Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Playoffs Are Here: Fearless First Round Predictions

The View has never been one to shy away from playoff predictions, and as we get set for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, it is time to roll out those fearless prognostications. So without further ado, here we go:

Western Conference

Chicago (1) vs. Minnesota (8)

The Wild squeaked into the playoffs and drew the hottest team in the NHL in the form of the Blackhawks. The Hawks are clicking on all cylinders right now and don't appear to have any chinks in their armor. Their only concern might be the health of Ray Emery. Should Corey Crawford falter and Emery cannot go, then the dynamic for the Blackhawks gets a bit dicier. The Wild cannot match the offensive firepower of the Hawks, and that same offensive talent will overwhelm the defense of the Wild. This one is over early

Hawks in 5

Anaheim (2) vs. Detroit (7)

The Ducks quietly put together a very solid season, reversing their fortunes of last year. Once again, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan are a formidable offensive threat. The Dorian Gray of hockey, Teemu Selanne, continues to impress with his productivity and total game. The Wings are led by the outstanding duo of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but unlike years past, the depth scoring for the Wings is lacking. If Detroit is going to have an opportunity to win this series, Jimmy Howard is going to have to play out of his mind. I don't see it happening.

Anaheim in 6

Vancouver (3) vs  San Jose (6)

Vancouver has more talent and has the potential to dive right into the second round (see what I did there) without too much trouble. That is, if they don't let the Sharks physical game get them rattled. Vancouver has to prove they are tough mentally and cannot be taken off their game in a rough and tumble series. For the Sharks, their window of opportunity to get to the Cup finals is fast closing. That could change if Patrick Marleau can re-discover his game (1 goal in his last 15 contests) and the Sharks D can help support Antii Niemi. Essential for the Sharks will be to contain the top two lines of the Canucks, while the Canucks are going to look to use their offensive talent to rip the heart out of the Sharks. Look for the Canucks to do that.

Canucks in 5

St. Louis (4) vs Los Angeles (5)

A re-match of last year's second round series between these teams will be, in my view, perhaps the most entertaining of the first round match ups. LA ran the Blues off the ice in their series last season, and the Blues are very cognizant of that and will look to seize early momentum in this series on their home ice. Brian Elliott is more experienced and will once again shoulder the load. The painful lessons of last year's playoff round will serve the Blues well, but it will not be an easy series. The Kings have a certain swagger about them, and they know they can win it all after last year. Combine that attitude with the physical nature of their game and the ability to absolutely explode for goals  and the Blues will have their hands full. The edge in this series will be Jonathan Quick, who will out-duel Elliott.

Kings in 7

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh (1) vs New York Islanders (8)

The Islanders are the feel good story of the playoffs. After enduring several years of futility on the ice coupled with uncertainty about where the team will play, the Isles started to jell and play some very good hockey. John Tavares is the marquee name, and Johnny T is going to have to do yeoman's work in this series for the Isles to have a chance. The real story for the isles will be the play of Evgeny Nabokov. If he is strong in net and can get some goal support, the Isles will make this a competitive series. Pittsburgh, even if Sidney Crosby is out of the line up, will have too much firepower for the Isles. Trouble looms for the Pens if Marc-Andre Fleury is off his game or if the team overlooks the hungry Isles. It won't happen.

Pens in 5

Montreal (2) vs Ottawa (7)

An intriguing match up here because Carey price has struggled of late in net for the Canadiens. if Price regains his form and settles down, the Habs should take care of business. For Ottawa, the return of Eric Karlsson is a decided plus, but his game is still rounding back into shape, and the rigors of playoff games may expose him if he is not 100%. The Sens have to have a strong series from Craig Anderson and they have to be physical with a smaller Habs lineup. Home ice is a decided advantage and will help tip this series toward the Canadiens.

Montreal in 6

Washington (3) vs New York Rangers (6)

For Washington, they want to keep what on doing what they have been doing, and that is putting the puck in the net. Alex ovechkin found his game in the second half of the season, and he begin to score, so did the rest of the team. That has to continue for the Caps to capture this series, obviously, but perhaps more importantly for their success will the play of Braden Holtby. Holtby is going to have to shut down the Rangers attack, or at least keep the Caps close and hope they have enough offense to win games. Henrik Lundqvist is key to the Rangers chances. If he can shut down the scoring attack of the Caps, they will begin to press and get away from their level of play that made them successful. In my view, this may be the most compelling series in the East.

Washington in 7

Boston (4) vs Toronto (5)

If- and this is a big if- Boston plays their game and to their talent level, they will win this series. Tuuka Rask has been solid in net, and the Bruins have the physical capabilities of wearing down any opponent. However, their play over the last third of the season was spotty and their power play atrocious. The Bruins need to relax and play their style of hockey. And welcome back to the playoffs, Toronto. An energetic and exciting squad that can play very good hockey will give the Bruins a challenge in this series. James Reimer is going to see his first playoff action, and this will be a challenge for the young netminder. It is going to be critical that Joffrey Lupol, Phil Kessel, and Nazim Kadri step of their game if the Leafs are going to have an opportunity to win this series. They will give it a good effort, but I think the Bruins shut them down.

Boston in 6

There you have it... fearless first round predictions. Remember- these are for entertainment purposes only, but if you do win any money betting on these picks, I need a cut.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Predators Flop in the Third Period, Fall to Blue Jackets

The Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets met at Nationwide Arena in the final game of the season. For one team, the game meant nothing- finish and book your tee time. For the other team, the outcome of the game held playoff implications- win and have the opportunity to get in the playoffs.

Unlike years past, it was the Predators that would be booking tee times and the Blue Jackets were fighting to get into the playoffs.

For the Predators, it was one final game to audition some of the younger players that had populated the line up in the latter part of the season. On final opportunity to get a win and assuage some of the bad emotions that have built in this difficult season.

The Predators were going to have match the emotion and intensity that the Jackets would be playing with if they were going to win this game.

Chris Mason was in net for the Predators, while the Jackets had Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.

A spirited first period ended with neither team scoring, but each generated some good chances. Both netminders came up with some good stops, especially Bobrovsky as the Predators had some good flurries in front of the net. The Predators did a good job of matching the intensity of the Jackets in the opening frame.

The Predators opened the scoring at 8:29 of the second period as Joonas Rask kept the puck in at the blue line in the Jackets zone. he got the puck to David Legwand, who dropped the puck to Shea Weber. Weber fired a wrist shot from the face off circle that beat Bobrovsky over his shoulder to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Chris Mason came up with a huge save on Brandon Dubinsky, who broke in alone on the Predators net. Mason stopped Dubinsky with his glove with a brilliant save.

The period ended with the Predators leading 1-0. The jackets had out shot the Predators 22-15 through the first 40 minutes.

Everyone knew that the Jackets would have a push fueled by desperation in the third period, and that is exactly what happened. The Jackets opened the third out shooting the Predators 11-0 in the first 7 minutes of the period, and Mason made some good saves to keep the Jackets off the board, including a stretch of two minutes of a Columbus power play.

With Chris Mueller in the box and the Jackets on their second power play of the game, they finally broke through as Brandon Dubinsky got loose in the slot and beat mason off a backhand to tie the game at 1 at 10:09 of the third period.

As solidly as the Predators had played in the first 40 minutes, they had disappeared in the third period. Through 12:40 of the period, the Predators had been out shot 15-1 and showed no offensive instinct whatsoever. The Predators were letting the Jackets dictate and dominate play, and if they were going to have an opportunity to win this game, they would have to re-discover their offensive game and establish some zone presence.

Jack Johnson gave the jackets a 2-1 lead as he circled behind the net and threw the puck back to the front. The puck hit the back of Mason's pads and floated into the blue paint. Shea Weber inadvertently hit the puck with his stick and knocked it into the net for an unfortunate goal.

The Blue Jackets would add an empty net goal by Cam Atkisson for the final margin of 3-1.

Some observations:

Final Frame Flop

The Predators had played a solid 40 minutes of hockey only to completely collapse in the final frame. The Jackets totally dominated the Predators, out shooting them 26-5. The Jackets were going to come out with intensity and desperation in the final 20 minutes, and the Predators did not come close to matching their effort. This is disappointing even with the young line up. The veterans had to step up and lead and in the process calm down the youngsters. They failed miserably.

Painful Learning Experience

Injuries forced a number of young players into the line up, and they had to play some critical minutes during the latter stages of the season. They weren't often rewarded and the learning experience was not pleasant. The positive aspect of this painful learning experience is just that- experience. They have seen what it takes to compete and win at the highest level. They have also felt what it is like to be in the losing locker room. Those experiences will serve them and the team well in the coming seasons.

Forsberg Has The Potential...

to be really good. he is composed and smooth with the puck. He possesses great hockey sense. With physical and mental maturity that will come, he has the potential to be the elite scorer the Predators sorely lack. It is just that- potential. We will have to watch his development closely.

Mason Deserved Better

Chris Mason played his best game of the year, making some great saves, including on two breakaways. He got absolutely no support in the third period, and the Predators wasted a solid effort.

Final Thoughts

Mercifully, this miserable season has come to an end. Disappointing would be an understatement, but there are lessons that can be learned.

Fail to learn those lessons and next year could be just as ugly.

My three stars:

1. Sergei Bobrovsky

2. Chris Mason

3. Jack Johnson

Friday, April 26, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

So it seems that our Congressional leaders are engaged in private discussions to exempt themselves from Obamacare. Seems that the cost of this obamination has some on Capital Hill worried that it will be so expensive it will force many lower and mid-level staffers to leave and look for higher paying jobs so they can afford the healthcare premiums. The ability of Congressional staffers to leave and go to higher paying  jobs where they can more readily absorb the steeply rising cost of healthcare coverage is a boon for them, but what about most of us that cannot transition our job or career so easily? Many families are going to see their healthcare premiums rise 25-50% with the full implementation of Obamacare and they will have no choice but to absorb the cost increase. Democrats have foisted this piece of crap health plan on this country, and they should be made to suffer under the increased cost and reduced service as all of us will have to do. The underlying principal that is in play here, though, is the fact that our elected leaders deem themselves above the laws and regulations that they implement and under which we have to operate. This divergence is dangerous and leads to disasters like Obamacare. It is time to hold our elected leaders accountable and force them to live with the same laws- and their accompanying costs- as all of us have to do.

I went shopping at a general store, but they wouldn't let me buy anything specifically.

Congress is debating an immigration bill that has focused our attention on amnesty and the path to citizenship for those that are in our country illegally. There is no doubt that our immigration laws are dysfunctional and need reform, and the entire immigration system and process needs to be made more functional and efficient. I don't think this bill accomplishes that. And the proposed immigration bill that is under debate has some staggering costs associated with it. Section 212(a)(4) of the U.S. Code says that no immigrant that is at risk of becoming a "public charge" can get a green card. How is that working out for our country? Over half of the holders of green cards currently have incomes below 138% of the federal poverty line and are uninsured and are receiving some form of public assistance. To increase immigration under the provisions of this proposed bill would cost the American taxpayers and additional $100 billion over the next decade to pay for their benefits, according to Betsy McCaughey, former Lt. Governor of New York. Illegal immigrants, under the proposed new bill would be granted provisional status and on their path to citizenship and would not be allowed to collect public assistance. Oh, with these few exceptions: unemployed; in job training; getting a high school or GED diploma; taking care of a child; younger than 21 or older than 60; or going to college. In other words, virtually every illegal immigrant that is given a provisional green card will qualify for some of your income via the transfer tax under this bill. The lunacy of the Rubio-McCain bill is beyond words and should it should be stopped immediately.

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.

Congress is considering a bill that would allow each state to collect taxes on Internet purchases made by the residents of that state. As more of us purchase an ever expanding array of goods over the Internet, states have been losing sales tax revenue that they would have collected if the purchases had been made at store with a physical location within their borders. Merchants with a physical presence have decried the lack of tax collection, saying it creates an uneven playing field between them and on-line sellers. States bemoan the lost revenue. so the bill before Congress seems like it will even things up, right? Know that we are talking some serious money here. According to the Commerce Department, Internet sales totaled $226 billion in the U.S. in 2012, up 16% from the previous year. What this bill does, however, is make most on-line retailers tax (on-line retailers with annual sales of less than $1 million are exempted under the proposal) tax collectors for the various states. Further, a company headquartered in one state with no physical representation in another state is still subject to the tax laws and changes that may be enacted, and they have no representation. Now imagine if you are an on-line retailer and you now have to comply with 50 different tax jurisdictions and their particular laws and regulations. Think your cost of doing business is going up? And when it does, those companies will slow their expansion. And pass those increased costs on to you and me. This little glimpse into the complexity of our tax system in this country points out the desperate need for reform and simplicity in the tax code.

I have always wanted to be the last man on earth just to see if all those women were lying to me.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Predators Wilt Against the Wings

The Nashville Predators have been relegated to the role of spoiler as the season winds down, and they were in Detroit not only attempting to win their second game in a row but put a dent in the Red Wings playoff chances.

While the Red Wings were playing with a sense of urgency, the Predators could play loose and continue to audition some of their young players.

One of those would be Joonas Rask, who was called up from Milwaukee and was appearing in his first NHL game.

The Predators went with Chris Mason in net, while workhorse Jimmy Howard was in goal for the Wings.

The Predators welcomed back Mike Fisher, who has been out with an injury, and he made his presence felt early as he tallied the first goal of the game off a nice feed from Rich Clune.

The Wings answered with Valtteri Filppula getting free in the low slot and beating Mason with a quick wrist shot.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead on the power play as Shea Weber shoveled the puck to the front of the net. Mike Fisher was in front battling and Craig Smith took a shot that Howard stopped. Smith got his rebound and roofed the puck past Howard.

The first period ended with the Predators leading 2-1 but having to kill off 57 seconds of a  Detroit power play to start the second period.

The Wings tied the game just 1:01 into the second period as the power play had just expired. Johan Franzen gathered in a rebound and roofed a shot from a sharp angle.

Patrick Eaves got lost by the Predators defense and whipped a one timer past mason from the face off circle to give the Wings a 3-2 lead. Eaves was all alone as the defense broke down and lost track of the forward in a dangerous scoring position.

The Predators kept playing with fire by taking penalties, and the it burnt them as late in the period the Predators were once again down a man and Pavel Datsyuk skated the puck into the zone and blistered a shot past a screened Chris Mason to make it 4-2.

The Predators gave up 3 goals in the second period through some miscues and sloppy play. If they were going to have a chance to get back into the game, they were going to have to elevate their play.

Through two periods, the Wings had out shot the Predators 25-15.

The injury bug continued to bedevil the Predators, as they lost Matt Halischuk in the second period and for the rest of the game with an upper body injury.

The Predators attempted to get back into the game with some good pressure in the Wings zone but could not get a puck past Howard.

Justin Abdelkader extended the Wings lead to 5-2 late in the period as he buried a rebound past Mason, and any hope the Predators had of climbing back into this game were squelched with that goal.

The game ended with that score as the Predators wilted down the stretch in face of the pressure from a desperate Wings team playing with greater urgency.

Some observations:

Messy Mistakes

The Predators made a game of it early with solid play and good pressure in the Wings zone, but as the game wore on, their mistakes cost them dearly. Too many penalties and some blown coverage in the defensive zone allowed the Wings to get back in the game. Part of this is the presence of the new guys in the line up, and losing Halishcuk in the second period further jumbled the forward lines which didn't help the effort. The Wings were hungry and focused, and they capitalized on the mistakes the Predators made.

Welcome Back Mike

Mike Fisher returned to the line up and made his presence felt with the first goal of the game and was battling all night. It was good to see Fisher back and his effort and leadership on the ice will be a benefit to the young players.

Smith Shows Up

Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, his first points in...forever. Smith played with good jump and went to the hard area in front of the net for his goal. Smith has had a brutal season, but he has not stopped hustling and working. He has the potential to be a very good winger, but this season has been forgettable. hopefully, this is just a very bad sophomore slump and that these points will give him some confidence and get him untracked.

Gotta Have More

David Legwand has 21:18 of ice time; Sergei Kostitsyn had 19:08, the most among the forwards. They combined for 2 shots on goal. The Predators have to get more from these veteran forwards if they are going to be in any game. Tonight, they were invisible, and their offensive drought contributed to the Predators lack of production.

Final Thoughts

The result was about as expected as a team that is fighting to get into the playoffs matched up against a patchwork lineup. The effort by the Predators was spotty and the mistakes were costly. The Predators have one more chance to try to salve some wounds from this awful season.

Hope you bring it, boys.

My three stars;

1. Jimmy Howard

2. Pavel Datsyuk

3. Craig Smith

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Predators End Losing Streak, Douse Flames

The Nashville Predators ended a dismal losing streak, the longest in franchise history, with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena in front of their 20th sellout crowd in this abbreviated season.

The Predators came back twice from one goal deficits to capture the victory.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and he faced 18 shots for the game, while Mikka Kiprusoff manned the pipes for the Flames and had to contend with 32 shots.

The Predators sent their fans home happy with an effort that can only be described as Predator hockey. The Predators hustled, fired pucks at the net, and scored by getting traffic in front of Kiprusoff.

Some observations:

Effort Was Exceptional

The Predators poured 32 shots on the Calgary net, and more importantly, did so with traffic in front. Goals by David Legwand and Nick Spaling were earned because they were in the hard areas in front of the net creating traffic and havoc in front of Kipper. It is one thing to shoot the puck, but for the Predators to be successful, they have to go to the net and disrupt. They did that very well tonight. They also did a good job of forechecking and slowing the Flames through the neutral zone. Their effort in all zones was solid and key to the victory.

Elementary, Mr. Watson

Austin Watson tallied his first NHL goal on a wrist shot from the slot. Watson has looked more comfortable in each of the games he has played at the NHL level and was rewarded tonight for his effort. Watson is a big body that has some upside and he needed this goal to boost his confidence. Now that it is out of the way, the hope is that he will find the net with some frequency.

Young Guns

In addition to Watson, Chris Mueller, Bobby Butler, and Filip Forsberg all got on the score sheet by recording assists. While the team has sorely missed some of the injured regulars, these young guys are getting some valuable ice time and they are contributing. While Predator fans are ruing the fact that the team will not make the playoffs, this trial by fire for the youngsters will pay dividends next season.

Legwand Leads

With his goal tonight, David Legwand he franchise leader in goals with 200. Congratulations to Legwand.

Halischuk Is Playing Outstanding Hockey

Matt Halischuk has elevated his game of late and the team has benefited. Halischuk notched his 5th goal of the season to give the Predators a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Halischuk has been strong on the puck and is taking it to the net and he has been rewarded for his efforts. He has been solid offensively as well as defensively and has taken a bigger role in the performance of the team. It's good to see his game grow and how he has responded to the challenge.

Final Thoughts

This losing streak and this season have been miserable. The positive aspects of this for the Predators are that there are players getting some invaluable experience in all situations and it will serve the team well in the coming seasons. The other aspect is that the team is forging character in this time of adversity. It is not going to be fun to watch the playoffs instead of participating in them. It is not fun losing. This team is tasting the bitterness of a sour season, and I believe they will learn from it and it will be a long term positive.

It had better be so.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Roman Cervenka

3. Matt Halischuk

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hawks Heartbreaker; Predators Fall In OT

The Nashville Predators are not playing for a spot in the playoffs. They are playing for pride, and in some situations, a roster spot for next season.

So there is a lot still at stake for the Predators, and they had an opportunity to play for pride against the best team in the NHL in the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

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

The game opened with the Blackhawks flying and firing shots at Rinne. The Hawks opened the scoring on the power play as Brent Seabrook cruised down the slot and fired a wrist shot past Rinne.

The mix and match line up of the Predators responded to the opening salvo from the Hawks by scoring the next two goals in Predator fashion.

Kevin Klein pinched in from the blue line and fired a shot at the net that Crawford could not handle cleanly. Matt Halischuk was at the side of the net and was able to poke the puck past Crawford to tie the game at 1.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead as Booby Butler took a shot that Crawford could not control. New call up Kevin Henderson and Chris Mueller banged away at the puck and Henderson was able to shove it under the pads of Crawford to make it 2-1.

Two goals that were scored by going to the dirty areas and doing the hard work to score. Something that had been lacking from the Predators game recently.

The Hawks tied the game at 2 as Brandon Saad muffed a shot but got the puck back under control and beat Rinne glove side.

That was the way the first period ended. The Hawks out shot the Predators 15-8 in the period.

The Hawks made it 3-2 off a 2 on 1 break that began when Sergei Kostitsyn made an errant pass that resulted in Bryan Bickell breaking in with Patrick Kane. Kane was able to beat Rinne five hole for the go ahead score.

Matt Halischuk tied the game at 3 when Victor Bartley spotted Halischuk streaking through the neutral zone and hit him in stride with a beautiful pass. Halishcuk had his initial shot stopped by Crawford but got his rebound and banged the puck past Crawford. Kudos to Bartley for spotting Halischuk and hitting him with a great pass and to Halsichuk for staying with the play after his first shot was blocked.

The second period ended tied at 3 with the Hawks out shooting the Predators 12-9. Rinne made some big saves to keep the Predators in the game.

Perhaps more importantly, the Predators answered the Hawks goal and were playing with jump and determination. This is exactly what this squad has to do to stay in games and have a chance to win.

 The Predators made a gaffe that cost them a goal when Victor Bartley threw the puck to the middle and right onto the tape of Michael Handzus. Handzus ripped a shot from the slot top shelf to beat Rinne and give the Hawks a 4-3 lead.

The Predators once again answered as Shea Weber took a shot that caromed off bodies in front and came back to Bobby Butler, who made no mistake in burying the shot past Crawford to tie the game at 4.

Playing for pride and roster spots, the Predators kept fighting their way back into the game.

With 44 seconds left in the third, Rich Clune took a double minor for high sticking. The Predators were able to kill off the remaining time in regulation, but 51 seconds into the overtime, Marian Hossa scored the game winner to extend the Predators losing streak.

Some observations:

Henderson Helps

Kevin Henderson got his first NHL goal and played a strong game with lots of energy. The 26 year old is a big body and doesn't shy away from the physical game, and his effort in front helped the Predators notch their second goal of the game.

Butler Belongs

Bobby Butler is making a case to be on the roster next season. His game tying goal was a result of driving to the net and being in the right place at the right time. Butler needs to finish out strong to continue to make his case.

Good Jump

The Predators survived some strong pushes by the Hawks at various times during the game. More importantly, they did not quit and had the answer for every Hawks challenge in regulation. This effort is one that the team can use to build upon and should be a boost for their confidence.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that the injuries the Predators have suffered have affected their performance. It is not an excuse. Any player that puts on the sweater has to bring it when they step on the ice, and tonight, they did that. No one will feel sorry for them, so lace them up and play, boys. The effort tonight is what it takes to break out of this funk.

You have a few more chances to do that.

My three stars:

1. Marian Hossa

2. Matt Halsichuk

3. Duncan Keith

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The tragic events that have unfolded in Boston at the finish line of the marathon point out that this is a dangerous world, one that is changing and becoming more dangerous. There isn't a country in the world that can match the military superiority of the United States. There are numerous countries, however, that have no respect for human life and the freedoms we have, and have many people willing to sacrifice themselves for their misguided hatred of our country and our people. This asymmetrical form of conflict is going to escalate over time, and no amount of denial and banal platitudes is going to change that fact. What stands in the breach between free people and these thugs are the warriors that risk their lives for our safety. Not only our military, but the police and fire services and the various branches of law enforcement. We owe these men and women an unpayable debt of gratitude for their service and their sacrifice.

I am not a racist. I think motor sports are fine.

This past Monday, many of us experienced the painful process of wealth transfer to the federal government as we paid our taxes. Did you ever wonder where the money goes? I am glad you asked.

Notice the amount that is spent on various social programs- 64 cents of every dollar in tax revenues goes to some form of entitlement program. As more boomers age out and begin to collect benefits, that will grow, and when it does, it will crowd out other expenditures. Now you can see the financial dilemma that we face in this country. To correct it and to make these programs financially viable will take some tough decisions and some discipline to rein in spending. Unfortunately, our leaders in Washington have not demonstrated those traits.

Gravity- it's not just a good idea, it's the law.

Speaking of taxes... According to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate in its recently released 2012 report, the cost of complying with the U.S. tax code was $168 billion as of 2010, the last year for the data. It takes Americans 6.1 billion hours, or 51 hours per household, to complete all the required forms and filings. In 2012, Washington collected $20,000 per household in taxes. The problem is that the federal government spent $30,000 per household, and this is on top of the cost of complying with the obtuse and arcane federal tax code. Common sense suggests that we should simplify the tax code and curtail spending to more reasonable levels. But then again, when has common sense ever applied to Washington?

I went to a very emotional wedding this past weekend. Even the cake was in tiers.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Canucks Crush the Predators 5-2

The Vancouver Canucks rolled into Bridgestone Arena and rolled over the Nashville Predators 5-2. It was not without a fight, literally and figuratively.

The Predators competed well as the mix and match lines of call ups and regulars brought a good effort, out shooting the Canucks 38-24, but once again, the inability to finish haunted the Predators.

After falling behind 2-0 after one period on goals by Ryan Kessler and Derek Roy, the Predators fought back in the second period to tie the game. Sergei Kostitsyn set up the first goal by controlling the puck behind the Vancover net. He found Nick Spaling in the low slot, and Spals one timer beat Roberto Luongo over his glove to make it 2-1.

The Predators tied the game at 2 as Bobby Butler drove to the face off circle and rifled a shot that beat Luongo to the far post.

The Canucks took a 3-2 lead after a brutal roughing call against Hal Gill. Alex Burrows slashed Gill at least 6 times with no call, but Gill was called for the penalty after taking Biting Burrows to the ice at the side of the Predators net.

Vancouver scored almost immediately on the power play as Jason Garrison notched a goal just 6 seconds into the man advantage.

The Canucks added 2 goals in the third period to make it 5-2 before the officials (Dan O'Halloran and Mike Leggo) lost control of the game with 3 minutes left. After a brawl that saw players on both sides ejected with game misconducts, the clock ran out and the Predators skid continued.

Some observations:

Gotta Finish

The Predators poured 19 shots on Luongo in the second period and had 14 more shots than the Canucks for the game. That is the positive. The negative is that they could not finish their chances, and part of this is that the Predators need more traffic in front of the net. At times, they did this, but too often, a presence in front of the net was missing. Shots from the point were mostly handled by Luongo, and the Predators need to do a better job of taking away the clean looks that opposing netminders are getting.

Bang For The Buck

Outside of Rich Clune, the Predators need someone that can bang and hit and be an overall shift disturber. Daniel Bang has shown flashes of being able to be that physical presence. He is a big body and doesn't seem to mind the contact. As he settles in, the hope is that he will become more of a physical presence.

Butler Starts to Shine

Bobby Butler has the tools, but he needs to consistently apply his talent. over the past few games, he has begun to play with confidence, battling for the puck, using his speed, and he has a deceptively good shot that we saw tonight. If Butler can continue to elevate his game, he is going to make a strong case to stay on the roster next season.

Captain Courageous

I liked the response of Shea Weber to the cross check on Rinne. The Canucks are notorious for the cheap and borderline dirty play, and the way you stop it is the way Webs responded. Swift, sure, and certain. Touch our goalie in a cheap way like the Canucks did and pay the price. A character move by the Captain.

Final Thoughts

The Predators will get no sympathy form the teams that remain on the schedule, and Predator fans are going to endure a rough and dismal stretch as injuries have decimated this team. But what you want to see is a strong compete level and a response to adversity. You want to see the call ups step up and contribute in all situations. They have been doing that, and although there is a significant talent gap for the Predators, one cannot fault the effort.

This is what this team can build upon for next season.

Character forged in difficult circumstances.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Kessler

2. Roberto Luongo

3.Daniel Sedin

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Same Song, Same Verse. Predators Shut Out Again

Stop me if you have heard this before...

The depleted Nashville Predators squad put forth a good effort but were shut out again, falling to the Detroit Red Wings at the Bridgestone Arena 3-0.

The Predators have been shut out for a league high 9 times this season.

Some observations:

I Liked...

the play of Taylor Beck. He was strong on the puck and solid defensively. Beck continues to settle in and play with confidence and looks to have a bright future.

It Was Only One Game...

but Filip Forsberg showed some potential. Playing on a line with Beck and David Legwand, Forsberg seemed to have no trouble adjusting to the speed and physical play of the NHL. He made some good decisions with the puck  and was poised for an 18 year old making his NHL debut. The real test for Forsberg will be handling the rigors of a full season.

Without Pekka Rinne...

this team would have been embarrassed. Rinne made some great saves and was under siege during the second period when the Wings dominated play and fired 16 shots on net to the paltry 4 for the Predators. As usual, Pekka has to be perfect for the Predators to win, and this is too big of a burden for any netminder to have to carry.

Is It A Rule...

that if the Predators have a breakaway or penalty shot that they can only shoot five hole? Matt Halischuk had a shorthanded breakaway attempt, and with Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard taking the low part of the net away, Halischuk still tried to go five hole. Bobby Butler was denied on a penalty shot with Howard again taking away the lower part of the net. With a yawning top shelf, Butler shot the puck into the pads of Howard. Maybe it is a rule.

Final Thoughts

The young squad gave a good effort, but once again fell short. If this team is going to win another game this season, they are going to have to develop a scorer's mentality and find the net. Otherwise, this dismal season will not end soon enough.

My three stars:

1. Jimmy Howard

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Henrik Zetterberg

Friday, April 12, 2013

Predators Shot Down By the Stars 5-2

The Nashville Predators dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators are fielding a young squad of call ups from Milwaukee, their AHL affiliate, and the results were predictable against a Stars squad that is fighting for the playoffs.

With so many youngsters in the lineup and with the Predators out of playoff contention, the result is, in my view, not as important as the effort and progress that is shown by team.

And there was some good and not so good in that department.

Some observations:

Mason Messy

Chris Mason got the start, and he gave up all five goal. Mace had a .722 save percentage, and while I don't fault him on several of the goals, he was spotty in net. Mason gave up a couple of goals on shots that were stoppable. When Mason was signed, it was hoped that he would give the Predators some quality starts and spell Pekka Rinne. It is safe to say that this experiment is a failure.

Hornqvist Hustling

I like the hustle and heart of Patric Hornqvist. I don't believe that he is fully healed from his injured knee, but his compete level is the best on the team. Hornqvist battles and his motor is always going. Some veterans that are on the team could take a lesson from Hornqvist.

B's Battle

Taylor Beck scored by getting into the high traffic area of the slot. Bobby Butler scored his second goal and played with energy all night. Beck has a lot of potential, and his time with the Predators is good for his development and experience with NHL caliber competition. Butler is playing for a roster spot next season, and he needs to shine in these final games to make a good impression on the coaches.

Vets Vanish

Once again, David Legwand and Sergei Kostitsyn failed to contribute offensively. These two veterans arguably have some of the best offensive talent of any of the players on the roster. They combined for 3 shots on goal, and Kostitsyn even skated himself out of a shot on a breakaway opportunity. With a young roster, these players have to develop a nose for the net. After watching them play throughout the season, this appears to be an impossibility.


Austin Watson started to assert himself in front of the net, especially during the power play. Daniel Bang was physical. glimpses into the potential of two young players that are getting valuable experience in a difficult situation.

Final Thoughts

With this roster, the main things I would look for out of this team are heart and effort. I don't fault the effort tonight. The talent gap between an opponent's healthy roster and the young squad the Predators are putting on the ice is apparent and leads to the kind of results we saw tonight. The painful learning experience will pay dividends for this team down the road.

But it is going to be a rough road to travel for a while.

My three stars:

1. Richard Bachman

2.Alex Chiasson

3. Ray Whitney

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

There is no secret that the Obama administration favors the so-called "green" energy producers as evidenced by massive subsidies, grants and loans that have come from Washington to private companies in this sector. And those dollars have for the most been squandered as these companies have filed bankruptcy or radically downsized their workforce. It is also no secret that the Obama administration has made life difficult for oil companies by increasing the regulation and hostility to these companies under the aegis of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Obama administration has delayed the Keystone Pipeline beyond reasonable measure; has imposed onerous regulations on our energy sector; and has limited access to potentially oil rich lands in this country by claiming them as federal properties. Yet in spite of these headwinds, our country has passed a milestone that has received little attention. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, the United States became the world's largest oil producer in November 2012, surpassing the daily output of Saudi Arabia. Over the past 5 years, as per the EIA report, U.S. oil production has risen 40%, and last year, domestic production increased by 800,000 barrels per day. The Bakkan Shale in the northern U.S. may be the largest natural gas field in the world. The Eagle Ford oil field in Texas is projected to be the largest oil field in the world. The Cline Shale, a newly discovered field in west Texas, has the potential to be even bigger than Eagle Ford. The benefits for our country in lower energy costs and more importantly, retaining dollars that are currently going to the middle east, are incredibly important. Now, we need the Obama administration to drop the hostility to conventional energy and let our country reap the rewards of our abundance of natural resources.

Doctors say that germs attack the body at its weakest point. I guess that explains all the head colds.

Want more evidence of the overreach of the federal government? According to internal policy documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Internal Revenue Service has taken the position that its agents do not need a warrant from a court of proper jurisdiction to read an individuals private e-mails, texts, and other private electronic communication. In 2009, the IRS drafted a policy and incorporated it into their written policy manual that stated that Internet users "do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." The Office of General Counsel for the IRS re-affirmed this position in 2010. In a 2010 Sixth Circuit Court ruling, U.S. v. Warshak, the Court ruled that the IRS had violated the plaintiff's constitutional right to privacy by obtaining those communications without a warrant. The IRS has kept the policy intact, even though they received an adverse ruling from the Court, saying that the ruling applied only to taxpayers in the 6th Circuit and not nationally. Huh? Just recall, friends, where the enforcement powers under Obamacare reside. The IRS. Expect a power hungry and revenue starved federal government to begin to ramp up enforcement actions against more of its citizens. And the IRS will be the hammer used to attempt to bludgeon us into submission.

A friend recently had a colonoscopy. He said afterwards that he now knows how a Muppet feels.

Budget talks are heating up in Washington, and President Obama has proposed a budget that includes a "chained CPI". The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a proxy for increases (or decreases) in the annual cost of living.. There are several methods to calculate the CPI, and you should be aware of them. CPI-W is the cost of living index for households where there is at least one wage earner. This is the broadest measure of changes in the annual cost of living. CPI-U expands the CPI-W and reflects the spending habits of retirees, professionals, self employed, and the unemployed. The broad CPI-U and the CPI-W accounts in a limited fashion for what economists call "substitution". For instance, if beef prices move significantly higher, consumers might switch to chicken. A "chained CPI" factors in an even greater amount of substitution than either the CPI-W or the CPI-U. And here is how that affects all of us. For those that are living on social security or have pension benefits that are indexed to inflation, a chained CPI means that the effects of substitution result in a much lower rate of inflation and consequently much smaller increases in these retirement benefits. But the effects of a chained CPI do not just hit retirees. Tax brackets are adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of living, and a chained CPI would result in much lower increases in the calculated cost of living and therefore adjustments to the tax brackets. According to Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, a chained CPI would result in bracket creep as incomes moved up faster than the calculated cost of living, so that by 2021, those earning $100,000 or less would be paying 69% of all the increases in taxes collected. Ouch. While following something as arcane a chained CPI may be sleep inducing, the impact of its implementation could certainly be jolting.

Did you ever notice that when you put the two words "the" and "IRS" together, it spells "theirs"?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blues Continue the Predators Woes

The Milwaukee Admirals Nashville Predators dropped a 1-0 decision to the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena for their 7th loss in their last 8 games.

The Predators have exited the playoff hunt and are just finishing out the season, and fielded a roster of many AHL call ups due to injuries depleting the roster.

Pekka Rinne took the loss as the Blues Alex Steen scored the lone goal of the game at 16:37 of the second period. Steen blew a shot past Rinne and that was enough for the Blues to hold off the offensively challenged Predators.

Brian Elliott got the win, and he was never really challenged by the Predators.

The Blues out shot the Predators 26-15, including a 15-4 advantage in the second period. The Predators did not record their first shot on goal in that period until 7:12 of the period.

Some observations:

Welcome To The Show

Daniel Bang was called up from Milwaukee and made his first appearance in an NHL game. The Predators roster tonight included 11 players that have played in Milwaukee this season. The talent gap between the Blues and the Predators roster was glaringly evident all night.

Veterans Are A No Show

With a roster of so many young players that have been called up due to injury, the Predators had to have veteran players step up to take up the slack and to have an opportunity to win this game. They failed miserably. David Legwand did not have a shot on goal and appeared to be unable or unwilling to be strong on the puck and create some offense. Sergei Kostitsyn, Nick Spaling, Austin Watson, Chris Mueller, and Bobby Butler also did not record a shot on goal. It is going to be difficult for the Predators to win any game if these guys cannot get pucks on net.

Sophomore Slump

Craig Smith undoubtedly possesses serious offensive skill, but his game is awful right now. Smith had three shots on goal, but has struggled mightily in the offensive and defensive zones. Hopefully Smith is getting this out of his system because the Predators desperately need him to get his game on track


I don't fault the effort of most of the young Predators. With this roster, the game could have been much worse. This situation presents great opportunity for guys like Daniel Bang, Austin Watson, Taylor Beck, and Chris Mueller, to name a few. They are going to have to play because of the injuries the Predators are contending with, and this is their opportunity to see what it takes to play at the NHL level and to prove they belong. Realistically, they are over matched against NHL regulars, but this is the chance to show they can bring the effort to compete. These young guys are playing for next season, and they need to show they belong on the roster.

Final Thoughts

The Predators are playing out the string. They will not be in the playoffs, but this is still an opportunity to demonstrate desire, heart, effort, and character. Fail to show that in the remaining games, and the disappointment among the fans will be palpable. Bring a solid effort, confront the adversity this team faces, and this can be a positive that the team can build upon.

The choice is yours, boys.

My three stars:

1.. Alex Steen

2. Brian Elliott

3. Pekka Rinne

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blackhawks Battle to 1-0 Victory Over the Predators

It can be argued that the Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in the NHL. In a Saturday matinee at the Bridgestone Arena, a depleted Predators team battled the Blackhawks for 60 minutes before falling 1-0.

Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net, turning away 29 of 30 shots. He gave up a goal at 5:31 of the first period off a 2 on 1 breakaway. Michael Handzus skated the puck into the Predators zone and found Bryan Bickell after Predators defenseman Jonathan Blum overplayed Handzus. Bickell had a wide open net into which to shoot the puck after the gaffe by Blum.

The Predators managed 20 shots on Blackhawks netminder Ray Emery, and although they did generate some traffic in front, could not get enough pressure to get a puck into the net.

Some observations:

Injury Bug Bites Again

Paul Gaustad was scratched and his presence was missed in the face off circle. The Predators managed to win just 20 of 49 face offs. Gabriel Bourque missed his 4th consecutive game.

Power(less) Play 

The Predators power play had some chances, notably when Dan Carcillo was called for a 4 minute doble minor for high sticking. During the extended power play, the Predators did not get off a shot. Failing to capitalize on the man advantage made the hill even steeper for the Predators. The Predators have to get a better effort out of the power play unit to have an opportunity to win these types of games.

The Kids

Bobby Butler was back in the line up due to the absence of Paul Gaustad. Taylor Beck saw some top line minutes. And frequent flyer Chris Mueller was frequently in the face off circle against Jonathan Toews. The Predators had to mix and match their lines due to injuries and the recent trade of Marty Erat, and several young players had to play some big minutes. Generally, they acquitted themselves well.

Missing In Action

Craig Smith, Sergei Kostitsyn, Rich Clune, Taylor Beck, and Matt Halischuk did not record a shot on net. When you look at the minutes they logged, you can see why the Predators offense struggled. Other key players struggled as well to create offense. All season, this team has struggled to generate offense, and it will cost them a shot at the playoffs. This is an area that has to be addressed in the off season. The Predators have been shut out for an NHL leading 7th time, an ignominious "honor".

Final Thoughts

The Predators appear to heading toward an early off season. What is important is to see the Predators continue to battle and compete. They did that tonight, and even though the talent gap was huge, the team did not back down. These final games will be a test of character and a measure of heart.

Battle like you did tonight and I can live with the results. 

My three stars:

1. Ray Emery

2. Bryan Bickell

3. Pekka Rinne

Friday, April 5, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The March unemployment numbers were released today, and they were disastrous. Non-farm payrolls, the measure of the new jobs created in the economy, increased 88,000 in March. Expectations for new job creation had been between 150,000 to 190,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate FELL from 7.8% to 7.6%, which on the surface would appear to be surprising and counterintuitive with the anemic job growth. However, when the numbers are analyzed, we find that the labor force participation rate- the rate of all people working to work eligible people- collapsed to a 30 year low of 63%. That means that although the unemployment number may be improving, it is because the fewest number of people are in the work force since the first term of Ronald Reagan. Understand that to begin to bring down the unemployment number, the economy has to create around 250,000 new jobs per month., and we are not even close. Also remember that we have spent $3.6 trillion dollars to stimulate the economy and keep it from slipping into a recession. That stimulus has done nothing but add to the debt and distort the markets.There will be a lot of discussion, argument, and finger pointing as to the cause of this dismal number. Many on the left are blaming the sequester and the fact that government spending has been ever so slightly curtailed. I think that the confusion over the muddled policies out of Washington, the concern over the ever ballooning debt, and the rapidly increasing taxes and regulatory costs on the job creators may be a better place to start looking.

Veni, Vidi, Velcro- "I came, I saw, I stuck around."

As mentioned above, the labor force participation rate has dropped to a 30 year low. While we have averaged creating 150,000 new jobs over the past 12 months, another interesting trend has emerged. Approximately 250,000 new applications for disability income are received monthly by the Social Security Administration. That number is stunning, and today, over 11 million U.S. workers receive Social Security disability payments. That is the highest number in the history of our nation. Here are some points of comparison: in 1960, when there were many more jobs that required physical labor than today, .65% of the labor force participants were receiving disability payments. Today, that number has grown to 5.6%. In 1960, there were 134 American workers for every officially recognized disability case. Today, that number is 16 to 1. The number of people on disability has been doubling every 15 years, but now the rate of growth is accelerating rapidly. Lest you think that is the aging Boomers that are claiming disability, the Social Security Administration reports that the average age of a disability income recipient is dropping. A legitimate question that we all should ask is have disability payments/programs begun to replace the welfare system in this country? Benefits are usually better under disability and have no time limit. The more salient question is how long can you and I as tax payers continue to support this type of system?

My wife was injured in a kitchen accident while cooking Chinese food. The doctor has told her she may never wok again.

Think back to the early part of 2007. The Federal Reserve, under Alan Greenspan, had been supplying a lot of easy money to the banks and the markets were soaring as a result. Mortgage interest rates were some of the lowest that had been seen in decades, and if you could fog a mirror, you could qualify to buy a house. We all painfully remember what ensued: the housing bubble burst, taking down banks and property values, and the taxpayer was called upon to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the quasi governmental agencies that bought all those bad mortgage loans. Mortgage lending requirements were suitably tightened and the arduous process of working through massive foreclosures and bailing out the mortgage giants began. 5 years later, the Obama Administration is asking banks and mortgage lenders to make more loans to people that currently do not qualify for a home loan because of tightened lending standards. Administration officials say that the rebound in the housing market is leaving too many people behind because they do not qualify for a mortgage. In fact, the Administration has asked the Justice Department to give banks and mortgage lenders assurances that these institutions will not be prosecuted if the loans to riskier borrowers go into default. Friends, you cannot make this stuff up. The very same practices that created a massive real estate bubble and the subsequent mountain of foreclosed properties are being re-introduced. This after a brutal five year period of cleaning up bad loans, massive losses by banks, scads of foreclosures, and taxpayer funded bailouts of FHLMC and FNMA to the tune of over a trillion dollars. This Alice in Wonderland approach to governing and life is doomed to failure.

Blood is thicker than water, but it isn't as refreshing after a long run.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Predators Can't Beat Bobrovsky and the Blue jackets

The Nashville Predators dropped a 3-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena in a game that saw jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky stand tall and deny the Predators attack throughout the game.

The Predators fired 39 shots on net, and with the exception of a Kevin Klein goal in the second period, they were unable to solve Bobrovsky.

It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort by the Predators. They opened the game with good jump and attacked the Columbus net. Midway of the first period, the Predators had a 10-2 shot advantage and created some good scoring chances.

As has happened so often this season, however, the Predators were unable to finish their chances.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, and although he gave up three goals, played a strong game as the Jackets were firing pucks as often as the Predators. The Jackets finished with 38 shots on goal.

Columbus opened the scoring on the power play as James Wisniewski scored from the blue line with a shot that went top shelf past a screened Rinne at 8:36 of the second period.

The Predators answered at 12:14 of the second as Kevin Klein crept down from the blue line and took a pass from Patric Hornqvist and beat Bobrovsky, who lost his stick in the traffic in front.

In the third period, the Jackets newest acquisition, Marion Gaborik, took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky and beat Paul Gaustad to the front of the net. Gaborik lifted the puck over Rinne to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead at 4:16 of the third period.

The Jackets made it 3-1 at 10:50 of the third as Matt Calvert fired a wrist shot that Rinne got with his blocker, but it bounced over his shoulder and into the net.

Some observations:

Fish Fights Back

The Predators welcomed back Mike Fisher, who had missed 4 games with an injured hand. It was apparent that Fisher was not 100% as the Predators played him on the wing and he did not take face offs. It appeared that the injured hand was still troubling Fisher as his ability to handle the puck seemed to be limited. Although Fisher was not able to get on the score sheet, he gave a gutsy effort all night.

Failing To Finish

While I cannot fault the effort by the team, and 39 shots on net is a great effort, the fact remains that the Predators have to finish some of their chances. Part of this is obviously the play of Bobrovsky, who was stellar. The Predators desperately need someone to take the puck strong to the net and finish some of their chances. It is also telling that the top three players with the most shots on goal were defensemen (Josi, 6 SOG; Klein, 6 SOG; Ellis, 4 SOG). The Predators need their forwards to develop a goal scorers mentality and find a way to bury some shots.

I Still Have My Doubts...

about the ability of Ryan Ellis to be a full time NHL blue liner. Ellis recorded 4 shots on goal and was a -1 tonight. My doubts arise from the fact that Ellis is consistently out muscled and tonight was knocked to the ice several times during scrums for the puck. Ellis was making his first appearance after a brief stint in Milwaukee, and while he gives good effort, his lack of size is a detriment to his game. The Predators can ill afford an under-sized defenseman that cannot match up with the opponents forwards.

The Best and Most Creative Player Offensively Is...

Roman Josi. Josi is smooth handling the puck, and when he jumps up in the offensive zone, is able to create some offensive chances. The Predators forwards need to take a few lessons from Josi.

Final Thoughts

With the loss, the Predators allowed Columbus to leap frog them in the standings. The Predators now sit in the 11th spot in the West with Chicago coming to town on Saturday night. Nashville is 15-15-8 and has 38 points. In the West, Detroit is playing at the time of this post and sits in 7th with 41 points and will have played 37 games. St. Louis is 8th with 40 points and 35 games played. Edmonton is playing and has 39 points and will have played 37 games. Columbus moves into the 10th spot with 39 points and 37 games played.

You can see the problem for the Predators: having played more games than the teams in front of them and needing points to get back into the playoff picture.

The next few games are going to determine if the Predators will be a playoff team or if they will hit the golf course at the end of the month.

There is only one way to avoid an early tee time.

Bring the effort every shift.

My three stars:

1. Sergei Bobrovsky

2. Marion Gaborik

3. Matt Calvert

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Erat Exits the Predators for Prospect Forsberg

The Nashville Predators traded Martin Erat and Michel Latta from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee to the Washington Capitals for their 2012 first round pick Filip Forsberg. 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 forward Filip Forsberg from the Washington Capitals in exchange for forwards Martin Erat and Michael Latta. Forsberg has already been signed to a three-year entry level contract and is eligible to play in North America immediately.

“With one of the best goaltenders in the world in Pekka Rinne, and the top defenseman in the game today in Shea Weber, along with Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and other young defensemen we continue to develop, we believe we are well positioned at these two positions, but have lacked a dynamic offensive forward.” Poile said. “In Filip Forsberg, we are adding one of the top rated young forwards in the world; we are excited to have him join our other emerging young talent and solid veterans at the position.”

“We have used draft picks in recent years to add players at the trade deadline. Over the last several years, we traded away four first round picks. It was imperative that we add a potentially dynamic offensive forward such as Forsberg. Our goal remains the same—to win the Stanley Cup. We believe our current team is a playoff caliber team. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the long-term and this deal allows us to acquire a top-end young offensive forward that will help us.”

            Forsberg, 18 (8/14/94), posted 33 points (15g-18a) in 38 games for Leksand of Sweden’s second league in 2012-13, pacing all junior skaters and finishing second in points to only Predators 2012 second-round pick Pontus Aberg. The 6-1, 188-pound center was the recipient of the 2013 Golden Cage Award as the league’s top junior player.

            Washington’s first pick, 11th overall, in the 2012 Entry Draft was recently rated the 21st rated NHL-affiliate prospect by The Hockey News. The Östervåla, Sweden native helped Sweden win gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships, then captained the Tre Kronor to a silver medal at the 2013 World Juniors, being named the tournament’s All-Star Team in the process.

            Erat departs Nashville ranked second all-time on Nashville’s games played (723), goals (163), assists (318) and points (481) lists. Having helped the Predators advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs seven of the last eight seasons, the Trebic, Czech Republic native is also tied for the franchise lead in playoff assists (15), and ranks second in postseason games played (46) and points (23).

            “It is always difficult to trade a player who was drafted, developed and who has produced for the franchise for many years such as Martin Erat, however, Marty came to us in recent days and indicated a trade might be in his best interests. Thus, the process began and we were able to explore options with our primary goal being to acquire a young top end forward that would address our most critical need. We thank Martin for all his contributions to the Predators’ success over the years and wish him and his family the best in Washington.”

Erat has been one of the Predators most consistent players, but has struggled through a miserable year with 4 goals and 17 assists in 35 games. Marty has often passed up shots and has had numerous games where he did not record a shot on goal.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Erat asked for a trade two weeks ago and gave Predators General Manager a list of 10 teams to which he would accept a trade.

So what happened?

It is no secret that the Predators coaching staff had been trying to coax more out of Marty. Was he frustrated by the pressure the coaches may have been putting on him? Or was his dismal season the result of some undisclosed injury? Had he tuned out the coaches and felt that the Predators style of play no longer fit his game?

In a conference call with reporters, Erat said, "I’ve been in Nashville for 11 years and it’s hard to leave the city when you’ve been here for so long, but I’m so excited for the opportunity and to play for the Stanley Cup,” Erat went on to say, "I’m getting older, and I don’t have seven, eight years to wait for another chance."

Erat said he asked for the trade because the Predators were going in a younger direction.

If by younger, you mean players like Taylor Beck, who has 6 points in 8 NHL games and whose productivity during his time in the NHL is on track to surpass Erat's on a per game basis, then I am not sure I see the problem like Erat does.

Bottom line, the Predators have traded a player that no longer wanted to be here.

And while it may be painful or sad to see a long time member of the team depart, it is absolutely the best move if that player did not want to be here.

In return, the Predators received Filip Forsberg, who many consider to have star potential in the NHL. The 18 year old was the Capitals first round pick in 2012, taken 11th overall. The 6'1", 198 pound forward is called by many an elite prospect, something the Predators do not have in their system. Currently, Forsberg is playing for Leksands IF in the Swedish Elite League.

But Forsberg is just that.

A prospect.

If Forsberg pans out, then the Predators have decidedly won this trade.

Time will tell if that proves to be the case.

The Predators have bolstered their roster for the future. In the here and now, with 12 games left on the schedule, the players that are on the roster are going to have to step up.

Hopefully, they have the "want to".

Want to be here. Want to lay it on the line every night. Want to win.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Predators Get Much Needed Win Over Colorado

The Nashville Predators faced the Colorado Avalanche for the third and final time this season and for the first time on their home ice.

It was a game the Predators needed badly to keep their playoff hopes alive. A win would also keep the Avs from sweeping the season series with the Predators.

The Predators prevailed 3-1 in a contest that was anything but easy.

Pekka Rinne dueled with J.S. Giguere, and for the first 40 minutes of the contest, both goalies were perfect.

The third period saw an avalanche (sorry, I couldn't resist) of goals, with the Avs getting on the board first just 1:01 into the period. Matt Duchene took a puck at his own blue line and raced past the Predators defense that was attacking in the offensive zone. Duchene buried the breakaway attempt, beating Rinne low glove side to give the Avalanche the lead at 1-0.

The Predators power play had been struggling, going 0 for their previous 15 attempts. That changed when the Avs Brad Malone was called for high sticking at 8:01 of the third. Shea Weber fired the puck toward the net with Taylor Beck and Patric Hornqvist in front. The Predators got the puck past Giguere, but the goal was reviewed because it looked as if Beck had kicked the puck in the net. The review showed that the puck had gone off Beck's skate and Hornqvist got his stick on the puck to poke it past Giguere and tie the game at 1.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead as David Legwand out muscled Matt Duchene behind the net and got the puck out front for a shot. Giguere made the save but Legwand got the rebound and shot the puck between the pads of Giguere at 18:46 for his 10th goal of the season.

Paul Gaustad got an empty net goal at 19:45 to make it 3-1 and seal the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

Goose Golden

Paul Gaustad logged 20:49 of ice time, the most of any forward. He played some tough minutes and was a stellar 10 of 24 in the face off circle. Goose is logging critical minutes in all situations, is defensively responsible, and his effort in the face off circle allowed the Predators to control the puck, often in the defensive zone. Goose will never light up the scoreboard, but his contributions go far beyond scoring goals.  

This Is What We Need To See...

Out of David Legwand. His goal came from out working Matt Duchene for the puck and making a strong move to the net. Legwand has the ability to contribute more offensively, and with the injuries the Predators have suffered, Legwand has to bring this kind of effort in the remaining games. Hopefully, Legwand builds on this effort and can continue to contribute offensively.

Gotta Have More

Craig Smith had no shots on goal. Sergei Kostitsyn had one. Marty Erat had three, but passed up some shots. The players have offensive ability, and it is going to be important for them to get on the score sheet. It would benefit the Predators greatly if these guys could develop a scorer's mentality and touch.

The MASH Unit Gets Larger

The Predators have been without the services of Colin Wilson for some time. Mike Fisher missed his third consecutive game. Tonight, Gabriel Bourque was out of the line up with an upper body injury suffered in last night's game with the Blackhawks. I am not sure that we will see Wilson before the regular season is over, but it will greatly bolster the Predators chances if they can get Fisher and Bourque back quickly.

At Your Beck And Call

Taylor Beck had two assists tonight, and has 6 points in his last six games. Beck's game is using his big body to get in front of the net and create havoc (his spin-o-rama to the net tonight notwithstanding). He has contributed some solid minutes and some valuable points, and as his game matures will hopefully become a bigger contributor.

Final Thoughts

The Predators sit in 9th place with 38 points and a 15-14-8 record. 8th place St. Louis also has 38 points, but has two games in hand. With 12 games remaining, I think the Predators are going to have to win at least 9 to get into the playoffs.

Can they do it?

It is a monumental task, but if this team brings the effort like they did tonight, there is a chance. The Predators fired 38 shots on goal and continued to pressure the Avs in their zone. They have to have that kind of effort over the next 12 games.

The challenge is there.

We will find out if this team is up to it.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. David Legwand

3. Taylor Beck

Monday, April 1, 2013

Predators Battle Back But Fall in a Shoot Out Against the Hawks

The Nashville Predators were in the Windy City to face the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks in a game that the Predators desperately needed to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

Pekka Rinne was in the net for the Predators, while the Blackhawks had Corey Crawford between the pipes.

The Predators played an up and down first period with the Hawks, with each team getting good scoring chances but unable to capitalize.

That is until 11.3 seconds left in the period when Brandon Saad took a shot from the half boards that hit the skate of Jonathan Blum and deflected past Rinne to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

The play was set up when the Predators took a late icing and then lost the face off in their zone.

Little things. Big consequences.

The second period began with the Predators having lost the services of their leading scorer, Gabriel Bourque, due to an injury suffered in the first period. 

Pekka Rinne was busy to begin the second period as the Predators had to kill off a penalty and the Hawks fired 6 shots on net during the ensuing power play.

Rinne also came up huge with a magnificent save on Andrew Shaw on a 2 on 1 break by the Hawks.

The Predators short circuited their first power play of the game as Patric Hornqvist was called for a 4 minute high sticking penalty just 30 seconds into the power play.

In the ensuing 4 on 4, Jonathan Blum got caught too deep in the offensive zone and it created a 2 on 1 with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews breaking into the zone. Kane buried a puck glove side to make it 2-0 Hawks at 12:10 of the second period.

The second period ended 2-0, but it could have been much worse if Rinne had not been strong in net. The Hawks fired 18 shots at Rinne in the second, while the Predators anemic offense returned and they could only muster 4 shots on goal.

The Predators got on the board at 3:56 of the third period as Crawford went to cover the puck on a dump in but did not control it. David Legwand drove the net and poked the puck from between the goalies hands and under him for his 9th goal of the season.

Call it a fluke. Call it what you want, but it was a much needed goal for the Predators. The hope was that it would give the Preds some momentum in a game that up to this point had been owned by the Hawks.

That goal energized the Predators, as they had out shot the Hawks 8-0 through the first 7 minutes of the third period and were putting pressure on the Hawks in the offensive zone.

That pressure paid off as Taylor Beck scored at 7:56 to tie the game at 2. Beck took a pass from Patric Hornqvist and lost control of the puck but was able to flip it toward the net. Crawford bobbled the puck and fought to find it, but the puck managed to trickle across the line for the game tying goal. That was Beck's second goal of the season.

The Predators continued to press and created some good chances, but could not score in the remainder of the period. Rinne was solid and shut out the Hawks in the period, and as improbable as it appeared at the start of the third period, the Predators had battled back to force overtime.

Indicative of the effort by the Predators, they out shot the Hawks 15-9 in the third period.

The overtime was fast paced and scoreless, and for the eighth time this season, each team was headed to a shootout.

In the shootout,  Toews roofed a shot over Rinne, while Hornqvist missed the net in the first round.

Patrick Kane was stopped by Rinne and Craig Smith scored on a beautiful fake in the second round.

Rinne stopped Andrew Shaw and Crawford stopped Legwand in the third round.

Brandon Saad lost control of the puck and Crawford stopped Kostitsyn in the fourth round.

Michael Rozsival scored in the fifth round and Taylor Beck was stopped by Crawford for the win for the Hawks.

Some observations:

Gabby Gone

The Predators lost their most dynamic forward in the first period as Gabriel Bourque left the game with an undisclosed injury. The hope is that the injury is not serious and will not keep the Swedish Chef out of the line up for any extended period.  

Battling Back

At the end of the second period, the feeling was that the Predators were lucky to be down only 2-0. The Hawks owned the second period. Yet the Predators came out with focus, purpose, and energy in the third and battled back to tie the game. It would have been easy for the Predators to wilt in a hostile environment against a more talented opponent. They did not. They showed character and fought back. This is the kind of effort that the team can build upon, and they have to do that to win some critical games upcoming.

Final Thoughts

Kudos to the team for fighting back in a tough contest. It would have been easy to quit, but they didn't. The effort in the third period was solid, making up for a dismal second period. The Predators have to bring that effort they had in the final 20 and bring it for a full 60 minutes.

The road to the playoffs doesn't get any easier as the Predators will meet the Hawks two more times within the next week.

It is time to lay it all on the line, boys.

My three stars:

1. Brandon Saad

2. David Legwand

3. Pekka Rinne