Monday, December 30, 2013

Wilson, Fisher Lead Predators to Win Over the Wings

The Nashville Predators have discovered the key to almost guaranteeing a win.

Score first.

They did just that, scoring on their first shot of the game to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 in a wild contest at Bridgestone Arena. When scoring first, the Predators are 15-1-2.

The Predators swept the season series with their former division rivals.

Colin Wilson scored on a shot from the high slot that beat Wings netminder Jimmy Howard to the glove side at 1:54 of the first period.

The Wings answered at 3:00 of the period as Justin Abdelkader walked out from behind of the net and lifted a backhand over the shoulder of Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec.

Craig Smith gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 9:50 of the first period as he carried the puck into the zone on a 3 on 2 break. Smith fired a wicked wrist shot that beat Howard short side.

Nick Spaling tallied at 4:24 of the second period to make it 3-1 for the Predators. He wired a shot from the face off circle over the glove of Howard off a rush.

Going into the third period, everyone in the building knew that the Wings would make a run. They started that run just 35 seconds into the period as Pavel Datsyuk blistered a one timer past Mazanec to make the score 3-2.

Mike Fisher answered that goal at 5:50 of the third as Wilson carried the puck around the back of the net and found Fisher alone at the side of the net. Fisher buried the puck into the open net to make it 4-2.

Kyle Quincey scored at 11:30 of the third to make it 4-3, and was this the start of the Wings run to get back in the game?


Colin Wilson scored just 37 seconds later to make it 5-3 and seize momentum back from the Wings.

The Wings were not done, though. With the wings on a power play, Patrick Eaves gathered in a rebound on the off side of the defense and fired the puck into the open net to make it 5-4 at 14:52.

With Howard off for an extra attacker and the Predators on a power play, Roman Josi buried an empty net goal to make it 6-4 at 19:41 and secure the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Punch and counter punch. The Predators struck first and built a lead and made the wings play catch up all night. More importantly, the Predators did not let the Wings seize the momentum and control of the game. They answered every challenge and push back from the Wings. This is an aspect of the Predators game that had been lacking during some of their losing skids, and it was good to see the response by the Predators.

  • Kinda nice to see a score on the first shot of the game. By the Predators.

  • Mike Fisher has been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Predators. He is playing with good jump and confidence and has been going hard to the net. His offensive production is certainly welcome- he has 6 points in his last two games- but his effort and his grit are leading the team. He continues to play a controlled physical game, and tonight refused to take the crap that Abdelkader was trying dish out, responding by dropping the gloves. Fisher is showing that he is a leader by his level of play, and now it appears that the team is following his example.

  • Jimmy Howard was making his first start in three weeks since spraining his knee. The Predators did what they needed to do by putting pressure on Howard by bringing traffic to the net and firing 29 shots on goal.

  • Colin Wilson played a solid game and was strong on the puck. He had 6 shots that resulted in two goals and was a +2 on the night. Hopefully this gets his game going consistently.

  • Seth Jones picked up 2 assists and was a +3 in 16:36 of ice time. Jones is starting to play more minutes and is getting his game going after a bit of a lull.

  • Mattias Ekholm has been quietly efficient. he had 15 minutes of ice time and also was a +3.
This was a solid win by the Predators. Esthetically, it wasn't pretty, but from a heart and character standpoint, it was beautiful.

Now the Predators need to play this way consistently.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Mike Fisher

3. Seth Jones

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Predators Snap Losing Streak, Defeat Kings 3-2

The Nashville Predators faced the Los Angeles Kings in the throes of a 5 game losing streak. Ending that streak, even at home at Bridgestone Arena, was going to be a tough task against  a talented Kings squad that sits currently third in the Western Conference standings.

The Predators did the improbable, defeating the Kings 3-2 in a spirited and scrappy affair. Mike Fisher tallied two goals, including the game winner with 26 seconds left to stop a five game losing skid.

The Predators opened the scoring at 14:42 of the first period as Mike Fisher's shot was kicked off the pads by Kings goalie Ben Scrivens. Patric Hornqvist, stationed in his customary spot just outside the crease was able to backhand the puck past Scrivens for a 1-0 Predators lead. This was Hornqvist's first goal in six games.

The Kings tied the game at 7:05 of the second period on the power play as Anze Kopitar took a shot from the face off circle that beat Predators netminder Marek Mazanec to the far post.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead at 16:42 of the third period. With the Predators on the power play, the Kings dumped the puck out of the zone, but it was quickly gathered in the neutral zone by Hornqvist, who got the puck to Fisher. The Kings went for a line change on the clear, but since the puck did not get deep, Fisher was able to gain the zone and drive unimpeded into the high slot. his slap shot beat Scrivens five hole for the goal.

With Scrivens off for the extra attacker, Jeff Carter blasted a shot from the point past Mazanec to tie the game with 36 seconds left in regulation.

On the ensuing faceoff, the Predators got the puck into the zone. Colin Wilson got a shot on net that Scrivens could not control. Fisher drove the net and was able to just slide the rebound over the goal line with 26 seconds left.

The Predators were able to keep the Kings from getting a quality scoring chance in the final seconds, and the miserable five game funk was finally over.

Some observations:

  • The Kings are talented, but they are also big and physical. The Predators were able to match the physical play of the Kings which went a long way to helping secure this win.
  • The Predators stepped up their play in the third period with the game in the balance. They out shot the Kings 15-0 and did a much better job of puck possession and controlling the play. This kind of effort, especially in the third period of the five previous losses, had been absent. It was good to see this response from the Predators.
  • Seth Jones played some solid minutes tonight, and more than doubled his ice time compared to recent games. Tonight, he had 19:08 of ice time and picked up two assists.
  • Fisher has been playing some good, aggressive hockey, even during this losing streak. Tonight, it was good to see his effort and hustle rewarded with some goals. Fisher logged some tough minutes and led all forwards with 21:58 of ice time.
  • David Legwand, Gabriel Bourque, Matt Hendricks, and Nick Spaling were the only Predator forwards not to record a shot on goal. These guys, Legwand and Bourque in particular, have to be more productive offensively. 
  • Matt Cullen played a strong game. he is creative offensively, strong on the puck, and won 6 of 7 faceoffs.
  • Mazanec made some good saves tonight, and stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced. The shot by Carter to tie the game was a blast, but it was an unscreened shot that Mazanec has to stop. This was the best effort by a Predators netminder in a while, and hopefully it gives mazanec some confidence going forward.
The Predators won by out working the Kings in the third period.

They have to continue to bring this kind of work ethic if they are going to string together some wins.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. marek mazanec

Friday, December 27, 2013

Predators Downward Spiral Continues in Loss to the Stars

The first game after the Christmas break saw the Nashville Predators travel to the American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Stars. The Predators were attempting to become more Grinch like, especially in the first period, taking away scoring chances and limiting goals. In the prior four games, the Predators had been outscored 10-1 in the first period, and if they were going to get back into the win column, the Predators had to have a much better start.

The Predators apparently were still in the giving spirit as Jamie Benn scored on a wrap around just 42 seconds into the game. Carter Hutton was out of position as Benn drove the right side of the net and used his speed to get to the open side before Hutton could react.

Once again, the Predators had given up a goal on the first shot of the game.

The Predators got shots on net but could not get to rebounds when Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen gave up rebounds. Lehtonen was not called upon to make difficult saves off the Predators offensive efforts.

The Stars were awarded a penalty shot at 16:35 of the first period as Victor Bartley hauled down Antoine Roussel, but fortunately for the Predators, Roussel missed the net with his shot.

The Predators out shot the Stars 9-7 in the first period.

The Predators opened the second period by giving the Stars several odd man rushes, and Hutton was called upon to make some big saves to keep the Stars off the board.

The Predators tied the game at 1 at 7:14 of the second period as Colin Wilson controlled the puck behind the net. he worked out to the side and found Kevin Klein sneaking in alone on the weak side and Klein buried the shot to get the Predators even.

The Predators showed their disturbing tendency to give up a goal shortly after they score as they gave up a goal just 24 seconds later. Eric Cole blasted a shot past Hutton from the face off circle at 7:38 to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.

The Predators have shown they cannot keep their opponents off the board after they score, destroying the momentum they had just seized.

Eric Cole made it 3-1 at 14:04 as he took a pass from Alex Goligoski and got behind the Predators defense for a breakaway. Cole made a nice stop move and faked Hutton down to the ice and lifted a backhand into the open net.

The Predators had several scoring opportunities in the remainder of the period but could not finish their chances.

The Stars out shot the Predators 16-11 in the second period.

The Stars opened the third period attacking the Predators net and kept the Predators on their heels. After killing off a power play, the Predators remained hemmed in their end of the ice and the stars made them pay at 4:09 as Ryan Garbutt re-directed a shot from the point by Cody Eakin past Hutton to make it 4-1.

This game had been over for a while. Now it was just a matter of how bad it would be for the Predators.

Fortunately for the Predators, they held the Stars off the board for the remainder of the game. Unfortunately, the Predators did not come close to scoring either.

Some observations:

  • The inability of the Predators to carry the puck into the offensive zone is killing the offensive effort. More often than not, the Predators are dumping the puck in and chasing, and right now, they are losing those races to the puck. If the Predators cannot carry the puck into the zone, their weak offense is virtually non-existent. Unfortunately, this is where the Predators are right now.

  • That inability to carry the puck means that opponents are able to effectively forecheck the Predators. This results in numerous turnovers and the inability to get the puck cleanly through the neutral zone. Once again, the way this team is built, it doesn't appear that this is going to change this season.

  • The Predators are going to have to live with average at best goaltending. Neither Hutton nor Mazanec have shown the ability to consistently put together a run of solid games. Again, this goes back to a strategic decision made by David Poile in the off season that is biting the Predators in the butt right now.

  • Victor Bartley was inserted back into the line up after being a healthy scratch for the last three games, and he had a miserable night, going -3 for the evening. He was caught flat footed on Cole's second goal resulting in the breakaway.

  • This team is working hard, but. to quote Shakespeare in Macbeth, "it is sound and fury, signifying nothing." The hard work pales in head to head competition with teams that have a better quality of NHL player. The teams in the West that have separated themselves from the pack are teams with elite offensive players that can score and solid defense and goaltending. First and foremost, the Predators lack elite offensive players that can score. The defense is shaky, and the goaltending is worse. Yes, you want hard work. No team is going to succeed with a strong work ethic. But there has to be talent to go along with that work ethic. That is what this team lacks, and it is going to make for a long and painful season.
It is not going to get any easier nor will it be any fun.

The Predators are reduced to working hard and hoping for the best.

My three stars:

1. Eric Cole

2. Alex Goligoski

3. Kari Lehtonen

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

As 2013 draws to close, it is easy for many- most- to feel our country is heading in the wrong direction. From economic malaise to a lurch toward a more controlling and socialist government, this year has been forgettable. The dysfunction and ineptitude of our elected leaders has contributed to and compounded the problems that we face as a nation.

Our partisan divides have our elected leaders- and us- often yelling at each other. Rather than seek the common good, "what's in it for us" is often our guiding principal. As such, the common weal is neglected and suffers.

This negative backdrop could cause most of us to throw up our hands and withdraw.

And that would be the wrong response.

Instead, it is critical that as we enter 2014, we become more involved and engaged. It is important that we never lose sight of the fact that our elected leaders are accountable to us.

They work for us. And it is time that they started working for us, rather than their own interests and re-election prospects.

We must be armed with facts. And the most salient fact is that we as a nation are on course for a financial disaster if we do not begin to change our ways.

Consider this:


The mind boggles at the enormous numbers that we hear when it comes tour nation's financial situation. The picture above presents our country's financial situation in more understandable and human terms.
Looking at this, we quickly realize that if this was our family, this situation could not continue for long before we are faced with bankruptcy. The credit card that the family uses to finance their deficit spending is comparable to our nation's printing press. Printing more dollars is our federal credit card. And like some families abuse credit cards, our country has abused the power to print money.
The long term implications of this, just like it would be for any family, is disastrous and dangerous. Debasing our currency by printing more dollars will ultimately lead to inflation and loss of purchasing power for you and me. Just like high credit card balances require higher interest payments, our ballooning federal debt is requiring more spending to service the debt. And can you imagine what that debt service will be when interest rates rise? Painful doesn't begin to describe it.
The facts of our fiscal situation are non-partisan. Our dire financial condition affects us all. Liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, we will all feel the effects of our situation.
Our current situation is not desperate- yet. But it is dangerous.
So as we enter 2014 all of us face a challenge that will determine our financial and national future. 
We can retreat and take whatever Washington dishes out. Doing that will not be good for any of us.
Or we can engage and fight the good fight. We can demand that Washington rein in its profligate spending and begin to make tough decisions. These decisions will be hard ones. They will not be easy or even politically expedient.
But they will be the right ones for the country.
So be of good cheer, dear readers. The fight is on.
One that will determine our future and the future of our country.
And that, my friends, is my view.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bruins Blast the Hapless Predators 6-2

The Boston Bruins visited the Bridgestone Arena to face the Nashville Predators in the last game before the Christmas break. The Predators were certainly in the holiday spirit, giving the Bruins the opportunity to score early and often.

The Predators even went as far to make the visitors welcome as letting them score on the first shot of the game.

Once again, the Predators dug a 3-0 hole in the first period, but this time they could not climb out. Cutting the deficit to 3-2 in the second period on Craig Smith's second goal of the game, the Predators proceeded to take to consecutive penalties and gave up a 5 on 3 power play.

It was never close after that.

You can read the carnage, uh, box score here.

The final was 6-2 for the visiting Bruins.

Some observations:

  • I will make a point I made several weeks ago: the status of Pekka Rinne was uncertain entering this season. GM David Poile made a decision not to go with an experienced back up, instead going with AHL netminder Carter Hutton. This strategy would have worked if Rinne could have played 65-70 games. We all know that didn't happen, and now with back ups like Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas off the market, the Predators are left with two AHL caliber netminders. While both Hutton and Marek Mazanec have played well in brief stretches, the fact is that they are no ready to carry a full NHL workload. This has been reflected in their erratic play. This is a strategic gamble taken by Poile that has backfired, and it is costing the team.

  • The lack of elite forwards obviously hurts the Predators in scoring, but the inability of the forwards to carry the puck into the offensive zone is killing this team. Playing a dump and chase game is predicated on winning the chase and this team is not doing that. Is it effort or lack of talent? A combination of both. The Predators cannot make a clean entry into the offensive zone with this group of forwards, and too often, they lose puck battles and cannot retrieve the puck. The effort expended just to get into the offensive zone limits the production of the forwards. Tonight, the Bruins forced the Predators to work extremely hard just to get into the zone and more often than not were able to quickly clear the zone, forcing the Predators to chase down the puck and try to establish a zone presence.

  • As constructed, the potential of this team to change their fortunes is virtually non-existent. The ability to control the puck in the offensive zone is limited, and the number of consistent scoring threats on this team is scarce.

  • That said, I do like the effort of Craig Smith. He notched two goals tonight and has been playing some good hockey. Smith has the skill set to be elite, but he needs to be consistent.

  • How do we keep taking too many men on the ice penalties? This lead to a Boston power play goal tonight, and I find it incredible that at this stage of the season we are still making these mental errors.
The Predators are an average hockey team playing bad hockey.

This is a formula for a losing streak.

The Predators are proving that formula.

My three stars:

1. Carl Soderberg

2. Craig Smith

3. Reilly Smith

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Predators Slow Start Costs Them In OT Loss to the Habs

The Nashville Predators stumbled out of the gate at the Bridgestone Arena, falling behind 3-0 in the first period to the Montreal Canadiens and looking as if they were going to be embarrassed in front of the home crowd.

After waiting 20 minutes to begin playing hockey, the Predators clawed their way back into the contest, tying the game at 3 and forcing overtime.

How did we get there?

It was all Habs in the first period. P.K. Subban got loose in the high slot and blistered a shot past Marek Mazanec to make it 1-0 at 11:30 of the first period.

Max Pacioretty drove around Kevin Klein like he was anchored to the ice and beat Mazanec with a backhand at 13:20.

Tomas Plekanec re-directed a Brain Gionta shot at 14:37 to make it 3-0 Habs.

The Predators had given up only 5 shots to this point in the game. The problem was that the Canadiens had scored on 3 of those shots. That meant that Mazanec was done and Carter Hutton entered the game.

Hutton was solid in regulation, stopping all 17 shots he faced.

The Predators began to work and skate in the second period, and their efforts were rewarded as Gabriel Bourque to a pass from Matt Cullen and roofed a shot over Canadiens netminder Carey Price to make it 3-1 at 11:51 of the second.

Nick Spaling tallied on the power play at 18:09 of the second. Spaling was alone at the side of the net when he re-directed a slap pass from Shea Weber.

In the third period, the Predators tied the game at 3 on the power play as Shea Weber snuck into the low slot. Mike Fisher found him with a nice pass through the box and Weber buried a quick wrist shot at 13:40 of the third period.

The effort by the Predators over the final two periods of regulation was solid. They out shot the Canadiens 26-14, including a 20-6 shot advantage in the second period.

That effort was for naught, however, as in overtime Mattias Ekholm had the puck stripped away from him by David Desharnais in the defensive zone. Desharnais blew a shot from the face off circle past Hutton for the game winning goal on the Habs only shot in over time for the 4-3 victory.

Some observations:

  • Brutal. That is the only way to describe the outing by Mazanec. While the re-directed shot by Plekanec was unstoppable, Mazanec has to make the save on the first two goals he allowed. The stoppable goals that are allowed makes the hill that much steeper for this team, and the play of both Mazanec and Hutton has to be more consistent.

  • Brutal, part II. Ekholm cannot turn the puck over in the defensive zone. Desharnais is quick, but Ekholm just needed to use the boards and clear the puck out of the zone. He was guilty of over handling the puck, and it cost the team.

  • Seth Jones took a puck to the side of his face in the second period. A hard shot from the point hit a stick and ramped up and caught Jones. This didn't look good at all and he did not return to the game.

  • The power play has started to become more productive. There is more movement and players are getting into better shooting position. The power play needs to continue to score goals for the Predators to have success.

  • Five on five is another story. The Predators had some good scoring chances and could not finish. In the first period, Viktor Stalberg hit the post twice. Often, Predator forwards had good scoring chances and shot the puck into the logo on Price's sweater.

  • I liked the play of Viktor Stalberg. As mentioned, he created some scoring opportunities and hit the post twice. He showed good jump and puck possession all night. Say it with me... he has to finish.

  • The Predators are not good enough to take a period off. Coming out and playing poorly in the opening period created a huge hole from which the team had to overcome. This team has to play a full 60 minutes or more often than not, they will wind up on the short end of the score.
The Predators continue to struggle to find consistency. After winning three straight, they have now dropped three straight.

Realistically, this is a team that will not make the playoffs. Their goal now should be to improve their play in all phases of the game.

And try to be consistently better.

My three stars:

1. David Desharnais

2. Shea Weber

3. Carey Price

Friday, December 20, 2013

My View

The city of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago was non-descript, actually more of a village than a city. Sitting approximately six miles south of Jerusalem, one did not make the trek to the City of David unless necessary. It was a town inhabited mostly by olive growers and sheep herders, neither of which were high in the social caste of the time.

Into that generally ignored village came a scared young girl, late in her pregnancy, and her bewildered yet loyal husband. Commanded by the occupying Romans, they had traveled to their home city to participate in the census initiated by the monarch Herod.

Once in the city, they desperately tried to find accommodations. The small town, overflowing with people making a pilgrimage back to their birthplace, had no rooms available. Everywhere the young couple looked and pleadingly sought refuge, they were turned away.

Finally, in desperation, they encamped in a manger. Really, it wasn't a barn like you and I might think, but was a cold and damp grotto, a small cave used to shelter and feed livestock. There, among the smell of manure and the crowding of the animals, the young couple bedded down.

Now the time came when the baby was delivered there in the damp, smelly, cold confines of this cave. Wrapped in cloths and laid in a feed trough, the exhausted young parents marveled at the miracle of life, a miracle that had occurred irrespective of their location, circumstances, and station in life.

Their expectation, their hope of a child was fulfilled.

And that is the message of Christmas.

Into less than ideal circumstances was born a Savior.

Into a dark and smelly cave, the manger, the light of the world pierced the darkness and brought hope.

The message of Christmas is not stuff, the getting and giving of gifts and the hectic schedules jammed with parties and holiday events.

The message of Christmas is that regardless of our circumstances, there is a hope that is waiting to be fulfilled. It is a hope that is not dependent on status, where we work or live, or who we know.

The fulfillment of the Hope of the world occurred in the most improbable of circumstances.

We often look at our life and our current situation and feel...well, hopeless.

Christmas tells us that no matter how desperate, no matter how improbable, no matter how out of line with the expectations of society, there is hope, that we are noticed and loved by a God that sent His son into the world to bring hope to all.

May this Christmas rekindle the hope in all of us for a renewed perspective on our life and our world.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Predators Sloppy Play Leads to Loss to the Lightning

The Nashville Predators took to the road to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning looking to get back in the win column. The Predators needed a solid start to gain momentum and take the home crowd out of the game. The Lightning had lost only 3 times on home ice and the Predators could not afford to fall behind early.

The Lightning thwarted that goal just 2:25 into the game as Alex Killorn carried the puck into the offensive zone and eluded Nick Spaling, who had fallen on the play. The defense did not pick up Killorn and he used Seth Jones to screen Carter Hutton and beat him with a quick wrist shot to make it 1-0.

The Lightning more jump and speed than the Predators and controlled play though most of the first period. The Predators finally got their legs going and began to challenge the Lightning but could not find the back of the net.

The Lightning extended their lead to 2-0 at 19:06 of the first period on the power play. Marty St. Louis was alone in the high slot and unleashed a rocket that deflected off the stick of Mike Fisher and over the shoulder of Hutton.

This was not the start the Predators needed as they spent most of the period chasing the Lightning. Hutton was forced to make some big saves to keep the Lightning off the board, including a point blank shot from St. Louis who was alone in front of the net after a turnover in the defensive zone.

Shots were 11-8 for the Lightning.

The Predators got on the board at 6:36 of the second period just as a Predators power play had just ended. Matt Cullen took a shot from the face off circle that was kicked out into traffic by the skate of Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. Craig Smith gathered in the rebound and fired the puck past Lindback to the glove side for his 7th goal of the year.

The Lightning answered the Predators score at 8:27 of the second as Valtteri Filppula found Teddy Purcell with a cross ice pass. Purcell's shot beat Hutton five hole to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead. The goal was set up by the speed of the Lightning into the Predators zone. If the Predators could not find a way to slow down the rush of the Lightning, this would be a long night.

The Predators tallied again on the power play as Matt Cullen found Craig Smith in the low slot with a backhand pass from behind the net. Smith popped a quick wrist shot past Lindback to make it 3-2 at 13:02.

The Predators allowed the Lightning to regain a 2 goal lead just 49 seconds later as Richard Panik deflected a Eric Brewer shot under the arm of Hutton to make it 4-2.

Hutton had given up 4 goals on 14 shots and that would be it for his night as Marek Mazanec came to tend goal.

The second period would end with the Lightning leading 4-2 and the Predators unable to keep the Bolts off the board when they drew close.

The Predators had a better offensive effort in the second period and out shot the Lightning 13-7.

Needing an energetic third period to get back into the game, the Predators came out flat. The Lightning once again used their speed to control the play and keep the puck from the Predators. Through the first 13 minutes of the period, the Lightning out shot the Predators 12-3 as the Preds offensive effort was non-existent.

The Predators pulled Mazanec with 2:43 remaining in the game for the extra attacker but struggled to get shots on net as the Lightning defenders swarmed the Predators in the offensive zone. The Predators could not capitalize with the man advantage and dropped their second game in a row by a 4-2 margin.

Some observations:

  • The Predators scratched Colin Wilson tonight. No word if he is injured or ill.

  • The Lightning welcomed back towering defenseman Victor Hedman, who had missed 6 games due to injury, and he played a strong game. He made several outlet passes that set up scoring chances for the Lightning.

  • The Predators took most of the first period to get their game going. By then, they were down two goals. The second period was a strong period by the Predators, but there was no response in the third period. The Predators looked a step slow during these lapses and the Lightning used their speed to exploit the Predators, setting up some good scoring chances. This team is not good enough to take time off during a game and have a chance to win.

  • Hutton did not look sharp on the goals allowed. he got pieces of most of the shots, but the Lightning were able to beat him five hole and under the arm on 3 of the 4 goals he allowed.

  • Craig Smith had a strong game. he has great hands and the ability to handle the puck in traffic. His goals tonight were evidence of that skill set. He has great chemistry with Matt Cullen, and I hope that we don't see Smith as a healthy scratch any time soon. This team desperately needs offense, and he needs to be in the line up.

  • Mazanec looked good in relief, stopping 19 shots.
This was a sloppy effort by the Predators. Especially disappointing was the inability to keep the Lightning off the board when the Predators cut the lead to one goal. This is a matter of discipline and focus.

And it has to improve.

My three stars:

1. Alex Killorn

2. Craig Smith

3. Anders Lindback

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hawks Power Play the Difference in 3-1 Win Over the Predators

When you are facing one of the most potent power play units in the NHL, it is not wise to put them on the ice very often.

The Nashville Predators did just that and were burned for two power play goals by the Chicago Blackhawks in a 3-1 Chicago victory at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators and goaltender Carter Hutton had their 3  game win streak snapped.

The Hawks scored on their first shot of the game as Duncan Keith fired a shot from the point that got through Hutton on the stick side and trickled over the goal line at 1:29 of the first period.

The Predators answered back at 3:03 of the first on the power play as Shea Weber blasted a puck from the top of the face off circle past Antti Raanta to tie the game at 1.

Patrick Kane made it 2-1 with a beautiful goal, lifting a backhand over the shoulder of Hutton into a tight space in the top corner. The goal came at 16:14 of the first period and with the Hawks on the power play with Colin Wilson in the box for holding.

The Predators had a great first period. They swarmed the net and fired 17 shots on Raanta, who made some good saves to keep the Predators off the board.

Unfortunately, the first period was where the solid effort by the Predators ended.

The Hawks out shot the Predators 8-4 in the second period and got a Nick Leddy power play goal at 11:33 as he banged home a big rebound kicked out to the weak side by Hutton.

That was all the scoring that the Hawks would need as they shut down the Predators for the remainder of the game. The Predators could muster only 7 shots in the third period to 9 for Chicago.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were 1 for 5 on the power play, including 3:23 of power play time because of a double minor for high sticking. The power play was... not good. The Predators had difficulty entering the zone and once in the zone, controlling the puck. The lack of movement by the power play unit makes it easy to defend. Until this unit can improve and become more effective and dangerous, the Predators will continue to struggle.

  • The Predators gave the Hawks 5 power plays, and they capitalized on 2 of them and this was the difference in the game. The Predators were called for too many men on the ice twice, which is hard to understand.

  • The lack of elite puck movers in the forward ranks plagued the Predators on the power play and at even strength as the game wore on. The Hawks were able to thwart the Predators entry into the zone and were able to disrupt the offensive effort in the zone. This continues to be a problem for the Predators against tight checking teams.

  • I may be in the minority, but my view is that David Legwand has become an offensive liability. He lacks creativity with the puck and has become prone to numerous turnovers. He is not hard on the puck and kills the flow of his line.

  • I don't fault Hutton on the two power play goals that he gave up, but he cannot give up that first goal, a puck that went through him for the score. Hutton made some good saves tonight and kept his team in the game, but the soft goal on the first shot seemed to take some steam out of the Predators.
Obviously, the Hawks are a great team. The effort tonight was good, but to be a great team, the effort has to be exceptional.

That was not the case.

The Predators have an opportunity to get back in the win column Thursday night on the road in Tampa Bay.

My three stars:

1. Duncan Keith

2. Patrick Kane

3. Shea Weber

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Predators Extend Win Streak, Defeat the Sharks 3-2

The Nashville Predators looked to continue their win streak, but faced quite a task with the San Jose Sharks visiting Bridgestone Arena. The Sharks are one of the better teams in the NHL, while the Predators are just above .500.

The Predators were going to have to play a complete game if they were going to take down the Sharks.

And that is what the Predators did.

The Predators extended their win streak to three games with a 3-2 victory over the Sharks.

The Predators opened the scoring at 16:04 of the first period as Victor Bartley took a shot from the point that ricocheted off the leg of Eric Nystrom and past Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period on the power play. Craig Smith controlled the puck behind the Sharks net and saucered a pass to Roman Josi, who was moving off the blue line into the high slot. Josi picked the top corner past a screened Niemi at 18:08.

The third period saw the Sharks attack the Predators net and the Predators just trying to survive. The Sharks made it 2-1 as Dan Boyle tipped a shot from the point by Matt Irwin that went through the pads of Predators netminder Carter Hutton at 7:28.

The Predators got some breathing room as Viktor Stalberg used his speed to separate from a Sharks defenseman and fire a shot from the face off circle that beat Niemi to the far post to make it 3-1 at 17:21 of the third period.

The Sharks pulled Niemi for an extra attacker with over two minutes remaining in the game. That strategy paid off as Dan Boyle found Patrick Marleau at the side of the net and he beat Hutton to make it 3-2 at 19:05 of the third period.

The Predators were able to hold off the Sharks over the final 55 seconds for the victory.

Some observations:

  • Hutton had an exceptional game. He tracked the puck well and his rebound control, was exceptional. The Sharks were flying, especially in the third period and he handled the pressure well. The poise and calmness that Hutton has shown over the past three games has been critical to his success. Hutton has also shown a very good ability to play the puck and help the defense.

  • The Predators have shown a disturbing and annoying tendency to sit back with a lead. While they were able to capture the win tonight, this puts tremendous pressure on the defense and goaltending. Tonight, the Sharks out shot the Predators 20-7 in the third period. The Predators need to keep their offensive mindset with a lead, and more often than not, playing a "prevent defense" will not be successful.

  • Victor Bartley continues his strong play. He picked up an assist, delivered a big hit, and is physical in front of the net.

  • The Sharks have often been the more physical team when they play the Predators. Tonight, the Predators had 28 hits to 12 for the Sharks. The Predators generally did a good job of moving the Sharks out of the front of the net and protecting Hutton. The Predators have to continue to play with a physical edge to be successful.

  • The line of matt Cullen, Colin Wilson, and Craig Smith have blazing speed, and they used this speed to their advantage to back off the Sharks defense and create space. This line has potential to be dangerous, but they need to get the puck in the net.

  • Stalberg's goal was set up by his speed. He separated from the Sharks defense and whipped a shot past Niemi. Stalberg has shown that he has offensive skill, and now he needs to consistently utilize that talent.
The Predators did enough to win tonight. And that victory is sweet.

With Chicago coming to town, they are going to have to bring another complete game effort.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Viktor Stalberg

3. Dan Boyle

Friday, December 13, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

As 2013 draws to a close, let's prepare to bid farewell to our flop eared mascot that has graced the Friday blog. He has served well as an appropriate symbol for the lack of direction from our elected leaders. 2014 holds a myriad of challenges and opportunities, and our mascot for the upcoming year has been selected for his optimism in the face of uncertainty. I hope you will enjoy him.

Congressional negotiators, led by Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray, have reached a compromise budget deal. As you recall, the previous budget deal extended the ability of the government to operate until mid-January before the debt ceiling was reached. There have been hosannas from both parties that this ushers in a new spirit of bi-partisanship and will show the American people that Washington can work. Yeah, about that. Here are three key points about how Washington works based on this recently crafted budget deal. Spending caps that had been imposed by previous budget deals are obliterated with the new proposed budget The Budget Control Act of 2011 set spending limits agreed upon by both parties. The new Budget deal blows through these limits by $63 billion dollars in the first 2 years. The agreed upon budget does not "raise taxes", instead it raises fees such as increased TSA security fees for all airline travelers. Those fees do not go into the dedicated budget of the TSA, however. Instead, they go into the General Fund to be spent by Congress in any manner. Finally, the supposed savings that come through spending cuts do not begin to take effect for 10 years. Congress- both Republicans and Democrats- have shown repeatedly that they cannot and will not control spending and lack the backbone to address the real drivers of our debt, which is entitlement spending. This is disappointing and fiscally dangerous for our country.

During this holiday season, I keep hearing people talk about "whirled peas". I don't see what the big deal is about pureed vegetables.

I cannot help but laugh when I think of the charlatans in global warming extortion hoax, led by none other than spotted Al Gore. You recall their dire predictions that, among other things, the Arctic ice cap was going to melt and that soon we would be able to buy beach front property in Arizona because of rising ocean levels. Earlier this month, scientists released a report that said the Arctic ice pack had GROWN 29%, adding 533,000 more square miles of ice than one year ago. As reported in the UK Daily Mail, a majority of scientists that have no ties to the global warming scam are forecasting that our planet is entering a period of global cooling that will last until well past the middle of this century. As I have always admonished, follow the money. Gore and his cronies were set to make billions off this scam. And Mother nature is proving them decidedly wrong.

Bigamy: one wife too many. Monogamy: same thing

Pay close attention to Executive Orders that President Obama will exercise. As the country moves away from the radical Left and President Obama, moderate Democrats have been distancing themselves from his socialistic policies. Coupled with Republican opposition to his destructive initiatives, this means that very little of his agenda can and will get passed in the remaining term of his presidency (WHEW!). Because of that fact, look for Obama to legislate via Executive Order. Watch closely his action in the environmental realm, as he has made no secret of wanting to impose expensive and ineffective carbon restrictions on businesses here in the U.S. Those restrictions will cost jobs and lower our standard of living by raising the cost of food and all forms of energy. Those restrictions have no chance of passing in Congress, which is why he will use Executive Orders. The destructive nature of this presidency and those on the left require that we get more involved as citizens and we engage the process of communicating with Washington and demanding accountability. Fail to do this, and we will all suffer long after this administration is out of office.

Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Predators Shoot Down the Stars 3-1

The Nashville Predators desperately need to string together wins. They also need to start playing well on home ice.

They accomplished both those objectives tonight as they won their second straight game and their first in the last five home games by defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 at Bridgestone Arena.

Down 1-0 on an Eric Cole goal at 18:07 of the first period, the Predators answered with two power play goals to take a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

The Predators went on the power play at 18:45 of the first period as Shawn Horcoff was called for high sticking. Just 7 seconds into the power play, Brenden Dillon was called for delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass.

On the ensuing 5 on 3 power play, David Legwand found Patric Hornqvist in the low slot and Hornqvist blistered a wrist shot over the shoulder of Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen to tie the game at 19:02.

The Predators continued on a 5 on 4 power play, and David Legwand gathered in a rebound of a Roman Josi shot and his shot caromed off Lehtonen and into the net at 19:30.

The Predators extended the lead to 3-1 in the second period as Paul Gaustad took a pass from Colin Wilson and showed great patience as he held the puck and faked Lehtonen to the ice before firing the puck into the open net at 9:14 of the period.

The Predators played good defense, keeping the Stars to the outside for much of the game. The Predators had 22 blocked shots for the game. When the puck did get through, Hutton was solid in net and did a good job of controlling the puck and limiting rebounds.

Some observations:

  • Hutton had a second strong outing, making 33 saves on 34 shots. Hutton tracked the puck well through traffic, limited rebounds, and was positionally sound. Hutton has looked poised and calm in his two starts, and is playing with confidence. This is the kind of play that the Predators need to consistently get into the win column.

  • The Predators have struggled to win when giving up the first goal. Tonight's win was just the third victory of this season when the opponent scores first.

  • The Predators response after the Stars score was critical. The power play was just 1-21 before tonight, and getting the power play on track and productive is essential for the Predators.Tonight, they had good spacing and puck movement, something that had been lacking. When they do that, the power play can be a very effective weapon.

  • I was impressed with the play of Victor Bartley. He logged 22 minutes of ice time and played a very sound game. He was physical and battled down low, moving Stars forwards out of prime scoring areas.

  • Mike Fisher seems to be developing some good chemistry with Viktor Stalberg. They created some scoring chances tonight and have the speed and offensive capability to be dangerous. Hopefully, they will continue to develop that chemistry and produce offensively.

  • Goal-den Goose: Paul Gaustad continues to chip in offensively with his second goal in as many games. Good to see Goose getting his offensive mojo going.
The Predators responded well to the Stars first score and played a solid, 60 minute game. This is the kind of effort that the Predators have to have every night.

With 9 of the next 11 games at home, the Predators need to pile up wins and bring the energy back to the barn.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. David Legwand

3. Shea Weber

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Predators Stop Losing Streak, Romp Over the Rangers 4-1

The New York Rangers left the ice to boos from the home crowd at Madison Square Garden at the end of the first period of their game against the Nashville Predators.

The crowd was agitated because the Predators had a 2-0 lead against the home team. Henrik Lundqvist had given up two goals on 6 shots. The first Predators goal had come on some nice passing in the low slot between David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, and Nick Spaling. Spaling was the beneficiary of that effort and he buried a snap shot over the shoulder of Lundqvist at 13:45 of the first period.

The Predators took a 2-0 lead as Rich Clune took a pass from Matt Hendricks and beat Lundqvist with a backhand on a good drive to the net at 17:52.

Carter Hutton, getting his first start in net in 13 games, turned away all 10 shots he faced in the first period.

The Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 at 6:38 of the second period as the Predators got caught in a bad line change, which opened the ice up for Rick Nash. Nash got free down low and beat Hutton in close with a back hand.

The Predators were going to need a strong third period to break their five game losing streak. Through two periods, they had done a good job of attacking the Rangers net and forcing Lundqvist to make some good saves.

They were going to have to keep up that effort in the third period.

The Predators did just that 2:38 into the third period as Paul Gaustad drove below the goal line and drew two Ranger defenders to him. He slipped the puck out into the slot where Matt Hendricks controlled the puck and lifted it over a sprawling Lundqvist to make it 3-1.

The Predators were getting scoring from their fourth line, which had accounted for two goals in this contest. This is something that the Predators have been lacking during their losing streak.

After this goal, both teams went back and forth at each other with good rushes and scoring chances, but both netminders were able to keep the puck out of the net.

Paul Gaustad sealed the win for the Predators with an empty net goal at 18:54.

The Predators had snapped their five game losing streak with a solid 4-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton looked good in net. He was poised, moved well, and was positionally sound. Hutton appeared to have his confidence shaken after a few rough starts, and apparently had lost the confidence of the coaching staff as he sat for 13 games. Hopefully this solid outing will help his confidence and get him back on track. The Predators need some strong efforts by Hutton. and this 28 save effort is a good way to get his game going.

  • The effort by the Gaustad, Clune, and Hendricks line was exceptional. These guys had a nose for the net and great jump in their game. The Predators need contributions from all lines, which they had not been getting, and to get this effort from the fourth line guys was key to securing this win. They need to build on this momentum and establish consistency in their game.

  • The defense in front of Hutton played well. There had been too many holes in the coverage in the defensive zone during this losing streak. Tonight, the blue liners played sound defense and did a good job of protecting Hutton. Once again, Shea Weber and Roman Josi did yeoman's work,  with Weber logging 30:25 of ice time and Josi 29:20. Victor Bartley had 19:02 of ice time, while surprisingly, Seth Jones logged only 9:29.

  • The Predators had 26 shots on net, and all lines did a good job of creating some opportunities. Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher, and Gabriel Bourque each had one shot on net, and the Predators need to get these guys rolling. They have too much talent not to produce some shots on goal and some scoring opportunities.
This was a solid, 60 minute game by the Predators.

The type of game they needed to break the losing streak. They showed a nose for the net and a willingness to shot the puck and create some offensive chances.

This kind of effort has to continue for the Predators to win games.

My three stars:

1. Paul Gaustad

2. Matt Hendricks

3. Carter Hutton

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Same Song, Same Tired Refrain. Predators Fall to the Caps 5-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals and were in desperate need of a win. The Predators had just ended a four game home stand by losing every game, and faced a big challenge in the Capitals and their explosive offense.

Marek Mazanec was in net for the Predators, while the Capitals went with Braden Holtby.

Mazanec made a couple of stellar saves early in the period to keep the Caps off the board. Washington would get the first goal of the game, though as Troy Brouwer outmuscled Ryan Ellis in front of the net and was able to slide a backhand past the pads of Mazanec at 6:44 of the first period.

Rich Clune was called for interference at 13:06 and Alex Ovechkin fired a shot from the face off circle that caromed past Mazanec at 13:09.

So much for an effective penalty kill.

Karl Alzner made it 3-0 for the Caps with a blast from the blue line that beat Mazanec glove side at 16:19. this was just after Mazanec made 3 great saves in close after Kevin Klein had a give away in front of his net.

The Predators finally showed some signs of life as Roman Josi carried the puck into the zone a fired a wrist shot from outside the face off circle that beat Holtby over the shoulder to make it 3-1 at 19:38 of the first period.

The Caps out shot the Predators 14-12 in the first period.

the game was not out of reach- yet- but the Predators were going to have to get better goaltending and tighten up their effort in the defensive zone.

The Predators opened the second period skating better and firing shots on net. they created some great scoring opportunities, but could not finish their chances.

The Predators also played much better defensively, limiting the Caps shots and scoring chances. In the period, the Predators out shot the Caps 12-6.

If the Predators were going to get back in this game, they were going to have to do something that had been a struggle over the last 4 games, and that was finish their scoring chances.

At 3:39 of the third period, Nate Schmidt fired a puck from the blue line that beat an unscreened Mazanec stick side to make it 4-1.

The Predators made it 4-2 as Eric Nystrom broke in on a 2 on 1 and rather than pass, took a shot from inside the face off circle that beat Holtby to the far post at 3:52 of the period. Nystrom has a deceptively good shot, and he beat Holtby with a well placed shot.

The game turned into a pond hockey affair as both teams sped up and down the ice with scoring chances. The Predators tempted fate by giving up odd man rushes, and the Caps eventually made them pay as Eric Fehr buried a shot from the face off circle that beat Mazanec stick side to give the Caps a 5-2 lead at 14:50.

The Predators never threatened again after that score, and mercifully, the Caps did not score again.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed Shea Weber back to the line up after taking a puck to the eye on Thanksgiving night against Edmonton. weber was wearing a visor, which I hope he continues to do for the remainder of his career. Weber is one of the players that is grandfathered under the CBA and he can choose not to wear a visor because of his tenure in the League.

  • The Predators scratched their second leading scorer, Craig Smith, in favor of Rich Clune. The logic of that move eludes me.

  • Mazanec had to make some quality saves. The score would have been more embarrassing except for some very good play in the net. The goal by Schmidt was one he would like to have back, as it was an unscreened shot that blew past him. Mazanec was beaten stick side twice tonight on shots that seemed stoppable.

  • Once again, the inability to finish scoring chances victimized the Predators. They put a lot of pucks on Holtby and he gave up rebounds, but we had difficulty finishing scoring chances in close.

  • The Predators faced some familiar players in Joel Ward and Marty Erat.

  • Patric Hornqvist took a big hit from Troy Brouwer late in the game and went to the locker room and did not return. It appeared that he hurt his shoulder again when he landed awkwardly on the ice.
This is a struggling team that is not playing good hockey. And that is a formula for falling far out of the playoff race.

If the Predators do not get back on track very quickly, this will be a long and dismal season.

My three stars:

1. Braden Holtby

2. Eric Fehr

3. Roman Josi

Friday, December 6, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Keep your eye on House Bill 3638 sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon. This bill proposes a road usage fee that would tax drivers for every mile they drive. Blumenauer wants to nearly double the gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 33.4 immediately as a short term revenue enhancement while the road usage fee is being studied. To make the system work, tracking devices would be fitted onto every automobile to track distances driven and locations. As fewer Americans work and therefore drive less miles, the revenue from the gas tax has not kept up with the demands for repairs and new construction of our nation's transportation infrastructure. There is no doubt that some of our nation's roads and bridges are in dire need of repair and upgrades. In considering revenue options to fund these repairs, a vehicle mileage tax conceptually sounds like a reasonable alternative. I do not, however, want the federal government tracking my driving habits. And there is no assurance that Washington will lower the current gasoline tax if a vehicle mileage tax is implemented. This is a proposal that merits our attention as it progresses through Congress.

Asked Siri, "Surely it's not going to rain today?" She said, "It is. And don't call me Shirley." I forgot to take my phone off Airplane mode.

Our country has made a decided turn left- we all know that. We have moved toward more socialism. President Obama this week made another bold proposal in a speech about income inequality, saying that incomes should be "more equal", which is political speak for re-distribution. Now we can argue about income inequality, and so you know, I believe huge disparities are not good for the economy or society. But it equally as bad when we create a distorted economic system that does not allow for free movement through all economic strata. Part of the problem we face in our nation now is that our schools turn out workers ill equipped to compete in the global economy. We compound that problem with a myriad of regulations and onerous taxes that impede job growth. And overarching all of this is a leadership in Washington that has no real clue about how to grow jobs. Our lack of fundamental economic education in this country means that too many people give credence to a specious argument about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. We as a nation have to come to the reality that hurting the producers and job creators in society does not raise the standard of living for all. It lowers it. Instead, we need to have an honest dialogue about how to create avenues for people to succeed economically based on their skills and their efforts. Until we do, we will continue to have a stagnating economy. And louder demands of "more" to be taken from those who are working and re-distributed.

I cancelled my gym membership. We were just not working out.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product in developed nations will reach 110% next year, 35% above it 2007 level. Let that sink in for a moment...the debt of all developed nations has grown 31.8% over the past 6 years. That is 5.3% annually. Now, friends, I ask you, has your income grown by an annual rate of 5.3% over the last 6 years. I would imagine for most of us that it has not. So government spending has risen dramatically and rapidly across the globe, and what do you think the IMF proposes as a solution to this problem? If you said cut government spending, you would be sorely mistaken. The IMF proposes implementation of what it calls "revenue maximizing top income tax rates. The IMF proposal raises that top tax rates on average to 60% for all developed nations. In the U.S., the IMF calls for top rates of 71%, far more than the current 45%. The IMF admits, in surprising candor, that these top rates will impair the financial well being of the individuals and businesses that are impacted by the higher tax. And this is the crux of the problem: governments across the globe have engaged in profligate spending and show no signs of stopping. Their solutions are not to cut that spending but to attempt to soak the producers and savers around the world without regard for the negative impacts this creates. Two points: a country cannot get to fiscal health by taxing the "rich", those who have saved and accumulated wealth and those that have risked their wealth to create new businesses and jobs; and never once do any of the elected leaders do more than give lip service to cutting spending. Until the mindset of our elected leaders changes and until they show serious fiscal restraint, we will continue to struggle economically.

My motto is "Never say never", which makes it difficult to tell people my motto.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Predators Poor Play Continues Against the Hurricanes

At best, the Nashville Predators are an average team. Couple that reality with a stretch of bad hockey, and you have a deadly combination for the Predators playoff chances.

The Predators dropped their 4th straight game- all at home- against the Carolina Hurricanes by a 5-2 margin.

You can read the damage, uh, box score here.

It was not a pretty sight at the Bridgestone Arena.

Some observations:

  • Marek Mazanec has performed admirably, but tonight was not his best effort. He gave up 4 goals on 13 shots, including the first shot of the game, which seemed to take him by surprise. Three of the goals he allowed were questionable, and he gave up a goal after Roman Josi turned the puck over leading to a 3 on 1 rush. This was not a good effort by Mazanec tonight, and those kind of games happen. Unfortunately, the team in front of him is not good enough to overcome a bad outing by our netminders.

  • The Predators lost puck battles all night. this is particularly disappointing as teams have been out hustling and out working the Predators in all zones. This team has to win those battles, and win they do not, the opponent has a decided advantage in puck possession. This has been characteristic of the Predators during the losing streak.

  • Puck support in the offensive zone is atrocious. Often, a Predator forward will control the puck down low and get overwhelmed by the defensive pressure. This results in turnovers and stymies the offensive attack. The consistency and cycle game in the offensive zone for the Predators has been spotty at best, and this is major contributor to this losing streak.

  • The Predators actually had a lead on goals by Mike Fisher and Viktor Stalberg early in the second period. Stalberg's goal was a pure effort goal as he followed his shot, took it behind the net, and beat Justin Peters on a nice backhand. Unfortunately, that was the last of the Predators scoring for the night.

  • Kevin Klein returned to the line up after missing two games and his return was much quicker than expected. He logged 18:46 of ice time tonight.

  • This team is wildly inconsistent. They have struggled to play a solid 60 minute game in quite a while. The Predators do not have the talent to play such inconsistent games- they cannot overcome deficits with elite scoring. Until the team decides that they will play a full 60 minute game, they will continue to struggle to get into the win column.

  • The Predators have been dominated in puck possession time in this losing streak, especially as the game goes on. They have been forced into numerous turnovers in their defensive zone and have allowed teams to cycle and control the puck for long stretches. This is not a formula for success for this team.

  • This team has lost their identity. There is no grit and push back when challenged by opponents. Right now, the identity of this team is to dump the puck out of the defensive zone and try to survive the offensive push by opponents.
The Predators travel to Washington and face a big task in trying to right a rapidly sinking ship.

Fail to get back to Predator hockey and this season will be another miserable season for this team.

My three stars:

1. Jeff Skinner

2. Justin Faulk

3. Viktor Stalberg

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Canucks Cruise Past the Predators 3-1

The Nashville Predators faced off against the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena looking to get back on a winning streak. The Predators had dropped two straight games and needed to pick up points to keep within striking distance of a playoff spot.

The Predators are going to have to wait another game to try to get on track.

Marek Mazanec was in net for the Predators, while the Canucks went with Roberto Luongo between the pipes.

Throughout the game, the Predators pressured Loungo and created some quality scoring chances, but were only able to finish one time. Patric Hornqvist fed Colin Wilson from the low slot and Wilson buried his shot past an out of position Luongo.

That score came just 30 seconds after the Canucks scored in the second period. Brad Richardson caught Mazanec cheating off the post and banked a shot off the Predators goaltender into the net to give the Canucks a short lived lead.

The Canucks took control in the third period as Ryan Kessler scored twice for the margin of victory.

His first goal came off a rebound of a Jason Garrison shot that ricocheted into the low slot. Kessler outmuscled David Legwand to the puck and beat Mazanec in close at 7:37 of the third.

Kessler tallied his second goal on a power play from the low slot off a rebound of another Garrison shot. Kessler lifted the shot over the pads of Mazanec with Ryan Ellis trying to defend.

The Predators pulled Mazanec with over two minutes to go for the extra attacker. They were further aided by a penalty to Kevin Bieksa with a minute to go in the game, but the Canucks swarmed the Predators and they were unable to get a shot off.

Some observations:

  • The Predators gave up their first power play goal in 8 games.

  • The Predators power play was 0-2, continuing their string of futility. The power play continues to have trouble entering the zone and establishing itself. Once inside the zone, there is still a lack of movement and puck support. Frankly, this is hard to explain.

  • Ryan Ellis struggled with the physical play of the Canucks forwards. I am still unconvinced that Ellis is capable of logging regular minutes against forwards with size and strength.

  • Colin Wilson tallied a goal for the second game in a row. The Predators need Wilson to heat up and begin scoring consistently. Hopefully this is the beginning of such a streak.

  • I am not sure what is goalie interference after tonight. Dan Hamuis bumped Matt Hendricks into Luongo, and Hendricks was called for interference. Later, Patric Hornqvist jostled with Hanuis and Hamuis ran into Luongo. Hornqvist was called for goalie interference, even though he had no contact with Luongo. Referee Kelly Sutherland made both calls.

  • The line of David Legwand, Viktor Stalberg, and Gabriel Bourque has gone cold. This line has tremendous potential, but has failed to produce consistently and it is hurting the team. This line desperately needs to get their game going again.

  • The normally reliable Paul Gaustad was 3 for 11 in the face off circle. Mike Fisher was the only Predator that was even for the night, winning 7 of 14. The Canucks owned the face off circle, and this hurt the Predators and their puck possession all night.

  • The Predators had some very good scoring chances, but could not finish. This has been a problem for this team and will continue to be a problem the way it is constructed.
The Predators have dropped 3 straight games and desperately need to turn this around. The team is dealing with injuries to their blue line, but every team is dealing with injuries.

The effort and work ethic is going to have to continue to get back in the win column.

And finish their chances.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Kessler

2. Roberto Luongo

3. Colin Wilson

Predators Mazanec Named NHL Rookie of the Month for November

The NHL today announced that Predators goalie Marek Mazanec has been named the League's Rookie of the Month.
Here is the press release from the NHL:
Nashville Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec, who posted a 5-4-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 appearances, has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for November.


Mazanec edged New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (4-9—13 in 15 games), San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (5-5—10 in 13 games), Los Angeles Kings center Tyler Toffoli (4-5—9 in 13 games), Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (4-5—9 in 14 games) and Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (3-6—9 in 15 games) for the honor.


Mazanec, 22, made his NHL debut Nov. 8 versus the Winnipeg Jets, stopping 22 shots in relief of Carter Hutton. He recorded his first victory with a career-high 39 saves in a 7-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Nov. 16. Mazanec posted his first career shutout in the following game, making 27 saves in a 2-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings Nov. 19. He added his second blank sheet with a 19-save performance in a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Nov. 27.


Mazanec, a native of Pisek, Czech Republic, was selected by the Predators in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He joins fellow Czech Republic native Hertl (October) as a Rookie of the Month winner this season.


Marek Mazanec in November

Nov. 8
at Winnipeg
5-0 loss (no decision)
Nov. 12
at NY Islanders
3-1 loss
Nov. 15
at Pittsburgh
4-1 loss
Nov. 16
7-2 win
Nov. 19
at Detroit
2-0 win
Nov. 21
at Toronto
4-2 win
Nov. 23
2-0 loss
Nov. 25
4-2 win
Nov. 27
at Columbus
4-0 win
Nov. 28
3-0 loss
Nov. 30
3-2 loss (shootout)