2017 NHL All-Star Roster Announced

c101sywweaeg_4m-jpg_large

Image Source: NBC Sports

Moments ago, the NHL released the final roster of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles January 28th-29th. Not surprisingly, Nashville has only one player on said roster: P.K. Subban, who was voted by the fans as the Central Division Captain. And, with his upper-body injury slated to be healed by the All-Star Weekend, Subban may have to relinquish his captain duties to someone else for safety’s sake.

– CENTRAL DIVISION

  • P.K. Subban – Nashville Predators
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
  • Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars

 

– ATLANTIC DIVISION:

  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
  • Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens
  • Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
  • Frans Nielsen – Detroit Red Wings
  • Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers
  • Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabres
  • Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

– PACIFIC DIVISION:

  • Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
  • Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks
  • Mike Smith – Arizona Coyotes
  • Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
  • Jeff Carter – L.A. Kings
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks

– METROPOLITAN DIVISION:

  • Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
  • Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Ryan McDonagh – New York Rangers
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils
  • Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets

What do you think about the roster for this year’s All-Star Weekend? Nashville isn’t the only team with one representative, but if you want to include former Preds (Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk, Seth Jones, and Shea Weber), then Nashville’s actually pretty well represented.

All joking aside, the big question is will Subban be healthy enough to participate? As mentioned, his 2-3 week recovery time ends at about the time of the All-Star festivities, but should not participate if it risks re-injury (thus keeping him out of the lineup even longer). Of course, that will be something the organization and Subban discuss as time gets closer.

 

 

Frustration mounts after 3-2 loss against CHI

filipforsbergchicagoblackhawksvnashvillerhvgjzbkwxtl

Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

While it was clear that Nashville was the better team last night, it wasn’t enough to earn the win against Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, there were some questionable calls (and no calls) that ultimately gave Chicago their first win in three games.

Unfortunately for Nashville, while it is great to be the better playing team, time is running out as the second half of the season looms in just a few days. Needless to say, moral victories are worthless unless there’s a W behind them. But it is frustrating to see blatant calls missed by the official; even worse, when the wrong penalty is called and the opposing team notches a goal from it. Yes, mistakes like this happen in all sports; officials can’t see everything and sure, they call it to the best of their abilities, but come on. When the replay clearly shows the goaltender tripping a player as he passes through the crease, then you (the official) calls it against the player that was actually tripped? Not only was this game frustrating for the players, it only further disheartened an already frustrated Nashville fan base.

Although the first contact between Kevin Fiala and Corey Crawford was not caught (in .gif form), the contact between Craig Smith and Crawford was:

Somehow, Smith was given the penalty, which lead to Jonathan Toews’ tying powerplay goal. However, Patrick Kane’s goal shortly thereafter (his 700th career point) was totally on Nashville, but it’s still frustrating to think that should have been the goal to tie the game.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. The NHL isn’t going to reverse the call or makeup the game. It’s done and in the record books. Maybe Crawford will be fined by the league, but that is highly doubtful. All Nashville can do is build off this frustration and use it to their advantage going into the second half of the season.

Ryan Ellis, for instance, is clearly fed up in this video above. Yes, he’s reacting to the fact that the outcome of the game was essentially decided by the officials, but it also shows how much frustration has been building within this team. Hyped as one of the potential Stanley Cup front runners this off-season, the Predators have done everything but proven they are Stanley Cup contenders. The talent is there, but something just hasn’t clicked. And with both P.K. Subban (and now) James Neal on the day-to-day with upper-body injuries, will the Predators find their way into 2017?

All was not lost last night, however. Mike Fisher picked up his 10th goal of the season, Filip Forsberg notched his 7th, and Ryan Johansen tallied his 18th and 19th assists of the season.

Nashville has one last chance to end 2016 on a high note as they take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight at 7PM. Again, building on that frustration from last night’s loss may be what turns this team around for the second half of the season. Just maybe.

The Morning After: Game 3

ribeiro

If only it had ended as bad as these guys made it out to be. Source: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Well, the Predators certainly forgot to pack that momentum in their carry-on bags from Friday on the way to Chicago because… well, we all saw the outcome of yesterday’s game. Not a complete and utter beat down, but not the heat we hoped to had seen for sure. The two goals Nashville did muster were exciting, to say the least, as they responded almost immediately after Chicago. However, after those two, there were no more follow-ups and the Blackhawks took Game 3 by a score of 4-2.

So what happened? Well, some could argue that the United Center is just a tough atmosphere for any team. Well, yea – it is, but here’s the thing: the Predators have played enough times in that arena that this should no longer be a surprise. Yes, the atmosphere during playoff hockey is a little more… unique, but these guys aren’t fresh off the boat; they know what to generally expect.

Another argument is regarding the absence of pack leaders, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher. The Predators played just fine Friday without Fisher and lit the jet fuel after Weber went out of the game. Though Weber and Fisher play significant roles on the ice, injuries like this are bound to happen and the Predators have adapted well before; unfortunately, unlike regular season, they cannot take their time figuring out a game plan. I was asked yesterday via Twitter on the health condition of Pekka Rinne; surely, he must still be injured. As much as I want to talk myself into believing that is the root cause of his awkward mistakes, it just isn’t. The only discomfort I believe he is in is the frustration of his gaffes. Unfortunately, even the best find themselves in a rut – Chicago resorted to their backup, Scott “sold my soul to the Devil to get out of the SPHL” Darling yesterday because Corey Crawford is way off his game.

No offense to Carter Hutton, but Nashville does not have someone who will all of sudden become the brick wall needed for the playoffs. After his hip surgery last season and his lengthy injury this season, many have questioned Rinne’s performance as it is easiest to blame the goaltender in these situations. However, blame cannot be solely rested upon the shoulders of the net-minder, as it takes other factors (defense) to keep a breakaway from happening in the first place.

Honestly, you could sit there and watch the replay of the game over and over and nitpick every thing that went wrong last night; so easy. The sloppy passes, bad man-to-man coverage, whatnot, but to keep a positive mindset, the First Round is far from over and anything can happen. Now that they have one playoff game under their belts in Chicago, tomorrow shouldn’t come as a shock and they should be a little more level-headed and prepared. There’s a good chance, since he traveled with the team, that Mike Fisher may be back for tomorrow’s game. Not that he’s the saving grace that’ll set everything straight, but Fisher’s authoritarian presence may be the kick in the rear end Nashville needs.

Shout out to Mike Ribeiro and Mattias Ekholm for cracking the “Darling Dam” yesterday and at least keeping the game interesting, to say the least. Now that I think about it, I am sad I forgot to post this photo:
b3c89aad8202521a49868ea0ddf2569b

Twitter Thoughts:

Preds help Hawks Count; Take Game 2 6-2

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Well, if that wasn’t a good way to show that Nashville has what it takes to make it beyond the first round then I can’t tell you what was. Similar to Wednesday’s game, there were quite a few circumstances that certainly went against the Predators. However, instead of allowing those instances to bog them down, Nashville persevered and then some to take victory of Game 2 6-2. Here are the main highlights you should take away from last night’s game:

  • Definition of Top Shelf Cheddar? That’d be Colin Wilson, who did just that to give the Predators the lead early in the first period. That snipe was Wilson’s third of the playoffs – he might just be the hero of the playoffs.
  • Patrick Sharp would put Chicago on the board, but Roman Josi would make sure Nashville ended the period in the lead with just three seconds left in the first.
  • The penalty kill was overtly prepared for the possibility of spending some time in the box, due in part to Wednesday’s shenanigans. Gaustad was called for a four-minute high-sticking during the second period, putting the Predators in an all too familiar setting. However, the PK only allowed one shot-on-goal during that four minute spat, boosting not only the crowd but the team as well.
  • Patrick Kane’s goal was greatly celebrated, one could say, as he had five other buddies on the ice to do so with! A huge, monstrous missed too-many-men call lead to Kane’s first goal of the playoffs – one that happened to tie the game. To add insult to injury, the officials would soon wave off a perfectly clean goal from Calle Jarnkrok.

  • Injuries were abound last night, with Taylor Beck traveling back to the locker room after a Seabrook shot, and Shea Weber leaving for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury. Weber will not be making the trip with the team to Chicago, definitely confirming he will be out at least two game. Mike Fisher, on the other hand, will be making the trip. Here’s a .gif of where Weber’s injury occurred:

  • Craig Smith notched his first of two goals last night in the second, helping to break that awful second period slump and gave Nashville a 3-2 lead going into the third.
  • Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-2 lead in the third, becoming the youngest player in Preds franchise history to score a post-season goal.
  • And, quickly after Forsberg, Craig Smith wanted another taste and notched his second goal of the night on Corey Crawford. Ah, and Pekka Rinne picked up the assist on his goal, too.
  • Mike Santorelli would get the deciding goal for his first in the playoffs, making the final score 6-2 in favor of Nashville.
  • Vince Vaughn was in town to watch his beloved Blackhawks along with NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. The Predators should be beaming to show off such a great game to someone who doesn’t care much for small markets.

Other Thoughts:

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a game for the ages. The Predators went in knowing that things would possibly go against them – as it always has. Instead of taking the beating, Nashville stood firm and expressed the type of discipline they have been lacking for a while. Maybe it was the loss of Weber; maybe it was the excellent PK on that double-minor; whatever the case, there was a fire lit under the Predators that needs to stay lit for tomorrow’s game in Chicago and beyond.

Game 3 in Chicago starts at 2PM — A little bit earlier than the two here at home, I’d say. Like I said, that fire from last night needs to be there tomorrow. Chicago will have the crowd and home ice advantage, which could break them mentally. No need for mentality breaks.

Game 2: Pregame Breakdown

10669091_10203800580524264_2689793676602089493_o

Six and a half hours until puck drop, my friends. Are you ready? More importantly, are the Predators ready? No one is unaware of the “you-know-what” the second period has been and Wednesday night’s game solidified the fact this issue needs to be addressed pronto – as in right now – if the Predators want to hold that big shiny Cup at the end of the season. Instead of going into rant-mode, I’ll keep this post on the informational side. Here’s the breakdown of what should be expected before tonight’s puck drop:

  • Did I say six and a half hours? Add about 12 minutes onto that time. Per Thomas Willis, the official puck drop is 8:42PM. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday or I’d really have to double-down on the coffee.
    1418426553294
  • No surprise, Mike Fisher was not at practice this morning. Nor was Eric Nystrom, but that’s really, really no surprise.
  • Someone who was there was Cody Franson… And he will be playing tonight.
  • So will Santorelli.

  • Laviolette finally addressed that second period issue (or at least, the first time I’ve seen him address it):

  • Corey Crawford will start in net tonight for Chicago, despite being chased out in the first period in Game 1 AND being overshadowed by Darling’s performance. We have not seen the last of Scott Darling, mind you.
    scott_darling_large
  • Pregame meal? Eat at the Bridgestone. Or, at least, not downtown. Not only will there be tons of Chicago fans on top of the already insane amount of tourists (and that it’s Friday), some restaurants and bars are marketing to the enemy:

    CC0gN4XWYAIivYh

    Courtesy: Robby Stanley — Boycott this shameful establishment.

    How embarrassing is this? No, seriously. As someone who controls a major part of the Marketing for her company, there would be no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks I’d make this big of a risk. First off, I have a team that would’ve gone, “Uh Beks, you’ve lost your mind.” I get it; money is the name of the game, especially if you are on tourist row (A.K.A. Broadway), but you are essentially ostracizing your city for a quick buck. Yes, revenue will definitely soar and you’ll make a hefty profit, but you are banking on this to get swept under the rug and forgotten about after the hockey season is over. Here’s the thing about hockey fans, Tequila Cowboy; once you’ve crossed them, it’s done. Why do you think we hate Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim, Vancouver so much? They pissed us off. Be loyal to your audience, my friend; yes, you get more tourists than residents, but those residents have a power called “reference” and nobody is going to speak highly of your business to visiting friends after you’ve done this. Will it affect you that much? Probably not, but you’ve crossed the line and shunned your hometown. Also, how many times are the Blackhawks in town during any given season? Not nearly close to the 41 home games the Predators have. How truly embarrassing and downright shameful. There is no way any bar or restaurant in Chicago will throw “pep rallies” for visiting Nashville fans. How absolutely asinine and an awful marketing “strategy” to begin with.

Though Wednesday featured more mustard than ketchup, I have a feeling – being it a Friday – there will be twice the number of Blackhawks fans tonight than Wednesday. So, if you are attending tonight’s game, meditate or do whatever calms your nerves and be prepared. Good vibes and decent officiating are welcomed.

Game 1: CHI – 4, NSH – 3

usa-today-8521620.0

Original Photo Source: Christopher Hanewinckel – USA TODAY Sports

Where does one begin? Well, let me begin with the fact that I have not seen the Predators play such a physical period (first) in a very long time; definitely not within recent memory. They essentially played as a team; they read each other well. Something that certainly did not happen in the second period. I’d rather not discuss the second period – not necessarily regarding last night’s game – but the second period within the last couple of games. Talk about a case of déjà vu. The Predators have been on this route of going hard in the first, giving themselves what would once be a challenge for any team to tackle; completely bombing in the second period, allowing the opposing team to either tie or take the lead; then they cannot gather themselves to retake what they lost in the second, ultimately costing the team the game. As exciting as those three goals were in the first period last night, I feared – and I bet a lot of you did, too – how the team would approach the second period.

And alas, there was definitely a fallout in the second period. However, to make things a little more interesting, the “officials” forgot how to properly officiate a hockey game. This wasn’t your first rodeo, was it? You could’ve fooled me… along with the other 17k+ folks. Countless dives, off-sides, and icing… you how do you miss an icing call? I understand hybrid icing and that nonsense, but regular, no-holds-bar icing? That’s bush league, babe. However, let’s take the most questionable non-call in all of the missed ones last night:

I enjoy chiming in with a nice chant of “Ref You Suck”, but I have never heard it as loud as I did last night… and for good reason, too. Clearly, that should have been a penalty shot award to a one Mr. Taylor Beck. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but my goodness, after the atrocious officiating in last night’s game, you’d have thought something awfully fishy was going on. And I am not talking about the catfish that was thrown on the ice:

We know how you feel about small market teams, Bettman…

That was the Predators’ game to take; no doubt. The physicality of the first period was outstanding and must be repeated in the following periods. The Predators have always allowed for sloppy passes and whatnot, but we have now reached the post-season; a time when other teams have honed in on those typical mistakes – no matter how little – and capitalize on them. Laviolette knows this; Housley knows this. Time to get both the hearts and minds right and on focus. There’s no doubt in my mind that Nashville can defeat the Blackhawks in this round; they just have to stop doubting themselves.

Noteworthy Notes:

  • Mike Fisher returned to the lineup as expected after coming back from a lower-body injury. However, he took a nasty hit in the first period, causing him to miss the remainder of the game. I have a relatively good feeling we won’t see Fisher the rest of this round, possibly even well beyond this round if Nashville can knock off the ‘Hawks.
  • Colin Wilson, ladies and gentlemen. With only six points in the last 32, Wilson brought out the afterburners in Game 1. His two goals tied the franchise record of goals in a single playoff game.

  • Viktor Stalberg certainly showed his former teammates that he wants to hold that Cup again. His unassisted goal helped chase Corey Crawford from the net.
  • Scott Darling, the Blackhawks backup and former Milwaukee Admiral, certainly secured Chicago’s victory last night. Forty-two saves for 80 minutes worth of hockey. Yea, Crawford might want to watch his back.
  • As for our goaltender, Pekka was definitely on point last night. Unfortunately, someone had to lose. Rinne made some incredible saves, keeping the game going for as long as it did.
  • Paul Gaustad did his thing at the face-off circle, winning 17 and losing just six for a percentage of 76%.
  • The Game Ops outdid themselves with the new intro video for the playoffs. Though this is a little snippet, I suggest making it out to tomorrow’s game or finding a video on YouTube.

Time to take in a deep breath and shake it off; there’s no room for lingering on yesterday. Hopefully, last night’s tough loss will light a fire under Nashville’s butt so they can come out with the same tenacity as yesterday’s first period and keep that going for the entire game.

Game 1 is in the books, boys and girls. Chicago – 4, Nashville – 3. Onward to Game 2.

 Extra: Check out this video from 2011 of the Predators players talking about how great the fans are in Nashville. Surely, this’ll get you feeling all warm and fuzzy, right?

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Review

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Columbus, Ohio was the place to be this weekend has the city hosted the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. As you know, Nashville was chosen as the host city for the 2016 ASG Weekend, which will be an event on its own. But until then, let’s recap the fun that happened this weekend in Columbus… Oh, and for the sake of keeping this post from being ninety pages long, we’ll stick to Nashville’s accomplishments:

Team Foligno:

  • Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Brian Elliot – St. Louis Blues
  • Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues
  • Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers
  • Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Anze Kopitar – L.A. Kings
  • Radim Vrabata – Vancouver Canucks
  • Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Zemgus Girgensons – Buffalo Sabres
  • Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
  • Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Coaching Staff: Darryl Sutter – L.A. Kings

Team Toews:

  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers
  • Jaroslav Halak – New York Islanders
  • Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers
  • Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
  • Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Brent Seabrook – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
  • Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
  • Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
  • Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins
  • Rick Nash – New York Rangers
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Jakub Vorachek – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Coaching Staff – Peter Laviolette – Nashville Predators

As you recall, Pekka Rinne was not included in the All-Star “draft” due to sustaining a knee sprain. Because Filip Forsberg was chosen last for Team Toews, he was the lucky winner of a brand new Honda Accord. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also won a new Honda, as he was chosen last for Team Foligno.

Source: @NHL

Source: @NHL

Saturday – Skills Competition – Winner: Team Foligno

Despite a good show by Team Toews, it was Team Foligno who reigned in the Skills Competition held on Saturday evening. Both Weber and Forsberg participated in the relay and shootout, but it was Weber who shined – not surprisingly – during the Hardest Shot round.

Shea originally missed his first shot, but more than nailed his second attempt, clocking his shot at 108.5 MPH. Weber certainly won the competition, but missed notching the hardest shot ever recorded, which is held by Zdeno Chara at 108.8 MPH. Forsberg shined in the relay portion, showing off his crazy insane puck-handling skills.

Sunday – All-Star Game – Winner: Team Toews

Though the fell short in the Skills Competition, Team Toews out-powered Team Foligno by a long shot during the actual All-Star Game, winning 17-12. And, believe it or not, though the All-Star Game tends to always have a ton of goals, this was the highest scoring game in its history. Filip Forsberg’s two goals helped get Team Toews to the win, the first goals scored by a Nashville Predator in an All-Star Game. Shea Weber also notched an assist off of Tyler Seguin’s goal.

From the World Wide World of Twitter:

So that’s a wrap on the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. Next Stop: Nashville! But before then, the Predators must press forward with the remainder of this season and push into the playoffs. Pekka Rinne should also be re-evaluated soon, along with Ryan Ellis. The Predators return to the regular season this Tuesday as they welcome in the Colorado Avalanche at 7PM.

Preds hold lead early, fall to Blackhawks 5-4

Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

So I asked the in the previous post (the Philadelphia one) as to who would be in net for Nashville tonight. Who is surprised it was Pekka again? Now, don’t get me wrong, if I had my way, Pekka would be half human/half machine and fully capable of handling a full 82-game season; no offense, Hutton. But alas, he is a mere mortal and needs a rest every now and then. However, there’s a good chance Rinne will not rest for tomorrow’s game either, as St. Louis is nipping at our heels as I type. Call me a worrier, but after losing him last season to that E. Coli hip, I have every reason to be nervous of his health. Though the Predators have gained strength under the leadership of Peter Laviolette, Pekka Rinne is still saving their butts more often than not.

Anywho, let’s discuss Chicago, who sits just two points ahead of Nashville for first in the Central Division. However, to discuss the bigger picture, it seems as if Anaheim is Nashville’s biggest threat thus far (when discussing the Cup); they are currently 24-8-6. So a night in the Windy City then back home to face the Blues? Giddy-up.

First Period:

  • Roman Josi got the party started at 11:50 in the United Center with a snap shot past Corey Crawford for his fifth goal of the season. Paul Gaustad tallies the lone assist.
  • Craig Smith pushed Nashville up 2-0 with a wrister at 17:12, his 11th goal of the season. Colin Wilson (9) and Mike Ribeiro (21) claim the assists.

Second Period:

  • James Neal picked up his 12th goal at 7:28 with a excellent tip-in with assistance from Colin Wilson (10) and Pekka Rinne (1). No, that isn’t a typo – Rinne, in fact, picked up the assist.
  • Brad Richards cut the Predators lead 3-1 at 10:33 with a slap shot past Rinne for his seventh goal of the season.
  • Chicago would then come within one of Nashville at 15:48 with a wrister from Andrew Shaw, his sixth of the season.
  • Just two minutes later, Chicago would tie it with slapshot from Marian Hossa on the power play, his eighth goal of the season.
  • With a power play goal of his own, James Neal gave Nashville the lead once again, his second goal of the night and 13th of the season. Filip Forsberg (21) and Roman Josi (17) collect the assists.

Third Period:

  • Sadly, at 18:47 with the extra attacker, Bryan Bickell sends a wrister past Rinne to tie the game, sending it into overtime.

Overtime:

  • No goals in overtime – to the shootout we go.

Shootout:

  • NSH – Ryan Ellis – MISS
  • CHI – Jonathan Toews – GOAL
  • NSH – Craig Smith – MISS
  • CHI – Patrick Kane – MISS
  • NSH – Filip Forsberg – MISS

And with that, the Nashville Predators fall 5-4 in the shootout and are now 24-9-3. As I have mentioned several times, the Predators take on the Blues tomorrow night at home. Luckily, the Blues may be just as exhausted as they, too have played tonight. However… they beat the Avalanche 3-0. Sheesh.

Predators Out-Play Blackhawks 7-2

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

Back-to-back games are rough on any team and after coming off a 17-day road trip, Nashville was no exception. But after losing 4-1 to Pittsburgh and turning right around to take on the 13-2-4 Chicago Blackhawks? But let us not forget the Predators way: When they should win, they lose; When they should lose, they win. Totally makes for great blood pressure, truly. Let’s jump to the highlights:

First Period:

  • Similar to last night, Nashville struck first with a wrister from Matt Cullen at 7:28, his third goal of the season. Craig Smith (6th assist) and Seth Jones (6th assist) would collect the assists.
  • Nick Spaling would put the Predators up 2-0 at 8:25 with wrister of his own for his second goal of the season. Craig Smith would notch his second assist of the game (7th overall) and Ryan Ellis would pick up an assist, too (4th overall).
  • Nashville would outshoot Chicago 10 to 7, with NHL rookie Marek Mazanec stepping up his game from last night’s punishment.

Second Period:

  • The Predators kept the momentum into the second with a Power Play tip-in goal from Patric Hornqvist (6th goal) at 9:02. Roman Josi, who was first awarded the goal, picked up his 2nd assist overall along with Shea Weber (5th overall).
  • Craig Smith (4th goal) would give Nashville a substantial 4-0 lead at 18:18 with a backhander past Corey Crawford. Matt Cullen (3rd assist) would pick up the assist.
  • Chicago would finally get on the board at 18:44 with a wrister from Patrick Kane, his 11th goal of the season.
  • Nashville would keep the Blackhawks at bay with a 4-1 at the end of the 2nd period, though this time, Chicago outshoot the Predators 18 to 13.
  • Kudos to Mazanec for blocking 17 of 18 shots during the second period, especially after being pulled after the same period the night before. Amazing what a game at home can do… even if there is way too many mustard jerseys filling said seats.

Third Period:

  • Chicago would embrace the second intermission and come out swinging in the third, collecting their second goal at just 6:14 into the second period. Brandon Pirri collected his 5th goal of the season on Chicago’s goal.
  • Viktor Stalberg would give his old team a big middle finger just fifteen seconds later with a backhander past Crawford for his second goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (3rd assist) and David Legwand (12th assists) would help collect Nashville’s fifth goal of the night.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQHUu3XNfMw
  • At 12:19, Mike Fisher would pick up his third goal of the season with an assist from Patric Hornqvist (7th assist), putting the home team up 6-2.
  • And, at 14:07, Captain Shea Weber sealed the deal with his signature slapshot to put Nashville up 7-2. Roman Josi (3rd assist) and David Legwand (13th assist) setup Weber’s 5th goal of the season.
  • Chicago would put the extra pressure on Mazanec in the third period, outshooting Nashville a cool 16 to 7. Again, another shout out to the NHL rookie for blocking 15 of 16 shots on goal. He took a pounding, nonetheless.
  • Marek Mazanec, after being pulled after the second period the night before, collected his first NHL win tonight against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The final shot totals: Chicago 41, Nashville 30. So, doing the easy math, Mazanec blocked 39 of 41 shots on goal. Pretty spectacular for a rookie, eh?

Again, the Nashville Predators just have this uncanny way of defeating teams that just aren’t on the radar. Never, never count out the pesky Preds, my friends. Even after the whole ticket debacle, the Bridgestone Arena was still overrun with those awful red jerseys, which was not unexpected; we pissed them off. Maybe with this win, Chicago fans will have some respect when visiting Nashville and maybe, just maybe, take them down a peg or two. Did I personally hear the whole “two Cups in three years” line tonight? Yes, yes I did. As they say, “Scoreboard, son”.

Preds Rally Back, Fall Short to Blackhawks 5-4

Alexander Radulov, David Legwand, & Roman Josi fight puck control.

After the captivating win over the Red Wings in Detroit last night, the Predators hit the road (err, airways?) with the wind in their sails, banking on another win tonight against Chicago at home in Nashville. In the six games that Nashville and Chicago have played one another, Chicago was only able to sneak one passed this Predators, and even then, it was in OT. However, after completely humiliating the Blackhawks in Chicago last Sunday 6-1, Chicago was chomping at the bit to bestow the same humiliation on the Predators in Nashville. Nashville has already sealed their playoff spot, but Chicago is still clawing up that ladder. With a win in Nashville, the Blackhawks would get their coveted playoff spot… even more reason to win tonight.

KEY POINTS:

  • The scratched list was long once again tonight, with Colin Wilson, Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen, Craig Smith, and Ryan Ellis making the list. Although he returned briefly, Colin seems to be still suffering from a “groin” injury. With as well as Bourque and the return of Roman Josi, Craig Smith might be taking a few games off for a while.
  • Chicago drew blood first at 3:25 in the first with a power play goal from Patrick Sharp, his 32nd goal of the season. His back-hander passed Pekka would be the only goal of the first period.
  • Chicago wasted no time in the 2nd Period either, with Dave Bolland sinking another power play goal at 1:05 for his 19th goal of the season.
  • Patrick Kane would put Chicago up 3-0 at 6:50 with a wrist shot passed Pekka for his 21st goal of the season.
  • Viktor Stalberg would only fuel the fire at 8:35, sinking his 20th goal of the season in the 2nd Period.
  • At 9:29, the Predators finally found their groove and Martin Erat hit a wrist shot passed Corey Crawford for his 19th goal of the season. Ryan Suter (37th assist) and Mike Fisher (26th assist) picked up the assists on the power play goal.
  • Nashville would continue to fire back, with a snap shot goal from Shea Weber, his 18th goal of the season. Ryan Suter picked up his 38th assist along with Andrei Kostitsyn (18th assist).
  • The 3rd Period started out in favor of the Predators, with a backhanded goal from Alexander Radulov, his first goal at home after returning to Nashville (3rd goal of the season). David Legwand (33rd assist) and Kevin Klein (15th assist) picked up the assists on A-Rad’s goal.
  • Shea Weber would pick up his second goal of the night at 7:10 on the power play, his 19th goal of the season. Ryan Suter picked up his third assist of the night (39th assist) and David Legwand picked up his second (34th assist) of the night.
  • Although tied 4-4, Chicago wasn’t going to let Nashville sneak passed yet again and, at 8:19, Brent Seabrook sent a snap shot passed Pekka Rinne, putting the Blackhawks up by one (his 9th goal of the season).
  • It’s hard for Trotzie to decide whether to sit Pekka on nights like tonight, especially after playing such a physical game like last night in Detroit. Unfortunately, since Detroit and Chicago are both vying for potential playoff spots, Nashville can’t afford but anything but the best in front of their net. It was clear Peks was drained from last night’s game, but he still made an incredible effort, blocking 32 of 37 shots on goal. The Predators were, of course, out-shot 33 to 37, but you can’t help but be impressed by their effort to come back late in the 2nd Period and tying the game after being down 4-0.
  • Penalties were Nashville’s downfall tonight (well, along with some other elements). Chicago gave Nashville four power play chances, two of which the Predators were able to capitalize on. Nashville, on the other hand, gave Chicago six power play chances, two of which Chicago used to their advantage. Okay, so technically, Nashville used their power plays better, but penalties hurt nonetheless. Here are your penalty box boppers:
  1. Matt Halischuk – 1:38 1st Period – Hi-Sticking
  2. Paul Gaustad – 10:27 1st Period – Roughing
  3. David Legwand – 19:48 1st Period – Hooking
  4. Martin Erat – 13:13 2nd Period – Slashing
  5. Gabriel Bourque – 16:46 2nd Period – Tripping
  6. Alexander Radulov – 19:52 3rd Period – Hooking

A rough loss for Nashville tonight at home, allowing the Blackhawks to finally clinch their own playoff spot. However, considering Nashville has beaten the Blackhawks four times out six (gaining a point from one loss in overtime), you have give credit to the Predators for proving to be the better team overall this season. After coming back from being down by four goals, you have to admit, even after whipping Detroit’s butt last night, the Predators still had some kick in their step.

The Predators finish up the remainder of the regular season this week, with the Minnesota Wild coming in on Tuesday and the Dallas Stars venturing to Nashville on Thursday. The Predators last regular season game is on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)