Preds are Officially Playoff Bound

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With the Colorado Avalanche losing to the Washington Capitals tonight 4-2, the Nashville Predators are officially playoff bound. Fourth time seems to be the charm for Nashville, as they’ve had the opportunity to clinch a spot since March 28th. Of course, as you are probably aware, the Predators have gone 0-3 on their last three games, so it took Nashville’s former head coach to get the job done by knocking off the Avalanche.

Whatever way, Nashville is officially in and since the Blackhawks won and the Wild lost, there’s a good chance the Predators will face either the Kings or the Ducks in the first round. It also looks like the Blackhawks and the Blues will face each other in the first round (if you care).

It’s officially time to #StandWithUs, Smashville. Oh, and finish out the last four regular season games, too.

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Predators rally past Capitals 4-3

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Phew! You want to talk about a dirty, gritty win for the Predators? Well, last night was certainly an example of a robbery in progress and there was nothing Barry Trotz and the Capitals could do but watch. Granted, the Predators started the game out on the right foot, but leave it to Alexander Ovechkin to come roaring in to help the Capitals take and hold the lead late into the third period. Ah, but those pesky Preds had other ideas up their sleeves.

SCRATCHES: Viktor Stalberg (who has a birthday today) and Pekka Rinne

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Braden Holtby didn’t waste a moment showing off how on fire he has been as of late, keeping the first period rather uneventful until at 16:16 when Seth Jones’ (3) wrister sent the young goaltender falling backwards and the puck floating in the net. Calle Jarnkrok (7) collected the lone assist on Jones’ game-starter.
  • But before Jones got the ball rolling, the much anticipated video tribute to former head coach Barry Trotz was aired to a standing ovation. In fact, I couldn’t even hear what the video was saying because the cheers were so deafening. You can view the tribute here.
  • SOG: NSH – 10, SOG: WSH – 8 at the end of the first period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • James Neal collected his 14th of the season at 1:50 into the second period, giving Nashville an early 2-0 lead with a beautiful deflection from Mike Fisher, leaving the net wide open. Mike Fisher (9) and Victor Bartley (7) pick up the assists.
  • But it was bound to happen: Ovi woke up. Ovechkin notched his 23rd goal of the season after sinking his signature in the top left corner of the net; Carter Hutton had no chance.
  • Capitalizing on a powerplay chance, Ovechkin (24) would sink another past Hutton to tie the game, sending the Predators defense into an obvious panic.
  • SOG: NSH – 8, SOG: WSH – 14 at the end of the second.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Marcus Johansson would give Washington a lead of 3-2 at 2:38 into the third period on a powerplay opportunity.
  • But thanks to a powerplay slapshot from Mattias Ekholm (4) at 15:31, the Predators found a much needed spark to push through the remainder of the period.
  • At 18:20, James Neal (15) would sink one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen, giving the Predators a 4-3 lead late in the third.

NOTEWORTHY NOTES:

  • Carter Hutton’s record now improves to 1-3-2 as he collects his first win of the season. A much deserved stat as well, since some folks seem to think Carter Hutton is a horrible, no good goaltender.
  • Hand it to Seth Jones for clocking 23:01 minutes of ice time and collecting his third goal and tenth assist of the season.
  • James Neal is now tied with Filip Forsberg for goal leader amongst the Predators at 15.
  • Though the Islanders notched 30 wins before the Predators last night (due to being in the Eastern Time Zone), Nashville is still on a franchise march. The Predators are now 30-9-4 on the season in mid-January, a stat that took the team all the way until March last season to reach.

I’ll leave you with the post game presser of Barry Trotz’s take on his tribute video and a reminder that the Predators are at it again tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are also coming in after playing last night, defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime. There are a lot of doubters amongst the league on if Nashville’s leadership is just a fluke, but that’s what tends to push the human spirit to persevere.

Noteworthy Notes: Welcome Back, Trotz!

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Unless you live under a rock and are just now crawling up from underneath it, you know that a certain someone who helped establish Nashville as a legitimate hockey town will be making an appearance tonight on the opposing team’s bench. Yes, Mitch Korn will be here also but I’m talking about former Predators head coach (and now head coach of the Washington Capitals), Barry Trotz.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to tonight’s match up (the game sold out a few days ago), you’ll be certain to get a little teary-eyed with a touching tribute video to the former coach who helped Nashville in so many ways both on and off the ice. But don’t you dare forget this man is here to collect two points and hit the road and what better way to continue their three-game winning streak than to knock out the league leader?

  • Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith, Wilson-Fisher-Neal, Cullen-Jarnkrok-Jokinen, and Bourque-Gaustad-Beck were today’s lines during practice.
  • Eric Nystrom skated with the team this morning (his second straight practice), but since he is not listed in the lines above, don’t expect him in the game tonight.
  • If you missed any information yesterday, Pekka Rinne will be out for around 3-5 weeks due to his sprained knee injury.
  • Marek Mazanec was called up from Miwaukee to backup Carter Hutton in Rinne’s absence.
  • As a stark reminder of how you should have some faith in Carter Hutton, one year ago today he made one of the most incredible (very Pekka-esque) saves ever… well, made:

From the World Wide World of Twitter:

Preds trample Canucks 5-1; Rinne Injured in Process

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Source: Yahoo! Sports

The Predators improved their record to 29-9-4 after trampling the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 last night, but that wasn’t before losing goaltender Pekka Rinne a few minutes into the third period. Chris Higgins slid into Rinne while storming the crease and both collided into the boards. Higgins got up unscathed; Peks, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant. After reluctantly leaving the ice, it was announced that Rinne had suffered a lower-body injury and would not return for the remainder of the game. Carter Hutton, who had been sitting stone-cold for a good two hours, was prepared to be thrown to the metaphorical wolves.

SCRATCHES: Viktor Stalberg and Mark Arcobello

First Period:

  • Craig Smith got the ball rolling at 4:07 with a powerplay goal, which – notably – Nashville has gotten a better hand at, to say the least. Colin Wilson (15) and Mike Ribeiro snag the assists on Smith’s 13th goal of the season.
  • After notching an assist, Colin Wilson would collect his 13th goal of the season at 6:22 to put Nashville up 2-0 early. Mike Fisher (8) and James Neal (11) would assist in Wilson’s goal.
  • SOG – NSH: 12, SOG – VAN: 9

Second Period:

  • Vancouver came out in the second with a fire lit under their pants, giving Nashville the runaround for a majority of the period. Alexander Edler would put the Canucks on the board at 2:47 for his fifth goal of the season.
  • SOG – NSH: 9, SOG – VAN: 11

Third Period:

  • And we have reached the point in the post where we return to the first paragraph: Vancouver’s Higgins slides into Rinne, causing both to crash into the boards behind the net.
    MeekFatherlyFlickertailsquirrelAs you can see, it really wasn’t that bad of a collision and Anton Volchenkov also had a play in Rinne hitting into the boards (but we like to blame the Canucks for any and everything). As previously mentioned, Rinne was hesitant to leave the game and left on his own power, leading me to believe that Rinne being pulled from the remainder of the game was more of a precautionary tool than anything. Let me finish the recap and we’ll return to this subject.
  • Carter Hutton wiped off his cap, slapped on his pads, and hit the ice, his first appearance on home ice this entire season (his previous five appearances were on the road).
  • The Canucks pressured Hutton and the net well after he entered the game, but a noticeable fire was lit under the Predators.
  • Filip Forsberg put the Predators up 3-1 at 13:32 for his 15th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (29) and Victor Bartley (6) notched the assists.
  • Mike Fisher would take the Preds up 4-1 at 15:31 for his 8th goal of the season. James Neal (12) and Colin Wilson (16) would tally an assist from Fisher’s goal.
  • And, what was originally called as Craig Smith’s goal, Colin Wilson collected his second goal of the night (14th overall) on the powerplay at 17:39, taking the wheels right out from under the Canucks.
  • SOG – NSH: 9, SOG – VAN: 11

Noteworthy Notes:

  • Carter Hutton, though he came in for Rinne in the third, does not actually collect the win; Pekka still does. This is due in part to the fact Hutton did not allow a goal, but Rinne did during his time in net. Had Hutton allowed a goal and Nashville still won, he would’ve collected the win.
  • Hutton did, however, stop the ten shots on goal that came his way, and many were pretty nail-biting.
  • Mike Ribeiro continues to be a proving asset to the Predators as he has now tallied 20 points in his last 20 games.
  • This is the third time in Colin Wilson’s career that he has tallied four points within a game. The kid’s on fire.
  • Back to Pekka: Later on after the game, it was announced that Rinne was day-to-day with his lower-body injury and that he would be re-evaluated on Thursday. Again, I believe that he being pulled from the game last night was purely precautionary and a “rather be safe than sorry” scenario; boy, do I hope I am right. Because he was able to get up on his own, stretch, and debated on whether he’d go back to the net or not is my reasoning behind believing this may just be a safety measure. Again, I really, really hope I am right. As great as Nashville has been, Pekka Rinne is a huge factor in that success and it would be hard to seal those gritty wins without him.

The Predators take two days off – plenty of time to work some kinks out – and then welcome in Barry Trotz (and Joel Ward, Mike Latta, and Jack Hillen) to Nashville on Friday. It is also Mike Fisher bobblehead night, though I think the game may already be sold out. Stub Hub and NHL Ticket Exchange have tickets available, but – in personal experience – my tickets sold in less than fifteen minutes yesterday. Needless to say, if you want to go, you better get on it.

As for Pekka Rinne, I will keep you updated as news becomes available regarding his condition. Cross your fingers, say your prayers, do whatever your little superstitious heart desires, Preds fans.

Preds tally Win over Wild 3-1

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After capturing the top of the league on Thursday night, the Predators would need to continue with a win in St. Paul to hang onto that title just a little bit longer. The Wild, who have been having some rather interesting issues, are hurting for a win, and what better way to knock the best team in the league for a loop?

SCRATCHES: Mark Arcobello
NOTEWORTHY: Update on injuries, Ryan Ellis will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break (January 24-25), which means he’s out for at least two weeks; he has also been placed on the IR with an lower-body injury. Also, Eric Nystrom’s injury has gone from undisclosed to classified as an upper-body.

First Period:

  • Mike Fisher would get the ball rolling early in the first period with his seventh goal of the season at 4:01. Colin Wilson (14), who has been on fire this season (to say the least), picked up the lone assist.
  • Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle would tie the game at 14:14 for his fourth goal of the season.
  • The Wild would outshoot the Predators 14 to 8, pointing out just how incredible Pekka Rinne really is.

Second Period:

  • Both the Wild and the Predators would take nine shots on goal, but none could make their way past the opposing goaltenders during the second period.
  • Nashville took four penalties during the second period alone, including one from Pekka Rinne (served by Craig Smith). Even more proof on why Pekka Rinne is the best goaltender in this league this season.

Third Period:

  • Calle Jarnkrok would collect his fifth goal of the season at 3:48 after being in the right place at the right time whilst Niklas Backstrom was distracted. Olli Jokinen (3) and Shea Weber (19) tallied the assists.
  • At 8:47, Colin Wilson would notch his 12th of the season with the unassisted game winning goal.
  • Though Wilson sealed the game winner within the first ten minutes of the period, the game certainly wasn’t over. With just a few minutes left in the game, Matt Cooke decided cross-checking Shea Weber in the face was a good idea. It wasn’t.
    B7HPM8eCYAIi_BF

    Source: TheScore.com

    As the wise Antoine Dodson once said:

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Needless to say, Angry Shea reared his ugly head and beat Matt Cooke to a pulp. Here’s the video of said beat-down:

And, if watching his teammate get his butt kicked wasn’t enough, Nate Prosser stepped up to duke it out with Mike Fisher with just a minute and a half left in the game:

And, as you can see from the video, Angry Mike also made an appearance after Prosser took a cheap shot at Taylor Beck.

After kicking the Wild’s keister not only physically but numerically as well, the Predators secured another day as the leaders of the league and improved their record to 28-9-4. The Predators welcome in the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday and then Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Forsberg gives Preds the Edge over Oilers 1-0 in OT

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images-

How about that “Scoresberg”, y’all? For Predators fans, he could essentially be considered a Saint; as for the Capitals faithful? Well, they are still peeved over that Martin Erat/Mike Latta trade, and you can’t blame them. Though he was just a draft pick at the time (where as Erat/Latta had were exposed to the NHL), Forsberg was certainly a risky pickup. Did David Poile successfully predict his potential? Apparently, but we doubt he’d be the Rookie Offensive leader if he were still under the guidance of Barry Trotz.

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I won’t go into the highlights of last night’s game other than Filip Forsberg’s goal at 3:55 in overtime for his tenth goal of the season. Roman Josi (8) and Shea Weber (8) nabbed the assists on the rookie phenom’s goal, giving Nashville the victory on Thanksgiving. The Oilers have now lost eight in a row, losing by one point in each of those games (minus the 7-1 loss against Chicago). Edmonton is floating in a boat all too familiar to the Predators; you have great talent (such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), but something just isn’t connecting. Whether that missing piece be within the coaching staff or the players, they have good pieces, but they just haven’t found the rhythm. Good news, though! The Columbus Blue Jackets, who Nashville faces on Saturday night, are last in the league (Edmonton is above them with 16 points). Oh, and let us not forget to mention that it was also Mike Fisher’s season debut. No big deal.

Laviolette named Head Coach of Predators

Courtesy: Yahoo! Images

Courtesy: Yahoo! Images

Sorry I’m late to the party — I was actually at LP Field (where the Tennessee Titans play, for those of you who are NFL-challenged) on a tour with my company when the news broke. Any who, so by now you know Nashville has hired Peter Laviolette as the new Head Coach, the second HC in Predators franchise history. Laviolette has had his name in the hat since Trotz was handed the pink slip, so it was no surprise when it was finally announced that he would be taking over the coveted position.

Laviolette agreed to a multi-year contract and is a former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders. He ended up winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Hurricanes and went to the Cup Final with the Flyers in 2010. Philadelphia then fired him early in the 2013-14 season, though Laviolette has a 389-282-25-63 overall NHL record; Trotz’s record? 557-479-60-100.

With the presence of a new HC, you know that means some of the pieces to the Trotz administration will change. Though Lane Lambert and Phil Housley are expected to stay with Nashville, goal-tending Coach Mitch Korn will more than likely go with Trotz on his future endeavors, which is a detrimental loss for Nashville.

The Predators will be having a formal presser at 2PM CT and we will add more details as they arrive.

Highlights from the press conference:

Barry Trotz Out as Head Coach

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Though you knew it was coming, it was announced just moments ago that Barry Trotz was relieved of his duties as Head Coach with the Nashville Predators.
Trotz has been there from the get-go; he even had a hand in selecting the franchise name. But after fifteen years and with little hope for a Stanley Cup, it was time to part ways.

What Barry Trotz has done for this organization cannot be overlooked nor replaced. He helped establish Nashville as a contender in hockey and placed Nashville on a permanent ice hockey map when it was deemed nearly impossible. Calling him a class act is an understatement & he will be genuinely missed, even by those who have been calling for his head since the beginning.

Though details as to who will be his replacement or any set reason for his firing haven’t been released, we will post it as soon as information becomes available. As for those wondering what will happen to Trotz? Don’t worry – he won’t be unemployed for long; he will make another NHL General Manager extremely happy.

What were your favorite Trotzy moments?

https://twitter.com/PredsWebGirl/status/455739854140481536

New Details:

  • Per the official press release, Trotz has been offered a position with the Predators Hockey Ops Department.

  • General Manager David Poile to host press conference at 3:30PM to discuss the details of this morning’s news.

 

News from the Press Conference:

 

Seek Change or Bent on Tradition: Nashville’s Fan Base

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Though the odds were slim (miniscule, even), coming into last night’s game against Dallas, Nashville still had a shot at squeezing into a playoff spot. And, in a fashion fit for a Hallmark movie, the deciding factor came down to a shootout; an area Nashville has struggled with this season and in the past. The Predators, in order to keep that playoff hope alive, needed the full two-points of a win over the Dallas Stars. Did last night’s game have a happy ending?

No.

Gabriel Bourque’s two goals kept the game tied to send it into overtime and inevitably into a shootout; Roman Josi’s shootout goal pushed Nashville to another round, but it was with the leadership of Captain Jamie Benn that snuffed the light on Nashville’s playoff hopes; and possibly a few positions as well.

No one likes missing the playoffs and, every season that is cut short, doesn’t mean heads should roll as a consequence. But for Nashville, struggle to make it to the playoffs, let alone contend, has been a multi-year occurrence. It may finally be time to put the focus on the coaching staff and their guidance. Now, before you accuse me of hating on Barry Trotz, let’s get this straight: Barry Trotz is an amazing leader on and off the ice. As Patten Fuqua so nicely put it:
https://twitter.com/smashville/status/453909920945950720

The same goes for David Poile. Some times, it’s just better to take a step back, re-evaluate the situation, and move on. Both Trotz and Poile have been at the helm of the Nashville Predators organization for fifteen years, but when you continuously hit a rut every season in just about the same area (i.e. no playoffs – second round), it’s time to make changes (and not necessarily on the player-front). Though committed wholly to this organization, many players have begun expressing their frustration; some have even asked to be traded. Will we see players ask to be traded over this upcoming off-season? Maybe, maybe not, but we wouldn’t blame them.

It’s easy for fans to turn on each other at this point; you have two dividing sides: Those seeking a major change and those bent on tradition.
Neither side is more of a “loyal fan” than the other, but at times, it gets down right vicious. But honestly, what doesn’t tempt vicious behavior on Social Media?
Everyone’s opinion is different and everyone’s view on how the team and organization can benefit varies, but let’s be honest here: Nothing proceeds without change. The game is changing and the Predators need reflect those changes before the organization winds up somewhere in Canada. I’m not saying the Predators need to throw everything out and start from scratch, but some hard-hitting decisions and changes need to be made and first and foremost is to re-evaluate the coaching staff.

So what if Trotz and Poile are booted in the off-season? Does that mean Nashville will be in the Stanley Cup finals during the 2014-15 season? No, not it doesn’t (though that’d be pretty nice). What it does mean, however, is that the organization has taken responsibility for its continuous issues and has taken what it thinks are the necessary steps in order to push forward. It also shows that the organization realizes that relying solely on a goaltender and putting the blame on his absence is complete nonsense and asinine. Mind you, the team won 27 games without Rinne, so please, put that ideology to rest, will ya?

I could dive into the details, the stats, what have you regarding why the Predators need a major change, but I will leave that to the other bloggers (they have a little bit more time and resources than I do). I can see both sides of the fan base debate, but the point of this post is to get both sides thinking. Do you want to see this organization prosper? Do you want the team you canonize to hoist the Stanley Cup? Then take a step back, re-evaluate your perspective, and allow some sort of change to happen.

Hutton makes Save of the Season

On Thursday night, the Predators took to Philadelphia to face the 24-19-4 Flyers & managed to, against all odds, win their very first shootout this season, snagging the all-important two-pointer.

But there was another key moment during this game that helped propel Nashville to the two-pointer & it was all do to Carter Hutton’s cat-like reflexes. Yes, I said Carter Hutton.

Just a day after the Predators announced that they had made a deal with the Edmonton Oilers to trade Matt Hendricks for goaltender Devan Dubnyk, it was kind of assumed that either Hutton or Mazanec would have to take a step back to the farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals. And, after Trotz’s “throw him under the bus” comments about Hutton after the 2-1 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes, it was easy to believe that Hutton was the one needing to pack his bags.

…And then he does something like this:

Like Pete Weber says in the video, this may be the highlight of his career… or something similar to that. Though Hutton’s miraculous save may have only played a small part, it was announced yesterday that Marek Mazanec would be the goalie hitting the road to Milwaukee. It makes sense, though; he is a less-mature goaltender in the NHL and will thrive well in the AHL for now, similar to how well Filip Forsberg is doing.

Tonight, however, Carter Hutton will be taking the night off as the newly acquired Devan Dubnyk has been given the “ok” to start in net tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. Despite me posting that nightmare-inducing video in the previous post, Dubnyk has grown as an individual in his game since that incident. He is currently 11-17-2 and, although we’d rather see more wins than losses, you have to think logically here: Would Edmonton give up a Pekka Rinne for a Matt Hendricks? You know that answer.