Western Conference Standings Update

I hope that photographer didn’t like that camera.

The standings are in from the last games of March, riding on the heels of the last month of regular season hockey. And, from the looks of it, Nashville is going to be fighting all the way through the month of April. Here is a snapshot from NHL.com of the current standings going into April:

Image Source: NHL.com

Image Source: NHL.com

The last post was written before all the games were over today, thus the standings are a tad bit different if you read it or have read it. With Columbus’s win over Anaheim, the Blue Jackets buzz past Nashville, Edmonton, and Dallas to take the elusive 8th spot, knocking St. Louis into 9th. Nashville is now in 12th of 15, just two points behind Columbus. But Dallas, Edmonton, and St. Louis stand in their way, all of who are fighting for that last playoff spot as well.

Check out the post below about what all Nashville faces going into the month of April. By the looks of tonight’s outcomes, it’s looking like it’s going to be an even rougher final month of hockey.

 

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 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