Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Look at the Predators Acquisitions and What they Bring to the Team

The Nashville Predators made three moves leading up to the NHL trade deadline, bolstering their roster for a playoff push.

Hal Gill was acquired  from the Montreal Canadiens on February 17th for forwards Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, and the Predators second round pick in the 2012 draft. The Predators received a conditional fifth round pick in 2013 if Geoffrion plays 40 games for the Canadiens.

At the trade deadline, the Predators acquired forward Andrei Kostitsyn from the Canadiens for a second round pick in the 2013 draft and a return of the conditional fifth round pick that the team received in the earlier acquisition of Gill.

The Predators then acquired center Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres for their first round pick in the 2012 draft.

With these acquisitions, the Predators have shown that they are gearing up for a deep playoff run and have addressed some needs that the team felt they needed to fill. Let's take a look at what these acquisitions mean for the Predators.

Hal Gill

 With the addition of Gill, the Predators have an imposing physical presence on the blue line that brings a wealth of experience to the rink. Gill has a Stanley Cup ring from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that experience will prove to invaluable to this young Predators squad. Gill is a veteran that is good in the locker room and solid off the ice, and I expect that experience in the playoff wars to be critical.

Gill will never impress with his speed, and the thunderous hits are few and far between. His ability to play with good position and to smother another team's forwards are his biggest strengths. He is a valuable member of the PK unit and is exceptional at blocking shots.

Three players will be the biggest beneficiaries of having Gill on the blue line. Roman Josi, his regular defense partner, will have more leeway to use his speed and offensive skills because Gill is a stay at home defenseman. Additionally, the veteran presence of Gill will benefit Josi in his development on the blue line, as the talented rookie will be able to draw on his partner's experience. The ability of this pair to mesh quickly has been a plus for the Predators and Josi in particular.

The other two beneficiaries are Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. The presence of Gill will allow the top D pair to shave a few minutes off their ice time, which will be beneficial to their play as the season winds down and the playoffs begin. Gill helps take some of the pressure off the blueliners and gives the Predators a strong shut down defenseman on the second pair.

Paul Gaustad

Predator fans may remember this exchange between Gaustad and Anders Lindback during the December 3rd game against the Buffalo Sabres. This occurred after the collision between Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Miller and the subsequent fight:

The fiery Gaustad told Lindback that he was coming for him. It is no secret that Gaustad was well respected and liked in the Sabres locker room, and this is one reason why. Gaustad is a warrior and willing to do what it takes for his team to win.

Gaustad will not score a tremendous number of goals. This season, he has 7G-10A for 17 points. What he brings to the Predators is a big body in the middle that is excellent defensively and on face offs. Gaustad is a shut down player that can match up well with an opponents scoring line. His size, 6'5' and 220 lbs, will help the Predators when they face teams that are bigger up front. In a conversation I had with Barry Trotz, he expressed to me the need to have more size up front and players that could battle with the big forwards that the Predators face in the Western Conference. Gaustad fills that role for the Predators and should help with the match ups the Predators will face in the playoffs.

The biggest beneficary of this acquisition will be Craig Smith, who can move from center back to the wing, where he has fewer defensive responsibilities and can be more creative offensively. Gaustad also the give the coaching staff the ability to move players like Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk up and down the line up for more favorable match ups.

Andrei Kostitsyn

The Predators visited the Montreal Canadiens again to pick up what is hoped will be another reclamation project that will pay scoring dividends. With the acquisition of Andrei Kostitsyn, the Predators have reunited him with his brother Sergei, whom the Predators acquired in 2010 from the Canadiens. Management hopes that Barry Trotz and his staff can work their magic with Andrei like they have done with Sergei.

Andrei is a wild card. He is a big body (6'0" 205) that has a heavy shot and can create offensively. His numbers in Montreal this season have not been impressive (12G-12A, 24 points), but he has shown flashes of offensive creativity and explosiveness. The hope is that he will settle in quickly and contribute offensively for the Predators. His size allows him to match up well with the opponents that he will face in the Western Conference.

In addition to the acquisitions, the Predators said good-bye to long time Predator Jerred Smithson, who was shipped to Florida for a 6th round draft pick. Smithson was a gritty, defensive forward that excelled in a shutdown role and was good in the face off dot. Gaustad effectively replaces Smithson and is better in the face off circle and with his offensive production.

In the background of these trades is the impending negotiation of a new contract for Ryan Suter, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. By now, everyone that follows the Predators knows that Suter has chosen not to continue negotiations until after the season. Money is not the issue for Suter, but instead, according to Suter, the efforts of the team to win the Cup, or at very least to go deep in the playoffs. By making these acquisitions, the Predators have made a statement that they are willing to do what it takes to do just that- make a strong run for the Cup.

The question that no one can answer?

Is it enough?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Predators Blow the Game to the Hurricanes 4-3

The Nashville Predators, playing the second of back to back games, traveled to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The Predators welcomed their newest member of the team Andrei Kostitsyn to the active roster and paired him on a line with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist. The Predators other acquisition at the trade deadline, Paul Gaustad, was scratched with an upper body injury.

Anders Lindback got the start in net for the Predators, while Cam Ward was between the pipes for the Hurricanes.

Lindback was looking for goal support from the team in front of him, as the Predators had been outscored 19-9 in his previous starts this season. The Predators obliged Mr. Lindback at 2:42 of the first period as the line of Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque, and Craig Smith went to work in the Hurricanes zone. Halischuk battled and got control of the puck behind the Canes net and flipped the puck out front. Bourque took several whacks at the puck and Ward could not control the rebound. The puck squirted out to Smith, who gathered it in and roofed it over the fallen Ward to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Canes began to press the attack, but Lindback made some good stops to hold the Canes off the board. The Predators were out shot in the first period 13-8, and the period ended with the Predators on the PK with David Legwand in the box for high sticking and a 1 minute carry over of the Canes power play at the start of the second period.

The Predators had nearly killed off the Legwand penalty to open the second period when they were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Canes a 6 second 5 on 3 power play. The Predators killed off the brief two man advantage, but now had to kill off another penalty. The Predators were flirting with trouble with these penalties, bur fortunately were able to kill them off.

The Canes tied the game at 1 at 5:17 of the second as the Predators failed to clear the zone and Jamie McBain launched a shot from the blue line that beat Lindback. The puck deflected off Hal Gill and although Lindback got a piece of the shot, but it ricocheted off his arm and into the back of the net for the equalizer.

The Predators offense was non-existent in the second period, going over 10 minutes without a shot on goal. The Canes had totally dominated the Predators with shots on goal and zone possession.  That changed at 12:31 of the period when Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo aggressively pursued the puck on the forecheck and forced a Carolina turnover. Wilson took a shot that hit Ward on the shoulder and caromed over, landing just outside the goal line. The puck had enough momentum to trickle over the goal line to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

That lead was short lived as the Predators once again took another penalty. With Andrei Kostitsyn in the box for hooking, the Canes quickly scored on the power play as Jeff Skinner's shot bounced off Lindback and Eric Staal was able to gather the rebound and slam it into the open net to tie the game at 2 at 13:04 of the second. It took the Canes just 12 seconds on the power play to tie the game.

Once again, the Predators took another penalty as Shea Weber was in the box for hooking. and once again, the Canes made the Predators pay. With a scramble in front of Lindback, the puck was jammed past Lindback by Tim Brent to give the Canes a 3-2 lead at 17:24 of the second. The Predators had taken five penalties to none for the Canes, and their undisciplined play had cost them two goals.

The Predators played a horrific second period, mustering only 5 shots in the period to 13 for the Hurricanes. Their undisciplined play had cost them two different leads, and they were heading into the third trailing by one. It remained to be seen whether the Predators would come out and play their brand of hockey in the third period or if they would continue their lackluster play.

The Predators fell behind 4-2 as Bryan Allen came out of the box where he had been serving the Canes first penalty of the night and Eric Staal sent him in on a breakaway and he beat Lindback five hole at 1:28 of the third.

Gabriel Bourque answered the Canes score as he took a from behind the net from Jordin Tootoo and banged the puck past an out of position Ward from the low slot at 2:18 of the third.

The Predators play was markedly better in the third period, as they got shots on net and played with more energy, but could not solve Ward or the Canes strong forecheck and neutral zone defense. The final horn sounded and the Predators saw a game and two points they pissed away.

It is easy to say that this was an Eastern Conference opponent and it didn't matter that much if they lost the game. Bull hockey. This was two precious points the Predators threw away by their lackadaisical play in the second period. Trying to keep pace with their Western Conference opponents means that every point is dear, and to waste a game like this team did tonight is unacceptable and frustrating.

This team does not play again until Saturday, and I hope this loss burns for a few days.

The time to get back to playing Predator hockey starts Saturday.

My three stars:

1. Eric Staal

2. Gabriel Bourque

3. Jeff Skinner

Monday, February 27, 2012

Predators Grind Out a 2-1 Win Over the Kings

The Nashville Predators secured a workmanlike 2-1 victory over he Los Angeles Kings at the Bridgestone Arena to run their record to 37-19-7, good for 81 points.

The first period was a spirited affair between the two teams as each had some good scoring chances. Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, and he was called upon to make some good saves early in the contest to keep the Kings off the board. Jonathan Quick, the Kings netminder, did the same, thwarting some good scoring chances for the Predators.

The Predators would find the back of the net late in the first period on a goal by Roman Josi at 18:27. Josi took a wrist shot that hit the Kings Drew Doughty's stick and was re-directed between Quick's arm and his body. The puck trickled through and over the goal line to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Patric Hornqvist extended the lead to 2-0 at 3:52 of the second period. David Legwand fired a puck off the end board that caromed directly onto the tape of Hornqvist's stick. Hornqvist buried the shot past an out of position quick for his 18th goal of the season. It was good to see Hornqvist back in action and contributing after missing five games due to injury.

The Kings got on the board at 16:36 of the third period as Dustin Brown fired a shot toward the net with traffic in front. The puck pinballed off the skates of Ryan Suter and Mike Fisher and skittered past Rinne for the Kings only goal of the game.

Leading 2-1 with the clock winding down, the Predators held the Kings off the board and secured an important two points.

Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for the Predators, some of which were spectacular. For the game, the Kings out shot the Predators 31-28.

The Predators did a good job of forechecking the Kings and skated well with them all night. The Kings like to use their size to wear down their opponents, but the Predators generally did a good job of controlling the Kings cycle and forcing them to the outside. Unlike their previous game with the Sharks, the Predators stepped up their offensive pressure in the third period, especially late in the game, preventing Quick from getting off the ice for the extra attacker by forcing the puck deep and forcing the Kings to defend in their zone.

Kudos to Hal Gill for another strong game. Gill continues to block shots and his physical presence is dominant in front of the net. Gill is especially important to this team in taking pressure off of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter by chewing up minutes. Also, a special mention should go to Jack Hillen. Hillen was inserted into the lineup with Kevin Klein out of action, and he played a solid game. His best play came in blocking s hot that was targeted for the open net when Rinne was out of position.

This was a solid effort against a desperate team that really needed the points. The Predators continue to play a strong team game, and have four lines that can put the puck in the net. More importantly, the four lines that are on the ice are defensively responsible and contribute quality minutes in all situations.

This is a winning formula. Sometimes the wins are not things of beauty, but they are wins nevertheless.

And the Predators will take them.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Roman Josi

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Predators Turn the Sharks to Sushi 6-2

Gonna be brief on this blog as I am typing with one hand and the drugs are kicking in*

The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 6-2 at the Bridgestone Arena to run their point total to 79 and firmly hold on to the fifth spot on the /western Conference.

Pekka Rinne won his 34th game, best in the NHL and a personal record for the stellar netminder. Rinne made some big saves in this game and carried the Predators in the third period as the Sharks outshot the Predators in the final frame by a 16-3 margin.

The Predators scored on their first two shots as Colin Wilson and Shea Weber potted goals off odd man rushes. Jordin Tootoo played a strong game, setting up the first goal by stealing the puck from Colin White and feeding the puck to a breaking Colin Wilson, who beat Antti Niemi low stick side for a 1-0 lead. Tootoo's hard work behind the net to gain control of the puck and set up Nick Spaling for a one timer from the slot capped the scoring for the Predators, making the score 6-2.

Shea Weber tallied the first of his two goals off a 3 on 2 rush. Sergei Kostitsyn made a nice pass across the slot to Weber, who roofed the puck over Niemi to make it 2-0 Predators on their first two shots of the game. Weber would later tally on a blast from the blue line while the Predators were on the power play in the second period.

The Sharks cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by Patrick Marleau from the top of the blue paint at 10:58 of the first period.

The Predators showed great resilience in this game by answering each challenge to their lead by the Sharks. Kevin Klein stretched the lead back to two goals by notching his 4th goal with a shot from just inside the blue line. Klein tied his season high with this goal. Niemi had allowed 3 goals on 7 shots and was pulled in favor of Thomas Greiss.

Joe Pavelski scored just 23 seconds into the second period with a shot from just inside the face off circle to make it 3-2. Weber gave the Predators a 4-2 lead with his power play tally.

The third period was all Sharks and all Rinne. The Sharks pounded the predator net with 16 shots and were territorially dominant in the final frame. Rinne was more than up to the challenge, turning away numerous opportunities by the Sharks, many with heavy traffic in front. San Jose scored, but the goal was waved off as the Sharks interfered with Rinne. No penalty was called on the play as incidental contact with Rinne was called on the ice.

Greiss was pulled with 2:12 remaining for the extra attacker, and Marty Erat buried an empty netter to make it 5-2. Spaling tallied at 19:18 to make it 6-2, the final score.

In this game, the Predators did an exceptional job of supporting the puck, something they failed to do in their previous game. This lead to a good cycle in the offensive zone and some quality scoring chances. The breakouts through the neutral zone were crisp and allowed the Predators to gain entry into the offensive zone with speed, which gave the Sharks problems.

What can be said about the play of Rinne? He absolutely carried the team on his back in the third period. The Predators spent much of the period hemmed in their own zone, and the Sharks were sending pucks and players to the net. Rinne was stellar, tracking the puck through traffic and making numerous big saves. His play continues to be amazing, and you can see teams getting frustrated as they realize they cannot beat the athletic netminder. Thanks, Pekka, for an outstanding effort tonight.

The Predators continue to get balanced scoring and solid defense and netminding. This is a winning formula, and they have to continue this level of play to keep pace with the competitive Central Division.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Shea Weber

3. Jordin Tootoo

* shoulder surgery yesterday has limited the use of one arm

Friday, February 24, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

One thing that we have learned in the first three years of the Obama administration is that we should look closely at any major piece of legislation that the White House champions in Congress. Why? There are always some hidden bombs- very negative surprises- that are tucked away inside a bill that would most likely prevent that legislation from passing if these items were known to the public. President Obama's recently proposed budget is no different. Buried deep with his budget is a proposal to raise the tax rate on dividends from the current 15% rate to 44.8%. "Big deal," you say? It's only those rich folks that get those dividends anyway, right? According to the IRS data of tax filings, nearly 75% of all dividend payments go to taxpayers age 55 or older. This means that many people in retirement have dividend paying stocks as an investment to help supplement their retirement income.  Historical data indicates that dividend payouts are highly sensitive to the rate of taxation on dividends. Raising that tax rate causes companies to cut dividends and retain the cash rather than pay it out. The dividend tax rate was cut to 15% on January 1, 2003. That year, dividends reported on tax returns rose from $103 billion to $196 billion. By 2006, that number had grown to $337 billion. Think those who depend on dividends to augment their income would be happy to know that this is in the budget? This is exactly why this is buried deep within the budget. And it is further proof that Washington is totally clueless about how to get the economy healthy.

I asked my wife where she would like to go for our anniversary. She said, "How about somewhere I have never been?" I suggested the kitchen. Ya know, it's pretty comfortable outside in the doghouse.

The lack of real world perspective and experience in Washington is stunning. Those that make critical decisions that affect us in the real world have an appalling lack of understanding of how the real world works. The latest example of this occurred Monday, when senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett made these comments when she spoke at North Carolina Central University regarding raising and extending unemployment benefits,

"...We need to make sure we continue to support this important safety net. It is not only good for the family, it is good for the economy. People that receive that unemployment check go out and spend it and help stimulate the economy, and that is healthy as well."
Spoken like a true bureaucrat. The stupidity of this comment is blinding. So the administration wants to remove billions of dollars from the private sector through higher taxes, return just pennies on the dollar to unemployed Americans, and somehow they believe this will stimulate the economy? Holy Shnikey! No wonder we are in the mess we are in.

I am boycotting shampoo. I am demanding real poo.

Much, if not most, of the left's economic policy is predicated on being "fair". Those on the left have made it their singular goal to be fair, and in their world, that means everyone achieving the same outcome. "Fairness" is a wonderful populist theme, which is why most politicians seize the concept of fairness. Yet each of know that life is not remotely fair. Trying to achieve "fairness" in economic outcomes or tax policy is a canard that those who aspire to political office use to promote class warfare and further their own ends. Here is the salient point of this rant: when government at any level raises taxes, people respond and change their behavior to avoid those higher taxes. Every. Single. Time. "Fairness" is nothing more than political cover for politicians attempts to grab more of your hard earned money. Perhaps the better approach from Washington would not be attempting to equalize outcomes under the guise of "fairness, but instead removing obstacles that make it extremely difficult for everyone to rise above their current economic station in life.

A penny saved is a Congressional oversight.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blues Finally Beat the Predators in a Shootout

The St. Louis Blues finally defeated the Nashville Predators in a shootout by the score of 3-2 at the Bridgestone Arena. The Predators picked up a point, and remain 4 points behind the fourth place Blues.

After the first period, it appeared as if the Predators were going to be run out of the building. Their play was awful, and if not for the outstanding play of Pekka Rinne in net, the Blues could have scored several more goals.

The Predators inexplicably and frustratingly came out flat, and the Blues took the game to them in the first 20 minutes. Chris Stewart scored at 4:13 of the first as he found the puck in a scrum in front of the net and kicked the puck past Rinne. The play went to review, but the review went for the Blues and they had a 1-0 lead.

The Blues out shot the Predators 13-6, but totally dominated the Predators. Jaroslav Halak had an easy time of it in net as the Predators never threatened him in the first. The Predators never got a second scoring opportunity off a shot and their puck support was atrocious in the first as it was all night.

The second and third period saw the Predators awake and begin to play hockey. They out shot the Blues over the final 40 minutes by a 21-8 margin and their effort was rewarded with 2 goals in the second period.

Roman Josi ripped a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Halak to tie the game at 1 at 2:53 of the second period. Josi broke in 2 on 1 with Brandon Yip, and took a nice feed from Yip right on his tape. He wired the shot for his third goal of the season.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead at 12:52 of the second as Colin Wilson out worked two Blues defenders from the corner. Wilson worked his way out front and his quick backhand shot beat Halak between his pad and the post. This was Wilson's 13th goal of the year, and his play has been very solid of late. Good to see him getting his game going.

The Blues tied the game at 2 at 13:26 of the second as Vladimir Sobotka got loose in the low slot and roofed a backhand over Rinne.

The third period was scoreless, but the Predators had some very good scoring chances. Halak was solid, making some good saves to hold the Predators off the board. Rinne did the same on his end of the ice, and we were heading to overtime.

The OT was scoreless, and the Blues had the only three shots in the extra frame.

In the shootout, T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald scored for the Blues, While Colin Wilson and Marty Erat were blanked by Halak.

The Predators record against the Blues is now 4-0-1 for the season. One game remains on the schedule between the two teams at Scott Trade Center.

The Predators got a taste of playoff hockey against a very good team. It is disappointing that the Predators came out flat and found themselves in a hole after the first period. It is heartening to see that they battled back like they did over the final 40 minutes.

The Predators had better prepare for this type of hockey in the remainder of the regular season. Teams are desperate; teams are fighting for playoff positioning; and teams will kick their ass if they come out flat and lackadaisical like they did tonight.

This is a painful lesson this team needed to learn. You just can't show up, boys, and expect to win hockey games. These remaining games will be a war. The playoffs will be a war.

The Blues are a good team and they gave you a taste of it tonight.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Jaroslav Halak

3. Pekka Rinne

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Predators Vanquish Vancouver 3-1

The Nashville Predators continue through the Murderer's Row segment of their schedule by facing the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena, facing a Canucks team that had won four straight games and had not lost in regulation in their last 13 games.


No doubt.


No way.

The Predators faced a tall task in attempting to shut down the potent Canucks offense, and they would be relying on the solid play of netminder Pekka Rinne to backstop the effort. New Predator Hal Gill would be called on to play some solid minutes against the Canucks second line led by Ryan Kessler.

Both were outstanding.

Roberto Luongo was in net for the Canucks, and he came up with some big save against the Predators to keep the score respectable.

The first period was scoreless, but both teams created some good chances. The Canucks cycle game worked very well in the first period, and the first five minutes of the contest was spent in the Predators zone. The Predators weathered the attack and got their feet moving and started skating with the Canucks, generating some chances but, like the Canucks, were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.

The first period ended with the Canucks out shooting the Predators 12-11.

The fireworks started in the second period, and it was the Predators that capitalized first. With Henrik Sedin in the box for tripping, the Predators went to work on the power play. Ryan Suter found Mike Fisher alone at the side of the net and whipped a pass to him. Fisher took took whacks at the puck and got it to trickle over the goal line to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 5:42 of the second period.

The Predators gave the Canucks an opportunity to get right back into the game, as Colin Wilson was in the box for hooking. The Predators PK once again was solid, killing the penalty.

Once again, the Predators PK unit was called upon to kill another penalty, as Francis Buillon was called for tripping at 12:29. The unit did more than kill the penalty as Mike Fisher got control of the puck at the Predators blue line. Fisher froze Sami Salo with a great move and started a 2 on 1 break with Sergei Kostitsyn. With Alex Edler back on defense, Fisher drove the net and sent a backhand saucer pass to a streaking Sergei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn showed great eye hand coordination as he got the puck on his stick and one time a shot past a falling and flailing Luongo to make it 2-0 Predators at 13:16 of the second.

The Canucks would cut the lead to 2-1 at 16:52 of the second as Roman Josi had the puck along the boards but fell. He managed to slipped the puck to David Legwand, who also fell and turned the puck over to Dale Weise. Weise was able to walk in alone and roofed a backhand over Rinne's blocker for the score.

Late in the period, Canucks pest Alex Burrows boarded Shea Weber near the Predators bench. There was no call, and Weber responded by throwing Burrows to the ice. Burrows apparently failed to realize who he was facing, as he decided to drop the gloves with Weber. Weber quickly slammed Burrows to the ice without a punch being thrown. Frankly, Burrows is lucky that Weber didn't throw a punch.

If you are going to poke the bear, you had better have a pair.

Vancouver out shot the Predators 13-8 in the second, and went to the locker room trailing by one. Although the Predators had the lead, it was going to be a war in the third period, and it was critical that the Predators not sit back as they had done in the Dallas game in the third period. They would not survive the Canucks if they did so.

The third period was a back and forth affair, with both teams creating some very good chances. The majority of those went to the Predators, and Luongo made some good saves to keep the Predators off the board and the Canucks within one goal.

That would change at 17:09 as David Legwand would fire a wrist shot of a puck that was on edge and the shot cleanly beat Luongo over his shoulder to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

With Luongo pulled for the extra attacker, the Predators held off the final push of the Canucks for a big 3-1 win. The win pushed the Predators to 76 points, within 8 of Western Conference leading Detroit and within 3 points of idle St. Louis.

Pekka Rinne was again solid in net. Perhaps his biggest save came in the second period as he dove across the net and deflected a shot from Aaron Rome with his blocker to keep the game 2-0 at that time. With the win, Rinne now leads the League with 33 victories.

The addition of Hal Gill showed how important the big defenseman will be to the Predators effort in the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. Gill was matched up against Ryan Kessler's line and he continually frustrated  Kessler with his physical presence. Kessler was held to 3 shots on goal, no points, and was a -1.

The Predators finished their season series with the Canucks 2-1-1.

This was a solid win by the Predators as they skated well and showed they can compete with one of the best teams in the West. Not only compete, but vanquish them.

The road ahead gets no easier for the Predators. Tough divisional opponent St. Louis is up next.

Play this kind of game, and you will vanquish them as well.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Predators Shoot Down the Stars 3-2

The Nashville Predators faced the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center looking to get back to their winning ways after dropping a disappointing game on Friday to the Detroit Red Wings. The Predators would be without Mike Fisher, absent because of an illness.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, while the Stars went with Kari Lehtonen.

The AAC has always been a tough barn for the Predators, and it was going to be critical that the team come out with energy and play a solid game.

Dallas struck first at 6:49  of the first period as Mike Ribeiro swung out from behind the net and appeared to be ready to attempt a wrap around shot. Instead, he spotted Michael Ryder, who had eluded the Predators defense and was alone at the side of the net. Ryder had an easy tap in to give the Stars the early 1-0 lead. On the play, Craig Smith, getting the start centering the number one line, lost Ryder, allowing him an easy shot on net.

The Predators have shown an annoying and frustrating tendency to pass up shots, and they were continuing this trend in this game so far. Matt Halischuk got the puck in a prime scoring area and passed up the shot, instead throwing the puck to David Legwand on the boards. Legwand took a bad angle shot that was re-directed by Gabriel Bourque past Lehtonen to tie the game at 1 at 15:39 of the first period.

I guess sometimes it helps to be lucky.

The Predators are going to have to change this trend of passing up shots if they hope to get their offensive game on track. Hopefully, this negative characteristic disappears in this game.

With the Predators on the power play and time winding down, Shea Weber gathered in a rebound of Ryan Suter shot and hammered a shot past Lehtonen with .02 remaining in the period to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

NO shot is a bad shot, eh?

In the first period, the Predators out shot the Stars 10-8.

The second period saw the intensity from both teams continue at the same high level as the first period. Each team continued to play tough defense and create a few scoring chances, but both goaltenders were equal to the task.

At 10:08 of the second, Shea Weber took a wrist shot from the blue line that was deflected and fluttering over the shoulder of Lehtonen into the net. The puck was touched by the glove of Matt Halischuk crashing the net, however, and it was waved off.

The Predators did get their 3-1 lead at 16:05 on a great hustle play by Colin Wilson as he fought off two Stars defenders and walked out of the corner with the puck. His backhand was a beauty to the far post through traffic to cleanly beat Lehtonen, who did not see the puck. For Wilson, this was his 12th goal of the season.

The period ended with the Predators leading 3-1. Both teams recorded five shots on goal, a testament to the tight checking and defense that was being played.

For the Predators, the challenge was to withstand the inevitable push that would come from the Stars in the third period.

And push the Stars did. They were playing like a desperate team and controlling the puck in the Predators zone. The Predators were unable to muster much offense, and with nearly 7 minutes gone in the third period, the Stars had out shot the Predators 7-1.

Once again, Pekka Rinne was called upon to make some big saves to hold the Stars off the board. The Predators to this point had been guilty of sitting back and letting the Stars dictate play.

Alex Goligoski made it a 1 goal game as he pinched down from his defense position and beat Rinne on a bad goal with a shot from the boards that beat the Nashville netminder short side at the post. The score came at 15:11, setting up a war for the final 4:49.

With 2:05 remaining in the game, Hal Gill was called for tripping, the Predators first penalty of the game. The pressure was now on the Predators PK unit to come up with a big kill.

And come up big they did. The Stars pulled Lehtonen, and facing a 6 on 4 power play, the PK unit was stellar, forcing the Stars to the outside. The Stars got a glorious chance as the puck got loose at the side of the net and Mike Ribeiro misfired on the shot, sending it behind the Predators net. The Predators killed off the power play, and as the horn sounded, skated away with a much needed 2 points.

Nashville was out shot 11-6 in the third period, but that belies the fact that the Stars controlled play for much of the final 20 minutes. Kudos to Pekka Rinne for making some huge saves and keeping the Stars off the board.

This was a solid win for the Predators as they were missing their top two leading scorers in Fisher and Patric Hornqvist, who is on IR. The Predators battled and were once again opportunistic in their scoring, and this two points is precious for this team. It allows them to keep pace with the Blues and keep some distance between themselves and the Blackhawks.

The effort tonight is a carryover of a solid effort from the previous game, and they will have to continue to bring this kind of effort in the remaining games.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Michael Ryder

3. Colin Wilson

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Scenes from the Road: Boston

The View was joined last weekend by a large contingent of Predator faithful that trekked to Boston to see the boys take on the Bruins. Here are some scenes from our road trip.

We arrived in Boston on Friday before the game to sunny and pleasant weather. That changed on Saturday to cold, raw, and spitting snow. A noon start and the nasty weather made for little time to sight see, but the team hotel was across the street from the famous Boston Commons. This is a picture from early morning on game day.

Like many modern arenas, TD Garden is architecturally nondescript, sitting in the downtown area. That plain exterior belies the expansive, bright, and clean interior of the arena. The concourses inside the Garden are wide, allowing for easy movement. There are numerous dining options along with several bars. Security entering the arena is much higher than most arenas to which I have traveled. Metal detectors are in use and security presence is high.

In the second picture, you will notice in the lower right hand corner a sign that says North Station. The Garden has several local rail lines that run directly to this station, and many fans use this as their mode of transportation to and from the games. Our hostess, C.J. Shepard, commutes to games this way, and I would love it if this was an option for Predator fans.

This is the Bobby Orr statue on the plaza outside the arena, which celebrates his Stanley Cup winning goal against the St. Louis Blues. Bruins fans- rightfully so- view it as a shrine, and numerous fans stop to have their picture made there. Wearing our Predators sweaters did not stop several B's fans from asking us to make their picture.

Notice in the background of the top photo of the statue a business called Ace Tickets. According to CJ, a number of the seats in the Garden are bought by ticket brokers like Ace and are re-sold. She said the entire row of seats behind her season ticket seats is owned by ticket brokers, and her guess was that a large number of the seats in the lower bowl were owned by brokers.

The view of the ice and the Garden before the pre-skate.

The Championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Garden. I can't wait to see some of those hanging at the Bridge.

The teams during the anthem and the view from our seats.

Beauty and the Beast. Our gracious and hockey savvy hostess CJ Shepard and the View after the game.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Red Wings Eke Out a 2-1 Win Over the Predators

The Nashville Predators looked to end the Detroit Red Wings 21 game home winning streak at the Joe in a contest between two Central Division foes fighting for division and conference supremacy. The Wings home winning streak was nothing short of amazing, and the Predators faced a daunting task trying to derail the home juggernaut that was Detroit.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, while Joey MacDonald, doing an admirable job filling in for the injured Jimmy Howard, manned the pipes for the Wings.

The Predators were playing without Patric Hornqvist, who was placed on injured reserve today with an upper body injury suffered in the game with the Boston Bruins. The Wings were missing Patric Eaves and Dan Cleary.

The Predators and the Wings both generated some good scoring chances, and both goaltenders were equal to the task that the opposing offenses presented. That changed at 12:44 of the first as the Predators defense left Johan Franzen alone in the low slot and the feed from Todd Bertuzzi was on his tape, allowing him to bury a quick wrist shot behind Rinne for a 1-0 Detroit lead.

The first period ended with the score 1-0 and the Wings recording 14 shots on goal to 9 for Nashville.

One mistake, and the Predators found the puck in the back of their net.

While not a bad period for the Predators, their offensive effort was going to have to improve with more shots and quality shots.

The second period, long a bane for the Predators, saw them out work, out hit, and out hustle the Wings. The Predators forecheck was working, bottling the Wings up in their zone and creating chances. The Predators best scoring chance came on a set up from Sergei Kostitsyn that sent Marty Erat in alone on MacDonald. Unfortunately for the Predators, MacDonald stopped the glorious scoring chance, as he had done so far during the game.

The Predators finally broke through at 14:58 of the second as Jordin Tootoo stole the puck from Jakob Kindl and fed Nick Spaling in front of the MacDonald. Spaling cashed in on the chance, tying the game at 1.

For the Predators, this had to be a big relief. Lots of chances and unable to beat MacDonald, the pressure was mounting.

The period ended tied at 1; Nashville had 8 shots on goal in the second, while Detroit had 7.

This presaged a third period that would be a battle.

And a battle it was. Both teams went up and down the ice, created chances, but could not finish.

That would change with just 5 seconds to go as Pavel Datsyuk broke in on a breakaway and beat Rinne over his shoulder to take a 2-1 lead, which would be the final score.

Let's face it, the Wings are the best team in the NHL, and the Predators competed and gave them all they wanted for the duration of the game. The Wings were just a little bit better tonight, but a little bit means a big difference in the outcome of a game like this.

I thought the effort by the Predators was solid. They forechecked well, were solid on defense, and except for two plays, could have won this game.

Yet those two plays were the difference, and those are the plays that elite teams make.

If I were to criticize any aspect of the Predators game, it was that they did not finish their chances. They had 4 breakaway attempts, none of which they could bury. They had some good scoring chances at even strength and could not finish. This is something that has to improve for this team.

This was at least one point the Predators gave away. That is painful.

The thing the Predators have to do now is learn from that pain and channel it. Use it to start another winning streak.

And don't let another team eke out a win.

My three stars:

1. Pavel Datsyuk

2. Nick Spaling

3. Johan Franzen

Predators Trade for Hal Gill

The Nashville Predators have acquired defenseman Hall Gill and a conditional 5th round draft pick from the Montreal Candiens, sending Blake Geoffrion, AHL defenseman Robert Slaney, and a 2012 second round draft pick back the other way. The conditional draft pick the Predators picked up from Montreal will become effective if Geoffrion plays 40 games for the Canadiens.

In acquiring Gill, the Predators get a solid and sizable defensive presence, a stay at home defenseman that excels on the PK and has extensive playoff experience as well as having won the Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Drafted by Boston in 1993, Gill has played for the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Penguins, and the Canadiens. He has played in 1,047 regular season games and 105 playoff games.

Gill will join the Predators tonight in Detroit, but is not expected to play.

In Geoffrion, the Canadiens acquire the first player that was born in Nashville that has made it to the NHL as well as a player that has a rich legacy with the Habs. Geoffrion's father, Danny, played for Montreal, as did his grandfather, "Boom Boom" Geoffrion and his great grandfather, Howie Morenz. Geoffrion has been playing for the Predators AHL affiliate in Milwaukee since December after opening the season on the Predators roster.

Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired veteran defenseman Hal Gill and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft from Montreal in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft and forwards Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney. He is expected to meet the team today in Detroit.

"Hal Gill brings our team a number of elements - size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience," Poile said. "He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team."

Gill, 36 (4/6/75), has suited up for 1,047 regular-season games (36g-143a-179pts, 940 PIMs) and 105 playoff contests (0g-6a-6pts, 68 PIMs) since 1997-98 - more than any player currently on the Predators roster. He appeared in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 with Pittsburgh, winning the Cup in 2009. One of the League's tallest players at 6-7, 240 pounds, Gill has eight points (1g-7a) and 29 penalty minutes thus far in 2011-12 playing in his third season with the Canadiens.
The Concord, Mass., native was drafted 207th overall (eighth round) by Boston in the 1993 Entry Draft, and played eight seasons with the Bruins (1997-2006) before stints in Toronto and (2006-08) Pittsburgh (2007-09).
The Predators now have eight draft picks for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft to be held June 22-23, 2012 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. - their own picks in the first, and fourth through seventh rounds, in addition Toronto's third-round pick, Phoenix's fourth rounder and the New York Rangers' sixth-round selection.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

With the economy mired in a seemingly intractable funk and unable to create new jobs, there is much debate about what to do to change this situation. Many proposals are being discussed, but one thing that cannot be ignored is the effect of taxes on job creation. Congress has just sent to President Obama a bill that would extend the payroll tax cut for the remainder of 2012. Good news for every worker, but according to a massive and major study by the Tax Foundation, there is no correlation between payroll taxes and job creation. In other words, the payroll tax level does not have a significant impact on a company's hiring decisions. What does? Being the intelligent readers that I know you are, I knew you would ask. What the Tax Foundation discovered is that corporate income tax rates have a highly significant effect on long term economic and job growth. In fact, corporate tax rates are the single largest determinant of economic growth in a country. Closely behind corporate tax rates, according to the Tax Foundation study, are personal income tax rates. Where does the United States rank globally for corporate tax rates? The second highest nominal corporate tax rate in the developed world, behind only Japan. Consider the President's tax proposals outlined in his State of the Union address: extend the payroll tax cut (no significant effect on economic and job growth); reformation of the corporate tax code to close loopholes and have corporations pay more tax (very detrimental to economic and job growth); and allow the personal income tax rates to rise significantly with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts (an economy killer). So often, the rhetoric from Washington says that personal taxes must go up and corporations must pay more, all in the interest of "fairness". That populist theme sounds good, but the reality is that our economy will not grow if it is excessively burdened  with high taxes.

You know you're getting old when your friends compliment you on your alligator shoes and you're barefoot.

I want to give you some facts. These are just facts presented without my usual snarky commentary because I think it is important for all of us to understand the magnitude of the financial problems we face in this country. Here we go... Our national debt now exceeds $15 trillion. In and of itself, that is not necessarily bad. What is problematic is that our debt is growing at a geometric pace; this year's $3.6 trillion dollar budget is 20% larger than the 2008 budget. And while our government has been growing exponentially, our economy has been flat. And here is another stark truth: the $15 trillion we owe today does not take into account the $15 trillion we need to make Social Security solvent; the $20 trillion we need to fund the prescription drug benefit; nor the $115 trillion unfunded Medicare liability. Here is what you should know about those numbers. Our elected leaders and we as the voters have ignored these unfunded obligations, but we are already having to pay them. Total payroll taxes collected to pay these benefits last year were $800 billion; total spending on Social Security and Medicare last year was $1.5 trillion.This shortfall is adding to our annual deficit. So let's look at the big picture. Right now, we are spending $2.4 trillion per year on transfer payments (payments on all social programs) and interest on our debt. Right now, we are collecting $2.3 trillion in income, payroll, and corporate taxes. Understand this: Even if we cut every other government program, including the military, revenue collected by the federal government will not be enough to cover the costs of our transfer payments and the interest on our debt. I will let that sink in for a moment. And after it sinks in, I know that each of you are intelligent enough to realize that by all reasonable measures, our nation is bankrupt.

Impotence is nature's way of saying "No hard feelings".

After reading the two paragraphs above, you can see the financial dilemma we face. There are no easy solutions to these problems. You will not see the federal government make meaningful cuts to benefits, not when 50% of the populace pays no taxes and more than 40 million people (and that number is growing) are receiving food stamps. And just raising taxes on "the rich" will not work. Most marginal tax rates are now 50%, and higher tax rates actually reduce revenue as income earners adjust their behavior to minimize taxes. Understand this: capital (money) will ALWAYS go to its highest and best use, and staying in a high tax country with wasteful government spending is not the best use of capital. This is why so many U.S. companies have chosen to invest in other countries that have a more favorable tax and spending structure. How are we as a nation going to pay our bills? Here is how: since 2008, the Federal Reserve has expanded our monetary base (read: printed money) from $800 billion to $3 trillion. TRILLION. Think the next time the bills come due, our country will exact the painful fiscal discipline necessary to begin to correct these problems? Neither do I. More dollars will be printed, and for all of us, we had better hope that our creditors continue to believe that our country is a sound financial bet.

I try not to let my mind wander. It is too small to be out by itself.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bruins Beat the Predators in a Shootout 4-3

The Nashville Predators fell to the Boston Bruins in a shootout 4-3 at the TD Garden, picking up a point to go to 70 points on the season.

Some observations about this contest...

Boston gave Nashville a dose of their own medicine, as they forechecked the Predators relentlessly throughout the game. The Bruins used their forecheck to disrupt the Predators offense all afternoon and control the puck throughout the contest. The Bruins offensive zone time was dominating, and it was reflected in the shots on goal, which favored the Bruins by a huge 41-22 margin.

The Bruins are an elite team, and the fact that the Predators kept competing and had a chance to win is heartening. The Bruins had a raucous crowd supporting their efforts, and they fed off that momentum. Yet the Predators kept fighting and clawing back. They showed flashes of playing excellent hockey. When they skated and controlled the puck, they forced the Bruins to try to match their speed, which was difficult for them to do.

Unfortunately for the Predators, their offensive effort was inconsistent. A good part of this was the play of a very good Bruins team. Another aspect was that the Predators did not handle the forecheck of the Bruins with efficiency. In the offensive zone, the Bruins used their size to win the majority of puck battles, short circuiting the Predators offensive flow.

Watching this game, and how the Predators struggled to handle the pressure from the Bruins, brought home the point that this team still needs players up front that have the grit and ability to handle a tight checking, physical game. This is the type of hockey this team will face in the playoffs, and this game was a good preview of what this team needs up front to go deep in the playoffs.

I was impressed with the play of several of the Predators. Brandon Yip played a gritty game and battled hard for the puck. Patric Hornqvist was his usual physical presence in front, working hard for position against a big and physical Bruin defense. Shea Weber was a force in the defensive zone and his goal to tie the game was an absolute rocket. Mike Fisher hustled all night, and his goal was a result of him never giving up on the puck or the play, and was a beauty of a backhand.

David Legwand continues to frustrate me with his play in the offensive zone. His puck handling abilities are second to none, but it almost appears that Leggy is afraid to shoot the puck. He almost invariably kills any offensive effort when the puck is in the zone by not shooting the puck and failing to distribute it to his wingers. To have over 20 minutes (20:12) of ice time and not record a single shot on net is both unacceptable and baffling beyond words.

Marty Erat and Colin Wilson both had one shot on goal. These are players that the Predators are counting on to generate offense and create chances. Their play in a tight checking, playoff like game, was invisible. These guys are going to face this type of effort in the playoffs, and their game is going to have to elevate for the Predators to make noise in the post season.

Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net. Without his solid play, the Predators would not have had a chance in this game. He was bombarded with shots throughout the game and made great save after great save. I really can't fault him for any of the goals he gave up as the Bruins made some great plays and the defense broke down in front of him. If Rinne is not in the Hart and Vezina consideration, it would be an injustice of epic proportions.

The Predators have gotten a taste of playoff hockey in their games against the Canucks and the Bruins. Both games have shown that the Predators have the components to win these types of games. These games have also shown that this team has to play with better intensity and focus to have a chance to win these types of contests. The roster does not have a skater that can take over a game, and because of that, this team has to play a total team game. They have shown this season that they can do that.

When they do not not, though, the onus of winning falls on the play of Rinne in net. That means that one mistake can mean the difference between winning and losing a critical game. That margin of error is too slim in the playoffs.

This game against the Bruins has given the Predators a good picture of where they are for the playoffs. to me, it is evident that they need that one piece up front that can play well and consistently in these types of games.

The February 27th trade deadline is going to be interesting.

My three stars:

1. Patrice Bergeron

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Patric Hornqvist

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

If you want to get an understanding of what is  wrong with Washington and why our country is in the fiscal mess we are in, consider this fact: even though our nation is facing gargantuan debts that are growing exponentially, 33 members of Congress earmarked $300 million for projects that benefited their own private property. Earmarks are special allocations in bills that direct public monies be spent on certain projects or programs. According to the Washington Post, 33 members of Congress directed money for projects within two miles of land they own. Here are a few examples: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) obtained a $900,000 earmark to resurface roads where he and his daughter own two homes; Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) secured $4.5 million for an interstate interchange that leads to his 104 acre farm; Rep. John Oliver (D-MA) got a $5.1 million earmark to rebuild a road that is 200 feet from his 15 acre home and several other properties he owns; Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA) secured a $6.3 million earmark to replenish a beach 900 feet from a cottage he owns on the ocean. The list goes on, but you get a flavor of the gross and wanton spending that our elected leaders engage in even in light of our country's perilous financial situation. Their imperious manner in handling the nation's purse is a big part of the problem that our country faces as we attempt to get our financial house in order. And their spending shows no sign of slowing down. In 2010, members of Congress enacted a record 11,230 earmarks totaling $32 BILLION. Remember that the next time an elected representative of either party says that YOUR taxes have to go up to pay for government.

I'm not fat. I'm just easy to see.

Remember the payroll tax cut that Congress extended for two more months just before Christmas? After much debate, the tax cut was extended after Congress finally agreed that it was good for the economy and would lead to more Americans being put to work. Here is what Congress hasn't told you about that cut: our elected leaders found a way to "pay" for the cut with a new fee on home buyers. That's right- with the housing industry in the midst of one of the biggest slumps ever, Congress has tacked on a .01 fee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, the type of loans that many home buyers obtain when purchasing their home. This fee will be imposed on most mortgages and refinancings over the next 10 years. On a $200,000 mortgage for 30 years, this amounts to almost $9,500. This fee is included in the interest rate that is assessed on these mortgages, and is expected to generate $35.7 billion in revenue to the government. Here is the kicker: this back door tax will not go into the Social Security fund, which is bankrupt, to replace the lost payroll tax. These monies are going into the general treasury, where Congress is free to spend the money any way they want to do so. Read the paragraph above if you think that Congress will spend this money wisely. Friends, it should be apparent to you that our elected leaders in Washington do not care about you, the citizens that pay the freight for this country. And it is time for us to do something about it.

I think it's bad luck to be superstitious.

This past week, the Obama administration proudly trumpeted the fact that unemployment had fallen to 8.3%. That sounds really positive until you consider this fact: a record 1.5 million Americans mysteriously left the work force. Where did they go? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that calculates the unemployment rate, they just "left" the work force. What? Here is the grim news: making these people magically leave the work force makes the unemployment number look better, but if you use the labor force rate (the number of people in the labor force) when President Obama took office, the nominal unemployment rate would be 11% today. It should be easy to see what is happening here. It is an election year, and the books are being cooked to make Obama look good. The fact is that our unemployment rate is unacceptably high. We know this intuitively- we all know friends, neighbors, or family members that are desperately seeking work, and not just a job, but work for which they are qualified. No amount of fudging the numbers is going to change the fact that our economy continues to be weak and is not creating jobs. Take the published numbers from the mainstream media and this administration (I repeat myself, I know) with a grain of salt.

I have always wondered why there are flotation devices under the seats of airplanes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have parachutes?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Senators Stymie the Predators 4-3

The Nashville Predators began a two game road trip by facing the Ottawa Senators in a game in which the Predators looked to get back to their winning ways. The Predators had dropped their previous game in a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks, while the Senators were looking to end a 7 game losing streak.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators while the Senators gave Craig Anderson a rest and went with Alex Auld.

Both teams bring speed to their game, and the first period was played with great pace. For the Predators, it was going to be critical that they contain Jason Spezza and his explosive offensive game and the speed of the Senators.

Well... Mr. Spezza made his presence felt early as he roofed a wrist shot from the slot over the shoulder of Rinne to give the Sens a 1-0 lead at 4:46 of the first period. The Predators were guilty during much of the first period of not being physical with the Senators, and Spezza was able to cruise down the slot unchallenged.

Rinne kept the Predators within one as the puck was turned over and a glorious scoring chance in the slot was gloved to thwart the scoring chance.

The Predators created some scoring chances, but were not able to put a puck past Auld until Rookie Gabriel Bourque cranked a wrist shot over the shoulder of Auld at 18:46 of the period. Bourque has brought a physical presence to the line up, and finding a scoring touch is welcome for the Predators. This was Bourque's second NHL goal.

Ottawa out shot Nashville 8-6 in the first period, and the Predators were going to have to tighten up their defense in the second period to slow down the Sens and limit their quality scoring chances.

The Predators did not open the second period the way they wanted, as Sergei Kostitsyn was called for holding, and with 12 seconds left in that penalty, Nick Spaling was called for tripping. The Predators managed to kill both penalties and had a good scoring chance shorthanded but could not convert.

Chris Phillips gave the Sens a 2-1 as he joined the rush and buried a wrist shot at 7:50 of the second period as Rinne had two Senators in front screening.

The Predators answered on the power play as Patric Hornqvist tipped a puck past Auld off a wrist shot from Marty Erat to tie the game at 2 at 12:40 of the second period.

The Predators took a penalty late in the period and although they won the face off in their zone, Nick Spaling had the pick pilfered off his stick and it pinballed off several players before Jason Spezza found the puck and banged it past Rinne at 18:55 of the second.

For the Predators, this game was becoming a frustrating affair as they made mistakes that kept the Senators ahead and the team continually having to fight their way back into the contest. Going into the third period and trailing 3-2, the Predators were going to have to once again claw back into another contest.

Ottawa out shot the Predators 12-11 in the second, but the difference was that the Predators did not finish their chances and they were allowing the Sens good opportunities on which they capitalized.

The third period saw the Predators stymied trying to generate offensive flow. The Sens forechecked well and thwarted the Predators in the neutral zone and did not allow the Predators to enter the zone with speed. Offensive chances were limited and the Predators could not get their offense in gear.

The Predators fell behind 4-2 as Chris Phillips knocked in a rebound on the power play. Once again, the Predators were making mistakes and the Sens were making them pay for their transgressions. Phillips tally came at 13:35 and was his second goal of the night and his second of the season.

The hole was deep, time was running out, and the Predators were making the Sens look like world beaters.

Not a formula for winning a hockey game.

The Predators pulled Rinne for the extra attacker with 1:30 to go in the game. Even with the extra attacker, the Predators failed to generate much offense. They finally cracked the scoreboard with 10 seconds to go as Marty Erat banged home the rebound of a Shea Weber slap shot in a scramble around the net to make it 4-3.

The Predators could not get off a shot in the final 10 seconds and lost 4-3. This was a disappointing loss for the Predators because they got outworked in the third period, took numerous penalties, and made mistakes that wound up in the back of their net. They even managed to make Chris Phillips look like a scoring machine.

Just not very good hockey by the boys tonight.

Not much else can be said about this effort and this game. Poor play is not something this team can overcome, and tonight's play was poor.

It's now time for the Predators to get back to playing Predator hockey. Focused, aggressive hockey. Limiting mistakes and playing with a purpose. Characteristics that were absent for most of this night.

My three stars:

1. Jason Spezza

2. Chris Phillips

3. Patric Hornqvist

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vancouver Slips Past the Predators in a Shootout 4-3

Two plays.

Two plays victimized the Predators in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the Bridgestone Arena. Two defensive breakdowns led to two quick first period goals by the Canucks en route to a 3-1 first period lead. The Predators fought back to force the shootout, but fell in the sixth round to the Canucks as the visitors won the shootout 2-1.

Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, and he gave up the first goal of the game with Vancouver on a power play. Ryan Kessler beat Rinne with a snap shot from just inside the face off circle at 11:42 of the first period. To this point in the game, the Predators had out shot the Canucks 9-3.

The Predators answered at 13:47 of the first as Colin Wilson took a pass from David Legwand and fired a wrist shot a Roberto Luongo. Bobby Lou let the puck slip between his arm and his body for the tying goal.

With the home crowd in full throat and momentum with the Predators, it appeared as if they had an opportunity to get control of the game.

That is when the first of two bad plays by the Predators occurred.

The Predators were caught in a bad line change and the Canucks capitalized. Byron Bitz scored off a feed from Henrik Sedin as he walked in on Rinne and beat him with a quick wrist shot. The Predators defensive coverage was not in position, and the Canucks made them pay for the mistake at 18:21.

Just 23 seconds later, Daniel Sedin split the defense of Kevin Klein and Roman Josi and buried a shot from the low slot to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead.

Two bad plays, two goals, and another hole for the Predators.

This is the Predators, however, a team that fears no deficit.

The Predators had mounted good pressure against Luongo and the Canucks defense in the first period, and they continued to pressure the Canucks in the second. Time to chip away and get back in the game.

That is exactly what they did just 4:14 into the second period. Kevin Klein took a shot from the blue line, and it hit the skate of Sergei Kostitsyn, who was cutting across the slot. The puck re-directed off the skate of Kostitsyn and past Luongo. After a brief review, the goal was called good by the replay officials and the Predators trailed 3-2.

The Predators would tie the game at 3 at 5:16 of the second as Shea Weber took a shot from the blue line that hit Mike Fisher and squirted between the pads of Luongo. As Luongo moved, the puck was deflected off his leg and trickled over the goal line.

The ability of the Predators to battle back from another deficit, especially against a great team like the Canucks was heartening. It just felt as if the Predators momentum would carry them to a goal that would give them the lead.

It was not to be as both goalies took over the game. Both Rinne and Luongo made some big saves in the remainder of the second period as well as the third period to keep the game knotted at 3. There were times where the Predators controlled the puck in the Vancouver zone and created some good chances, but could not solve Luongo.

The same held true for the Canucks, as they used their excellent cycling ability to control the puck and create some chances. Rinne was up to the task, and the game went to overtime.

In the overtime period, the Predators controlled the puck and had 3 shots on goal, while the Canucks managed 2. Neither team found the net. For the game, the Predators out shot the Canucks 40-31.

In the shootout, Rinne stopped Mason Raymond and Ryan Kessler before Alexander Burrows scored off a nice backhand move. Luongo stopped Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat missed the net. With the game on the line, David Legwand beat Luongo with a backhand to extend the shootout.

Rinne stoned Daniel Sedin and Cody Hodgson before Alex Edler beat him five hole. Luongo stopped Ryan Ellis and Mike Fisher.

With the game on the line, Colin Wilson beat Luongo with a backhand but the puck just went outside the far post, and the Canucks escaped with a 4-3 win.

Vancouver is one of the elite teams in the NHL, and for the Predators to battle back and force the shootout speaks volumes about their effort and their compete level. Two bad plays bit the Predators, and against an opponent the caliber of the Canucks, that can- and did- cost the game.

I especially was impressed with the play of Sergei Kostitsyn. He battled hard all night, hustled, and his effort on a back check prevented a very good scoring chance for the Canucks.

Although the Predators failed to put away the Canucks, there are positives to take away from this game. The ability to battle back against a quality opponent like the Canucks speaks volumes about the heart and character of this team. This team believes in themselves and in their ability to win every game. That is evident by the way they refused to wilt in the face of the Canucks pressure and their early lead.

Limit the mistakes, the bad plays, and the Predators will not have an opponent slip past them.

My three stars:

1. Byron Bitz

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Roberto Luongo

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Predators Leave St. Louis Blue


That is the Predators season record against the St. Louis Blues.

Looking at that record, one would think that the Predators have had an easy go of it against the Blues.

But as tonight's game at the Bridgestone Arena showed games against the Blues are anything but a cakewalk. War is the appropriate term.

The Predators prevailed over the Blues by a 3-1 margin in a contest that was end to end and complete with big hits, great goaltending from both netminders, and opportunistic scoring by both teams.

Pekka Rinne had the start in net for the Predators, while St. Louis went with Jaroslav Halak for the second contest in a row after his start the previous night against Los Angeles.

The contest opened with St. Louis controlling the puck and establishing territorial advantage. The Blues peppered Rinne with shots in the first 10 minutes of the contest, holding an 11-3 advantage. It was the Predators though that would capitalize first on one of their three shots.

David Perron was called for hooking at 6:28 of the first period. The Predators worked the puck down low, then rotated the puck out to the point to Marty Erat, who had rotated out for the pinching defenseman. Erat let a blast go from the blue line that beat Halak cleanly over his shoulder at 6:59. On the play, Patric Hornqvist flashed across the face of Halak as Erat fired the shot, and his screen was enough to take away the vision of Halak, who appeared not to see the shot.

As the period wore on, the Predators reversed the trend of the Blues territorial dominance and began to pour shots on the Blues goal. Their efforts were rewarded at 12:30 of first period as Sergei Kostitsyn worked hard behind the Blues net to control the puck. He found Mike Fisher at the side of the net, and Fisher popped a shot over the shoulder of Halak to give the Predators a 2-0 lead. For Fisher, this was his 6th goal in the past 5 games.

In the first period, the Blues out shot the Predators 16-14, but it was a tale of two halves in that period. The Blues controlled play early, and Rinne made some big saves to keep them off the board. The Predators controlled play in the final 10 minutes of the period, and were able to opportunistically capitalize on their chances.

The second period was scoreless, but not for lack of effort by the Predators. They dominated in this period, cranking 17 shots on net, while the Blues managed just 7. If not for great saves by Halak, the Predators could have easily blown this game wide open.

Everyone in the building knew the Blues would have a push in the third period, and they certainly did. They finally solved Rinne at 4:01 of the third when Chris Stewart picked the pocket of Roman Josi in the slot and fired a wrist shot that beat Rinne glove side to make it 2-1 Predators.

That goal energized the Blues, and they took control of the period. They had 20 shots on goal to just 6 for the Predators, and Rinne made some amazing saves to keep the Blues off the board. He stopped Kris Russell on two consecutive shots with some acrobatic saves. Rinne had to fend off numerous shots through traffic, and did a great job of tracking the puck with lots of bodies in front of him. For the night, Rinne had 41 saves.

As the clock wound down, the Blues pulled Halak for the extra attacker. The Predators were able to find the empty net as David Legwand and Sergei Kostitsyn came down on a 2 on 1 rush. Legwand slipped the puck to Kostitsyn, and he buried the shot to send the Blues and their fans in attendance home...well, blue.

This was a huge win for the Predators, as it allowed them to move one point in front of the Blues and back into second in the Central Division and 4th in the Western Conference. With this win, the Predators are 12-2-2 against Central Division opponents.

As this game vividly demonstrated, the remainder of the games on the schedule are going to be a war. St. Louis is a very good hockey team, and to beat a good hockey team, you have to bring your best effort. Tonight, The Predators won this game as a team, with a good team effort. Yes, there are some aspects of the game for the Predators that could improve, but the fact is that this team battled and competed hard, and that is what it takes to win these wars.

The wars will continue. Prepare to bring it, boys.

And leave your opponents blue.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Jaroslav Halak

3. Marty Erat

Friday, February 3, 2012

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Remember all the dire predictions about global warming, and how our everyday lives were creating a climatological catastrophe? According to "scientists" if we didn't destroy our standard of living and go back to living as we did hundreds of years ago, the earth's climate would eventually heat up to the point where we would all be cooked. Well guess what, ladies and gentlemen, the very same "scientists" that have said we are inexorably marching on toward unstoppable global warming have said that ...wait...what?...uh... new temperature data has revealed that the planet has actually COOLED over the past 15 years, not gotten hotter. According to readings from over 30,000 measuring stations, the London's University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit confirms that the last year for an increase in global temperature was in 1997. Yes, this is the same University of East Anglia whose data was so famously touted by Al Gore and other green shills to "prove" that the planet was overheating. Yes, this is the same University of East Anglia whose climatological researchers were caught falsifying data to make their case for global warming. And yes, this is the same University of East Anglia that stood to reap millions in research grants to continue to research "global warming". In fact, the recently released data reinforce what many mainstream scientists have said for years: the earth's temperature is more dramatically influenced by solar activity than the level of man made CO2. It's always important to remember the View's Prime Directive- Follow the Money- to really understand what is happening. The global warming scam made hucksters like Al Gore and others a lot of money. Next time someone declares a "crisis" and it will cost you money to solve, find out who is going to benefit. Always follow the money.

My wife will buy anything that is marked down. Last week, she bought an escalator.

The Obama administration has spent billions of our taxpayers dollars to jump start the "green energy" industry. This has been in the form of loans, grants, tax credits, and other incentives. With the high level of government backing, all these "green energy" companies should be running along spectacularly well, doncha think? Well, let's see how they are doing, shall we. Perhaps the highest profile of the green companies to fail was Solyndra, a fiasco that cost the taxpayer- you and me- over $500 BILLION dollars, while benefiting investors with heavy ties to the Democratic Party. How about Beacon Power, which was trying to create industrial sized batteries to back up green energy power generators (these types of batteries are needed because green energy production is so unreliable)? Beacon filed bankruptcy, leaving the government on the hook for a $39 million loan guarantee. Last week Ener1 filed for bankruptcy protection. Ener1 makes lithium batteries for electric cars. Ener1 received $130 million in stimulus funds and a $480 million loan from the Department of Energy. The company promised to deliver 1400 jobs to their plant in Indiana, but actually created 275 jobs. You may recall that a year ago, Vice President Joe Biden said at an event celebrating Ener1,
"This administration made a judgement. We decided it's not sufficient to create new jobs, we have to create whole new industries." 
That's a fun game to play when you are using other people's money, Joe, but the reality is that the marketplace decided it didn't need the green energy industry with its unreliability and higher cost. And no matter how much money this administration throws down this rat hole, that fact will not change.

My wife and I recently stayed in a hotel that had a water bed. Or as I like to refer to it: the Dead Sea.

All of you are aware that the venal and mendacious Warren Buffett says that millionaires like himself should be taxed more. Readers of this blog also know that Buffett has established three foundations and funded them with the maximum allowable amount of Berkshire Hathaway stock and placed his children at the head of each of these foundations. All perfectly legal, and a nice way to insure they get a handsome income as long as these foundations are running. You may also recall that Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway holding company have been fighting a federal tax bill for 10 years. Sounds like the call for millionaires to pay more taxes may have just been a political ploy designed to ingratiate Buffett with the current administration. Why do I think this? Last week, President Obama stonewalled the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would deliver 590,000 barrels of oil daily from Canada to refineries on the U.S. gulf coast. Obama's delaying tactics, while costly to the you and I as consumers, do have one distinct beneficiary. Wanna guess who it is? If you said Warren Buffett, you are a winner (not to mention ahead of the all the population that gets its news from the main stream media). Denying the construction of the pipeline means that oil produced in Western Canada now must travel to U.S. refineries via railway. One of the largest railways in the U.S. is the privately held Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line owned by... you guessed it, Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. Other rail lines will benefit as well, but one has to think this was a sop thrown out to Buffett by this administration for being the front man for higher taxes. And Burlington Northern stands to make a lot of money hauling crude oil that could be more economically transported through a pipeline. Remember, friends, ALWAYS follow the money.

My wife and I always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flyers Flummox the Predators 4-1

The Nashville Predators hoped to have a February campaign that was as good as their January effort, where the team went 11-2. They faced a tall order in the form of the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Predators gave Pekka Rinne a rare night off and started Anders Lindback in net, while the Flyers went with their starter, Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Predators were attempting to sweep their two game series with the Flyers after capturing a 4-2 decision in Nashville just 19 days ago.

The first period was a track meet with both teams moving the puck up and down the ice and creating some chances.. Nashville had the better of the first period in shots with a 12-6 advantage, but it was the Flyers that found the back of the net first. Wayne Simmonds took the puck off the boards and worked to the high slot against Ryan Suter. Simmonds spun quickly around Suter and let a backhand shot go that beat a screened Lindback for the only score of the period at 15:41.

In the second period, the Predators had to kill off 1:34 of a Flyers two man advantage as Gabriel Bourque was in the box serving a too many men on the ice bench minor and Ryan Suter was called for delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass. The Predators PK unit came up big and managed to kill the penalty.

Just as Suter's penalty was about to expire, a melee broke out in front of Lindback, and after the resulting penalties were meted out, the Predators had a power play. As was the trend in this game, the Flyers managed to kill off the penalty. Through two periods, the Predators power play was 0-4 as the Flyers penalty killers did a very good job of thwarting the Predators effort.

Shortly after the Predators power play had expired, Matt Read stole the puck from Kevin Klein at the Flyers blue line and drove in on Lindback. His snap shot from the face off circle beat Lindback cleanly to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 14:32 of the second period.

The first 40 minutes of this contest saw the Predators power play become ineffective, and more troubling was the fact that the Predators only managed 4 shots on goal in the second period. Obviously, the offensive effort by the Predators was going to have to improve significantly if they were going to get back in this game.

The third period saw the Predators skating hard and controlling the puck and creating scoring chances. This was the way they were going to have to play to get back in this game.

Their efforts were rewarded at 8:36 of the third period as Craig Smith found a pinching Ryan Suter just inside the face off circle and Suter's quick wrist shot beat Bryzgalov to make the score 2-1 and give the Predators new life in this game. Matt Halischuk started the play by keeping control of the puck down low, and once again, the Predators were getting production from the young guys on the roster.

The Predators continued to move their feet and put pressure on the Flyers. They were generating some good scoring chances, but needed to bury a shot.

The Predators short circuited their momentum when Jerred Smithson was called for interference. The Flyers tallied a power play goal as Wayne Simmonds gathered in a rebound of a Claude Giroux shot at the top of the crease and hammered home the puck to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead at 15:19 of the third period.

With Lindback pulled for the extra attacker, Claude Giroux potted an empty net goal at 1:55 to give the Flyers a 4-1 lead and the game.

While the Predators failed to win this game, I did like their compete level in the third period. They skated hard and created some quality scoring chances, but could not bury the game tying goal. Shots were 11-11 in the third period, but the Predators forecheck created some good opportunities. Finishing their chances was the missing element for the Predators.

So for the Predators, it is time to get back on the horse and start another winning streak. That begins Saturday at home against St. Louis.

My three stars:

1. Wayne Simmonds

2. Ilya Bryzgalov

3. Craig Smith