Saturday, November 30, 2013

Predators Fall to the Flyers in a SO

The Nashville Predators fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout at Bridgestone Arena. The game was tied at 2 at the end of overtime.

The Flyers Vinnie Lecavalier scored the only shootout goal in the first round.

The Flyers opened the scoring at 16:49 of the first period as Claude Giroux cruised down the slot and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec.

The Predators answered back at 17:49 of the first period as Mike Fisher used two Flyers as a screen and fired a shot from the face off circle that beat Steve Mason.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators took a 2-1 lead at 5:05 of the third period as Colin Wilson beat Mason five hole with a backhand off the rush.

That score stood until 13:06 of the third when Sean Couturier was left alone by the Predators defense at the top of the crease and he lifted a shot over Mazanec to tie the game.

In the overtime, the Predators out shot the Flyers 3-1, and Colin Wilson banged a puck off the post, but the could not neat Mason.

Some observations:

  • The young and mix and match defense corps did a commendable job. There were some breakdowns but generally the blueliners played well. Seth Jones steadied his game and he played a monstrous 30:43, second only to roman Josi's incredible 32:26.

  • The Predators will be without the services of Shea Weber for the next few games. Weber took a puck to the face and suffered an eye injury. According to head Coach Barry Trotz, Weber is "very lucky" and the injury could have been much worse. The Predators were also without Kevin Klein, out with a lower body injury.

  • The Predators called up Joe Piskula from Milwaukee, and he logged 10:27 tonight.

  • Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after missing two games. Hornqvist picked up an assist in 22:24 of ice time.

  • The compete level of the Predators was much better than in their previous game. Their speed advantage against the Flyers was obvious and they used it to their advantage to create scoring chances. The Predators out shot the Flyers 36-24, and Mason made some good saves to prevent the Predators from scoring.

  • That said, the Predators power play was abysmal. Entry into the zone was a struggle and their was little movement and flow once in the zone. The power play appears to have taken a big step backwards the past several games, and this has to improve for this team to have success. Tonight, the power play was 0-5.
The Predators did some good things in this game, just not enough to notch the win. The team can get back to their winning ways if they continue to bring this kind of effort and finish their chances.

My three stars:

1. Vinnie Lecavalier

2. Colin Wilsom

3. Sean Couturier

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Predators Fall Flat Against the Oilers

On a day where turkey is the main dish, the Nashville Predators played a turkey of a game, falling to the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Oilers have struggled this season, but when you look at their performance against the Predators last year, one knew they could come into this game and give the Predators fits.

They did just that all night long.

The Predators had a difficult time handling the forecheck of the Oilers, which disrupted their breakouts and slowed them coming through the neutral zone. Once in the offensive zone, the Predators had a hard time establishing their effective offense that served them well in the game last night in Columbus.

When the Predators did create some quality scoring chances, Ilya Bryzgalov, getting his first start as an Oiler netminder, was very good, shutting down the Predators scoring chances.

The Oilers tallied two goals during 4 on 4 play with Paul Gaustad and David Perron both in the box for roughing. Jeff Petry walked in from the point and fired a nice pass that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins re-directed past Marek Mazanec at 5:32 of the second period.

Just 51 seconds later, Taylor Hall got lose at the top of the crease and lifted a backhand past Mazanec to make it 2-0.

Jordan Eberle tallied an empty net goal at 19:03 for the final margin of victory for the Oilers.

Some observations:

  • A scary moment for the Predators and Shea Weber. A puck was deflected off a stick into the face of Weber. He dropped immediately to the ice before skating off to the locker room. Weber was bloodied and did not return for the third period. It is unknown if he suffered any damage to his eye. Weber is one of the Predators that does not wear a visor.

  • The Predators managed to get 33 shots on Bryzgalov and some of them were quality chances, but Bryz was up tot the task. You had to know that he would be jacked up for his first NHL game in a year and that the Predators were going to have to be sharp to beat him. Tonight, they were not sharp enough.

  • The Predators faced an aggressive and disruptive forecheck all night and had a difficult time solving the Oilers pressure. That pressure created numerous turnovers and opportunities for the Oilers. Maybe because it was the second game of a back to back, but the Predators opened the game looking sluggish, which did not help in handling the speed and aggressiveness of the Oilers.

  • Seth Jones struggled tonight and his game has taken a step back recently. This is probably to be expected for a rookie and for the volume of games and minutes that he has played. His passes and puck handling have not been sharp, and he has been the perpetrator of several turnovers. Before Weber's injury, Jones was dropped down to the third D pairing with Victor Bartley.

  • Colin Wilson has struggled of late and cannot get his offensive game going. Tonight, it appeared that he missed a wide open net with a shot. The Predators need Wilson to get back to consistently being a contributor on offense.

  • The Predators were shut out for the 6th time this season. Ouch!

The Predators needed this game and this two points. This team cannot give away points to teams that are below them in the standings.

Time to put this one behind them and get back on the horse Saturday against the Flyers.

My three stars:

1. Ilya Bryzgalov

2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

3. Taylor Hall

My View

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."
Helen Keller
This is a day that calls us to acknowledge our blessings with a grateful heart, a time of thankfulness for all that we have.
The world will tell us that we don't have enough, though. Our focus can quickly shift from what we have to what we want. Retailers and merchants will gladly accommodate our wants by opening their stores and shops on this day of thanks.
That attitude of acquisition can displace a heart of gratitude. As the quote above says, however, the best and most beautiful things in the world are not things.
They are the joy of embracing a loved one. Sharing a smile with a friend. Having your breath taken away by the beauty of a sunset. The best and most beautiful things in the world are not purchased with dollars, but felt in the heart.
As we pause on this day, may our hearts be attuned to the truly beautiful things in life.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Predators Cruise Past Columbus 4-0

The Nashville Predators traveled to Nationwide Arena to face their former Central Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets. What had been a heated and testy division rivalry has been dampened somewhat by the Jackets move to the Eastern Conference.

Marek Mazanec was in net for the Predators, while the Jackets had their workhorse Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.

The Predators were once again without the services of Patric Hornqvist, who was out with an upper body injury. The Jackets were dealing with a myriad of injuries on their roster that caused Head Coach Todd Richards to juggle his lines.

The Predators opened the scoring at 9:58 of the first period. Matt Cullen skated the puck into the offensive zone and passed to Ryan Ellis on the opposite point. Ellis drew the defense to him and zipped a diagonal pass back to Cullen, who beat Bobrovsky with a one timer from just inside the face off circle. Ellis showed great patience and vision on the play and put the pass through the defense on to the tape of Cullen.

That would be the only scoring in the period. The Predators put a lot of pressure on Bobrovsky and the Jackets defense in the period, outshooting them 14-4. Bobrovsky was called upon to make some good saves to keep the Predators from extending their lead.

The Predators started the second period on the power play with 1:30 of man advantage time. A shot from the point by Roman Josi deflected off Gabriel Bourque into the slot. Mike Fisher gathered in the rebound and banged a shot over the shoulder of Bobrovsky to give the Predators a 2-0 lead 54 seconds into the period.

The Predators forecheck forced a Jackets turnover in their defensive zone. Viktor Stalberg was able to create the turnover and got a pass from Gabriel Bourque while driving the front of the net. Stalberg's shot got through to Bobrovsky, who made the initial save, but David Legwand tipped the puck into the open net to make 3-0 at 8:56 of the period.

The latter stages of the second period saw the Jackets attempt to mount an offensive push, but the Predators defense was up to the task.

In the second period, the Predators out shot the Jackets 11-8.

The Predators made it 4-0 at 2:02 of the third period as they won a face off in the offensive zone. Matt Cullen slipped a pass from his knees to Nick Spaling, and he let go a wicked wrist shot that beat Bobrovsky over the shoulder.

The Predators spent the rest of the third period shutting down the Jackets offensive push and Mazanec picked up his second career shut out with the 4-0 win.

Some observations:

  • The Predators have been playing some disciplined hockey of late. Tonight, they took one penalty until Craig Smith was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass with 26 seconds left in the contest. This discipline has helped to keep the Predators fresher since they are not spending an inordinate amount of time killing penalties.

  • The line of Cullen, Smith, and Spaling has shown some very good chemistry and has become an offensive force. Cullen is playing some very good hockey right now and is the catalyst that gets this line going.

  • The Predators defensive effort, especially in the first 40 minutes, was exceptional. They limited the Jackets to 12 shots through 2 periods and did not allow the Jackets many quality scoring chances.

  • The Predators have shot the puck well and have been going strong to the net. This is a winning formula and the Predators have to continue to consistently do this to have success.

  • Mazanec continues his strong play. He tracked the puck well and gave up few rebounds. The team in front of him seems to be developing a confidence in his abilities in net, and this has helped their play.
This was a solid road win by the Predators. They shut down the Jackets and did not allow the fans at Nationwide to get into the game.

Now the Predators have to continue this kind of play to climb aback into the playoff race.

My three stars:

1. Marek Mazanec

2. Matt Cullen

3. Gabriel Bourque

Monday, November 25, 2013

Predators Fast Start Leads to Win Over the Coyotes

Just like in their first meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes, the Nashville Predators jumped out to a big early lead.

Unlike that contest, which resulted in a shootout loss, the Predators made that lead hold up on the way to a 4-2 victory.

The Predators have now won 4 of their last 5 games. The Coyotes have dropped 3 in a row.

The Predators did their damage in the first period, jumping on the Coyotes for 3 goals. Nick Spaling opened the scoring, driving the slot and banging home a rebound of a Matt Cullen shot over the shoulder of Coyotes netminder Mike Smith at 1:02 of the period.

Mike Fisher took a pass from Colin Wilson and fired a shot from below the face off circle to give the Predators a 2-0 lead at 8:22 of the first period. Wilson controlled the puck in the corner and made a nice pass to Fisher, who did a good job of getting the shot off in traffic.

The Predators extended the lead to 3-0 as Viktor Stalberg used his exceptional speed to drive wide and force the Coyotes defense to turn and chase him. Stalberg put a nice pass through the legs of the defenseman onto the tape of Gabriel Bourque. Bourque made a nice fake to put Smith out of position and buried a backhand into the open net.

It was a good thing the Predators had a strong first period.

The Coyotes answered with a strong second period to make it a game.

Mikkel Boedker beat Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec five hole with a shot through traffic to get the Coyotes on the board at 9:34 of the second period.

That goal energized the Coyotes, and they began to control the puck and put pressure on the Predators. That pressure paid off as Tim Kennedy was able to gather in a rebound at the top of the crease and slide a backhand past Mazanec to make it 3-2 at 13:00 of the second period.

In the third period, the Coyotes spent a majority of the time in the Predators zone. They out shot the Predators 12-5 in the period, and Mazanec had to make some good saves to keep the Coyotes off the board. The Predators seemed content to play defense and just clear the puck, as they rarely established any offensive presence and zone time.

With Smith on the bench for an extra attacker, Shea Weber got the puck in the defensive zone behind the face off circle and banged the puck off the glass. The puck caromed off the glass and landed in the neutral zone and rolled into the open net to seal the win for the Predators at 19:25 of the third period.

I don't know if Shea called "bank" on the shot.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were without Patric Hornqvist, who is called day to day with an upper body injury.

  • The Coyotes lost the services of Shane Doan, who was injured and did not play in the third period.

  • Gabriel Bourque's goal was a thing of beauty. The goal was set up by the speed of Stalberg, who made a sweet pass through the legs of a Coyote defender onto the tape of Bourque. Bourque showed great hands in controlling the puck, faking to the forehand, and pulling the puck to his backhand and lifting it into the net.

  • David Legwand has reverted to form. He has been a non- factor the past several games, and was again tonight. Among the forwards, only Rich Clune had less ice time than Legwand. This team needs Legwand to step up his game and begin to contribute offensively.

  • The Predators flirted with disaster in the third period. Content to sit back and play defense, the Coyotes dominated in offensive zone time and in shots. The Predators didn't seriously threaten Smith and establish offensive zone presence. More often than not, this is not a winning formula.

  • Mazanec made some very good saves tonight and tracked the puck well through traffic. The Coyotes first goal came through traffic, and Mazanec didn't see the puck until the last instance, getting beat five hole. Mazanec has looked calm and has been positionally sound and has seemed to grow in confidence with each start.
The Predators are now 12-10-2 for 26 points, and sit 10th in the West. They are 6 points out of the 8th playoff spot, held by the Coyotes.

The Predators are going to have to continue to string together wins to climb back into playoff contention.

This means they are going to have to develop some consistency in their game and their effort every night.

And play a solid 60 minutes of hockey.

My three stars:

1. Gabriel Bourque

2. Mike Fisher

3. Marek Mazanec

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Predators Out Worked and Shut Out By the Rangers 2-0

Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz gave his team the day off on Friday.

He night want to re-think that strategy as the Predators failed to show up at the Bridgestone Arena, falling 2-0 to the New York Rangers.

The Predators were out worked in all phases of the game. The Rangers choked off the Predators offense. They thwarted their entries with aggressive neutral zone pressure. And they dominated the Predators in the defensive zone, controlling the puck with a solid cycle game, making the Predators chase the puck much of the night.

Normally, the Predators work ethic can carry the team. Tonight, that was absent as the Rangers jumped on the Predators with their pressure and forecheck and never let up.

The Predators had no answers. No one on the team stepped up their game and the team could not handle the forecheck and pressure of the Rangers.

How bad was it?

The Rangers out shot the Predators 34-17, including a dominant 17-7 shot advantage in the second period when the Rangers took control of the game.

Marek Mazanec had to make a number of good saves to keep the score from being worse. He gave up a second period goal to Ryan McDonagh, whose blast from the point beat Mazanec five hole.

The Rangers added a third period goal from Derek Stepan and the game was over for all intents and purposes.

Cam Talbot manned the pipes for the Rangers, and he was rarely challenged by the Predators.

Some observations:

  • The Jekyll and Hyde nature of this team continues to baffle. Their three game win streak prior to this game was solid hockey. Tonight, they reverted to their troubling ways. They could not handle the pressure of the Rangers and the offense was non-existent. The Predators need consistent effort and their top lines have to produce every game. The inability to establish consistency this far into the season is troubling.

  • Mazanec had a solid game for the most. The first goal he allowed was questionable, though. Getting beat five hole from the point cannot happen.

  • When the Predators entered the offensive zone, they showed the troubling tendency to pass first rather than take the shot. In their three game winning streak, the Predators were firing pucks at the net. When this team doesn't shoot and drive the net, they are in trouble. They were in trouble tonight.

  • Patric Hornqvist played only 4 shifts and had 4:07 of ice time. He was hurt in the first period and is called day to day with an upper body injury. Hornqvist was hit up high with a shot from Shea Weber and in the first period and did not return.
This game was a poor effort by the Predators, and it was especially disappointing to see the team get badly outworked.

Hopefully, the Predators revert back to their hard working ways on Monday when they face the Coyotes at home.

My three stars:

1. Ryan McDonagh

2. Derek Steppan

3. Cam Talbot

Friday, November 22, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Do you know Julius Buckmon? He is the U.S. Census Bureau employee that has admitted manipulating the unemployment data to make the unemployment numbers look better than they really were prior to the 2012 presidential election. According to Buckmon, the order to fake the data came from higher ups at the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is under contract from the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct the unemployment surveys, and the contract requirement is that Census Bureau must make contact with 9 out of 10 households targeted for the survey. The heavily populated New York and Philadelphia regions were falling far short of making the contacts and processing the results, so Buckmon said he was told by his superiors to fabricate the data. Buckmon said he made up people out of thin air and gave them jobs to fulfill his quota. Now this may seem trivial- a lone employee falsifying data, but understand that each household contacted under the Census Bureau's scientific sampling survey methodology represents 5,000 households. The numbers were false and were manipulated to show a different employment picture than what was really occurring. This could have had an influence on voters. It certainly could affect fiscal policy. Most importantly, the long term affect is to further undermine the credibility of the data that we receive from the government and the credibility of the government itself. This incident calls into question the veracity of the information from various areas of the government, and makes one wonder if the public isn't being played for a fool.

My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

About that credibility issue... According to a report in the Washington Post, officials for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, knew as far back as April that the Obamacare website was not working and would not be working by the time of the mandatory roll out. And the President's oft repeated nostrum that "if you like your plan you can keep your plan" was known to be a specious claim as far back as February 2010, when he was informed by his staff that most people would be knocked off their individual plans because of the Obamacare mandates. Now I know that we can argue our points for or against socialized medicine, and we may not reach a common ground. That's fine. The issue that has become the elephant in the room is the brazen prevarication (lying for all of you that went to Clemson) of our elected and appointed officials. Now I understand the aspect of spin and I know that both parties do it. No, this is much, much deeper and way beyond spin. We have a government that will lie to the American people to achieve the ends of a particular party or of the bureaucracy. This unfortunately diminishes the trust level between the electorate and Washington and means that you and I are going to have to fact check everything that comes out of the mouth of anyone in Washington. Because those in Washington have shown absolutely no compunction about lying to us.

Some things are better left unsaid. Now if I could just determine which ones.

Want to see another example of the deceit that comes from Washington? We are told that one half (6.2%) of the social security tax is paid by the employee and the other half by the employer. The same thing is said about the Medicare tax of 1.45% assessed to the employee and the 1.45% assessed to the employer. Want to know the truth? The full amount of both of the taxes is borne by the employee. Let me show you. Say you are hired at a salary of $50,000. My employer is going to send $3100 to Washington as my share of the Social Security tax and $725 as my share of the Medicare tax, for an annual total of $3,825, or the "employer portion of these taxes. So if I am an employer, it actually cost me $53,825 to hire that employee. So how much does that employee have to produce to make it at least a break even for the employer to keep him? Is it the $50,000 salary or is it the $53,825 (salary plus the taxes). If you said $53,825, then you certainly didn't go to Clemson and you understand what economists call the "incident of taxation", which means that the burden of a tax is not necessarily paid by the party on whom it is levied. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said that both the employer's and the employee's share of the payroll tax is borne by the employee; and the Congressional Budget Office said that the employer's share of the payroll tax is passed on to employees in the form of lower wages than would otherwise be paid. Do you think that the working public would be so passive about reforming Social Security if they knew that they were really paying all of the tax? Probably not, but more importantly, they probably would have been more active in not allowing Congress to pillage the fund and get it into the condition in which we find it today. It is going to be important for all of us to understand thoroughly the impact of reforms and changes coming out of Washington. We certainly cannot count on them to give us the full story.

The cashier at the store told me, "Strip down, facing me." How was I to know she meant my debit card?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Predators Win Their Third Straight, Blow Past Leafs 4-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Air Canada Center to face the Toronto Maple Leafs attempting to extend their winning streak to 3 games.

The Leafs are a talented team, which is challenge enough, but the Predators would face a real nemesis is Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier, who has a 8-1 lifetime record against them.

Marek Mazanec, who had won his last two outings against Chicago and Detroit, was in net for the Predators.

The game opened with the Leafs skating hard and attacking the net. Their jump paid off at 5:48 of the first period as Peter Holland scored from the left face off circle on a sharp angle shot to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.

Mazanec was called upon to make some quality saves to keep the Leafs off the board as they were shooting the puck and driving the net consistently in the period.

The Predators responded with some offensive flurries of their own but were unable to get a puck past Bernier.

The Leafs out shot the Predators 11-9 in the first period.

The Predators got a 4 minute power play early in the second period as David Legwand was cut with a
high stick by Mason Raymond. The Predators made the Leafs pay for this transgression as Seth Jones shot a puck from the blue line that knuckle balled and eluded Bernier to tie the game at 1 at 2:01.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead as Matt Cullen drove the slot and fanned on his attempt. he stayed with the puck and fired a shot that beat Bernier five hole at 11:14 of the second period. By fanning on his first attempt, Cullen got Bernier to open up the five hole for the score.

Nice to see the Predators get a little puck luck.

Craig Smith made it 3-1 on the power play. With James van Riemsdyk in the box for boarding, Smith dug the puck out of the corner in the offensive zone and then drove the front of the net. Colin Wilson slid the puck to Smith at the top of the crease, and Smith, showing great hands, was able to control the puck and slid it through Bernier's pads at 16:25.

In the second period, the Predators executed their breakouts very well, skated hard, and got shots on net with traffic. That effort yielded three goals, and this was the kind of hockey that the Predators have been playing to get back on a winning track.

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

Shots were 13-7 in favor of the Predators in the second period.

The Predators made it 4-1 as Craig Smith tallied his second goal of the night. Matt Cullen battled for the puck and slipped it back to Smith just outside the icing line. Smith threw a rising shot from a bad angle at Bernier that caught his shoulder and went over his back into the net at 4:32 of the third period. This was Cullen's third assist of the night to go along with his goal. For Smith, it was his first multi-goal game of the season and he now has 6 goals.

The Predators were playing Predator hockey in the third period. They were winning puck battles, beating the Leafs to loose pucks, and their aggressive forecheck was forcing turnovers in the Leafs zone. The Predators were taking the attack to the Leafs and keeping them off balance and limiting their potent offense.

The Leafs got a gift from the Predators as a shot by Nazem Kadri was going wide of the net but hit Victor Bartley and deflected past Mazanec to make it 4-2 at 15:28.

The Leafs pulled Bernier with 2:30 to go for the extra attacker, and the final minutes were frantic. The Predators missed the open net twice, and the Leafs were in full attack mode trying to cut the deficit to one.

The Predators were able to withstand the pressure from the Leafs and captured their third win in a row with a solid 60 minute game.

Some observations:

  • Craig Smith has great offensive skills, but his first goal was created by going to the hard area in front of the net. Smith has shown a willingness to battle for the puck and go to tough areas, and if he can begin to score consistently, this will boost his confidence and certainly benefit the Predators.

  • Matt Cullen has been playing some solid hockey. His chemistry with Smith is exceptional, and he is smart with the puck. he has great vision and distributes the puck well, and Smith has shown the ability- albeit somewhat inconsistently- to finish.

  • The Predators responded to the first period deficit very well. They battled and competed very well in the second and third periods and won most of the puck battles. This response is heartening, and the team needs to consistently play this way.

  • Mazanec gave up a bad goal on the Leafs first goal, but he made some good saves during the course of the game. He has looked more confident with each start and his fundamentals look good.

  • Viktor Stalberg didn't get on the scoresheet, but he had a solid game. His backchecking was exceptional, thwarting some rushes by the Leafs, and he showed his speed by blowing past the Leafs defense to set up two quality scoring chances. If he can begin to consistently find the back of the net, he can be the explosive offensive player the Predators need.

  • The Predators saw two familiar faces wearing leafs sweaters. Cody Franson was a Predators draft choice as a defenseman that played 20:37 tonight for the Leafs. Jerred Smithson is a recent acquisition for the Leafs that played 9:14. Smithson played over 400 games for the Predators.

  • Hopefully this outing for the Predators will dispel the aura of invincibility that Bernier has held over the team. The Predators peppered Bernier with 28 shots and forced him to work for a lot of his saves, something they have failed to do when they have faced him previously.
The Predators three game winning streak has been characterized by simple, Predator hockey. Forecheck hard and create turnovers; shoot the puck- a lot; and get traffic to the net. This simple formula often leads to a win for the Predators, and if they can apply it consistently and bring the solid 60 minute effort they have in these recent games, they will start to pile up wins.

My three stars:

1. Matt Cullen

2. Craig Smith

3. Marek Mazanec

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Predators Shut Out Red Wings 2-0

After one game at the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators embarked on a two game road trip with their first stop in Detroit. With the divisional realignment that saw the Red Wings move to the Eastern Conference, this would be one of the two meetings against the Predators old Central Division rival.

Coming off a stellar outing against Chicago, Marek Mazanec got the start in net for the Predators, while the Wings went with their workhorse Jimmy Howard.

The Predators were looking for another quick start and solid play for 60 minutes to build on the momentum of the their prior game.

The first period saw both teams skating well and creating some chances in the offensive zone. The Wings had some stretches where they controlled the puck in the offensive zone, especially during their lone power play of the period. The Predators defense and PK unit did a good job for the most in keeping Detroit to the outside and limiting quality chances.

The Predators out shot the Wings 10-7 in the period.

In the second period, the Predators continued to skate well and limit the chances in the offensive zone. Offensively, the Predators could not generate much and rarely challenged Howard.

It was not for lack of opportunity, though. The Predators had 3 power plays in the second, and Detroit did a good job of limiting their chances and shutting down their entry into the offensive zone.

That changed on the third power play, though, as Shea Weber unleashed a blast from the blue line that eluded Howard to make it 1-0 at 19:55 of the second period. On the play, Patric Hornqvist was in front screening and took away Howard's ability to see the puck.

Detroit out shot the Predators 9-7 in the period, but Mazanec looked sharp and poised and handled the pressure from the Wings.

The Predators made it 2-0 at 7:13 of the third period as Viktor Stalberg fired a puck off the end boards from the slot. The puck caromed back to the side of the net and Gabriel Bourque was camped at the side of the net and buried the rebound past an out of position Howard.

The Predators made those two goals stand up as they held the Wings off the board for the first shut out for Marek Mazanec in his short NHL career.

Some observations:

  • This was a solid win for the Predators. They played a full 60 minute game and skated hard in all zones. Their aggressive forecheck kept Detroit off balance and created some scoring opportunities. The Predators defense did a good job of limiting the Wings in the offensive zone and especially closed off passing lanes. The Wings like to move the puck and create mismatches and scoring opportunities and the Predators did a good job of not allowing those passes and quality scoring chances.

  • Gabriel Bourque looks like he is starting to heat up and find his scoring touch. If he can get going offensively, that will be a boost for the Predators.

  • Marek Mazanec had a second consecutive strong outing. he was positionally sound, moved well, and was calm in the crease. Mazanec has wrested the starting job away from Carter Hutton, and if he can continue to have strong outings, it will allow the Predators to begin to make up some ground in the division.

  • Although the first goal was scored off the power play, the power play unit has not looked good. There continues to be little movement and creativity, and the PP unit seems content to throw the puck back to the point for a shot from the blue line. A four minute power play in the third period resulted in just 2 shots on net. This unit is going to have to improve for the Predators to have continued success.

  • Maybe it was just me, but this game didn't seem to have the same edge and snarl as games between these teams did when they were in the same division.

  • Patric Hornqvist sets the tone for this team, and he continues to play hard. He is fearless in driving the net and going to the hard areas, and the Predators first goal was aided by his screen in front of Howard. 
This was a solid, 60 minute game by the Predators. They built off their success from the Chicago game and played a confident, fundamentally sound game.

They have to keep that momentum going and begin to make up some ground.

My three stars:

1. Marek Mazanec

2. Shea Weber

3. Gabriel Bourque

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Predators Shake Off the Funk, Crush Chicago 7-2

Maybe the Nashville Predators needed to get back home to right their quickly slumping season.

Maybe they just needed to play Predator hockey.

Whatever the reason, the Predators erupted for a season high 7 goals en route to a 7-2 thrashing of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Marek Mazenec got his first NHL win, stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced and in the process looked like he belonged with the big club.

The Predators have been known for scoring by committee, and tonight, they epitomized that effort as 7 different players tallied goals.

Unlike their previous games, the Predators came out skating hard and playing solid team defense. More importantly, the Predators had good puck possession and kept pressure on the Blackhawks in the offensive zone all night.

That effort paid off in an offensive explosion that gave fans a glimpse of the potential of this team.

Some observations:

  • This was a complete game by the Predators. They did a good job of limiting quality chances by the Blackhawks in the defensive zone, had good breakouts, and were able to effectively enter the offensive zone. These elements of their game were missing in their previous losses. More importantly, they had good jump and a high compete level which had been lacking in their losses. This is the way the Predators have to play to be successful.

  • Marek Mazanec was solid between the pipes. He was calm, positionally sound, and moved better in the crease than in his previous outings. Hopefully, this gives him the confidence to build on this outing and turn in some quality starts.

  • Craig Smith played an exceptional game. his goal was a thing of beauty, faking forehand before lifting a backhand past Chicago netminder  Corey Crawford. He also had two assists, skated hard, and was a force in the offensive zone. This is the kind of play of which Smith is capable, and he has to bring this effort every night.

  • How sweet it must have been for Viktor Stalberg to pick up his second goal of the season, a beauty off a sweet pass from Gabriel Bourque. Stalberg lifted the puck under the crossbar off the rush, using his speed to separate and get into a scoring position.

  • Shea Weber finally hit the net with a rocket of a shot from the blue line on the power play, blowing the puck past Crawford for his 5th goal of the season. Weber needs to consistently get his shot ion net, and when he does he creates scoring chances.

  • Nikolai Khabibulin started the game for the Blackhawks and gave up 2 goals before leaving with an injury. The Predators kept up their intensity and their pressure and lit up Crawford for 5 goals after he entered the game.

  • 9 Predators got on the score sheet. This is the kind of effort that the Predators have to have every night to win games. Goals were scored by Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Mike Fisher, Shea Weber, Patric Hornqvist, Craig Smith, and Nick Spaling. Gabriel Bourque, David Legwand, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Seth Jones picked up assists.
This is the kind of game that the Predators have to consistently play. As bad as they looked in their previous four losses, the Predators looked like, well...the Predators. The key for this team is to consistently bring this kind of effort.

Now it is time for the Predators to build on this effort. They go on the road (again) and will have that opportunity against the Red Wings.

Bring this effort and work effort, and success will follow.

My three stars:

1. Marek Mazanec

2. Craig Smith

3. Patric Hornqvist

Friday, November 15, 2013

Predators Road Trip Ends With Another Ugly Loss

The Predators lengthy road trip ended with a stop in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. The Predators faced a daunting task attempting to secure a win and finish this road trip at .500.

Marek Mazanec got his second start in a row, and the Predators welcomed back Mike Fisher, who had missed the previous 4 games with a foot injury, and Gabriel Bourque, who had returned to Nashville the prior game for the birth of his first child.

The Penguins had Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

The Predators needed to get out to a better start and show more compete than they had in their previous three games.

They did just that.

The Predators drew first blood at 2;28 of the first period as Kevin Klein took a shot from the point with Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist in front of the net. Bourque was able to tip the puck through the 5 hole of Fleury to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins tied the game at 12:36 of the period as they won an offensive zone face off and Pascal Dupuis rifled a shot over the shoulder of Mazanec. This came just after the Predators had killed off a too many men penalty.

With Ryan Ellis in the box for hooking, Evgeni Malkin blasted a shot from the point that was tipped by James Neal over the shoulder of Mazanec at 15:56 for a 2-1 Penguins lead. Mazanec had no chance to stop the re-direct.

The period ended with the Penguins holding a 2-1 lead. The Predators out shot the Penguins 10-9 and did a good job of getting pucks to the net and creating traffic and challenges for Fleury.

While the Predators needed- and got- a good start, they were going to have to play a full 60 minutes to win this game.

The Predators forgot that to open the second period. The Penguins came out flying and out shot the Predators 7-1 through the first 7 minutes. Mazanec made some great saves to keep the Pens off the board.

The Penguins made it 3-1 as Kris Letang came out of the corner and squeezed the puck through the pads of Mazanec from a sharp angle at 7:58. This was a goal that Mazanec cannot give up.

The Penguins made it 4-1 as they drove into the offensive zone and Jussi Jokinen drove into the offensive zone and pushed the defense back. he dropped a pass for Brandon Sutter who fired a slap shot past Mazanec at 18:37.

The Penguins had stormed out in the second period and taken it to the Predators. Once again, the Predators had no response for the push from an opponent.

Now the question for the Predators would be if they would have any kind of a response in the third period.

Carter Hutton opened the third period in the net for the Predators.

Fortunately, the Predators were able to keep the Penguins off the board in the third period.

Unfortunately, the Predators never threatened the Penguins net in the third. The Predators only got 3 shots on goal in the third, and were out shot 33-18 for the game.

Some observations:

  • The way this road trip ended makes a reasonable observer wonder if the wins to open the road trip were a fluke. The Predators got good scoring and were playing loose and relaxed. In the final four games, the Predators reverted to form- defensive breakdowns; spotty goaltending; and absolutely no offense. If this is the real Predators team, then this will be a long and ugly season.

  • The shaky goaltending along with the uncertainty of Pekka Rinne's health makes it almost certain that GM David Poile is going to have to make a deal for a goaltender. One has to wonder about the wisdom of entering the season with an unproven backup given the questions that surrounded Rinne's health and durability.

  • This is not a good team right now. There is no one on the roster that can be considered a consistent offensive threat or that can even possess the puck consistently. This falls on the shoulders of GM David Poile, who has built this team that is on the ice. Once an opponent gets a lead, they are able to choke off the Predators offensive efforts and the Predators do not have the personnel to create the offense necessary to get back into the game. Poile has built a team of grinders and character guys- and you have to have those- but there are no offensive players that scare an opponent. This will make for a very long and ugly season.
This team has taken a big step backwards. Right now, the team has to learn to compete and play sound, fundamental hockey and hope for the best.

Until they do, the losses will continue to pile up.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Brandon Sutter

3. Evgeni Malkin

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

How bad is the debacle known as Obamacare? Even fellow Democrats and the Left's water carriers in the main stream press are running from the Lyin' King and his signature program. Former President Bill Clinton publicly said that even if it requires a change in the law, the Lyin' King should honor his promise that he made when he said that individuals could keep their health insurance if they liked it. Part of the push back against this travesty of a health care program is that Americans have seen what is really at stake when the government gets control of this sector. This expansion of government powers over an individual's health decisions is frightening on many levels. The promise of cradle to grave health care and cheap government insurance have quickly been revealed to be a costly and inefficient monstrosity. Even worse, the hubris of Washington and its power hungry elites has been brought out to the harsh light of day. Americans, who made a free choice about the type of health care coverage they wanted and that fit their needs have lost that coverage. Why? Because a bureaucrat in Washington has deemed that freely chosen insurance coverage inadequate and unacceptable. This disaster has occurred because of the arrogance, incompetence, and lies of the Democrats, and the complicity of the main stream press in giving the Democrats a pass when it came time to ask the hard questions about this program. So the Democrats own this. And that is why there is such a high panic level now on the Left. They have been exposed even to those that don't pay close attention to the political sphere. And they should have to pay the price at the polls.

When butterflies get nervous, I wonder if they feel humans in their stomachs?

The President lied repeatedly (hence: "The Lyin' King) to get Obamacare passed. Of course, the most egregious lie was that individuals could keep their health insurance if they liked it and it fit their needs. Another lie was that insurance policy cancellations would be limited to approximately 5% of Americans in the marketplace. The reality is that over 5 million people have lost their health insurance. And the cancellations have just begun. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the same Obamacare formula that is destroying the individual insurance market is about to hit the employer based market. According to the CBO,

"The same conditions that are causing the cancellation of individual policies will eventually result in the cancellation of millions of employment based policies as well. The only reason this hasn't happened yet is that the employer mandate was postponed for a year, so employer plans don't yet have to be ACA compliant. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as 20 million workers will lose their current employer sponsored plans. Combine that with losing individual plans and more than 30 million Americans cannot keep their current insurance." (emphasis mine)

Now the Lyin' King and his lackeys in the media will tell you that the majority of these plans being cancelled are "junk plans", but most of these plans are being deemed non-compliant because they do not offer a specific type of coverage, such as pediatric care or pre-natal coverage. Those coverage's are important if you have children or are expecting a child, but if you are a single male or an elderly couple past child bearing years, then those coverage's are pointless. Yet not having them disqualifies your existing plan. And that was the whole point of Obamacare- to drive more people into a government run single payer system. It is time for all of us to push back against this power grab and pitiful health care program that has been foisted on the public.

I still have my looks. I just can't find them.

While all the focus recently has been on Obamacare, there are other initiatives afoot that are seeking to limit our rights and give more power to Washington. The Lyin' King's administration is stealthily moving to limit private property rights using a massive expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act authority. Information released by the House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee indicates that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is proposing to broaden the definition of a "waterway" over which the federal government will have jurisdiction. The redefinition of "the waters of the United States" under the act would include all ponds, lakes, wetlands, natural or man made streams that have any effect on downstream navigable waters, whether on public or private land. Who determines the "any effect" nature of a stream that passes through your property? The EPA, of course. And the EPA is rushing to move forward with these rule changes without any scientific peer review. "Why," you ask? Long time readers know to always follow the money. The EPA has made no secret of wanting to expand its jurisdiction over U.S. waterways because it gives them wider latitude to impose fines and extort resources from individuals and businesses. For example, a federal court recently threw out an EPA fine of $37,500 PER DAY against a farmer in West Virginia. Why was he fined? Because storm water ran across his property after a heavy rain and according to the EPA, wound up in the "navigable waters of the U.S." and he did not have a permit for that. Friends, pay attention to the power grabs that are happening in all areas of government. The arrogance of Washington, its elected leaders and bureaucrats, is that they believe they know what is best for each of us and that we do not deserve nor can we handle our freedoms. This mindset will only change when we become more involved as citizens.

I have to tell you- salsa dancing isn't nearly as delicious as it sounds, and it is extremely messy.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Predators Road Woes Continue With a 3-1 Loss to the Islanders

The Nashville Predators traveled to Long Island desperately seeking to change their fortunes against the Islanders. In their two previous games, the Predators had suffered numerous defensive breakdowns, shaky goaltending, and a dearth of goals.

That trend would continue in this game.

With David Legwand in the box after taking his second (??) consecutive elbowing penalty, John Tavares got forgotten in the low slot and he blasted a shot past Marek Mazanec for a 1-0 lead at 15:30.

Mazanec was getting his first NHL start. Welcome to the League, Marek

Pierre-Marc Bouchard made it 2-0 at 17:23 after the Islanders won an offensive zone face off. Bouchard took a shot from a severe angle that beat Mazanec 5 hole. Definitely a goal that Mazanec could not give up.

The Predators created some quality scoring chances, but could not solve Kevin Poulin. In the period, the Islanders out shot the Predators 16-10.

The Predators had now been out scored in the past 7 periods 12-0.

The Predators were faced with another uphill challenge. In the past two games, they had not responded to this kind of adversity. If they were going to get back into this game, they were going to have to ramp up their compete level.

The hill only got steeper 7:07 into the second period as Kyle Okposo blasted a shot from the right face off circle to make it 3-0.

The Predators could not get a puck past Poulin and the second period ended with the Predators in a 3-0 hole. The Predators held and 11-8 shot advantage in the period.

The Predators (FINALLY!!) scored at 14:30 of the third period as Patric Hornqvist fired a wrist shot that beat Poulin to end a nearly 9 period scoreless drought.

Despite a late flurry with a power play, the Predators could not score again, and they fell for the third straight game by a 3-1 margin.

Some observations:

  • A road trip that started with such promise has turned abysmal. In the early games of this roadie, the Predators were working hard in all zones and supporting the puck. In the past three games, the work ethic has fallen off and puck support has been virtually non-existent. The team has struggled to make clean entries into the offensive zone and when they do get the puck in the zone, the puck possession time has been awful. This has limited offensive chances and stymied the offense. If the predators are going to get back on a winning track, this has to improve quickly.

  • Goaltending was okay at best. Mazanec made some good saves, but he cannot give up that second goal. He was hung out to dry when Tavares was left alone in the slot on the first goal and the Okposo goal was a blast that would have been hard to stop.

  • The inability to enter the zone cleanly is killing the Predators. They are being slowed down in the neutral zone and their speed is being negated. This is a matter of system, support, and desire. Right now, the Predators are not good in any of these areas.

  • The Predators had some offensive flurries around the net, and Poulin made some good saves. There has to be a greater effort to get the puck to the net and to battle for rebounds. Again, this is a function of desire and effort.

  • The Predators were once again without Mike Fisher, who is out with a foot injury. They were also without Gabriel Bourque, who left the team to return to Nashville for the birth of his first child.
The Predators wrap up the road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

It's time for this team to begin playing with some drive and desire.

My three stars:

1. John Tavares

2. Frans Nielsen

3. Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Predators Suffer Second Embarrassing Loss

The Nashville Predators visited the New Jersey Devils looking to get the sour taste out of their mouth from their flop in Winnipeg in their previous game.

The Predators were going to have to wait a bit longer for that to occur.

The Devils opened the scoring just 90 seconds into the game as Jaromir Jagr circled through the Predators defense and fired a wrist shot that Predators netminder Carter Hutton got a piece of but it glanced off his glove and into the net  for a 1-0 Devils lead.

The Devils stifling defense made it difficult for the Predators to get through the neutral zone and establish quality offensive zone time. The Predators managed 6 shots on Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, but he did not have to make any difficult saves.

The Devils had 7 shots in the period.

The Devils made it 2-0 at 2:54 as the Devils swarmed the Predators net. Cam Janssen beat Craig Smith to the front of the net to bang home a rebound of a Ryan Carter shot. The Predators defense broke down and allowed Janssen a free run to the front of the net.

The Devils made it 3-0 on the power play with Seth Jones in the box. Just 5 seconds into the power play, former Predator Marek Zidlicky hammered a shot from the blue line that eluded Hutton.

The Devils were having their way with the Predators, and from all appearances, the Predators could do nothing to stop the push from the home team. Much like the previous game in Winnipeg, the Predators were getting out worked in all areas of the ice and losing most of the puck battles.

The Predators weak effort was reflected in the shots on goal in the second period. The Predators managed just 4 shots, while the Devils recorded 12.

The Devils made it 4-0 at 12:57 of the third period off a 3 on 2 rush. Jaromir Jagr fed a beautiful pass to Travis Zajac and he blasted a one timer past Hutton.

The way the Predators were playing, this game was long ago out of reach.

Mattias Tedenby made it 5-0 picked up a loose puck in the Predators offensive zone and walked in alone and roofed a puck over the shoulder of Hutton, who was left alone with the on rushing Devils forward.

Insult to injury.

Surprisingly, the Predators didn't allow any further scores.

Some observations:

  • As good as the Predators had looked at in the early going of this road trip, they have looked absolutely awful over the past two games. They have been outworked in all phases and showed zero compete level. The offense has disappeared and that is a function of will. The Predators have to score from the hard areas, and the past two games- outside of Patric Hornqvist- they have not shown a willingness to go to those areas.

  • The Predators power play was putrid. They went 0-6 tonight and there was no movement or creativity. There were poor entries (I'm looking at you, David Legwand) that made it too easy for the Devils to control and clear the puck. The Predators had ample opportunities to get back into the game with the man advantage and squandered those chances.

  • Hutton gave up a soft goal on the first goal of the game, but was hung out to dry on most of the Devils goals. He made some point blank stops to keep the score from being worse than it was.

  • The defensive breakdowns are troubling, mostly because they are happening consistently. The defense is going to have to get focused and tougher to help Hutton. The consistency of these defensive lapses is costing the team and has to be corrected quickly.

  • The most disappointing aspect of these past two games is the lack of compete by this team. When they got down, they rolled over. There was no push back, no snarl, no fight. That has to change quickly.
What started well for this team is quickly coming unraveled. These last two games have exposed the weaknesses and the softness of this team. It has to turn around quickly.

My three stars:

1. Jaromir Jagr

2. Marek Zidlicky

3. Cam Janssen

My View

We all want the good life.

We work long hours, endure stress, and face the demands of a fast paced, challenging world to secure the good life. There is a high price to pay for the good life.

The question is, "What is the 'good life'?"

For some, it is the acquisition of the right house in the right neighborhood. For some, it is the promotion that brings new perks and a higher income. For others, it is an abundance of leisure.

But is that really "the good life"?

Even with its flaws and deficiencies, we are blessed in this country with an freedoms that are unparalleled. We can speak freely. We can assemble without fear of reprisal. We can worship without oppression. We can chose to live our life the way we want.

That is the good life.

And that good life is costly.

Not in monetary terms, but in the sweat and sacrifice of those that have fought to give us those freedoms. Men and women that have set aside their ambitions and desires have sacrificed so that we can enjoy the good life we have today. Some endured unspeakable physical hardships and time away from their families. Some paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the freedoms associated with the good life.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, a day where we honor those who have served and are serving our country in the defense of our freedom.

These veterans have paid the price for our good life.

And so we honor them the only way we can: with gratitude.

Gratitude is thankfulness and appreciation for favors that have been bestowed on us. It is an acknowledgement that a price has been paid that is costly and dear. The gift of our freedom is precious and has been purchased at great price by those that have served and sacrificed and those that are serving today.

Their service has given us the good life.

As a free people that enjoy the good life, we honor our veterans.

And say thank you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Predators Grounded In 5-0 Loss to the Jets

The Nashville Predators traveled to Winnipeg looking for their third win in as many meetings against the Jets. The Predators were attempting to continue their stellar play on this lengthy road trip, having picked up 5 of 6 points so far on this roadie.

The Jets remembered those two previous losses to the Predators as they unleashed some pent up frustration against a team that had beaten them in their two prior meetings.

Carter Hutton was again between the pipes for the Predators while Ondrej Pavelec was in net for the Jets.

The game opened with the Jets on the attack and firing pucks at Hutton. Bryan Little opened the scoring for the Jets as he took a shot from the left face off circle that found its way through traffic and the five hole of Hutton for a 1-0 Jets lead at 3:04 of the first period.

The Jets made it 2-0 at 6:47 of the first period as Olli Jokinen beat Seth Jones to the front of the net to bang home a rebound.

Certainly not the start that the Predators wanted or needed.

It got worse for the Predators

Dustin Byfuglien blasted a shot from the blue line that eluded Hutton to make it 3-0 at 8:33 of the 2first period.

That was all for Hutton as the Predators inserted Marek Mazanec into the game. Hutton gave up 3 goals on 8 shots.

The Predators continued to embarrass themselves with defensive breakdowns as off a face off in the offensive zone, Devin Setoguchi was left alone in front of the net. He took a pass from Olli Jokinen and lifted the puck over Mazanec to make it 4-0 at 16:45 of the first period.

Mercifully for the Predators, the period ended without the Jets scoring another goal. this was about as bad a period of hockey as the Predators have played all season.

Now we will see if the Predators have the heart to battle back in the final 40 minutes.

The good news in the second period was that the Jets did not score. The bad news was that neither did the Predators. The Predators out shot the Jets 15-11 and had a few flurries around the net but rarely threatened Pavelec.

The Jets resumed scoring at 9:53 of the third as Bryan little knocked in a rebound of an Andrew Ladd shot to make it 5-0.

Thankfully that was it for the scoring for the Jets. The Predators never threatened after that and the mercifully ended.

Some observations:

  • Maybe the Predators were feeling good about themselves; maybe they thought the Jets would be another win; whatever the reason, they did not come out ready to play in the first period. This team is not good enough to take a period off, and they did just that tonight. They were horribly sloppy in the defensive zone and gave the jets too many scoring chances. Worse yet, they failed to respond to the push from the Jets. By the time the second period got under way and the Predators started to skate, the game was over.

  • Carter Hutton didn't get much help on a couple of the goals he gave up, but he didn't look good either. The first goal through traffic beat him five hole when Hutton failed to take away the lower part of the net. That can't happen.

  • The Predators out shot the Jets 41-31, but Pavelec was on his game and thwarted the Predators offensive efforts. The Predators needed to make a better effort to get to the front of the net and create more traffic and fight for rebounds. The Jets did a good job of clearing the front of the net and the Predators forwards did not establish a good presence in the hard areas.

  • This game was an all around stinker. I don't like it, but those games happen. The real test for the Predators will be Sunday night when they are back on the ice against the New Jersey Devils. I want to see more compete and effort from the start in that game.

  • The defensive breakdowns are costly. Yes, I know we have a young D corps, but the regularity of some of these breakdowns is troubling. This is an area that the team has to improve quickly.
This was a dog of a game. Time for the team to learn from this debacle and then put it behind them.

And get redemption on Sunday night.

My three stars:

1. Bryan Little

2. Olli Jokinen

3. Andrew Ladd

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Predators Potent Offense Pours in 6 Goals Against the Avalanche

The Nashville Predators continued their road trip with a stop in Denver for their second meeting of the season against the Colorado Avalanche. The Predators looked to continue their new found scoring prowess against an Avalanche team that possessed and explosive offense of their own.

Carter Hutton got the start for the Predators, while the Avalanche had Semyon Varlamov in net.

The Predators had to wonder if this was going to be one of those games where they were snake bitten as they hit three posts early in the first period.

The Predators finally broke through at 13:12 of the period as Viktor Stalberg forced a turnover off his forecheck and took a pass from behind the net from Colin Wilson and buried the shot past Varlamov for his first goal of the season.

The Avs answered back at 15:23 off a 2 on 1 break. P.A. Parenteau took a pass from Matt Duchene and beat Hutton, who had no chance on the shot. The play was set up when Seth Jones took the puck deep in the offensive zone and had his pass intercepted, starting the break for the Avs.

The Avs continued the trend of cheap shots as Jamie McGinn left his feet and boarded Seth Jones. Jones left the game and went to the locker room after the dirty hit.

On the ensuing power play, Colin Wilson dug the puck out from the side of the net and got it to Craig Smith. Smith roofed the shot over the shoulder of Varlamov and under the crossbar to give the Predators a 2-1 lead at 19:07 of the period.

Fortunately for the Predators, Jones was able to return to the game.

At the end of the first period, the Predators held a 2-1 lead and out shot the avalanche 10-9.

The Avs tied the game at 2 at 2:15 of the second period off a 3 on 2 rush. Ryan O'Reilly took a drop pass from P.A. Parenteau and fired a shot over the shoulder of Hutton to knot the game.

Just 59 seconds later, Paul Gaustad re-directed a Filip Forsberg shot to give the Predators a 3-2 lead at 3:14. Gaustad was right in front of Varlamov creating havoc and was able to get the shaft of his stick on the shot to deflect it.

The Predators extended their lead to 4-2 on the power play as Ryan Ellis faked a shot from the point and found Colin Wilson breaking in on the weak side with a perfect pass. Wilson banged the puck into the open net at 6:47 for his second goal of the year. Avery heads up play by both Ellis and Wilson.

The Avs made it 4-3 at 13:37 as Paul Stastny drove the slot and took a pass from Jamie McGinn and his wrist shot beat Hutton on the stick side.

The Predators survived a too many men on the ice penalty and exited the second period with the 4-3 lead. Shots were 9 apiece in the second.

Colorado tied the game at 4 at 4:23 as the Predators turned the puck over at the offensive blue line as fillip Forsberg lost the puck. Matt Duchene picked up the loose puck and blew into the offensive zone. Duchene split Kevin Klein and Roman Josi and beat Hutton over his shoulder.

See a trend here? The Predators gave up too many goals on odd man rushes or breakaways to this point in the game.

The Predators answered back as Viktor Stalberg stole the puck in the offensive zone and found Colin Wilson streaking toward the net. Wilson beat Varlamov with a sweet backhand to give the Predators a 5-4 lead at 7:34 of the third period.

As the period wound down, the Avs pulled Varlamov for the extra attacker. The Predators controlled the puck in the defensive zone and David Legwand got the puck to Gabriel Bourque in the neutral zone. Bourque skated in a fired the puck into the empty net for a 6-4 lead at 19:52 to seal the win.

Some observations:

  • This team is beginning to play with confidence in the offensive zone. In previous seasons, this team has appeared to be unwilling to shoot the puck. This group is doing a good job of working for the open shot and more importantly taking the shot. And they have been very efficient in the offensive zone, which is a pleasant surprise.

  • Viktor Stalberg had his best game as a Predator. He was active in the offensive zone, picking up a goal and an assist and played a solid defensive game as well. Hopefully, this gives him confidence and his game begins to consistently produce.

  • The Predators were guilty of some very sloppy play. They gave the Avs all their goals off transitions and breakaways. Credit the Avs- they are talented and attack in waves, but the Predators are going to have to play better defense and limit turnovers.

  • Who would have thought this team could- or would- be this offensively productive? In the first 3 games of this road trip, the Predators have scored 14 goals. Certainly not "offensively challenged" against some very good teams to begin this roadie.

  • The Predators were without Mike Fisher, who hurt his foot in the previous game against L.A. The team also announced that Pekka Rinne has an e-coli infection in his hip and will miss 6-8 weeks instead of the 4 weeks originally estimated.
This was a solid win against one of the best teams in the NHL in this young season. More importantly, the Predators have shown some resiliency and fight by not wilting in the face of pressure from a very good opponent.

This team is beginning to show their potential and it looks promising.

They have to consistently build on that potential.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Viktor Stalberg

3. Matt Duchene

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Predators Don't Fold, Top Kings 4-3

The Nashville Predators faced the Los Angeles Lings in the second game of their 7 game road trip, and for the Predators, they needed another fast start like the one they had in Phoenix.

They also needed a better finish than what they had in Phoenix.

That fast start was just what the Predators got, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on two power play goals. David Legwand opened the scoring at 11:15 of the first period on the Predators first power play. He cruised into the high slot and fired a wrist shot past a screen from Patric Hornqvist in front of Kings netminder Jonathan Quick to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Legwand scored on the first shot of the power play.

The Predators made it 2-0 on the first shot of their second power play. The puck went down low to Hornqvist at the side of the net. He drew the defense to him and found Shea Weber pinching into the low slot. Weber took the pass and potted the puck past an out of position Quick at 19:06 of the first period.

The Kings cut the deficit to 2-1 at 19:23 as Anze Kopitar banged home a rebound of a Jake Muzzin shot that fluttered over the pads of a sprawling Carter Hutton.

Hutton had to be strong in the first period, as five on five, the Kings out played the Predators. They had 14 shots on net compared to the Predators 6.

The second period saw the Kings pressure the Predators and thy had a decided territorial advantage with the puck in the Predators offensive zone. Hutton made some good saves and he was getting a lot of help from his defense to keep the Kings off the board.

By contrast, the Predators were not generating much offense 5 on 5. One of their few quality chances was converted by Eric Nystrom when he took a great pass in the slot from Hornqvist and beat Quick with a one timer at 8:41 to make it 3-1.

The Predators got bad news as Mike Fisher was injured when he collided with Dustin Brown in an accidental collision. Fisher appeared to hurt his foot and went immediately to the locker room. He was called out for the rest of the game.

The Kings out shot the Predators 10-5 in the second period.

The Kings were going to push even harder in the third period. The Predators were going to have to show more resilience and toughness than they did in their previous game to secure the win.

The push did come from the Kings as they controlled the puck in the offensive zone and peppered Hutton with pucks. They broke through with a goal at 9:41 of the third as a shot from Dustin Brown deflected off the stick of Kevin Klein in front of the net and eluded Hutton to make it a 3-2 game.

With Ryan Ellis in the box for interference, Mike Richards battled for the puck at the top of the crease and slid a rebound home to tie the game at 3 at 11:18.

The Predators had been out shot 8-1 at this point in the game and were on the verge of another troubling and epic collapse in the third period.

The Predators fought back to make it 4-3 as Mattias  Ekholm took a shot from the point. Quick kicked out a rebound onto the stick of David Legwand and he rammed the rebound  home to give the Predators the lead at 16:04.

This time, there was no collapse.

The Predators held off the Kings to capture the 4-3 win.

Some observations:

  • The predators made the most of their scoring opportunities, which were few and far between. The Kings out shot the Predators 38-17 and controlled play for most of the game. If the Predators had not been efficient with their shots, this game would have been a rout.

  • Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand had outstanding games. this is the kind of hockey these guys need to play and tonight, they showed exceptional leadership and effort.

  • The Predators power play was 2 for 3. This unit has to produce for the Predators to be successful and they were very efficient tonight.

  • Eric Nystrom may be the Predators best off season add. He brings energy, grit, and is able to contribute some timely scoring.

  • Mattias Ekholm is settling in on the blue line. He has been playing some sound hockey on the third pairing and I look for his game to continue to develop and improve.
Tonight, the Predators showed some heart and some character. For a while in the third period, it appeared as if they were playing not to lose. Yet when the game was on the line, they capitalized on a prime scoring chance to secure the win.

This is the way this team has to play- for a full 60 minutes and going for the win.

Do that, and this will be a successful road trip.

My three stars:

1. David Legwand

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Anze Kopitar

Friday, November 1, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

I think it is clear to most people who have an I.Q. above that of a rutabaga (which may exclude many on the Left) that Obamacare has been one monstrous lie from day one. Actually, that is not accurate. It is a lie wrapped in prevarications surrounded by falsehoods and scams on the American public. The Liar in Chief famously uttered these words in a June 15th, 2009 town hall meeting,
"No matter how we reform healthcare, we will keep this promise, if you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

Well, the guts of the Obamacare law indicate that Obama and the Democrats NEVER intended to keep this promise. Section 1251(a)(1)says that no one can be required to give up a plan that was in place prior to March 23, 2010, but the law attaches numerous onerous and costly condition imposed by the IRS and Health and Human Services on insurance companies, making it unprofitable to keep those existing plans in place. This is why we are seeing a number of insurance companies drop policies; it is no longer cost effective to keep the in place. And this is why the major labor unions in this country have asked for and received waivers from Obamacare. They were going to lose their "Cadillac" plans. The government knew that socialized medicine would cause many people to lose their health plans. According to the Federal Register (June 2010), the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 69% of the individual plans and 89% of the small group plans would be cancelled by the end of 2013 when Obamacare was fully implemented. Friends, this was not at all about providing insurance coverage to the uninsured. It never was. This was the Left's attempt to wreck our health care system and in the process complete a power grab that is unprecedented in the history of this country. Think I am exaggerating? House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters that Democrats knew that people would not be able to keep their plans- plans that met their needs and with which they were perfectly happy- under Obamacare. Those champions of socialized medicine have inflicted economic and emotional pain on America. It is time for them to feel some pain of their own in the next election cycle.

All power corrupts, but we still need the electricity.

One of the publicly stated premises of this socialized healthcare debacle is that there should be a minimum standard of coverage available to Americans. I do not have a problem with that premise. The problem lies in allowing bureaucrats in Washington determine what that standard is and how to pay for it. And therein lies the root cause of the sticker shock that many Americans are experiencing when they try to buy insurance under Obamacare. The administration and its minions in the bureaucracy established a minimum actuarial value of 60%, simply meaning that insurance plans under Obamacare would pay 60% of the incurred medical costs and leave the rest to be paid out of pocket. Here is what the Left will not tell you: As of 2009, the actuarial value for a typical employer sponsored HMO plan was 93%. For employer sponsored PPO plans, the average was 80-84%. Medicare's actuarial value was 76%. See what happened? Without one iota of micromanagement or interference from Washington, most Americans were covered under plans that VOLUNTARILY paid out more than what will be paid under Obamacare, yet Washington considered these plans "substandard". Obamacare is now requiring health insurers to provide some services that are not even remotely needed (single males paying for pre and post natal coverage, for example) that are helping to drive up the cost of insurance. This is the conceit of those in Washington- believing they know best how to run an economy and what is best for you and me as individuals. Even more frightening, they have used this conceit to grab a huge chunk of our economy and move it under their control.

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back home.

While we are all feeling the financial pain and the emotional distress over the attempted implementation (I say attempted because I believe the backlash from the public now that this monstrosity is being exposed to the light of day will force Washington to dramatically amend the program), the real issue is not socialized medicine, per se. No, the real issue is a federal government that believes it can control down to the last detail the economy and our lives. It is a collection of bureaucrats and elected officials drunk on power and spending. Obamacare is just a symptom. The pervasive and oftentimes corrosive intrusion of unnecessary regulation and general meddling from Washington is growing exponentially. Eventually, if that growth is unchecked, our freedoms will be curtailed and our financial future will be in jeopardy. Almost weekly in this blog, I extol readers to get involved and to dig deeper into the issues, for this is how we begin to take back our government and stop this madness. If we fail to do so, our future is going to look decidedly different. And it will not be good.

Marriage is made in heaven. Then again, so are tornadoes.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Predators Blow 3 Goal Lead, Fall in SO to the Coyotes

The Nashville Predators embarked on their longest road trip in team history- 7 games in 17 days and over 6,000 miles of travel- by facing the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena.

The Predators faced a big challenge in the Coyotes, who always play the Predators tough and are playing some very good hockey right now.

Unfortunately for the Predators, a game that started so well ended in a collapse that never should have happened.

Carter Hutton was in net for the Preds, while the Coyotes had Thomas Greiss in between the pipes.

The Coyotes opened the game with a ferocious forecheck, but credit the Predators for responding to the pressure and getting their legs going.

The Predators opened the scoring at the 11:00 of the first period as Matt Hendricks came off the bench on a change and David Legwand found him behind the defense with a cross ice pass. Hendricks ripped a shot from outside the face off circle that beat Greiss to the far post for a 1-0 lead.This was Hendricks first goal as a Predator.

The Predators made it 2-0 at 14:12 of the first period as Patric Hornqvist threw a puck at the front of the net. The puck deflected off Eric Nystrom and past Greiss. This was a prototypical Predator goal as the puck was sent to the front of the net with players crashing the net. For the Predators to have success, this was the style of hockey they needed to play.

The Predators had a 5 on 3 power play for just over a minute when David Legwand scored at 18:24 to make it 3-0.

A superb first period saw the Predators out shoot the Coyotes 11-5 and capitalize on their scoring chances. Again, this was the kind of start- and response- that the Predators needed against a very good team.

The challenge would be to continue this level of play over the next 40 minutes.

The Coyotes got in the board at 17:39 of the second period as Jordan Szwarz took a harmless shot at the net that Hutton misplayed. The puck slid under his glove and into the net to make it 3-1. Certainly not the type of goal that the Predators wanted to give up and hopefully it would not be a turning point for momentum in this game.

The Coyotes made it 3-2 at 10:09 as Derek Morris walked in from the blue line a ripped a shot past Hutton. The Coyotes D corps has some prolific scorers, but the Predators made it easy for the Coyotes as the defense had rotated to one side of the ice and Morris took advantage of an open lane to notch his 4th goal of the season.

The Predators needed an answer to the Coyotes push to swing momentum back to their side.

There was no answer by the Predators, but fortunately, they were able to hold off the pressure of the Coyotes for the remainder of the period.

The Predators out shot the Coyotes 8-6 in the second period, but there were stretches where the Coyotes had a decided territorial advantage.

The third period was shaping up to be a war, and the Predators were going to have to answer the inevitable push that the Coyotes would bring.

The Predators came out skating hard and putting pressure on the Coyotes. Nick Spaling put a shot on net from the boards that Greiss kicked out onto the stick of Paul Gaustad. Gaustad banged home the rebound at 15:45 to make it 4-2 Predators.

That was a huge goal for the Predators, not only to extend the lead back to 2, but also to take some of the momentum away from the Coyotes.

That regained momentum did not last long.

The Coyotes answered right back on the power play at 13:44 as Shane Doan hammered a shot from the right circle to make it 4-3.

The Coyotes tied the game at 11;43 as Antoine Vermette broke in on a breakaway and tucked the puck through the five hole of Hutton. The breakaway occurred as the Predators were trying to get a change and left the middle of the ice open for Vermette.

Neither team could get the winning goal in regulation, and after blowing a 3 goal first period lead, the Predators were now facing overtime.

David Legwand was called for holding early in the overtime period, and the Predators were going to have to rely on their penalty killers to salvage their chances.

And they did just that.

The Predators were able to survive the OT and now the second point would be claimed in the shootout.

In the first round of the shootout, Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith were stopped. Radim Vrbata and Matt Cullen were stopped in the second round. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was stopped by Hutton and Mike Fisher hit the pipe. In the fourth round, David Rundblad and Gabriel Bourque were stopped by the netminders.

Mikael Boedker scored in the fifth round for the Coyotes and David Legwand was stoned by Greiss.

The Predators epic collapse was complete, dropping a 5-4 decision in overtime.

Some observations:

  • Hutton gave up a soft first goal to the Coyotes, but was generally sound in net. The goals he gave up after the first one were solid goals that the Coyotes worked for along with some defensive breakdowns that assisted their effort.
  • Mike Fisher didn't score, but played a very physical and competitive game. I liked his effort, and if he keeps up this level of play, he will find the back of the net.
  • The Predators lost Matt Hendricks after a clean hit by Derek Morris in the second period. He is called out with an upper body injury.
  • Viktor Stalberg was back in the line up. He showed good jump and saved a goal in the second period by sweeping a puck off the goal line. The Predators desperately need him to get his offensive game going.
This was a game that the Predators never should have lost. Yes, the Coyotes are an excellent team, but when you have a 3 goal lead, you have to lock down the other team. This game is evidence that this young team doesn't yet have a killer instinct.

They are going to have to develop one quickly.

My three stars:

1. David Legwand

2. Shane Doan

3. Keith Yandle