Thursday, March 31, 2016

Predators Fall Flat Against the Penguins

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Consol Energy Center to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins and were looking for the win that would clinch a playoff spot.

They are still waiting.

Pekka Rinne was under siege by the Penguins and gave up 4 goals- two to Phil Kessel and one each to Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist, the last 2 power play goals, before being pulled in the third period in favor of Carter Hutton.

Ryan Johansen and James Neal tallied for the Predators. Joey's goal tied the game at 1 and Neal's goal brought the Predators to within one at 3-2. Hornqvist's power play goal stretched the lead back to 4-2.

Nick Bonino made it 5-2 late in the third period.

That was the final score of a game that got away from the Predators, a game where they failed to respond to the attack and pressure of the Penguins.

Some observations:

  • Stefan Elliott made his NHL debut on the Predators blue line. Ryan Ellis was injured in the previous game against Dallas and Elliott was the call up from Milwaukee. Elliott was paired with Barret Jackman.
  • Colin Wilson was a healthy scratch. No surprise there as Wilson has had zero productivity.
  • The Predators are reverting to mid-season form, and that is bad. Every mistake that the Predators are making is winding up in the back of the net. One can look at Rinne and say he played a bad game (it wasn't his greatest, but it was altogether bad), but there was a lot of scrambling in front of Rinne and some defensive breakdowns, especially on Kessel's first goal. The Predators are also regressing in their breakouts and offensive attack, and this is not a good sign as they try to go into the playoffs with some kind of momentum.
  •  In their 3 game losing skid, the Predators have looked stunned by the intensity and pressure of their opponent. This is a very bad sign, because the playoffs are nothing but intensity and pressure. This team has got to begin to again elevate their game or the consequences will not be pretty.
  • The Predators PK was woeful, giving up 2 goals on 4 man advantage attempts by the Penguins.
  • Let's face it, the blue line has gotten unsettled. Elliott looked lost; Jackman was often slow and out of position, and Matty Ek has been getting a bit loose in his coverage. yes, the Preds missed Ellis, but the fact remains that the play on the blue line in front of Rinne has been lax. This group has to get their game back together quickly.
  • I like the response from Johansen and Neal. Both of these players have been consistent in their game and are still contributing.
  • In this skid, the Predators have been getting whipped in the face off dot. Tonight was no different as they won 23 of 53 draws.
  • One difference in the Predators right now is that there is no secondary scoring from the third and 4th lines. The bottom six forwards have to contribute. Goals from the 4th line are gravy, but the third line, that had been clicking, has gone cold. That line has to heat up again for the Predators to have the kind of scoring that they need to have to win games.

This three game losing streak has been ugly. Ugly from the standpoint that in 2 of the 3 games the Predators haven't matched the intensity and desperation of their opponents.

That is not a good sign at all.

And it has to change quickly.

My three stars:

1. Phil Kessel

2. James Neal

3. Kris Letang

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Predators Can't Finish, Fall to the Stars 5-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to Dallas looking to rebound from a lackluster effort the night before in a tough contest with the Stars.

This game would be a good measuring stick for the Predators, not only to see how they would rebound from a bad game but also how they would stack up against the best team in the West.

The Predators would be found wanting.

Ryan Ellis opened the scoring with a short handed goal, a blast past Kari Lehtonen to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Stars would tie the game as the Predators defense completely broke down and lost the Stars Jamie Benn coming over the boards. Benn was sent in on a breakaway and he beat Pekka Rinne 5 hole to tie the game at 1.

The second period saw the Predators crumble, giving up 2 goals in 46 seconds. Radek Faksa scored, beating Ryan Johansen back on defense for an easy tap in. Jason Spezza scored on a shot from the slot to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.

Once again, the Predators had dug a huge hole.

The Predators answered on the power play as Viktor Arvidsson, filling in for the injured Ryan Ellis and getting his first meaningful power play action of the year, blew a shot past Lehtonen to make it 3-2.

A furious rally by the Predators in the third period that saw them hit 3 posts went for naught, as the Stars Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn hit empty net goals to secure a 5-2 win.

Some observations:

  • Mini-me...uh, Ryan Ellis is a small defenseman, but wow, he can crank a slap shot. He absolutely stepped into one to blow the puck past Kari Lehtonen. Ellis is going to lose the physical match up against the bigger, heavy forwards, but he makes up for it with good hockey sense and that aforementioned wickedly hard shot.
  • Paul Gaustad returned to the line up after missing 10 games. He skated on the left wing of a line centered by Colton Sissons. folks, enjoy Gaustad's last few games with the Predators. He has been a good soldier, but he will not be back next season.
  • What a horrible defensive breakdown by Ellis and Barret Jackman. Completely unaware of the Stars players coming over the boards. Oh yeah, that Stars player coming over the board just happened to be their most dangerous forward, Jamie Benn. Of course, that mistake resulted in a Benn breakaway goal.
  • The Predators lost Ellis in the first period as he went down after taking a shot to the head. He played one more shift after the injury and then did not return.
  • I continue to like the play of Arvidsson. There is no doubt that the Aardvark has to get strong, but goodness, he has to have one of the biggest hearts on this team. He jumped in and played very well on the power play, not looking out of place at all.
  • The push by the Predators in the third period was excellent. The finish was lacking. If the Predators had some puck luck with the post, the outcome might have been different. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
The Predators brief lapse in the second period cost them another game. This team is good, but against a quality opponent they are not good enough to overcome those lapses.

Let's face it, the remainder of the season is not going to be a cakewalk. This team is going to have to buck up and start playing a full 60 minutes.

Don't back into the playoffs, boys.

My three stars:

1. Jamie Benn

2. Viktor Arvidsson

3. Alex Goligoski

Monday, March 28, 2016

Predators Stumble Out of the Gate in Loss to the Avalanche

With a chance to clinch a playoff spot on home ice against a struggling Colorado avalanche team, the Nashville Predators came out and crapped the bed.

Spotting the Avs a 3 goal lead off sloppy plays, egregious turnovers, and a lackadaisical effort for much of the game, the Predators tried to rally late but fell 4-3.

The Avs jumped out to a quick 3 goal lead in the first period. Mattias Ekholm set up the Avs first goal with a brutally bad turnover, throwing a blind backhand pass right into the slot and onto the tape of Blake Comeau, who had an easy shot past a surprised Pekka Rinne.

Gabriel landeskog made it 2-0 when he out muscled Shea Weber at the front of the net and poked the puck through Rinne's pads.

Jack Skille  made it 3-0 when he skated alone into the slot and banged home a rebound of a Cody MacLeod shot. The poor effort of the team resulted in Rinne being pulled for Carter Hutton.

The Predators showed some life when Craig Smith placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of Semyon Varlamov to make it 3-1 at the end of the first period.

After a scoreless second period, the Avs made it 4-1 off another Predator turnover. Shawn Matthias was the beneficiary and he floated a puck over the shoulder of Hutton with no Predator defender to challenge the effort.

The Predators tried to make it a game late in the third period when Colton Sissons deflected in a Miikka Salomaki shot to make it 4-2.

Roman Josi made it 4-3 with a laser over the shoulder of Varlamov, but that would be it for the Predators as they wasted a chance to capture a critical win.

Some observations:

  • The Avalanche are a desperate team, and everyone knew they would come out with energy and urgency. The Predators were not ready for that effort and they were swamped early in the game. it didn't help that they played some stupid hockey. The Preds better get ready, because this was a taste of playoff hockey, and this game found them lacking in effort.
  • Roman Josi recorded his 13th goal of the season, which gives him 57 points on the year. That is a new franchise record for points by a defenseman.
  • The Predators are now 4-19-5 when they trail after 2 periods.
  • Craig Smith hit the 20 goal mark with his first period goal. That is the third consecutive season that he has tallied at least 20 goals.
  • It sure would be nice to see some production from Colin Wilson, wouldn't it? His offside play negated a goal by Salomaki and he just looks like he couldn't find the back of the net if his life depended on it.
This game was about as bad of a start that this team has had in a long while. They cannot dig the kind of hole that they did in the first period and expect a good outcome. Even worse, their level of play was awful. Stupid passes and poor puck management wound up costing them dearly.

Hopefully they get it out of their system.

If not, they will get trucked tomorrow night in Dallas.

My three stars:

1. Gabriel Landeskog

2. Craig Smith

3. Blake Comeau

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Predators Pummel Columbus 5-1

The Nashville Predators are playing for playoff positioning.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are playing out the string.

That was never more evident at the Bridgestone Arena as the Predators demolished the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1.

James Neal, Mattias Ekholm. Craig Smith, Shea Weber, and Calle Jarnkrok tallied for the Predators. Boone Jenner notched the lone goal for the BJ's.

Joonas Korpisalo faced a barrage of shots from the Predators, including a franchise record 27 in the first period. He got little help from his teammates, who mustered only 19 shots for the game.

Pekka Rinne had time to listen to his iPod, read a book, and write a couple of notes as the BJ's threatened only once in the game, and that was a goal from Boone Jenner as he poked a rebound past Rinne before the defense could get back into position.

Some observations:

  • This was as complete game by the Predators. Defensively, the Predators took away any quality scoring chances by the BJ's. Offensively, the Predators attacked all night, pouring shots on net. They played disciplined hockey, taking only 2 penalties on the night and killing them both. Perhaps the most heartening aspect of the Predators game was that they attacked all night, never letting their foot off the gas. Too often, we have seen the Predators get a lead and go into a shell. Not tonight. The attack mode was going for a full 60 minutes.
  • I know it is easy to say this was the BJ's and that they have nothing to play for, but I would strongly disagree. These players are playing for contracts and ice time, not to mention pride. Think this type of game doesn't hurt? Think pride and egos weren't bruised? The BJ's have a talented core that has yet to gel (for whatever reason), but they are NHL'ers and they have pride and the self interest to impress their coach or some other NHL team. So yes, there was something to play for on the BJ side of the ice.
  • Since February 12, the Predators have logged more points (33) than any other team in the NHL. The team has gone 14-2-5 during that stretch.
  • All time, Nashville is 54-19-7 against the BJ's, including a 32-5-4 mark at the Bridge.
  • Roman Josi picked up 3 assists to set a franchise mark for assists by a defenseman.
  • Shea Weber's power play goal moved him to second all time in goals for the franchise. Weber's 18th goal of the season gives him 164 for his career, moving him past Marty Erat (163) into second place. behind David Legwand (210).
  • James Neal scored the first goal of the game with a perfectly placed shot to give him 30 goals for the season. The last time the Predators had two 30 goal scorers was 2005-06 when Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya accomplished the feat.
  • The Predators were only 35% in the face off dot tonight. They can get away with that against a team in the BJ's position. They cannot against a playoff team.
  • The game against the Canucks on Thursday was a slog. Tonight, the Predators came out with jump and out skated the BJ's all night. When the Predators are skating and playing with jump, they are a deadly team that can create all sorts of problems for the opposition.
  • I continue to like the play of Viktor Arvidsson. The Aardvark creates with his speed and puts all kinds of pressure on the opposing D with his pressure and speed. He HAS to get stronger, but the Aardvark is quietly becoming a player that is creating problems for the defenders he faces.
Solid win by the Preds, a win that showed they can be not only explosive but can surgically take apart an opponent. It will get tougher against some desperate opponents, but this team is gelling and playing some great hockey at the right time.

Now to keep it up.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. James Neal

3. Shea Weber

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Predators Steal 2 Points with Late Comeback, SO Win Over the Canucks

Sometimes, a team steals a point. Occasionally, they steal two.

Tonight, the Nashville Predators did just that, playing lackluster and sloppy hockey for 52 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks before getting goals from James Neal and Filip Forsberg to tie the game in regulation.

In a shootout, Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith scored while only Jared McCann was able to tally for the Canucks, and improbably the Predators escaped with a 3-2 win.

The Canucks had not scored in 235 minutes, yet hung 2 goals on the Predators in the first period.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Bo Horvat gathered in a puck that bounced over the stick of Roman Josi and slid the puck past Pekka Rinne to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

The Canucks extended the lead to 2-0 on the power play as Daniel Sedin was alone in the slot and he blasted a puck past Rinne.

The Predators were out worked and out skated for most of the game. That changed 11:56 into the third as James Neal spun loose down low and sniped a shot past Ryan Miller to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Filip Forsberg wrapped in a puck from behind the net to tie the game at 2.

The overtime was scoreless (AT LEAST THE PREDATORS DIDN'T LOSE IN OT!) before the shootout heroics from Johansen and Smith and stop excellent stops from Rinne to secure the win.

Some observations:

  • As horrific as the Predators have been in OT, with this win they go to 4-1 in the shootout.
  • The Predators are 11-2-2 in their last 15 games.
  • When the game is on the line, your key players have to step up. Tonight, James Neal and Filip Forsberg did just that. Neal notched his 29th goal with a perfectly placed shot to the far post. Forsberg was in the high traffic area and beat Miller from behind to tuck the puck inside the post to tie the game. Leadership and effort paid off for two players that have been huge contributors for the Preds during this run.
  • The first 52 minutes of play by the Predators were some of the most putrid hockey they have played in quite some time. They were out worked and out skated and the Canucks forecheck and trap seemed to befuddle the Predators for most of the game. Lazy and sloppy play almost cost them this game. But once they started skating and getting the puck deep, they created some problems for the Canucks. Let's just not wait so late in the game to get it going, mmmkay, boys?
  • The 31st sellout for the team, a new franchise record. Big ups to the fans in Smashville. This was the 12th consecutive sellout for the Predators.
  • Colin Wilson picked up an assist on Neal's goal for his 200th NHL point.
  • Ryan Ellis had an assist on Forsberg's goal for his 100th NHL point.
  • The Predators have played 36 1 goal games this season and have picked up points in 29 of those games (16-7-13).
  • The Predators gave up a power play goal for the first time in 8 games.
  • The Predators held the Canucks without a shot in OT. They had some opportunities to pick up only their second OT win of the season with a 4 on 3 power play for the final 1:59 but could not get good looks and shots. Which is typical of this team in OT.
This game was flat out ugly for most of regulation. Yet the Predators found a way to win and get 2 critical points. The big take away- when this team skates, they are usually going to have a good chance to win. When they stand around, anyone can beat them.

That almost happened tonight.

Learn this lesson.

And keep the points coming.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. James Neal

3. Pekka Rinne

Monday, March 21, 2016

Playoff Preview? Predators De-throne the Kings 5-2

In a potential playoff match up, The Nashville Predators blitzed the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 at Bridgestone Arena behind a 3 goal second period outburst.

Ryan Johansen had a goal and 2 assists; James Neal had a goal and an assist; Mike Fisher added a power play goal; Filip Forsberg scored his 30th; and Roman Josi finished the scoring with an empty netter.

Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez tallied for the Kings.

After a scoreless first period, James Neal took a pass from Ryan Johansen and sniped a shot past Jonathan Quick to open the scoring.

Mike Fisher, on a night where the team honored him for his 1,000th NHL game, took a shot from the face off circle that Quick kicked out to the slot. Fisher followed his shot and poked it past Quick while falling down to make it 2-0.

Filip Forsberg finished the second period scoring, tapping a rebound past Quick for his 30th goal of the season and making it 3-0 Predators.

That scoring outburst would chase Quick from the game and Jonas Enroth would enter the net for the third period.

The Kings started to claw back into the game when Drew Doughty took a shot from the point that hit the stick of Roman Josi and caromed past Rinne to make it 3-1 just 28 seconds into the third period.

Alec Martinez increased the pucker factor among Pred fans with a shot from the point that went through traffic and eluded Rinne to make it 3-2.

Ryan Johansen gave the Predators some breathing room when he redirected a Shea Weber shot over the pads of Enroth to make it 4-2.

Roman Josi added a 200 foot emty net goal to seal the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Filip Forsberg became just the 5th Predator to tally 30 or more goals and the first to do it since Patric Hornqvist in 2009-10. Forsberg just has great hockey sense to go along with his superb skills. He knows how to find the quiet areas of the ice and reads plays well. This allows him to get into prime scoring position and he has the skills set to take advantage. A solid night tonight for Forsberg as he was physical and strong on the puck.
  • Big ups to Mike Fisher. On a night where he was honored for the milestone of 1,000 games, Fisher scored a gritty power play goal and was a force in all zones tonight. Fisher is that solid leader that every team must have, and he does and excellent job in that role. Fisher's goal was all heart, fighting through traffic to get his rebound in the slot, and he had the presence to put the puck in the net while being knocked to the ice. All heart.
  • He didn't get on the score sheet tonight, but Viktor Arvidsson played an excellent game. he used his speed to create in the offensive zone and to harass the Kings on the forecheck. He gives up a lot in stature, but nothing in character. If the Aardvark can get stronger, he will be a dangerous player. 
  • With 2 points tonight, James Neal has 400 career points.
  • In their last 9 games, the Predators are 6-0-3 against the Kings. think this would be an amazing playoff match up?
  • The Predators killed off all 4 of the Kings power plays and have killed off the last 27 man advantage attempts by their opponents.
  • The Predators are starting to assert themselves again on home ice. The now have points in 8 straight games at Bridgestone Arena.
  • Pekka Rinne was outstanding, thwarting some good scoring chances by the Kings. Rinne tracked the puck well, and although he was beaten twice, the shots that beat him were impossible to stop. The confidence that Rinne is playing with has spread to the team in front of him and it is reflected in their level of play. This team will go as far as Rinne will carry them.
  • Roman Josi set a career high for assists with his 41st helper tonight.
  • Before tonight, each of the last 8 games the Predators have played against the Kings have been one goal games. The Predators are 5-0-3 in those games.
This was a solid effort tonight against a very good L.A. team, who is the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot. The Kings are a talented and heavy team, and the Predators showed they can play with the best and beat the best.

This is a great confidence booster for the Predators.

Now that confidence needs to translate into more wins and points.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Ryan Johansen

3. James Neal

Friday, March 18, 2016

Capital Punishment: Capitals Pound the Predators 4-1

The Nashville Predators made a stop at the Phone Booth- the Verizon Center- to take on the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals have emerged from the phone booth looking like Superman this season, having already clinched a playoff spot and looking like the favorite for the President's Trophy. Head Coach Barry Trotz has his team playing like supermen, and the Predators face a daunting task in stopping the high flying Capitals.

Carter Hutton got the start with the Predators having played in Nashville the previous night. Braden Holtby was between the pipes for the Capitals.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators jumped out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Filip Forsberg power play goal.

That was the equivalent of the Predators tugging on Superman's cape.

The Caps exploded for 3 second period goals as Daniel Winnik scored twice and T.J. Oshie scored to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead going into the second intermission.

The assault by the Caps continued as Andre Burakovsky scored just 18 seconds into the third period to make it 4-1.

That was all the Capitals would need as the Predators looked lifeless and mustered no challenge in the remainder of the game.

Some observations:

  • Anthony Bitetto was scratched with a lower body injury, and Petter Granberg was back in on the blue line.
  • Don't you know it has to chap the Caps fans to see the success that Forsberg is having? The dynamic young forward is going to be a star in the League and the Caps have nothing to show for that trade with Martin Erat out of the League and Michael Latta having been traded.
  • Good to see the power play click for the second game in a row. This unit has to get some consistency and become a threat.
  • Great passing led to great scoring plays for the Capitals on their first 2 goals. They showed great vision and their passing was surgical. This was especially true on Oshie's goal as Evgeny Kuznetsov made a perfect blind backhand pass to Oshie for an easy goal.
  • That third goal by Hutton was a back breaker. I can't fault him on the first 2 goals- the Caps were spaced perfectly and had the Predators defense chasing. But that third, you just have to stop that one.
  • As hard as it is to say, the Predators just looked outclassed by the Capitals. Yes, I know that this game was the second of a back to back, but the Caps clearly had more talent and were just skating around the Predators all game. It didn't help that the team in front of Hutton didn't give him much help and they looked like they lost their confidence with Hutton in net.
  • Not a good night for Ryan Johansen, who picked up 3 minor penalties and was ineffective in the offensive zone.
  • The Predators took 20 minutes in penalties, including a 10 minute misconduct on Mike Ribeiro.
  • The Predators were dominated in the face off circle, winning just 42% of their draws, which helped the Caps possess the puck for long stretches of the night. 
  • On a positive note, the Predators killed off all 4 of the Caps power play chances, including a late 5 on 3 to end the game (to be fair, the Caps weren't trying to score with the 2 man advantage over the last 35 seconds of regulation).
You could call this game a measuring stick game against the best team in the NHL, and the Predators were found wanting. Yes, the Caps were rested and the Predators were fatigued. But they lacked any jump and the miscues cost them some goals.

It's a learning experience. A painful one.

And the Predators learned that you don't tug on superman's cape.

My three stars:

1. Daniel Winnik

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov

3. Filip Forsberg

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Johansen and Neal Carry the Predators to 4-2 Victory Over the Islanders

The Nashville Predators returned home to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena and showed themselves to be less than gracious hosts to the New York Islanders. The Predators dispatched the Islanders 4-2 for their second win in a row and their 4th win in their last 6 games.

James Neal, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Johansen, and Austin Watson (empty netter) tallied for the Predators. Ryan Pulock notched his first NHL goal and Brock Nelson finished the scoring for the Islanders.

Neal and Johansen each had a goal and an assist.

Neal gave the Predators a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission, taking a nice feed from Calle Jarnkrok and burying a shot from the slot past Thomas Greiss.

Pulock tied the game with a shot from the blue line that Pekka Rinne never saw until it hit the back of the net to tie the game.

Ryan Ellis scored with a laser while the Predators were on the power play. Ellis deposited the shot under the crossbar with Mike Fisher in front screening Greiss.

Ryan Johansen took a lead pass from Anthony Bitetto and skated in alone on Greiss. RyJo fired a wicked wrist shot over the glove of Greiss into the top corner to make it 3-1.

Nelson was able to get a shot past Rinne, who got most of the puck but it leaked under his arm and over the goal line to make it 3-2 going into the second intermission.

The only scoring in the third was an empty net goal from Watson with just under a minute remaining.

Some observations:

  • Great vision and on ice awareness from Calle Jarnkrok to set up the Predators first goal. He drew three isles defenders to him and was able to spot Neal and hit him with a perfect backhand pass. The Real Deal made no mistakes in whistling a wrist shot past Greiss.
  • Neal has been on fire recently, tallying 21 (12G-9A) points in his last 28 games. He has 4 goals in his last 2 games and has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games against the Islanders (7G-9A). 
  • With 2 points tonight, Neal now has 398 career points.
  • The Predators took no penalties tonight.
  • The Islanders took one penalty for the game, and the Predators power play converted (huge sigh of relief) on their opportunity with the man advantage.
  • The Predators are 12-7-2 all time against the Islanders. They are 8-3-0 against the Isles at Bridgestone Arena.
  • Both goalies made some very good saves tonight. Rinne had to scramble in the second period as the Islanders stepped up their game and brought some good pressure. I can't fault him on the Pulock goal that made its way through a maze of bodies, but the Nelson goal should have never happened. Greiss faced considerably more pressure than Rinne in the first period especially, and he made some very good saves, including a spectacular save on a Ryan Ellis backhand from the slot.
  • The Predators offense never stopped coming, though. The Ellis goal was a blast just under the crossbar. Johansen's goal was a pure goal scorer's goal, over the glove and into the top corner. I like the fact that the Predators keep coming with the pressure. This is the formula for success for this team.
  • The Predators did an exceptional job most of the night of disrupting the Isles breakouts. Their forecheck and pressure in the neutral zone negated the speed of the Islanders and made it difficult for their potent offense to find rhythm and space. How effective were they? They held the Islanders to 2 shots on goal in the third period, and for the game, they out shot the Islanders 32-22.
  • The Predators have 1 regulation loss in their last 17 games (11-1-5).
This was a solid win against a very good team. It should give the Predators confidence that they can own the ice at home. They will need to do so if they are to have continued success.

The Predators improved to 36-22-13, good for 85 points. They are 4th in the Central and sit 3 points behind the Blackhawks for 3rd.

They will get an opportunity to close that gap tomorrow night in Washington.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Johansen

2. James Neal

3. Ryan Ellis 

Monday, March 14, 2016

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

The Nashville Predators wrapped up 2 weeks on the road with a stop at Rexall Place to take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Predators 14 game point streak was stopped in their last game, a 4-2 loss to the Canucks, and the Predators were looking to get back to the win column to maintain their lead in the Western Conference Wild Card race.

James Neal would carry the Predators to the 3-2 win, scoring all of the Predators goals.

Jordan Eberle and Neal tallied in the first period to send the teams into the first intermission tied at 1. Eberle scored after a turnover by the Predators and was set up by Connor McDavid. Eberle redirected a perfect pass from McDavid in the low slot. Neal tallied off a head man pass from Anthony Bitetto for a breakaway goal.

Iiro Pakarinen took advantage of a broken stick of Mattias Ekholm to make it 2-1 early in the second period, taking a centering pass that Matty Ek could not defend, lifting a shot that floated over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne.. That goal was immediately answered by Neal, who notched his second goal from outside the face off circle with a shot through traffic that beat Laurent Brossoit to tie the game at 2.

Neal would strike again in the third period for his third goal of the game with a wicked wrist shot to give the Predators a 3-2 lead.

The Predators would hold off the Oilers with Brossoit pulled for the extra attacker for the final 1:23. Shea Weber was in the box for the final 12 seconds to give the Oilers a 6 on 4 advantage, but the Predators defenders and Rinne were solid and secured the 3-2 win.

Some observations:

  • After being a healthy scratch for the last 5 games, Barret jackman drew back into the line up. Petter Granberg was a scratch.
  • Connor McDavid was in the line up for the Oilers, having missed the last contest between the two team with a broken collarbone.
  • A brutal turnover by Shea Weber led to the Oilers first goal. Those are the types of plays this team has to clean up or they will be haunted by them in the remainder of this season.
  • Nice pass from Anthony Bitetto to spring James Neal for the Predators first goal. Bitetto had his head up and put the pass right on the tape of Neal's stick. Neal's first period goal was his 24th of the season.
  • Neal carried the Predators offensively, picking up a hat trick. His goals came off his wickedly quick release that left Brossoit with no chance on the shot. When Neal is on, he is a handful for the opposing defense, and he was on tonight.
  • Pekka Rinne had to make some big saves, especially in the second period as the Predators gave up several odd man rushes and breakaways. Indicative of the sloppy play and turnovers by the Predators that gave a dangerous group of forwards from the Oilers some good scoring chances.
  • The third period saw the Predators defense settle down and do a better job of limiting the quality scoring chances by the Oilers. They were especially good at disrupting the Oilers speed coming through the neutral zone.
  • The Predators PK continues their excellent play, killing all 3 of the Oilers power play chances. The PK unit has killed 18 straight power plays.
  • The Predators power play continues to struggle, going 0-2 and not generating any quality chances. Gotta improve this area, boys. 
  • Calle Jarnkrok has continued to blossom on the first line. He plays in all situations and gives the Predators quality minutes and lots of jump. He picked up 2 assists tonight.
  • The Predators picked up 7 out of a possible 10 points on this 5 game road trip.

This game was not pretty by any stretch, but it was a good win against a team that has explosive offensive potential. It is especially heartening to see the team bounce back after the dud of a game against Vancouver.

Kudos to James Neal, who put the team on his back and provided all the offense the Predators would need. It is important to have contributions from all lines and all players, and Neal was superb tonight with his second hat trick as a Predator.

The Preds return home to take on the Islanders on Thursday.

Time to keep piling up the points.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Calle Jarnkrok

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Slow Start and Sloppy Defense Cost the Predators In 4-2 Loss to the Canucks

The Nashville Predators have picked up points in 14 straight games. They were looking to make it 15 with a stop at Rogers Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks.

The Predators started the game acting like just showing up would be good for a win. The Canucks out worked and out skated the Predators all over the ice and for a full 20 minutes. That effort resulted in 2 goals in spite of Pekka Rinne standing on his head to make some great saves. Sven Baertschi and Derek Dorsett both scored off defensive breakdowns to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

The Predators showed some life in the second period, getting shots on net and scoring twice. Both goals were set up by great assists by Roman Josi as he set up Mike fisher for the first Predators goal. Fisher drove the slot and redirected Josi's pass past Ryan Miller. His second assist set up Colton Sissons for a sweet goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators defense broke down once again as those 2 Predator goals were sandwiched around a goal by Bo Harvat, who beat the Predators defenders to the front of the net for an easy goal.

The Predators pulled Rinne late in the third period for the extra attacker and Daniel Sedin scored the empty netter to seal the Predators fate and the game by a 4-2 margin.

Some observations:

  •  How about Prince Filip dropping the gloves? Forsberg took exception to a hit on Mike Ribeiro and dropped them with Jake Virtanen. Forsberg picked up his first fighting major of his career. Good to see his response, but you hate to see him run the risk of an injury on that type of play.
  • Rinne has to be superb in the first period. The Predators offense didn't bother to show up and he was under siege. The big netminder was equal to the task, including making a couple of spectacular saves to keep the game from getting out of hand. Unfortunately, the Canucks pressure and defensive breakdowns finally succeeded in getting shots past Rinne.
  • The Predators sluggish starts are disconcerting to say the least. Trying to dig out of a hole is not a formula for success. Tonight, the Predators were sleepwalking in the first period and it bit them in the ass. Standing around and watching a team that will not sniff the playoffs out skate you all over the ice is incredibly disappointing.
  • The Canucks first 2 goals came as a result of Predators defenders getting beat down low (Baertschi) and losing a player in the low slot (Dorsett). The defensive breakdowns left Rinne out to dry and have to be cleaned up. 
  • Good to see the Predators finally wake up in the second period as their relentless pressure finally resulted in a Mike Fisher goal. Fisher's line has been playing some very good hockey of late and they have been getting some positive results.
  • And yet once again,  the Predators D gets beat by a Canuck driving the net. This is ridiculous to see this happen so consistently. Horvat had a clear path to the front of the net by out hustling Ryan Ellis down the ice and to the net.
  • Goodness gracious is Roman Josi good or what? What a fantastic assist on Fisher's goal and then an even better one on the goal by Sissons. Josi is a solid defenseman and an exceptional offensive talent that is so dangerous carrying the puck.
  • The Predators PK has done an excellent job, killing the last 14 man advantage attempts. Some of those have been extended power plays and the Preds have shown great hustle and perseverance in killing the penalties.
  • On the other side, the Predators power play has sputtered, failing on the their last 13 attempts.

The Predators were totally inept in the first period and it cost them.

Oh, and some really sloppy defense that gave the Canucks plenty of prime opportunities.

More disturbing is the fact that the Predators have look disengaged and lethargic for good stretches of their last 2 games, games against teams that are out of the playoff race.

This is an aspect of the Predators game that has to change. It's late in the season and crunch time, and the Predators have got to bring a much better effort if they want to win these games.

Bring this same kind of effort against Edmonton on Monday night and they will get embarrassed.

My three stars:

1. Bo Horvat

2. Roman Josi

3. Ryan Miller

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Predators Flame Out In OT (What Else Is new?) to Calgary

The Nashville Predators are red hot, having gone 9-0-4 in their last 13 games. The Calgary Flames are struggling. Two teams moving in the opposite direction clashed at  the Saddledome in Calgary, with one looking to continue their torrid play and one looking to reverse their fortunes.

Instead, it was the Flames that looked like a team contending for a playoff spot while the Predators were listless and looked tired.

The Predators gave up 2 first period goals in 10 seconds as Johnny Gaudreau hammered in all the scoring the Flames would need to put the Predators in a big hole.

The Predators failed to generate any quality scoring chances in the first 40 minutes- heck, they rarely generated any shots against Joni Ortio, while Carter Hutton gave up the 2 quick goals before settling in and making some good saves under a barrage of shots from the Flames.

Tony Bitetto finally got the Predators on the board with just over 12 minutes to go in the third period as he jumped up on the play and knocked in a rebound for his first NHL goal. Bitetto's marker made it 2-1.

That goal seemed to finally get the Predators going as they peppered Ortio with shots.

That energy translated to a tying goal with the extra attacker on for the Predators with 1:18 remaining in the game. Viktor Arvidsson slid a shot toward the net and Mike Fisher was able to slap it past Ortio to make it 2-2.

And as improbable as it seemed the way this game was unfolding, the Predators had picked up a point and sent the game to OT.

Of course, heading to OT is a guaranteed loss for the Predators and they were true to form as Mikael Backland pots the OT winner as the Predators fall 3-2.

Some observations:

  •  The first goal that Hutton gave up was a wicked good shot by Gaudreau that was perfectly placed. The second goal was one that Hutton cannot allow. He was beaten cleanly through a wide open 5 hole.
  • But on that second goal...what a keystone cops play by the Predators blue liners Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Ellis was surprised by the speed of Gaudreau and tripped over his feet, taking out Ekholm in the process. This comedy of errors allowed Gaudreau to break in alone for the shot.
  • The Predators had no jump in the first period and it resulted in Head Coach Peter Laviolette throwing the lines in a blender in the second period. That may work every now and then, but the Predators have yet to show that they respond positively to this tactic each time it has been tried this season.
  • The Predators mustered absolutely no response in the second period, generating just 4 shots on net. One of the hallmarks of this streak has been the Predators ability to respond to adversity and falling behind. In the second period, the Predators showed no push back at all.
  • Hutton did make some good saves as the game wore on. The Predators defense was leaky in front of him and he had to come up big on several occasions to keep the Flames off the board.
  • The Predators did not record their first shot on goal in the third period until there was 12:53 remaining on the clock.
  • Great play by Tony Bitetto to record his first NHL goal. He jumped up in the play and had a yawning net to slam home the puck. And a heck of an assist from Mike Fisher, who slid the puck over to Bitetto while on his butt.
  • Viktor Arvidsson continues to impress with his jump and overall level of play. The Aardvark was once again using his speed to create some chances for he and his line mates. I really like the play of Arvidsson and how he has settled in on the wing. Arvidsson picked up assists on both of the Predators goals in regulation.
  •  Once again, the Predators look lost and apathetic in the OT period. Their loss drops their record in the extra frame to 1-12. That is just freaking unbelievable. Win half these games and this team is contending for the Central Division crown.
This was an ugly game by the Predators, but I will take the point. It goes without saying that this team  doesn't believe it can win in OT and they play like it. Yet, you take small victories,and the point is important.

The Predators ran their consecutive point streak to 14 games and they now have 81 points.

Get some rest and get back on the horse on Saturday night.

My three stars:

1. Johnny Gaudreau

2. Viktor Arvidsson

3.Mike Fisher

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Predators Continue to Roll, Defeat the Jets 4-2

The Nashville Predators looked to continue their point streak with a stop at the MTS Center to face the Winnipeg Jets in their last meeting of the season. Both teams have won twice in their previous 4 contests.

The points streak would continue.

The Predators won a game that was at times sloppy and at times had elements of pond hockey before capturing a 4-2 win over the Jets.

Drew Stafford opened the scoring, poking a rebound past Pekka Rinne for a 1-0 Jets lead.

It looked like that score would stand at the end of the first period as the listless Predators had not much jump.

That would change as Craig Smith would pot his 17th goal of the season off a nice rush by the Predators potent second line. Smith banged home a rebound to tie the game at 1.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead off a fortuitous bounce off the stick of Colton Sissons. Sissons was trying to center the puck across the slot and it bounced off the skate of Ben Chairot and past a stunned Ondrej Pavalec to give the Predators the lead heading into intermission.

After a scoreless second period, Ryan Johansen tallied just as a Predators power play had ended to make it 3-1.

The Jets made it interesting as Jacob Trouba crashed the net and tapped home a rebound that Rinne could not control to make it 3-2.

Craig Smith would snuff out any momentum and thoughts of a win for the Jets as he took a sweet pass from Filip Forsberg and jammed the puck past Pavalec to make it 4-2.

The Predators would hold off the Jets attack with the extra man over the final 2 minutes to secure a big win and a much needed 2 points.

Some observations:

  • Paul Gaustad was out of the line up with an upper body injury and Colton Sissons was called up from Milwaukee and centered the 4th line.
  • Colin Wilson dropped down to the 4th line, while Miikka Salomaki took his place on the wing on the third line.
  • Craig Smith continues his hot play, with his 4th goal in his last 5 games. Smith has been skating hard and driving the net and he has been rewarded with finding the back of the net. Smith tallied his 17th goal by going to the net and banging a puck past Pavalec. A goal from the hard area, which is what the Predators need from the Honey Badger. His second goal was a result of beating the Jets defender by driving the net. Consistency, Crazy Legs, consistency.
  • A bit of puck luck for Sissons as his centering pass hits a skate and deflects into the net. Nice to see Sissons with the goal, and especially nice to see the Preds get some positive puck luck. Sissons has given up his number 84 that he has worn previously and donned number 10. If he can put up points like the previous owner of that number (Martin Erat) the Predators will benefit greatly.
  • Viktor Arvidsson played with lots of jump and fiestiness to his game. Aardvark gets knocked around- a lot- but he is always hustling and has a great deal of hockey sense. He is always working and creating in the offensive zone. His speed and creativity is creating some good opportunities for his line and he has settled in nicely on the third line with Mike Fisher and now Salomaki. Arvidsson was one of the best players on the ice tonight for the Predators.
  • Huge, HUGE, penalty kill on the major penalty to Austin Watson. The PK worked their tails off to limit the quality chances by the Jets. That could have been disastrous for the Predators, but they showed some real grit to kill off the penalty.
  • I really don't think that Watson's hit was worthy of a match penalty, but the officials reacted to the downed Jet player. This is an area that I think needs to have a booth review by the war room.
  • Ryan Johansen has been playing some good hockey for the Predators but has struggled to find the back of the net. Good to see him find the back of the net tonight.
  • Colin Wilson showed up tonight with 2 assists. Good effort from Wilson, who has had a miserable season. It would certainly be good to see him start to heat up.
  • Rinne was solid tonight, making some good saves including a nice push across the crease to stone Drew Stafford. The goal he gave up were when the Jets were crashing the net and poking at rebounds. Rinne has been solid of late. Not spectacular, but solid, and the team is playing with confidence in front of him. This is a very good sign for the Predators as the confidence and even swagger of this team starts from the net and flows out..
  • The Predators power play was 0-5. Johansen scored just seconds after a power play had ended.
  • The Predators PK was excellent. They killed all 4 of the Jets man advantage chances including the 5 minute major against Austin Watson. 

This was a game that the Predators could not lose. And they did a good job of battling back in a hostile environment to secure the win.

The Predators are showing a resiliency and push that they did not show at this time last season. Rather than limping into the end of the season- like last year- the Predators are building momentum and confidence.

And that bodes well for this team.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Colton Sissons

3. Colin Wilson

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Predators Clobber Colorado 5-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Avalanche in a critical Central Division tilt. The Predators lead the Avalanche by 6 points and occupy the 7th spot in the West and the first wild card slot. The Avalanche have 70 points and want to desperately close the gap on the Predators.

The game had a playoff atmosphere with physical play and chippiness abounding throughout the game.The physical play and intensity certainly looked like a post season game.

Blake Comeau gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead after the first period as he got position at the top of the  crease  and backhanded a puck past Pekka Rinne.

Filip Forsberg answered with his 28th goal of the year to tie the game at 1 as he beat Chet Pickard with a wrist shot.

Gabriel Landeskog gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead going into the second intermission as his slap shot would leak through Rinne.

The third period was  all Predators as Rinne would make some excellent saves and got run support from James Neal, Mike Fisher, Shea Weber, and Miikka Salomaki, the last 2 goals empty netters. Fisher picked up the game winner, gathering in a rebound and whistling a wrist shot past Pickard to the far post.

Some observations:

  • I like Anthony Bitetto, and I think that he is going to be a solid defenseman for the Predators, but dang, he has got to clear the front of the net. He was too soft on the Avs first goal by Comeau and he has got to learn that the space in front of the crease is his space and not let the opponent establish prime scoring position.
  • Barret Jackman was a healthy scratch for the third game in a row.
  • Filip Forsberg continues to play excellent hockey. It is no secret that he has great hands and a wicked release. An aspect of Forsberg's game that is underestimated by many opponents is his ability to go to high traffic areas and find space. He has scored many of his goals from hard areas, and that is the mark of a great scorer. With his goal this afternoon, Forsberg has 14 goals in his last 14 games.
  • James Neal was the beneficiary of a great defensive play by Ryan Johansen. RyJo stole the puck and took it hard to the net and Neal, trailing the play, buried his 23rd goal of the season. Great hustle and effort by both players.
  • Great intensity by the Predators, especially in the third period as the Predators matched the physicality of the Avs and stepped up their attack on the Avs net. Trailing going into the third period, one knew the Avs were going to try to step up their intensity and take the attack to the Predators. instead, the Predators took the game to the Avs and changed the tenor of the game by being the aggressor. Good to see from this team.
  • Since mid January, the Predators are 9-0-2 on the road. This is exceptional hockey by the Predators and has to be a major confidence boost for the team.
  • The Predators now have points in 12 straight games, and this is essential in the tight playoff race. It is good to see the Predators hitting their stride at this pivotal point of the season.
  • The Predators were brutal in the face off dot, winning 20 of 62 draws for 32%.
  • The Predators out shot the Avs 40-36.
  • Both teams blocked 22 shots.
  • The PK was much better tin this game for the Predators, killing all 4 of the Avs man advantage chances.
  • Pekka Rinne made some very big stops, especially in the third period. Good all around positioning and play by the big netminder, and the team in front of him is feeding off his play and confidence. 
  • Big ups to Austin Watson for being willing to drop the gloves with Jerome Iginla. Not so much for the quality of the scrap but the statement that the Predators were not going to back down from the Avalanche and were willing to be as physical and nasty as the Avs wanted to be. I think this really helped to set a tone for the Predators that was positive and they capitalized on it.
The Predators showed me that they can ramp up their intensity and play a game that has playoff style intensity. They elevated their game against an intense and hungry opponent. Balanced scoring and solid plays from all lines were the hallmark of this win.

And this was very encouraging for the team.

Mot only does this win keep them well ahead of the Avalanche, but also the Minnesota Wild, who won this afternoon.

Now to keep the momentum rolling.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Filip Forsberg

3. Pekka Rinne

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Predators Blow Leads and the Game, Fall to the Devils In OT

The Nashville Predators are absolutely horrible in overtime.

They continued that trend, falling to 1-11 in the extra period, and dropping a decision to the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in a game that saw the Predators blow 4 leads.

Power play goals were the order of business in the first period and in the game. Craig Smith put the Predators on the board first with his 16th goal of the season and the Predators on the power play. Kyle Palmieri answered on the power play for the Devils to send the game into the first intermission tied at 1.

Nashville took a 2-1 lead on a Mike Ribeiro power play goal off a deflection of a Roman Josi shot with the Predators on the power play.

Paul Gaustad made it 3-1 Predators off a nice assist from Austin Watson.

Looking like they were in control and cruising, the Predators gave uop a soft goal when Pekka Rinne stopped a Jon Merrill shot but couldn't find the puck. Devante Smith-Pelley got his stick on the puck that was lying in the blue paint and it trickled over the goal line to make it 3-2 at the end of the second period.

Travis Zajac tied the game at 3 in the third period with the Devils again on the power play.

Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-3 lead with 1:29 to go in the game when he beat Keith Kincade for his 27th goal of the year.

With Kincade pulled, Adam Henrique gathered in a rebound and beat Rinne to tie the game at 4 with 39 seconds left.

Heading to overtime, the Predators once again looked lost and confused, and their woes were compounded with a delay of game call on Rinne.

That lead to henrique's second goal of the game with the Devils on a 4 on 3 power play. Henrique banged a rebound past Rinne for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • Look up inept in the dictionary and you will find a picture of the Predators playing OT hockey. They look lackadaisical, confused, and have absolutely no sense of urgency. I really don't like the second unit that Head Coach Peter Laviolette sent out on the ice. Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and Filip Forsberg. No offense whatsoever in the OT for the Predators as they failed to register even 1 shot on goal. The Devils had 6. The Predators are now 1-11 in OT. Think how much better positioned this team would be in the playoff race if they had captured even half of the points they have left on the table. The play of this team in OT is unacceptable.
  • The PK struggled tonight. No, they were woeful. They Failed to kill any of the Devils man advantage opportunities. Rinne made some saves, but when the puck was kicked out to the off side, there was no coverage, allowing the Devils easy scoring opportunities. This unit looked really off tonight.
  • Rinne was not bad tonight, but he was not his usual spectacular self. The Smith-Pelley goal was terribly soft. He got little help on the power play goals that he gave up.
  • Craig Smith has started to heat up. His power play goal was a perfectly placed shot under the crossbar while driving the net. Good to see Smith starting to find the net consistently.
  • Not sure why the team even has Mike Ribeiro taking face offs. he was a dreadful 25% in the dot tonight.
  • Ribeiro did do a good job of going to the front of the net and had a nice deflection of Josi's shot for a power play goal.
  • The Predators power play cashed in on both their chances.
  • Filip Forsberg established a new career high with his 27th goal.
  • With his assist on Smith's goal, Shea Weber now has the all time team lead in power play points (183) by a defenseman, passing Kimmo Timmonen (182).
  • The Predators set a new franchise record with points in 11 straight games.
  • Big props to Mike Fisher, who skated in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight. A good player and an even better person. Congratulations, Mike.
This was a game for the taking by the Predators. Instead, their mistakes and their sloppy play cost them a point.

This is the kind of game that the Predators have to put behind them and get back on the horse and start winning games.

The test will be if they can put this putrid play behind them against Colorado on Saturday.

My three stars:

1. Adam Henrique

2. Filip Forsberg

3. Keith Kincade

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Predators Slam the Stars 5-3

The Nashville Predators continued their torrid play of late, demolishing the Dallas Stars 5-3 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators have recorded a point in 10 straight games, tying a team record. The Predators are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games.

The Predators got on the board first as Craig Smith tallied his 15th goal of the season from the top of the crease, beating Antti Niemi, who could not control the rebound.

The Stars would tie the game just 10 seconds later as Antoine Roussel would beat Anthony Bitetto off the boards to stuff the puck between Pekka Rinne's skate and the post.

The teams would head into intermission tied at 1 but with the talented Stars holding a decided territorial and shot advantage.

That would change in the second period as the Predators would light up Niemi for 3 goals and chase him from the game.

Calle Jarnkrok showed some amazing hands to re-direct a James Neal Shot past Niemi to make it 2-1.

Shea Weber unleashed a blast from the blue line that Niemi is still looking for to make it 3-1. Weber's power play goal was his 16th of the season.

Mattias Ekholm slid a backhander past Niemi to end his night and make it 4-1 for the Predators.

The Stars cut the lead to 4-2 late in the second period with a 5 on 3 power play goal by Jason Spezza.

In the third period, James Neal extended the lead to 5-2 with a shot placed short side between the pads of Kari Lehtonen.

Vern fiddler would end the scoring with a goal from the point through traffic for the final margin of 5-3.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed back Shea Weber, who had missed the last 3 games with a lower body injury. Weber lasered a blast from the blue line that just blew past Niemi for a goal. He also picked up 2 assists on the night. He laso unleashed a blast from the face off circle that caused a brief delay as the shot hit Lehtonen in parts. Lehtonen stayed in the game but was in obvious discomfort. It is no wonder that opponents don't want to get in front of Weber's shot when he loads it up.
  • Weber's goal tonight gives him 162 for his career. he is one goal away from tying Martin Erat (163) for second all time for the Predators. Weber has 182 points on the power play (78G-104A) to tie Kimmo Timmonen for first all time in power play points.
  • Balanced scoring and contributions from throughout the line up, and that is what it takes to win games in this league. The Predators forwards were flying on the forecheck and had good break outs that created some scoring chances. As Ryan Johansen said after the game, this team is getting a sense of swagger and it shows.
  • This was the 12th time this season that the Predators have scored 5 or more goals.
  • Craig Smith has been playing some very good hockey lately. He is moving his feet, going to the front of the net, and battling in tough areas for the puck. And he has been rewarded for his efforts. He has 9 points (4G-5A) in his last 11 games.
  • The Predators are 6-1-2 in their last 9 home games against the Stars. The last time the Stars won in regulation in Bridgestone Arena was April 12, 2013.
  • The Predators were 53% in the face off circle.
A strong game by the Predators against a very good Stars team. A balanced attack and, for the most, some solid defense led to this win. Even though Rinne gave up 3 goals, I can't fault him on the 5 on 3 marker and the Fiddler goal through traffic. His confident play has flowed through this squad and it is translating to wins on the ice.

In the ultra competitive West, the Predators will need to keep it rolling.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. James Neal

3. Craig Smith