Friday, February 28, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

If I asked you, "What is money?", how would you respond?

Oh sure, we can reach into our wallets and pull out some currency, or check our bank balance on-line and see how many dollars are in our account, but more fundamentally, what is money?

By itself, "money" has no intrinsic value. As famed investor T. Boone Pickens once said, " is just a way of keeping score in life."

And while that is true that it is useful for keeping up with the scoreboard of material possessions and how you compare to your neighbor, money is far more complex that just as a measuring stick or a scorecard.

Vivek Kaul has written an interesting book entitled "Easy Money: The Evolution of Money from Robinson Crusoe to the First World War" that chronicles the story of money from the substitutes to currencies that have come and gone.

In Kaul's book, he details the origins of today's system of money. The Bank of Venice was founded in 1171 and its only business was to hold deposits of gold from merchants who profited from trade with Asia. The Bank of Venice would take the deposit and give a receipt to the depositor.

Soon merchants that owed a debt to other merchants would just trade these receipts when a payment was due rather than going to the bank and withdrawing their gold. These receipts became the first functioning "paper money".

The basis for these receipts, the "money" in the bank was the deposited gold.

It is already obvious what this means for the money supply. When money is created by the deposit of gold, the supply or amount of those dollars becomes self limiting. Gold is a finite resource; a merchant in Venice could not just make it materialize out of thin air, and so his supply of tradable receipts, or money, was limited to the amount of gold on deposit at his bank.

Now fast forward from the Bank of Venice to the United States and our monetary policy. Early in the life of this country, our leaders committed to the "gold standard" which simply meant that if the Federal Reserve created a dollar of our currency, there had to be a corresponding amount of gold held on deposit, much like at the Bank of Venice. This limiting constraint was put in place after early colonial experiments with printing local currencies yielded disastrous results (see: Massachusetts pound).

Now it becomes obvious that for Congress and the President to spend money, the automatic limitation was the ability to provide a corresponding amount of gold to back the dollar. Which is why we had manageable deficits and restrained spending out of Washington.

That changed in 1971. Then President Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard when he signed the Bretton Woods agreement.

This meant that our dollar, instead of being backed by a dollar's worth of gold on deposit with the central bank, was now backed by the "full faith and credit of the United States".

Our currency was now a fiat currency, which simply means that it is worth what our leaders say it is worth. There is no other backing of this currency.

Now, as long as our elected leaders show spending restraint and financial common sense; as long as they don't use unfettered access to printing dollars and deficit spending for blatant political purposes....


By going to a fiat currency, the restraint that was automatically provided by being on the gold standard was removed. And we all know what has happened over time. Politicians being political animals and having no spending restraints has meant that our national deficits have ballooned to over $17 TRILLION dollars (in reality, it is much worse, but that's another story).

But what also happens to you and to me is not just the specter of higher taxes to pay for this debt, but the fact that our "money" is worth less in terms of buying power.

Think about this: if you have a monetary base- the amount or number of dollars in your economy- and those dollars are tied to a gold standard, that money typically buys a consistent amount of goods and services (I know there are exceptions, but they are too lengthy and detailed for this post). Your money has a stable value.

Now, when a currency goes to fiat status, meaning it is worth whatever the government says it is worth, it buys less.


Lots of reasons, but one of the primary ones is that there is now risk in holding that currency. There is not gold in a vault that backs it but just the "full faith and credit" of the issuing government. So it costs more to conduct business because the "buyers" of those dollars take on the redemption risk, the risk that the government will be there to redeem those dollars.

This erosion of buying power can be accelerated by any number of things: questions about the stability of the issuing government; questionable monetary policy; and the willingness of the issuing government to honor their obligations.

About that last point...

We have seen governments devalue their currency because it has been their only way out of a debt and fiscal crisis. If you hold that currency and it devalued by 30% because of government decree ("fiat"), then 30% of your currency has vanished.

Imagine how painful that is to the holders of that currency and the citizens of the country where that has occurred.

And if you want a recent lesson and example, just Google "Argentine currency devaluation" and read the first couple of news items.

What leads to this sorry state of affairs?

Huge deficit spending, weak leadership, questionable monetary policy, just to name a few factors.

And if the United States sounds like Argentina, you are right.

The saving grace for the U.S. is that at the moment, the dollar is still the world's reserve currency, but that is slowly changing.

And if the dollar loses its status as the sole reserve currency for the world, we may look more like Argentina than any of would dream possible.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Predators Use Potent Power Play to Defeat Lightning

The Nashville Predators are thankful their power play was clicking. Heck, it wasn't just clicking, it was potent.

The Predators scored all three goals on the man advantage to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena in their first game back from the Olympic break.

Of the 5 goals scored in this contest tonight, 4 came off the power play.

The Predators are desperately trying to claw their way back into playoff contention, and every game is critical for this team.

The game did not begin the way the Predators wanted. In fact, in the first period the Predators looked like they were still on the Olympic break.

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 2-0 lead off two goals by Martin St. Louis. the first was one of the easier goals he will ever score as he gathered in a rebound off the pads of Carter Hutton and banged the puck into an open net for a 1-0 Lightning lead at 5:26 of the first period.

St. Louis notched his second goal on the power play. His shot from the face off circle appeared to be stopped by Hutton but it trickled between his pad and the post to make it 2-0 at 9:13 of the first period.

The period ended with the Predators rarely challenging Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Shots were 9-8 in favor of the Lightning.

The Predators used the power play to get going in the second period. With Nikita Kucherov in the box serving a penalty for too many men on the ice against the Lightning, Ryan Ellis found Matt Cullen at the side of the net with a slap pass. Cullen buried a shot over the shoulder of Bishop and inside the far post to cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:05 of the second period.

Roman Josi tied the game at 13:16 of the second with the Predators again on the power play. He walked in from the blue line and wired a shot over the shoulder of bishop with Patric Hornqvist in front providing a screen.

Hornqvist had a few testy confrontations with Bishop, with Bishop throwing a few cheap ,shot punches at Hornqvist as he was crowding the front of the net.

So it was only fitting that Hornqvist would get the game winner- again on the power play at 13:56 of the third period. Mike fisher took a shot that Bishop could not control, and Hornqvist got his stick on the puck at the top of the crease and jammed it between the pads of Bishop for the go ahead goal.

The Predators did a good job of shutting down the Lightning for the remainder of the game, although they solidly rang a shot off the post after the Predators had taken the lead.

Some observations:

  • After looking sluggish in the first period, the Predators got their legs moving and upped their intensity to take control of the game. The Predators defense was outstanding in the final two periods, allowing only 7 shots in the final 40 minutes. The Lightning have a potent offense and the Predators did a great job of disrupting their offensive flow.

  • The Predators have the 7th ranked power play in the NHL, connecting at 20.4%. After tonight, they have raised that percentage to 21.7% by going 3 for 5 on the man advantage.

  • Matt Cullen's goal was his first in 29 games. he last scored November 27th.

  • Hornqvist scored his first goal in 10 games.

  • Roman Josi picked up his 12th point in his last 13 games. He now has 9 goals on the season.

  • Carter Hutton got a lot of help from his defense, but had a solid game. He is now 7-2-2 in his last 11 games.

  • Shea Weber picked up two assists and is tied for the team lead in scoring with 40 points. Weber also lead the team in time on ice, with 28:18.

  • This is only the second win of the season for the Predators when trailing after the first period. They are now 2-17-4 when trailing after the first 20 minutes.
The Predators have to amass points in this five game home stand, and this was a good start. They were resilient and determined and refused to fold when down early.

They will have to keep it up to get back in the playoff race.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Marty St. Louis

3. Shea Weber

Friday, February 21, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

It would be easy to overlook this news item with all the noise out there, but California is in the midst of its worst drought since the mid 1800's. Cal Berkeley professor Lynn Ingram says that we have not seen a drought this bad in California in our lifetime.

Ingram is a paleoclimatologist and is involved in studying climate change over long periods of time using the record left behind in fossils, tree rings, and other organic evidence. Dr. Ingram is not one to overstate her observations that the current drought affecting California and the southwest will get worse.

History backs her observations.

According to Dr. Ingram, the southwest and most of California have experienced drought like conditions that have lasted more than 200 years. There have been intermittent periods of drought that have lasted for decades.

Why bring this up?

California produces the most vegetables of any state in the U.S. Consider what California produces:

  • 99% of all artichokes
  • 89% of all cauliflower
  • 90% of all leaf lettuce
  • 86% of all lemons
  • 88% of all strawberries
  • 84% of all peaches
  • 67% of all carrots
  • 33% of all tomatoes
  • 94% of all broccoli
just to name some of the crops that we get from this area.

Drought conditions have spread throughout the southwest, although they are most severe in California, these conditions do not just affect row crops like those mentioned. The size of the U.S. cattle herd has been shrinking for the past 7 years, and at the end of 2013, was the smallest it has been since 1951.  Keep in mind that since 1951, the population in this country has doubled, and demand for beef products has grown proportionately.

These conditions have created a growing shortage in certain crops, and we all know what happens when there is limited supply and consistent or rising demand.

Prices go up.

Since 2011, poultry prices are up 18.4%; ground beef is up 16.8%; and bacon (YUMMY BACON!!) is up 22.8%. Milk prices are up more than 100% since 2008.

Just about every food category has experienced a double digit increase in price over the past five years, even as the government tells us that inflation is "benign".

Consumers know that inflation in food costs is anything but benign.

Take a look at this chart:

This chart from the Federal Reserve shows the increase in the Consumer Price Index since the late '40's through the end of 2013. I would suggest that this understates the true level of inflation, but even if not, we can see that consumers are paying more- a lot more- to maintain their standard of living.
Now take an environment where there is a consistently rising cost of living and couple it with this:
Uh... Houston, no, Washington, we have a problem.
Over the past five years, inflation, which can be thought of as an increasing cost of living, has gone up an average of 1.8% per year. Over the same period, real household income has fallen 2.1% per year.
You can immediately see the problem. We are spending more just to maintain- not increase- our standard of living and at the same time, our incomes are falling.
This is not a formula for good economic health, either at the family level or as a nation.
As individuals, we have to know that our cost of living is going up, irrespective of the misinformation from Washington, and it is going up much faster than what is being reported. We have to prepare financially and be disciplined to keep our expenses under control.
We also have to demand that Washington create an environment where we as a country can move back to full employment and where wages are not being constricted by undue taxes or regulatory burdens. Wages have fallen because employers are cutting back hours and benefits and are not hiring to avoid mandates from Washington.
This situation is dangerous for our country financially and it does not portend strong economic growth in the future. Heck, this scenario says there will be no growth in the future.
Given this, we must all prepare financially for a protracted period of time where incomes are going to struggle to grow and prices are going to increase.
It will be a dry economic time.
And that, my friends, is my view.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We are all familiar with the term "capital". Capital is simply the assets that are owned by a business or an individual. For instance, the savings, investments, and home are examples of capital owned by individuals; while equipment, technology, and facilities are some of the examples of capital owned by businesses.

Those are easy examples of capital, but there are other types of capital that I would suggest are even more important than those listed above.

Social and educational capital are arguably more important than any form of the physical capital listed above.

And right now, they are in short supply.

What do I mean by "social and educational capital"?

Social capital starts with the values imparted by the family unit.

Now before you get concerned about the imposition of my values on your children, realize that we are not discussing matters of faith or political viewpoints when discussing the social capital imparted by the family.

Instead, the social capital imparted by a healthy family unit is an ethic of achievement based on effort; one that teaches responsibility for personal behavior; one that imparts the value and worth of each individual; and teaches commitment, among other traits.

Educational capital involves the obvious of learning the basics of math and how to read. Perhaps more importantly, educational capital imparts a lifelong desire to learn. Functionally, educational capital equips the student with skills that allow them to find a job and function in a challenging and changing global economy.

Why mention social and educational capital?

And why do I believe they are in short supply?

Take a look at the following chart;

This chart, compiled by Michael Boehm, shows the changes in the various types of jobs in the U.S. since the end of the 1980's. Boehm categorizes low skill jobs as food service, cleaning, security, and personal services, to name a few occupations. High skill jobs are ones that require technical skills or are managerial and professional jobs. Middle skill jobs are skilled labor, production jobs, and sales and administration.

What it shows is that the U.S. economy has added high end, high skill jobs and low skill, low wage jobs. But notice what has happened to middle skill jobs. There has been a significant decline in those jobs. Those are the jobs that have traditionally been filled by workers in the middle class.

This phenomenon is what economists call 'job polarization" and it is a condition where low end jobs are being created along with high skill jobs, but there is a contraction in middle skill jobs.

This situation is dangerous for an economy and for the citizens that live in such an environment. A smaller number of people are working in jobs that will comfortably sustain a family, putting continued economic pressure on those families.

We see this today in our economy, where the real unemployment rate is estimated to be around 12%. An economy that doesn't create an abundance of quality jobs is an economy that will continue to struggle to grow. And families in that type of economy will continue to face financial difficulties.

There is no doubt that our economy has changed and is changing. automation and outsourcing continues to eliminate the prototypical middle skill job that will sustain a family economically. And as our economy continues to lose those types of jobs and fails to create similar jobs, the downward spiral worsens.

So what does this have to do with social and educational capital?

Social and educational capital are transferred from one generation to the next by families and our educational system. Social and educational capital equip the next generation to function successfully in a changing and challenging economic environment.

Our country has an educational system that is not turning out graduates that can compete in this current economic environment. Many tech companies are fighting to loosen the worker visa program so they can employee workers with the skills necessary to function because of a shortage of American workers with the skills necessary to compete in today's economic environment.

Many families fail to impart the work ethic and desire for education as well as personal responsibility that are foundational to a person successfully functioning in a business environment.

Boehm and other economists take a grim view of our future because, in their estimation, families and schools have become dysfunctional and are incapable of transmitting the social and educational capital necessary to allow those entering the work force to compete in the economic environment in which we find ourself.

Obviously, this is a controversial viewpoint. Yet, if you look at the chart above, one can surmise their is something drastically wrong with the economy.

It would be easy to say that cheap labor abroad is the problem, Or that we are going through a temporary slump and the economy will rebound.

The fact is that globalization and changing world economies have created seismic shifts in our economy.

Frankly, it is easy to focus on our increasing national debt or Obamacare or increasing taxes and regulations as the cause of the job slump we are seeing.

By doing that, we are ignoring the larger macro trends that are affecting the ability of our country.

There is no doubt that the job market has changed. The day of abundant middle skilled manufacturing jobs is gone, and fussing about income inequality and taxes and regulations is dancing around the more fundamental issue.

And that is equipping our citizens to compete in this changed economic environment.

Until we change our educational system so that students are equipped with the skills to compete in this economic environment; and until we do a better job of transmitting the social capital that values work, responsibility and ethics, we will continue to struggle economically.

And we will continue to lose good jobs.

And that, my friends, is my view.

*I realize this post has a lot of generalities, and there are many families that do an outstanding job of imparting the necessary social and educational capital to their children. Yet the numbers don't lie- these families are fast falling into the minority.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Predators Battle But Can't Defeat the Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena 5-2.

If one just looked at the score, you might conclude that the Ducks dominated the Predators. And while the Ducks prevailed on the scoreboard, the game was anything but a dominating contest.

It was a game of crazy bounces, as the first three goals of the game were...weird. Or lucky, depending on your perspective.

The Predators opened the scoring as Viktor Stalberg, returning to the line up after being out five games with an upper body injury, got his stick on a rebound of a Victor Bartley shot and slapped the puck toward the net, A sprawling Jonas Hiller stopped the puck with his body but the puck crawled over his chest and landed on the ice behind him. Hiller reached back and tried to control the puck but knocked it into the net to get the Predators on the board at 11:35 of the first period.

The Ducks tied it at 18:49 of the first period as Ryan Getzlaf threw the puck at the net and it glanced off the backside of Mike Fisher and re-directed past Carter Hutton.

The Ducks took a 2-1 lead as Corey Perry tried to backhand a pass from below the goal line that deflected off Bartley and over the shoulder of Hutton at 11:45 of the second period.

The third period opened with the Predators on the power play and Mike Fisher tallied with a slap shot from the slot over the shoulder of Hiller at 1:05 to tie the game at 2.

The Ducks regained the lead as Hampas Lindholm took a shot from the blue line that was re-directed by Emerson Etam in traffic at 4:51 of the third period.

The Ducks made it 4-2 as Mathieu Perreault was left alone at the front of the net while both teams battled for control of the puck on the boards. Daniel Winnick got control of the puck and quickly got the pass to Perreault who beat Hutton with a quick snap shot at 8:04 of the third.

Getzlaf sealed it with an empty net goal at 19:24 of the the third.

Some observations:

  • I thought Hutton played a solid game. The first two goals by the Ducks were flukes and the next two were quality goals that would be difficult for most any goalie to stop. Hutton is 6-2-2 in his last 10 games.

  • I liked the line of Stalberg, Simon Moser, and Colin Wilson. They has good chemistry and used their speed to create chances. Moving Stalberg off the fourth line has been a move that should have been made a long time ago, and tonight, this line was one of the best for the Predators. Moser picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Stalberg's goal.

  • Fisher's power play goal was the first power play tally for the Predators in three games.

  • The effort by the Predators tonight was outstanding. They were physical, moved the puck well, and out shot the Ducks 38-24. This game points out the dilemma that the Predators face; a hard working, gritty team faced a hard working, gritty team with exceptional offensive talent. And that offensive talent was the deciding factor in this game. Obviously, grit and effort are important, but it helps to have offensive talent to go along with those traits.

  • The Ducks have now defeated the Predators in five straight games.
The Predators now have 19 days off to rest and regroup.

They will need the time to recharge for the final push after the Olympic break.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Getzlaf

2. Jonas Hiller

3. Viktor Stalberg

Friday, February 7, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Tell me what these items have in common...

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the Obama administration mischaracterized concessions made by the Iranians to the U.S. and its allies in the nuclear agreement finalized in mid-January. "The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments," said Zarif

  • The Congressional Budget Office released a report Tuesday that estimates by 2021, a larger than expected number of working hours will be lost by 2021. According to the CBO, the number of working hours lost will be the equivalent of losing 2.3 million workers. As more of this program is known, the CBO has had to revise upward its estimates of working hours and job equivalent losses. last year, the estimate was an equivalent of 800,000 jobs by 2021.

  • In 2013, a record 20% of American households were on food stamps. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 23,052,388 households on food stamps in 2013, and increase of 722,675 from the previous year.

  • According to documents obtained by Congress, the IRS was attempting as far back as 2010 to change their regulations to cover their targeting of conservative groups for delays in approving their tax exempt status. An e-mail from Treasury Department attorney Ruth Madrigal to IRS officials  stated that she didn't know who in the IRS was "keeping tabs" on these non-profits but she was ready to assist and wanted to keep them "off-plan", or out of the scrutiny of the public and the oversight of Congress

Now I will admit that these seem to be rather disparate events, but there is a common thread that runs through them.

And that commonality is that our government, elected by the people and for the people, has turned against them.

Well, at least those that have values and political opinions that are contrary to the ruling elite in Washington.

Now, before you say these are just the ranting of an angry conservative, let me ask you a question.

Are you better off today than you were in 2008?

And the corollary to that question is "are we as a nation better off than we were then?"

That question tends to evoke an evaluation that centers around finances. That is certainly an important element, but one must also consider that question in light of national security and equal treatment under the law.

Theses are the filters through which we will evaluate the efficacy of our leaders in Washington and the direction in which they are taking the country. And these filters are applicable to Republicans and Democrats, liberals or conservatives.

The American people are being mislead about the foreign policy with a very dangerous nation, and those misconceptions can have troubling and potentially disastrous consequences. We as citizens depend on policy makers and especially the leadership in the White House to protect our national interest and promote security.

Think a nuclear Iran meets either of those criteria?

Yet we are being told that everything is under control and we shouldn't worry.

And that sentiment is contradicted by the statements from Iran's foreign minister.

We have enacted laws and created an economic environment that is costing our country jobs and is promulgating financial misery. Ostensibly, Obamacare was crafted to make our healthcare system better. Instead, it is costing jobs- lots of jobs- and has compromised the quality of healthcare in our country.

Now, given the facts that this piece of legislation is a travesty that is bad for the nation, one would think that our elected leaders would be quick to fix these problems.

But they have dug in their heels and steadfastly refused to do so.


Any number of reasons can be proposed for the recalcitrance of our leaders, but I will propose one: power.

When our government controls our healthcare and so many other aspects of our daily lives, their power is enormous and potentially harmful. Witness the IRS targeting of conservative groups that stand in opposition to this administration.

The federal government can use its immense power to thwart opposition and make it financially painful for individuals or groups that are not favored.

Right now, it is conservatives that are experiencing the ire of those in power. In the future, it could be those of a liberal bent.

And that is the entire point of post.

We have a government in Washington that is not working for the common good. Nowhere is the question being asked, "What is good for the country?"

Instead, decisions are made through the filters of benefit to the political party and personal gain to those in power.

And by doing this, we have sown the seeds of our destruction as a nation.

Now that may sound dire, but the reality is that under girding the greatness of this country was a sense of shared sacrifice, and actions were taken with the common weal in mind.

That perspective is gone.

These examples, and I am sure you can cite many others, indicate that our collective focus is no longer collective, but self centered. The attainment of power and wealth have superseded the desire for the benefit of the body politic.

Now this sounds dismal, and frankly, it is.

And it will not change until we as individual citizens demand it change. It will not change until we put people in Washington that are statesmen and not politicians.

Until then, it is my hired gun defending my interest against your hired gun defending your interest.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not Pollyanna-ish thinking we all should get along and sing Kumbyah. Governance and politics is a rough and tumble affair. I understand that.

But until we lift our eyes and regain the vision of the potential for greatness in this country, we will continue to muddle along with each group trying to get theirs to the detriment of other groups.

We must require our government to be "of the people", not just select groups.

Fail to do so, and the future of our great nation is not bright.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Predators Fall to the Wild in Overtime

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Xcel Energy Center to take on the Minnesota Wild in a game that could go a long way in getting the Predators back into the playoff hunt. The Predators currently sit four points out of the last wild card slot, and a win tonight would get them dangerously close to getting back into the hunt.

The Predators were going to need a good start and a solid 60 minutes of hockey to capture a win.

Instead, the Wild got on the board first as Jonas Brodin took a feed from Nino Niedeirriter and ripped a shot past Carter Hutton from the slot at 4;05 of the first period.

The Predators answered at 5:50 of the first as Craig Smith shot a wrist shot at Darcy Kuemper from the blue line. The shot hit Kuemper in the shoulder and plopped into the blue ice. Smith was driving the net and banged home the loose puck to tie the game.

The Wild went up 2-1 at 13:27 as Zach Parise scored on the power play.

Smith tallied his second goal of the game and his 18th of the season as he flipped a backhand from the slot over the shoulder of Kuemper at 7:40 of the second period.

The third period saw both teams create some good scoring chances with the Wild having the advantage in that area, but both netminders were able to keep the period scoreless.

The Predators were heading to another overtime, their 13th of the season. The Predators were 3-9 heading into the extra period. The wild were playing their 15th extra period game and they were 7-7 heading into the bonus period.

The Predators are now 3-10 in overtime as Nino Niedeirriter ripped a shot past Hutton at 2:16 of the extra period.

Some observations:

  • Huttonmade some solid saves as the wild pressured the Predators net all night. The Wild out shot the Predators 36-18 and spent an inordinate amount of time in the Predators zone. Hutton was beaten by Brodin on a blistering shot that seemed to fool him with the velocity, and that is one that he would like to have back. Considering the pressure that the wild put on the Predators all night, it was a good effort by Hutton, however.

  • Craig Smith was outstanding. his first goal was all effort as he used his speed to create separation and followed his shot to the net, fighting past a defender. The positive about Smith this season is that he has played consistently throughout the year and  that is something he needed to prove that he could do.

  • The Predators were once again challenged all night by the speed and forecheck of the Wild. Teams that forecheck aggressively and have good speed have been problematic for the Predators, and tonight was no different. The lack of quality puck carriers makes this team vulnerable against this type of opponent.

  • Matt Cullen was back in the line up, but played only 7:36 before leaving the contest with an injury. Viktor Stalberg is still out, and the Predators were also without the services of Nick Spaling, who will be out until after the Olympic break.

  • Paging Colin Wilson... Mr. Colin Wilson. Please report to the Predators and show up for a game.

  • All the best to Pete Weber, who suffered a heart attack and is resting comfortably and out of danger. He will be in the hospital in Minneapolis for a few days and will be returning home this weekend.

  • And best wishes to David Poile, who was struck in the face by a puck that went over the boards at the Predators morning skate. Poile was taken by ambulance to a local hospital in Minneapolis as well, and suffered damage to his face as he was struck over the eye. The puck was a pass from Shea Weber that hit a stick and went over the glass, so you know it had some velocity on it. Hopefully David is not seriously injured.
The Predators didn't have their best effort, but managed to salvage a point in this contest against a good Wild squad.

The Predators now sit 3 points out of the wild card spot with one game remaining before the Olympic break.

It will be no easy task as the Predators face the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Nino Niedeirriter

3. Carter Hutton

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Smashville Celebrates at Gnashvegas

The Nashville Predators Foundation is an integral part of the Predators organization and a dynamic contributor to the well being of our community. In 2013, the Foundation made gifts to charitable enterprises in Middle Tennessee totaling over $400,000, the largest annual gift that the Foundation has made in its history.

The ability of the Foundation to support so many good works is made possible by the support of Predators fans who purchase auction items and attend the various fund raising events.

One of the premier events is Gnashvegas, a casino night that allows the citizens of Smashville to mingle with the players and coaches and bid on numerous silent auction items while enjoying fine food from various Nashville restaurants.

Gnashvegas was held this past Tuesday night, and here are some pictures from the event.

Players gather around one of the gaming tables at the start of the event. All players wore special jerseys that they autographed and were auctioned off in a silent auction.

The Predators media personalities were in attendance as well. Here are Paul and Denise McCann and Claudia and Pete Weber with one of the guests.

Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber at one of the poker tables.

Predators Executive Vice President Chris Parker with David Legwand.

There were auction items for every interest, from trips, to spa packages and autographed sports memorabilia.

Coach Phil Housley and Head Coach Barry Trotz visit with some of the guests.

Even Gnash got in on some of the action at the tables.

One of the more interesting auction items was a replica statue of Jack Daniels that was autographed by the team.

The casino night even had young ladies selling cigars.

Simon Moser and Devan Dubnyk playing poker with some of the guests.
This sweet ride, a 2014 Maserati, could be had for the nominal price of $135,000.

Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, and Roman Josi play poker with some of the guests.
This was a fun night that allowed the fans to interact with the players and coaches in a great environment. More importantly, it raised funds for the continued good works of the Foundation.
A complete list of organizations that received grants from the Foundation can be found here.
Thanks to the Predators organization and the Foundation for their support of so many worthwhile organizations.
And thanks to the citizens of Smashville for their support that makes it possible.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Predators Fall to the Blues In a Shootout

The Nashville Predators looked to continue the positive momentum of last night's come from behind win over the New Jersey Devils as they visited the St. Louis Blues.

They faced a monumental challenge as the Blues have torn through the Central Division, posting a 13-0-1 record to date.

Carter Hutton would man the pipes for the second night in a row, and he was challenged throughout the game by the Blues. Hutton made some huge saves to keep the Predators from getting blown out of the Scott Trade Center.

Hutton final gave up a goal, but it was one on which he had not chance. With the Predators on the penalty kill, Jaden Schwartz got lost by the defense and found himself alone at the side of the net. He banged the puck past Hutton for a 1-0 Blues lead at 9:11 of the first period.

The Blues made it 2-0 at 3:31 of the second period as David Backes tallied his 19th goal of the season.

The Predators answered at 16:48 of the second as Paul Gaustad gathered in a errant pass from a Blues defender in the low slot and blasted the puck past Brian Elliott to make it 2-1. This was Gaustad's 8th goal of the season.

Mike Fisher tied the game at 2 as he threw a shot at Elliott from almost at the goal line. The puck banked off Elliott and into the net at 3:25 of the third period.

The Predators got their first lead of the night as David Legwand found Roman Josi streaking in from the blue line. Josi beat Elliott with a low wrist shot to give the Predators a 3-2 lead at 7:33.

The Predatos showed their disturbing tendency to quickly give up a goal after they score. Just 16 seconds after the Predators had taken the lead, Vladamir Tarasenko blasted a shot over the glove of Hutton to tie the game.

Both teams had good chances in the remainder of the third period, but could not get the game winning goal, so they were heading to overtime.

This was the first overtime meeting between these teams this season.

The overtime was scoreless, and so the Predators and Blues were heading to a shootout.

Which has not been kind to the Predators.

And the Predators continue to struggle in the shootout, dropping this one 2-1.

Some observations:

  • Hutton played a strong game and came up with some huge saves to keep the Predators in the game. The Blues attacked all night, and Hutton made some quality saves. He moved well and was positionally sound.

  • The Predators really got their game going in the second period, and I especially liked their effort in the third period. They went hard to the net and forced Elliott to make some big saves. The Predators looked purposeful in going to the net and really pressured the Blues goal with some quality chances. They have shown a  willingness to put the puck on the net and go hard after rebounds, and this is the style of hockey that they have to play.

  • The Predators were still without the services of Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg. Youngsters Colton Sissons (8:00), Taylor Beck (13:58), and recent call up Simon Moser (10:21) all contributed some important minutes.

  • The Predators had 4 shooters in the shootout, and they went with three defensemen in those four slots. Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm all had attempts, with only Ellis converting. Taylor Beck was the only forward to take an attempt.
The Predators battled hard and picked up a point, but it is disappointing to see them give up another goal so soon after taking the lead. Whether it is maturity, intensity, or desire, it is lacking when they allow the opponents to score like that.

The Predators have been playing better of late and have been picking up some points.

They are going to have to continue that to get back into the playoff race.

My three stars:

1. Vladamir Tarasenko

2. Roman Josi

3. Jaden Schwartz