Sunday, March 30, 2014

Predators Shoot Down the Capitals In a Shoot Out

Our elected leaders in Washington are a pretty dysfunctional bunch.

The hockey team in Washington is pretty dang good.

The Capitals brought their high octane offense to Smashville to face the Predators, who were struggling to get above .500, and the Predators managed to find enough offense to outlast the Capital in a shootout to win 4-3.

Patric Hornqvist scored two goals for the Predators, His effort was matched by Troy Brouwer of the Capitals, as he scored twice as well.

Hornqvist tallied his first goal by driving the net and chipping a rebound over the pad of Jaroslav Halak to tie the game at 1.

Hornqvist gave the Predators a 2-1 lead as he carried the puck into the offensive zone, drove the net, and roofed a backhand under the crossbar.

After Brouwer tied the game with a power play goal in the second period, Shea Weber beat Halak with a rocket from just outside the face off circle to make it 3-2 at 8:23 of the third period.

With Washington again on the power play, Nicklas Backstrom snapped a shot past Carter Hutton to tie the game at 3 at 12:20 of the third.

The remainder of the period was scoreless, as was the overtime.

In the shootout, Craig Smith was the lone goal scorer. Hutton stopped Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mikhail Grabovski, and Backstrom to secure the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • The Predators shootout win was only their second win of the season in the skills competition. They are now 2-8 in shootouts.

  • Hutton stopped 23 of 26 shots and all three shooters in the shootout. Hutton is now 10-5-2 in 2014.

  • Mark Van Guilder made his NHL debut for the Predators. The 30 year old rookie was called into action with injuries to Nick Spaling and Paul Gaustad.

  • Patric Hornqvist played an excellent game tonight. His energy helped propel the Predators to the win, and his first goal of the night was a typical Hornqvist play, driving the net and capitalizing (pardon the pun) on a rebound. His second goal was a thing of beauty, carrying the puck on the breakaway and lifting the shot under the crossbar. His two goal tonight give him 101 goals for his career. He now has 10 points (5G-5A) in his last 9 games.

  • Rich Clune destroyed the Capitals Patrick Wey in a first period fight, and that seemed to energize the Predators. Wey did not return to the game after the scrap.

  • Weber's goal gives him 21 for the season, tops among NHL defensemen. He also lead the Predators in TOI, with 27:47.

  • The Capitals have the best power play in the NHL, and they showed it tonight, going 2-4. The Predators did not have a power play in the game.
This was a scrappy win by the Predators against a more talented team, a win that showed this team refused to quit under the pressure the Caps brought.

This is the kind of effort that this team needs to end the season on a positive note.

My three stars:

1. Patric Hornqvist

2. Shea Weber

3. Troy Brouwer

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stars Stomp the Predators 7-3

The Dallas Stars are a hungry team, fighting for a playoff spot.

The Nashville Predators are a team that is playing out the string, waiting for a long offseason.

Both teams played their part in their contest at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Predators were absolutely embarrassed by the Stars 7-3 in a game where the Predators defense was a sieve and Pekka Rinne had a miserable night.

The Stars jumped on the Predators early, establishing a two goal lead in the first period on goals by Ryan Garbutt and Vernon Fiddler.

The Predators tried to answer early in the second period on a goal by Patric Hornqvist. They added to that tally as Michel Del Zotto scored from the blue line.

Unfortunately, the Predators gave up three more goals in the second period as Colton Sceviour, Alex Chiasson, and Trevor Daley tallied for the Stars.

Eric Nystrom made it 5-3 shortly after the third period started. The Stars then scored two goals 9 seconds apart as Valeri Nichuskin and Cody Eakin abused the Predators defense.

Mercifully, the clock ran out before the Stars could abuse the Predators any further.

Some observations:

  • Hard to find anything positive about this game, but I did like the hustle and fire of Patric Hornqvist. he competed and battled all game, one of the few Predators that did in this contest.

  • Calle Jarnkrok picked up an assist, his fifth point in five games.

  • Rinne was under a lot of pressure all game long, but he looked bad on several of the Stars goals. Yes, the Stars got some goals off deflections on which Rinne had no chance, but there were several goals that were stoppable and Rinne did not make the save. For this team to have a chance to win a game, he has to be on top of his game, and he certainly was not tonight.

  • The Predators defense was non-existent tonight, often looking like Keystone Cops running around on the ice. Hard to figure out the reason for the consistent breakdowns.
This is the first game in a while where the Predators appeared to have little heart and push back.

Hopefully, this will the last time they look this way.

My three stars:

1. Alex Goligoski

2. Ryan Garbutt

3. Colton Sceviour

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

With the April 15th filing deadline approaching, many of us turn our attention to filing our tax return and, for some, paying a tax bill.

Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours gathering information and preparing tax returns this year, according to the National Taxpayers Union. And this year it is estimated that taxpayers will hand over more than $4 TRILLION in local, state, and federal taxes.

On average, taxpayers will surrender nearly 30% of what they make to pay taxes.

And yet our nation is drowning in debt and Washington is demanding more of our money to pay for their profligate spending and questionable decisions.

And our convoluted tax system allows Washington to play "gotcha" with law abiding taxpayers that make a mistake when attempting to comply with the monstrosity of the tax code as well as hide taxes and fees that we pay..

Consider that the U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. For comparison, the entire works of Shakespeare is about 900,000 words. 75 years ago, the instructions for the basic form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages.

The IRS has 1,999 different forms, instruction sheets and publications that taxpayers can download from their website

When the income tax was first implemented in 1913, the rate was 1% and the top marginal rate was 7%. Now the lowest rate is 15% and the top marginal rate is 55%. And according to the Tax Foundation, Americans have to now work until April 17th to pay all their taxes at all levels- the so called "tax freedom" day.

The current mutation of the tax code allows Washington to punish those that are out of political favor (See: IRS vs. Tea Party) and to use it as a tool for social planning. Remember the "marriage tax" that existed for years, a higher tax on married couples than on those who co-habituated?

The complexity of the code ensnares taxpayers that make innocent mistakes and is punitive in its response.

Okay, we all know these facts. And we can all vent until we are blue in the face.

But here is what we need to keep in mind:

Our elected leaders continue to spend beyond the means and resources of the country and the tax paying populace. In fact, there is NO fiscal discipline in Washington. We have come to expect that from liberals and Democrats, but frankly, the "conservatives" and Republicans have gotten just as bad about spending.

And until that changes, until WE make it change, Washington will continue to overspend and waste our money.

Know this, it is fun and politically expedient for those in Washington to spend our money. And it certainly isn't painful for them to spend our money.

So we need to make it painful. We need people in Washington that have some fiscal common sense, that have some spending discipline, and that have our interests at heart.

We don't have that now.

Because we let it happen.

So we as voters and taxpayers need to reverse course and demand that fiscal accountability from our elected leaders.

Or we work to remove them from office.

If we don't, we as taxpayers will be the ones that continue to bear the brunt and the pain of our current course.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Predators Blast Buffalo 6-1

The Nashville Predators needed a home win. Dropping 6 straight home games had sapped the energy of the home crowd not to mention the team.

The Buffalo Sabres were just what the doctor ordered.

The Predators pounded the Sabres 6-1 in front of a happy home crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

There was scoring early and often, and Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok participated in the scoring deluge as both of the young forwards tallied their first NHL goals. They were joined in the scoring fest by Colin Wilson (YEAH!), Eric Nystrom, and Shea Weber with two markers.

Matt Hackett was in net for the visitors and was under siege, giving up 4 first period goals. He would give way in the second period to Nathan Lieuwen.

Carter Hutton was rarely challenged and gave up one goal to Rasmus Ristolainen in the second period.

Sissons opened the scoring by banging home a rebound under the crossbar at 6:26 of the first period. Colin Wilson scored from the slot at 11:44 of the first. Just 9 seconds later, Jarnkrok snapped a shot from the slot past Hackett. Weber finished the scoring in the first period with a bomb from the blue line with the Predators on a 5 on 3 power play at 19:17.

After Ristolainen scored a 2:06 of the second, Weber notched his 20th goal of the season at 6:18 to make it 5-1.

Eric Nystrom finished the scoring, taking a pass from Rich Clune a firing a shot from the slot at 19:20 of the third period.

Some observations:

  • Good to see Colin Wilson finally tally a goal. it has been 33 games since Wilson last scored. I like his jump and tonight he skated hard and handled the puck well, creating some quality opportunities in the offensive zone. It was good to him finally break the longest goalless drought of his career.

  • Congratulations to Jarnkrok and Sissons on their goals. They were rewarded for their hard work with the scores. Sissons scored by going hard to the net and jarnkrok worked his way to an open spot to capitalize on his scoring opportunity. Both of these young players have been logging some quality minutes and have been productive with their ice time.

  • How critical is it for the Predators to score first? After tonight's game, the Predators are 24-3-6 when they score first.

  • This was the first time this season that the Predators have scored 4 goals in a period.

  • All 12 forwards picked up a point in tonight's game.

  • Weber is now tied with Ottawa's Eric Karlsson for the lead in goals by defensemen. This is the second time in Weber's career that he has hit 20 goals in a season (2008-09).

  • Eric Nystrom picked up two points tonight (1G-1A) to give him 20 points for the season. That is one shy of his career high of 21 points in the 2011-12 season with Dallas.
  • Seth Jones missed his third game with an upper body injury.
This was a fun game for the team and for the fans. make no mistake, the Sabres are struggling, but the Predators did what they had to do to win this game.

No, they exploded and exploited a weak Sabres squad.

Now they need to bring this kind of effort in their remaining games.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Colton Sissons

3. Calle Jarnkrok

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Predators Blow Three Leads, Fall to the Avalanche in a SO

The Nashville Predators had every chance to get their first win of the season against the Colorado Avalanche. All they had to do was hold a lead.

Yeah...about that "holding the lead" thing.

The Predators blew three leads in this game on their way to a disappointing shoot out loss to the Avs. The Predators dropped the shootout 2-1 to fall to the Avalanche 5-4 at Bridgestone Arena.

Roman Josi showed why he is quickly emerging as an very good defenseman. Josi scored the first two goals of the game, launching shots from the blue line that beat Semyon Varlamov with traffic in front. Josi's goals came at 3:33 and 9:49 of the first period.

The Predators allowed the Avalanche to close within one goal with just 54 seconds left in the period as Gabriel Landeskog skated uncontested into the high slot and beat Pekka Rinne to make it 2-1.

The Predators outplayed the Avs in the first period, out shooting them 13-3 and generating some great scoring chances down low. Landeskog's goal had the potential to swing momentum back to the Avs, though, and it was going to be critical that the Predators bring that same effort in the second period.

Instead, Landeskog struck again, tying the game at 2 with his second goal at 8:41 of the second period. Landeskog was once again able to skate into the high slot and was not challenged by the Predators, and he beat Rinne with a wrist shot.

The Predators regained the lead at 14:43 of the second as Matt Cullen scored with a wrist shot under the crossbar from in close.

Cody McLeod out worked the Predators defense and gathered in a rebound and beat Rinne to tie the game at 3 at 14:43 of the third period.

The Predators once again took the lead as Matt Cullen re-directed a pass from Patric Hornqvist past Varlamov at 15:17.

And once again, the Predators gave up the lead as Nick Holden blew past Colin Wilson and beat Rinne to tie the game at 4 at 16:01 of the third.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. Calle Jarnkrok scored for the Predators while Ryan O'Reilly scored and then Landeskog netted the game winner.

Some observations:

  • The Predators fell to 1-8 in shootouts this season.

  • Josi now has 11 goals on the season, and has 18 points (7G-11A) in his last 25 games. Josi now joins a group of only 16 defensemen with double digits in goals. The Predators are one of three teams (Boston, Pittsburgh) with more than one defenseman with double digits in goals. Josi's partner Shea Weber has 18 goals.

  • I really, REALLY like the play of Jarnkrok. He picked up an assist for his third point in three NHL games and scored the Predators only goal in the shootout with a sweet move. Jarnkrok skates well and is poised on the ice and gets himself into good scoring position.

  • Gabriel Bourque has points in three straight games. Mike Fisher also has a three game point streak.

  • Matt Cullen had his first multi-goal game as a Predator and has 6 points in his last three games (3G-3A).

  • The defensive gaffes by the Predators wound up in the back of their net. Leaving Landeskog alone twice in prime scoring territory bit the Predators and is really inexcusable. Perhaps the most egregious mistake of all was Colin Wilson allowing Nick Holden to skate right past him for the game tying goal. On the night, Wilson was -2; Eric Nystrom was -2; Nick Spaling was -3; Victor Bartley was -2; and Mattias Ekholm and Michael Del Zotto were -1.

  • Seth Jones missed his first game of the season after leaving the previous game against Chicago in the first period.

  • For a team that prides itself for playing tight defense, the inability to hold a lead this season has been troubling. Especially giving up a goal quickly after scoring themselves has bitten the Predators in the butt. Whether it is a lack of focus or talent, this has cost the Predators in too many games this season.
This is a game that the Predators should have won.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

This game encapsulates the entire Predators season: on the cusp of doing something good and giving it away in a frustrating loss.

My three stars:

1. Gabriel Landeskog

2. Roman Josi

3. Matt Cullen

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rinne Leads the Predators to 2-0 Win Over the Blackhawks

The last time the Nashville Predators played the Chicago Blackhawks, it took them about a half period to get their legs going and to make a game of it.

In tonight's contest at the United Center, it took the Predators a bit longer, but once they did, it was good enough to jump out to another lead against the talented Hawks.

Mike Fisher re-directed a shoot from Ryan Ellis past Corey Crawford at 18:38 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Pekka Rinne stopped 11 shots in the first period and had to be sharp to thwart some quality scoring chances by the Blackhawks.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Gabriel Bourque used his speed down the wing to get open. Bourque ripped a shot over the shoulder of Crawford and inside the far post at 17:35. Calle Jarnkrok picked up his second NHL point with an assist on the goal.

Rinne stopped 9 shots in the second period and made several solid saves with traffic in front.

The Predators were going to have to withstand the push that the Blackhawks would inevitably bring in the third period if they were going to capture this win.

The Predators did a very good job of doing just that, limiting the Blackhawks to just 6 shots through 17:46 of the third period, when the Hawks pulled Crawford for the extra attacker.

Rinne stood tall and made some great saves and the defense did a good job of clearing the puck out of the zone and as improbable as it might sound, the Predators shut out the high powered Blackhawks 2-0.

Some observations:

  • Patric Hornqvist was not in the line up as he returned home to welcome the birth of his first child. Daughter Isabella was welcomed into the world today and congratulations to Patric and his family.

  • Filip Forsberg was called up to replace Hornqvist, and he played on the fourth line with Colton Sissons and Rich Clune. Logic of that line placement eludes me.

  • The Predators lost the service of Seth Jones after the first period with an upper body injury. Jones was the recipient of a thunderous hit along the boards that up ended him onto the ice. The extent of Jones' injury is unknown.

  • I really liked the play of the line of Jarnkrok, Bourrque, and Craig smith. They showed some good jump and created some good chances. Bourque in particular has raised his game over the last 4 contests and is skating hard and driving the net. This is something that the Predators have needed all season, and it good to see Bourque playing the way many thought he could.

  • The Predators captured the season series with the Blackhawks with a 3-1 record.

  • This was only the second time this season that the Blackhawks had been shut out.

  • Rinne was superb tonight. He looked calm in net and tracked the puck well through traffic. He made some high quality saves and this game was a 180 degree turn around from his effort against Calgary. This was Rinne's first shut out of the season.
A solid effort by the Predators tonight as they skated well, got good goaltending from Rinne, and some opportunistic scoring.

Sounds like Predator hockey.

Now the boys need to finish the season playing this way.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Fisher

3. Gabriel Bourque

Friday, March 21, 2014

Predators Win a Wild One Over the Flames 6-5

The Nashville Predators offense can score against the Calgary Flames.

Unfortunately, the Predators defense can't seem to stop the Flames from scoring.

The Predators played a wild affair with the Flames at the ScotiaBank Saddledome that saw both teams light up the scoreboard and pull their starting goalies in a game that the Predators eventually won 6-5.

The Predators opened the game with good jump and skating well. That effort gave them a two goal lead as they tallied two goals just 49 seconds apart. Victor Bartley opened the scoring with a drive from outside the faceoff circle that beat Flames netminder Joni Ortio.. The play was set up by the speed of Craig Smith, who beat the Calgary defense down the ice and set up Bartley with a nice pass.

Bartley's first NHL goal came at 5:10 of the first period.

Shea Weber made it 2-0 as he drove the net and took a pass from Mike Fisher and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Ortio at 5:59 of the first.

The Flames scored on the power play with 34 seconds remaining in the first period as Kris Russell beat Pekka Rinne over the glove with a shot from the face off circle.

The Predators would notch two more goals in the second period. Michael Del Zotto hit Patric Hornqvist with a perfect lead pass that he re-directed past Ortio at 4:20 of the second to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

That lead evaporated in just 51 seconds as the Flames scored two quick goals.

Mike Cammalleri scored at 6:23 and Jiri Hudler scored at 7:14. All of a sudden, the Predators had lost control of momentum and of the game.

Viktor Stalberg gave the Predators that momentum back as well as the lead as he stuffed a puck past MacDonald on a wrap around at 8:06.

That was it for Ortio as he was pulled and Joey MacDonald came in to tend the net for the Flames

The Flames tied the game on an egregious play by Rinne as he was caught behind the net and the Flames gained possession of the puck. Lance Bouma got control of the puck and passed it to Mikael Backlund in the slot and he fired it into the open net at 13:31.

That would be it for Rinne as Carter Hutton came in net. Not the sharpest night for Rinne, especially on the play that gave the Flames the tying goal.

The Predators broke the tie on the power play as Shea Weber hammered a shot from the face off circle past MacDonald to give the Predators a 5-4 lead at 14:28 of the third period.

Now, could the Predators make the lead stand up?

The Predators made their case to do just that as Patric Hornqvist carried the puck into the zone and dropped the puck for Roman Josi. Josi took a shot toward the net that was re-directed past MacDonald by Matt Cullen to give the Predators a 6-4 lead at 17:08.

The Predators are... the Predators, however.

Mike Cammalleri took a shot from almost on the goal line that got between Hutton's pads and barely dribbled over the goal line to make it 6-5 at 17:36 of the third.

Wow. Just wow.

With the Flames goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Hutton made a huge save on Sean Monahan. The Predators managed to keep the Flames off the board and secured a wild 6-5 victory.

Some observations:

  • Congratulations to Victor Bartley, who got his first NHL goal. Bartley has been a perma scratch this season but has maintained a good attitude and I think can be a solid contributor for the Predators blue line.

  • Calle Jarnkrok picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Stalberg's goal. Jarnkrok looked good in his NHL debut, playing with poise and good jump. He showed some good puck handling skills and vision on the ice and has a lot of promise. He played on a line with Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque and they looked good all night.

  • Rinne had a brutal night. Those games happen, but tonight Rinne just didn't look comfortable in net.

  • Shea Weber continues to have a stellar season. His two goals tonight give him 18 for the season to lead all NHL defensemen. He has played solid all season long and has to be in consideration for the Norris Trophy.

  • This Predators team cannot seem to develop a killer instinct. Twice they surrendered two goal leads, and against most opponents that does not bode well. Kudos to the Predators, though, for battling back and eventually winning this game.

  • Several players for the Predators had big nights. Matt Cullen had 4 points (1G-3A); Patric Hornqvist had 3 points (1G-2A); and Shea Weber had 2 points (2G). It was also good to see Viktor Stalberg get a goal. he has been working hard and is more productive off the 4th line.
This was a game the Predators did not need to lose, and congratulations to them for staying with it and capturing the win.

Hopefully the offense that showed up tonight will stick around for the rest of the season.

My three stars:

1. Matt Cullen

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Mike Cammalleri

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Turn on CNBC or listen to the news and you find the markets eagerly awaiting economic numbers- inflation statistics, unemployment numbers, and many more. Good numbers can move the stock market higher while bad numbers cast a pall over the markets and drive stock prices downward.

New Federal Reserve Chairman (woman?) Janet Yellen proclaimed this week that the jobs numbers looked good and that the economy was showing signs of underlying consistent and significant growth.

Or really?

There are a myriad of statistics and economic data out there, but I want to focus on two areas: jobs and inflation, because they have a major impact on our economy nationally and our financial well being as individuals and families.

I have often discussed that those who have lost their unemployment benefits are no longer counted as unemployed for the purposes of tallying the unemployment rate. That has helped to drive down the stated unemployment rate from 10% to 6.5% There are some other "adjustments" that have been made in the way the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles this number that has made it look favorable.

Irrespective of the unemployment numbers, there is another key variable that has not been discussed much in looking at jobs, and that is the average workweek. While a worker may be employed, if their hours are cut, their take home pay is smaller.

And that is what has been happening with the great majority of jobs in this country.

According to the BLS, a better measure of the strength of the labor market and the economy is the total hours worked. That computation is simply the multiple of the average hours worked by the number of workers.

For instance, an employer has 50 forty hour per week workers. The total hours worked in that company is 2,000. Now, if that employer replaces those 50 workers with 70 twenty hour per week workers,  he is contracting, not expanding the business. Total hours worked is 1,400. Yes, there are more bodies, but less hours worked by those employed.

Less hours worked is equivalent to losing jobs in the economy.

And less hours worked is less disposable income to spend by those that have a job..

From September 2013 to February 2014, the average workweek has fallen from 34.5 hours to 34.2 hours, according to the BLS.

Doesn't sound like much, does it?

Here is the real impact of that small shrinkage in the workweek: the economy added 900,000 jobs from September through the end of February. The shortened workweek over that same period was the equivalent of losing 1,000,000 jobs.

Net, the economy lost approximately 100,000 jobs over the period because although more bodies were added to the work force, fewer hours were worked.

Now, let's take a look at inflation.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers are very important data points that are closely watched for signs of inflation creeping back into the economy. The CPI measures changes in prices for goods at the retail level- what you and I pay for items in the store.

We are continually told that inflation is "benign" or "tame" and that we don't have to worry about rising prices.

Uh...about that.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that beef prices rose 5% in February, the single biggest surge in the price of beef since 2003.

It is not only beef that is skyrocketing in price.

U.S. fresh vegetable prices jumped 4.7% last year and are expected increase another 3% this year. Fruit prices rose 2% last year and are expected to rise 3.5% this year. Cocoa (and the end product of chocolate) are already up 12% year to date; coffee is up 70% on global markets; and pork prices are up 42%.

In fact, food prices have gained an average of 2.8% per year over the last 10 years, according to the BLS, which tracks price data.

Inflation in food prices does not occur just with a nominal price increase. Bought a bag of potato chips recently? The bag has as much air as product. Food manufacturers are cutting the size of the portion while keeping the price the same, which is a price increase, even though the price tag hasn't changed.

So why bring all this up?

Two reasons.

First, the numbers that we get on the news about these key data points are suspect. Prudent people will look below the surface to examine the real numbers and the real impact on the economy. When Janet Yellen or any government talking head tells you the economy is showing signs of strength, look closely.

The words most often will not match the facts.

Secondly, know that as inflation creeps higher (and it is) and incomes continue to get squeezed regardless of the stated jobs numbers, this economy will continue to struggle to grow and provide good jobs and incomes for its citizens.

No amount of happy words will change these facts.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Same Song, Different Verse; Predators Shut Out Again

The Nashville Predators continued their four game road trip with a stop in Vancouver to face off against the Canucks in a battle of two teams that were struggling to find their game.

The Predators were coming off a listless performance the night before against Edmonton and were looking to get their game back to the hard edged basics that is integral to their success.

A scoreless first period saw both teams get some quality scoring chances but both Carter Hutton for the Predators and Eddie Lack for the Canucks make some good stops. More importantly for the Predators, though, was that they showed some good jump and effort, characteristics that had been lacking in their previous outing.

The second period was a mirror image of the first period with both teams skating hard but unable to find the net. The Canucks had the better of the scoring chances, but like the Predators, could not finish their chances.

The Canucks finally broke the scoreless tie at 6:06 of the third period as the Predators failed to clear the puck out of the zone. The Canucks were able to move the puck to an open Nicklas  Jensen who beat Hutton top shelf with a hard slap shot.

The Canucks struck on the power play at 7:19 as Alex Edler blew a shot from the blue line past Hutton. The Predators needed to respond after the Canucks first goal and this was obviously not the response the Predators needed. Hutton was not screened and was just flat out beaten by the shot.

This Predators team has monumental difficulty overcoming a one goal deficit, and a Canucks 2 goal lead in the late stages of the third period was insurmountable.

Once again, the Predators hustled and competed as best they could, but as so often has happened this season, the lack of offensive talent meant they were not going to score and get back into this game, falling by a 2-0 margin.

Some observations:

  • The Predators lost the services of Paul Gaustad in the first period after a hard fall to the ice with Alex Edler then falling on top of him. According to head Coach Barry Trotz at the first intermission, the injury did not appear to be too serious.

  • Really liked the jump of the team. Their compete level was much better in tonight's game. Gabriel Bourque in particular stood out for his effort and hard skating.

  • Viktor Stalberg was back in the line up after being scratched in last night's game.

  • The Predators power play, which had been near the top of the League in effectiveness, has become impotent. The Predators power play is now 5 for 35 in their last 10 games. Tonight, the Predators had 4 power plays and did not get a shot on 2 of them in 4 opportunities.

  • The Predators were shut out for the 9th time this season, the most in the NHL. Sigh...

  • Paging Colin Wilson. Mr. Colin Wilson. Sure would be nice to see you break that 30 game goalless drought.
With the season now reduced to playing out the string, it is time to see some serious changes. First would be to see some of the young talent up from Milwaukee to see what they can do.

They certainly could do no worse than what is happening now.

My three stars:

1. Eddie Lack

2. Henrik Sedin

3. Alex Edler

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Predators Embarrass Themselves in 5-1 Loss to the Oilers

For some reason, the Edmonton Oilers have owned the Predators over the past couple of seasons. There is no doubt that the Oilers have talent up front, but this is a team that has struggled on the blue line and has used six different goalies this season.

It didn't matter in the contest between the two teams at Rexall place.

The Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-1 thrashing of the listless Predators.

Sam Gagner opened the scoring in the first period as was left alone in front of the Predators net and slapped home a rebound of a Martin Marincin shot that Pekka Rinne could not control. The goal came with just 35 seconds remaining in the first period.

The Oilers extended their lead in the second period as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took advantage of a great pass and fired the puck into an open net on the power play at 8:18 of the period. Taylor Hall made it 3-0 at 14:48 as he beat Rinne with a beautiful backhand to the far post.

The Predators were finally able to get a puck past Viktor Fasth to make it 3-1 at 18:39 as Gabriel Bourque banged a puck into the net for his first goal in 29 games. Bourque was battling in front and finally (FINALLY!!) found the net.

It just got worse for the Predators in the third period as Jordan Eberle scored just as a Predators penalty expired. He shot a backhand that caromed off the shoulder of Rinne and into the net to make it 4-1 at 8:39.

Eberle struck at 10:01 as he beat the defense to the puck and then beat Rinne with a backhand that as realistically a bad goal from a sharp angle to make it 5-1.

That was it for Rinne and Carter Hutton came into to the game.

Some observations:

  • The Predators had some good scoring chances, but once again their inability to finish their chances bit them in the butt. More troubling for the Predators is they did not get to many rebounds to get second scoring chances.

  • The Predators looked like a team that is just playing out the season. There was not a lot of compete from this team tonight.

  • Rinne let in in two bad goals, but he also did not get a lot of help from the defense in front of him. The Oilers forwards constantly beat the defense back to get into prime scoring position. This was one of the worst games for the D corps in a while.

  • It's beyond obvious that this group of forwards is not capable of consistently scoring. It is time, in my opinion, to give some of the talented young guys in Milwaukee an opportunity to see some meaningful ice time in the remainder of this season. Forsberg and Jarnkrok certainly cannot do any worse than what the Predators are putting on the ice right now.

  • The Oilers swept the season series from the Predators 3-0. There are no words.
This was a sad and lackluster outing by the Predators. Frankly, there was nothing positive to take away from this game.

The remainder of the season is about playing for pride and a roster spot.

It will be interesting to see who steps up.

My three stars:

1. Jordan Eberle

2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

3. Sam Gagner

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blues Pound the Predators 4-1

The Nashville Predators have not beaten the St. Louis Blues this season.

Given the breathtaking talent gap between the two teams, the Predators may not neat the Blues for a long time.

The Blues came into Bridgestone Arena and owned the Predators in a 4-1 victory.

Patrick Bergland scored twice; Vladamir Tarasenko scored off a flukey play; and Alexander Steen finished the Blues scoring. Eric Nystrom scored for the Predators.

Pekka Rinne started the second game of a back to back, having won in Chicago last night, and was under siege all night long. Ryan Miller got the start for the Blues and the was rarely challenged by the Predators.

Not much to say about this game except the Predators were dominated all night and had very little push back against the talented Blues.

Some observations:

  • Several years ago, when the Predators were regularly beating the Blues, only a handful of their fans would show up at the Bridge for a game against the Predators. Tonight, the crowd may have been about 40% Blues fans. I have heard some say that they have a bunch of bandwagon fans. I say good on them. That is what winning does. It attracts new fans. Yes, there are some asshats among the Blues fans, but every team has those. The fact is that the Blues are winning and they have energized their fans, both long time fans and newcomers. The Predators need to take note, because playing boring, dump and chase .500 hockey is not going to energize any of your fans.

  • Speaking of dump and chase, the Predators seem to have that as their only option offensively. While that can be an effective strategy, it cannot be the only strategy. Especially when the team is losing the majority of those puck battles while employing that strategy.

  • Of course, if you do not have the talent to do anything other than dump and chase, the odds that you are going to win a majority of your games are not good.

  • It should tell Predator fans where this team is going when Rich Clune and Eric Nystrom are your best forwards on the ice. The disappearance of Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling and others does not portend good times for the Predators.

  • I still don't understand the Viktor Stalberg on the 4th line logic. He did move up in the third period, but from my view that is a gross waste of talent.
Not much else to say about this game.


Yes there is.

The Blues have done an excellent job of drafting and developing talented players that have elevated their game to the upper echelons of the League.

The Predators have not.

And until they do, they will continue to struggle mightily in the highly competitive Western Conference.

My three stars:

1. Patrick Bergland

2. Ryan Miller

3. Vladamir Tarasenko

Friday, March 14, 2014

Predators Perfect on the Road Trip; Defeat Balckhawks 3-2

There is no doubt the Chicago Blackhawks are one of the elite teams in the NHL.

The Nashville Predators have struggled to score and play consistently this season.

Yet these two teams still had to play the game, and the heart and the grit of the Predators prevailed over the talent and skill of the Hawks to capture a 3-2 win at the United Center.

The Predators looked as if they thought the game started later than the actual puck drop as the Hawks dominated the first half of the opening period. The Predators did not get their first shot on net until 9:18 had run off the clock.

But once they got their legs going, the Predators showed they could play with the Blackhawks.

The Predators jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a goal by Mike fisher off a rebound of a Roman Josi shot, which Hawks netminder Corey Crawford kicked out with his pad. Fisher was driving the net and banged the puck past an out of position Crawford at 15:33 of the first period.

The second Predators goal came off a Shea Weber blast that Crawford blocked but the rebound was lifted into the net by Patric Hornqvist at 18:51.

With just 14 seconds left in the first period, the Hawks got on the board as a puck jumped over the stick of Josi at the blue line and the Hawks were off on a 3 on 1 break. Jonathan Toews cashed in off a nice pass from Kris Versteeg to beat Pekka Rinne and make it a 2-1 game.

The second period ended scoreless but with the Blackhawks on the power play and Ryan Ellis in the box.

Just as the power play ended, Josi spotted Ellis coming out of the box and hit him with a perfect pass to send him in alone on Crawford. Ellis made a sweet move to beat Crawford to make it 3-1 at 19:15 of the third period.

The Hawks were certainly not done, as Peter Regin deflected a puck through traffic past Rinne at 8:32 of the period. The Predators were victimized by their inability to get the puck out of their zone, and the talented Hawks made them pay.

That goal energized the Hawks, but Rinne was stellar, stopping shots with lots of traffic in front of him.

The Predators were able to withstand the last gasp push by the Hawks and came away with a 3-2 victory.

No happy humans leaving the United Center tonight.

Some observations:

  • The defense corps has stepped up their game offensively. Roman Josi had 3 assists; Shea Weber had 2 assists; and Ryan Ellis had the game winning goal. Getting the defense involved, and more importantly contributing to the offensive effort is essential for the Predators to have an opportunity to win games.

  • The goals by Fisher and Hornqvist were quintessential Predator goals. They were going hard to the net and collected rebounds for the score. The forwards for the Predators have to consistently do this to score, and when they do, they can be productive.

  • The Predators had a bit of luck as Jonathan Toews had an open net into which to shoot the puck, but his backhand from the top of the crease hit the post and bounced out of harm's way.

  • The goal by Ellis was sweet, with a nice move to get Crawford completely out of position. Ellis struggles against larger forwards in the defensive zone, but their is no denying his offensive skill.

  • Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque continue to struggle offensively. They hustle and they compete, but their offensive game has completely disappeared. Each recorded just one shot on goal in 14:57 and 10:54 TOI, respectively. The Predators desperately need to get these guys going offensively.

  • With the win, the Predators are now 1 game over .500 with a record of 29-28-10.
The Predators completed the three game road trip with a perfect 3-0 record, and will return home to face the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night.

It's time to get some wins on home ice, boys.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Shea Weber

3. Pekka Rinne

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Regular readers know that I have railed against the impotent and partisan leadership that governs our country. The ineptitude of Washington and the elected officials and bureaucrats is breathtaking.

Part of the problem is that so many people in Washington that make decisions that have a financial impact on you and me and on our nation as a whole have no fundamental understanding of the basic economic and financial principles that guide our fiscal well being.

And for that reason, and to better equip us a voters and as citizens, we are going to dive into some of those principles and see how they affect you and me financially and have an impact on our daily lives.

Our economy, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the annual value of all the goods and services produced in the U.S., is driven by consumer spending. In fact, the most recent numbers show that 70% of our GDP is driven by what you and I do with our money. And over the years, our economy has been one that has shifted from making things (a manufacturing base economy) to one that is a consumption oriented (sales of services and goods) economy.

So it stands to reason that without consumption, our economy will suffer.

So for you and I to spend money, the first and obvious requirement is that we have a job. Without a job, there is no income and we do not consume, and the economy contracts.

And when the economy contracts, there are fewer jobs.

One can already see the downward spiral in which we find our country today.

Recently, the federal government and some economists have lauded the declining unemployment numbers, with stated unemployment now around 6%. These numbers belie the accounting gimmicks that have contributed to the falling unemployment number. For instance, if a worker that has been drawing unemployment benefits loses those benefits because they have expired, they are no longer unemployed for the purposes of tabulating those numbers. They still don't have a job, but the government no longer includes them in the count of those that are unemployed.

Nor does the government count those that are underemployed: those that have take a job for which they are overqualified in order to pay their bills; or those that have withdrawn from the job market altogether because they cannot find a job.

The real unemployment rate is currently around 11%.

The effect of that situation is that there is less money available for consumers to spend on the goods and services that help to move the economy forward.

The corollary to more people being out of work is that social benefits are increasing dramatically to provide unemployment benefits and other safety net social programs.

Where does the government get that money?

It is derived from the production (read: income) of workers through taxation.

Now consider the perfect storm we are facing in this country.

An historically high number of people out of work, needing social benefits. A growing number of citizens that are aging into the Social Security program and will be demanding payments from the program. A monetary policy that has added $4 trillion in new debt to our nation's balance sheet on which interest must be paid. A tax and regulatory environment that stymies the creation of new jobs and takes an inordinate amount of income away from those that have jobs. And overlay on all of this an economy that is struggling not only to produce jobs, but high quality jobs.

One can see the dilemma we face in this country. And frankly, it is beyond dilemma stage.

It is a looming catastrophe.

To avert this disaster will take real leadership that can make difficult decisions without partisan considerations. It will take men and women of vision and courage that will honestly deal with these problems without regard for their political careers. In a word...

It will take you and me holding those in Washington accountable for their actions and their spending because they have failed to do so up to now.

We can sit back and let our elected officials naval gaze in their enclosed and indulgent environment, or we can demand that effective changes be put in place to reverse the course upon which we find ourselves.

If we do that, it will be painful.

If we fail to do that, it will be awful.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Predators Shoot Blanks in 1-0 Loss to the Jackets

The Nashville Predators were attempting to launch themselves into playoff contention after the Olympic break, and a 5 game home stand seemed the perfect way to do that.

Instead, the Predators crashed and burned, going 1-4 in those five games, the last of which was a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena in front of a sellout crowd.

Pekka Rinne was superb, making some high quality saves until Artem Anisimov finally poked a puck past Rinne with 6:25 left in the contest.

Rinne watched his mates come out flying in the first period as the Predators used their speed to create space and offensive chances. They rang a puck off the post and had one nearly dribble past Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky before being swept off the goal line by a Columbus defender.

The Predators out shot the Jackets 14-5 in the first period, and Predator fans must have felt that effort would yield results in the final 40 minutes.

Instead, the Jackets dominated the Predators in the second period, out shooting them 15-4.

The third period saw the Jackets continue their domination until a very late flurry from the Predators. The Predators came close to tying the game when Mike Fisher hit a post with 30 seconds left in the game.

The Jackets still out shot the Predators 16-10 in the final frame.

Some observations:

  • The Predators offense completely disappeared after the first period. The Jackets elevated their game and the Predators did not, and if not for the solid effort by Rinne, the score could have been embarrassing for the Predators.

  • The chemistry among the lines seems to have completely disappeared. Passes are missing targets and the Predators inability to skate the puck into the offensive zone is killing this team. Resorting to a dump and chase game means the forwards have to win battles and control the puck, and the Predators are rarely doing that during the course of a game.

  • The Predators are still skating hard and competing, but it is a lot of effort that is yielding sparse results. The Predators scored just 6 goals in this five game home stand, and this anemic level of production means that Rinne has to be perfect. As hard as he competes, he is not that, and the lack of offensive support has to be incredibly frustrating.

  • With the lack of production and the playoffs not happening, it would seem to make sense to bring up some of the young guys like Forsberg and Jarnkrok from Milwaukee. They certainly could not be any less productive than what is on the ice right now. Remember that the classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  • The Predators killed off all 5 penalties, including a 4 minute double minor on Viktor Stalberg. The Predators once potent power play again shot blanks, going 0-3.
Not much that one can say about this game or this team that hasn't already been said. management must take a hard look at this roster in the offseason and commit to getting some consistent, high level scoring in here.

Fail to do that and the Predators will continue to frustrate their fans.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Sergei Bobrovsky

3. Artem Anisimov

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Calling All Buckaroos and Buckarettes- Time to Support a Great Cause

Like to participate in a costume party?

Especially one for a good cause?

You have your chance to don your finest western apparel and join the Nashville Predators three amigos- Pete Weber, Terry Crisp, and Paul McCann- at Lexus of Cool Springs tomorrow night from 7-9 to benefit VSA Tennessee.

VSA is the Very Special Arts organization that supports art education and participation for students that have learning disabilities. The participation is high quality arts programs is a vital part of the development and education of these special people.

The VSA Western Masquerade raises funds to support the arts programs available to these students, and the night at Lexus will include food and drinks, a great silent auction, a chance to play poker with some card sharps, line dancing lessons, and a great evening of fellowship with some amazing people.

Tickets are $25 per person purchased in advance here or they can be purchased at the door for $30.00.

Put on your chaps (and PLEASE put on pants with them) and come out to support a great cause and some exceptional people.

Predators Feeling Blue: Drop 4th Straight to St. Louis

Remember when the Nashville Predators used to have their way with the St. Louis Blues?

Go back several seasons and a game against the Blues was almost a guaranteed win for the Predators.

Over that span of time, the Blues have drafted well and developed their offensive talent, and that talent has developed into one of the elite teams in the NHL.

By contrast, the Predators have devolved into a bunch of grinders that give a good effort but have a woeful lack of skill.

That yawning gap in talent was on display at the Bridgestone Arena as the Blues beat the Predators for the 4th straight time by a score of 2-1. that score belies the fact that the blues were the clearly dominant team and controlled play for much of the game.

Ian Cole opened the scoring at 4:03 of the first period as he fired a shot off a face off win through traffic that beat a screened Pekka Rinne to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

The Predators answered at 10:28 of the first as Patric Hornqvist threw a shot to the front of the net from the goal line that was re-directed by Nick Spaling over the shoulder of Ryan Miller to tie the game at 1.

That was it for the Predators as they rarely challenged Miller.

The blues scored the game winner as Magnus Paarjarvi took a pass from roman Polak and skated past Ryan Ellis and beat Rinne to the far side post at 15:27 of the second period.

The Predators could rarely muster any offense and struggled just getting the puck through the neutral zone and establishing any offensive flow.

This was an ugly loss as it clearly exposed the talent gap between the Predators and a team that was consistently below them in the standings just a few years ago.

The troubling aspect of this game is that it clearly shows that this talent gap will not quickly or easily be closed by the Predators.

Some observations:

  • The Predators have now lost 6 of their last 7 games. This team is not bound for the playoffs, and the lack of talent is going to haunt this team and their fans for several years.

  • Patric Hornqvists assist was his 100th of his career.

  • The Predators do not have a forward that can cosnsitently carry the puck into the offensive zone against a talented defense. The Predators had to almost exclusively resort to a dump and chase game, and they lost most of those puck battles all night.

  • Puck support by the Predators was awful. Often, when the Predators got the puck in the zone, the Blues out numbered the puck carrier and forced turnovers. The Predators had 10 giveaways to 4 by the Blues.

  • How ineffective were the Predators forwards? The Predators had 21 shots on goal, and 13 of those came from defensemen.

  • Newly acquired Patrick Eaves was in the lineup, playing on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad and Rich Clune. Eaves had 6:59 of ice time and was a -1 for the night.

  • This was the Predators first game without David Legwand. Those that know me or read this blog know that he has not been a favorite of mine. My problem with Legwand was simply that I believe that he did not play with heart and was grossly overpaid for what he brought to the ice. That is simply my opinion, and I don't expect all of you (any of you) to agree with me. It is telling to me that the management of the team could not answer the question of whether or not the Predators would be a better team without Legwand. And there is the enigma: Legwand was a talented player that never played to his potential or his talent level. Time will tell if this team is better or not without him. I think his absence will not affect this team adversely.

  • Rinne was called upon to make some  huge saves once again to keep an opponent off the board. He also stopped Alex Steen on a penalty shot.

  • The woeful Predators offense has scored just one goal in each of their last three games.

  • I do not like the defensive pairing of Michael Del Zotto and Ryan Ellis. You have two puck moving defensemen that do not play a physical game. The larger and more physical forwards of the Blues pushed around Ellis in particular all night. I thought the pairing of MDZ and Seth Jones that had been used in previous games was a more effective tandem.

With the playoffs out of the picture, the Predators now have to focus on improving their game and building for next season. It is encouraging to see that this group is still competing.

It would be even more encouraging to see this team begin to produce consistent scoring.

My three stars:

1. Magnus Paarjarvi

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Ian Cole

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Penguins Spoil Rinne's Return With a 3-1 Win Over the Predators

The Nashville Predators welcomed back goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had missed 51 games with a hip infection, as they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena.

Unfortunately for Rinne and the Predators, the Penguins spoiled his return, capturing a 3-1 victory.

One had to wonder if Rinne would show some rust and be ready for top flight competition, and he quickly proved that he was, making some outstanding saves to keep the Penguins off the board in the first period. Rinne's right pad save on Chris Kunitz, who was driving to the net, was a highlight reel effort.

The Penguins got on the board first at 27 seconds of the second period as Matt Niskanen squeezed a shot between Rinne and the post.

The Predators answered just 12 seconds later as Patric Hornqvist cleaned up a rebound by Marc-Andre Fleury at the top of the crease to tie the game at 1.

Niskanen got his second goal of the game on the power play at 7:29 of the third period as he blasted a slap shot through traffic past Rinne.

Christ Kunitz doused any Predator hopes of getting back into the game as he fired a shot from the slot that beat Rinne at 17:05 of the third period.

Some observations:

  • Rinne was very good in his return. Some of his saves were amazing and he showed that early on that he was ready for the speed of the game. The Penguins had some very good chances throughout the game and Rinne made some athletic saves and showed good movement.

  • The talent difference between the Penguins and the Predators is huge. Often, the Predators could do little more than dump the puck out of the zone. The Predators had to expend massive amounts of effort to get the puck into the offensive zone and create some chances. When they did, they once again had trouble finishing.

  • That said, the overall defensive effort, especially in limiting Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby from getting prime scoring chances was generally good. Crosby is a star, and the efforts focused on taking away his scoring chances allowed him to set up other teammates as he picked up three assists tonight.

  • David Legwand picked up two penalties and one led to Niskanen's power play goal. Legwand has not been productive and his lack of effort and creativity kills any offensive flow from his line. Unfortunately, it looks like the team is stuck with him as he is untradeable.

  • Hornqvist has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 8 games.

  • Nick Spaling returned to the line up after missing 4 games with an injury.

  • Shea Weber picked up a 10 minute misconduct after the Kunitz goal late in the third period.

  • Roman Josi led all Predators with 26:37 TOI.

  • Sydney Crosby NEVER gets tossed from the faced off circle, even if his line mates jump early. This happened on three occasions tonight and Crosby was allowed to remain to take the face off. He won 12 of 22 face offs.

  • The Predators scored the first goal of the game as the puck caromed off the shin pad of Paul Gaustad. After a lengthy review, the goal was overturned because it was deemed that Gaustad made a distinct kicking motion. The longer the review took, one knew that would be the call. That call was questionable at best.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Predators as they host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

They have to continue to bring a solid effort and hope they can get some pucks in the net.

My three stars:

1. Matt Niskanen

2. Sydney Crosby

3. Patric Hornqvist

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jets Shoot down the Predators 3-1

The Nashville Predators faced the Winnipeg Jets in a game that they needed to win to remain relevant in the playoff chase. The Predators gave it a good shot, in fact 40 of them, but could only get one past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavalec in a 3-1 loss at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators used their power play unit to capture a win in their previous game, going 3 for 4 with the man advantage.

Tonight, the power play was 0-6 as the jets used their number one ranked road penalty kill to throttle the Predators.

And that points out the major weakness of this team.

They are not good enough to consistently score at even strength.

Now there is no doubt Pavalec played an outstanding game, but often the Predators had quality scoring chances they could not finish.

And that is the story of their season.

The Jets scored first when the defensive coverage lost Olli Jokinen and he skated in on predators goaltender Carter Hutton and roofed a shot over his shoulder to make it 1-0 at 5:02 of the second period.

The Jets made it 2-0 as Andrew Ladd re-directed a Zach Bogosian shot through traffic past Hutton at 18:18 of the second period.

Simon Moser made it 2-1 at 9:11 of the third period as he re-directed a shot from Mickael Del Zotto  and (finally!) past Pavalec and gave the Predators some life.

That flicker of hope was snuffed out as Blake Wheeler beat Shea Weber down the boards and put a shot on net that Hutton kicked out. Devin Setoguchi snapped a shot past Hutton to make it 3-1 at 16:08.

The Predators could not get any pucks past Pavalec even with the extra attacker for the final 1:40 of the game, and a must win game became a crippling loss.

Some observations:

  • Moser's goal was his first in the NHL. I like his hustle and his play, and hopefully this will be the first of many goals for him.

  • Roman Josi seems to grow in confidence and his play improves every game. Josi is one of the better puck handlers- if not the best- on the team. he makes good decisions with the puck and is a confident and smooth skater. He also plays a ton of minutes, usually against the top forward line of the opposition. Tonight, he had 27:44 TOI.

  • Michael Del Zotto picked up the primary assist on the goal by Moser. I like MDZ's game and I think as he continues to settle in with the team, he will prove to be a valuable addition.

  • David Legwand just looks disinterested to me. He is not strong on the puck and their is not a bit of offensive creativity or jam in his game.

  • The Predators put 40 shots on Pavalec and he made some outstanding saves. The fact is though, that the Predators have to finish some of those chances, and as long as they continue to struggle at even strength their chances of sneaking into the playoffs is virtually non-existent.
This was a game the Predators had to win to make of ground on a team that is just in front of them in the standings. The opportunity was lost, and possibly the post season.

The effort and hustle by the team was good, but the lack of finish doomed them.

Now they have to respond and bring this effort on Tuesday against the Penguins.

And finish their chances.

My three stars:

1. Ondrej Pavalec

2. Andrew Ladd

3. Simon Moser