Preds make history; advance to Western Conference Finals

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Image Source: NHL.com

Though Nashville had the chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals on Friday night, perhaps they purposefully lost that game just so they could seal the deal at home… one can dream, right? Whether that was Nashville’s original intent (wink, wink) or not, the Predators managed to fight off the feisty St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 win to take the series and advance to the third round, the first time in franchise history.

But let’s be honest; it wasn’t exactly the prettiest advancement ever. St. Louis wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and that was proven in Game 5 on Friday. Nashville’s performance in Game 5 was evidently still present in the first period, as the boys in gold had more issues than one, including connections on passes among other things. The first period would end with St. Louis up 1-0, thanks to an earlier wrister from Paul Stastny.

Perhaps Nashville just needed the first period to collect themselves (or Laviolette peeled the paint off the walls during that first intermission), but the Predators looked much more uniformed in the second period. Roman Josi would tie the game at 1-1 and put the home team on the board just 35 seconds into the second period. his fourth of the playoffs. Both teams would hang onto that tying score into the third period.

You know that whole “win a period, win the game” scenario? Yeah, that’s what both teams faced going into the third period. It came down to who was more desperate, to be honest. Another paint peeling by Laviolette set Nashville off on fire, with Ryan Johansen scoring his second goal of the playoffs, giving both the Predators and the home fans something to get extra loud about (along with a 2-1 lead).

Straying just a bit off topic, it is a beautiful thing to hear NHL bigwigs and announcers compliment Nashville and its fans; especially on how loud the Bridgestone Arena can get. I’ve sort of summed it up this way: When you combine a bunch of SEC football fans together, it can get a bit deafening. This is a predominately college football fan region; if you get a bunch of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, etc. fans loving a unifying sport, it’s going to get loud. College football fans – especially those in favor of the Southeastern Conference – are a unique breed, and hooking them on a game like hockey? It’s bound to be wild.

Back to the game at hand, and with the fans backing them from that point on, Nashville held their own, regaining the confidence expected of a team up 3-2 in a series. Holding onto Johansen’s one goal lead, the Predators would hang on from that point on until Calle Jarnkrok’s empty-netter goal with one minute remaining.

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have advanced to the Western Conference finals… and the city’s heart is on fire for this team. The amount of support the Predators have received during these playoffs is outstanding. Between the celebrity sightings, the Titans players getting “hype” for their fellow professional sportsmen, to the all-star anthem performances, it’s been phenomenal for this team and its city. And for all those fans who couldn’t get a ticket tonight? There were hundreds stationed outside the arena watching on a jumbo screen. Let’s also not forget who came out to pump up the crowd and team before puck drop tonight…

#DoItForKevin, y’all.

Whether you’ve been faithful since the beginning in 1998 or you are just entering the hockey atmosphere, be proud, Preds fans. Be proud of this team and what they have overcome to get here. 16th out of 16 teams and they are the first to advance to the conference finals? That’s playoff hockey for you, baby. Nothing is given. Anything can happen.

Since the Oilers just defeated the Ducks 7-1 to force a Game 7 in the series, it’ll be interesting to see who Nashville will end up facing in the conference finals. So here’s the question: Who would you rather face? The young, spritely team lead by McJesus or Ryan Kessler?

BONUS:

Carter Hutton told Pekka Rinne during handshakes: “Go all the way, buddy.”

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2017 NHL All-Star Roster Announced

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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.

 

 

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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O Captain, What Captain: Who will be the 7th Nashville Predators Captain?

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While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.

While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.

Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.

I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.

Possible Captain Candidates:

Josi

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.

 

Fisher

  • Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).

Neal

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.

Alternate Captain Candidates:

I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:

 

Rinne

 

  • Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.

 

Johansen

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.

Forsberg

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.

Subban

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.

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  • Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.

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  • Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.

So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.

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NSH trades Weber to MTL for Subban

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Yes, you read that headline correctly. Just days after winning the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award, Shea Weber has been traded in a deal with the Montreal Canadiens for fellow defenseman Pernell Karl Subban, better known around the world as P.K.

For me personally, I am finding myself in a glass case of emotions… On one hand, this is an outstanding trade. Subban is undoubtedly one of the best defenseman in the league and snagging him from Montreal would be insane. On the other hand, in order to snag someone like Subban, you’ve got to have something just as valuable in return. That valuable piece? Either Shea Weber or Roman Josi. As much as we’d all love to imagine having all three together, it’s just impossible on too many levels. And with that, our beloved captain has been traded to Montreal and the rumors of “when will Weber be traded?” have come to an end on this day, June 29th, 2016.

Unlike the laughable trade that came an hour earlier between the Edmonton Oilers and the New Jersey Devils (one-for-one Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson deal), this trade is good for both parties involved. Montreal receives a powerful, veteran defenseman and Nashville gets a younger, more offensive-minded defenseman that will pair well with Roman Josi in return.

Here’s a little info on P.K. Subban from the Predators:

Subban, 27 (5/13/89), is among the most decorated defensemen in the game today. Individually, he won the 2013 Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, was a finalist for the award in 2015, is a two-time First-Team NHL All-Star (2013 and 2015) and a 2011 All-Rookie Team selection. He has helped teams win a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics and a pair of World Junior Championships (2008 and 2009). Over the past four seasons – dating back to 2012-13 – the 6-foot, 210-pound blueliner has amassed 203 points (42g-160a) in 274 regular-season games, third most among all NHL defensemen. He has surpassed the 50-point mark in each of the past three seasons, highlighted by a career-high 60 points (15g-45a) in 2014-15. He has advanced past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his last two appearances in the postseason, ranking fourth among NHL blueliners in points (5g-9a-14pts) in 2014, helping Montreal reach the Eastern Conference Final.

A native of Toronto, Subban started his professional career in 2009-10, being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and an AHL First-Team All-Star after leading all league blueliners in goals (18) and ranking third in points. The 43rd overall selection in the 2007 NHL Draft (second round) played four seasons with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls from 2005-09, posting 190 points (42g-148a) in 234 games and being named a 2009 First-Team OHL All-Star.

Subban has also become renowned for his charitable contributions, and recently received the 2016 NHL Foundation Award which is presented to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.” In September 2015, he announced a $10 million pledge over a seven-year period to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation (MCHF), and often employs various initiatives to engage the community and raise awareness about those causes nearest to him.

That’s right. If somehow you missed this piece of information about a year ago, P.K. Subban is quite the charitable giver and will be a huge asset to the Nashville community as well. So you get elite defenseman + all around nice guy. Can’t beat that, right?

Shea Weber will be truly missed. Drafted 49th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Predators, Weber has been an integrated figure in the Nashville community and the Predators organization for nearly ten years. It really hasn’t set in that he has been traded, but I am sure as the pre-season festivities begin, it’ll hit us all pretty hard. As a writer, I am supposed to keep my heart out of moments like these, but I am also still a fan. It is hard not to become attached to players; it’s like a friend moving away. It sucks. But alas dear Weber fans, you will be okay. Trust me, you’ll love P.K. Subban.

Preds Sweep Western Road Trip with 2-1 Win over Flames

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Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

No one can argue that Nashville looked like a completely different team this time around when it came to a road trip; especially compared to the previous one. Perhaps it was a change in the lineups, a stern lecture from the coaching staff, or a combination of a multitude of factors. Whatever it was, something connected within the team out in Western Canada and the Predators now have a record to prove it. After losing 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks last Tuesday, the Predators hit the skies for Manitoba to take on divisional opponent the Winnipeg Jets. In their first meeting with the Jets back on November 14th in Nashville, the Predators dominated the former Atlanta Thrashers 7-0. After that? The Jets returned to Nashville on January 5th, crushing the home team 4-1. And after that? The Predators nabbed their only point in their previous road trip, losing to Winnipeg 5-4 in OT. Despite a blaring concern in the goaltending department, the Predators pulled themselves together and started to dig – as a team – out of the hole they currently find themselves in, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.

Next on the schedule was Taylor Hall and his Edmonton Oilers. Nashville and Edmonton have only met once this season, which was back on October 10th in Nashville when the Predators defeated the Oilers 2-0. For some reason, the Oilers have always been a team that, despite their not-so-great record over the years (they currently sit in last in the Western Conference), a team that the Predators have struggled to beat. That wasn’t the case on October 10th nor was it the case Saturday when Nashville claimed victory in Edmonton, winning 4-1.

The Vancouver Canucks were Nashville’s next opponent on the schedule, another team that has held Nashville back many times before. Strangely enough, this was Nashville and Vancouver’s first meeting of the season. Though Nashville is ahead of Vancouver in the standings, that means nothing to the Sedin twins. Thanks to a first minute of the game goal by Craig Smith, the Predators held onto that momentum, even after the Canucks tied it shortly thereafter. It would be James Neal who sent the Predators up 2-1 early in the third period that would seal the game in favor of Nashville.

And lastly, we come to last night’s game against the Calgary Flames. In their first meeting of the season, back on December 15th, the Flames barely slipped by with the 2-1 OT victory. Nashville, high from winning their past three games, were no doubt itching to claim victory. Pekka Rinne was given the start in the previous three games, but last night was Carter Hutton’s time. And boy, did he shine. It is no secret that Predators fans are a bit hard on their team’s goaltenders. Despite a terrible game from the rest of the team, if a loss happens, somehow, someway, the blame falls to the goaltender. Sometimes though, it is an issue with goaltending. There’s no denying that Rinne has been in a rut lately and Carter Hutton, who is usually the subject of ridicule, has been playing rather well. However, this road trip undeniably showed the strength of both goaltenders and boy, was it something to behold.

Just six minutes into the first period, Mike Ribeiro notched his sixth goal of the season with assistance from Craig Smith (6) and Mattias Ekholm (16). Surprising that Ribeiro would score, as he tends to drop pass more than anyone in the league it feels like, but Nashville would hang onto that 1-0 lead through the remainder of the first period. Calgary would get the upper-hand three times alone in the first period due to penalties on the Predators, but Carter Hutton and the defense held their own to remain in the lead.

In the second period, however, Calgary would be at the disadvantage the most, taking four penalties throughout its course. Perhaps Calgary was called for so many penalties because of… this:

Dennis Wideman, apparently a little ticked that the officials missed the hit Miikka Salomaki jarred him with, cross-checks a linesman in retaliation. The more you watch it, the less case Wideman has to say it was “an accident”. There’s a good chance he’ll face a ten-game suspension at minimum. It’ll be interesting to see what the League does… or does. Wideman was not penalized during this game for this hit, by the way.

But, thanks to so many penalties, Shea Weber was able to launch one of his signature slapshots Karri Ramo to give Nashville the 2-0 lead on the power play. Weber’s 12th goal of the season, he was assisted by Roman Josi (25) and Ryan Johansen (27).

The Predators would continue to hold onto that 2-0 lead until about five minutes left of the third period when Flames captain Mark Giordano and his team crowded the net, finally catching Hutton off guard. Similar to Tuesday night’s showdown in Vancouver, Nashville would take a last minute penalty to give Calgary at 6-to-4 man advantage. The defense did what it does best and Hutton kept his cool, holding back the Calgary Flames to seal the 2-1 victory and to sweep the Western Canada road trip 4-0-0.

The Predators and the rest of the NHL have descended upon Nashville for this weekend’s All-Star festivities and holy crap am I excited. As are you, I bet. It was just recently announced – as I was writing this – that James Neal will now replace the sick Jonathan Toews in the All-Star lineup. Yay! We have four All-Stars now! Another injury to note, Alexander Ovechkin, will not make the trip here either and has been replaced with Evgeny Kuznetsov who also plays for the Capitals.

Four victories in a row. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? Very reminiscent of last season, yes? Now the question is, will Nashville lose its strength and momentum with this All-Star Break? Honestly, it’s not that big of a break. They are technically missing one day in which their could be a game (normally); they’ll be back at it against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. I guess we’ll just have to see. But for now, we’ve got some sure fire goaltenders and a spot in the wildcard for the playoffs.

 

Preds slide by Oilers 4-1

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Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After starting off the road trip 1-0-0 on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets, the Predators moved onward to “Oil Country”, hoping to extend that victory streak. Though two wins in a row doesn’t sound like a big deal, Nashville hasn’t notched a back-to-back win since December 19th against the Wild and December 21st against the Canadiens. That’s over a month. Not fun. But the Predators were in the right frame of mind last night, tackling the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Considering the last road trip ended 0-3-1, which was two weeks ago, last night’s win against the Oilers may be the boost Nashville needs to power out of their rut. Let’s hope so.

Goaltending has been a concern as of late for Nashville as they struggle to find the source behind this immeasurable rut and Pekka Rinne’s performance – or lack thereof – has been a bit of a head-scratcher. Of course, goalies are subject to losing their “groove” just like any other player would, but goalies tend to fall under the microscope the most, given that they are the last line of defense for your respective team. If your goaltender is struggling, the rest of the team has to step up by a ten fold. Unfortunately for Nashville, the Predators are notorious for counting on Rinne to erase their mistakes (i.e. the nickname “The Eraser”), so when he’s down, so too, can the team. While Carter Hutton is a decent backup, if the Predators continue to rely so heavily on his (Rinne) performance, it might be time to start the process of prepping a solidified backup. Juuse Saros and Marek Mazanec are both lying in wait, but one of them – preferably Mazanec – will need to be conditioned before making the transition from the AHL  to the NHL for good.

But, to everyone’s relief, Pekka Rinne found his groove last night and stopped 23 of 24 shots-on-goal, giving Nashville the 4-1 victory. Again, if we are feeling relieved when Rinne does well, does that ultimately mean the organization knows there might be a goaltending issue?

But, let’s not jump too far down that rabbit hole just yet. Perhaps we are just slapping a band-aid over a gaping wound, but for now, it suffices. However, this issue will have to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Moving onward, Mattias Ekholm led the charge last night, scoring two of the four goals – one that tied the game and one that gave Nashville the lead. With those two goals, Ekholm reached a career high in points (7g, 13a), something this Swede undeniably deserves.

Speaking of Swedes, Filip Forsberg also hit a milestone by notching his 100th career point (he gained 17th assist on Ekholm’s power play goal and notched the empty-netter). Rounding out the goals, Mike Fisher collected his sixth of the season on the 4×4.

As I mentioned previously, this road trip is turning out to be much better than the last (even if they lost the last two games, it’d still be a better outcome) with this 2-0-0 count. The Predators now move onward to British Columbia to take on the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night at 9PM (lots o’ coffee for Wednesday).

Preds take Home Opener 2-1 over Canes

Source: Sanford Myers/Getty Images

Ah, it’s good to be back, isn’t it? The Predators opened the 2015-16 at home last night against the Carolina Hurricanes and picked up the first of many (knock on wood) wins of this young season. Despite the win, the Predators looked a little less “on fire” during the second and third periods, which allowed the Hurricanes to make a comeback in shots-on-goal and in score. Here are some highlights from last night’s opener:

First Period:

  • Just fifty-seven seconds into the match, Ryan Ellis took a hi-stick to the face from Jordan Staal, resulting in a powerplay opportunity for Nashville.

  • In a déjà vu moment from last season, Craig Smith opened the season with a powerplay goal to put Nashville up 2-0 at 2:23.

  • About twelve minutes later, rookie Viktor Arvidsson notched his first NHL-career goal at 17:05 to put Nashville up 2-0. The fact that Arvidsson could not contain his excitement afterwards makes me happy.

  • Nashville would dominate the first period with 14 SOG compared to Carolina’s five.

Second Period:

  • No goals, but the pace was more like molasses for Nashville as the air was let out of the tires a bit. Carolina put on the pressure, but the Predators were able to maintain the 2-0 lead.

Third Period:

  • Again, the Hurricanes picked up the pace where the Predators left off and added even more pressure.
  • Eric Staal was able to inch one past Pekka Rinne at 18:20 with the extra man on the attack.
  • The last minute and a half was intense, but Nashville managed to keep Carolina from tying the game.

Overall, the Predators looked good during their season opener, but the “cooling of the jets” during the second and third periods could be worrisome. The defense stood tall against the Hurricanes and held them back, but I don’t know if Nashville could hold back a stronger team. The Oilers will take advantage of this easily on Saturday if the Predators don’t address it. The penalty kill looked fabulous last night and the powerplay is good as well. Improvements could be had here and there, but overall, I was pleased.

The Predators are back at it tomorrow at 6PM as they welcome in the Edmonton Oilers. The first 10,000 fans wearing gold will get a golden foam helmet! Whoop!

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.

NSH trades Roy to EDM; Aquires Arcobello

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

It came as bit of surprise to see Derek Roy’s name come up on waivers yesterday, but as the day went on, it became more understandable as to why he had been. With just one goal and nine assists, Roy was slipping silently through the cracks of the Predators organization. Compared to past seasons, a one goal/nine assists Forward would’ve been just another name on the roster; but things are different this season in Nashville. With fellow Forwards like Colin Wilson – who has ten goals/eight assists – and Filip Forsberg – who has fourteen goals/twenty assists, it’s easy to see how players, like Derek Roy (and even Olli Jokinen) can be left in a frustrated dust.

So, who’s this Mark Arcobello guy? Besides having a fun name to pronounce, here is an excerpt from the Predators press release from earlier this afternoon:

Arcobello, 26 (8/12/88), has 12 points (7g-5a) in 36 games for the Oilers this season, and 30 points (11g-19a) in 78 National Hockey League games since 2012-13. The 5-9, 165-pound native of Milford, Connecticut also has 161 points (60g-101a) in 188 American Hockey League games since turning pro in 2010-11, and appeared in the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic.

An undrafted free agent signee by Edmonton out of college, Arcobello spent four seasons at Yale University from 2006-10, amassing 116 points (49g-67a) in 131 games. He was a 2009 Second-Team All-American while helping the Bulldogs to the 2009 ECAC title.

Seven goals, five assists thus far this season. I believe that is something that the Predators and Laviolette can work with, yea? Arcobello is expected to meet with the team tomorrow before the home game against St. Louis, though don’t expect to see him on the ice. Derek Roy, it was a good three months; we wish you well in Edmonton and your future endeavors!