Preds prove Victorious at Home; Silence Jackets 5-2

Source: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Hey! Long time, no see! We’ve been awfully quiet lately (on the blog-front, that is) and we apologize for leaving you in the dark on here, at least. We are still staying busy on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s time to give the actual blog some loving, too!

So what’s been going on since we last posted? Well, nothing to brag about, honestly. From the horrendous road trip to Sergei Kostitsyn’s lapse in judgement, there hasn’t been much to be proud of with Nashville. But the Predators dragged themselves back home, taking on Brian McGrattan and the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Nashville has always had better luck at home and proved that fact by knocking out the same team (5-3) that pummeled them 6-3 not even a week before.

With just two points away from holding down a playoff spot, Nashville would need to come out strong against the hot-streaking Columbus – wait, what? Blue Jackets? No, that is no typo. The Blue Jackets, who is normally the weakest team of the Central Division, has found some miracle only devised by a Disney movie. Well, with whatever Peter Pan magic the Blue Jackets have come across, Nashville would need a regulation win to power back towards the playoffs. Here are the highlights from last night’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Scott Hannan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith (who is sitting pretty in Milwaukee) landed on the Scratched List last night.
  • Taylor Beck got the ball rolling at 7:11 in the first with a straightaway wrister past Sergei Bobrovsky to collect his first career NHL goal. Beck was assisted two former teammates on the Admirals Gabriel Bourque (3rd assist) and Jonathon Blum (5th assist).
  • Less than a minute later, Shea Weber sent a snap shot into the net on the powerplay for his sixth goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his forth assist along with Martin Erat picking up his 13th assist.
  • Columbus would finally notch at controversial goal at 9:29 when R.J. Umberger slipped a wrister past Rinne.
  • Columbus fans weren’t given a chance to celebrate, as David Legwand put the Preds up 3-1 at 9:46 for his seventh goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque notched his fourth assist (second of the night) and Taylor Beck nabbed his first career NHL assist.
  • A goal at 10:15 by Matt Halischuk gave Nashville it’s fastest Frotsie in franchise history, his second goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his second assist of the night (fifth overall) and Chris Mueller (first overall).
  • Rich Clune would receive a five-minute interference major along with a game misconduct, tossing him from the game. Though not seen a t first, Clune apparently elbowed Artem Anisimov in the face when he did not have the puck. However, even with a five minute penalty and a relatively strange interference on goalkeeper call on Mike Fisher, Nashville was able to hold Columbus at bay.
  • Nashville would end the first period with a history-maker, the fastest number of goals in one period in franchise history.
  • The second period would be less intense, but one goal would be scored in favor of Columbus thanks to Artem Anisimov, his eighth goal of the season.
  • Brandon Yip and Derek MacKenzie would drop the gloves at 17:06 in the second, with no explanation of what caused the tiff. You can see the video of Yip’s domination here:
  • Similar to the second period, the third stood no contest to the first period, with the only goal scored at 19:36 by Roman Josi on an empty-netter, his fifth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his eighth assist along with Martin Erat collecting his 14th overall assist.

With the way the team has played the last two games, it stands to wander “where did this team come from?” Going from one extreme to the other, Nashville definitely keeps its fans on their toes and their hearts in their throats.

Though two wins in a row relieves a little bit of stress, the Predators are still in hot water and, though a little bit closer, just aren’t as close to the shore as they need to be.

Nashville remains at home tomorrow night, welcoming in the Edmonton Oilers, who have also won their last two games. Though Edmonton is sitting in 13th, whereas Nashville is in 10th (tied with 32 points with San Jose and Columbus), the Oilers are chopping at Nashville’s tail at 29 points.

With only sixteen games left in the regular season, the room for error is getting slimmer by the minute for Nashville.

A Shutout leads to a Shootout in Nashville: Oilers & Wild Recap

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

After being completely manhandled by the L.A. Kings on Monday, the Predators took a much needed four-day rest, hoping to regenerate some sort of game plan to make it through the rest of the season. The Predators have proven they do slightly better at home this season, but back-to-back games? Let’s highlight the recaps of both games against the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild:

FRIDAY – EDMONTON OILERS

  • Patric Hornqvist picked up his first goal since returning from the IR, sending a wrist shot past Devan Dubnyk at 6:07. Colin Wilson picked up his 11th assist and Mike Fisher picked up his 5th assist.

  • Rich Clune and Mike Brown dropped gloves shortly after Hornqvist’s goal. Here is the video of the punch fest:

  • David Legwand would end the 1st period 2-0 with a strange wrist shot from the centerline that Dubnyk just didn’t seem to know what to do with. Legwand was first noted as unassisted on his fourth goal, but Colin Wilson was awarded his 12th assist on the goal. Here’s the video of this head shaking goal:

  • At 51 seconds into the second period, Rich Clune picked up his second NHL career goal, assisted by Paul Gaustad (3rd assist) and Sergei Kostitsyn (8th assist). Made up for that five for fighting, right?

  • One of the new B’s (all three actually were in the lineup as expected), Zach Boychuk made his presence known at 18:22 with his first goal of the season and first as part of the Nashville organization. His tip-in goal was assisted by Shea Weber (7th assist) and Martin Erat (10th assist).

  • Colin Wilson would lead the Predators up 5-0 at 4:43 into the 3rd with a backhander for his sixth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his sixth assist along with Shea Weber picking up his 8th assist.
  • Colin would then again nab his second goal of the night at 16:39 on the powerplay, his seventh overall. Shea Weber would collect his ninth assist, along with Craig Smith obtaining his third assist. This was Wilson’s first career 4-point game.

  • Although Nashville put a pounding on  their first meeting with Edmonton, the Oilers ultimately sent Patric Hornqvist back out of the lineup. Suffering from an upper body injury, Hornqvist missed ice time against the Minnesota Wild and will be out against Dallas for tomorrow’s game.

SATURDAY – MINNESOTA WILD

  • Ouch. Although they were shown for the likes of Steve Sullivan and Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Suter did not receive a tribute video for his contributions while with the Predators. As you heard from the video above, Nashville hadn’t forgotten Suter’s “sneaky” ways around signing with the Minnesota Wild. A video was indeed made, but after the reaction the fans would give every time Suter hit the ice, the video was canned.
  • Minnesota would strike first at 9:01 in the second with a powerplay goal by Zach Parise for his ninth goal of the season. Ryan Suter would pick up his 15th assist along with Mikko Koivu (15th assist).
  • David Legwand would tie the game at 6:28 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would collect his ninth assist and Shea Weber would collect his 10th assist.

SHOOTOUT:

MINNESOTA – Zach Parise – MISS
NASHVILLE – Gabriel Bourque – MISS
MINNESOTA – Mikko Koivu – GOAL
NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
MINNESOTA – Matt Cullen – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – MISS

  • Though not exactly the 6-0 shutout from the night before, Nashville still managed to grab a point instead being demolished by Parise and Suter. However, Colin Wilson did leave the game with an upper body injury, similar to Hornqvist’s the night before.

Nashville is currently sitting in fourth in the Central Division, with Columbus just two points behind (26, 24). However, the are sitting in an ugly 11th in the Western Conference, tied with Dallas at 10th and just two points behind St. Louis who sits in 8th. While we are at it, let’s just go ahead and tell you were Nashville sits league-wise: 20th. With less than a month left in the regular season, Nashville will have to make some major adjustments, which (in a way) they have with the Three B’s, if they want to see an extended season. Or, maybe they are just ready for an early golf season?

UPDATES:

  • Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson have now been placed on the IR, which means they will both at least be out for a week. Brandon Yip, on the other hand, has made his way off the IR, practicing with the team this morning. Hal Gill is on the mend, but is still day-to-day.
  • Matt Halischuk has returned to Nashville early, due in part to both Colin and Patric’s injuries. Though we don’t believe he was on the same track initially as Brian McGrattan, Colin and Patric’s injuries may have bought Halischuk some time. Who knows. We could be completely wrong. There is still much to be seen with the Nashville Predators.

The Three B’s: Butler, Boychuk & Bartley

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Bartley, Boychuk, and Butler

It’s no secret the Predators have dug themselves into a deep rut, so it comes as no surprise that Nashville would make some changes on the roster front to freshen and revitalize the fast approaching finish line to the playoffs.

With Brian McGrattan back with the Calgary Flames and Hal Gill and Brandon Yip recuperating on the IR, the Predators found themselves in a position to give life to a lifeless group of guys.

Insert Bobby Butler, Zach Boychuk and Victor Bartley: Nashville’s new Three B’s.

Okay yay! The Predators actually took the initiative to make a change up this lackluster bunch, but what do these three guys have to offer that may bring the momentum back to the Predators? It’s already looking like these three will be in the lineup this weekend, with Bartley possibly making his NHL debut, so let’s take a look a these three newcomers:

Victor Bartley… along with the local news channel crew…

Let’s start with Victor Bartley, who is no stranger to the Nashville Predators organization. How so? He currently is a free agent on Nashville’s farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals. It’s no surprise that Nashville would finally call one of the hopefuls up, and, between he and Taylor Beck, Bartley was a no-brainer. Victor is currently in the Top 20 of AHL defensemen, with twenty-six points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 54 games. Sounds fantastic to any Predators fan, but though the game is relatively the same, the NHL is a whole new territory; similar to how significantly different the NHL and KHL are. A kid can be hot and at the top of his game in the minor league then get called up and just can’t quite get the hang of the NHL scene.

But hey, let’s not be Debby Downers, shall we? Bartley is good – he has proven that already. He’s paid his dues in Milwaukee and will not disappoint to only be sent back down. These kids know the opportunity doesn’t rear its head often and snuggling into a roster spot is a no-holds-bar kind of situation.

Oh, and did we mention he likes to dance to Gangnam Style?

Zach Boychuk

Our next B is Zach Boychuk, who Nashville picked up off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. Boychuk was a standout in the 2008 NHL Draft, being picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes 14th overall in the first round. Boychuk is now the third Top 20 first round pick of the 2008 Draft to join the Nashville Predators, along with Colin Wilson (7th overall) and Chet Pickard (18th overall). Boychuk hasn’t had too bad of a season, holding onto 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in just 37 games while he was with the Hurricane’s farm team, the Charlotte Checkers.

Here’s a video of him with a camera on his head:

 

Bobby Butler

Our final B is Mr. Bobby Butler, who Nashville claimed off of waivers from the New Jersey Devils late Monday morning. Nashville’s first waiver claim of the week had a few people scratching their heads, as Butler hasn’t made much of an impact to brag about. He does, however, possess the ability to hang onto the puck – nice puck-handling skills – which, if could not benefit Nashville in the long run, will help the Admirals greatly. In all honesty, Butler was more of a farm team trade to begin with, but his presence could rattle a few veteran feathers into remembering they are disposable, too.

Here’s a video of a nice goal while he was with the Senators. Oh hey! He knows Gill!

 

What the Predators gain with these new faces? None of them have made a huge impact on the game – if they had, would they have been on waivers? – but they are a threat to the veteran members on the team; especially Bartley. Perhaps the Predators are giving the rest of the team a gentle wake up call that, despite nestling comfortable into a cushy roster spot, there are plenty of younger, more eager talent chopping at the bit to nab that roster spot.

Perhaps the veterans have nestled too comfortably into their roster positions. This, my friends, is what we call a rude awakening. The Nashville Predators are about to get one before the ship to the playoffs leaves them standing on the end-of-the-season shoreline.

 

 

The OT Champs: Preds comeback against Stars 5-4

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Overtime seems to be the way of the world for the Nashville Predators this season. The NHL season is just barely a month old and the Predators have already seen ten overtime periods (and six shootouts) in just twenty games. I am no math wizard, but anyone can do the equation on that one. I remember getting excited when games would go into overtime and it was a treat to see a shootout; now, it’s just part of the normal routine as a Nashville Predators fan.

But what about the team? Do they enjoy the uncertainty of overtime and/or shootout? You can’t say it’s for the worst – overtime and shootouts, no matter the outcome, get both teams at least one point, which is better than nothing with a loss in regulation. But with only four regulation wins out of twenty games, is Nashville banking on non-regulation points to power them into the playoffs and does said technique even work during that critical time period?

Monday night’s game of high blood pressure. The tension was high from the get-go with Nashville opting for “God Bless America” over the traditional national anthem (Stars fans tend to get a little rowdy during particular points in the song). After defeating the San Jose Sharks three to one on Saturday night, Dallas was flying high as they entered Music City. Nashville, on the other hand, were a bit bruised and beaten after suffering two shutouts back-to-back against Vancouver on Friday and Detroit on Saturday. Would the Stars’ momentum power them past the ailing Predators? Here are the highlights from last night’s game:

FIRST PERIOD

  • The first period remained relatively quiet, with both teams taking their share of shots at their respective nets. The Predators did manage to out-shoot Dallas eight to six at the end of the period.
  • Craig Smith relieved fans from the possibility of a shutout at 13:43 of the first period with a snap shot passed Cristopher Nilstrop for his second goal of the season. Rich Clune picked up his first assist of the season and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his sixth.

SECOND PERIOD

  • Apparently something snapped between the two teams during the first intermission, for the second period turned the tides on a new game. Dallas wasted no time tying the game at 1:20 into the 2nd period with a slap shot past Rinne by Matt Fraser for his first NHL career goal.
  • Fifteen seconds later, Reilly Smith would pick up his third goal of the season with a tip-in goal, nudging the Stars over the Predators 2-1.
  • Roman Josi would collect his second goal of the season at 3:05 with a slap shot assisted by David Legwand (4th assist) and Patric Hornqvist (5th assist).
  • Mike Fisher would pick up a double minor for a high-sticking penalty at 7:29, giving former Pred, Vernon Fiddler his first goal of the season with a slap shot, thus beginning the onslaught of tension between the teams.
  • Brandon Yip and Eric Nystrom would drop the gloves at 11:45. Yippers isn’t one to back down from a fight, but he isn’t the first to start a scrum, either. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it:

  • Loui Eriksson would push the Stars up 4 to 2 with a powerplay tip-in past Pekka Rinne at 9:21 for his fifth goal of the season.
  • Mike Fisher and Vernon Fiddler would jabber back and forth, a typical trait of Fiddler that works very well against his opponents. It wasn’t until after Shea Weber was high-sticked in the face (and would eventually need stitches) that things started to turn in favor of Nashville. It’s amazing what an Angry Shea will do to motivate a team.
  • Patric Horqnvist would rally back for the Predators at 13:43 with a powerplay backhander, his second goal of the season. Martin Erat would pick up his eighth assist and Roman Josi would pick up his third of the season, second point of the night.
  • The Stars would hold the lead 4-3 at the end of the 2nd period, with them out-shooting Nashville thirteen to ten. After a few scrums around the net and a couple dirty swings, both teams were ready to seal the win in the third period.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Still working with the momentum from the second period, both teams kept both goaltenders on their toes, but it would be Mike Fisher who would find the sweet spot, backhanding a goal through Nilstrop’s five hole. Fisher’s game tying goal was his fourth of the season, with an assist from Colin Wilson (10th assist) and Roman Josi (4th assist, 3rd point of the night).

OVERTIME

  • It took Roman Josi just 28 seconds into overtime to collect his third goal of the season for the GWG. Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his seventh assist with Shea Weber picking up his fifth assist.

 

MUSINGS:

  • Roman Josi not only sealed the game winning goal in favor of Nashville, he also hit a career milestone. Josi collected four points overall during last night’s game, a career high in his young professional career.
  • Speaking of milestones, Mike Fisher’s GTG was his official 200th career goal.
  • And yet another milestone to talk about, last night’s game was Shea Weber’s official 500th professional game, all noted as a Nashville Predator.
  • Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, and Brian McGrattan were all scratched for the night, with Gaustad expected to return Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. Gill, who is suffering from an upper-body injury, is still deemed day-to-day.

 

Although regulation wins are cleaner and a bit less stressful, points are points and, in the race for the Stanley Cup, one point is better than no point, right? Either way, overtimes and shootouts are becoming part of the norm for the Nashville Predators, so as long as they can get the two points out of them, a win’s a win.

UNTIL THEN,
GO PREDS

 

Preds return Home, Blank Kings 3-0

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The high from knocking off the Blues must’ve been strong, and it probably didn’t hurt to finally see the comfort of home ice either, as the Predators welcomed the L.A. Kings to Nashville Thursday night. Coach Trotz is a strong believer in the “if if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, sticking with the same seven d-man lineup from the game against St. Louis.

KEY POINTS:

  • Matt Halischuk is going to be finding himself on the scratched list a lot as the d-man line continues to dominate, but Brian McGrattan keeps him company.
  • Gabriel Bourque wasted no time taking shots, banking on a slap shot past Jonathan Quick at 2:54 for his second goal of the season. David Legwand picked up his second assist, with Kevin Klein picking up his third.
  • Bourque’s goal would be the only one in the first, with the Kings out-shooting Nashville 8 to 7. However, there was more action to be seen in the first, with Rich Clune and Kyle Clifford dropping gloves at 2:15. Here’s the video:

  • Colin Wilson would pick up where Bourque left off, sending a wrister into the net at 7:01 of the second, nabbing his second goal of the season. Kevin Klein picked up his second assist of the night (4th overall) and Brandon Yip collected his third of the season.
  • Six minutes later, Wilson repeated his success on his first goal, sending a wrister past Quick, just five seconds into the powerplay. Shea Weber collected both his first assist and point of the season on Wilson’s second goal of the night. Mike Fisher nabbed his second assist of the season.
  • The Kings had plenty of chances in the second period, out-shooting the Predators a whopping 20 to 5. If that isn’t proof that Pekka Rinne is finding his groove, I don’t know what would.
  • No goals in the the third gave the Predators their first shutout of the season, with goalie Pekka Rinne picking up his first shutout win, blocking all 32 shots on goal.

Penalty Box Summary:

  1. Rich Clune – 2:15, 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Martin Erat – 16:03, 2nd Period – Goalie Interference
  3. Paul Gaustad – 8:28, 3rd Period – Roughing
  4. Mike Fisher – 14:07, 3rd Period – Roughing

Have the Predators gotten their groove back? Well, don’t catch your chickens before they hatch, so to speak. Though we don’t want to be Debbie Downers, it’s only a matter of time before the seven d-man strong lineup with crack, with teams who fell for it before will be prepared for it in the next round. However, it is good to see the Predators taking shots (shots on goal = goals in net, right?). Unfortunately for the Kings, that statistic doesn’t work that well. Thirty-two shots compared to the fourteen Nashville took kind of makes that equation fall flat. It should be more Shots on Goal + Accuracy = Goals in Net. But hey, I’m no math major. Just keep that fire alive, Preds.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Sweet Revenge: Predators Pummel Blues 6-1

Marty Erat does like to be injured.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. The team that hit the ice wearing Nashville sweaters was NOT the same club that has worn the jerseys previously. The Predators stayed consistent in both defense and offense, and Pekka Rinne was back in his Finnish phenom pants. Though the Predators only lead in shots over the Blues in the first period (9 to 4), the fact Nashville took a chance on shots for once proved successful, thus putting the breaks on the Blues 6-1. Again, I’m not sure even where to begin. So many plays, passes, shots, etc. were in Nashville’s favor, I just hope they can hang on to this voodoo that they’ve come across. For a team that has only two regulation wins, ten points are mind-blowing. Here are the highlights from tonight’s blowout over the Blues:

KEY POINTS:

  • Martin Erat powered back from his lower-body injury, hitting the ice against the Blues. Jonathon Blum, who proved his worth on NHL ice last Saturday against San Jose, got the nod to suit up once again. Brian McGrattan and Matt Halischuk settled with scratches.
  • Blues’ Center Andy McDonald took an early tripping penalty in the first, giving Nashville a chance at a powerplay goal. Ryan “The Rocket Ship” Ellis took a wrister from the corner, sneaking it past Brian Elliot for his second goal of the season (2:10). Martin Erat picked up his third assist and Colin Wilson picked up his second.
  • Nashville camp out in the Blues’ zone, with newcomer Rich Clune slipping a tip-in to sink his first NHL goal at 15:53. Colin Wilson would pick up his second assist of the night (third altogether) and Paul Gaustad would pick up his first assist.
  • Nick Spaling would sink his teeth into a wrist shot, earning his second goal of the season at 19:13, putting the Predators up 3-0 at the end of the first. Brandon Yip would pick up his second assist and Roman Josi would gain his first assist of the season.
  • Nashville would extend the momentum into the second period, with Kevin Klein pulling a Shea Weber and sending a killer slapshot past Elliot, thus pulling him from the game completely. Klein gained his first goal of the season at 9:09, with assists from Jonathon Blum (1) and Martin Erat (4).
  • Gabriel Bourque decided it was his time for a goal, tipping it in past rookie goalie Jake Allen. Not a good start to his NHL debut, no? Bourque’s goal was assisted by Colin Wilson, his third of the night and fourth overall.
  • A holding call on Roman Josi would prove why the Blues are second in the league in powerplay goals. Alex Pietrangelo would nab his second goal of the second with a backhander past Pekka Rinne. Pietrangelo’s goal would shift the momentum in favor of the Blues, pushing the Predators to either buck up or fall back.

Though the Blues took the reins in the third period, Nashville remained consistent, despite being out-shot 14 to 7. Pekka Rinne can be praised for his continuous saves, keeping the Blues at bay. A wrist shot at 16:34 from Martin Erat was the nail in the coffin for the Blues, sending Nashville up 6-1. Erat’s third goal of the season was assisted by Ryan Ellis (2) and Jonathon Blum (2).

Thirty-two shots on goal and only one snuck by. That’s the Pekka we know. Looks like the Finnish phenom is getting back into a rhythm, one I hope I didn’t just jinx. Even rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko couldn’t work his magic around Peks.

Penalties are still an issue with the Predators, with Nashville seeing six and the Blues only taking three. For a team that is second in the league for powerplay goals, the Blues weren’t exactly the team to give powerplay chances to. However, Pekka and the Predators held strong, only allowing one PP goal. Here are the six box sitters:

  1. David Legwand – 12:41, 1st Period – Diving or “embellishing”
  2. Roman Josi – 11:53, 2nd Period – Holding
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 16:07, 2nd Period – Hooking
  4. Shea Weber – 19:38, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Roman Josi – 1:15, 3rd Period – Cross-Checking
  6. Nick Spaling – 17:07, 3rd Period – Slashing

 

What a step in the right direction for Nashville. As I mentioned in previous posts, though shootout points are helpful, points in regulation are the key to the Stanley Cup. Okay, not the key, but one of many that the Predators have to nail down to compete throughout the season.

But there is certainly no way I can criticize tonight’s game. Absolutely outstanding defense, offense, and overall teamwork shown by the Predators tonight. It’s hard to believe that, just five games ago, Nashville fell 3-0 to this exact same team. This is the Predators team we expect to see. This is the Predators that will make it far in the playoffs.

Don’t forget! Tomorrow night at Dave and Buster’s at Opry Mills: The debut of The Kevin Klein Show at 6pm! Get there early for prime seating, as you don’t want to miss Kleiner or his special guest, Pekka Rinne!

Until then,
GO PREDS

Predators Knock off Last Undefeated Team in SO

Craig Smith does not like the doghouse.

Now that shootouts are becoming the norm for the Predators, it is only natural that they would eventually get pretty good at them (thankfully). The Predators have only notched one regulation win, the other two being settled in a shootout. Nashville seems to be a freak of nature in the league this season, with that one regulation win, yet still holding their own with nine points. However, they are still last in the league in offense (gasp) and are the only team not to have a win on home ice, thus far (excuse me, they’ve been on a long ass road trip, thank you). Even with their setbacks and chug-a-lug start, the Predators are hanging in there, trying desperately to get a bit of momentum to power through this short, but backbreaking season. Knocking the last remaining undefeated team off its high horse? Very good start. Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game in San Jose:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum hit the ice Saturday night, his first steps on NHL ice since December of 2011. Blummer stepped up to replace the ailing Martin Erat, who took a puck to the ankle/foot during practice on Friday. Don’t expect Marty’s injury to be as bench-warming as Hornqvist’s, however.  Brian McGrattan remains on the scratched list.
  • The first and second period’s produced zero goals for either side, but action remained on high as both teams tore out of the gate on fire. San Jose out-shot Nashville in both periods, but Pekka remained on point, keeping the Sharks at bay and preventing them from continuing their undefeated streak.
  • Something sparked the Predators in the third, with Sergei Kostitsyn notching his first goal of the season with just 59 seconds on the clock. His wrister was assisted by Colin Wilson, his first assist of the season.
  • The Predators would hold the Sharks back until a careless mistake by the Predators in the form of a “too many men on ice” penalty stopped them in their tracks, allowing Martin Havlat to gain his third goal of the season. The Predators would out-shoot the Sharks nine to seven in the third period.
  • As usual, overtime was uneventful, though the Predators continued to out-shoot the Sharks, this time two to one. While that isn’t much, it is refreshing to see the Predators take a few shots every now and then.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

  • SAN JOSE – Michal Handzus – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE
  • SAN JOSE – Ryane Clowe – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
  • SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski – SAVE

Now, what were we saying in the last post? Maybe Sergei dropping down to the third line and Craig finding himself in Trotz’s doghouse would possible motivate them to prove their worth? Looks like, so far, it’s doing the trick. Another face to commend is Jonathon Blum – for someone who hasn’t been in a Predators sweater in over a year, he didn’t bat an eyelash when it was his time to step up.

Penalties were abound in this game, a usual thorn in Nashville’s side. Here are the five penalty takers:

  1. Brandon Yip – 0:59, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Jonathon Blum – 16:15, 1st Period – Interference
  3. Mike Fisher – 6:05, 2nd Period – Slashing
  4. David Legwand – 17:01, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Craig Smith – 12:26, 3rd Period – Too Many Men on Ice

Though we are happy the Predators are getting points, wether they win or lose in the shootouts, they cannot slide their way to the Stanley Cup on shootout points alone. The Predators are nearing the cliff of safety points and are going to have to nab some regulation wins if they want to continue pushing towards the Cup.

The Predators will finish out their road trip tomorrow against the nagging St. Louis Blues, an opponent that hasn’t been as kind to the Predators thus far.

NEW TO SMASHVILLE:
102.5 THE GAME and FIFTH THIRD BANK present the all-new Kevin Klein Radio Show, starting this Wednesday (2/6) at 6PM at Dave & Buster’s at Opry Mills! Kevin’s first guest of the season will be goaltender, Pekka Rinne! Someone had to replace Tootoo, right?

Until tomorrow,
GO PREDS

The Lineup Shuffle: Who’s getting Switched Around?

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Is this Colin Wilson’s time to shine?

Looks like Trotzy is trying out some new lineups in hopes of a boost some offensive action i.e. goals and maybe – going out on a limb here – a win or two.

Here are the new lines:
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Martin Erat
Brandon Yip – David Legwand – Gabriel Bourque
Nick Spaling – Craig Smith – Sergei Kostitsyn
Matt Halischuk – Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune

Huge step forward for Colin Wilson who, not even a year ago was trying to claw his way out of Trotz’s doghouse. Huge step backwards for Sergei Kostitsyn who, as we all know, just isn’t quite getting the whole “shoot the puck because you can score” concept. Colin is creative on the ice, which may just be exactly what the Preds need to get a move on in this season.

Trotz has also thrown around the idea of bringing up a few prospects from Milwaukee, but no confirmation as of yet.

The Predators take on the defending Stanley Cup champs, the L.A. Kings, tomorrow night at 9:30 CT.

Preds fall to Ducks 3-2 in 3rd Shootout of Season

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Gill putting the Ducks in their place.

Shootout. The third in just five games. The Predators are 0-3 on the shootout thus far.
After the Ducks’ embarrassing 5-0 shutout against the Canucks the night before, it is not surprising the Ducks weren’t forgetting what time the game started tonight. However, unlike Thursday in St. Louis, Nashville came out strong, though both sides stayed evenly matched when it came to shots on goal throughout the game. The Predators played much better and much more level-headed compared to Thursday, but the Ducks just weren’t going to suffer two nasty losses in a row. Both teams were licking the wounds of a shutout, but only one could savor sweet victory. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Golden State:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan remained on the scratched list, along with Matt Halischuk.
  • Brandon Yip struck gold first with a backhanded goal past Viktor Fasth, who made his NHL debut during tonight’s game. Yip’s first goal of the season was unassisted.
  • The Predators would hold down the fort throughout the remainder of the first and for all of the second, except for Bobby Ryan notching his first goal of the season with just over 30 seconds left in the second to tie the game.
  • David Legwand would seal his second goal of the season at 10:09 in the third with a backhander, assisted by Kevin Klein (second assist) and Gabriel Bourque (first assist).
  • Daniel Winnik would respond moments later with his fifth goal of the season, a tip-in past Pekka to tie the game once again.

Overtime proved to be a heated match, but neither side could find the sweet spot to end the game, thus throwing the game into a shootout, the Predators’ apparent mortal enemy.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Ryan Getzlaf – SAVE
NASHVILLE – Mike Fisher – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Corey Perry – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE

Penalties, yet again, plagued the Predators tonight. With Nashville’s four and Anaheim’s two, the Predators gave the Ducks more chances to advance. Luckily, the Ducks just couldn’t nail that powerplay goal. Here are the four guys who like the box a little too much:

1. Nick Spaling – 6:28 1st Period – Slashing
2. Craig Smith – 16:56 1st Period – Throwing Stick*
3. Brandon Yip – 9:16 2nd Period – Boarding
4. Hal Gill – 5:17 3rd Period – Tripping

*Rule 10.3 – “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice.” Yea, it’s real.

  • Patric Hörnqvist suffered a lower-body injury tonight during the third period, first from taking a Shea Weber slapshot to the leg and another hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf. Per Coach Trotz, Patric will be out indefinitely and most likely will be on a plane back to Nashville to be examined by the team doctors. Although a tremendous loss for a struggling team, Patric’s healing time may lead to more opportunities for players such as Colin Wilson.
  • Craig Smith looks like he has made his way into Trotz’s infamous “dog house”, with a very noticeable lack of ice time with one shift in the second period. There will be no sending him to Milwaukee, however, as that would expose him to waivers. After his senseless penalty, Smith may not see the ice for a while. Colin Wilson’s heart may be smiling, as he is most notable for being Trotz’s go-to player to punish.

Rough beginning to the season for the Preds, but don’t jump ship just yet, fellow Preds fans. Though Nashville does not have the luxury of an entire season to gain momentum, they still have time, if they push themselves to victory. It can be done, but they cannot take their time. Do not turn on Peks, either. Though he hasn’t quite reached his typical Finnish phenom status, he isn’t the problem. Yes, shootouts are not his strong suite, but he is not the only factor that leads to a shootout scenario.

The Predators wander out to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on their turf, another game that could prove rough for the Predators. Then again, they may pull some confidence from midair and nab a much-needed win. Preds and Coyotes match up Monday, January 28 at 8 PM.

Keep Calm and Go Preds.

Preds Shutout by No. 1 Blues

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Shea tries some defensive moves to avoid another Blues goal.

If you watched any of tonight’s game, you noticed the Predators did not retain any of their confidence from Tuesday night’s win over the Minnesota Wild. Or maybe, they are just that unnerved by the St. Louis Blues. Nonetheless, wether it be sheer nerves or a lack of confidence, it was clear the Predators were not ready to gain their second win. What was also clear? The lack of a complete offensive initiative. Any Predators stronghold will tell you, offense is not Nashville’s strong suite, but tonight’s performance made it overly apparent.

Plentiful penalties also played a huge factor in tonight’s loss for the Predators, with both sides taking their share, but the Preds took six to the Blues’s five. By the looks of the way they performed tonight, Tuesday’s game was a mere fluke by the Wild. The Predators have an uncountable amount of work to do if they wish to see the post-season. Here is the rundown of tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad remains on the scratched list, along with Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan. Keeping with the lines from Tuesday, Yip, Bourque, and Spaling stick together, while Craig Smith finds himself center on the fourth line.
  • T.J. Oshie capitalized on the Blues’s first powerplay of the night at 12:59, sealing his third goal of this early season with a wrister past Pekka Rinne.
  • The only goal from the second period would rise from the Blues, a penalty shot (possibly the first of the NHL season) by Patrik Berglund sinking his second goal of the season, a wrister of his own past Rinne. The penalty shot was brought about due to a hooking on the breakaway from Mike Fisher. Pekka has struggled thus far this season when it comes to one-on-one situations (do we need to go into detail?).
  • The third period goal also belonged to the Blues, with Vladimir Tarasenko, the Russian youngster taking the NHL by storm, gaining his fourth goal of the season. Again, with the wrist shot.
  • From the get-go, the Blues had the upper-hand against the Predators, both offensively and defensively. Out-shooting the Predators 24 to 13, Nashville was at a loss from the very beginning.

Like we mentioned above, penalties plagued both sides tonight, but the Predators took the brunt of the penalties. The Predators were given five chances by the Blues to gain their footing, but St. Louis wanted nothing of it, denying any chance of a goal for Nashville. Here are your penalty box lovers:

  1. Matt Halischuk – 4:22, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Mike Fisher – 12:10, 1st Period – Hooking
  3. Rich Clune – 6:11, 2nd Period – Fighting
  4. Mike Fisher – 9:26, 2nd Period – Hooking on Breakaway (Penalty Shot)
  5. Craig Smith – 16:20, 2nd Period – Hooking
  6. Rich Clune – 17:42, 3rd Period – Roughing

No fight, no battle from the Predators tonight against the Blues. Expressing the fact that the Blues had the upper-hand the entire game cannot be spoken enough. The Predators were not physically, mentally, or emotionally ready to face the No. 1 Blues tonight, no excuses needed.

Though the Predators will find their groove again, this will not be the end of the psychological impact the Blues have over the Preds this season. The Predators face the Blues in St. Louis once again on February 5th.

The Predators are off to the Golden State to face the Anaheim Ducks this Saturday at 9:30PM. Hopefully, the Ducks do not hold the same voodoo over the Predators has the Blues do.

Until then,
GO PREDS