Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blues Embarrass the Predators 6-1


That is the only way to describe the Predators effort against the St. Louis Blues in a 6-1 loss at Bridgestone Arena.

The Blues controlled play throughout the game and brought Predators netminder Carter Hutton back to reality, chasing him in the third period after tallying 5 goals. Hutton got no help from his defense and was mercifully pulled for Magnus Hellberg midway of the third.

The Predators got no offensive push at all from their forwards, rarely challenging Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The few times they did pressure the net, Halak was up to the challenge. The Predators only goal came on a shorthanded shot from Nick Spaling 52 seconds into the third period.

The Blues are a measuring stick for the Predators, a division rival that has built their team through the draft, much like Nashville. The game tonight shows that the Blues have done a much better job of building a team of talented players that border on elite.

By contrast, the Predators have a team of grinders- guys that work hard and hustle but are not remotely elite.

That falls on GM David Poile.

The Predators have failed to develop offensive talent that can compete against one of the better teams in the league. Yes, there is some potential in a few players, but the reality is that against a team that is tight checking and physical, the Predators lack players that can create offensively and have the potential to change the course of a game.

And the Predators do not have the players on this roster that can do that.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton was under siege for most of the game. The 5th goal he allowed was probably the only one that he should have legitimately should have stopped. Too often, the defensive breakdowns allowed the Blues some prime scoring chances, and they capitalized.

  • The defensive pairing of Ryan Ellis and Victor Bartley was absolutely brutal. Both were -3 and were dominated by the Blues forwards when they were on the ice. Ellis does not have the physical ability to handle big, talented power forwards and the Blues took advantage of him when he was on the ice. An indication of how bad this pairing played? The Predators went nearly 6 minutes into the third period before they saw the ice.

  • Craig Smith, Patric Hornqvist, and Matt Cullen showed good hustle and attempted to get the offense going when they were on the ice. Smith had a team high 6 shots for the game.

  • David Legwand, Gabriel Bourque, and Colin Wilson were invisible tonight. The Predators need these guys to get their game going consistently. Bourque in particular needs to find the net and get his scoring touch back.
The Predators embark on a 17 game road trip. After this debacle, this team needs to find their offensive touch and confidence.

Maybe the road is the place to do that.

My three stars:

1. Alex Steen

2. T.J. Oshie

3. Jaden Schwartz

Friday, October 25, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The Senate Budget Committee released data this week that shows that over the last 5 years, the U.S. has spent $3.7 TRILLION on all welfare and poverty assistance programs. By contrast, over the same period, the U.S. spent $797.4 billion on education, transportation, and the NASA program. Let that sink in for a moment...

I'll wait...

We are spending nearly 5 times more on welfare and poverty assistance programs as we are on educating our children, maintaining our transportation infrastructure, and funding one of the few government programs (NASA) that has yielded positive results.

Part of the problem is that our federal government currently has 80 different means tested poverty programs. A means tested program is simply based on income, and the recipients of these benefits do not pay anything into the programs, unlike Social Security or Medicare. Oh yeah, this $3.7 trillion over the past 5 years does not include another $200 billion contributed by the states.

One of the numerous problems that we face in managing these welfare/poverty programs is that effective governmental oversight is virtually non-existent. For instance, a person may receive food stamps from the Department of Agriculture and housing subsidies from the Federal Housing Administration and free medical care from the Department of Human Services.

As a country, we must take care of those that need help. No argument there. But there are better ways to do this. Great Britain has consolidated all their social welfare programs into a single credit for the beneficiaries that comes from a single source, and that credit is capped with an annual limit. This improves efficiency for their social services and allows them to track spending per recipient.

While there are some systemic tweaks that can be made to these federal programs, perhaps the more fundamental issues that we as a country should focus upon is that we have created an environment that is not favorable for companies to hire; our educational system is not (for the most) turning out graduates that are ready to compete in a highly competitive global marketplace; and we have made it too easy for potential workers to drop out of the work force.

About that last point...

We have seen an explosion in the number of people that have moved to disability status and have dropped out of the work force. Look at the following graph from the Social Security Administration:

Title: social security benefits - Description: social security benefits

As of mid-year 2013, the number of workers on disability has moved over the 11 million mark. Disability has become the new unemployment, and once workers move to disabled status, they rarely go back into the work force.

Why mention disability? It is just one of the myriad of federal programs that, while intended for good, has become a fallback for many people unable to find a job and becoming gainfully employed. Now you may not think that that has a significant impact on you.

And you would be wrong.

Here are some staggering numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau: as of the 4th quarter of 2011, 49.2% of the American population received some form of government benefit.

Nearly 50% of the population is receiving some form of payment from Washington. 82,457,000 people- 28% of our population- receive Medicaid benefits. 23,228,000 receive benefits under the Women's, Infant's, and Children (WIC) program; 13,433,000 Americans live in government subsidized housing; 5,098,000 receive unemployment benefits; 49,901,000 are currently receiving Social Security; 49,073,000 who received food stamps; 46,440,000 are on Medicare.

And the list goes on.

Keep in mind these numbers are from the end of 2011. Think they have diminished? No, they have exploded higher.

And this does not include the effect of the debacle that is Obamacare.

You can see the problem.

The $3.7 trillion spent on welfare and poverty assistance programs represents a transfer of wealth and income from those that are producers and earners of that income to those that are not.

And we are dangerously close to moving beyond the 50% level of the population that is receiving some form of transfer payment. When that happens, do any of you believe that our politicians will have any incentive to rein in this spending?

They are able to buy votes and power with this ability to keep these programs running and expanding.

Please note that I am decidedly in favor of helping those that are less fortunate. I just want to do it on my terms and not be bullied into having my income confiscated for inefficient benefit programs and have no say in where those funds are directed.

The point of this lengthy and negative post is twofold:

You need to know what is happening in Washington with your money and with these burgeoning programs. You need to know about the growth of the myriad of poverty/welfare programs and you need to demand that Congress get these programs running more efficiently and that they create an environment in this country where it is favorable to work. This includes limiting the benefits in the welfare/poverty outlays and relieving the regulatory and tax pressure on small businesses that are on the front line of job growth.

The other point is simply this:

The growth of our deficit spending and our total debt is unsustainable. The growth of social welfare programs contributes to this situation (along with waste and unnecessary defense spending), and the fiscal discipline to begin to restrain these programs must be enacted soon. We have seen that Washington does not have the cajones to do this on their own, so we must become more involved and we must hold our elected representatives accountable for the action (or inaction) that addresses this mess.

If Washington fails to exact some fiscal discipline and move toward getting their financial house in order, that discipline will eventually happen. But it will be exacted by the markets and it will painful and calamitous.

As a country, we are on an unsustainable financial track. The burden on the taxpayers of this country is heavy, and you can see why. If we stand idly by, it is only going to get worse.

And financially disastrous.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Predators Grind Out a 3-2 OT Win Over Winnipeg

The Nashville Predators learned today that they would be without the services of goaltender Pekka Rinne for at least 4 weeks as he is recovering from surgery to clear a bacterial infection from his surgically repaired hip.

This means that the work load over the next month will fall on back up Carter Hutton.

Hutton got started well with a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena.

The first period opened with the Jets in control of the puck and the game, and Hutton made some good saves to keep the Jets off the board. The Jets dominated so totally in the first half of the opening period that the Predators didn't record their first shot on goal until 10:48 had elapsed.

The Predators got their legs going and began to claw back into the game in the second half of the period, and finally broke through on the power play at 15:53. Shea Weber blasted a puck from the high slot over the shoulder of Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec off a pass from David Legwand to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. This was Weber's third goal of the season.

Shots were 10-9 in favor of Nashville at the end of the first period.

The Jets tied the game at 1 at 13:49 of the second period when Anthony Peluso took the puck behind the net and wrapped it around and tucked it in just over the goal line. Hutton sprawled across the goal line and got his stick on the puck and it appeared that he made the save. The play was reviewed, and the replay showed that it did cross the goal line.

The second period ended tied at 1. Winnipeg out shot Nashville 14-9 in the period, and once again, Hutton came up with some quality saves for the Predators.

In the third period, Pateic Hornqvist broke the tie at 6:04 when Pavelec kicked out a rebound of a Mike Fisher shot and Hornqvist controlled the puck just inside the face off circle. Hornqvist ripped a shot over the shoulder of Pavelec for his fourth goal of the season to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

The Jets tied it at 2 at 16:59 as Hutton gave up a rebound off his pads that landed on the tape of Blake Wheeler. Wheeler was completely alone on the right side of the net and he banged home an uncontested shot as Hutton had not recovered to get back in position.

Regulation ended with the score tied at 2. Nashville had a 12-11 shot advantage in the third period.

In the overtime period, the Predators controlled play and fired shots at Pavelec. Unfortunately, most missed the net. That changed at 4:43 of overtime when Craig Smith took a pass from David Legwand and blew a shot short side over the shoulder of Pavelec to give the Predators their second win over the Jets in as many games.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed Mike Fisher back into the line up. Fisher had missed 4 games with a fractured foot. Fisher showed no signs of rust and played 17:30 and picked up an assist.

  • Craig Smith continues his strong play. Smith used his speed and puck handling skills to create scoring chances and his shot to win the game was a rocket. Smith had four shots on goal and has shown that he can be one of the most offensively creative and dangerous players on the ice.

  • Matt Cullen took a puck to the face in the first period. He dropped to the ice and play was stopped as trainers helped him to the bench. After getting some attention on the bench, Cullen returned to the game and did not miss a shift.

  • Carter Hutton has shown that he can carry the team when needed. In the first period, the Jets had territorial dominance to open the game. They fired 7 shots on Hutton and he made some good saves. Hutton has good rebound control and rarely leaves a rebound in prime scoring position. The Wheeler goal came off a rebound that caught the Predators defense rotated to one side of the ice, leaving the Jets forward alone at the side of the net. Hutton will be tested in coming games, but his efforts against the Jets show that he is calm and poised in the net, moves well, and has good positioning on shots he faces.

  • There were times where the Predators forwards created some good scoring chances, and there were times where they were just grinding in the offensive zone. The line of Cullen, Smith, and Gabriel Bourque has been the Predators best offensive line, and the Predators need more consistency in the offensive zone out of their other lines.

  • Speaking of Bourque, it would be good to see him get his offensive game going. I like his hustle and effort, but he needs to find the back of the net.

  • I love the way Patric Hornqvist plays. He brings it every night. His hustle and fire set the tone for the team. Some of the other forwards need to follow more closely his style of play.

  • Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch. The Predators really need Stalberg to get his game going.
The Predators are now 6-4-1 and will play another divisional rival in St. Louis on Saturday night at the Bridge. This will be a tough test and a good measuring stick for this team.

Time for the boys to step up.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Carter Hutton

3. Patric Hornqvist

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Predators End Road Trip With a Thud, Fall to the Wild 2-0

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Xcel Energy Center to face the Minnesota Wild seeking to win their third game of a three game road trip.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and the Wild had Josh Harding between the pipes.

The Predators scratched Filip Forsberg and inserted Rich Clune into the line up. The Predators were once again without the services of Mike Fisher, who continues to deal with a lower body injury.

Both teams are fast and both like to play an up tempo game. The Wild had a decided advantage in the early going of the game as the Wild had the Predators back on their heels and controlled the puck in the offensive zone for most of the first part of the period. Thanks to two power plays, the Wild out shot the Predators 13-2 past the midway mark. Pekka Rinne was sharp and made some outstanding saves to keep the Wild off the board.

The first period was scoreless, but the Wild dominated the Predators and it was fortunate that the Predators survived the period. The Wild out shot the Predators 13-3.

The second period was not much better for the Predators. The Wild had the better scoring chances and controlled the puck once again for much of the period.

The Wild finally broke through at 18:53 of the second as Justin Fontaine got his stick on a rebound given up by Rinne  of a Clayton Stoner shot and was able to flip the puck over his shoulder to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. The defense was caught out of position on the play and gave Fontaine an unimpeded path to the front of the net.

The Wild out shot the Predators 11-6 in the second period.

The Predators had been out skated and out worked through 40 minutes. The Predators were going to have to dig down and begin skating and pressuring Harding to have a chance to claw back into this game.

The Predators did not mount much offense in the third period. With Rinne pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, the Predators swarmed the net and got a puck behind Harding but it was swept off the goal line by Jared Spurgeon.

Jason Pominville sealed the win for the Wild with an empty net goal at 19:35 to make the final score 2-0.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were out worked the entire game. They were outshot 29-15 and the Wild controlled play throughout. Whether it was fatigue or just a failure to respond, this was the most disappointing game the team has played in a while.

  • Puck support in the offensive zone was virtually non-existent all night. The Predators did not do a good job of getting the puck deep, but when they did, the puck support was not there. This caused numerous turnovers and limited the offensive chances.

  • Still waiting for some offense from Viktor Stalberg.

  • Colin Wilson was a non-factor tonight. No shots on goal and nothing in the offensive zone.

  • Rinne was very good tonight. He had pucks coming at him from all angles tonight and made some excellent saves. Unfortunately, he got no offensive support.
As much as this game was a stinker, it is important to keep this road trip in perspective. The Predators picked up 4 out of  a possible 6 points and except for tonight's effort, played some good hockey.

The Predators will have a chance to put this one behind them on Thursday night when they face the Jets at Bridgestone Arena.

My three stars:

1. Justin Fontaine

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Josh Harding

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Predators Pick Up Point in the 'Peg

The Nashville Predators ventured to Winnipeg in search of back to back wins and their second road victory of the season.

This was the first meeting of the season between the new divisional rivals.

With the Predators playing last night in Montreal, Carter Hutton got the start in net. The Jets had Ondrej Pavelec manning the crease.

The first period was scoreless but both teams played an up tempo style that created some good scoring opportunities. The Predators best scoring chance came when Matt Cullen came out of the penalty box and gathered in a puck that had gotten behind the Jets defense. Cullen was stopped on the breakaway by a stick save from Pavelec.

Shots were 15-12 in favor of the Jets in the first period.

Just 10 seconds into the period, Matt Hendricks went to the box for tripping. On the PK, Eric Nystrom blocked a shot by Dustin Byfuglien and took the puck in the neutral zone. He broke in 2 on 1 with Paul Gaustad, but rather than pass he ripped a shot inside the far post to give the Predators a 1-0 lead 20 seconds into the period.

The Jets answered the Predators score with a flurry of shots at the net, requiring Hutton to make some big saves to hold the Predators lead.

The Predators got a gift from the Jets at 12:07 of the second period. Pavelec had gone behind the net to stop the puck. The the puck was cleared around the boards and Patric Hornqvist took possession of the puck along the boards in the offensive zone and just threw the puck at the net. Pavelec was not back in the net, and Hornqvist's shot hit the leg of Zach Bogosian and caromed into the net to make it 2-0.

The Predators got their first power play of the game, and just as the power play expired, Matt Cullen got a pass on his tape from Craig Smith and roofed a shot from the left face off circle to give the Predators a 3-0 lead at 14:57.

The second period ended with the Predators up 3-0. Carter Hutton was strong in net, fending off all 11 shots he faced in the period. The Predators had 7 shots on goal.

Winnipeg got on the board at 9:13 of the third period as Carter Hutton looked to have the puck frozen at the side of the net. Several jets kept banging away at the puck and it trickled out into the blue paint. Evander Kane poked the puck five hole to give the Jets some momentum.

That goal gave the Jets more than momentum. they were buzzing the net and keeping the Predators hemmed in their zone. The Predators looked to have reverted to survival mode trying to hold off the offensive onslaught of the Jets.

The teams traded some power play opportunities but neither could capitalize. The Predators defense was able to limit quality scoring chances and protect the two goal lead for the remainder of the game for the 3-1 victory.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton looked very good in net. he was poised, relaxed, and was rarely caught out of position. There were questions about Hutton in the back up role before the season began, but if he can continue to give quality starts like tonight, the Predators have found a solid back up.

  • Mike Fisher was out of action again tonight with a lower body injury.

  • The line of Cullen, Bourque, and Smith continue to play well. They have good chemistry and are very complimentary style players.

  • In general, I like the compete level and response of the team. They withstood the pressure of the Jets and matched their speed. There was a stretch in the third period where the Predators ere back on their heels but they rallied back to level the ice. That showed some mental toughness.

  • Patric Hornqvist continues his solid play. he constantly battles for the position and the puck and his motor is always going full tilt. He has to work on his breakaway shot, though. After a stellar defensive play, he broke in alone on Pavelec. Instead of getting a shot, he launched it into the net.

  • Eric Nystrom has been a very good add for the Predators. He brings intensity and hockey smarts, and tonight, he showed he has a pretty good shot. His shorthanded goal took the energy out of the building and gave the Predators momentum.
With the win, the Predators move their record to 5-3-1. More importantly, the Predators are building confidence with two good road wins and they are beginning to gel as a team.

They will have an opportunity to build on that momentum Tuesday night in Minnesota.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Matt Cullen

3. Eric Nystrom

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Predators Pick Up First Road Win, Defeat the Canadiens 2-1

The Nashville Predators began a three game road trip in Montreal looking for their first road win of the season while facing a Canadiens team that is fast and talented.

Mission accomplished.

The first period was a fast paced, penalty filled period that saw the Predators capitalize on one of their four power play opportunities. P. K Subban was in the box for tripping when Ryan White cleared the puck over the glass to give the Predators 39 seconds of 5 on 3. Subban had just exited the box when Shea Weber attempted a cross crease pass that hit Montreal defenseman Josh Georges and caromed into the net past Canadiens netminder Carey Price. Weber's second goal of the season came at 12:31 of the first period.

The Predators out shot the Canadiens 14-6 in the first period thanks to the power play opportunities.

The Predators opened the second period with good jump and had some quality opportunities on the power play  and at even strength but could not bury their shots.

The Canadiens tied the game at 1 at 7:02 of the second as they sent traffic to the net. Pekka Rinne made two stops close in but Brendan Gallagher gathered in a loose puck in the crease and banged it past Rinne.

The Predators kept up the pressure in the second period, out shooting the Canadiens 16-11, but failed to finish on their chances.

Montreal opened the third period swarming the Predators net and was awarded a goal after a furious goal mouth scramble. The play went to review and it showed that Rinne had covered the puck and it did not cross the goal line. For once, the Predators had caught a break after a review from the war room in Toronto.

The Predators would be shorthanded, however, as David Legwand was called for cross checking on the play. Fortunately, the Predators were able to kill the penalty.

The Predators flirted with disaster in the third period, taking three penalties and putting the potent Canadiens power play on the ice. The Predators PK unit came up big, killing all penalties.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead at 18:33 as David Legwand worked a nice give and go with Seth Jones. Jones passed to Legwand on the half board and fed a pass to Jones who was driving the net. Jones beat Price from just inside the face off circle with a nice wrist shot over the blocker.

The Predators defense made that goal stand up for the win.

Some observations:

  • Remember when the Predators wouldn't shoot the puck? The Predators out shot the Canadiens 37-29 and were pouring shots on net. Lacking elite goal scorers, this team has to shoot the puck and go hard after rebounds. They have been doing that this season, and this is how they are going to have to play to win games.

  • Seth Jones has been solid on the blue line, but he has some very good offensive skills. His goal was a thing of beauty, as he drew the puck back away from the defender and scored off a well placed wrist shot. Jones showed good instincts in jumping into the play and more importantly was able to finish the chance.

  • Rinne was very solid. he made some good, scrambling saves when the Canadiens were putting pressure on the net. As goes Rinne, so goes this team.

  • The Predators were without Mike Fisher, who was out of the line up with a lower body injury.

  • Still waiting for Viktor Stalberg to show up. Once again, he had 10:29 of ice time, the lowest of any Predator that dressed, and has yet to get on the score sheet.

  • The Predators PK was outstanding. They killed all five man advantage opportunities by the Canadiens and their play helped to keep Montreal from seizing momentum in a very tight game.

  • While the PP did score on one opportunity, this unit has to improve. They are showing some positives, but too often, there is no motion and they are too easy to defend.
This was a solid road win against a very good team. This is the type of win that the team can use to build momentum, and they will get their chance to do just that tomorrow night in Winnipeg.

My three stars:

1. Seth Jones

2. Pekka Rinne

3. David Legwand

Friday, October 18, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

As expected, Congress went to the brink before pushing the problem of extending the debt ceiling down the road to next February. Congress did nothing constructive about reining in spending or establishing a framework whereby constructive discussions and budgetary adjustments can occur. Oh, wait, Mitch McConnell, the Senator from Kentucky did get a $2 billion appropriation for his state for waterway and dam improvements- the "Kentucky Kickback"- for delivering the Senate  Republican vote. And in a jaw dropping move by Congress, the debt ceiling has been lifted for the next 16 weeks until February 7th. A provision in the latest debt ceiling deal prohibits the Treasury Department from enforcing the debt limit, which has until now kept Congress and the White House from getting totally out of control with their spending. So Congress can accumulate as much debt as it wants between now and February 7th, and there is no restraint from any source. Some experts guess that our legislators will rack up around $300 billion in new debt. I think it will be more. Look for a new farm bill to amass huge appropriations of our tax dollars as more and more Americans receive food stamps. And if Obama and the Democrats ram through an immigration bill granting amnesty to the roughly 11 million illegals in our country, debt could be more. Much more as they draw on government benefits. Right now, Congress has no restraints on their spending, and the next 16 weeks could (will) be a time where our elected leaders can dole out the pork to their districts and favored groups with impunity. And you and I will be the worse off for it.

A man came to my door and asked if I could donate for a community swimming pool. I gave him a glass of water.

Here is a chart that emphasizes the problem we have with government spending:

Since 1970, median household income has risen 24.2% from $41,358 to $53,360. Now look at the increase in government spending. Federal spending was $926 billion in 1970 and has risen 287.5% to $3.6 trillion in 2010. Incomes have averaged an annual increase of .8% while federal spending has had an average annual increase of 9.5%. This does two significantly negative things to the economy: government spending, especially at these levels, tends to crowd out private investment and drain resources from the private sector; and it creates an enormous tax burden on those that pay taxes. Longer term, the continual printing of dollars to finance this deficit spending has the potential to seriously debase the value of our dollar, which means that everything you and I purchase will become much more expensive. As citizens, we must engage with our elected leaders and tell them this profligate spending has to stop. Fail to do so, and the result for our country will be awful and painful.

They say each day is a gift. If so, does anyone know where I can return Mondays?

Our country holds an extraordinary and enviable position among all other countries. We are considered the paradigm of safety and stability, and as such, our dollar has become the world's reserve currency. This simply means that most foreign transactions are conducted in dollars and that foreign investors will buy our dollar denominated treasury bonds for their safety and the confidence that each investor will be fully repaid. By being the de facto world reserve currency, this has allowed our government to print a lot of dollars- a LOT of dollars- because there was always demand for them. And because their was high demand, our interest rates that we paid on these dollars (our debt) has typically been one of the lowest rates in the developed world. This latest budget impasse and the inability of Congress to show any fiscal discipline and restraint has caused some in the global economic community to take a second look at our dollar. Imagine if our credit rating is down graded. Fitch's Rating Service (similar to Moody's and probably a bit more accurate) has already threatened a credit rating downgrade. This means interest rates will go up and we as a nation will pay more interest. Those additional dollars will come from you and me in the form of higher tax payments. And our dollar will lose value as  more are printed and if other countries decide to not treat our dollar as a reserve currency. And this will have the greatest impact on all of us as our buying power is diminished by the weaker dollar. Our country is headed toward a fiscal train wreck, and it is going to be imperative that we press Congress into making significant changes to avert this disaster.

A friend of mine said that onions were the only food that could make you cry. That's not true. I hit him in the head with a coconut and he started crying.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kings Prevail Over the Predators In a Shoot Out

The Nashville Predators and the L.A Kings engaged in a heavy weight battle at Bridgestone Arena. It took a shoot out to decide the winner, and the Kings prevailed 2-1 as Anze Kopitar scored the only goal in the skills competition.

The Kings have used their size and skill to push around the Predators in previous contests. Tonight, the Predators matched the Kings physical play and created numerous scoring chances.

Matt Cullen scored his first goal as a Predator at 10:33 of the first period. Gabriel Bourque went hard to the net and fired a shot off the pads of Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. In the scramble in front of the net, the puck bounced to Cullen and he roofed a wrist shot over the sprawling Quick to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Kings tied the game at 19:19 of the first period as Mike Richards controlled the puck in a crowd and skated to the left face off dot. He froze Pekka Rinne, who had to respect his shot. Richards whipped a cross ice pass on to the tape of Slava Voynov, who ripped a shot that Rinne got a piece of but couldn't stop to tie the game a 1.

Shots were 15-15 after one period.

The remainder of the game saw both teams with offensive pushes that were turned back by both netminders. In the second period, the Predators out shot the Kings 11-5 but could not solve Quick. Both teams had stretches where they controlled the puck in the offensive zone but could not score. Rinne and Quick were sharp and both made some very good saves to preserve the tie.

In the overtime period, the Predators got two minutes of man advantage as the Kings Alec Martinez was called for high sticking. With the 4 on three power play, the Predators could only muster two shots. The best scoring chance of the overtime came with the Kings short handed. Ryan Ellis turned the puck over at the blue line and Rinne made a spectacular save on a Mike Richards breakaway.

The Predators sent Craig Smith, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Cullen out for the shoot out. Forsberg had Quick beaten with a backhand, but shot the puck wide of the net.

Rinne stopped Mike Richards and Jeff Carter before Anze Kopitar beat him with a backhand over the shoulder to win the game.

The Predators finished their five game home stand with a 3-2 mark.

Some observations:

  • The line of Cullen, Smith, and Bourque was the best line tonight. They skated well and created some good scoring chances. This line is beginning to show some good chemistry, and if they  can get rolling consistently, it will give the Predators some much needed offensive punch.

  • I continue to like the Predators compete level. In times past, this team would have gotten back on their heels when facing a team that is physical and skates well. Tonight, they took the attack to the Kings. They out shot the visitors 35-30 and matched their physical play. The second period, which has often been the bane of the Predators, saw the home team dominate the Kings.

  • I was impressed with the play of Filip Forsberg. He handled well the physical play of the Kings and showed some amazing hands and ability to work open for scoring chances.

  • Viktor Stalberg needs to show up. Tonight, he was moved to the fourth line and played only 10:09, the least amount of ice time by any Predator. He registered no shots on net. I don't know if his injured shoulder continues to bother him, but this is certainly not the kind of play the Predators need out of him.

  • With Stalberg on the fourth line, Eric Nystrom was moved up to a line with David Legwand and Filip Forsberg. I like Nystrom's play on that line as he brings grit and energy to a line that has two play makers (and yes, I am being generous to include Legwand in that description).

  • Pekka Rinne made some very good saves, especially tracking the puck through traffic. Rinne shows no ill effects of his off season hip surgery.

  • The Predators PK was excellent, killing off all four of the Kings power plays. As good as the PK was, the power play was horrid. Especially in overtime with a 4 on 3 advantage, the Predators could only get off two shots. The Predators often had trouble getting the puck in the zone and when they did, there was not much movement. The Predators made it too easy for the Kings to defend, and this has to improve and get more consistent.

The Predators will now embark on a three game road trip. The team is looking for their first road win and they need to pick up some points on this road swing. This will be a good test for this team, and hopefully they will continue to gel and compete at the level the do on home ice.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Quick

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Anze Kopitar

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Predators Win Their Second Straight, Defeat the Panthers 4-3

It certainly wasn't pretty.

But in the end, the Nashville Predators scratched out a 4-3 victory over a scrappy Florida Panthers squad at Bridgestone Arena. With the win, the Predators record is now 3-3.

The game opened with the Panthers controlling the puck and holding a territorial advantage over the Predators. Pekka Rinne had to be sharp to keep the Panthers off the board early.

The Predators got their legs going and started to swing momentum midway of the period. With the puck in the offensive zone, Mike Fisher slid a pass to Shea Weber, who had worked himself open on the blue line near the middle of the ice. Weber absolutely blew a rocket past Jacob Markstrom to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 9:23 of the first period.

The Panthers tied the game a t 1 at 1:16 of the second period as Jonathan Huberdeau took a pass from Scott Gomez in the high slot and cruised in on net untouched and beat Rinne over the shoulder. The Predators defense did not touch Huberdeau as he skated into prime scoring territory and he made them pay for the lapse.

The Predators regained the lead at 12:48 as Craig Smith found Mike Fisher alone in the right face off circle. Fisher skated in on Markstrom and made a nice forehand to backhand move and lifted the puck over Markstrom's pad and inside the far post to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

The Panthers answered right back on a bizarre play. The puck was popped into the air at the top of the crease and Victor Bartley tried to bat it out of harm's way with his hand. Instead, it bounced off the helmet of a Predators defender and caromed out to the right side of the net. Former Predator Marcel Goc gathered in the puck and put a shot under the cross bar to tie the game at 2 at 13:30.

The Predators once again took the lead at 1:22 of the third period. Craig Smith fought through traffic and banged home a rebound of a Gabriel Bourque shot. This was Smith's first goal of the season.

The Predators tallied on the power play at 5:13 as Patric Hornqvist walked out from the goal line and beat Markstrom with a shot to the far post.

The Panthers made it interesting as Matt Gilroy took a shot and it hit David Legwand's stick and redirected past Rinne at 11:37 to cut the Predators lead to 4-3.

The Predators were able to hold off the Panthers for the remainder of the third period to notch the win. The Predators have won 3 of their last 4 games and are 3-1 on home ice.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were 1 for 2 on the power play. This is encouraging as the Predators need to improve their scoring with the man advantage. While they were 50%, the first power play the Predators had in the first period was a disjointed mess. The team has to get more consistent when they have the man advantage. At times, they struggle entering the zone and often the puck carrier gets outnumbered, eliminating offensive zone chances. While showing signs of improvement, the power play is still a work in progress.

  • Viktor Stalberg played only 10:07 in the game, and if I am not mistaken, did not play in the third period. He is coming back from an injury, but the Predators need him to get his game going and become a factor.

  • Craig Smith had his best game of the season. He had a goal and an assist and his speed created problems for the Panthers. Smith arguably has the best offensive skill set on the team and he appears to be playing with confidence. This bodes well for the team.

  • Congratulations to David Legwand for playing his 900th NHL game, all as a Predator. I think he used the word "obviously" at least once for each game he has played in his post game interview.

  • Mattias Ekholm and Kevin Klein continue to log big minutes and play very well in the second pairing. Klein had 24:11 of ice time and Ekholm had 21:15.

  • Fisher and Hornqvist are the only Predators with more than 1 goal. They both have 2.
This was a tough game for the Predators and one that could have easily gone the wrong way. The Panthers forechecked well and challenged throughout the game. This team responded to the challenge and refused to fold under the pressure. Florida held a 17-15 shot advantage through 2 periods, but the Predators stepped up the pressure in the third, out shooting the Panthers 15-8 and scoring 2 goals.

That is the sign of a team that is beginning to grow in confidence and develop some chemistry.

Those positive trends need to continue.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Shea Weber

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Predators Edge the Islanders 3-2

The Nashville Predators got back into the win column with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders at Bridgestone Arena.

Pekka Rinne faced just 16 shots from the Islanders while Evgeni Nabokov was peppered with 31 shots from the Predators.

After a scoreless first period, Seth Jones scored his first goal in the NHL on the power play. Jones took a cross ice pass from David Legwand and beat Nabokov short side with a slap shot at 1:032 of the second period.

The Islanders tied the game at 12:39 of the second as Frans Nielsen was left alone cruising down the slot. He got a perfect pass from Kyle Okposo from behind the net and snapped a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of Rinne.

The Islanders were energized by that goal and began to press the attack. A turnover at the blue line had the Predators scrambling in the defensive zone. John Tavares tried to pass the puck, but it was blocked back to him behind the goal line. Tavares made a crafty play as he saw Rinne cheat off the post and he banked a shot off his backside and into the net to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 15:28.

With the period winding down, Patric Hornqvist took a chip off the wall from Colin Wilson and drove into the offensive zone. He cranked a slap shot from the face off circle that beat Nabokov five hole to tie the game at 2 at 19:07 of the second.

Ryan Ellis notched the game winning goal at 3:23 of the third period on an innocent looking play. He took a pass from Matt Cullen and rifled a slap shot from the blue line that beat Nabokov over the shoulder.

Both teams traded some scoring opportunities in the remaining time, and the Predators were able to hold off the Islanders for their second win of the season.

Some observations:

  • Victor Stalberg made his first appearance of the season, logging 12:20 of ice time. Stalberg showed good speed but looked tentative. Obviously, he has to gel with his line mates, and Predator fans hope that will happen quickly.

  • Seth Jones looks remarkably poised for a 19 year old rookie. He had three shots on goal tonight, and as he gets more comfortable, I expect to see those shot totals go up. He has a good shot and as he gains confidence his scoring should increase.

  • Kevin Klein and Mattias Ekholm are becoming a dependable and solid defensive pairing. Tonight, both were -1, but they have rarely been caught out of position and have demonstrated some good chemistry.

  • Filip Forsberg is solid and will become a very good player for the Predators. However, for the second game in a row, Forsberg lost a player coming down the slot in the defensive zone and it cost the Predators a goal. His defensive play is not bad, but his momentary lapses have cost the team a goal in the last two games.

  • The overall defensive effort tonight was good. Limiting a team that has dangerous offensive players to just 16 shots shows that this team is focused on their defensive effort. tonight, the total team effort shut down the attack of the Islanders, and this is the effort that the Predators have to have every game.

  • Although he was held off the score sheet, I like the effort and energy that Mike Fisher is bringing to the ice. His physical play helped set the tone for the Predators tonight.
This team is still a work in progress. There are 8 players on the roster the either were not on the team last year or played a limited number of games. There are signs of chemistry and the talent is there to be successful, but it is going to take some games to begin to play at a high(er) level.

The quicker the better.

My three stars:

1. Seth Jones

2. Ryan Ellis

3. John Tavares

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

On vacation this week, so this one will not be as in-depth. That said...

I'm sure all of you have seen the heavy handed tactics that the federal government has undertaken since the government shutdown. In particular, the way our veterans and citizens have been treated when they have tried to access our national parks. The actions of our government have been petty and designed to inflict as much inconvenience and pain as possible. Now, how do you think the federal government is going to treat citizens when it comes to managing healthcare? If you think the treatment of citizens that enroll in Obamacare will be much better, then you haven't been paying attention.

Speaking of Obamacare, the enrollment debacle is just a precursor to how badly the federal government will manage healthcare in this country. From a web site that cost over $600 million to develop and doesn't work to the inability to perform a basic function like getting people enrolled, the signs are there that this is going to be a disaster.

It still infuriates me that our "leaders" in Washington have foisted the Obamacare disaster on this country but have exempted themselves from having to enroll in the plan themselves. The imperious nature of our leaders and their unwillingness to live under the laws they have passed is a major part of the problem that our country faces today.

It would not surprise me to see the impasse between the White House and Congressional Republicans cause us to hit the debt ceiling limit on the 17th. While this is cause for concern, it will not lead to default. The Treasury can prioritize payments and pay bond holders their principal and interest on bonds coming due. It will have an impact on entitlement spending if that happens. Social Security payments, welfare checks, and other social spending will be delayed. When that happens, look for the pressure to ramp up and a deal to be reached. The deal will raise the debt limit but will do nothing to curtail spending.

A baby seal walks into a bar. The bartender says "What will you have?" The seal said, "Anything but a Canadian Club."

If Apple made automobiles, would they have windows?

I accidentally swallowed some food coloring. My doctor told me I would be okay, but I felt like I dyed a little inside.

I went to a new zoo but the only animal they had there was a dog. It was a Shitzu.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bernier Continues His Mastery Over the Predators, Leads Leafs to 4-0 Win

The Nashville Predators are glad they don't have to face Jonathan Bernier often.

Bernier continued his mastery over the Predators, this time in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-0 victory over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Bernier's career record against the Predators is now 8-1.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Predators out shoot the Leafs 8-6, the Predators tilted the ice in the second period and out shot the Leafs 17-9. Bernier was stellar, stopping every attempt by the Predators.

While the Leafs only had 9 shots, they capitalized on 2 of them. James van Riemsdyk gathered in a puck behind the goal line and fired a pass to Phil Kessel, who was alone in the low slot. Kessel rifled a shot over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne to make it 1-0 at 13:41 of the second period. On the play, Filip Forsberg lost coverage of Kessel, giving him an easy shot on net.

The Leafs struck again with just 9 seconds to go in the second period. Kessel shot a puck in on Rinne that hit him in the shoulder and fell to the side of the net. Rinne went down to cover the puck, but before he could get his glove on it, van Riemsdyk swooped in and picked up the puck. He went behind the net and buried the wrap around before Rinne could recover.

The Predators pressed the attack again in the third period, but were unable to solve Bernier. Their efforts to get back into the game were thwarted when Mike Fisher was called for boarding Cody Franson into the curved glass by the Leafs bench. Franson was bloodied and left the game and Fisher was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. On the ensuing power play, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul scored to make it 4-0 and secure the victory for the Leafs.

Some observations:

  • Although the Predators out shot the Leafs 36-26, many of their shots were from the perimeter and with no traffic in front of Bernier. The Predators have success when they create havoc in front of the net. Tonight, they rarely did that. Lacking pure goal scorers, the Predators have to commit to going to the hard areas to score. Right now, that commitment is lacking.

  • The power play, which had success against Minnesota, looked stale. There was not much movement by players away from the puck to create lanes or mismatches. The Predators have to improve in this area and certainly have to be more consistent and productive.

  • Young players are going to make mistakes. Witness the error by Forsberg that led to the first Leafs goal. Yet I am impressed by the play of Forsberg. He is calm with the puck, surprisingly strong, and offensively creative. His game will continue to grow and improve.

  • Mattias Ekholm has been quietly efficient. he did have a turnover at the blue line that led to a 2 on 1, on which Rinne made a great save to bail him out. but his confidence seems to be growing every game and I believe he will develop into a solid blueliner.

  • Still not sold, though, on Ryan Ellis as a full time NHL defenseman.

  • I like Matt Cullen's game, but the Predators need him to get his offense going.

  • Not sure that Matt Hendricks is best suited for an agitator roll. He got the sort end of it in a scrap with David Broll tonight.

  • Rinne made some great saves, but he has to have some offensive support. Right now, he has to be perfect for the Predators to win a game. he hasn't been, and the Predators aren't winning.
The Predators record is now 1-3.

The compete level of this team is good, but they are not finishing. Without elite goal scorers, the Predators have to get to the net and create traffic and trouble for opposing goaltenders. The Predators have not done that consistently, and their record reflects that shortcoming.

It's time to make that commitment, boys.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Bernier

2. Phil Kessel

3. James van Riemsdyk

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Predators Pick Up First Win, Defeat Wild 3-2

The Nashville Predators tallied their first win of the season, a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, that was highlighted by special teams play by both squads.

Pekka Rinne earned his first win, while the loss for the Wild could be costly, as they lost starting netminder Niklas Backstrom to an injury in the first period. Josh Harding came on in relief and finished the game for the Wild.

The Wild opened the scoring at 4:05 of the first period. With Seth Jones in the box for high sticking, Zach Parise eluded the defensive coverage and was alone in front of the net and had an easy tap in off a pass from Mikko Koivu.

The Predators went on the power play as Kyle Brodziak was called for interference at 4:15 of the first period. Just 21 seconds later, Koivu was called for tripping. The Predators made the Wild pay for these penalties.

Seth Jones took a shot from the point and the rebound caromed out to Filip Forsberg. Forsberg sniped a shot over the shoulder of Backstrom, showing a quick release and good accuracy on the score. His first NHL goal came at 5:07 of the first period.

With Koivu still in the box, the Predators continued on the power play, and just 39 seconds later, Colin Wilson fired a shot over the shoulder of Backstom to the far post to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

Eric Nystom had a breakaway attempt, but was slashed and tripped, crashing into Backstom. Backstrom had his leg trapped under Nystrom and was injured on the play. Nystrom was awarded a penalty shot while Backstrom had to leave the game. Harding came into the game and had to face Nystrom on the penalty shot. Nystrom ripped a shot high glove side just under the crossbar to to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

The Wild cut the lead to 3-2 as Jared Spurgeon scored with one second remaining on a Wild power play at 7:26 of the second period.

That was it for the scoring for the game, but not for lack of chances. Rinne in particular had to be sharp to keep the Predators in the lead as the Wild peppered the net with numerous shots.

Some observations:

  • As good as the first period was for the Predators, the second period was awful. The Wild dominated the Predators and the offensive effort showed the recurring and frustrating tendency of disappearing. The Wild out shot the Predators 12-4 in the second period and had a decided territorial advantage. While many of the shots by the Wild were from the perimeter, the Predators are flirting with disaster when their offense is non-existent.

Rinne was sharp throughout the game and made some big saves to keep the Wild off the board. He looks to have no lingering issues from off season hip surgery.

  • The power play went 2 for 4, and it is good to see the power play come to life. The Predators need this unit to be productive, and hopefully this give them confidence.

  • The penalty kill is another story. The Predators surrendered two goals on five power play opportunities. Part of that is the young layers on the blue line, and part of this is that the penalty killers have not seemed to gel. This has to improve for the Predators to have success.

  • I am still not convinced that Ryan Ellis is a regular and dependable blue liner. he is still dominated by more physical forwards and is not contributing offensively.

  • Seth Jones continues to impress. Tonight, he had one assist and lead the team in ice time, logging 25:02. 
The Predators needed this win, coming against a divisional rival and starting the season 0-2. Yes, there were some flaws, but the team persevered and competed well. I like the compete level of this team and over time, I believe they will gel and continue to improve.

The Predators next four games are at home in front of their rabid fans.

This is the time to start piling up some wins.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Filip Forsberg

3. Colin Wilson

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Predators Fine Tune the Fan Experience With New Menu Offerings

The Nashville Predators are giving the Bridgestone Arena a makeover (you can read about that here), but that is not the only difference that fans will experience when they come to the first home game of the season.

In an effort to enhance the experience of fans that come to the arena, there will be new menu items at the concession stands.

And they are exceptional.

I was fortunate to be invited to a tasting to sample the culinary creations of Executive Chef Wade Gnann, and he has creatively crafted some foods that are uniquely Nashville.

Chef Wade Gnann discusses the new menu items. Chef Gnann said that this was "fun food" a real pleasure to create the new offerings.

The Nash Dog can be found at the Food Network concession stand by the former South entrance. This is a jumbo hot dog covered with pulled pork and slaw.

I have experienced Canadian poutine, and the Nashville version is decidedly different and good. This version has the base of crispy French fries, but instead of regular cheese curds and brown gravy, Chef Gnann uses fried cheese curds and sausage gravy. Find this unique delicacy at the food court and at the concession stands at section 104, 310, and 317. Fans are required to bring their own Lipitor.
(By the way, I feel like such a hipster posting photos of food. Or maybe just Julia Child-ish)
The bacon on a stick returns, refined with a maple chili glaze. This item can be found in the food court on the main concourse and at the concession stand at section 317.

The pimento cheese dog is another new item that can also be found at the Food Network concession stand. This is a jumbo hot dog topped with pimento cheese and butter pickle relish.
Another new item is the chicken fried steak on a stick, which is rib eye steak that is battered and fried and served with pepper gravy. Find this on at the food court on the main level and at Section 310.
A Nashville favorite- hot chicken- returns. Spicy fried chicken with fries, pickles, and bread can be found at the main level food court and Section 310.
There were new s'mores waffles as well, but they disappeared so quickly I didn't get a picture of them. They can be found along with the returning chicken and waffles at the concession stand at section 109.
Chef Gnann has put a lot of thought into the new menu items and said that he has gotten feedback from fans about some foods that they would like to see on the menu. According to Gnann, the challenge with coming up with items beyond the standard concession stand fare is maintaining the quality of the food. Gnann said that these items are not pre-made, but prepared when a fan makes an order. Balancing the speed of preparation with the quality of the food requires lots of advanced planning and work with the concessionaires to refine the preparation and delivery process.
Gnann said they had looked at many different menu offerings and settled on these for their uniqueness and the ability to deliver to patrons a quality product.
Fans of the Predators are fortunate to have one of the best atmospheres and experiences when they venture into Bridgestone Arena. The new menu options will enhance that experience. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Predators Drop their Second Game 3-1 to the Avs

The Nashville Predators looked to rebound from a rough start in their season opening loss by getting right back on the ice against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net while the Avalanche went with Semyon Varlomov.

Once again, the Predators opened the contest skating well and creating some chances in the offensive zone off their forecheck. Once again, though, the Predators were not able to finish their chances and were held off the board despite ten shots on goal.

The Predators gave up a late goal at 18:50 of the first period as the puck was batted around in the slot and P.A. Parenteau gathered in the rebound of a Rinne pad save and slid the puck inside the post for a 1-0 Avalanche lead. The scoring play was set up when Matt Hendricks collided violently with teammate Paul Gaustad in the offensive zone, leaving the Predators shorthanded in the defensive zone as both players struggled to get back to the bench for a change. Mattias Ekholm lost Parenteau, allowing him to slam the rebound past Rinne.

For the period, the Avs out shot the Predators 13-10.

The Predators offense struggled to get anything going in the second period as the Avs defense disrupted any flow and limited scoring chances. The Avs stepped up their forecheck and started to gain a territorial advantage over the Preds as the period unfolded.

The Predators failed to clear the zone and the Avs made them pay. Patrick Bordeleau re-directed a Nate Guenin shot from the point past Rinne at 7:54 of the period to make it 2-0.

The Predators lost defenseman Roman Josi near the 10 minute mark of the second period. The Avs Steve Downie took a blatant cheap shot, leaving his feet and launching himself at the head of Josi. Josi went to the locker room and was called out for the rest of the game with an upper body injury. The hope is that he is not concussed.

The Predators got on the board just as a power play expired. Mike Fisher carried the puck into the zone and flipped a pass into the slot. Paul Gaustad gathered in the pass a roofed a shot over the shoulder of Varlamov to make it 2-1 at 14:10 of the period.

The period ended with the Avs having a carryover power play. They out shot the Predators 12-7 in the second.

The Predators offense could not get untracked in the third period and did not create many quality scoring chances. The offensive rhythm was hampered by several penalties and general ineffectiveness. P.A. Parenteau iced the game for the Avs with his second goal of the game, an empty net goal that made the final score 3-1.

The Avs out shot the Predators 12-10 in the third period.

Some observations:

  • Downie's hit was a flagrant cheap shot. While there will be ample opportunity for retribution, the bigger concern is the health of Roman Josi. The concern is that the talented defenseman has suffered a concussion.

  • I like the play of the grinders. They have shown the most jump and effectiveness in the first two games. Gaustad, Clune, and Nystrom in particular are disruptive but have shown some creativity in the offensive zone.

  • Rinne looked better in this game, but part of that is attributable to the fact that the defense looked better in front of him. I continue to be impressed with the poise and presence of Seth Jones. Victor Bartley was sound in the defensive zone and Mattias Ekholm has been generally good. Ek did get beat on the Avs second goal, but generally played a sound if unspectacular game.

  • The Predators need more- much more- out of Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist. They have been invisible in the first two games and they have to get their offensive game going.

This team has the potential to be a very solid team. It is going to take time for them to gel and get their confidence.

It can't take too long.

It's time to start stepping up.

My three stars:

1. P.A. Parenteau

2. Semyon Varlamov

3. Paul Gaustad

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The government shutdown has produced scads of angry rhetoric from both sides of the ideological spectrum, and has accentuated some of the worst aspects of those in Washington. While we can argue and debate the pros and cons of the position each side has taken, there is one aspect to this brouhaha that has caught my attention and has made me angry. The administration closed the World War II Veterans Memorial in Washington because, even though it was mostly built with private donations, it is managed by the National Park Service. Barricades ("Barry-cades") were erected around the open air memorial (yes, it is out in the open- there are no buildings to close) even though the administration knew that Honor Flight tours of World War  II veterans were scheduled to attend. An Honor Flight tour of veterans, with the help of some Republican Congressmen, pushed aside the barry-cades for a group on the 2nd of October and allowed these distinguished veterans to have their time at the memorial. The next day, two Honor Flight tours, one from Missouri and one from Chicago, came to the memorial, where they were confronted by "protesters" that heckled them while they were at the site. The "protesters" claimed to be furloughed government employees demanding the government re-open so they could go back to work. In reality, they were members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that were paid $15 per hour to harass these heroes as they made their tour. John Hinderaker of the acclaimed Power Line blog filmed the protest, and when he asked the participants to produce their federal I.D., they could not. Upon questioning the protesters further, they admitted they had been paid to come to the site and protest. You can read John's blog and watch the video here. Irrespective of your view on the government shutdown, this action typifies the pettiness and childishness of this administration and President Obama. Our country and our valiant veterans deserve so much more.

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

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its report on the financial soundness of the Social Security program. According to the CBO, the long term outlook for the viability of this program has deteriorated substantially over the past 12 months. One contributing factor to this situation: we are all living longer. The CBO reported the obvious to Congress- that the longer we live, the more checks will have to be distributed. This is disastrous for this program, because a longer life span coupled with fewer people working and paying into the system means this program will run out money far more quickly than anyone in Washington has projected. The CBO concluded that one way to stave off insolvency of the program would be an "immediate and permanent" payroll tax increase of 3.4% (OUCH!). Last year, the CBO stated that a 1.9% tax increase would be necessary to keep the program afloat. The increase in taxes over just one year is 70% to keep Social Security alive. And it is only going to get worse. It is political- not to mention economic- suicide to push for that large of a tax increase. I would expect that in the coming months, we will begin to hear rumblings from Washington about a smaller tax increase coupled with raising the retirement age (again); means testing benefits; raising the cap on taxable earnings; and changing the cost of living adjustments. Any of these changes will have a dramatic impact on your wallet and on what you receive from the program. All of us would be wise to pay close attention to this issue.

Men are a lot like a box of chocolates. Wait to long to pick one, and only the weird, nutty ones are left.

Here is a heads up: the next crisis to emerge is in the federal student loan program. According to Department of Education, the national default rate on student loans for the prior two year period ending in 2011 rose from 9.1% to 10% In dollars, that means that the current amount of student loans in default is a staggering $146 billion. Student loan debt surpasses all forms of consumer borrowing except for mortgage debt. Our education policy in this country has been to encourage students to pursue a higher education (a great goal) at any cost (not so smart) including taking on a tremendous amount of student debt. With a job market that has cratered since 2008, those students that graduate are finding it difficult to land jobs that will allow them to pay their current living expenses and their student loan debt. Look for this trend of rising defaults to only get worse. And we all know who will eventually pay for this financial crisis.

I told my wife I was going for a walk last night. She asked how long I would be gone. I told her the whole time.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Predators Rough Start Costs Them in 4-2 Loss to the Blues

Everyone that follows the Predators knew this team would be a work in progress as new players were added to the line up and chemistry had to develop with the changes in the roster. The Predators effort in the opening game of the season showed that there is a lot of work that has to be done.

First period defensive breakdowns gave the Blues three goals as the defense hung starting netminder Pekka Rinne out to dry. The Blues had an easy time in front of the Predators net, scoring off of defensive miscues and fortuitous bounces. The result was that Rinne was pulled in the first period and hopefully received some apologies from the blueliners when he got to the bench. By the time he reached the safety of the bench with 10 minutes left in the first period, the Blues held a 3-0 lead.

Mike Fisher cut into the Blues lead with his first goal of the season, and although the Predators out shot the Blues in the period, were staring at a 2 goal deficit.

The Predators cut the Blues lead to one off a goal by David Legwand from a nice feed from Patric Hornqvist early in the second period. Once again, the team showed good effort and jump. The Predators effort in the offensive zone was solid, with good hustle that created some scoring chances.

However, the Blues power play capitalized again to stretch the lead to 4-2. Carter Hutton got a piece of a shot from the point, but could not stop it from leaking over the line. The Predators PK, which was a problem last season, continued to bite the Predators in this contest.

The Predators offensive effort was stymied by the Blues in the third period as they mustered 7 shots on goal but could not get a puck past Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak and fell by a final score of 4-2.

Some observations:

  • The Predators special teams looked bad. The Blues were 2 for 2 with the man advantage before playing with the puck late in the game on a double minor high sticking penalty. The Blues took just 3 seconds to score on their first power play. The Predators had 3 power plays and on two of them did not get a shot on net. This has to improve quickly for the Predators to have success this season.

  • Seth Jones looked good in his debut. He handled the puck well and was in good position throughout the game. He plays with confidence, and his game will continue to improve.

  • Mattias Ekholm was paired with Jones, and played a good game. He was positionally sound and made no glaring mistakes, which is a plus considering his previous stints with the big club. If he and Jones can gel, they could be a very good defensive pairing.

  • Rinne did not have much help, but it appeared that he went down to the ice very quickly on the Blues second goal. The hope is that this outing was an aberration.

  • The effort and jump by the Predators was good, but once again, the inability to finish their chances cost them an opportunity to win this game. They out shot the Blues over the first two periods, and the Preds are going to have to figure out a way to finish more of their chances. If they cannot, this is going to be another long season.
The Predators are a team that has to have maximum effort and they have to finish their chances to have success. They had a good effort tonight, but failed on the second half of that equation.

They get a chance to work on that tomorrow night against Colorado.

My three stars:

1. Jaroslav Halak

2. T.J. Oshie

3. Mike Fisher