary. The aspect of his game that has developed is that he is now added an offensive punch to his game. Tootoo has 19 points (6G 13A) and has emerged as a solid offensive player on the third line.

New call up Gabriel Bourque has only played five games, but has shown that he can be a very solid player. He is incredibly strong on the puck and has good hockey sense. I look for Bourque to be a solid contributor  per game as the season continues to unfold.

Nick Spaling (5G 8A 13 points) and Jerred Smithson (1G 3A 4 points) have been solid in their checking roles and have chipped in with a few timely goals. Brian McGrattan has 2 points (2A) in 25 games. This has been about what I have expected out of these players.

There is offensive talent on this team. The problem for the Predators is that there are times where it doesn't show up consistently. It is no secret that the top six forwards have to generate more offensive chances and it starts with shooting the puck.




Any discussion of the Predators blue liners starts with the big two: Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. These two studs have combined for 54 points (Weber 9G 21A 30 points; Suter 5G 19A 24 points) and a cumulative +19 (Weber +12; Suter +7). Both players chew up the minutes, with Weber averaging 26:19 per game and Suter averaging 27:01. Both are solid in all zones and are called upon to shut down the opponents top forwards. The numbers bear out that they have been very good at doing that.

Once you get past these two, things get dicey for the Predators D corp. The remainder of the defensemen that have manned the blue line for the Predators are a combined -41 through the first half of the season.


The Predators made a strategic decision to give some younger players a chance to develop and secure starting roles, with Shane O'Brien and Cody Franson departing in the off season. It has been a painful learning process for some of these younger players, as well as some of the returning veterans.

Here are the painful numbers: Klein -12; Blum -14; Josi -7; Hillen -1; Buillon -5; Ellis 0; Laakso -1; Ekholm -1. Part of this is due to chemistry and new players learning how their partner plays. Again, this is part of the learning and growing process, but it has cost the Predators some games and precious points.

Rather than dwell on the negative, let's take a look at some positive aspects.

Roman Josi has played 20 games and has started to emerge as a very solid player. He is a smooth skater, handles the puck well, and has great vision. He has a surprisingly wicked shot, and when Shea Weber was out of the line up, played on the first D pairing with Ryan Suter and acquitted himself very well. I believe Josi will continue to develop and will emerge as a very capable blue liner for the Predators.

Ryan Ellis has played five games, and his offensive prowess has started to emerge. He is very adept at handling the puck and has handled well the physical rigors of battling with bigger forwards by being positionally sound. Ellis is making a strong case to stay up with the Predators rather than return to Milwaukee.

Kevin Klein's play of late has been sound. Klein is often vilified for being on the ice when the other team finds the back of our net. His +/- says that this is a problem. Often, however, Klein has been victimized by the mistakes of his partner (see: Blum, Jonathan) or a break down by a forward. Klein is serviceable and will continue to log some big minutes for the D corp. Klein is putting in just over 20 minutes a game on the second pairing.

Jack Hillen is smallish, but he is a battler. Hillen averages 13:49 per game in ice time, he rarely makes an egregious mistake that victimizes the team.

The bubble player is Jonathan Blum. Blum has been given every opportunity to seize control of a roster spot, but unfortunately for him and the team, his play has at best been highly inconsistent. He runs the risk of losing a roster spot to Ellis and could find himself being returned to Milwaukee.

If the defense corp solidifies behind Weber and Suter, this team will be very dangerous not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs.

That is a very big "if".



For the Predators, their rock in the net is Pekka Rinne. Rinne has appeared in 37 games this season, and has a 2.61 GAA and a .917 save %. Rinne is 20-11-4, with 3 shutouts. These numbers are not as good as his Vezina nominated season of a year ago. To understand why, read the section above about the Predators defense. Rinne continues to be very strong in net, and his play has stolen several games for the Predators in the first half of the season. He is a battler that is positionally sound, possesses an amazing glove hand, and is capable of making some spectacular saves. Rinne's even demeanor and humbleness belie his quiet confidence, evidenced by his outstanding play not only during regulation, but in shootouts. The Predators should take comfort in the fact that Rinne only seems to get stronger as the season progresses.

Anders Lindback is a very serviceable backup. He has appeared in 8 games and has a 2.75 GAA and a .893 save %. Lindback will be called into action more in the second half of the season as the Predators will have several back to back games on their schedule.



The coaching staff saw long time assistant coach Brent Peterson leave the bench due to a battle with Parkinson's disease, and Lane Lambert joined the staff from his Head Coaching position in Milwaukee. Head Coach Barry Trotz and long time assistant Peter Horachek continue behind the bench. Trotz and his staff are outstanding in their ability to get the most out of the players on their roster. Trotz is a master motivator and has the uncanny ability to push the right buttons on this team. More importantly, he has the attention of the players as to what is important and gets the best out of them in that regard. There has never been a concern that Trotz has "lost the room', and given his tenure behind the bench, that is a singularly impressive feat.

As to that tenure- Trotz is the second longest tenured coach with one team, behind Lindy Ruff of Buffalo by four months. To give some perspective to that feat, consider this: since Trotz was hired as Head Coach, there have been 170 coaching changes in the NHL through last night.

One cannot discount the benefit of that stability. Players know what to expect out of the staff, and that is very important. I think that is one of the primary reasons that the players produce for Trotz and the staff.

Look for Trotz to do some of his best coaching in the second half of the season. Barring decimating injuries, I expect Trotz and the staff to get the team to perform even better in the second half of the year.


I will do another report card at the end of the season, and it will be interesting to compare the grades to this one.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Predators Blow Away the Hurricanes 5-2

The Nashville Predators played one of their most complete games of the season, dominating the Carolina Hurricanes by a 5-2 margin. The Predators power play, which had gone 0-14 in their recent games, exploded for a 4 for 4 performance to lead the Predators in the win.

The Hurricanes were playing the second of back to back games, and since starting netminder Cam Ward had played the night before, Justin Peters got the start. The Predators went with their workhorse and stalwart, Pekka Rinne.

There is no doubt that the Hurricanes have struggled, but new Head Coach Kirk Mueller, recently of the Milwaukee Admirals, has his team competing hard every night. Tonight was no different.

Carolina opened the contest with good jump and controlled the puck early in the Predators zone. The Predators defense did a good job of keeping the Canes to the outside and limiting quality scoring chances.

It took a few minutes, but the Predators started to establish control of the puck and gained a territorial advantage by winning neutral zone battles and getting good breakouts into the Canes offensive zone.

The Predators got on the board at 9:14 of the first period as Shea Weber took a pass from Marty Erat and unleashed a blast from the blue line that cleanly beat Peters. To get an idea of the velocity of that shot, consider that Peters was unscreened and had a good look at the shot and was still beaten over his shoulder by the rocket from the Captain for a 1-0 lead.

Craig Smith extended the lead to 2-0 at 13:16 of the first with the Predators on the power play. Smith took a cross ice pass from David Legwand and uncorked a blistering one timer that beat Peters between his shoulder and the near post. It was good to see Smith get on the board as he had gone 25 games without a goal. For Smith, it was his 9th goal of the season.

In the second period, the Predators were on the power play with Alex Ponikarovsky in the box for tripping. Mike Fisher took a shot from the slot that was tipped through the five hole of Peters by Patric Hornqvist at 17:04. This was Hornqvist's 10th goal of the season.

Rinne made a fantastic glove save to keep the Canes off the board. The puck was bouncing around and  skittered to Rinne's right side. A Hurricane player slapped the puck at what appeared to be an open net, but Rinne dove across the ice and the puck landed in his glove for a remarkable save.

Hornqvist notched his second goal of the game at 6:56 of the third period, this another power play tally. Hornqvist was battling in front of the net and was able to find the puck after a shot by Marty Erat. Peters could not control the rebound, and Hornqvist was able to slam home the puck to give the Predators a 4-0 lead.

Jay Harrison scored for the Canes at 8:35 at even strength to make it 4-1.

Hornqvist appeared to have a t hat trick as he was sprawling on the ice and jammed the puck home. As the hats flew on the ice, the goal was reviewed and was inexplicably waved off as it was deemed that Hornqvist had kicked the puck into the net. A questionable decision at best.

The Predators got that 5th goal, once again on the power play, as Ryan Ellis launched a slap shot that beat Peters stick side to make it 5-1 at 14:28 of the third period. Ellis played a solid game, and it was good to see him rewarded with his first NHL goal.

The Canes Jay Harrison struck again on the power play at 17:56 of the third period. Harrison's shot from inside the blue line was going wide of the net, but hit defenseman Ryan Ellis in the butt and caromed past Rinne for the score.

The Predators controlled the play in the waning minutes of the contest and did not give the Canes any quality chances, and as the clock wound down, the 8th straight sellout crowd cheered the Predators 5-2 win.

For the night, the Predators out shot the Hurricanes 36-29. More importantly, a number of their shots were from close in, the quality scoring areas. They crashed the net and generated numerous second chances and they were rewarded for their effort tonight.

On the defensive end of the ice, the Predators did a very good job of keeping the Hurricanes to the outside and not letting them get many shots from close in. Kudos to the Predators defense for their effort tonight.

The concern for the Predators coming out of this game is the health of Francis Buillon. He took a high stick to the mouth that chipped several teeth and required six stitches. He will have a root canal tomorrow and will be evaluated as to his ability to play on Tuesday at Colorado.

This was a solid win by the Predators, and it was due to playing Predator hockey. Shooting the puck and going strong to the net yielded positive results for this team tonight, and this is the way they have to continue to play.

Play like this, and they will continue to blow away opponents.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Mike Fisher

3. Ryan Ellis

Friday, January 6, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Welcome to 2012's new mascot, and just as our furry friend is intently focused on the kibble that is being tossed his way, we are going to intently focus on some important issues as well as have some fun in 2012. It goes without saying that this is going to be a very noisy year with the Presidential election in November, and there are numerous issues, both political and economic, that will be decided that will determine the direction of our country for a long time. With all the hype and hoopla, it is easy to just want to tune it out, but like our canine companion, we are going to stay focused on the kibbles, uh, issues. Hang on for the ride, because it is going to be an interesting year.

When people ask what is the one thing you would bring to a deserted island, I think the answer would be obvious. A boat.

There is going to be numerous economic numbers thrown about this year, originating from various departments of the government. Two of the most watched are the unemployment numbers and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measure the growth of our economy. Here is a piece of advice about the data that is disseminated by federal agencies: take it with a grain of salt. Here is why. Those initial release of numbers are from raw data that is recalculated, refined, and re-worked to give the actual information. Here is an example: the third quarter 2011 GDP was released, and initially, it was reported that the U.S. economy grew 2.5% in that quarter. That is good growth, and the news was received positively in the markets and used to make political hay by both parties. But wait, in November, the number was revised down to 2%. Not done yet, the number was finally revised down to 1.8% in late November, a full 39% below the initial release. Imagine if a publicly traded company published information about the sales and growth of their firm that was as erroneous as this. Regulatory agencies would be absolutely apoplectic. Yet we tolerate it from our government. The take away from this is simply don't get too excited about the first release of the information that comes out of Washington. Although it will be spun by either side for political gain, more often than not, the data is inaccurate.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

At the start of the new year, many of us start to gather information about what we spent last year and formulate a household budget for the coming year. If you have that financial discipline, one item that you may want to increase in your budget is the cost of gasoline for your vehicle. In 2011, according to a report on CNBC, gasoline averaged more than $3.50 per gallon, meaning that the typical American family spent $4,155 filling up their autos. That is a record, and represents 8.4% of the median household income in the U.S. That is the highest percentage since 1981. Part of this is because the demand for crude oil is rising globally as more emerging economies have populations that are purchasing automobiles. The other part is the failure of the United States to adequately develop the natural resources that are within its own borders.  The double negative effect of the high cost of gasoline is this: it takes dollars that could be spent in other areas to help grow the economy and removes them from circulation; and in turn, those dollars are sent overseas to other countries. In essence, we are transferring our wealth outside our borders. Think about that the next time that you fill up. More importantly, think about it the next time someone in Washington continues to impede the development of our own natural resources.

Clothes don't make the man, but being naked will get you arrested.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Predators Hand the Stars a 4-1 Victory

The Nashville Predators handed the Dallas Stars a 4-1 victory at the Bridgestone Arena in front of the 7th consecutive sellout for the home team.

"Handed?" Sour grapes?


Consider that in a 1-1 game, the Predators made two egregious mistakes that wound up in the back of their net and allowed the Stars to take control of the game and cement a win.

Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne is owed an apology by the team in front of him.

I will get to that in a moment.

First, the Predators welcomed back Shea Weber, who missed four games due to a cheap shot from the Stars Mark Fistric in a game just before Christmas. Weber was his usual physical self and appeared not to miss a beat, as he logged 25:45 of ice time.

As to the game, the Stars struck first as Mike Ribeiro got the Stars on the board first at 4:18 of the first period. Ribeiro undressed Roman Josi in front of the net, and the Predators forward was late getting back on the line change to help. Ribeiro made a nice move in the low slot and beat Rinne glove side to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

The Predators answered at 8:31 of the first as Gabriel Bourque tallied his first NHL goal off some hard work and a nice pass from Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo fought for and won the puck behind the net and found Bourque in the low slot with a nice pass. Bourque buried the wrister behind Kari Lehtonen to tie the game at 1.

With time winding down in the first period, Ribeiro took a shot that eluded Rinne and was lying in the blue paint. Kevin Klein came back to help his goalie, but instead of securing the puck, accidentally knocked it into the net to give the Stars a 2-1 lead at 19:21 of the first period.

In the second period, the Predators gave the Stars another goal as Ryan Suter made a blind drop pass behind the net thinking that Nick Spaling would be there to take possession of the puck. Spaling was nowhere to be found, and the puck was taken by Jamie Benn at the goal line, and he fired a quick shot on the surprised Rinne that caromed off his skate and into the net to make it 3-1 at 6:28.

In the third period, Adam Burish gathered in a puck that the Predators failed to clear and then over skated in the defensive zone and fired a shot past a screened Rinne to make it 4-1 at 12:53 of the third period. This would be the final margin of the game.

For the Predators, this was a disappointing effort. Giving the Stars 3 goals is certainly a formula for defeat. The Predators offensive effort was negligible for the night. David Legwand, Mike Fisher, Marty Erat, and Sergei Kostitsyn were virtually invisible in this game, and for the Predators to have success, they have to be more effective and create chances.

By far, the best line for the Predators was the Tootoo, Bourque, Spaling line. They played with energy and enthusiasm, and were a force on the ice.

There was a large dose of animosity on the ice. Fistric was going to pay for his cheap shot on Weber, and early on was challenged by Jordin Tootoo. Fistric was not going to trade punches with Toots, and was content to hang on and try to wrestle with his opponent. When called out, Fistric would not answer.

As I mentioned, the effort tonight by the Predators was disappointing. Giving the Stars three goals doomed their effort against a team they need to beat and should beat.

There will be two more meetings against the Stars. Hopefully the Predators will not give them any goals in those contests.

My three stars:

1. Mike Ribeiro

2. Kari Lehtonen

3. Gabriel Bourque