Preds release NHL Expansion Draft Protected List

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UPDATE: More players have been added to the exposed list as of 11:20AM CST.

After pushing the release of the lists back by thirty minutes, the NHL officially allowed us commoners to see who teams protected… and who they did not. By no surprise, the great debate between James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok has left the Real Deal exposed along with a few others that were expected.

Exposed Players:

  • James Neal
  • Matt Irwin
  • Colton Sissons
  • Craig Smith
  • Colin Wilson
  • Cody McLeod
  • Yannick Weber
  • Marek Mazanec
  • Pontus Aberg
  • Cody Bass
  • Vernon Fiddler (UFA)
  • Mike Fisher (UFA)
  • P.A. Parenteau (UFA)
  • Adam Payerl
  • Mike Ribeiro
  • Miikka Salomaki
  • Trevor Smith
  • Austin Watson
  • Harry Zolnierczyk
  • Taylor Aronson
  • Anthony Bitetto
  • Stefan Elliott
  • Brad Hunt
  • Andew O’Brien
  • Adam Pardy
  • Petter Granberg
  • Jaynen Rissling
  • Scott Valentine

Protected Players:

  • Viktor Arvidsson
  • Filip Forsberg
  • Calle Jarnkrok
  • Ryan Johansen
  • Mattias Ekholm
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Roman Josi
  • P.K. Subban
  • Pekka Rinne

If you are freaking out about Neal (or anyone else) being exposed, as I mentioned in my previous post, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s headed to Vegas. Now that the exposed players have been released, teams can negotiate trades between the Golden Knights to attempt to protect these particular players. However, David Poile will more than likely have an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee (see Erat/Latta for Forsberg trade).

Wondering about Nashville’s other players? Here’s the list of the Predators’ exempt players from the Expansion Draft:

  • Kevin Fiala
  • Frederick Gaudreau
  • Vladislav Kamenev
  • Juuse Saros

UPDATE: It has now been acknowledged that Pontus Aberg, Mike Fisher, P.A. Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, and Petter Granberg are not exempt from the expansion draft. It is important to note that Fisher, Fiddler, and Parenteau are all free agents, which means Vegas could go ahead and sign these players (the rest of the league has to wait until July 1st). However, if Vegas were to sign one of Nashville’s free agents, that would count as their expansion draft pick leaving the rest of the exposed players (like Neal, Watson, and Aberg) to stay with Nashville.

To see who the other teams in the league protected and exposed, here is the list from the NHL. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think GMDP can manage to work out a deal to save Neal? Whatever the case, there is no denying that George McPhee has the best seat in the house for this expansion draft and is soaking up every second of it.

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Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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After the frustrating loss against Montreal on Tuesday, it was clear the Predators had moved on after trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 last night. While it is easy to fuss about the inconsistency Nashville has been plagued with this season, the type of communication and style of play that came from the team last night was further proof that they are capable of working together successfully. One could argue that perhaps Tampa Bay was simply having an off night and maybe they were. The difference here is Nashville’s victory was not guided by fluky behavior from the Bolts; they were actually organized.

Mike Fisher got the ball rolling at 2:25 in the first period, earning his 11th goal of the season. Fisher’s powerplay goal was assisted in part by Ryan Johansen (21) and Mattias Ekholm (13).

While the first period would end 1-0 with Nashville on top, Filip Forsberg would open the second period at 3:56 with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Kevin Fiala (3) and Ryan Johansen (22), to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

It would begin to look like Tampa Bay was on its way back as Tyler Johnson collected his 12th goal of the season, breaking Nashville’s lead in half a 2-1. Colton Sissons, however, would object to that and punch his 3rd goal of the season, assisted by Mike Fisher (12).

Not even a minute later, Ryan Ellis would notch his 5th goal of the season, but not first without some nay-say from the officials. Linesmen initially called goaltender interference on Viktor Ardvisson, claiming the goal was no good:

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette quickly challenged the ruling, which was reversed despite the disapproval of the home crowd. But before Nashville could celebrate, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, threw out the challenge that Jarnkrok was off-sides prior to the goal. However, after thoroughly reviewing the play, it was deemed inconclusive and Ryan Ellis’ goal would stand. Colin Wilson (11) and Viktor Arvidsson (15) would notch the assists.

The third period would belong to Colton Sissons as he not only notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season, he also picked up his first career NHL hat trick. This was also his first multi-goal game in his NHL career, too. Oh, and yeah, he’s the first player in NHL history to record a hat trick with the second goal an empty-netter and the third goal with a goaltender in net. Sort of a weird record but I highly doubt Sissons is complaining.

Victories like these can help propel the Predators through this second half of the season and give them the boost for which they have desperately been searching. They will have tonight to see if that momentum lasts as they move south to Sunrise to take on the 16-15-8 Florida Panthers. Game time is at 6:30PM.

 

Saros earns first NHL career shutout; blank Blues 4-0

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the Predators needed to feed off the frustration that mounted in last night’s loss against Chicago and boy, did they.

While the first period saw no net action, Nashville did prevent St. Louis from advancing on two power play chances thanks to some handy penalty kill work. Nashville would begin its onslaught of goals in the second period, starting with Yannick Weber at 4:52 for his first goal this season (and within the Predators organization). Craig Smith (7) and Mike Ribeiro (16) would assist on Weber’s first goal.

Filip Forsberg would answer the call at 7:26 on the power play to give Nashville a 2-0 lead for his 8th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (17) and Ryan Johansen (20) would pick up the assists.

While Weber and Forsberg’s goals were wonderful gifts from the hockey gods, it would be Viktor Arvidsson’s dirty wrister that would steal the show:

Viktor Arvidsson, who was been quite the shining star for Nashville, earns his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Irwin (5) and Mike Fisher (10).

Carter Hutton was brought in at the beginning of the third period to relieve Jake Allen between the posts, but could not stop Colin Wilson from netting his 6th goal of the season on the power play at 8:08. Wilson’s wrister was assisted by Filip Forsberg (15) and Ryan Ellis (8).

While St. Louis would be given one extra power play chance at 13:14, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros would keep the Blues at bay, earning his first career NHL shutout. Saros, who has shined as Nashville’s backup, further proved tonight that he will be the future between the posts for the Predators. But leave it to Pekka to have us all a little misty eyed as he congratulates his apprentice on his shutout:

After a tough loss against the Blackhawks last night, tonight’s shutout against the Blues certainly has the potential to set things straight for Nashville and its hopes for a playoff run. If anything, it is a great way to end the first half of the 2016-17 season and, likewise, opens up the Predators to a fresh start in 2017.

Next up, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens come to town on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7PM. Hopefully, P.K. Subban will be ready to face his former team as we celebrate Nashville’s former captain and defensive rock.

 

Jarnkrok pushes Predators over Blues 3-1

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Image Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Show of hands as to how many of us thought the first winning streak would come in mid-November? Okay, so there’s no doubt we all thought Nashville would have at least more than one back-to-back set of wins by now, but that is just one of the fun things about the regular season. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there was so much hype coming into the season regarding this team that, without perceived perfection, fans can’t help but think the 2016-17 season is doomed. Well, good news; it isn’t. We are on game 13 of an 82 game season. Nashville is fine.

Granted, that doesn’t make the 5-5-3 record Nashville is totting around anything to be gloating about. But the team has been addressing its issues and last night’s win against the 7-5-3 St. Louis Blues could be chalked up as a testament to this improvement.

While the first and second periods looked a bit out of sync (which allowed Jaden Schwartz to tally his third goal of the season), it took a wrister from Calle Jarnkrok at the end of the second period to give the home team some confidence. Jarnkrok’s wrister, assisted by Colin Wilson & (surprise) Matt Irwin, was his first of the season.

When the Predators hit the ice for the third period, the group looked much more put-together and, dare I say, like a well-oiled machine. After a clean connecting pass from Mike Ribeiro, James Neal collected his fourth goal of the season with a secondary assist from Pontus Aberg (who notched his very first NHL point). Not even a minute later, Calle Jarnkrok picked up his goal of the night (and season) at 4:50, slipping it past former Predators goaltender, Carter Hutton. Nashville would hang onto the lead for the remainder of regulation, giving the Predators their first winning streak of the season.

Pekka Rinne continues to be “the eraser” that he is, but he needs the rest of his team to jump on that consistency train. Personally, I am not worried about this team just yet. As I stated, last night’s tilt was game 13 of 82; Nashville has time to figure out what the issues are and get them fixed. However, they can’t put that on the back-burner and coast to the playoffs by any means.

Nashville welcomes in the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday for a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night at 7PM. Anaheim’s current record is 7-5-3 and sits second in the Pacific Division, just two points behind Edmonton. While the win over St. Louis certainly boosted some much needed morale around Nashville, a continued streak over Anaheim could be what sets the Predators on a track of success.

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Preds force Game 7 against Sharks

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After losing 5-1 on Saturday in San Jose, Nashville found itself coming home to a do-or-die situation for Game 6. But this wouldn’t be the first Game 6 of the playoffs where the Predators were facing elimination. In the first round, Nashville jumped up 2-0 over the Ducks, then the Ducks came back and tied the series 2-2. Anaheim would then push ahead and take the series 3-2 in Game 5, but Nashville found the back-burners and won games six and seven. This time around, San Jose jumped forward 2-0 in the series, with Nashville then tying it 2-2 in the next two games. While it’s a little opposite of the first series, it has reverted back to Nashville being on the elimination block. But the home crowd has the magic and, as James Neal mentioned:

“We weren’t ready to go. But we’ll be ready on Monday.” – James Neal

First Period:

So the first period wouldn’t exactly start out in Nashville’s favor, with Chris Tierney notching two goals at 9:55 and 11:51. However, things would finally begin to click for the Predators at 15:27 when Roman found a hole through the crowded net-front to put the Predators on the board.

Interestingly enough, Roman Josi (who tallied 14 goals in the regular season) had 38 shots on goal before finally notching one, the most by an NHL player this postseason. Hey, one was bound to go in eventually, right?

Second Period:

Nashville would come out swinging in the second period, notching 14 shots on goal, ten more than San Jose. Out of the fourteen, one would sneak past Martin Jones; a beautiful backhander from Ryan Johansen, his fourth of the postseason. Ryan Ellis would pick up the assist on Johansen’s goal.

Third Period:

Miikka Salomaki would be flagged for hi-sticking Martin Jones, which would result in a Sharks PP goal from Logan Couture at 10:04. With half a period to go, Nashville was one goal down from being eliminated in front of the home crowd. But alas, the butterfly of the playoffs emerged at 12:44 to tie the game 3-3; Colin Wilson’s fifth goal of the postseason.

Seriously though, where does this kid hide during the regular season? Where ever it is, there’s not denying that while he may be quiet in the regular season, Colin Wilson is a beast in the post season. Someone who has been rather quiet in the postseason, though? Filip Forsberg.

Bonus Hockey:

Overtime. Nashville’s best friend in this series. After three overtime periods in Game 4, Predators fans were prepared to spend another night/morning at the Bridgestone Arena… as long as the outcome was the same as Game 4. Well, the boys in gold had other ideas; ideas to finish the game in one overtime instead of three. Viktor Arvidsson, a young Swede with the heart of lion, would be the one to save Nashville from elimination.

With a beautiful backhand shot, Arvidsson not only notched the game-winner, but his first career playoff goal.

Arvidsson, who has been beaten & kicked down throughout the playoffs (and in the regular season), somehow has always come out with heart & fire. To say he deserved this goal is truly an understatement.

History to Be Made:

The Predators are in business of making franchise history during these playoffs and they aren’t ready to stop. Thursday’s game will be Nashville’s second Game 7 in playoff history with the first being previously against the Ducks in the first round. This will also be the first time Nashville has advanced beyond Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs. More history to make? Nashville has never won a playoff game in San Jose. But, as I have said in the past, there’s a first for everything. Why not this year?

Also, it is amazing to see the support the Predators are receiving throughout the city and the state. Businesses and fellow professional teams alike are standing with the Predators, cheering them onward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

So rest up and come ready to rock, Preds fans. This is history in the making for the Nashville Predators franchise. Similar to Game 7 against the Ducks, the Predators will be holding a viewing party on the plaza at Bridgestone Arena at 7PM. It’ll move inside to the Lexus Lounge if the nasty weather persists.

Preds tie Series in Triple OT; Longest Game in Franchise History

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Wow. Honestly, I am not sure what else to say regarding last night/this morning’s Game 4 between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks. Up 2-1 in the series, the Sharks were hoping to go up 3-1 before heading back to San Jose for Game 5 but… Nashville had other ideas. Mainly, it came down to a goaltender showdown. Who was going to break first: Rinne or Jones? Well, it would take until 1AM before one finally crashed. A game full of controversy, rage, and excitement, I will say this game, even if Nashville doesn’t get beyond the second round, will be remembered and talked about for years to come.

PRE-GAME:

After being healthy scratched on Tuesday night, Mike Ribeiro found himself sitting out again for last night’s game. Ribeiro is consistent with inconsistency and the playoffs are no place for reckless passes and puck-handling. After dismantling the Sharks 4-1 on Tuesday, it was no surprise that Ribeiro was scratched for Thursday night’s game.

FIRST PERIOD:

Playoff Wilson wasted no time putting his team on the board, scoring the fastest goal in Preds playoff history at 41 seconds into the game. This was Wilson’s fourth goal of the playoffs; he only notched six during the regular season. Over the last few playoff runs, Wilson has essentially “emerged from his cocoon”, blossoming into a beautiful playoff butterfly. Yes, I enjoy comparing Colin Wilson to a butterfly. There’s no way to really explain why he does this, but no one is complaining; his push and effort has gotten Nashville to where it is now.

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Three minutes later, Brett Burns would tie the game at 1-1 for his third goal of the playoffs. But at 9:50, Mike Fisher would give Nashville the lead again for his third goal of the playoffs. Similar to Wilson, Fisher has been a consistent factor in Nashville’s playoff push this year.

SECOND PERIOD:

San Jose would control the second period with Joonas Donskoi tying the game 2-2 in one of the more controversial calls of the night and possibly of the playoffs. While it looked like Joel Ward was offside (which he was and that is all Preds fans saw), as the NHL Situation Room explains in the tweet below, the Sharks tagged up and entered the attack zone legally, thus wiping out Ward’s offside. Despite the explanation, that did not change the feelings amongst the fans inside (and those watching on TV) the Bridgestone Arena.

THIRD PERIOD:

Brett Burns would give San Jose the lead at 6:48 in the third, quieting the Nashville crowd… but not for long. Both Rinne and Jones would bend over backwards, stopping both teams from further advancing until 15:39 when James Neal would tie the game 3-3.

By the way, James Neal may have the best facial expressions in the league. There’s no poker face for this guy. Neither team would be able to top the tie, leading to the first OT for both teams during this series. If you believe that stats determine everything, then you would have left the arena before the start of OT – if you were a Predators fan, that is. That’s because Nashville has never won a home overtime game during the franchise’s history of playoffs. But there’s a first time for everything and fans (and the organization) were ready to give it a shot.

First OT… Second OT… Third OT… This was truly – as mentioned previously – a battle between two outstanding goaltenders. It really was a shame to think, while experiencing the game, that one of those goaltenders would ultimately lose. As one overtime would come and another would go, the crowd at Bridgestone Arena would hold tight despite the ever-present knowledge that work was approaching fast. If you were anything like me, I was counting each time it hit on the 30s how many hours I’d have left to sleep before having to get up for work. Both Nashville and San Jose would get there chances, including the waved-off goal in the first OT when the officials deemed goaltender interference. Again, a good call, though San Jose would probably beg the differ.

Finally, shortly after 1AM at 11:12 in the third OT, Mike Fisher finally said “I’m ready to go to bed” by slipping the puck past Martin Jones for the game winning goal. If you were not there to witness the eruption from both the Predators bench and the crowd, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing and electric the atmosphere was. It truly can be considered Nashville’s greatest sports moment thus far (aside from the Music City Miracle, of course). Most certainly in the last decade.

Pure elation from both the fans and the players; it was amazing. I’m honestly not sure how to truly describe it. I feel as if this game was not only a great representation of the strength and endurance of the Nashville Predators, but also its fan base as well. There’s no doubting Nashville is the biggest underdog in the entire playoffs amongst all of the teams left competing for the Cup. But that’s the beautiful thing about being a “non-traditional” hockey market; the passion is unique and powerful as we try to prove that we – the fans and the organization – deserve to be where we are; contending for the Stanley Cup. Whether Nashville takes this series or not, there is no doubt that the league will remember this game; that fans of other teams will take a moment to consider Nashville’s hockey legitimacy. As a fan I am happy to say that we are proud people, us Predators fans. We are passionate, we are fiery, and we are hopeful. And you can continue to deny our presence, but you will never shatter our passion for the game of hockey in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Moving On: Preds defeat the Ducks in Round 1

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Source: Debora Robinson/Getty Images

First Game 7 in franchise history? Check. Thousands of people booing you in Anaheim? Check. Feeling like your going to get a stomach ulcer thanks to stress? Check.

If you were feeling a cocktail mix of adrenaline, stress, and excitement during last night’s (this morning’s) game, then you weren’t watching Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators. After leading the series 2-0, Nashville managed to lose three in a row to Anaheim, thus bringing Game 6 back to Nashville to face elimination. Do or die for the Preds, Nashville took the ‘do’ and forced a Game 7 back in Anaheim, winning 3-1.

Anaheim was kind to Nashville in Games 1 & 2, but… not so much in Game 5. Nashville managed to survive one ‘do or die’, but could they muster the energy to do it again; especially with everything falling in Anaheim’s favor…

Except one little itty bitty fact: The Ducks have lost Game 7 (at home) four consecutive years. And this fact about goals that led to their losses:

As a fairly superstitious person when it comes to hockey, I was not banking on Anaheim to make the same mistake again. Or, for the fourth time. There was just no way. I am glad I was wrong. But we all should have known that Nashville had the series when this guy chose the Predators over the Ducks:

There’s no doubting that Pekka Rinne was on point in Game 6 and, from the first puck drop of the night, the Preds goaltender was blocking shots and taking names. The Ducks would bring the pressure, but it would be Playoff Wilson who would get Nashville on the board first at 6:19:

Yes Colin, you have every right to celebrate this goal. You disappear in the regular season, only to emerge from your cocoon a beautiful playoff butterfly. Fly, Playoff Wilson; fly.

At 15:35, off a deflection from the Shea Weber slapper, Paul Gaustad would tally Nashville’s second goal of the night, giving the Music City team an early 2-0 lead:

The goal would be reviewed to see if Gaustad tipped it with a high stick, but – as you can see – it was a good goal and the folks in Nashville celebrated:

The second period would be a test for Nashville’s penalty kill, as the Ducks were awarded three different powerplay opportunities in this period alone. I could go on about how questionable some of these calls were, but the NHL refs (on all levels, not just this game) are a story for another time. We will just notate that Ryan Kesler did not receive a penalty for this head smash, which was quite obvious:

Kesler would do this again in the third period but to a helmet-less Barret Jackman. Penalty? Nope.

With their multiple powerplay opportunities, Anaheim would notch 13 shots on goal during the second period, but Rinne and the Nashville PK and defense would hold the Ducks at bay for another twenty minutes.

The penalties would keep coming into the third period, with both teams receiving two powerplay opportunities. Unfortunately, Ryan Kesler managed to score on one of those opportunities, putting the Ducks both on the board and into the game. This goal, of course, gave Anaheim a boost, but it also boosted Nashville’s desperation as well.

Nashville would only get four shots on goal during the third period compared to Anaheim’s thirteen. If that doesn’t tell you how on point Pekka Rinne was last night, I don’t know what will. How about this?

After what seemed like a lifetime, the clock finally ran down and it was official: Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs belonged to the Nashville Predators.

The fact that I am able to speak today is a miracle in itself. Also, the fact that my neighbors did not call the cops is amazing (and slightly terrifying because what if I was in trouble). If you were down at the Plaza Party Lexus Lounge Party, you had an extra special treat to share with all your fellow Preds fans.

After all the bickering and questionable hits and no-calls, it still never ceases to amaze me how professional both teams can be after it is all said and done. It is, after all, a career that they all love:

So, now that we can all somewhat breathe, what’s next? Well, Nashville doesn’t have far to travel. After eliminating the Ducks, and the LA Kings losing, the San Jose Sharks are the last California team to survive… and their Nashville’s next opponent. Here is the schedule:

  • Game 1 – Nashville @ San Jose – 9:30PM – Friday, April 29th
  • Game 2 – Nashville @ San Jose – 7PM – Sunday, May 1st
  • Game 3 – San Jose @ Nashville – 8PM – Tuesday, May 3rd
  • Game 4 – San Jose @ Nashville – 8PM – Thursday, May 5th
  • Game 5 – Nashville @ San Jose – TBA
  • Game 6 – San Jose @ Nashville – TBA
  • Game 7 – Nashville @ San Jose – TBA

So, you made it through Round 1. Congratulations. Let’s move onward to Round 2.

Preds crush Blues 5-0

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There’s no doubt St. Louis Blues fans travel well; at least to Nashville, anyway. And, with it being a rare Saturday afternoon game, there was certainly no shortage of Blues fans in the Bridgestone Arena for today’s match up. As I heard a St. Louis fan near me, “Well, looks like St. Louis’ll have the home advantage tonight!” I couldn’t help but giggle as the Predators silenced the Blues travelers from the moment the puck dropped.

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the victory over Chicago in the United Center, Pekka Rinne has undoubtedly regained his groove and today’s game only helped solidify this notion. While Nashville certainly came out with more fire than the Blues both offensively and defensively, Rinne was still put to the test several times. Notching his fourth shutout this season, Rinne put a stop to all 28 shots on goal from the St. Louis Blues, while his fellow teammates snagged four goals on Jake Allen and one on backup Pheonix (yes, that’s spelled correctly) Copley. Attributing to Rinne’s rebound is Carter Hutton’s impressive performance of late, which has given Pekka a chance to rest — something he’s needed desperately. With division-leading Dallas coming in Tuesday, Rinne will certainly need to be net, but Hutton should definitely be called to lead against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Moving on to goal scoring, Craig Smith would get Nashville started early in the game, notching his 14th goal of the season at 5:39. Mike Ribeiro (34) and Filip Forsberg (20) would collect the assists. Smith’s goal would be the only snagged in the first period, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of momentum by a long shot.

The man of the hour, Filip Forsberg, would essentially own the second period, collecting his second natural hat trick in this week alone. That’s a feat that hasn’t be done since Peter Bondra did it in eight games back in the 1987-88 season. Yeah, I wasn’t even born yet and Forsberg wasn’t even a glimmer in his mother’s eye. Naturally, this was also a first in Predators history as Forsberg is the first to register multiple hat tricks in one season.

I have to hand it to you, Mr. Poile. Martin Erat, who demanded a trade to anywhere as long as he could get out of Nashville (so he could have a chance to win a Stanley Cup) is now sitting on six goals with Omsk Avangard in the KHL. Nashville snagged a questionable rookie from Washington who turned out to be arguably one of the best forwards in the league while Erat mustered a total of two goals with Washington before demanding to be traded from there, too. As long as Forsberg continues to perform in the manner that he is, I’d hang my hat on this trade too, David Poile.

Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg aren’t the only two to score today for Nashville, oh no. The long awaited goal from Colin Wilson came at 4:37 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Wilson’s name has been pretty prominent of late, mostly due to being involved with trade talks; more specifically, a trade between he and former Predator Scott Hartnell. While only one reputable source has mentioned this trade with some sort of seriousness, as of 8:50PM, neither team has budged. Of course, Kevin Fiala’s name has been brought up in the rumors as well, but until some big names start shuffling the news, I am not reporting it. Any who, Colin Wilson was definitely due and collecting Nashville’s 5-0 game winning goal may be the boost he needs to find his groove. Rinne found his, after all, and it looks like Craig Smith is, too.

With this win, Nashville is now just six points behind the Blues and just eight points behind Chicago. Also, the Predators have the best record in the Central Division for the month of February: 7-3-3.  It is funny to think that this time last year, Nashville had hit their seasonal rut and were slowly losing their hold of the League and Central Division. Sadly, as we are all very much aware, Nashville could not get out of the rut in time to clinch the Central Division after holding it for so long.

As Nashville pulls itself together just in time for the playoff run, the organization isn’t going to find itself with many chances to relax. Division-leading Dallas comes in Tuesday, then its a bout with the Devils Thursday, then Nashville takes off on a five-game road trip out west. But this is the best the Predators have looked all season. Be excited. The road to the playoffs comes fast.

Making Moves: NSH Recalls Fiala & Bass

Source: Preds.NHL.com

After losing their fourth game in a row, the Predators organization made some moves today to hopefully spice up the lineup a bit. At least, we hope it will.

Earlier today, it was released that center Cody Hodgson was being placed on waivers. With only three goals and eight points in 39 games this season, it was time to free up his roster spot with someone else. As Adam Vingan pointed out, Hodgson notched 20 goals in 72 games during the 2013-14 season. However, in the two seasons since, he’s only managed nine goals in 117 games. Needless to say, David Poile gambled that perhaps Hodgson would regain that momentum under new leadership (i.e. Mike Ribeiro). Unfortunately, despite being a really great guy, it just didn’t work out in the end.

Along with Hodgson being placed on waivers, left wing Viktor Arvidsson has been reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals, thus freeing up yet another spot with the team. Ardvisson has three goals and two assists in the 24 games he has played with Nashville this season, but as of late, he has looked a bit lost on the ice at times. Being only 22-years-old, Arvidsson has plenty of time to re-coop in Milwaukee to hone his skills.

Freeing up yet another roster space – if but temporarily – is the announcement that Colin Wilson has officially been placed on the Injured Reserve after suffering a lower-body injury.

So, what moves did David Poile make this afternoon?

Well, from this little teaser and the headline, you probably guessed that the little Swiss spitfire that is Kevin Fiala was recalled from the Admirals to join the big boys. Fiala, who has been making quite a name for himself in the AHL, was notably upset when he was cut from the training camp roster back in September. Since then, Fiala has been playing rather well, but has had his share of controversy, including a two-game suspension back in November. So he has a bit of a temper, which most equated due to his discontent with being in the minor leagues. However, if the kid wanted any kind of chance to prove himself, this is it. Here’s a little bit from the Predators regarding Fiala’s recall:

Fiala, 19 (7/22/96), has 12 points (4g-8a) in his last 13 games, and is tied for the Admirals team lead in assists (15) and ranks third in points (21) in 34 AHL games this season. The St. Gallen, Switzerland, native has appeared in a pair of contests for the Predators – a 3-2 overtime win against Montreal on March 24, 2015, and in Game Four of the 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago, the longest game in franchise history. Nashville’s first choice, 11th overall (first round), in the 2014 Entry Draft, Fiala started the 2014-15 season with HV-71 of the Swedish Hockey League before being assigned to Milwaukee (AHL) following the World Junior Championship, recording 17 points (9g-8a) in his first 26 AHL games.

Bass, 29 (1/7/87), played in his first two games for the Predators on Dec. 1 vs. Arizona and Dec. 3 vs. Florida, going scoreless while averaging 6:31 of ice time. In 21 games for the Admirals this season, the Owen Sound, Ontario, native has five points (1g-4a) and 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 205-pound center has appeared in 51 career NHL games with Nashville, Ottawa (where he was a teammate of Mike Fisher) and Columbus, posting five points (2g-3a) and 71 penalty minutes. Ottawa’s third choice, 95th overall (fourth round), in the 2005 Entry Draft, Bass helped the Binghamton Senators win the 2011 Calder Cup as AHL champions, in addition to winning the 2011 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, as presented annually to the AHL’s man of the year for service to his local community.

Ah yes, the Predators also called up center Cody Bass as well. Bass has obtained one goal and four assists in 21 games this season with the Admirals, so this be a good shot for 29-year-old, too.

So, will these roster moves be the saving grace the team needs to regain the momentum needed to gain entry into the post-season? There’s only one way to find out.

Preds Thump Sharks 2-1

Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Did you make it through the entire game last night? I’ll be honest, I conked out at the end of the second period. A lot of you fought the strong hand of the Sandman and are now hooked up to your trusty caffeine IVs while you struggle through the workday. But alas, you have a smile on your face and deem it completely worth the lack of sleep because the Predators extended their record to 7-1-1 after defeating the 5-3-0 San Jose Sharks last night. Want some highlights? We’ve got your highlights:

First Period:

  • Eric Nystrom was on point from the very beginning, sending a gorgeous one-timer on net passed Martin Jones at 3:22 for an early 1-0 lead. Roman Josi (4) and Paul Gaustad (2) nabbed the assists on Nystrom’s third goal of the young season.

  • Barret Jackman picked up a roughing penalty against Tommy Wingels, but the Predators penalty kill did its job and ended the first period 1-0.

Second Period:

  • No goals were had by either team in the second, but Joe Thornton and Shea Weber did get called for Unsportsmanlike conduct when Weber cross-checked Thornton after he checked Roman Josi.

Third Period:

  • Just 1:28 into the third, San Jose finally slipped one passed Rinne with Joe Pavelski collecting his fourth goal of the season.
  • Calle Jarn-CROAK, on the other hand, wasn’t having a tied game for long, picking up his first goal of the season at 8:52. Gabriel Bourque (1) and Seth Jones (5) assisted on Jarnkrok’s wicked wrister.

  • The boys in gold white would hold off the Sharks until the end though, with Nashville out-shooting San Jose 24 to 21.

Random Musings:

  • For those Wilson lovers out there, Colin took a puck to the head during the first period. No need to panic, he is okay. I just really wanted to post this gif:

  • Wondering why I said “Jarn-CROAK” earlier? The announcers had a bit of a difficult time pronouncing it during the first period. Glad they got it corrected before he scored the game winning goal.

That last tweet by Mr. Bradford needs to be further addressed. The Sharks won 80% of the face-offs in the first period alone. There were 53 face-offs total last night, with San Jose winning 37 and Nashville only winning 16. Eek. Time to panic? No, because as great as they are to win, they don’t necessarily define how the outcome of the game. Nashville is not chasing the puck when they lose (for the most part), which keeps them on the plus side of possessions. Though it is certainly something to work on, it is not a dire situation like other aspect could be (penalty kill, power play, etc.). So, in a nutshell, don’t freak out over win/loss numbers within the faceoff just yet.

Nashville continues down the West Coast with a stop in Los Angeles on Saturday for a special Halloween puck drop of 3PM.