Friday, January 30, 2015

Avalanche Shut Down the Predators 3-0

The Colorado Avalanche used a stifling defense to shut down the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center to capture their first win this season against the visitors.

The Avs used a first period goal from Maxim Talbot, a third period goal from Jerome Iginla, and a late empty net goal from Gabriel Landeskog to secure a 3-0 victory.

Marek Mazanec got the start for the Predators in net and played a solid game. Semyon Varlamov, his counterpart in goal for Colorado was better. Varlamov stopped all 28 shots he faced.

The Predators offense created some chances during the game but looked a bit out of sync after a tough game the previous night in St. Louis. The avalanche defense totally frustrated the Predators offensive effort, not allowing clean entries into the offensive zone. When they did create some scoring chances, Varlamov shut down the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Marek Mazanec got his first start since his recall since Carter Hutton played last night in St. Louis. Mazanec looked good in net- confident and moved well and did a good job of tracking the puck. He made several quality saves during the course of the game.
  • Olli Jokinen was a healthy scratch and Taylor Beck returned to the lineup.
  • The Avs have become a trapping team under Coach Patrick Roy, and the Preds struggled to handle the trap during stretches of the game. That is the style of hockey the Avalanche have to play to try to claw back into contention, and this is a good test for the Predators in handling this style of play because this is what they will see in the playoffs.
  • The Predators were without Mike Ribeiro for the majority of the third period as he picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct penalty. Must have said something really bad to referee Wes MacCauly.
  • With the absence of Ribeiro, Colin Wilson moved up to center the top line.
  • The Predators had a difficult time establishing a consistent offensive flow. Credit the Avs for their defense, which choked off a lot of the Predators offensive effort. When the Predators got some scoring chances, they could not solve Varlamov.
  • This was just the second time this season that the Predators have lost back to back games, and it was just their 11th regulation loss this season.
Not a fun game for the Predators. Not much offensive consistency or pop.

We all know that the month after the All Star game is going to be a test for the Predators. They will play 15 games in 28 days in February and have several back to backs.

Now is the time for the team to dig down and elevate their play. This nest four weeks will go a long way to determining where the Preds wind up in the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Semyon Varlamov

2. Jerome Iginla

3. Marek Mazanec

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Predators Pick Up A Point, Fall In SO to the Blues

The Nashville Predators met the St. Louis Blues at Scott Trade Center for their last regular season meeting of the season.

It was a physical affair that took a shootout to decide the winner, which the Blues won 2-1 to capture a 5-4 win.

The Predators jumped out to a 2-0 lead off a power play goal by Mike Fisher and an even strength goal from Filip Forsberg as the Predators challenged Blues netminder Brian Elliott early in the contest.

The Blues exploded for three goals in the second period as Jaden Schwartz, T.J. Oshie, and Steve Ott tallied, the last 2 goals coming just 26 seconds apart.

Mike Fisher tied the game at 3 with a shorthanded goal in the second period.

Ryan Reaves gave the Blues a 4-3 lead late in the second period with a blast that eluded Carter Hutton.

James Neal tied the game late in the third period with a quick shot from the slot.

The overtime was scoreless and the game would be decided in a shootout.

In the shootout, T.J. Oshie  and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Blues while Roman Josi was the only scorer for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Mike Fisher's goal in the first period was his 500th career point. Most of those points have come from his gritty play in the hard areas, and tonight's goal was no different. A shot from the point from Roman Josi deflected off his shoulder, off the end board, and off Elliott's back into the goal. Every team needs a player that can get those gritty, greasy goals, and Fisher fills that role well for the Predators.
  • We have seen Filip Forsberg score some amazing goals this season. One aspect of his game that is often overlooked is his fearlessness in going to the front of the net. His goal in the second period was, in my opinion, one of his best of the season. He was in the hard area in front of the net, gathered the puck in traffic, and had the hands to flip the puck over a sprawling Elliott. That was a quality goal from a high traffic area with lots of bodies around him, and that is an underrated aspect of his game. This was Forsberg's team leading 17th goal.
  • The Predators have two shorthanded goals this season. Both have come against the Blues. Fisher collected the Predators second shortie of the season off a great job of forechecking by Calle Jarnkrok.
  • Carter Hutton made some big saves, some really good saves, and I really can't fault him for the first three Blues goals. But as happens too often, he gave up a goal on an unscreened shot to Ryan Reaves for the Blues 4th goal. These are the kind of shots that have plagued Hutton in almost every game he has played, and frankly, these are the kinds of shots that an NHL netminder has too stop. All the time. Hutton's biggest problem is his inconsistency in making those types of saves.
  • In the four previous contests with the Blues, the Predators took 10 penalties. Tonight, they were uncharacteristically undisciplined and took 6 penalties. The penalty kill did a great job against the League's number one power play unit, killing all 6 man advantage attempts by the Blues.
  • Every game this season between the Predators and the Blues was decided by one goal. The Predators captured the season series 3-2.
  • With the point tonight, the Predators have 68 points. The Blues have 64 points, and the Blackhawks have 62.
This was a tough, hard hitting contest, and the Predators played a solid road game. Some defensive breakdowns and a bad goal cost them the win. Yet the team did manage to pick up a point in this critical divisional game.

It doesn't get any easier as the Predators travel to Colorado for a matchup against the Avalanche tomorrow night.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. T.J. Oshie

3. Roman Josi

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Predators OT Win Over the Avalanche Continues Torrid Play On Home Ice

The Nashville Predators returned from the All Star Break to take on the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena.

A home game for the Predators is almost a certain win this season, and although it took overtime, the Predators prevailed 4-3 to run their home record to 19-2-1.

Craig Smith scored on a breakaway at 2:46 of the extra period to give the Predators the win. Smith took a lead pass from Mike Ribeiro and beat Semyon Varlamov stick side for the game winner.

A slow first period for the Predators saw them fall behind 1-0 on a point shot from Cody McLeod past a screened Carter Hutton..

The second period was when the Predators awoke. They tied the game on a blast from Roman Josi from the top of the face off circle.

Colin Wilson gave the Predators a 2-1 lead on the power play as he gathered a shot off the end boards and beat Varlamov from a sharp angle.

Jerome Iginla beat Hutton through traffic to tie the game at 2 at 16:05 of the second period.

Just 32 seconds into the third period, Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 3-2 lead when Varlamov paddled his shot off to the side of the net. Forsberg didn't give up on the play and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Varly for the goal.

The Avalanche pulled Varlamov with 2:16 remaining in the game for the extra attacker. Nick Holden was able to get a rebound and lifted a shot over the glove of Hutton to tie the game with 26 seconds remaining.

Hutton set up Smith's OT heroics by stopping a Zach Redmond shot and kicking the rebound to Ribeiro, who hit Smith breaking down the middle of the ice for the winning goal.

Some observations:

  • After a slow and rusty first period, the Predators kicked it up a notch and took it to the Avalanche. The Predators had an 8-5 shot advantage after the first period; 22-14 after the second period; and 37-21 after the third period. The Predators held the Avs to single digit shot totals in each period and held the Avs without a shot for over 10 minutes in the third period. It is encouraging to see the team get stronger as the game goes along.
  • Winning close games is critical in this league. The Predators are 20-4-5 in one goal games this season.
  • Roman Josi continues to elevate his game. He has become a more consistent offensive threat with a deceptively good shot. His ability to handle the puck is exceptional. But Josi is very solid defensively and plays very good positional hockey in the defensive zone. he had 5 blocked shots tonight to bring his season total to a team leading 121.
  • Filip Forsberg's goal was a beauty, following his shot and scoring from a tough angle for a team leading 16th goal. We all marvel at his ability to handle the puck and his nose for the net, but tonight he showed a gritty side to his game. He was in front of the net battling and screening Varlamov on Josi's goal, and in the third period sacrificed his body (and his stick, which was shattered into two pieces) to block a shot when the Avs were pressing in the offensive zone.
  • The Predators power play was 1 for 2 on the night. They were successful on their second attempt by getting the puck to the net. Their first power play was too cute, looking for the perfect pass instead of taking the shot.
  • I really liked the play of the line of Matt Cullen, Gabriel Bourque, and Calle Jarnkrok. They played with good jump and used their speed to create problems for the Avalanche. If this line can start to pot some goals, it will boost their confidence and obviously help the team.
  • Colin Wilson had a strong game. His goal on the power play was from a difficult angle and was a perfectly placed shot. He used his speed and strength to control the puck and create some chances in the offensive zone. His goal tonight was his 15th of the season.
  • Faceoffs continue to be a struggle for the Predators as they won 30 of 67 draws, a 45% winning percentage.
  • Shea Weber led the Predators with 27:21 TOI.
It wasn't the prettiest game for the Predators, yet it was a good win. They overcame a slow start and the push back from the Avalanche throughout the game.

The Predators have 67 points and a 5 point lead over the Blues and Blackhawks, who were both idle tonight.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. Nick Holden

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oil, Interest Rates, and the NHL

Global economies are in turmoil. Central banks around the world are printing currencies to try to jump start demand from consumers and spur economic activity. Those same central banks are trying to stimulate inflation while desperately fighting deflation that has been precipitated by falling oil prices. Surprisingly, some of those central banks, most recently the Bank of Canada, have cut interest rates to try to create more economic activity.

What do sluggish economies, falling oil prices and interest rates, and deflation have to do with our beloved hockey game?

A lot more than you would imagine.

And most of it is not good.

Let's start with some basics.

Deflation is simply a persistent decline in prices. Deflation can be caused by a decline in government, personal, or investment spending. A protracted period of deflation results in falling profits for businesses, which can lead to shrinking employment and income levels and business closures. Central banks can fight deflation by printing their currency (the Quantitative Easing programs are the current example) and lowering interest rates to stimulate economic activity and demand.

Printing currency and lowering interest rates dramatically (as most Central Banks have done) can devalue the local currency relative to other currencies.

When the Bank of Canada lowered their interest rate on overnight loans to Canadian banks, the effect was immediate and dramatic. The Canadian dollar fell against the U.S. dollar immediately. The Canadian dollar was worth .84 U.S. dollars the day before the rate cut. The day of the rate cut, the exchange rate fell to .80 to the U.S. dollar.

Part of the concern about deflation has been due to the precipitous fall in oil prices. On October 1, 2014, the price per barrel of crude oil was $90.73. It closed on January 22. 2015 at $46.31.

Now we all like paying less at the pump when we fill up, but the impact of these low oil prices is far reaching and negative.

The energy sector is an important component of most global economies. In Canada, it accounts for approximately 11% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The decline in oil prices is deflationary and will lead to lower capital investment and employment in that sector. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates that capital spending in the energy sector will decline 33% in 2015. The effect of lower energy prices (and consequently lower income to the energy industry) will cause GDP in Canada to decline to 1.5% in the first half of 2015, according to the Bank of Canada, and will shave .4% off annual GDP to 2.1%.

That forecast presumes that oil will rise back to $60 per barrel.

According to the Bank of Canada, the effect of lower oil prices will be "unambiguously negative" on the economy of Canada.

To be sure, a weaker currency can have some positive effects.“When our dollar falls, the cost of our inputs increases,” said Trevor Welch, president and general manager of Textile Manufacturing Co. Ltd., a Toronto-based producer of braided goods such as skate laces and cords for clothing such as hoodies.

“The upside is that when it comes time to sell our goods internationally, we are more competitive—at least in the U.S. market,” Mr. Welch said. That market accounts for 10% to 25% of the company’s sales, depending on the year, he estimates.

In general, though, a weaker currency, is negative for a local (national) economy.

So what does this mean for the game of hockey?

The sluggish Canadian economy and policy decisions have significantly weakened the Canadian dollar. At the start of the season, the Canadian dollar was trading at .90 Canadian dollars to the U.S. dollar. As mentioned, it is now at .80.

We all know that contracts for the Canadian hockey teams are paid in U. S. dollars. So a falling Canadian dollar means that more of the revenue that Canadian hockey teams generate have to be allocated to paying the players currently under contract.

This is important to the economic landscape of hockey since the Canadian teams make significant contributions to the revenue pool for revenue sharing purposes.

The most profitable hockey franchise is the Toronto Maple Leafs, showing operating income of $70.6 million according to Forbes. Their current salaries total $75,109,000.

With the decline of the Canadian dollar from the start of the season to the present, the Leafs now pay out an additional $7,510,900 from their operating revenues to effectively make up for the decline in the Canadian dollar on an annual basis (yes, I know I am using annual numbers and the decline in the Canadian dollar was not in effect for the full year, but the example illuminates the point).

Not quantifiable but equally important is the general decline in economic activity not only in Canada but the U.S. It will probably not have a significant impact in this season, but the longer this sluggishness persists, the more it  will affect sponsors (especially the small and mid size companies that support local teams) and individual ticket buyers.

A lengthy period of Canadian dollar weakness will ultimately have a negative effect on league revenues, which in term will impact the salary cap and each team as more dollars of operating revenue are used to pay salaries.

For hockey fans, our world revolves around the sheet of ice and our favorite team.

Unfortunately, the outside world and its weak economies are intruding on our world like a Zac Rinaldo hit.

And it's not pretty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Predators Start Strong, Can't Finish in OT Loss to the Canadiens

The Nashville Predators dominated the first 40 minutes of their game with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center.

Unfortunately, it is a 60 minute game, and in this case, an overtime period as well, as the Canadiens defeated the Predators 2-1 in overtime.

Mike Ribeiro redirected a Seth Jones shot from the blue line over the shoulder of Carey Price to give the Predators a 2-1 lead in the second period.

Alex Galchenyuk tied the game on the power play in the third period as he redirected a P.K.Subban shot from the point past Carter Hutton.

Tied at the end of regulation, the game headed to overtime, and in the extra period, a weak tripping call on Craig Smith gave the Habs a power play.

On the 4 on 3 man advantage, P.K. Subban scored on a blast from the face off circle for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • The Predators out shot the Canadiens 14-4 in the first period and looked like the...well, Predators. After a lifeless game against Detroit, one wondered what Predators team would show up tonight. The first period saw the Preds get pucks to the net and aggressively forecheck, disrupting any offensive flow of the home team.
  • The Predators did a great job of blocking shots and passes, frustrating the Canadiens offense. When you have a goalie that has struggled and may be lacking a bit in confidence, playing outstanding defense in front of him and keeping pucks from getting to the net are essential. The Predators blocked 19 shots tonight.
  • Now that those first two positive points have been made, here is the negative. The Predators didn't finish some glorious scoring chances. Part of that was the play of Carey Price. Part of it is just not finishing. The forwards worked hard to create those chances and they have to bury when them have the opportunity.
  • I really liked the play of Gabriel Bourque. He played with lots of jump and was strong in all zones. Maybe playing in his home province brought out another level of play. Bourque and his line mates, Calle Jarnkrok and Matt Cullen, played with speed and created some chances tonight.
  • Carter Hutton made some huge saves tonight. He wasn't tested often in the first 40 minutes, but he had to come up with a big save late in the second period and was challenged in the third  when the Canadiens started their push. Hutton played with confidence and moved well in net. He was screened on the game winning shot and didn't have much of a chance.
  • Carey Price is an excellent goalie. The Predators threw a ton of shots at the net and Price was equal to the challenge. He is similar to Pekka Rinne- big and very athletic and turned away some very good scoring chances by the Predators. 
  • The Predators out shot the Habs 37-27.
  • Shea Weber led the Predators in TOI with 27:34.
  • Seth Jones had a solid game, logging 23:31 in ice time and recording an assist on the Ribeiro goal. Jones started slowly this season but is starting to hit his stride, and that has to continue after the All Star break.
  • This is the first time this season that the Predators have dropped back to back games.
This was a disappointing loss for the Predators, a game that got away after dominating play for two periods.

Now is the time for some rest and come back ready for the push to the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Carey Price

2. P. K. Subban

3. Seth Jones

Monday, January 19, 2015

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

It's stating the obvious when I say our nation has a lot of economic problems. A ballooning deficit; a large swath of working age Americans without a job; and a gargantuan amount of debt are but a few.

But perhaps our most serious economic problem has to do with birth and death.

No, not of individuals, but of businesses.

As of the end of the year, the U.S. economy ranked 12th globally in terms of business start up activity. Countries such as Finland, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand, and even Italy all rank ahead of the United States in new business start ups.

For the first time in 35 years, business "deaths"- companies that close for good- outnumber the business "births"- companies that are starting up.

According the Census Bureau, 400,000 new businesses started up while 470,000 businesses closed in 2012, the last year for which data has been released.

So why is this the biggest economic problem that our nation must confront?

I will answer by asking a question.

Where are jobs created?

85% of all jobs in this country are created by small business, defined as those that employ 50 people or less.When small and medium size businesses are dying faster than  new ones are being created, jobs disappear.

Now if you look at the census data, you will find that there are 26 million businesses listed in the U.S.

But dig deeper, and you find that just over 20 million of those businesses don't actually do business. They have no sales, workers, or profits. Their business is still listed as an active enterprise only because they have not officially shut down.

Of the remaining approximately 6 million companies, 3.8 million have under 4 employees. they are the "mom and pop" shops across the country. There are 1 million companies with 5 to 9 people employed. There are 500,000 companies with 20-99 employees; 90,000 companies with 100-499 employees;and 18,000 companies that employ more than 500 people.

These approximately 6 million businesses employ 100 million Americans, and those employed Americans and their employers, especially the small to medium sized ones, provide the tax base for all of our spending.

Without the growth of companies and the jobs they bring, our tax base starts to shrink. There is less tax revenue for defense spending, social programs, and running the country. When new businesses are not being born, jobs- and tax revenue- declines.

Without a growing entrepreneurial economy, good, well paying jobs are not being created, which puts further strain on economic growth and on families.

Until we recognize the growth of our economy does not come from stifling bureaucracy, layers of government, and an onerous tax code, our country is going to continue to struggle to produce jobs that pay well. We are going to struggle to have new companies "born" that provide those jobs.

We must understand that our national security as well as our standard of living are dependent upon an environment that fosters the birth of new companies that will employ more Americans.

If we do not reverse course, we will continue to travel the road to economic calamity.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Predators Whipped by the Wings

The Nashville Predators were similar to a lot of fans of the Red Wings at the Joe.

They didn't show up.

The Nashville Predators, fresh off an emotional and hard fought victory the night before, traveled to Detroit to take on the Red Wings in a contest that featured former division rivals that were playing some good hockey.

On this night, only one team played some good hockey.

And it wasn't the Predators.

Carter Hutton allowed 3 goals on 4 shots before being pulled in favor of Marek Mazanec.

The Predators gave up a 2 on 1 goal to Gustav Nyquist; a strange bouncing deflection goal to Kyle Quincy; and a goal to Tomas Tatar to chase Hutton to the bench.

The Predators finally showed some life as Mattias Ekholm patiently waited for an opening and beat Mrazek from the slot to make it 3-1.

Whatever momentum the Predators got from that late first period goal was wiped out when Henrik Zetterberg scored from the goal line on the power play when Mazanec didn't seal off the post and the puck bounced off his shoulder and over the goal line.

Tatar scored on another power play with just under a minute to go in the second period to make it 5-1.

Mike Fisher tallied on the power play early in the third period to make it 5-2.

Some observations:

  • The Predators recalled Anthony Bitetto from Milwaukee. He saw his first NHL action and was paired with Mattias Ekholm.
  • I know that you are not going to win every game, but wow, the Predators were loose in the defensive zone and didn't look sharp in any zone.There were spurts of energy and good play but they were few and far between. The most disappointing aspect of this game was that the team just looked lifeless at times (most of the time) and had no push back. Not surprised there was an emotional letdown after the game last night and Barry Trotz returning to Nashville, but this team just had no spark tonight.
  • The first goal that Hutton gave up was a 2 on 1. The second was off a wild deflection and a bouncing puck. I will give him a pass on those two. He has to stop that Tatar shot. the goal that Mazanec gave up on the power play was just brutal. That shot should never go in.
  • Calle Jarnkrok faced the team that drafted him. Jarnkrok was acquired when David Legwand was traded to Detroit.
  • The penalty kill was atrocious, and tonight they continued the disturbing trend of giving up power play goals. The first goal from Zetterberg should never have happened but it did. The Predators PK entered the game killing just 80.6% of their opportunities, and this is an area that has to improve quickly.
  • Mattias Ekholm tallied his 5th goal of the season and his second in as many nights. Ekholm continues to impress with his play and has started to show some flashes of offensive punch. He is showing more confidence in all aspects of his game.
This game was an absolute stinker for the Predators. No excuses about an emotional game last night or being on the second half of a back to back.

It was just bad.

Sometimes that happens. None of us like it, but that is just the way it goes sometimes.

The team has an opportunity to get this bad taste out of their mouth on Tuesday in Montreal.

My three stars:

1. Tomas Tatar

2. Gustav Nyquist

3. Reilly Sheahan

Friday, January 16, 2015

Predators Come From Behind to Defeat the Capitals 4-3

The Nashville Predators faced the Washington Capitals at the Bridgestone Arena in a contest that featured two of the hottest teams in the NHL.

The Predators entered the tilt with an 8-0-2 record in their last 10 games, while the Capitals were 7-1-2. 

Two red hot teams going at it. Something- or some team- had to give.

It would be the Capitals.

This was the first of two meetings this season between the teams, and it marked the first visit to the Bridge by Barry Trotz as the Head Coach of an opponent of the Predators. Trotz was the Head Coach of the Predators since their inception through the end of last season.

The game was a back and forth physical affair that saw the Predators jump out to a 2-0 lead. Seth Jones beat Caps netminder Braden Holtby with a wrist shot to the glove side in the first period.

James Neal made it 2-0 early in the second period when Victor Bartley sent a shot toward the net from the boards. The puck deflected off Mike Fisher to James Neal, who was alone at the side of the net. Neal slammed home the puck into the open net for his 14th goal of the season.

The Capitals are a talented team, and they were not going away. Alex Ovechkin notched two goals in the second period to tie the game, and both goals came on incredible shots that were nearly identical. His first was a snipe from the right side that squeezed into the top corner short side. His second was from the same spot on the power play, and after 40 minutes, the game was tied at 2.

The Capitals took their first lead of the game in the third period when Marcus Johansson scored on the power play 2:38 into the third period. Johansson was able to muscle in close and no Predator moved him out of the crease, and he had three attempts before he was able to poke the puck past Carter Hutton to make it 3-2.

With the clock winding down and the Caps playing a physical style that was disrupting the flow of the Predators, things didn't look good.

This is a different Predator team, though, and they took over the last five minutes of the game.

With the Predators on the power play, Mattias Ekholm blasted a puck past Holtby to tie the game with 4:29 remaining.

James Neal stripped the puck from Matt Niskanen in the offensive zone and walked in on Holtby. His fake got Holtby to open up and Neal slid the puck between his pads for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • A very touching tribute to Barry Trotz by the team. Trotzy built the foundation for the success of the Predators, and he was instrumental in developing Nashville into a hockey market. The crowd responded with a 90 second standing ovation that was so loud it was difficult to hear the audio of the tribute. Barry Trotz is a good hockey coach and an even better person, and the sellout crowd showed their appreciation to a fine man.
  • With Ryan Ellis injured, Mattias Ekholm is seeing some time on the power play, and he is showing that he can perform very capably on that unit. He is calm handling the puck and has a heavy shot. That shot was on display with his goal on the powr play in the third. Holtby was unscreened but Matty Ek placed the shot perfectly and with tremendous velocity for the score. Ekholm is playing with confidence and taking on some bigger minutes with Ellis out of the line up and he is performing very capably.
  • Speaking of the power play, the Predators were 1 for 4 tonight, and I am certainly not a coach, but I don't understand the lack of a net front presence. The power play operates with five players moving (good) but usually  no one in front of the net (bad). Giving the opposing goalie a clean look at the shot doesn't seem like it is optimal. 
  • Carter Hutton played an outstanding game. I do not fault him for any of the three goals that he gave up. Two were absolutely perfect shots that were rockets from Ovechkin. the Johansson goal was certainly not his fault as Johansson had 4 whacks at the puck before he was able to get it past Huts. On that play, Anton Volchenkov failed to move Johansson out of the front of the net. When  your netminder makes 3 stops in close, you would hope he would get some help from the defenders in front of him. he did not and the result was a go ahead goal by the Caps forward. Hutton was solid, tracked the puck well, and made some very good saves. He faced 34 shots tonight, stopping 31.
  • Braden Holtby made some outstanding stops, including one in the third period on Colin Wilson who was wide open in the slot. Holtby's start tonight was his 21st consecutive start.
  • The Predators were excellent in the face off circle tonight, winning 45 of 68.
  • Winning games on your home ice is critical. The Predators are a league best 18-2-1 at the Bridge. Kudos to the fans for the energy they bring to the rink every game. It bolsters the Preds and is intimidating to the opponent.
  • The Predators are 30-9-4, and with the loss by Chicago tonight, have a 6 point lead (64 points vs. 58 points) over the Blackhawks. They have a 2 point lead over the Ducks with a game in hand.
The Predators have two road games remaining before the All Star break, tomorrow night in Detroit and Tuesday in Montreal.

The Capitals are talented, big, and physical. The Predators refused to relent when that talented team took the lead in the third and kept fighting for the win.

That effort will be necessary in these next two road games.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Alexander Ovechkin

3. Carter Hutton

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rinne to Miss 3-5 Weeks With Injury

The Nashville Predators announced that goaltender Pekka Rinne will miss three to five weeks, including the All Star game due to a sprained knee he suffered early in the third period of the Predators last game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Rinne was injured when Canucks forward Chris Higgins and Predators defenseman Anton Volchenkov slid into him and drove him into the end boards.

The Predators have three games remaining on their schedule before the team breaks for the all Star game. They are home Friday night against Washington, then travel to Detroit for a game on Saturday night and finish with a game at Montreal. After the All Star break, February is a busy month for the Predators with 15 games.

The Predators have recalled Marek Mazanec from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Mazanec played 25 games for the Predators last season.

Carter Hutton will take over the starting netminder duties for the Predators in the absence of Rinne.

Hutton came in and stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period of the game against the Canucks, a 5-1 Predators victory.

While you never want to see a player of Rinne's caliber out of the line up, this is a good time schedule wise. The Predators have the three games then the All Star break before a very busy February schedule. This gives Rinne time to rest and rehab while the Predators do not have a heavy workload. If the absence is on the short side (3 weeks), then Rinne will be back for most of the very busy February schedule. If it on the longer end (5 weeks), the Rinne will rejoin the team the third week in February with 7 games remaining in that month.

Here's hoping the injury isn't serious and Rinne can get back in the net quickly but fully healthy.

*photo from Chris Hanewinckel USA Today Sports

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Predators Vanquish Vancouver, Lose Rinne to Injury

The Nashville Predators demolished the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 at Bridgestone Arena.

That was not the story of the game, though. Smashville and all its fans held their collective breath as All-Star goaltender Pekka Riine was injured early in the third period.

Rinne was driven into the end boards after he came out to block a shot and was caught in the tangle of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Higgins at 2:55 of the third period.

Rinne did not look to be seriously injured and stretched a bit on the ice before leaving the game for Carter Hutton. Hutton stopped all 10 shots he faced.

The Predators used a strong first period and an overwhelming third period to capture the win.

Craig Smith opened the scoring with the Predators on the power play. he took a pass from Colin Wilson in the low slot and beat Canucks netminder Eddie Lack top shelf to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

Colin Wilson made it 2-0 with a snipe over the shoulder of lack on an absolutely well placed shot.

Vancouver owned the second period as the pushed the Predators back in their zone and were able to cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:47 of the second period as Alex Edler whipped a shot past Rinne. On the play, Rinne was under assault and made 4 saves on the Canucks attack before Edler got the puck past him.

After Rinne left the game, the Predators found another gear and swarmed the Canucks.

Filip Forsberg tallied his 15th goal of the season when his wrist shot hit Lack and trickled over the goal line.

Mike Fisher scored a sweet goal as James Neal fired a pass of the boards toward the net. Fisher was streaking down the slot and got his stick on the pass and shovled the puck past Lack.

Wilson recorded his second goal of the game on the power play at 17:39.

Some observations:

  • A big stick tap to Carter Hutton. He entered the game with the Predators clinging to a 2-1 lead and was tested early. He made some good saves and stopped all 10 shots he faced in the remainder of the period. Hutton looked confident in net and moved well, and hopefully this will be a big confidence builder for him.
  • James Neal returned to the line up after missing five games. He had a strong game playing on the second line and picked up 2 assists tonight.
  • Mike Ribeiro was outstanding tonight. He has such good vision on the ice and distributes the puck well. he picked up 3 assists in 19:11 of ice time.
  • Colin Wilson continues to play at an elite elite level. He had an assist and a goal tonight, and his goal was a thing of beauty. he placed a shot from the face off circle over the shoulder of Lack and inside the far post. Wilson is strong on the puck and has done a great job of driving puck possession for the team. He has taken the next step in his game by utilizing his ability to make plays in the offensive zone and his shot is excellent. Wilson has a 4 game point streak and has been integral to the Predators success this season. Consider this: Wilson had 5 points in his first 15 games this season. He has 25 points in his last 25 games. Don't underestimate the contribution of Wilson to this team's success and strong play of late.
  • Speaking of contributing to the success of the team, Mike Fisher has 14 points (8G-6A) in his last 15 games. having Fisher back in the line up has given the team a solid second line center that is strong in all zones and has contributed consistently to the offensive effort.
  • Rinne was the goalie of record, leaving the game with a 2-1 lead. His win tonight gives him a league leading 29 wins.
  • The Predators power play was 2-6 on the night. Craig Smith scored both power play goals. The man advantage unit showed much better movement without the puck and worked to open areas for good shots. This effort has to continue.
  • How about the home ice advantage? The Predators are 17-2-1 at Bridgestone Arena. 
A solid win by the Predators, one that saw them turn it on in the third period. When the game was in the balance, the Predators turned up the intensity and their level of play to capture the win.

Now we wait and see about the health of Pekka Rinne.

The collective fingers of Smashville are crossed.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Craig Smith

3. Mike Fisher

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Predators Slug Out a 3-1 Win Over the Wild

The Nashville Predators traveled to the frozen tundra of Minnesota to take on a desperate Wild team in a Central Division battle.

The contest was a sloppy affair with both teams turning over the puck and playing a generally inconsistent game.

Mike Fisher tallied in the first period off a nice assist from Colin Wilson beating Niklas Backstrom with a backhand shot. Charlie Coyle tied the game late in the first as he was left alone at the side of the net and was able to tap home a rebound past Pekka Rinne.

After a scoreless second period, the game ramped up in intensity in the third. Calle Jarnkrok drove the net and slammed home a rebound of a shot from Olli Jokinen. Colin Wilson backhanded a shot from the low slot past Backstrom.

The game got ugly when Matt Cooke crossed checked Shea Weber in the face with just over three minutes to go. Weber proceeded to pound Cooke into the ice after his cheap shot.

That wasn't the end of the fisticuffs as Nate Prosser drew the ire of Mike Fisher and Fisher unleashed some righteous fury on Prosser, leaving him addled after landing some serious right hands.

The rest of the game ended without incident and the Predators skated off with a 3-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Last season, the Predators struggled in close games, and rarely were able to come from behind to capture a win. How things have turned, as the Predators are 18-4-4 in one goal games.
  • Since 2010, the Predators are 10-3-3 against the Wild.
  • Taylor Beck, Matt Cullen, and Anton Volchenkov returned to the line up. Ryan Ellis, James Neal, and Eric Nystrom were out of the game due to injury. Mark Arcobello was a healthy scratch.
  • The play of Colin Wilson has been exceptional. He is battling in the hard areas for the puck and is dangerous in the offensive zone. He is using his speed, vision, and puck handling to create scoring chances for himself and those on his line. Good to see Wilson playing to his talent level. Wilson figured prominently in the outcome of this game with his play today.
  • The Wild have been struggling and there is some question about how long Head Coach Mike Yeo would remain with the team. As such, the Wild came out with an air of desperation and played with moments of intensity that the Predators looked like they had trouble matching. That the Predators kept grinding and attacking speaks well of the mindset of this team. This was not a pretty game by any stretch, but the Predators just would not relent and were rewarded for their efforts.
  • With the injury to Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm is being asked to play more minutes in all situations. Ekholm has responded well and is maturing into a solid blueliner for the Predators.
  • Calle Jarnkrok played some quality minutes in the contest. he is used on the PK and has solidified his position as the team's third line center. He is puck smart and uses his speed to doggedly forecheck and create some scoring chances in the offensive zone. His goal in the third period was the game winner.
  • Pekka Rinne had to make some very good saves. His save on Mikko Koivu in the third period was incredible. Rinne made 36 saves on 37 shots.
  • The Predators are the first team in the NHL to 60 points. They now sit 4 points ahead of the Blackhawks with a game in hand and 2 points in front of the Ducks with 2 games in hand.
  • One of the few games where the Predators have been badly out shot. the Wild had a 10 shot advantage, 37-27.
  • The Predators PK was superb, stopping all 5 man advantage opportunities for the Wild. Three consecutive Wild power plays in the second period yielded 2 shots.

After a slow start, the team responded and started to turn it on and build momentum throughout the game. The result is what happens when a team just refuses to relent and to cave in a hostile environment.

This is what championship caliber teams do.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Colin Wilson

3. Calle Jarnkrok

Friday, January 9, 2015

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

A new year is upon us and it is time to welcome a new dog for these posts. I thought this dog was appropriate for the blog as he expresses his suspicions over the status quo.

And that is a good mantra for all of us as we enter 2015.

Be wary.

A fragile economy, a news media that spins the news, and political parties that will tell us one thing while doing another requires that we must be constantly on our guard.

Now before any of you think I have slipped into the land of conspiracy theorists, let me just say that hasn't happened.

But as we embark upon a new year, we would all be wise to have a healthy dose of "prove it" when given news from the mainstream media or data from our government.

Take today's jobs numbers that were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While heralded as being "good", further examination reveals that the majority of the jobs added to the economy are in low wage service sectors. The jobs our economy is creating are not high quality jobs, yet we are thrilled to be creating more entry level jobs than high wage, high skilled jobs.

All of us have a responsibility to dig deeper and get to the truth. The mainstream media will not report it. The government will obfuscate it.

The responsibility is ours to get to the facts and then to make our own reasoned decisions.

I hope you will do this with this blog as well.

As this year unfolds, we will be looking at a lot of issues, some economic, some social, all controversial.

It's going to be a fun ride.

And I will not take your chocolate.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Weber's Two Goals Leads the Predators Past the Stars

On a frigid night in Nashville, the action inside the Bridgestone Arena was heated between the Predators and the Dallas Stars. The Predators were attempting to win their third straight game over their Central Division rivals while the Stars were looking to build on the momentum of 4 wins in their last 6 games.

The Predators prevailed 3-2 in overtime, with Shea Weber scoring just 17 seconds into the extra frame. The game winner was Weber's second goal of the night.

The game never should have gotten to overtime, as Filip Forsberg scored with just over three minutes to go in regulation. Craig Smith was tied up with Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen and prevented him from getting over to defend the shot. Referee Paul Devorsky was emphatic that Smith had been cross checked into Lehtonen and it was a good goal. However, the officials huddled and waved off the goal with no clear explanation given.

The Predators got on the board first as Shea Weber took a drop pass from Mike Ribeiro and blasted a shot from inside the blue line that went through Lehtonen to make it 1-0 (no, really, the shot looked like it went THROUGH Lehtonen).

The Stars tied it at 1 when Pekka Rinne failed to completely seal off the post and Jason Spezza fired a shot from a bad angle that went under Rinne's glove and into the net.

Making his first appearance in an NHL game, Miikka Salomaki took a long pass from Roman Josi an went in on a breakaway. Lehtonen stopped the first shot but Salomaki followed the rebound and lifted it over the pad of Lehtonen for his first NHL goal and a 2-1 Predators lead.

The Stars tied the game with 3 seconds left in the second when Trevor Daly pinched down from the blue line and no one on the Predators picked him up. He was alone at the side of the net and was able to put the puck into a nearly open net off a pass from Jamie Benn.

In the overtime, the Stars controlled the face off but turned it over in their zone. Colin Wilson got the puck across the ice to Shea Weber who let a wrist shot go that hit Lehtonen in the shoulder and flipped over and into the net for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • With the win tonight, the Predators are first in the NHL with 58 points. Not the Central Division, but the NH freakin L. The Ducks also have 58 points but have played 2 more games than the Predators. Honestly, I did not see this coming. No one did. This team is playing with confidence and with the mentality that they are never out of a game. They have overcome bad calls, tough opponents, and now a spate of injuries. They just keep coming and refuse to roll over. I like the way this team plays and I like the way they carry themselves on the ice. They are quietly confident and playing at a high level. The test for them will be to continue to do so in the second half of the season.
  • Speaking of those injuries, James Neal has now been placed on injured reserve. Eric Nystrom has also been added to IR. And tonight, Ryan Ellis left the game midway of the second period in obvious pain and did not return to the game. It looked as if he had an injury to his leg.
  • Taylor Beck and Matt Cullen have been skating and look to be closer to returning. No timetable on their return has been given, though.
  • With his assist on Weber's first goal, Roman Josi picked up his 100th NHL point. He later added an assist on Salomaki's goal. Josi is quietly becoming a defenseman that will have to be considered when discussing the top NHL blueliners.
  • This was the 11th consecutive game in which the Predators have scored 3 or more goals. It used to be that when the Predators were discussed by the national media, it was always the "offensively challenged" Predators. No more.
  • Miikka Salomaki had 10:49 of ice time, and even saw some action on the PK. He had 7 hits, 4 shots on goal, and one goal in his debut. He did not look out of place out there in his first NHL action. Good on you, young man.
  • The game was a tight checking contest with lots of hitting. The Stars spent a lot of time grabbing and tripping with no calls. Kudos to the Predators for pushing through a muck and grind contest.
  • The Predators were able to kill off all 3 power play chances by the Stars, and were very effective on the PK. The Predators power play...oh, the power play. 0-2 tonight and very few threats.
  • Shea Weber led the Predators in TOI with 26:39
  • Victor Bartley led the team with 4 blocked shots.
  • The Predators are 16-2-1 on home ice, by far and away the best home record in the NHL.
This was a tough win against a hungry opponent that wanted badly to continue their positive momentum. The Predators refused to let injuries or bad calls deter them from their objective of getting these important 2 points.

The team gets back at with an afternoon  road meeting against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.This will be another hungry team that would like nothing more than to knock off the Predators.

Another big challenge awaits.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Roman Josi

3. Miikka Salomaki

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Predators Storm Back With 3 Third Period Goals to Defeat the Hurricanes 3-2

Fresh off two tough road games against Western Conference opponents, the Nashville Predators returned to Bridgestone Arena to face Eastern Conference foe Carolina Hurricanes.

Although the Hurricanes defeated the Predators in early December by a 2-1 margin, they have struggled to string together wins.

On paper, it should be a fairly easy contest for the Predators.


The Hurricanes played an excellent road game and challenged the Predators throughout the contest before the Predators turned it on in the third period to capture a 3-2 win.

A lethargic first period by the Predators saw them fall behind 1-0 as Eric Staal banged home a puck from the top of the crease with the Canes on the power play.

The score could have been worse but for Pekka Rinne making some good saves, including one with his back to the ice and flicking his leg out to catch the puck behind his knee off a shot from Nathan Gerbe.

The Predators had more jump in the second period but could not get a puck past Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward, who looked rock solid through two periods. The game had all the makings of a hot goalie stealing a game from the Predators.

That changed in the third period when Ryan Ellis drove down the wing and put a shot on net. Ward looked to have the post, but somehow the shot snuck through and trickled over the goal line to tie the game at 1.

That lead was short lived as Justin Faulk fired a shot through traffic with the Canes on another power play. That shot eluded Rinne and went just inside the post to give the Canes a 2-1 lead.

Mike Fisher tied the game at 2 when he was able to slap a puck past Ward from the slot.

The Predators got the game winner from Roman Josi as he blasted a puck from the face off circle over the shoulder of Ward at 15:17 of the third period.

Some observations:

  • I really liked the play of Gabriel Bourque and Viktor Stalberg tonight. Both players had jump, played with speed, and were aggressive in the offensive zone. Stalberg picked up two assists tonight with the primary assist on both the goal from Ellis and Josi. 
  • Filip Forsberg picked up an assist tonight to give him 38 points on the season, which is a rookie record for the Predators. He broke the previous record of 37 points set by Alexander Radulov.
  • Roman Josi has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 6 games.
  • The Hurricanes played an excellent game and disrupted the Predators offensive flow with an aggressive forecheck. Once in the zone, the Canes worked hard to keep the Predators to the outside and away from the net. Full marks to the Predators for battling through and capturing the win and a critical two points. For a while, it just looked as if it was not going to be the Predators night, but they kept coming and got the win. That is the mark of a team playing at a championship level.
  • The Predators still have not lost back to back games this season.
  • The Predators PK struggled tonight, giving up 2 power play goals on 3 chances for the Hurricanes. Once again, the Predators power play failed to connect on home ice, going 0-2.
  • The Predators were woeful in the face off circle, going 29 for 65 for 44%.
  • The Predators are 15-2-1 on home ice this season. They are 17-4-4 in one goal games.
  • I know Olli Jokinen brings a veteran presence to this team and contributes on the PK. That said, I think Olli is a liability on the second line, where he played much of the game with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson. The Predators started to get their game going when the lines got juggled and Olli dropped down a line. Frankly, Olli doesn't have the speed and jam to play higher than the third line, and more reasonably belongs on the 4th line.
  • One cannot overstate the contribution of Mike Fisher. He battles in front of the net, is strong on the puck, and is good in the face off circle. Fisher can score the timely goals that this team has to have. He lead all forwards tonight with 19:47 in TOI. Fisher has 10 points in his last 12 games (6G-4A), and the Predators have not lost a game when Fisher scores a goal (6-0).
  • The Predators are now 26-9-4, and coupled with the loss by the Blackhawks now sit first in the Central Division with a 2 point lead over Chicago with 56 points.
This wasn't a pretty win by the Predators, but it was a good win, an important win in that the team escaped a trap game and collected two important points. It was a scrappy win, and sometimes you have to win games in that manner.

The Predators jump back into divisional play on Thursday against the Dallas Stars.

Time to bring it for this one.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Mike Fisher

3. Eric Staal

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ducks Defeat the Predators In A Shootout 4-3

Apparently the Nashville Predators really like playing hockey.

So much so that for the second game in a row, 60 minutes and overtime was not enough to decide a contest.

The Ducks defeated the Predators in a shootout 4-3 in a spirited contest.

The Predators were in the Honda Center to face the Anaheim Ducks in a battle of two of the top teams in the NHL.

The Ducks got a first period goal from Matt Belesky to take a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

Mattias Ekholm answered with a goal early in the second to tie the game. That goal was promptly answered by Corey Perry on a redirected shot past Carter Hutton.

The Predators answered with two power play goals as they peppered Frederik Andersen with shots. Seth Jones tallied from the point with a shot through traffic and Craig Smith potted a goal from up close off an Andersen rebound.

The Ducks tied it up with 2:17 remaining in the game as Francois Beauchemin was able to jam home a puck in  scramble in front of Hutton.

In the shoot out, Jakob Silfverberg and Craig Smith scored. Wtih the game on the line, Ryan Kessler beat Hutton for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • James Neal missed his second game due to injury. Matt Cullen was also out of the line up, also due to injury.
  • Mattias Ekholm continues to grow his game. He has been sound defensively and has not been one to shy away from the physical aspects of the game, but his offensive game is starting to show some emergence. Matty Ek has a surprisingly good shot and he has done a good job of picking his spots to jump into the offensive zone.
  • The Predators power play has started to show some life. Better puck movement and screening in front have worked to drag the PP out of the dumps. Seth Jones tallied on the Predators first power play of the game and that goal was made possible by Colin Wilson screening in front and taking away the eyes of Andersen.
  • Mike Ribeiro had an outstanding game, distributing the puck and picking up three assists. Ribeiro has been unquestionably one of the best- if not the best- off season acquisitions by David Poile.
  • Craig Smith has great hockey sense and his score on the power play was just a result of knowing where to go at the front of the net. Smith uses his speed and hockey savvy well to get to the scoring areas and it is good to see him rewarded for his efforts.
  • There is no doubt the Ducks are a talented team. They are also a team that likes to try to throw their weight around and goon it up when things don't go their way. The Predators matched the physicality of the Ducks hit for hit and refused to yield the ice in front of their net, somehting they didn't do against the Kings the previous night. That said, the Predators gave up the tying goal late in the game when they were unable to clear traffic in front of Hutton, allowing the Ducks to jam home the tying goal.
  • The Predators forecheck did a good job of disrupting the Ducks rush through the neutral zone. When the Ducks come into the zone with speed, they are extremely dangerous. They had some opportunities tonight, but the Predators for the most did a good job of slowing down the Ducks attack.
  • Carter Hutton played his best game of the season in net. The first goal he gave up to Belesky was definitely stoppable, and Hutton has shown a disquieting tendency to give up those types of goals. Yet after that, he battled and made some great saves. He had no chance on the Perry redirect, and he needed some help from his defense to clear the front of the net on the tying goal. Regardless, I thought he competed well and was solid throughout the game.
  • A tough back to back with four critical points on the line and the Predators picked up three of the possible 4. I hate giving that second point to the Ducks, but keep it in perspective. The team battled two quality opponents and captured the points. They took the best team in the League to a shootout on the second night of a back to back and with the back up netminder between the pipes. I will take that.
The Predators competed but couldn't capture the second point tonight. Yet this team is competing hard and playing well and I certainly will take their effort and the results that they are generating.

With their 54 points, the Predators are second in the NHL, having played 38 games.

Just gotta keep it rolling.

My three stars:

1. Mike Ribeiro

2. Ryan Ellis

3. Ryan Kessler 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Predators Survive In OT, Defeat the Kings 7-6

The Nashville Predators survived blown leads and bad defense to hold off the Los Angeles Kings in overtime by a 7-6 margin.

That is pretty amazing when you consider the Predators blew a 3 goal lead with just 2:04 remaining in the game.

The L.A. Kings scored on their first shot on goal against the Predators at the Staples Center as Matt Greene's seeing eye shot eluded Pekka Rinne.

Behind 1-0 in a hostile environment with the crowd in full throat, this was not the start the Predators wanted.

But this isn't your father's Predators.

9 shots later, the Predators had scored three goals and chased starter Jonathan Quick en route to a 3-1 lead midway of the first period.

Mike Fisher tallied from in front. Colin Wilson banked a shot off the stick of Greene past Quick 1:22 after the tying goal. Ryan Ellis ripped a slap shot from the point on the power play, and just like that the Predators had seized momentum and ended Quick's afternoon early.

Mattias Ekholm kept the pressure up early in the second period as his wrist shot from the point eluded Martin Jones, who was now in net for the Kings. Ekholm's second goal of the season came 2:16 into the period.

Mark Arcobello welcomed himself to the Predators line up as he roofed a shot short side over the shoulder of Jones at 3:57 of the second.

L.A. made it 5-2 just after their power play had ended as a shot through traffic from Alec Martinez got past Rinne at 6:29 of the second.

The Kings kept whittling away at the Predators lead as Jake Muzzin took a shot from the point that was re-directed by Dwight King and past Rinne at 15:05.

You knew the Kings weren't going to roll over and they would come back. The Predators were going to have to respond to the pressure from the Kings.

The first nine minutes of the third period were a shooting gallery for the Kings. The Predators were back on their heels and Rinne was tested by the Kings.

That changed when Gabriel Bourque used his speed to hunt down a puck and get a shot on net. Jones kicked out a rebound to Olli Jokinen, who buried the rebound to make it 6-3 at 8:38 of the third.

Dwight King recorded his second goal of the night as he banged home a rebound that Rinne gave up at 17:59. King was left alone at the front of the net and had no challenge from any Predator defender on his shot.

The Kings made it 6-5 with 64 seconds left as Alec Martinez let a blast go from the blue line that Rinne could not find. The Kings had  Jones pulled for the extra attacker.

The Predators could not hold the lead as Jeff Carter tallied with 34 seconds left to tie the game.

A massive choke job by the Predators that is just beyond words.

Going to the overtime, would the Predators fold?

They did not.

Roman Josi saved the Predators from utter embarrassment by ripping a shot from the slot past Jones just 18 seconds into the overtime for a 7-6 win.

Some observations:

  • Viktor Stalberg saw his first action of the season on a line with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson, and I really liked the way Stalberg played. He was strong on the boards and used his speed to create some chances, and hopefully he can get his game going consistently. If he can, this will be a big boost to the Predators.
  • Matt Cullen and James Neal missed the game with injuries. Taylor Beck and Victor Bartley were placed on IR. Along with Stalberg, Miikka Salomaki was called up from Milwaukee and was a healthy scratch for this game.
  • Mark Arcobello, acquired in a trade from Edmonton for Derek Roy, saw his first action, skating on a line with Eric Nystrom and Calle Jarnkrok. Arcobello is a nice add to the roster as he plays with lots of energy and speed, and although smallish in stature, is not afraid of mixing it up in the hard areas of the ice. His goal in the second period was a sweet goal placed in a small area over the shoulder of Jones.
  • Even though the Predators jumped on the Kings, there was no quit in L.A.'s game. They are a very talented team and kept attacking the net and Rinne had to make some very good saves to keep the Kings off the board. The goals that Rinne gave up were goals scored with lots of traffic in front that were nearly impossible to stop.
  • I continue to like the play of Gabriel Bourque. His hustle made the Preds 6th goal possible, and his energy and jump have been a welcome dimension to the Predators 4th line.
  • The inability of the Predators to lock down games, especially with multi goal leads, is distressing to say the least. The lack of killer instinct and the inability to play sound defense is appalling, and Rinne got little support in front of the net. This is going to have to change for the team to have long term success. Put teams away when you have them down like this. NEVER let an opponent back into a game like you did tonight.
This game showed that the Predators can score. It also showed that they don't know how to handle prosperity and lack the killer instinct and lock down mentality that great teams have.

The defensive breakdowns tonight were horrific and nearly cost the Predators a game that they should have won easily.

Tighten this up and put teams away when you have the chance.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Dwight King

3. Alec Martinez