Friday, October 31, 2014

Predators Fizzle In Loss to the Flames

A Halloween matchup between the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames saw the Saddledome turn into a house of horrors for the Predators as they blew a one goal lead going into the third period and dropped a 4-3 decision.

The game featured two hot goaltenders as Pekka Rinne dueled with Jonas Hiller. Rinne entered the game with a 1.71 GAA and a .936 save percentage; Hiller boasts a 1.63 GAA and a .943 save percentage.

After a scoreless first period that saw both teams get some quality scoring chances, the Flames would tally first on the power play as Sean Monohan got loose in front of the net and banged home a rbound that Rinne could not control. Monohan beat Shea Weber to the front of the net and had an easy tap in to give the Flames a 1-0 lead at 4:23 of the second.

The Predators answered at 5:30 of the second period as Craig Smith worked himself open at the side of the net and fired a wrist shot past Hiller to tie the game at 1.

Mike Ribeiro won a face off in the offensive zone back to James Neal, who whipped a wrist shot through traffic that beat Hiller at 11:09 of the second period. Neal got the shot off quickly and Hiller had no time to react as he couldn't pick up the puck through the tangle of bodies in front of him.

The Flames tied the game at 2:36  of the third period as Rinne was under assault and made two saves but gave up a rebound that Jiri Hudler tapped into the open net. Hudler got lost in all the scramble around the net and was all alone for the easy score.

With Mattias Ekholm in the box for tripping, T.J. Brodie tried to pass the puck across the slot, but the puck caromed off the glove of Shea Weber and past Rinne to give the Flames a 3-2 lead at 4:23 of the third.

The wheels were wobbly, but they came off when Johnny Gaudreau scored high glove on the short side to make it 4-2 at 6:37.

Three goals in 4 minutes.


The Predators cut the lead to 4-3 on a James Neal power play goal at 10:47.

That would be all the scoring for the Predators and a game they should have won slipped into the loss column.

Some observations:

  • A very weak goaltender interference call against Colin Wilson led to the Flames first power play, which they capitalized upon. So far in this young season, the officiating in the NHL has been inconsistent at best.

  • The Predators generated some quality scoring chances, and it looked like Hiller was going to put on one of those performances that would thwart the Predators all night. Fortunately, Craig Smith broke Hiller's spell with his third goal in the last two games. good answer just 60 seconds after the Flames had scored and looked to be seizing momentum. it is good to see the Honey Badger starting to heat up.

  • I really like the way Seth Jones has been playing. he has been quietly solid on the blue line and has shown very good offensive instincts. Jones looks stronger physically and is playing with confidence, all of which bode well for his game and for the team.

  • Johnny Gaudreau- "Johnny Hockey" - is a special player. Speed, hockey sense, and a wicked shot. He absolutely undressed Anton Volchenkov with a sick one on one move and forced Rinne to make a great save.
  • James Neal gas a nose for the net and a scorer's mentality. Oh yes, it helps that he can snipe the puck. Refreshing to see, and I think Neal's presence in the line up has helped the other forwards as everyone is firing the puck. I years past, the Predators would frustratingly pass up shots. Not now. And yes, I know part of that is the change in coaching philosophy, but also part of it is the example of a scorer like Neal.

  • The Predators got back on their heels and the Flames took it to them in the third period. Yes, the Predators got some bad breaks, but the Flames jumped on them and took control of the game. That is disheartening, but what I do like is that the Predators fought back and didn't fold.

  • That said, these are the games this team has to win. The Flames have been beset by injuries and have been inconsistent in their play. The Predators need to jump on a team in this situation and get the two points.

  • Giving up three third period goals is just... awful. Gotta have the mentality of locking down an opponent, and more importantly, going out there and doing it. Neither happened tonight.

  • Calgary blocked 36 shots. Wow.

  • The Predators did not kill a penalty tonight, giving up two power play goals in two attempts. The Preds were 1-1 on the power play. Special teams are definitely going to have to improve, and quickly, for this team to have continued success.
This was a game that the Predators gave away. And frankly, they do not have the luxury of doing that in the ultra competitive Central Division.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Jonas Hiller

3. Johnny Gaudreau

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Predators Start the Long Road Trip With a 4-1 Win Over the Oilers

The Nashville Predators began a two week road trip at Edmonton to face off against the suddenly hot Oilers, who came into the game winners of four straight contests.

For the Predators, it was going to be critical to get not only this game but this road trip off to a good start.

They accomplished both objectives as they defeated the Oilers 4-1.

Although the first period was scoreless, the Predators outshot the Oilers 10-3 and out skated and out chanced the home team.

In the second period, the Predators scored two goals in 1:26 to take control of the game.

Craig Smith notched his second goal of the season as he beat Ben Scrivens short side through traffic at 6:23.

Taylor Beck fired a puck into a wide open net off a nice cross ice pass from Colin Wilson at 7:49.

The third period would be critical and the Predators would need to keep up the pressure and not allow the Oilers to seize momentum. They did just that as Shea Weber launched a rocket from the blue line that Scrivens never saw to make it 3-0 just 24 seconds into the period.

The Oilers finally broke through against Pekka Rinne at 8:54 of the third perios as Taylor Hall banged home a rebound of a Ryan Nugent Hopkins shot.

Craig Smith tallied his second goal of the game and third of the season off a 2 on1 rush with Matt Cullen. Cullen saucered a pass to Smith, who blew the puck past Scrivens to make it 4-1 at 12:24 of the third period.

Rinne and the defense locked down the Oilers for the remainder of the game, and the Predators recorded their 6th win of the season.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were victimized by the "intent to blow" call by referee Ian Walsh in the first period. Craig Smith jammed a puck in on Ben Scrivens and into the back of the net. However, the goal was waved off immediately by Walsh, and his explanation was that he was intending to blow the whistle, even though the puck was in the back of the net.

  • Matt Cullen returned to the line up after missing 8 games with an injury. He looked very good on a line with Derek Roy and Craig Smith, skating well and creating some chances. That line showed some jump all night and got the first goal of the game by Smith off of nice pressure on the net. This was Smith's third goal of the season.

  • After being a healthy scratch the past few games, Gabriel Bourque returned to the line up and looked good, skating hard and getting some scoring chances. the Swedish Chef needs to get his game going if he wants to stick in the line up, and the team can certainly use some production from him.

  • Taylor Beck got his first goal of the season off a nice assist from Colin Wilson. Wilson moved to center the line with Beck and Olli Jokinen and looked comfortable in that role. Wilson is probably more suited to being a set up man than a pure goal scorer, and if he can settle into this role with some consistency, it will benefit his game and his line.

  • The Oilers started the season 0-4 before winning their last 4 games to bring their record to .500. Interestingly, all their losses came against Western conference teams, while all their wins have come against Eastern Conference teams.

  • Rinne made some good saves tonight, but in my opinion looked a bit "scrambly" and not as relaxed tonight.

  • In games last season, the Oilers used their speed and attacking style to overwhelm the Predators defensive system. Tonight, the Predators turned the tables and attacked all night and forced the Oilers to go into defensive mode. The effect was to curb some of the offensive explosiveness of the Oilers and create the opportunity for offensive chances by the Predators. The Predators also did a good job of selectively activating the defense in the offensive zone and putting pressure on the Oilers defense.

  • The Predators out shot the Oilers 35-27.

  • The Predators blocked 24 shots by the Oilers.
This was a solid game from start to finish, and it is good to see the Predators dominate a team that had owned them last season.

The start to the road trip was just what the Predators needed. Now they have to continue to build on that effort. They will have their chance on Friday night in Calgary.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Roman Josi

3. Pekka Rinne

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

There is no secret that the Federal government has too much debt. In fact, by all reasonable definitions, our country is broke, with too much debt and not nearly enough income to service those debts.

So what are our options as a country to deal with this situation?

We could default. We have seen countries such as Argentina do that, and the results have been disastrous not only for the economy of that country but for its people as well. Standards of living have crashed and the ability of Argentina to borrow in world markets to support its economy has been severely hampered. Slower growth has been the inevitable result, further depressing the standard of living of its people.

We could begin a period of austerity, curtailing spending and paying down debt. This is painful, but the long term results are ultimately healthy for the economy and result in a better standard of living for our country. With nearly 50% of the population receiving some form of government benefit, this option is not palatable to our elected leaders since it would mean that those benefits would have to be severely curtailed to make this option work. Our elected leaders do not have the cajones to even propose this, much less implement this course of action.

We could do nothing and wait for the financial train wreck to happen. The consequences of that would be unimaginable, resulting in a tremendous decline in our standard of living and opportunity in this country.

We could implement policies that create inflation, allowing our debt to be repaid with dollars that are worth less. We could couple that policy with artificially low interest rates that result in negative real rates (negative rates occur when savers- those that deposit money into savings accounts, certificates of deposit, or buy Treasury notes and bills)- are paid an interest rate that is less than the rate of inflation (which represents the increase in the cost of living).


That's exactly what we are doing.

How does this work?

Negative real interest rates erodes the value of the government debt. Inflation allows the government to pay creditors with dollars that are worth less than what they ere when they were originally borrowed. Basically, the declining purchasing power of the average citizen is being used to pay or reduce the amount of the debt of our federal government.

At its core, the results of this policy, known as financial repression, results in a tax on those that have been diligent enough to save and on those whose income fails to keep up with the rising costs of living. Since 2008, real household incomes in this country have fallen 10%; nominal interest rates have been pushed to record low levels through the Federal Reserve's Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP); and real inflation (counting food and energy costs) is running around 6%, far above the Fed's measurements of below 2%.

The bottom line of financial repression is that it destroys household wealth of most people; redistributes wealth form the majority of people to those that already have wealth and are able to take advantage of the current circumstances; and allows the government to continue to spend profligately without having to face the consequences of those actions.

Getting out of the dire circumstances that we face will require an honest discussion and assessment of where we are financially in this country. It will require courage to make the necessary changes to put our country back on sound financial footing. And it will require exemplary leadership to make it happen.

Sadly, all those things are lacking at the Federal Reserve and in Washington.

So you and I bear the brunt of these oppressive and misguided policies.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Predators Blanked by the Penguins 3-0

The Nashville Predators knew a regulation loss would eventually happen.

It did at the Bridgestone Arena as the Predators fell 3-0 in a lackluster effort against a very good Pittsburgh Penguins team.

The Predators gave up a first period goal to Sidney Crosby on a shot from in close with lots of traffic around Pekka Rinne.

They gave up two power play goals in the first six minutes of the third period, one to Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis.

Game over.

After an energetic first period, which saw the shots in favor of the Penguins 10-8, the Predators offense was dominated by the Penguins defense and rarely challenged Marc-Andre Fleury. The Predators were out shot 12-4 in the second period and the offense was non-existent.

Although the Penguins only had 4 shots in the third period, they capitalized on two of them for scores on the power play. The Predators had 13 shots in the third, but few quality scoring chances.

The Penguins employed a heavy and aggressive forecheck and used their speed to totally discombobulate the Predators. The Predators rarely had a clean breakout through the neutral zone and could not find any offensive flow in the zone. As a result, their offense never got going the entire game.

Some observations:

  • The Predators are the last team in the NHL to absorb a regulation loss. They are now 5-1-2.

  • In six of their 8 games, the Predators have given up the first goal. While they have shown resilience and have been able to overcome those deficits (until tonight), this is not a trend that needs to continue.

  • The Predators have shown that they have difficulty handling an aggressive forecheck. tonight, the Penguins controlled the play throughout the game by pressuring the puck and disrupting the breakouts. If the Predators can't get a clean break through the neutral zone, the offense really struggles. This is an area that is going to have to improve.

  • The Predators anemic power play, which was connecting at only 8.7% of their chances coming in to this game, was 0-3 tonight. There just isn't a lot of movement among the players on the man advantage unit, and it makes it very easy to defend. Here is a blinding flash of the obvious- the power play unit is going to have to improve quickly if this team is going to have success this season.

  • No shows: Olli Jokinen, Calle Jarnkrok (8 games), and Viktor Stalberg (5 games) do not have a point this season. For the amount of ice time they are receiving, these players are going to have to start contributing.

  • Almost no shows: Colin Wilson and Craig Smith have not been productive of late. These guys are too talented not to produce and they have to get their game going quickly.

  • The Predators welcomed back Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling with a nice tribute video. Hornqvist and Spaling were traded to the Pens for James Neal.

  • The Predators were 42% in the face off dot. Paul Gaustad won 71% of his face offs (5 of 7). Roy ( 1 of 6), Jokinen (3 of 10), and Ribeiro (5 of 14) continue to struggle.

  • Rinne didn't get a lot of help tonight. Fleury was rarely challenged. This speaks volumes to the talent of the Penguins and to the play of the Predators. While the Predators don't have the talent of the Penguins, when they play as they did Thursday night against Chicago, they have shown they can compete and win games. tonight, they were completely stymied and did not elevate their game.
The Predators now go on the road for the nest two weeks due to the CMA's and their events at Bridgestone Arena. This will be a real test for the team and we are going to find out a lot about this group.

They have the potential to make some noise in the Central. the game tonight proves that this group has to play at a high level to have a chance to win games.

We are going to find out if they can consistently do so.

My three stars:

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Evgeni Malkin

3. Pascal Dupuis

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Neal's Hat Trick Leads the Predators to 3-2 Win Over the Blackhawks

How about that trade for James Neal?

The Predators, who acquired Neal from Pittsburgh to add scoring punch, got what they were looking for as Neal had a natural hat trick to lead the Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena.

Ben Smith had given the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 12:21 of the first period by beating Pekka Rinne with a flip over his pads from in close.

Neal answered by beating Antti Raanta from the left face off circle with a snap shot over the stick at 19:12 of the first period.

Neal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead 16:12 of the second period as he blasted a shot  from the right side of the slot that Raanta had no chance. Neal showed that he can scorch a shot, and although he was unscreened, Raanta could not get the glove up fast enough on that heater.

Neal gave the Predators a 3-1 lead at 1:52 of the third period as Raanta could not control the shot from Ryan Ellis from the left face off circle. The puck trickled out to the right side and Neal was driving the net. He was able to tap the puck into the open net before Raanta could get back into position.

Chicago is a talented team and everyone in the building knew they would be making a strong push in the third period.

They did just that, out shooting the Predators 17-6. Rinne made some incredible saves to thwart some very scoring chances by the Hawks.

The Blackhawks made it interesting when Andrew Shaw knocked a puck out of mid-air and over the shoulder of Rinne at 12:36 of the third (it looked for all the world like that puck was played with a high stick, but the officials let the play stand).

Rinne was called upon to shut the door, and he and the defense did so in the face of some good pressure by the Hawks, including the final 1:25 with Raanta pulled for an extra attacker.

Some observations:

  • Going back to last season, the Predators are 5-2-1 against the Blackhawks. The Predators are 43-39-2-9 all time against the Hawks. They are 24-16-6 against the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena.

  • The line of Neal, Ribeiro, and Forsberg has become a legitimate threat for the Predators. With the hat trick tonight, Neal leads the team with 5 goals. Ribeiro has picked up points in five straight games. Forsberg leads the team in points (1G-6A) and assists, with 6.

  • The last hat trick for the Predators came on January 1, 2012 by Sergei Kostitsyn.

  • Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford did not make the trip with team due to an upper body injury.

  • The Predators power play was 0-2, continuing their struggles. I will say that the two power plays looked much better tonight with more movement and traffic in front of Raanta. This is an area that the team obviously has to improve upon.

  • The Predators committed only one penalty, which they successfully killed. One of the keys to winning was to not give the potent Hawks power play opportunities and tonight the Predators played very disciplined hockey.

  • Rinne was outstanding, making some great saves, especially in the third period when the Hawks turned up the pressure. He is playing with confidence and the team feeds off that confidence.

  • The Predators continue to struggle in the face off circle, winning only 45% of the draws. Paul Gaustad was 50% (12 of 24), the best among the forwards that took more than one face off. Mike Ribeiro was a woeful 5 of 16.

  • The Hawks had not given up a third period goal all season until tonight.
This was a huge win for the Predators, not only because it was against a divisional foe, but because this is a win that the team can build upon. It has to boost their confidence and let them know they can not only play with the best teams in the NHL, but they can win those games.

It feels good to get this win, but it is just a step in a long season.

But this is learning it can take those steps.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Pekka Rinne

3. fillip Forsberg

  • The Predators are the only team not to have a regulation loss this season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Predators Sneak Past the Coyotes In A Shootout 4-3

The Nashville Predators faced off against the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena in a contest that would prove to be quite a battle.

The Predators defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in a shootout.

And frankly, they were fortunate to secure the win and the two points.

The Yotes opened the scoring off a 2 on1 break. David Moss carried the puck in the offensive zone on the right side and slipped the puck to Rob Klinkhammer. The Colonel tapped the puck past Pekka Rinne at 3:21 of the first period.

The Predators answered off an odd man rush of their own. Mike Ribeiro carried the puck into the offensive zone with the Predators on a 4 on 1 rush. Ribeiro sent the puck to Ryan Ellis in the high slot and got a return pass that he put through the wickets of Devan Dubnyk to tie the game at 12:05 of the first period.

Ellis gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 5:12of the second period, just 3 seconds after a Predators power play had expired. Ellis beat Dubnyk short side from the top of the face off circle, sneaking the shot just inside the post.

The Coyotes tied the game just 3 seconds into a power play. With Calle Jarnkrok in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Antoine Vermette won a face off back to Keith Yandle and he beat Rinne glove side at 11:18 of the second period.

Former Predator Marty Erat gathered in a rebound at the side of the net and scored at 7:42 of the third period to give the Coyotes a 3-2 lead.

That goal was answered by James Neal, who blasted a slap shot past Dubnyk from the circle at 8:03 of the third period.

After the remainder of the third and the overtime period ended with neither team able to score, the game went to a shootout.

Derek Roy scored in the first round for the Predators, while Antoine Vermette scored in the third round to tie the shootout.

Ryan Ellis scored off a sweet move in the fourth round, and Rinne was able to stop Erat to secure the win.

Some observations:

  • In three of their past four games, the Predators have shown alarming inconsistency in handling an aggressive forecheck. Tonight, the Predators had difficulty throughout the game in dealing with the aggressive, attacking style of the Coyotes. The pressure the Coyotes put on the Predators disrupted their breakouts and their cycle once they got in the offensive zone. On several occasions, the Coyotes forecheck forced turnovers in the Predators defensive zone, resulting in Rinne having to make some quality saves.

  • The Coyotes turned up the intensity in the third period, and the Predators could not match their effort. The Yotes out shot the Predators 17-5 in the third, and 36-26 for the game.

  • Ryan Ellis had a monster game, recording a goal, two assists, and the shootout winner. this was Ellis' first three point game of his career.

  • How sweet must this game have been for Mike Ribeiro. He had a goal and an assist against the team that dumped him last season. Ribeiro now has points in his last 4 games.

  • Former Predator Marty Erat had a goal and played with energy all night. Where was that game from Marty in his last year as a Predator?

  • The goal from James Neal was a blast that he just blew past Dubnyk, Neal now has two goals in his last three games. Good to see him starting to heat up.

  • The Predators are now 18-10-3 all time against the Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena.

  • The Predators struggled in the face off dot all night, winning just 45% of the draws. Paul Gaustad led the team, winning 11 of 18 draws for 61%. This is going to have to improve especially in the offensive zone.

  • The Predators power play did not look good at all. They were 0-5 tonight, and the PP unit just looks too static without much movement. Especially troubling was the lack of net front presence. No one was taking away the eyes of Dubnyk, and he had some rather routine saves when the Preds had the man advantage.

  • Shea Weber led the team with 33:18 TOI. Roman Josi was the leader in blocked shots with 6.

  • The Predators are now 4-0-2, good for 10 points and first place in the Central Division.

While winning the game feels good and getting points is important, the reality is that the Predators, while working hard, have caught a few breaks. There are facets of their game that have to improve if they want to continue to win games and pile up points.

But for now, enjoy the win and get ready for another test against Chicago on Thursday night.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Ellis

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. Keith Yandle

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Predators Fall In OT to the Blackhawks 2-1

The Nashville Predators played their second road game of the year, the second of a back to back, against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators went with Carter Hutton in net while the Hawks had Corey Crawford between the pipes.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring on the first shot of the game as Johnny Oduya blasted a slapshot between the pads of Hutton at 1:49 of the first period.

Certainly not the way you want to start a game against a high powered team like the Blackhawks.

The Predators would answer at 11:17 of the first period as Shea Weber unleashed a bomb from inside the blue line that beat Crawford over the shoulder.

Both teams would make those scores stand up for the remainder of regulation. it was not for lack of effort by the Blackhawks, however, as they attacked all night and kept the Predators on their heels. The Hawks peppered Hutton with shots and had numerous quality scoring chances. Hutton had to make some excellent saves to keep the Hawks off the board.

In the overtime, the Predators had a power play, but Craig Smith tried a blind back pass to Roman Josi that was picked off by Jonathan Toews. Toews broke in alone on Hutton, who made the initial stop but Toews was able to gather the rebound and slide it into the net for the game winner.

After not giving up a shorthanded goal all last season, the Predators were victimized by this turnover and goal and it cost them a point.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton got his first start of the season and was scored on with the first shot he faced. Johnny Oduya blew an unscreened shot through the legs of Hutton. Game speed must be different than practice speed. That said, Hutton was under siege all night and made some great saves to keep the Predators in the game.

  • The first period saw the Predators revert to last season's form as the Blackhawks totally dominated possession and shots on goal. The Blackhawks out shot the Predators 11-3, and the Predators were extremely fortunate to escape with the game tied. For the game, the Hawks out shot the Predators 34-17 in regulation and 3-1 in the overtime period.

  • Anton Volchenkov continues to deliver big and timely hits and is a strong physical presence for the Predators. he absolutely blew up Brandon Saad at the blue line in the first period.

  • The Blackhawks speed created problems all night for the Predators, resulting in them taking too many penalties, five in all. Playing a talented team like the Hawks a man down is not a formula for winning a critical divisional contest.

  • The Predators finally got their legs going in the third period and created some good scoring chances, most notably a shot by Craig Smith at a wide open top half of the net, but he was not able to lift the puck over the pad of Crawford. That is a shot that Smith has to bury.

  • Frankly, the Predators were lucky to steal appoint in this contest. Whether it was fatigue from playing the night before (I hope this was it) or that the Hawks clearly have a superior talent advantage (in reality), the Predators could not find an offensive rhythm and were backed into their zone most of the night. The Hawks did a good job of disrupting the Predators breakouts and shutting them down in the offensive zone. Admittedly, this team does not have the talent of the Hawks, but this team has to have a better effort from the forwards to create scoring chances if they want to compete in the division.

  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 28:21.
As badly outplayed as the Predators were tonight, they still managed to pick up a point and have not lost in regulation this season. This team is going to have to scrap and fight for every point.

So far, they have shown they will do that.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Toews

2. Carter Hutton

3. Shea Weber

Friday, October 17, 2014

Predators Pass Their First Road Test, Ground the Jets 2-0

The Nashville Predators ventured to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in the Predators first road game of the season. This first road test for the Predators would come against a divisional foe in front of their rabid fans, and it would be a good indication of how this team is going to perform in a hostile environment.

They passed this test with flying colors.

Pekka Rinne picked up his first shut out of the season with a 31 save effort, and the Predators got goals from Mike Ribeiro, his second of the season, and James Neal, his first, to seal the win.

Ribeiro re-directed a slap shot from Seth Jones past Ondrej Pavelec at 16:20 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators added to their lead as Filip Forsberg controlled the puck in the corner in traffic and found James Neal in the slot. Neal's quick wrist shot bounced over the shoulder of Pavelec to make it 2-0 at 7:31 of the third period.

Rinne had a strong game and thwarted some very good scoring chances by the Jets to maintain the shutout. This was Rinne's this win in four outings this season.

Some observations:

  • Viktor Stalberg saw his first action of the season after being injured during training camp. he played on a line with Derek Roy and Craig Smith and moved well and had some scoring chances.

  • I continue to like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He is a fierce hitter, plays a sound positional game, and showed some good wheels to speed down the ice and negate an icing in the second period.

  • Pekka Rinne had to make some exceptional saves when the Predators were on the power play. the Predators gave up some short handed chances- okay, way too many short handed chances- and Rinne had to come up with some big stops.

  • Filip Forsberg has shown me that he belongs on the top line. He is strong on the puck, sees the ice well, and has great hockey sense. He is fast becoming a very good playmaker, and in the third period almost single handedly created a great scoring chance. He later gathered an assist on James Neal's goal with strong work in the corner.

  • Ryan Ellis took a vicious hit from Bryan Little that was borderline boarding midway of the third period. Although he remained on the bench, he did not return to the game.
The first road test was passed, but now it gets tougher as the Predators travel to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks Saturday night.

Continue to bring this kind of effort and this will be a test they can pass.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. James Neal

It's Official! NHL Annouces Nashville to Host 2016 All Star Game

The NHL and the Nashville Predators made official what has been known for a few days- that Nashville will be the host city for the 2016 All Star game. Commissioner Gary Bettman was in town to make the official announcement at a press conference at the Bridgestone Arena.

Here are some pictures from the event:

George Plaster and Terry Crisp served as emcees for the event. On Stage are (from left to right) Predators President Jeff Cogen, NHL Governor and Chairman of the ownership group Tom Cigarran, Bridgestone North America CEO Gary Garfield, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Commissioner Bettman makes the official announcement awarding the All Star game to Nashville.
The Predators organization honored three long time fans and supporters of the organization, presenting them with sweaters that has "All Star" on the name plate and the number 16.
Dignitaries show off Predator sweaters that say "NHL All Star Weekend"
Some notable quotes from today's event:
"We are no longer struggling. This franchise will be in this city forever."
-Tom Cigarran
"This is a huge win for Nashville, and it is golden opportunity for our city. We look forward to welcoming the NHL to our Southern hospitality."
-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
"Let me go ahead and deal with the inevitable question 'When are we going to get a Winter Classic?' Let's take them one at a time."
-Commissioner Gary Bettman
"That standing ovation you got is a dress rehearsal for when you hand that big silver cup to us."
-Predators President Jeff Cogen, to Commissioner Gary Bettman 
The All Star game coming to Nashville is a testimony to the strength of this franchise and the growth of this area as a hockey market. It also speaks well of Nashville as a city and the ability to accommodate an event of this magnitude.
Many groups besides the Predators and the NHL had to come together to make this happen. Bridgestone, the Nashville Sports Council, and the Nashville Sports Authority to name a few were integral in their cooperation and support. And it goes without saying that this event could not happen without the support of the Mayor and the Nashville City Council.
All are to be commended for their efforts.
Those efforts will now showcase Nashville to the NHL and the sports world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Predators Fall to the Flames 3-2 In A Shootout

The Nashville Predators got out-Predatored at Bridgestone Arena, dropping a 3-2 decision in a shootout to the Calgary Flames.

Joe Colborne scored the lone goal in the shootout for the Flames to secure the win.

Throughout the night, the Predators lost puck battles and for the most got out skated and out worked by the Flames. The Flames did a great job of limiting the Predators breakouts, clogging the neutral zone and making entries difficult. As a result, the Predators offense never really got in sync and struggled to find consistency.

The Predators were out shot 28-21, the first time they have been out shot this season.

Filip Forsberg staked the Predators to a 1-0 lead at 8:46 of the first period with his first goal of the season. Forsberg took a pass from Derek Roy and  ripped a shot past Flames netminder Kari Ramo from the face off circle.

The Flames answered with a goal by T.J. Brodie. They got a break when Anton volchenkov went dow to block the shot and it hit his stick and ramped over the Shoulder of Pekka Rinne at 10:01 of the first.

Calgary took a 2-1 lead at 5:19 of the second period off a goal from Mark Giordano on the power play.

The Predators would answer with Mike Ribeiro getting his first goal as a Predators. He gathered in a rebound of a Craig Smith shot that Ramo could not control that slid to the off side of the net, and he was able to bang it in at 15:10 of the second period.

A scoreless third period and overtime led to the shootout. The Predators sent Derek Roy, James Neal, and Olli Jokinen out in the shootout and Ramo was able to stop them all. Rinne gave up a goal to Colborne and stopped Jiri Hudler.

Some observations:

  • Rinne made some great saves through the course of the game and got some bad luck on the deflection off Volchenkov's stick. the flames did a good job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone and keeping pressure on the Predators, and rinne bailed out the defense on more than a few occasions.
  • As good as Rinne was, Ramo was outstanding. He made some very good saves, including off a re-direct from Craig Smith in the third period.

  • The Predators had a difficult time handling the aggressive forecheck of the Flames, which disrupted their offensive flow all night. The flames attacked the puck in all zones and the Predators struggled to handle the pressure.

  • Colin Wilson, who has generally been invisible so far this season, was moved up to the wing on the line with James Neal and Mike Ribeiro in the middle of the second period. I liked the way that line looked with Wilson on it. May this is what it takes to get Wilson's game jump started. He used his speed well to compliment his line mates.

  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 30:53.

  • The Predators were 0-2 on the power play.

  • Craig Smith was +2 and had 2 assists on the night.
The Predators struggled tonight, but they can learn from this game and hopefully improve, especially when it comes to handling the aggressive pressure and the intensity of their opponent.

They get their chance Friday night in Winnipeg against a divisional foe.

My three stars:

1. Kari Ramo

2. Mark Giordano

3. Craig Smith

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Predators Pound the Stars 4-1


That is probably the best way to describe the Predators and their style of play. That relentless effort paid off in a 4-1 victory over division rival Dallas in front of a sell out crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators are not flashy. But they just keep coming for 60 minutes, and that effort paid off in another win.

Once again, the Predators fell behind 1-0 off a goal from Antoine Roussel, a deflection that got past Pekka Rinne at 7:14 of the first period.

The Predators responded late in the second period as Shea Weber wristed a shot from the blue line that eluded Stars netminder Anders Lindback to tie the game at 19:19 of the second the second period.

As in the first game, the third period belonged to the Predators as they tallied three goals. Paul Gaustad broke  the tie at 8:33 of the third with his first goal of the season off an assist from Taylor Beck. Eric Nystrom stretched the lead to 3-1 on a backhand shot at 9:54 . Roman Josi ended the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:57.

Some observations:

  • Paul Gaustad has been playing lights out. He had a goal, an assist, and fought Vernon Fiddler for a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight. In two games, Gaustad has a goal, 3 assists, was a +3, and has arguably been the Predators best center.

  • Shea Weber recorded his second goal in as many games, had an assist, and was a +4 on the night. Weber delivered a huge hit and was a force all game. I especially like how Weber has joined the rush on occasion and is more active in the offensive zone. Weber has shown leadership and an offensive flair early in this season.

  • Once again, the Predators out shot their opponent by a wide margin. The Predators out shot the Stars 33-18.

  • Rinne was excellent tonight, stopping 17 of 18 Dallas shots. He moved well and did a good job of tracking the puck. He got a lot of help from the Predators defense that limited the scoring chances for the Stars.

  • The fans got on Jason Spezza all night. Spezza turned down a trade to the Predators in the off season, opting for the Stars. Spezza was limited to one shot on the night and was a non-factor.

  • I really like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He delivers big and timely hits, is positionally sound, and is responsible in the defensive zone. Volchenkov may prove to be the best off season signing by the Predators.

  • I am not sold on the line combo of Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, and Gabriel Bourque. This line was a -3 on the night and combined for 7 shot, 4 by Neal. I think that Neal needs a more dynamic center, and although it is only two games from which to draw a conclusion, I am not sure that Ribeiro is the answer.

  • Roman Josi lead the Predators with 23:37 TOI. Shea Weber lead the team with 5 blocked shots.
The Predators are certainly not flashy, but they have shown they can move the puck, gain the zone, and get quality scoring chances. This effort, if consistently applied through the season, will be a formula for success.

It's a long season, but the start has been good.

Now it's time to build on it.

My three stars:

1. Paul Gaustad

2. Shea Weber

3. Eric Nystrom

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Have you heard of "civil asset forfeitures"?

Since the events of 9/11, local and state police departments have stepped up highway interdictions and other police actions designed to spot potential terrorists, drug dealers, and money launderers. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security has spent millions of dollars training local and state police to spot potential targets.

In fact, this mandate has created a cottage industry of private firms that train police departments on the techniques of highway interdiction . One of those firms, Desert Snow, has created a program used by many police departments called Black Asphalt Electronic Networking and Notification Systems that allows police departments across the country to share detailed information such as social security numbers, addresses, and identifying tattoos of drivers, both criminal and innocent.

And while on the surface, that effort may seem worthwhile, it has spawned an aggressive form of policing that has resulted in the seizure of billions of dollars from citizens that have not been charged with a crime.

In fact, these interdiction programs can (and many are) be used aggressively to seize the assets of innocent citizens.

Think I am exaggerating?

Deputy Ron Hain, a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, said, "all of our home towns are sitting on a tax liberating gold mine." He calls for turning our police forces into modern day "Robin Hoods".


Civil asset forfeiture is a powerful program that allows the government to take cash and property without pressing criminal charges against an individual. The individual then has to prove that the assets seized were acquired legally.

If you think this program will be used circumspectly, think again. The Washington Post examined Justice Department records and found:

  • There have been 61,998 asset seizures since 9/11 and the total taken is over $2.5 billion. More than 50% of the seizures were for less than $8,800.

  • Because of the cost of challenging these seizures in court, only 10,291 were challenged in court. When they were, the government returned 42% of the assets seized. The process on average took over a year to resolve, and in each case, the owners of the assets were required to sign an agreement that they would not sue the police department.

  • Although there is a federal ban on using seized assets to fund annual operating budgets, 298 police departments and 210 special task forces use these proceeds to support their annual operations, according to Justice Department statistics.

Now there is no doubt that we live in much more dangerous times than we did before 9/11; and there is without question that our police officers have a dangerous and tough job. I am thankful that we have dedicated men and women that will put their life on the line for us.

But the tension between security and civil liberty is probably higher now than it has been in our lifetime. The desire to be secure does not mean we as free citizens have to give up our liberties. Yet the creep of federal intrusion in all areas of our lives is growing, and the civil asset forfeiture program is one of the more egregious examples of the loss of our freedoms.

As citizens, we cannot sit idly by and allow these kinds of actions to continue. We must push back and demand accountability from law enforcement and from our elected leaders to preserve our freedom and our liberty.

"Power must always be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous."

                                                                   William Proxmire

And that, my friends, is my view.

Know your rights: During traffic stops on the nation’s highways, the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protects motorists “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The law also gives police the power to investigate and act on their suspicions.
1. Police have a long-established authority to stop motorists for traffic infractions. They can use traffic violations as a pretext for a deeper inquiry as long as the stop is based on an identifiable infraction.
2. An officer may detain a driver only as long as it takes to deal with the reason for the stop. After that, police have the authority to request further conversation. A motorist has the right to decline and ask whether the stop is concluded. If so, the motorist can leave.
3. The officer also has the authority to briefly detain and question a person as long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion is based on specific and articulable facts but falls short of the legal standard for making an arrest.
4. A traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion alone do not give police authority to search a vehicle or a closed container, such as luggage. Police may ask for permission to search; drivers may decline. Police do not have to tell drivers that they have a right to refuse.
5. An officer may expand a roadside investigation if the driver’s responses and other circumstances justify a belief that it is more likely than not that criminal activity is occurring. Under this standard, known as probable cause, an officer can make an arrest or search a vehicle without permission. An alert by a drug-sniffing dog can provide probable cause, as can the smell of marijuana.
6. Police can seize cash that they find if they have probable cause to suspect that it is related to criminal activity. The seizure happens through a civil action known as asset forfeiture. Police do not need to charge a person with a crime. The burden of proof is then on the driver to show that the cash is not related to a crime by a legal standard known as preponderance of the evidence.
Sources: Jon Norris, criminal defense attorney; David A. Harris, University of Pittsburgh law professor; Scott Bullock, civil liberties lawyer, Institute for Justice; Department of Homeland Security.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Predators Open the Season With a Win Over Ottawa

The Nashville Predators opened the season and the Peter Laviolette era with a come from behind 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in front of a sellout crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The arrival of Laviolette promised a focus on offense for the Predators. through two periods, it looked like more of the same as the Predators could not solve Sens netminder Craig Anderson and trailed 1-0.

That changed in the third period, as the Predators erupted for three goals and held off a late flurry by the Senators to capture the first game of the season.

This version of the Predators will certainly shoot the puck as they out shot the Senators 37-20 and constantly peppered Anderson with shots.

The Senators had a 1-0 lead going into the third period on an even strength goal by Kyle Turris, but the Predators would have a power play to open the third period and needed something to get momentum on their side.

That would come as from fillip Forsberg, as he found Craig Smith with a pass at the side of the net and smith tapped the puck past Anderson to tie the game at 1:36 of the third period.

The Predators would take a 2-1 lead at 8:53 of the third on a nifty drive to the net and wrap around goal by Shea Weber. Weber showed he could handle the puck as he drove around the net and deftly lifted the puck over a sprawling Anderson.

The Predators extended their lead to 3-1 as Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom broke in on a 2 on 0 rush. Gaustad put a nice pass on the stick of Nystrom and he buried the shot at 10:20 of the third.

That goal proved to be the game winner as the Sens made it 3-2 on a power play goal by Alex Chiasson  at 13:48 of the third.

Pekka Rinne and the defense held off the Senators late push and captured the win.

Some observations:

  • Holy Shnikey, does Filip Forsberg have some sweet hands! The kid can stick handle in a phone booth and was very good on defense, picking the pocket of several of the Senators. He has great vision that allows him to make good passes, and he is calm with the puck. He looks stronger, battles well, and is dangerous in the offensive zone. Forsberg had two assists tonight.

  • This iteration of the Predators is certainly not afraid to shoot the puck. And that is a welcome change that will pay dividends this season. While Anderson had to make some routine saves, he was challenged in every period by the Predators and that consistent push finally broke through in the third period. This team is not the most talented team in the NHL, but this type of effort will produce wins.

  • Rinne was solid, but not spectacular. The goal by Turris was just blown past him and it is one that he has to stop. that said, he made some very good saves, especially late in the game to preserve the win.

  • The Predators honored David Legwand with a tribute video in the second period.

  • But I guess old habits die hard. Legwand was called for a penalty in second period for tripping, and as he took his skate of shame to the penalty box, he skated to the home penalty box and tried to enter the door. he was waved to the visiting team penalty box by the off ice official.

  •  Paul Gaustad picked up two assists and was 14 of 17 in the face off circle.

  • Mike Ribeiro centered the first line with James Neal and Gabriel Bourque on the wings. The chemistry between Ribeiro and Neal was evident, but that line still needs to gel. Ribeiro took 23 faceoffs and won 9, and that is going to have to improve.

  • This was Laviolette's 390th win behind the bench.

  • Roman Josi led the Predators in ice time, with 27:59.
All in all, this was a solid effort by the Predators. This team is a work in progress, but I like the energy of the youngsters and the leadership of the veterans.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Fillip Forsberg

3. Paul Gaustad

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Predator Fans Meet the Team

The annual Meet the Predators event was held at Bridgestone Arena and fans had an opportunity to interact with the team, coaches, and broadcasters. Hundreds of season ticket holders took pictures, got autographs, and played games with members of the team.

Here are some photos from the event.

Fans lined up for autographs
James Neal, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen take a picture from the penalty box on the concourse.
Shea Weber and Coach Phil Housley sign autographs
Calle Jarnkrok plays corn hole with a young fan

Ryan Ellis, Gabriel Bourque, and Filip Forsberg take a picture with the fans

Pekka Rinne, Paul Gaustad, Matt Cullen, and assistant coach Kevin McCarthy sign autographs 

Mike Fisher and Taylor Beck await the fans

Seth Jones, Craig Smith (looking none the worse for wear after a fight at practice with Roman Josi), and Mike Ribiero meet the fans

Head Coach Peter Laviolette signs autographs

Victor Bartley plays air hockey with a young fan

Mattias Ekholm, Derek Roy, and Viktor Stalberg get ready to take a picture with a fan

The Predators television and radio team was there to take pictures with fans, here with big time fan Travis Ruffin

Even injured, Gnash was there to entertain the fans

The new pro shop will be ready for opening night. Merchadise is being unpacked and stocked on the shelves, and this new venue will be fantastic
The Meet the Team event is a great event, giving the fans the opportunity to interact with the players in a relaxed setting. Thanks to the players for their approachability and time with those in attendance, and for the organization for providing this opportunity.

Friday, October 3, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

When we talk about the financial condition of our country, we often focus on our national debt. Currently, it is north of $17 trillion dollars. Our annual deficits- what we spend as a country compared to what we collect in tax revenues- is running roughly $1 trillion a year.

To finance this debt, the federal government sells Treasury bonds and bills to investors, which include individuals, institutions, and foreign buyers, notably foreign governments.

Last year, $7.5 trillion in Treasuries came due, meaning the federal government had to return the principal and the accrued interest to those investors. By comparison, $4.8 trillion in Treasuries came due in 2008.

The amount that matured in 2013 was the highest amount in the history of our nation.

Now one may ask why the rapid and significant increase in debt that is maturing, and the answer is that this is a strategic decision made by officials in the Treasury Department.

With the Federal Reserve forcing interest rates down to zero, it was decided by those officials that when longer term Treasury bonds that carry a higher interest rate matured, they could be replaced with shorter term bonds that carry a much lower interest rate.

And over the past few years, that strategy has worked well, ,saving the Federal government billions of dollars in interest payments.

But what happens if investors decide they no longer want to loan the U.S. government money at these incredibly low interest rates?

If the Federal government can no longer borrow at these ultra low interest rates, life in this country will change radically, and it will not be good.

As interest rates rise- and they will- more of our nation's annual budget will be used to make interest payments. And the question that worries everyone in Washington is can we afford to make those payments?

I would submit that we cannot.


Because we have created a dependency economy.

Consider that roughly 70% of our annual spending goes to some form of social spending such as welfare, WIC, EBT cards, Social Security, and other programs. Currently, 49% of households in America receive some form of government benefit. That is approximately 128 million people, according to a study by Patrick Tyrrell and William Beach. They found in their study that federal spending on social programs is growing 6 times faster than the rate of population growth in this country.

It would seem that the main function of our government today is to take money from one group of people and give it to another.

And it is going to get worse.

Consider the following:

  • As Baby Boomers continue to retire, the cost of social programs is going to increase exponentially.

  • There are currently 70 million people enrolled in Medicaid, the health program for those in poverty. The full impact of Obamacare will be to add another 16 million.

  • When Medicaid, the healthcare system for those over the age of 65, was first established, it was estimated that it would cost the government around $12 billion per year by 1990. We spent $100 billion on the program in 1990 and over $600 billion last year. Medicare currently has 51 million enrollees, and it is projected to increase to 70.2 million by 2035.

  • Based on the growth of the Medicare program and the average annual expenditure per participant, Medicare has an unfunded liability of $38 TRILLION dollars over the next 75 years.

  • In 1945, there were 42 workers for every beneficiary that was receiving Social Security. today, that number is 2.5. There are currently 63 million Americans receiving social Security benefits. That number is projected to grow to 91 million by 2035. Based on actuarial projections, Social Security is facing a shortfall of $134 TRILION dollars over the next 75 years.

  • Looking at all the social programs in place today and the promises our government has made to pay future beneficiaries, our unfunded liabilities are projected to be $222 TRILLION dollars.

When looking at our current and future obligations, one can see that if interest rates rise and we have to pay more to service our massive debt those social programs are going to get pinched. And that is going to strain the social fabric of our nation.

We know as taxpayers are going to be asked to pay even more to support the government's largesse if nothing changes.

And it is politically expedient not to change any of these programs.

Politicians in Washington have prostituted themselves by expanding these social programs in order to buy votes and remain in power. The lack of leadership by our elected leaders has set the stage for economic disaster.

It is past time that we demand that our elected leaders begin meaningful discussions on reforming our bloated entitlement system. Beyond that, we must demand that Washington stop impeding the creation of high quality jobs and create an environment where new companies can get started and existing ones do not face onerous burdens to expand.

This is the only real way to get out of this mess.

Otherwise, our country faces an economic disaster of epic proportions.

And that, my friends, is my view.