Friday, January 31, 2014

Predators Cap An Incredible Comeback Win With Weber's Goal

Shea Weber was a game time decision for the Predators game against the New Jersey Devils at the Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators are glad he played.

Weber scored the first goal of the game and the overtime winner as the Predators defeated the Devils 3-2.

And it was an improbable win.

Weber opened the scoring for the Predators as he blasted a slap shot past Cory Schneider that beat the scrambling Devils netminder through the five hole at 6:45 of the first period.

The Devils came back with two goals in the second period, both of which were goals Carter Hutton would like to have back.

Patrick Elias fired a shot that appeared to be going wide of the net. Hutton tried to snare it with his glove, but it popped out and dribbled over the goal line to tie the game at 13:00 of the second.

The Devils took a  2-1 lead when Jaromir Jagr tallied his 17th goal of the season. Jagr beat Hutton with a wrist shot that got between Hutton and the post at 18:59 of the second period.

The Devils spent the third period aggressively forechecking the Predators and disrupting any offensive flow that the Predators tried to establish.

With the clock ticking down and Hutton pulled for an extra attacker, the Predators got the puck into the zone and Roman Josi fired a shot that Schneider kicked out to the stick of David Legwand. With Schneider out of position, David Legwand buried the puck into the open net with just 10.8 seconds remaining to tie the game.

In the overtime period, Michael Ryder had a breakaway just 80 seconds in, and Hutton came up big, stopping Ryder's backhand attempt.

The Predators rushed the puck into the offensive zone, and Colin Wilson made a drop pass to Weber. Weber launched a rocket over the glove of Schneider to give the Predators a come from behind win.

Some observations:

  • Weber's 15 goals leads all NHL defensemen. His ability to work to the open ice and bury shots is critical for the Predators success. Nashville is 11-1-2 when Weber scores.

  • Hutton allowed two brutal goals, but rather than hang his head, he continued to battle, His save on Ryder's breakaway was a thing of beauty. Hutton was generally solid, but he is prone to the soft goal, and tonight, it almost cost the team. I appreciate the fact that while he is not the most talented netminder in the NHL, he competes every night. Hutton is 6-1 in his last seven starts at home.

  • Nashville is 19-2-5 when they score the first goal of the season.

  • Nashville won for just the2nd time this season when trailing after two periods. This game tonight should help build the confidence of this young team, letting them believe that they are not out of a game when trailing going into the final frame.

  • I like the pairing of Seth Jones and Michael Del Zotto. This is a mobile pair that can move the puck and Del Zotto has shown that he is not afraid to deliver a big hit, as he did tonight. If this pair can continue to gel, the Predators will have a solid second pairing.

  • Despite the aggressive forecheck of the Devils, the Predators out shot them 33-26. This effort in the face of pressure from a talented team is a good sign of the effort of this team.

  • The Predators are 3-1-1 in their last five games.

  • Roman Josi has 10 points (3G-7A) in his last nine games.
The Predators need to continue with this kind of effort and pile up points before the Olympic break. The Predators currently sit 5th in the Central Division and are 5 points out of the last wild card slot.

The challenge is there.

Now we will see if the team can meet it.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. David Legwand

3. Patrick Elias

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

To say the federal government is too big, too unwieldy, and too intrusive is a blinding flash of the obvious to most people. The American people are burdened with a myriad of new laws that Congress enacts every year. It is not only the laws that are put into place by the legislative branch that are burdensome. No, it is the mountainous number of regulations that are passed by the bureaucracy in Washington that intrude on our everyday lives and limit our freedoms.

Take a look at this picture from Senator Mike Lee:

What you are looking at in these stacks of paper is the over 80,000 regulations enacted by the bureaucracy in Washington LAST YEAR.

And notice the small stack of papers on the top right of the cabinet? That is the number of new laws and regulations passed by Congress last year.

Looking at this, I am stunned. While Congress often draws the ire of voters for its position on various issues, you get a visual representation of what the bloated bureaucracy in Washington is doing to our country, to you and me.

This endless regulation of our activities by bureaucrats in Washington is onerous and costly. Even more fundamental is the fact that this great country was founded on the principal that most of what we as free citizens did was none of the government's business to begin with.

The intrusive nature of the massive bureaucracy in Washington has found its way into every nook and cranny of our daily activities. There is virtually no aspect of our personal life that cannot or is not controlled by the federal government.

This shift of power to Washington and to unelected bureaucrats has not happened overnight. It has occurred incrementally over time, changing sometimes so subtly that the change has almost passed unnoticed.

Until free citizens look up one day and realize that they are not as free as they thought.

Having this enormous power centralized in Washington and into an unelected group of bureaucrats does several things, all negative.

It disenfranchises the citizens of this country, taking away their freedom in a process that gives them no voice over the control of many important aspects of their life. Do you think people in Tennessee, South Carolina, Montana, or any of the other states have very different ideas of about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than does someone in Washington? The "I know what's best" attitude by those in Washington is most often out of touch and unrealistic with the realities of life that most of us encounter.

The centralization of power in Washington and in unelected bureaucrats also means that any lobby (read: deepest pockets) can buy influence in a city whose culture is predisposed to venality. All of us have seen the flawed legislation that has come out of Congress, and the accompanying regulations from the bureaucracy, that wind up costing us money and limiting our freedom.  Yet if you follow the money, one often finds that those deep pocketed lobbyists have prevailed to have Congress and its minions in the bureaucracy enact that legislation for their pecuniary benefit.

And all the while our freedoms are eroded and our wallets lighter.

Do you like being groped by a rent a cop at a TSA checkpoint? Like it or not, you will be if you have to fly.

Did you and I vote for this? Do we have a voice in this process?

Contact your Congressman and see what kind of response you get. Better yet, try talking to the TSA bureaucracy. The experience of having a tooth pulled with no anesthetic would be more pleasant.

Here is the point that we should all keep in mind:

We as citizens have lost control of our federal government.

Washington has become elitist and drunk on the power that it has amassed over the years. While we rail at our elected officials, the real power and the negative economic impact that we feel comes from the unelected bureaucrats in Washington.

Their regulations are strangling our economy, taking money out of our wallets, and radically curtailing our freedoms.

Yes, the laws that Congress passes are a problem. Obamacare is a poster child for this. Under girding bad legislation from Congress is a host of bureaucracies that will take those bad laws and regulate us to oblivion.

So what are we to do?

The first step is to understand the impact of the endless amount of regulation that is coming from Washington bureaucracies. And that regulation is not designed to make our life better. It is designed to amass power, control, and money in the hands of a few.

Recognizing that fact, we must engage our elected representatives and demand that that they begin to push back against the monstrosity that is our federal government. And if our elected representatives will not, then it is time to put into office those who will.

The November elections are a good place to start.

We can continue to let unelected bureaucrats and elected representatives run roughshod over our freedoms.

Or we can begin to take back our government.

It's our choice.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Predators Outlast the Jets 4-3

The Nashville Predators wrapped up a 4 game road trip with a stop in Winnipeg to face the suddenly resurgent Jets, who have gone 6-1 since Paul Maurice stepped in behind the bench. The Predators had gone 1-1-1 on the trip, and needed the two points in this game to try to stay remotely close to the last wild card position in the Western Conference.

Nashville opened the scoring on a wrap around goal by Seth Jones. Jones carried the puck in deep and showed great speed and puck control as he sped behind the net and banged the puck off the skate of Ondrej Pavelec and inside the post.

The Predators have shown a troubling tendency to give up a goal shortly after scoring, and this game was no different. Just 22 seconds after the Predators score, the Jets got on the board as Chris Thorburn deflected a point shot past Nashville netminder Carter Hutton to tie the game at 1.

The Predators got the lead back just 42 seconds into the second period as Roman Josi notched his 7th goal of the season.

The Predators made it 3-1 off a nice give and go between Colton Sissons, Paul Gaustad, and ultimately Nick Spaling, who deposited the puck past an out of position Pavelec.

3-1 and late in the second period and the Predators looked to have control of the game. But this is the Predators and they gave up two goals in 27 seconds to let the Jets tie the game. Mark Scheifele and Balke Wheeler tallied to knot the game at 3 going into the third period.

The Predators looked to take the lead early in the third period, but the goal was disallowed as David Legwand was deemed to make incidental contact with Pavelec.

With the Predators on the power play to open the third period, they scored but the goal was disallowed due to what the officials deemed was incidental contact with Pavelec by David Legwand. Undeterred, they did score 42 seconds into the period as Mike Fisher banged home a shot for his 14th goal of the season.

That goal would be the game winner as the Predators were able to hold the Jets off the board for the remainder of the period.

The 4-3 win gave the Predators a 2-1-1 record on this road trip and they captured 5 of a possible 8 points.

Some observations:

  • This was a nice bounce back effort by the Predators after the debacle in Edmonton in their last game. They were aggressive and got the puck on net and had good traffic in front. Tonight, the Predators played their game and they got the win for their efforts. This is the way this team has to play consistently to have a chance to win games.

  • That said, this team has got to do a better job of locking down a lead. Letting the Jets tie the game just 22 seconds after taking the lead in the first period and giving up 2 goals in 27 seconds in the second period are exasperating. This team has shown an inability to step up intensity and hold a lead, and this has to change if this team is going to have success. 

  • Shea Weber left the game midway of the third period with an upper body injury. Weber appeared to injure himself after taking a slap shot. The Predators played the rest of the game with five defensemen.

  • Colton Sissons was called up from Milwaukee due to the injuries to Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen. Sissons picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Nick Spaling's goal.

  • Paging Colin Wilson. Another game with no shots on goal. Tonight Wilson had 13:41 of ice time and was once again invisible.

  • Craig Smith continues his strong play. He had two assists tonight and delivered several hits and used his speed to create space and opportunities.
The Predators have a few days off before playing at home on Friday night. Hopefully they can continue to bring this level of play and intensity and continue to get some wins.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Craig Smith

3. Mark Scheifele

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Predators Embarrassed By the Oilers 5-1

The Nashville Predators traveled to Edmonton to take on an Oilers team that has bedeviled them recently. The Predators have struggled to score and contain the explosive offense of the Oilers in recent contests.

That did not change in this game.

The Predators were going to be challenged due to some injuries. Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen were both out of the lineup. This meant that lines were going to be juggled and chemistry would be affected.

It was in a big way.

After Edmonton opened the scoring just two minutes into the game off a goal by Justin Schultz, the Predators would answer with a goal of their own off a 2 on 1 rush. David Legwand fired a shot past Oilers netminder Ben Scrivens to tie the game at 1 at 15:29.

It went downhill for the Predators from there.

The Oilers scored with just 12 seconds remaining in the first period as Jordan Eberle scored his 18th goal of the year past Carter Hutton.

The second period saw Taylor Beck drive to the net and score, but the goal was waved off as the officials said that Beck had interfered with Scrivens.

Ryan Smyth tallied on the power play and Mail Yakupov scored at 16:46 to make it 4-1.

The Predators had not done much offensively after their first tally. Now it remained to be seen if they would have any fight in them in the third period.

Taylor Beck scored again, but again the goal was disallowed as the officials said there was incidental contact with Scrivens.

The Oilers, who owned the 21st ranked power play, scored again with Rich Clune in the box to make it 5-1 as Ryan Nugent Hopkins found the net.

And that was the final margin of this game.

Some observations:

  • Not taking away from the Oilers, who played a solid game, but they are the 29th ranked team in the NHL. Going back to last season, the Predators have been dominated by the Oilers. They are currently 0-2 this season against the Oil, and frankly this is unacceptable and inexcusable. The Predators came out flat and were run out of the building. Even with the disallowed goals, the Predators were not in this contest. This team is not good enough to play this way against any team, and these are games that this team has to win.

  • Carter Hutton didn't look sharp, but he didn't have a lot of help in front of him. Hopefully he can bounce back and get back to his game.

  • Taylor Beck had a strong game, and was one of the few Predators that had any jump on the ice. He went hard to the net and should have had a goal on the second that was disallowed. Beck needs to make a strong case to stay in the line up, and with a couple of players dinged up, he will have that opportunity.

  • Goodness gracious- Colin Wilson has turned invisible. For a player that has as much talent as he does, the production is woefully lacking.
Not much you can say about this game. This was an absolute stinker.

Hopefully this team can regroup.

My three stars:

1. Jordan Eberle

2. Ryan Nugent Hopkins

3. Ryan Smyth

Friday, January 24, 2014

Predators Waste Nystrom's 4 Goal Night, Fall to the Flames In a Shoot Out

The Nashville Predators have won of their last five games. Tonight, they were in Calgary taking on a team that has struggled with injuries and trying to find their identity.

This was a game the Predators needed to win, for the points of course, but also to build on the momentum that the team has had recently. coming into this game , the Predators have been playing more consistently and have started to mesh.

They needed a fast start to take the home crowd out of the game, and they got that start courtesy of Eric Nystrom.

Nystrom tallied the first two Predators goals, the first just 1:51 into the game. Gabriel Bourque battled for the puck and got it to Nystrom, who made a sweet move on Flames netminder Kari Ramo. Nystrom faked Ramo down to the ice and tucked the puck into the net for a 1-0.

The Flames tied the game on the power play. Predators goaltender Devan Dubnyk was screened and never appeared to see the Mark Giordano shot, which was the Flames first one of the man advantage.

Tied at 1 going into the second intermission, Nystrom asserted himself again. he went to the front of the net and gathered in a bouncing puck off a flip in by Roman Josi that Ramo could not control. Nystrom was able to slide the puck through the five hole of Ramo at 1:50 of the first period.

Paul Gaustad took a sharp angle shot with Nystrom in front screening, and the puck deflected in off Nystrom for the goal. at 6:00 of the second. For Nystrom, this was his first career hat trick.

That was it for Ramo, as he had given up 3 goals on 13 shots, and Reto Berra entered the game in net for the Flames.

The Predators opened the third period on the penalty kill, and brutal turnover by Seth Jones led to a David Jones goal at 1:24 to cut the lead to 3-2 for the Predators.

Eric Nystrom scored his 4th goal of the night as Matt Cullen threw the puck into the slot and Nystrom re-directed the pass through the pads of Berra to give the Predators a 4-2 lead and some breathing room. His goal came at 10:47 of the third period.

The Predators did not make it easy on themselves as they wound up with 2 men in the box, giving the Flames 1:27 of 5 on 3 advantage.

The Flames took advantage of the Predators miscues to score a 5 on 3 goal as Mikael Backlund scored at 12:27.

The Flames tied the game just after the power play ended as T.J. Brodie blasted a shot from the blue line that beat Dubnyk over the shoulder at 13:36.

The Predators had complete control of this game and managed to give away a 2 goal lead and momentum.


The overtime period saw both team have some good scoring chances. Matt Cullen rang a shot off the pipe, but neither team could score.

So, in a game that the Predators should have won handily, the shoot out would decide the winner.

Shootouts are kind to the Predators, as they have only won one this season.

They still have only one win, as the Flames won the skills competition 2-1.

Some observations:

  • Eric Nystrom was in full on beast mode. He is the first player in franchise history to score 4 goals in a game, and he played with jump and speed tonight. Good to see this hard working forward get rewarded.

  • The Predators gave this game away with some stupid third period penalties and an awful turnover. This team is not good enough to overcome those kind of mistakes.

  • Cullen, Colin Wilson, and Mike Fisher finished with zero shot on goal. Three top line forwards... and you wonder why the offense struggles.

  • Dubnyk is not the long term solution at back up.

  • Seth Jones shows flashes of brilliance, and he is going to be an elite player in the NHL. There are times when he shows that he is a rookie, as he did when he failed to clear the puck and turned it over in the defensive zone on the penalty kill. It was a terrible giveaway that led to the Flames third goal.
Well, boys, you threw this one away. Not much more you can say.

Hopefully the team can re-group and play a solid game in Edmonton.

My three stars:

1. Eric Nystrom

2. Mikael Backlund

3. Matt Cullen

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Remember former Environmental Protection Agency senior official John Beale? He was recently convicted of defrauding the federal government of $900,000 for work he did not do and for posing as a CIA agent while at the EPA. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently released a transcript of his testimony. Beale relates some interesting details of the Obama Administration's strategy for using the EPA, and it goes far beyond protecting the environment.

According to Beale,

"There were several phases of the project as we had outlined it. There's an enormous body of literature on the subject. Sometimes its referred to as sustainability, sometimes as green economics. And so phase 1 of the project was for me to become very familiar with the literature. Phase 2 would have been out interviewing academic and business experts.

And then phase 3 would have been coming up with specific proposals that could be or could have been proposed either legislatively or things which could have been done administratively to kind of modify the DNA of the capitalist system."


Beale testified that current EPA head Gina McCarthy is aware of the anti-capitalist project and is extremely interested in it. The project stalled when Beale was arrested for his fraudulent activities.

Friends, this is amazing and unprecedented.

We are an economy that has been founded on capitalist principles. And yes, capitalism is not perfect. It is messy. It engages in what famed economist Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction". And capitalism requires risk and doles out rewards commensurate to that risk. It requires sweat and toil.

And capitalism, most of all, provides freedom.

Which makes it different than every economic system or model in history.

In this system, you and I can choose how hard we want to work and our standard of living. We can refuse jobs. We can move to locales that have an abundance of jobs. We all make numerous life choices because of the economic freedom that capitalism provides.

And there is no other economic system in the world that works as well or as objectively as capitalism.

And this administration and the bureaucrats in Washington want to change that system.

President Obama and those on the left want to use bureaucracies such as the EPA to fundamentally transform America. And it is not about coal, carbon, or green energy. The proposed regulations are about one thing, and one thing only.


The climate change (the newest euphemism for global warming) scam led by the charlatan Al Gore is designed to transfer wealth from you and me along with every business in this country to Washington. It is designed to centralize power to get approval for business expansion. It is designed to lord power over you and me by imposing onerous land use regulations. And those regulations and the bureaucracy that would support them would be paid for by higher taxation on those that produce, that engage in capitalism.

It is about control and a central planning philosophy that says those in Washington know best.

Let me ask you, friends, which economy has been more vibrant and has offered the greatest amount of upward mobility and the highest standard of living?

Is it the U.S. or Russia? The U.S. or China? India?

Here is the reality, capitalism gives you and I the freedom to succeed in the manner of our choosing, not in the way a central planner tells us. It lets us have control over our lives. It allows us to build wealth.

And liberal elites and entrenched bureaucrats hate us for that, and they want to take away your economic liberty and potential.

Watch closely what is happening in Washington, and dig beneath the surface. There is often, as it is with the global warming scam, much more going on.

And it is that ulterior motive that will have the most significant impact on you and me.

Beale said it- this administration wants to change the DNA of the greatest economic system in history.

Not for our benefit.

But for power.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Predators Rally Past Vancouver for 2-1 Win

The Nashville Predators began a western Canada road trip with a stop in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. The Predators came into the game having won three of their last four games and were looking to build on that momentum.

Michael Del Zotto, acquired the day before from the New York Rangers for Kevin Klein, made his debut with the Predators.

Carter Hutton was in net for the Predators, and he has been playing well of late. The Predators were going to need another strong outing from Hutton against the talented Canucks squad.

And Hutton came up big in a scoreless first period. He stopped all 13 shots he faced, making some solid saves. The Canucks were aided in that first period by 6 minutes of power play time. Hutton and the penalty killers did a good job of keeping the Canucks off the board.

Taking those penalties is not a formula for beating the Canucks, and the Predators were going to have to be more disciplined in the second period.

The only score in the second period came when Chris Higgins tipped a Dale Weiss shot that was going wide of the net over the shoulder of Hutton.

As for the Predators, they had not really challenged Roberto Luongo through the first two periods. The offensive urgency and effort were going to have to improve in the third period.

The Predators got that response at 3:28 of the third period as Craig Smith beat Luongo short side with a snap shot to tie the game at 1. This was Smith's 16th goal of the season.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead on the power play as Seth Jones fired a shot from the blue line that was re-directed by Nick Spaling in front of Luongo Luongo. Spaling's goal came at 12:38 of the period.

The Predators defense was able to make that goal stand up, and they captured the 2-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Scott Nichol, Predators Director of Player Development, was behind the bench replacing Coach Lane Lambert, who stayed in Nashville to be with his wife, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. All of the fans of the Predators certainly send our best to her.

  • Del Zotto looked good for having made a cross country flight and joining the team today. he had good jump, a nice shot from the point, and showed that he can move the puck.

  • Nice response by the Predators in the third period. After a rather lifeless first two periods, the Predators took over in the third period. They got their feet moving and created some quality scoring chances by shooting the puck and getting to the net.

  • Hutton was very good again. He stopped 35 of 36 shots and did a good job of controlling rebounds and was tracking the puck well. Early in the year, it appeared that Hutton was scrambling a bit in net. Now, he looks to be more poised and fluid, and his game has benefitted.

  • The Canucks were without Head Coach John Tortorella, who missed his second game behind the bench as he serves his 15 day suspension.

  • The Predators won for only the 6th time this season when the opponent scores first.
The Predators continue tomorrow night in Calgary and are looking to keep the momentum going.

They will have to do so to get back into the playoff hunt.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Nick Spaling

3. Craig Smith

Monday, January 20, 2014

Predators Pound the Stars 4-1

The Nashville Predators took on division rival Dallas Stars at the Bridgestone Arena in a game that the Predators needed to move up in the standings. Defeating the Stars would allow the Predators to leapfrog them in the West.

So obviously, this game was important for the Predators, and a good start was essential.

That apparent good start, a goal off the stick of Shea Weber was negated by a goaltender interference penalty on David Legwand.

On the ensuing power play, Cody Eakin beat Carter Hutton to give the Stars a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first period.

What could have been a deflating event seemed to strengthen the resolve of the Predators, as they stepped up their physical play and tallied the next 4 goals on the way to an important 4-1 win.

Nick Spaling opened the scoring for the Predators at 11:35 of the first period as he went to the slot and gathered in a rebound of a Roman Josi shot and whipped it past Kari Lehtonen to tie the game.

The Predators made it 2-1 at 17:16 of the first period off a wrist shot from Shea Weber that beat Lehtonen through traffic to the stick side.

Throughout much of the second period, the game was back and forth with both teams trying to create scoring chances and both netminders coming up with good saves. That changed in the final minute of the period as Roman Josi beat Lehtonen with a wrist shot from the face off circle to give the Predators a 3-1 lead at 19:28.

In the third period, the Stars out shot the Predators 19-3. One of those three shots was a goal from Mike Fisher that was set up by the hustle of Colin Wilson. He beat a Stars defender in a race to the puck and threw a drop pass from the corner onto the stick of Fisher. Fisher blasted a shot past Lehtonen at 3:46 of the period for a 4-1 lead.

The rest of the period, the Predators were content to play defense and limit quality scoring chances by the Stars.

They were successful and the Predators captured their third win in the last 4 games.

Some observations:

  • Roman Josi is certainly smooth carrying the puck and knows when to carry it deep in the offensive zone. Josi is playing with a high level of confidence and proficiency and the team has benefited as his game continues to blossom. With the goal tonight, Josi set a career high for goals (6) and points (20).

  • Carter Hutton was superb tonight. He tracked the puck well and came up with some very good saves on the Stars scoring chances. Hutton stopped 35 of 36 shots and looked poised in the crease.

  • Kevin Klein went full beast mode on Antoine Roussel in a second period fight. Roussel challenged Klein, who obliged and proceeded to throw some bombs and pummel Roussel. It was interesting to see Eric Nystrom skating in close to the scrap and yelling encouragement to Klein.

  • The Predators had two goals waved off in the first period. The first on the aforementioned Legwand interference penalty and the second after it appeared that Rich Clune had poked the puck over the goal line in a goal mouth scramble. The officials ruled they had blown the whistle before the puck crossed the line.

  • This was a good comeback win for the Predators. Normally, when the opponent scores first, it spells trouble for the Predators. With this win tonight, the Predators are now 5-20-3 when the opponent scores first.

  • The game turned midway of the first period when the Predators upped their physical play. They did a good job of taking the body and making the Stars play a very physical game. As the game wore on and the hitting continued, the Stars seemed to wilt.

  • 7 of the last 15 goals the Predators have scored have come from defensemen.

  • Dallas has now lost 9 of their last 10 games.
The Predators will embark on a Western Canada swing that will show where this team is in terms of getting back into the playoff race.

Play like you did tonight, boys, and you will become a factor again.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Roman Josi

3. Eric Nystrom

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Predators Can't Overcome First Period Hole, Fall to Avs 5-4

The Colorado Avalanche are a very skilled team. The Nashville Predators are not. So if the Predators were going to capture a win at Bridgestone Arena, they were going to have to play a full 60 minute game and bring the effort in all zones.

Forget all zones.

The Predators didn't bother to show up and embarrassed themselves in the first period as they dug a 3-0 hole. Their furious comeback could not overcome this deficit as the Predators fell 5-4 leaving a sellout crowd disappointed and frustrated.

The Avs controlled the first period and cycled the puck at will. All three of their first period goals came off strong puck possession and the cycle.

The Predators tallied a 5 on 3 power play goal in the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1 as Patric Hornqvist took a sweet pass from Mike Fisher at the top of the crease and buried the shot for his 10th goal of the season.

The Predators needed a strong start to the third period to get back into the game. Instead, they gave up 2 goals to the Avalanche to make it 5-1 and send fans scurrying to the exits.

Finally, the Predators woke up and got back into the game. Craig Smith, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi all scored to make it 5-4, but the Predators could not get the tying goal as Semyon Varlamov and the Avs held the Predators off the board.

Some observations:

  • GM David Poile should take a close look at the Avalanche. They are a team that has been built with skilled offensive players. That skill dominated the will of the Predators for most of the game. The Predators are built in such a way that they have to play a nearly perfect game to win against quality, skilled teams, and more often than not their will is not sufficient nor is their game close enough to perfection to beat skilled teams.

  • That said, kudos to the Predators for battling back. Down 5-1, they could have folded, but continued to fight. The deficit was too great to overcome and the team lacks the dangerous offensive threat to consistently put the puck in the net.

  • The Predators have the annoying habit of making average players look great. Tonight, Avs journeyman defenseman Nick Holden looked like the second coming of Ray Bourque, notching 2 goals.

  • Can we agree that Viktor Stalberg playing on the 4th line is a failed experiment? Stalberg didn't have the start that he wanted to this season, but he is defensively responsible and possesses great speed that his current line mates cannot match. While Stalberg languishes on the 4th line, Colin Wilson continues to get top line minutes while doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps the coaching staff needs to look at some line changes. As it is, the lack of productivity from Wilson does not justify his current role. tonight, Wilson had no shots on goal and was a -1.

  • Devan Dubnyk got his first start tonight. He wasn't great and wasn't altogether bad. There are a couple of goals that he would like to have back, but most were the result of the dominance of the Avs in the Predators offensive zone.

  • Craig Smith tallied his team leading 15th goal. This is a career high for the Honey Badger and he continues to play a solid game. He leads the team in scoring and continues to play a high tempo game and is creative offensively.

  • I had my doubts about mini-me, uh, Ryan Ellis. I was unsure as to whether he could handle the rigors of a full time role as a blueliner, but he is proving me wrong. he has played a more physical game and continues to produce offensively.
The start was brutal and the Predators could not overcome their ineptitude and lack of energy to begin the game and at the start of the third period.

The lack of consistency from this team will cost them a playoff spot. The lack of skill on this squad cannot overcome the grit or Predator "hard" or whatever we call it now.

The task for the Predators is just to try to gain consistency- hopefully good, positive consistency- every night.

My three stars:

1. Nick Holden

2. Nathan Mackinnon

3. Roman Josi

Friday, January 17, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The House of Representatives has passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill and forwarded it to the Senate for their review and approval. It is expected to pass the Senate and be sent to the President for his signature. The passage of the spending bill keeps the government open through October and avoids another potential government shutdown. Republicans are congratulating themselves over avoiding the negative publicity of shutting down the government and showing citizens that they can work with the Democrats. Democrats are pleased that some of their pet programs, such as Head Start, have been funded. According to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md), "It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics." In other words, legislators are happy. But what about the people paying the bills? You and I as taxpayers have watched Congress hustle along this legislation with little to no input. And what is tucked into that $1.1 trillion spending bill that you and I will pay for? Here are a couple of things:

Amtrak: The rail system has yet to turn a profit because its cost of doing business is too high. This is primarily because of non-competitive bidding of contracts for services that Amtrak uses. Despite bleeding red ink for years and not using sound business practices, the rail service received $1.39 billion.

Job Corps: Studies from previous years have shown that Job Corps programs do little to boost participants wages or train them to secure full time jobs. This agency received $1.69 billion.

U.S. Postal Service: Tucked into the omnibus bill is a provision that BLOCKS two much needed reforms for the postal service- closing rural post offices that are under utilized and stopping Saturday delivery. Congress has specifically prohibited two cost saving measures for an entity that has defaulted on its pension payment obligations and desperately needs to cut costs.

Head Start: Who doesn't want to help children achieve and get a good education? The Head Start program was designed to take at risk children and give them the tools to do just that. Instead, the results have been dismal. Even the Obama administration confirmed in a study that "access to Head Start had no statistically measurable effect on all measures of cognitive ability, including numerous measures of reading, language, and math ability." The program doesn't work, yet Congress increased the funding to Head Start by $612 million over the previous year.

Friends, this is insanity of the highest order. We are funding programs that do not work, preventing cost saving measures from being implemented, and all the time our elected leaders are giving the American taxpayer the finger. And there are more- many more- pork programs in this budget.

If we are going to restore fiscal sanity in this country, the people in Washington, the elected leaders are going to have to change. Democrats are failures when it comes to fiscal discipline. Most Republicans have shown themselves to be the same.

The problem is that these elected representative don't live daily with their failures. You and I bear the brunt of the ineptitude that come from Washington. We face higher taxes, more regulations, and a lesser standard of living because our legislators cannot or will not govern.

But this is a two sided problem. We as an electorate have allowed our representatives to govern in this manner. And now it is time to stop.

Politics for many is a repugnant field, one in which we have little interest unless it is an issue that affects us directly.

Well, friends, this affects us all, directly and in our wallets.

Washington has created an environment where jobs are scarce, regulations are onerous, and the result is that for each of us our standard of living is falling.

It impacts all of us!

We have a choice.

We can continue to let our elected leaders spend us into oblivion.

Or we can begin to get more involved and rein them in.

Either way, it will affect you and me.

We as a nation will be better off financially or we will be broke.

The choice is ours.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Predators End the Futility, Finish the Flyers in a Shootout

The Nashville Predators traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers and were looking to build on a solid win from their previous game. For the Predators, consistency and a quick start were essential to capturing a road win against a hot Flyers team.

It was the Flyers that got the quick start as they tallied just 1:28 into the game as Brayden Schenn tapped in a puck laying at the side of the net. Predators netminder Carter Hutton had traffic in front on him and was fighting to find the puck when Schenn gathered in the loose puck and banged it home for the first goal of the game.

The Predators answered with a similar goal at 10:57 of the first period. Gabriel Bourque came off the wall and fired the puck toward the front of the net, where it met the skate of Eric Nystom, who was driving hard to the blue paint. The puck caromed off Nystrom's skate past Flyers goaltender Steve Mason to knot the game at 1.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead at 16:35 of the period. The Predators were on the power play when Mike Fisher threaded a pass through the slot to David Legwand, who buried the puck past a sprawling Mason.

The second period loosened up a bit and the game became an end to end contest.

The Flyers nearly tied the game as a dump in was misplayed behind the net by Hutton. The puck bounced off his stick on to the tape of Michael Raffl, who had an open net into which to shoot the puck. David Legwand tripped Raffl on the backcheck, which affected his shot, but Hutton dove out from behind the net and made a remarkable glove save to keep the Flyers off the board.

Hutton would give up the tying goal with just 3.6 seconds left in the period as Andrej Meszaros took a drop pass from Wayne Simmonds and whipped a shot over the shoulder stick side.

This was the kind of goal that could deflate a team, so it would be interesting to see how the Predators responded in the third period.

The Flyers Niklas Grossman was called for a double minor for high sticking Patric Hornqvist, and on the ensuing power play Shea Weber, much to the chagrin of Philly fans who lust after the stud defenseman, gunned a slap shot from the blue line to give the Predators a 3-2 lead at 5:10.

The Predators would continue on the power play and Craig Smith had a glorious chance on a breakaway that was stopped by Mason.

The Predators tempted fate by taking a late penalty as Mike Fisher was called for slashing and the Flyers made the Predators pay. Wayne Simmonds was parked in front of the net and he was able to re-direct a shot past Hutton at 18:36. On the play, Mason was pulled and it was a 6 on 4 advantage for the Flyers.

That late goal caused the game to go to overtime, where the Predators had not had much success this season. The Predators were 1-7 in OT sessions this season.

Neither team could score in the overtime, although the Flyers Matt Read rang a shot off the post that nearly trickled into the net before Carter Hutton smothered the puck.

It's deja vu all over again, as the teams were heading to a shootout, just like in their first meeting in Nashville.

For the first time this season, the Predators won a shootout.

The futility in the skills competition was finally over!

The shootout went seven rounds with Matt Cullen, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi scoring the game winner.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton played a solid game and came up with some very good saves. He was able to track the puck well through traffic and gave up few rebounds. Hutton has had two good outings, and hopefully he can build on this and get his mojo going.

  • In the shootout, the Predators surprisingly went to Seth Jones as the third shooter. He missed the net on his shot.

  • The Predators power play was efficient scoring on 2 of 4 opportunities including one goal on a 4 minute double minor. The power play units have been moving the puck better of late, forcing the defense to move more and opening up shooting lanes.

  • The Predators continue to put pucks on the net. They out shot the flyers 37-30 and this is what this team has to do to have an opportunity to win games.

  • With the win, the Predators get back to .500 at 21-21-7, good for 49 points and 6 points out of the final playoff spot.

  • New acquisition Devan Dubnyk was on the bench as the back up goalie.

The Predators continue to fight and claw to try to get back into the playoff race.

Essential for this team to do that will be to build consistency and avoid the losing streaks that have derailed momentum during this season.

These past two wins are a good place to start doing just that.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Shea Weber

3. Wayne Simmonds

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Predators Snuff the Flames 4-2

The Nashville Predators were looking to end their three game losing streak and their five game on a positive note. They needed a complete game in all zones and to especially regain confidence in their ability to score.

The visiting Calgary Flames were just what the doctor ordered.

The Predators downed the Flames 4-2 at Bridgestone Arena, employing their magical formula of winning most of their games when they score first. The Predators are 17-2-4 when scoring the first goal.

That first goal came courtesy of Shea Weber, who blew a puck past Flames netminder Karri Ramo at 15:52 of the first period and with the Predators on the power play.

The Flames tied the game at 18:56 of the first period as Jiri Hudler took a backhand that Predator goaltender Carter Hutton deflected with his pad. The puck came to Lee Stempniak in the slot and he buried a shot into the open net.

After a second period that was scoreless, both teams found the net in the third period.

Just 55 seconds into the third period, Ryan Ellis carried the puck into the offensive zone. He showed great patience to wait for an open shooting lane that appeared as no Calgary player challenged the puck. Once Ellis had that lane, he blasted a slap shot past Ramo for a 2-1 lead.

The Predators tallied again on the power play as Seth Jones took a shot from the blue line that bounced around in the traffic in front of the net. Ramo could not locate the puck but Craig Smith could. He drove the net and beat Ramo glove side to give the Predators a 3-1 lead at 2:40 of the third period.

Viktor Stalberg got his 6th goal of the season as he went to the front of the net and re-directed a  Ryan Ellis slap shot to make it 4-1 at 10:52.

The Flames would cut the deficit to 4-2 at 13:07 when Mikael Backlund  came off the wall and beat Hutton with a wrist shot.

The Predators would shut down the Flames for the rest of the period, including the final two minutes with Ramo pulled for an extra attacker and snapped their losing streak with a much needed 4-2 win.

Some observations:

  • The Predators power play had been 1 for 13 in their previous four games. tonight, they were 2 for 5 (the fifth was a 55 second man advantage at the end of the game). They showed much better movement without the puck to set up shots and managed the puck well. Weber's goal was an absolute bomb that came as he worked his way open to the left of Ramo. Smith's goal came from basic Predators hockey: shoot the puck and get traffic to the net. On that play, Nick Spaling was creating havoc in front to give Smith a chance to control the puck and get the shot.

  • The Predators power play is connecting at 21% after tonight's game, good for 7th in the NHL.

  • Weber's goal tonight gives him 11 for the year, best among NHL defensemen.

  • Craig Smith's goal was his 14th of the season and leads the team.

  • David Legwand picked up three assists tonight. Obviously, Legwand read my blog chastising him for being disinterested in the Minnesota game and it lit a fire under him.

  • Carter Hutton had a solid game and made some good saves. He stopped 22 of 24 shots and picked up his first win since December 14.

  • Seth Jones picked up an assist on the Predators second power play. With that point, he is tied for second in points for rookie defensemen with Eric Gelinas of New Jersey with 18 points..

  • Ryan Ellis had a strong game, picking up a goal and an assist and was a +2 for the game.
This was a solid win for the Predators as they were sound in all phases of the game.

The challenge for this team will be to play consistently and bring this effort every night.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Ellis

2. Shea Weber

3. David Legwand

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Predators Fail to Show, Whipped By the Wild

The Nashville Predators desperately needed to win their game against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. The Wild occupy the 8th spot in the West and sat 8 points in front of the Predators. Win this game, and the Predators close the gap to 6 points; lose and it balloons to 10 points.

The Predators needed to bring it and play a complete game.

Instead, they embarrassed themselves, losing 4-0 and rarely showing any fight and compete.

The Wild dominated the first period, scoring two goals and outshooting the Predators 11-5. Dany Heatley and Jason Zucker tallied to give the Wild a 2-0 lead, and for all intents and purposes, this game was over.

The Predators showed some life in the second period, but their old nemesis of being unable to finish scoring chances once again bit them. They out shot the Wild 9-3 but could not get a puck past Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper.

The Predators gave up two more goals in the third period to the Wild as Matt Cooke was left alone in the slot and beat a defenseless Marek Mazanec to give the Wild a 3-0 lead. Marco Scandella sent the crowd home early with a goal past a screened Mazanec.

Some observations:

  • The Predators lost most every puck battle tonight. The Wild wanted it more, and the Predators had no response. This shut down most of the offensive effort and was disappointing to say the least.

  • The Wild dominated the neutral zone. The Predators struggled all night just trying to get the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. The Wild had better jump and hustle than the Predators, and their intensity and effort shut down the Predators all night.

  • The Predators puck support was awful. The Predators had 17 giveaways, mostly attributable to the Wild surrounding the puck carrier and limiting options to move the puck. The ability to cycle the puck and create chances in the offensive zone is dependent on the Predators controlling the puck and giving options to the puck carrier. The Predators failed miserably at this tonight.

  • The Predators had two power plays and did not get a shot on net on the first one. The Wild PK had more energy and jump than the Predators PP units, and the ability to move the puck was limited by the hustle of the Wild.

  • David Legwand looked totally disinterested tonight. He recorded no shots on goal, had 3 giveaways, and was a -3 in 15:34 TOI. The Predators need more out of Legwand, and his level of play has been dropping off recently.

  • The Predators welcomed Patric Hornqvist back to the line up after missing two games with an injury. He recorded a team high 4 shots on net.

  • I can't really fault Mazanec on the goals he gave up tonight. Defensive breakdowns in front of him created magnificent scoring chances for the Wild and they capitalized.

  • Darcy Kuemper recorded his first career shutout. This was just his 10th NHL game.
The lack of compete by the Predators tonight is beyond disappointing. In a pivotal game, they failed to show up. There are no positives to draw from this loss.

The Predators are dangerously close to becoming an afterthought to this season, especially if their effort is as weak as tonight's.

A chance to make up some ground during a five game homestand has been wasted. There is one more game left at home to try to erase the bad taste of this effort.

It would be good to go out strong.

My three stars:

1. Dany Heatley

2. Darcy Kuemper

3. Charlie Coyle

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Predators Scoring and Shootout Struggles Continue in Loss to the Senators

The Nashville Predators were exactly where they did not want to be: in another shootout.

The Predators were 0-4 in the shootout coming in to the game at Bridgestone Arena against the Ottawa Senators. After tonight, they are 0-5.

How we got there is interesting.

Mattias Ekholm attempted a back pass behind his net to Kevin Klein. Rather than slide around the dasher board, the puck hit at an angle and caromed out in the slot to Kyle Turris. Turris calmly deposited the puck past Nashville netminder Marek Mazanec, who was watching Ekholm carry the puck and was as surprised as anyone in the building at the crazy play. Turris scored his goal at 6:23 of the second period.

Mike Fisher tied the game at 16:59 of the second period. Ryan Ellis took a shot that was deflected onto the stick of Fisher, who buried the puck over the shoulder of Anderson.

Both teams traded some scoring chances in the remainder of regulation but could not get the go ahead goal.

In overtime, the Predators dominated, out shooting the Senators 6-0. They had the final 1:34 on the power play but could not get a puck past Anderson. The Senators penalty killers did a good job of clogging the lanes and clearing the puck to keep the Predators from getting the winning goal.

In the shoot out, Anderson stopped Craig Smith and David Legwand, while Mika Zibenejad and Jason Spezza tallied in their attempts.

Some observations:

  • Viktor Stalberg was awarded a penalty shot in the first period, which Anderson stopped easily. The penalty shot was awarded after Stalberg used his speed to blow past Joe Corvo, who was forced to haul down Stalberg.

  • Speaking of Stalberg, he recorded three shots on net and used his speed to create space and set up plays. Again, I am looking for a reasonable explanation as to why he is playing on the fourth line.

  • Eric Nystrom and Colin Greening traded some bombs in a second period scrap. They went skate to skate and neither refused to back down in a spirited tilt.

  • Colin Wilson played 17:40 and David Legwand played 18:59. They each recorded one shot on net and were absolute non-factors. Legwand in particular seemed disinterested and unwilling to battle for position or the puck. to give these players these kind of minutes and have zero production is baffling and detrimental to the team.

  • As mentioned, the Predators are now 0-5 in the shootout. How bad have they been? In 19 shot attempts, they have made 1. Only New Jersey is worse.

  • The Predators out shot the Senators 33-21 and had some good scoring chances. Credit Craig Anderson with making some good saves, but this also points out that the Predators continue to struggle finishing their scoring chances.

  • And this points out once again that the lack of offensive skill is killing this team.
The Predators have now lost 3 of their last 4 games, and the prospects for this team righting the ship are faint.

The best to hope for now is for this team to work to improve their game and get some of the players on the roster to step up their play.

Fail to do that and this ugly season will get uglier.

My three stars:

1. Craig Anderson

2. Jason Spezza

3. Mike Fisher

Friday, January 10, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The unemployment numbers were released today, and there was much fanfare about the unemployment rate dropping below 7%. The reported number was 6.7%. Dig a bit deeper, however, and this number is not only misleading, but troubling. Take a look at the following chart:

The labor force participation rate has been consistently dropping over the past five years. That participation rate is simply the number of people of eligible working age that are actually in the work force. This rate will move around as a population ages and people move from work to retirement, or it can move during an economic downturn or upswing. If we use the same labor force participation rate- the same percentage of the work eligible population that was working- from 2009 we can see that the stated unemployment rate would be 11%. Now to be sure, there have been people who have retired since 2009, but not in sufficient numbers to drive down unemployment to current levels. The reality is that the unemployment rate as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not even close to presenting a factual picture of our labor market. Know this: the labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been in 30 years, and this does not bode well for growing our economy.
I never can keep New Year's resolutions- they just slowly slip away. I should just be realistic and call them "ebbolutions".
On January 8th, 1954, president Lyndon B. Johnson in his State of the Union address said, "This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America." That initiative set forth some programs that have had profound financial and cultural consequences for our country. One of the most significant accomplishments of the Great Society programs has been the drop in poverty among the elderly after the creation of Medicare. The poverty rate for older Americans has fallen from 35% in 1959 to 9% today. And there is no doubt there are individuals and families that have been helped out of dire straits by these programs. The costs to do this, however, have been enormous. Since 1964, we have spent $20 trillion (TRILLION) on means tested wealth transfers, yet the overall poverty rate among Americans has fallen from 19% to 15% (and is now starting to reverse and increase thanks to the ineptitude of Washington). There are other aspects of our war on poverty that bear mentioning, and some of these will not be popular topics of conversation. Since the launch of the War on Poverty, there has been a steady rise in cohabitation, divorce, and out of wedlock births. Today, 52% of American adults are married; it was 72% fifty years ago. In 2012 more than 50% of the births to teenagers or women in their 20's were to single parents. In the African American community, 72.3% of children our born outside of wedlock; among American Indians, it is 65.1%; and among Hispanics, it is 51.3%. Why does this matter? A study by Princeton University in 2010 found that children born to unmarried parents did not fare as well as children born into a married household on virtually any measure: drop out rates; early mortality; adolescent delinquency; emotional health; or childhood injury. 30% of single parent households live below the poverty line. Fixing this problem is complex and requires some difficult decisions. Providing relief in the name of compassion does nothing but perpetuate these vicious cycles. Rather than a safety net of federal programs that ensnares many of our citizens, perhaps it is time to re-think how we are fighting this war.
I was going to quit all my bad habits for the New Year, but then I remembered no one likes a quitter.
Once again, there is a call for raising the minimum wage. Citing restaurant workers and other entry level positions, activists are lobbying to raise the wage to help them financially. While politicians are pushing for this, the IRS implemented a new tax policy January 1 that will prevent restaurant workers from collecting the automatic gratuities that are added to the tab for large parties. The Federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour and was set in 1991. Many states have implemented a higher minimum wage for those workers, but in all cases, it is assumed that tipped employees will make up the difference in the lower wage through those selfsame tips. Now, servers that have a large party (defined in this IRS regulation as 8 or more people) will not be able to collect that tip. Instead, it is classified as a payroll expense for the employing restaurant and as W-2 wages for the server. This means more cost and record keeping for the employer. Why bring this up? The financial impact is insignificant from the revenue collected by the government. What is critical is the principal involved and that is the micro managing and meddling by the federal government and the additional burden on restaurants to accurately report tip income as wages. Think there will not be some establishments that are caught and penalized because of an error in reporting the tip income? Here is the reality: we need the government to remove the onerous provisions of the tax code and the burdensome regulations that stymie job growth and creation, especially among smaller companies. Until we get legislators that realize you cannot tax your way to prosperity, we will continue to see more regulatory impediments to job growth.
It's funny how one typo can change everythong.
And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Predators Squander Two goal Lead in Loss to the Ducks

The Nashville Predators had an opportunity to do something only a handful of teams have done this season: defeat the Anaheim Ducks.

The Predators started that mission well, scoring 2 goals on 6 shots in the first period.

A brutal second period doomed the Predators as they gave up 4 goals en route to a 4-3 loss at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators opened the scoring at 1:52 of the first period as Gabriel Bourque controlled the puck behind the Ducks net. He found Paul Gaustad, who split three Ducks players and beat Frederik Andersen glove side to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Craig Smith made it 2-0 at 2:22 of the first as he took a pass from Matt Cullen and whipped a shot past Andersen glove side.

The Ducks were sluggish in the first period, but their forecheck was working and was effective in bottling the Predators up for most of the first period. The Predators had to know that the Ducks would come out with more fire and push in the second period.

Did they ever.

The Ducks outshot the Predators 17-8 and controlled the play in the second period with their strong forecheck and offensive play.

The Ducks took just 55 seconds to get on the board in the second period as Ryan Getzlaf fired a shot into a narrow space over the glove of Predators netminder Marek Mazanec.

The ducks tied the game on Getzlaf's second goal at 4:36 of the period as he beat Mazanec badly to the glove side. Mazanec was unscreened but could not stop the shot.

The Predators took a 3-2 lead at 5:31 of the second as Craig Smith fired a shot toward the net from below the face off circle. The puck bounced off Rich Clune and past Andersen.

As the Predators have disappointingly done all season, they quickly gave up the tying goal as Getzlaf made a great pass to spring Corey Perry. Perry fired a shot toward Mazanec with no traffic in front but the shot beat him five hole.

The Ducks took a 4-3 lead on the power play as Patrick Maroon took the puck at the top of the crease and backhanded a pass to Teemu Selanne. Selanne buried the shot into the wide open net for the game winner at 18:52 of the second period.

The Predators had some good opportunities on the power play in the third period but could not get a puck past Andersen. The Predators out shot the Ducks 12-4 in the third period but could not finish their chances.

What had been a promising start to a pivotal contest saw the Predators squander an opportunity to get a much needed win.

Some observations:

  • With his goal, Paul Gaustad tallied his 200th point.

  • For the life of me, some of the line combinations, especially late in the game, made no sense. Why on earth was Rich Clune getting top line minutes in critical situations late in the game when you had more offensive minded players on the bench?

  • Craig Smith continues to play well. his goal off a nice pass from Matt Cullen showed some sweet hands and the shot was placed perfectly.

  • Note to David Poile: see what offensively skilled players can do. It is not enough to have guys on the roseter that are gritty, or "Predator hard" (whatever that is). You have to have guys that can finish and can put pucks into the net.

  • The second Getzlaf goal and the goal given up to Perry were brutal. Both came on unscreened shots that abused Mazanec. Those were shots that Mazanec has to stop.

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

  • Colin Wilson is struggling badly. He is ineffective in the offensive zone and tonight registered one shot on goal. he was a -3 and played only 12:03 with one shot on goal.

  • Roman Josi showed his skill at carrying the puck. Josi is one of the few Predators that is reliable in getting the puck through the neutral zone and carrying the puck through traffic. He logged 25:35 TOI tonight.

  • The Ducks forecheck caused problems for the Predators all night. That effort is one the Predators attempt to emulate every game. The difference between the two teams is that the Ducks can transition from gritty forechecking to dynamic offense. That is something to which the Predators can only aspire.
This is a disappointing loss in that the Predators folded in the face of the relentless pressure and talent of the Ducks.

It is two points that the team cannot afford to give away.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Getzlaf

2. Craig Smith

3. Matt Cullen

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Predators Stymie the Sharks For the Second Time

The Nashville Predators seem to enjoy playing the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are one of the best teams in the NHL, while the Predators are struggling to play .500 hockey.

Yet the Predators captured their second win in as many games against the Sharks, notching a 3-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Predators out shoot the Sharks 10-6, the game opened up in the second.

The Predators got on the board first as David Legwand gathered in a loose puck and roof a shot over the shoulder of Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi from just inside the right circle at 3:35 of the second period.

After the officials missed a tripping call against the Sharks in the Predators defensive zone, Mattias Ekholm cleared the puck over the glass. On the ensuing power play, the Sharks tied the game as Joe Pavelski tipped a shot from Dan Boyle and re-directed it past Nashville netminder Marek Mazanec at 6:49.

Just 27 seconds later, Ekholm redeemed himself as he got the puck low in the offensive zone and whipped a backhand shot toward the net. The shot seemed to surprise Niemi and went through the five hole for Ekholm's first NHL goal.

The Predators made it 3-1 at 11:30 of the second period when Roman Josi carried the puck behind the net and circled back into the high slot. He fired a shot that beat Niemi high glove side for the score. The Sharks protested since Colin Wilson was laying in the crease and they claimed he prevented Niemi from making a play on the puck. However, Wilson had been cross checked to the ice by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the contact was deemed incidental.

The Sharks, as expected, turned it on in the third period. They out shot the Predators 11-5, many of which came in the final two minutes with Niemi pulled for the extra attacker.

The Sharks cut the deficit to one with 1:22 remaining as Patrick Marleau was able to re-direct a shot by Matt Nieto past Mazanec.

The Predators were able to hold the Sharks at bay for the remainder of the period and picked up their first regulation win in four games.

Some observations:

  • The Predators are 16-1-4 when scoring first. They are 17-0-3 when scoring at least 3 goals.

  • Mazanec has continued to look more comfortable and poised in the net. He has rarely been caught out of position and has not been giving up rebounds. His play continues to improve, and if Rinne can return this season, I expect Mazanec to remain on the team as the back up. 

  • Ekholm has shown continued improvement. He logged 18:56 in ice time paired with Seth Jones, was a +1, and had a huge goal that allowed the Predators to seize back momentum shortly after the Sharks had tied the game. His confidence seems to be growing and his play has been steady. He needs to continue to progress, and his recent play has been beneficial to the team.

  • The Predators out hustled and out worked the Sharks, especially in the defensive zone. They limited quality scoring chances by the Sharks and blocked 20 shots. The Predators also did a good job on their breakouts, pressuring the Sharks defense and setting up some good scoring chances.

  • The defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Roman Josi has been very good. Weber picked up 2 assists and Josi had the game winning goal. Both move the puck well, and Josi has really stepped up and shown confidence in carrying the puck and distributing it, and he has a deceptively good shot.

  • The Predators had only one power play, which came 10 seconds into the contest when Joe Thornton was called for hooking. The Sharks had 4 power play opportunities, scoring on one for their first goal of the game. The Predators PK was solid tonight and limited quality chances by the Sharks.
This was a solid game by the Predators. it was evident early on that the Predators were going to assert their will, and that will was going to be better than the skill of the Sharks.

This is the kind of effort that the Predators have to have every night to rack up points.

My three stars:

1. Mattias Ekholm

2. David Legwand

3. Marek Mazanec

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Predators Can't Finish, Fall to the Canes

The Nashville Predators traveled to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the concluding contest of their three game road trip. The first two games had seen the Predators fall in overtime and in the shootout.

The Predators were looking for a full 60 minute game to try to get back into the win column.

That full 60 minute effort got off to a sputtering start.

Alexander Semin gathered in a puck behind the net and shoveled the puck at Predators netminder Carter Hutton. Hutton had not gotten back to the post and the shot hit him on the backside and caromed into the net at 4:28 of the first period.

This is the kind of slow start and horrific goal that has victimized the Predators all season.

The Predators got some good scoring chances and challenged Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin but could not find the back of the net in the period. They out shot the Canes 11-9.

The Predators had a few scoring chances in the second period, as did the Hurricanes, but neither team could score. The best chance came when Eric Nystrom got behind the defense and broke in on Khubodin, but the puck rolled off his stick. The Predators out shot the Canes 12-10 in the period.

The Predators finally tied the game at 6:46 of the third period on the power play as Shea Weber blasted a shot that Khodubin got a piece of. The rebound came to Mike Fisher behind the net and he threw it back into the crease. The puck hit Patric Hornqvist and then was kicked in by Ron Hainsey. the goal was credited to Hornqvist for his 8th goal of the season.

The Hurricanes took the lead at 16:29 as they controlled the puck for a lengthy stretch in the Predators zone. Their cycle game moved the puck well and finally Jeff Skinner unleashed a shot from the face off circle that beat Hutton through the five hole.

The Predators pulled Hutton for an extra attacker but could not score, and the Predators went down to defeat 2-1.

Some observations:

  • Hutton made some good saves tonight, but that first goal was brutal, and there is no way that any goalie should allow a player to score from behind the net.

  • The Predators out shot the Canes 32-25, but the old bugaboo of not being able to finish scoring chances came back to once again haunt this team. They did a good job of getting shots to the net and had some good scoring chances, but could not get the puck in the net. make no mistake, Khudobin played a strong game, but the Predators had chances that they could not finish. This speaks volumes about the lack of elite offensive talent on this team.

  • Viktor Stalberg started the game on the fourth line. Again this makes no sense. In the third period, he moved up on a line with Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling. Using Stalberg on the fourth line is, to me, an inexplicable waste of his offensive potential.

  • Can someone please wake up David Legwand? Once again, he has reverted to invisibility mode, floating in the offensive zone and his defensive lapse left Skinner alone for the game winning goal.
The Predators return home for 5 straight games, and they desperately need to notch some wins.

My three stars:

1. Jeff Skinner

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Anton Khudobin

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Predators Fall to the Panthers In A Shoot Out

The Nashville Predators continued with their three game road trip, making a stop in Sunrise to do battle with the Panthers. The Predators were looking to continue to amass points as they scramble to get back into the playoff race.

For the Predators, a good start and a full 60 minute game were critical.

The good start came courtesy of Craig Smith. Smith pounced on a loose puck at the top of the crease after a Nick Spaling shot and got the puck through traffic and between the pads of Panthers netminder Tim Thomas at 6:32 of the first period.

This was Smith's 12th goal of the season.

The Panthers tied the game at 11:03 of the first as Alexander Barkov took a shot that Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec got under his pads but did not have secured. Brad Boyes drove in and tapped the puck out from under Mazanec's pads and into the net to knot the game at 1.

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead as Mattias Ekholm attempted to carry the puck behind the Predators net. The puck bounced off Ekholm and then Marcel Goc right to Tomas Kopecky in front of the net. Kopecky had an easy tap in over the shoulder of Mazanec at 17:56.

The period ended with the Panthers holding the lead and shots even at 10.

The second period saw the Predators get shots but few quality scoring chances. That changed late in the period as Patric Hornqvist worked to keep the puck in the zone by battling on the boards. he got the puck to Colin Wilson who drove the net and slipped a drop pass through his legs to Mike Fisher. Fisher used the defense as a screen and buried a shot to the far side post at 16:32.

The Predators, as they have been prone to do too many times this season, allowed the Panthers to score quickly after their goal. Just 57 seconds later, Sean Bergenheim fanned on a shot at the side of the net. Alexander Barkov tapped the loose puck back to Bergenheim and he didn't miss on his second shot, beating Mazanec stick side for a 3-2 Panthers lead at 17:29. On the scoring play, the defensive coverage broke down and allowed the Panthers forwards too much room to maneuver uncontested in front of the net.

The second period ended with the Predators trailing 3-2, They had 12 shots on goal to 7 for the Panthers.

The Predators needed a strong push in the third period to get back in this game. That didn't happen as former Predator Marcel Goc victimized his old team with a goal just 1:34 into the period to make it 4-2 for the Panthers. Seth Jones turned the puck over to Jonathan Huberdeau  behind the net and he found Goc alone in front for the score.

Defensive lapses had cost the Predators critical goals in this game, and the offense appeared unable to solve Thomas for a score. Not a combination for winning this game.

The Predators cut the deficit to one as roman Josi carried the puck deep and around the net. he found Seth Jones pinching down from the point and he hit Jones with the pass. Jones one timed the puck past Thomas at 14:52.

With Mazanec off for the extra attacker, Shea Weber took a shot that caromed off the bodies in front. Paul Gaustad gathered in the puck and slammed home the tying goal with 47 seconds left.

Improbably, the Predators, who had played a sloppy game defensively, had battled back to earn a point.

Neither team could score in the OT. The Predators had the best chances, launching 4 shots on goal while the Panthers had 1.

The shoot out went to 6 rounds. David Legwand scored for the Predators, while Craig Smith, Matt Hendricks, Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, and Gabriel Bourque were stopped by Thomas.

Mazanec stopped Barkov,  Boyes, Nick Bjugstad, and Dimitri Kulikov. Jonathan Huberdeau scored in the second round and Tomas Kopecky won it in the 6th round.

Some observations:

  • This is a game the Predators have to win if they are going to get back into the playoff hunt. The defensive lapses that cost the Predators this game was a bit of bad luck and momentary lapses of focus.

  • The compete level in the third in the offensive zone was good. It is encouraging to seeing the team battle back and at least get the tie.

  • I can't fault Mazanec on the goals that he gave up. The defense broke down in front of him and hung him out to dry.

  • I like the compete level and the offensive presence of Craig Smith. He is showing the offensive skills that make him the most dangerous player for the Predators.

  • Viktor Stalberg was relegated to the 4th line. Frankly, this makes no sense to me. He had shown good jump offensively and has been responsible in all zones. In my opinion, this is a waste of his talent and what he can bring to the team. He had 13:02 TOI tonight.
This was a squandered opportunity by the Predators for the two points. Kudos for fighting back to get at least one.

At this point of the season, the Predators cannot afford to give away points.

My three stars:

1. Tomas Kopecky

2. Mike Fisher

3. Shea Weber

Friday, January 3, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Welcome our new dog for 2014. Given the ineptitude and incompetence in the White House, Congress, and Washington in general, you might wonder why this little fella is smiling. This happy dog has a good outlook because he knows that the American people have awakened to the travesty that is this administration and Congress. When the American people wake up and get engaged, Washington will take notice and respond. And that makes this dog happy.

Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter penned an excellent article about the need for those that have conservative values to stand up and fight for their viewpoints and for the truth. He says it better than I ever could, and as we launch out into 2014 and begin to change the direction of this country, this is a must read. You can find the article here.

There is a lot to be thankful for in this life. For instance, I am sitting here thankful that wrinkles don't hurt.

This is old news, but it bears repeating. No... actually it should be shouted from the rooftops because it shows the mindset of those on the Left. The budget deal that was negotiated at the end of 2014 had a provision that provided tax credits to illegal aliens through Child Tax Credits. Illegal aliens that filed tax returns using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number provided by the IRS are eligible to file for the credits. How much money are we talking about? According to the IRS, in 2010, the last year for which they have supplied the data, illegal aliens received $4.2 billion in credits. The new budget deal keeps those credits in place for the illegal aliens, but lops $6 billion out of military retirees pensions. Realizing that the budget rewarded illegal aliens to the detriment of our military retirees, Senate Republicans moved to take out the tax credits for illegal aliens and restore the military pensions.  You know what happened next: every Republican voted to restore military pensions; every Democrat except Kay Hagan of North Carolina voted to rewarded illegal aliens. So, my friends, know that those on the Left and their minions in Congress would rather reward illegal aliens than our own military retirees that have served and sacrificed for our country. And shout this fact from the rooftops.

As I get older, I find it harder to lose weight. I think it is because my fat and I have become such good friends.

While veterans are getting screwed by the Democrats, know that those same Democrats have no compunction against spending frivolously for their pet projects. Remember during the budget negotiations when Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously said, "The cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make." Let's just see how bare that cupboard really is. Here are a few examples:

  • The Department of Interior spent $98,670 to install an outhouse on an Alaskan trail. It is a single toilet with no internal plumbing.
  • The National Institute of health spent $335,525 to find out if couples are happier when the woman calms down after an argument. What?? Everyone knows that if mama ain't happy, ain't know one happy. I could have told them that for half of what the NIH spent.
  • The State Department spent $5 million on crystal glassware the week before the government shutdown. Presumably to use to drink the $400,000 in liquor they bought at the same time.
  • The American Embassy in London paid $1 million to an artist for a sculpture that has been described as nothing more than a "stack of paving stone" according to the London Daily Mail.
The list goes on. And on. And on. You get the point. Those in Washington had no limits to their extravagance with our money. And it is time to change that.

Is it me, or do Buffalo wings taste like chicken?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bruins Outlast the Predators in OT 3-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to TD Garden looking to have a better showing against the Boston Bruins than their first meeting, a 6-2 Bruins win in Nashville on December 23rd.

The Bruins had rookie Niklas Svedberg in net, making his first NHL start, while the Predators went with Marek Mazanec.

With a rookie making his first start, the mission for the Predators was to get pucks on net and challenge Svedberg.

A scoreless first period saw the Predators get 8 shots on net, while the Bruins had 11. Mazanec made some good saves, especially on a Bruins power play to keep the game scoreless. The best Bruins save came not from Svedberg, but from Matt Bartkowski as the defenseman sprawled across an open net and used his helmet to block a shot from Matt Hendricks.

The Predators had some great scoring chances in the second period, but a combination of good saves by Svedberg and the inability to finish kept the Predators off the board.

That changed at 18:04 of the period as the Bruins got caught in a bad change. Mike Fisher carried the puck into the zone and fired a shot that Svedberg kicked out to the tape of Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg buried the shot into the open net to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The second period ended with the Predators on the penalty kill, which would carry over into the third period for 1:48.

As for that imperative to get shots on Svedberg...

The Predators had 16 shots in the second period to 3 for the Bruins.

The Bruins tied the game a 4:55 of the third period as Johnny Boychuk was left alone in the high slot and he blew a shot past Mazanec. The third period opened with the Bruins putting pressure on the Predators, and their jump and effort paid off with the tying goal.

That goal energized the Bruins and the Predators were back on their heels. The dominance and momentum of the Predators in the second period was now securely on the side of the Bruins and the Predators were going to have to step up and wrest it back.

The Bruins took a 2-1 lead at 12:29 as Jerome Iginla beat roman Josi driving to the net. he took a pass off the boards from Milam Lucic and tapped it past Mazanec. Iginla got inside of Josi and just overpowered him on the drive to the net.

The Predators responded at 14:35 as Svedberg gave up a long rebound of a Mike Fisher shot. The puck came to Shea Weber and he hammered a shot through traffic that beat Svedberg between his arm and his body to tie the game at 2.

In the remaining time, both teams created some scoring opportunities, but could not find the back of the net.

The Bruins won the game just 54  seconds into overtime as Brad Marchand beat a screened Mazanec from just outside the face off circle.

Some observations:

  • The second period was a solid period of hockey for the Predators, one of the best they have played this season. They out skated the Bruins, won puck battles, and got the puck to the net to challenge Svedberg.

  • As good as the second period was, the Predators were back on their heels for most of the third period. The talented Bruins had more jump and won the puck battles for most of the period.
  • It was good to see the Predators respond, however. The Garden was rocking and the Bruins had all the momentum. Tying the game with just over 5 minutes to go gave the Predators life and they started skating, winning puck battles, and attacking the net.

  • The Predators had 35 shots on net for the game including 16 in the second period. Their old nemesis- not finishing their chances- came back to bite the Preds in this game.

  • Mazanec made some good saves and looked poised in the face of the pressure from the Bruins. while neither he nor Carter Hutton have firmly established themselves as the starter, Mazanec seems to have an edge.

  • This was a much better effort by the Predators than their last outing against the Bruins, where they stunk it up and did not compete.
This team has shown that they can compete and win against some of the best teams in the NHL. They need to consistently apply that effort every night.

My three stars:

1. Brad Marchand

2. Shea Weber

3. Mike Fisher