Rinne Wins Vezina – Finally

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s about darn time, y’all. After being nominated three times previously (2011, 2012, 2015), fourth time was the charm for our beloved Finnish goaltender.

Pekka knocked off Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and fellow Central Division goaltender, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.

Congrats, Peks!

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Watson Arrested for possible Domestic Assault

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Image Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Earlier this morning, it was first reported via Predneck Nation that Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson was arrested over the weekend for a possible domestic assault incident.

Here is the arrest affidavit information released by The Tennessean:

According to an arrest affidavit, just after 7 p.m. that day, a Franklin police officer was flagged down by a witness for a possible domestic situation at the Shell Station on Murfreesboro Road.

When the officer responded, he noticed a vehicle at the station whose passenger was trying to “back away from being shoved away,” the affidavit states. “The passenger said ‘stop’ and was trying to cover her face.”

When the officer made contact with the driver, later identified as Watson, he said that he and his girlfriend, who was the passenger, were having an argument about her drinking and not being able to attend a wedding, the officer wrote in the affidavit.

At the scene, the affidavit continues, Watson admitted to pushing his girlfriend and the officer said he noticed red marks on her chest.

Yikes, Watty.

As expected, the Nashville Predators released a statement regarding the arrest as well:

“We are aware of the incident involving Austin Watson on Saturday night. We are still gathering facts and it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time, but this is a matter that we are taking very seriously and will cooperate fully with the investigation by law enforcement. The Nashville Predators have and will continue to stand side by side with AMEND in the fight to end violence against women.”

The AMEND Campaign is program created by the YWCA that, per their website, “seeks to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls by empowering young men and boys to become the catalyst for cultural change”. Unfortunately, Austin Watson played a major role in the promotion of this project and the video has since been removed from their site.

The NHL has also responded with their own response, as reported by Katie Strang:

I’ll be the first to admit, I do not keep up with the players and their relationship statuses so the confusion between if it was his girlfriend or wife raises many questions. To squash any rumors that this also involved a cheating situation, this is what we have gathered since this news first broke earlier this morning:

Because the first tweet was confirmed by the organization, take that as truth; as for this second tweet, take it as you will. But let it be known that this was not a cheating situation (not that it makes this accusation any better).

So what does this mean for Watson and his future with the Predators? Well, let us remind you that he has not had his day in court yet (6/28/18 at 1PM) and, as of right now, this is just an accusation. No, I am not defending what took place, but there is still much more to hear before judgement is cast. However, with what was detailed in the affidavit, it isn’t sounding too good for the young forward.

As more information is released, I will update this post with the latest. Until then, let’s all hope for the best and that this isn’t another incident like the Mike Ribeiro one.

 

 

Mike Fisher announces Retirement

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Photo Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After seventeen seasons and 1,088 NHL games, it is time for Nashville Predators Captain Mike Fisher to hang up his skates. Although it had been the talk since the Predators fell to the Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Fisher made his officially announcement this morning with The Tennessean.

Chosen in the second round (44th overall) in the 1998 NHL Draft, Fisher began (and spent the majority of) his tenured NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. However, on February 10, 2011, the veteran was traded to Nashville for the Predators’ first round draft pick in the 2011 Draft and a conditional pick in 2012. Of course, there was a little speculation that Nashville sought out Mike Fisher, not only for his due to being a superior Centerman, but because he – at that point – had just married Country superstar, Carrie Underwood. The reasoning behind this thought was the connection between Country music and hockey would essentially put more butts in the seats at Bridgestone. Whether that was the true case or not, Nashville gained not only a great centerman, but an effective leader on and off the ice. Fisher was even awarded the 2012 NHL Foundation Player Award, which is given to the NHL player who exemplifies the core values of hockey – commitment, teamwork, and perseverance.

Even as early as last year, rumors began to swirl about Fisher and a possible retirement. However, despite those conditions, the Nashville Predators named Fisher the 7th captain in franchise history on September 7, 2016.

“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I know I’ve made the right one. I’ve decided to retire from the NHL.

I kept praying for peace about the next step in my life. A peace that said this is God’s will for your future. A peace that said whether or not this was the right time to walk away.”

– Mike Fisher

I won’t post Fisher’s letter to the fans in its entirety in respect to The Tennessean, but you can read #12’s heartfelt message here.

But to Mike – thank you.
Thank you for everything you brought to our hockey franchise and to the city of Nashville as a whole. Your on and off ice contributions in our community will never be matched and we are better humans for knowing you. You will truly be missed on the ice, but I have a feeling you’ll still be around. Congratulations on retirement; you deserve it.

JOFA Line Back in Business: NSH & Johansen agree on Contract

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Happy birthday to me, y’all. Seriously, it’s my birthday and I am going to choose to believe that Ryan Johansen and his agent purposefully held out on a contract agreement until today. True story.

But for those of you who want the real facts, the Nashville Predators announced shortly after 2PM today that a special presser would be held at 3PM & almost everyone had their thoughts as to what it would be about:

Oh, but it did, Justin. It. Did. Shortly after Justin Bradford tweeted this, Adam Vingan of the Tennessean posted his article announcing that Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators had indeed come to an agreement on a new contract. Those contract details?

Eight years, $64 million.

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Image Source: Brooks Bratten/Nashville Predators

POW.

So with that news, it is official: the JOFA line is back in business. In case you aren’t sure who or what the JOFA line is, it consists of Ryan JOhansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson. Forsberg is already in year two of a six-year, $36M contract and Arvidsson just signed his seven-year, $29.75M contract on July 22nd.

In the presser today at 3PM, Ryan Johansen also announced that has recovered from his injury sustained during the playoffs (acute compartment syndrome) and is ready for a new season.

 

Preds lose Neal to Expansion Draft

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Image Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Well, as soon as it was announced that Calle Jarnkrok was protected by Nashville to leave Neal exposed to the Expansion Draft, we knew it would be coming. We could easily argue both sides of the coin, but let’s be honest: losing James Neal is a difficult pill to swallow. Even with young guns like Pontus Aberg and Colton Sissons out in the water, exposing a veteran power forward with a ton of gas still left in the tank was just too tempting to pass up for the Vegas Golden Knights. The loss of James Neal will free up $5M in cap space for the Predators, but that doesn’t take the sting out, does it?

We will have more information from the organization once it becomes available.

 

UPDATE: Fiala hospitalized after early 2nd Period spill

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Image Source: NBC Sports

UPDATE: Per Thomas Willis, Digital Manager and Producer for the Nashville Predators, Kevin Fiala will be out the remainder of the playoffs with a fractured femur.

Just moments into the second period of Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, the Predators would find themselves down one of their key contributors to the playoffs thus far.

While fighting to maintain possession, Kevin Fiala skidded awkwardly feet-first into the boards, followed by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. Unable to get up on his own, a stretcher was brought out to assist the 20-year-old winger off the ice and to a local hospital. Per a recent update, Fiala is alert and in stable condition. Kudos to several St. Louis players, including Vladimir Tarasenko, for assisting the medical staff as they tended to Fiala.

Losing Fiala could be a rather significant blow for Nashville; especially since it looks like it could be for the long run. The Predators will just need to regroup and adjust as much as possible against this physical St. Louis bunch.

Michael Haley Suspended for barrage on Calle Jarnkrok

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Photo Source: USA TODAY Sports

The Department of Player Safety just announced that San Jose forward, Michael Haley will be suspended for one game (without pay) for his retaliation attack on Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok during Saturday’s match. Here’s some of the official word from the NHL:

The incident occurred at 12:56 of the third period. Haley was assessed a match penalty. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Haley will forfeit $3,472.22. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

While some would argue that Haley’s “cheap shot” should warrant more than just one day of suspension, Calle Jarnkrok was active is yesterday’s practice and should be in the lineup for tonight’s bout against the New York Islanders. And Jarnkrok’s hit on Haley should not be overlooked either. Watch the video below to see the entire incident:

 
Calle Jarnkrok is by no means a dirty player and this was certainly not intentional boarding by any measure, but it is understandable why a player with 14 fights this season would fly off the handle after such a hit. Because of his gut reaction, Haley was ejected from the game and ultimately suspended for San Jose’s game tomorrow against the New York Rangers. After seeing a few Sharks fans a little upset (on Twitter) that Jarnkrok did not get called for boarding, it is important to note that while he was getting checked for a broken nose, Kevin Fiala served his boarding penalty for him. So there goes that argument.

Vladislav Kamenev called up by NSH

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Image Source: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Nashville’s second round draft pick (42nd overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft may just make his NHL debut this evening against the Florida Panthers. The Predators announced earlier this afternoon that Vladislav Kamenev, the 6’2″ Russian center, was called up from the Milwaukee Admirals due to injury involving James Neal (upper-body, missed last night’s game in Tampa), Viktor Arvidsson, and Mike Ribeiro (both left the game yesterday with undisclosed injuries).

The 20-year-old currently flies second in goals this season for the Admirals, with nine goals and fifteen assists. Center Trevor Smith leads him by one with 10 goals, eleven assists.

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Subban out against MTL on Tuesday

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Image Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Say it ain’t so… P.K. Subban will miss Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, his first chance to face his former team this season. And if his upper-body injury is as bad as speculated, he may miss his second opportunity in March. Per Elliotte Friedman, Subban is to meet with team doctors to discuss treatment for a possible herniated disc. He also mentioned the possibility of surgery, which would leave him on the mend for an extended period of time. Of course, that is worst case scenario, but it also cannot be ruled out until a decision is made from team doctors.

Subban, who lead the team in ice time before his injury on December 15th, could potentially be out for the remainder of the regular season; can Nashville rally around themselves and make the push without him? Well, since Subban’s absence after 12/15, Nashville has been 3-2-2, which isn’t fabulous, but not the absolute worst either. While it hurts to lose someone as dynamic in defense as Subban, Nashville has plenty of other strong defenseman to rely on, including Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis. The world won’t end without Subban in the lineup, but it sure puts a further kink into Nashville’s push towards the playoffs.

UPDATE:

Per the Predators organization, P.K. Subban has been placed on the Injured Reserve and his condition will be reevaluated in two to three weeks.

 

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Subban to miss next two games; questionable against MTL

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Image Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

December 15th. That was the last time P.K. Subban suited up for the Predators since sustaining an upper-body injury. Although he is still listed as day-to-day, The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan reported earlier today that Subban is expected to miss the next two games on the schedule: Chicago (tonight) at home and St. Louis (tomorrow) on the road.

While there is no bad news coming from information regarding his injuries, there is no good news either. The defenseman has been absent from practice, but has remained active in the community. Not to say one cannot be injured and still perform community service acts, but to me, it’s a good sign.

One of the biggest concerns regarding Subban’s injury, however, is will he be ready to face his former team on Tuesday night? Due to the Subban-Weber trade being one of the biggest shakeups of the off-season, the first meeting between the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday is expected to be a highly anticipated event. But if you have Shea Weber, but no P.K. Subban, it sort of takes the wind out of the fun, right?

Of course, on Nashville’s end, you don’t want to possibly cause further injury by having Subban return before he is 100% ready just for show. However, as the leader of ice time before his injury on the 15th, Nashville is more than ready to have P.K. back in the lineup.

While Montreal has blossomed thus far with both Shea Weber and former Predator Alexander Radulov (21-9-5, 1st Atlantic), the Predators have had a bit of a difficult time adjusting (15-13-6, 6th Central) since the loss of the tenacious defenseman that was (and is) Shea Weber. However, from a Montreal fan point-of-view, the loss of P.K. Subban outweighs the nine goals, eleven assists he has produced for the Canadiens. At least, that’s what we’ve heard. While Nashville has not lived up to the hype that the NHL expected after a successful 2015-16 run, there is still time for the Predators to turn this train around. But let’s not beat around the bush; it isn’t much time. Tonight’s bout against divisional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, could be the much needed win that pushes the Predators back into Stanley Cup contention (hey, we are trying to stay positive here). While the Predators have the talent, the constant inconsistency is what is holding Nashville back. It’s like the old Jerry Reed song that goes, “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.” I would say that’s a good way to describe how Nashville has fared thus far this season. Truthfully, they will need to find another song before Sunday if they want to see the playoffs. Where’s DJ Eric Nystrom with the playlist when you need him?

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