The Internet’s most gifed (sp?) hockey player (IMO) has landed in the arms of the Nashville Predators. David Poile dipped his feet into the Free Agency Waters this afternoon, after missing out on the likes of Paul Stastny, who ended up going back home to St. Louis during yesterday’s debacle. Jokinen, who scored 18 goals & posted 43 points last season with the Winnipeg Jets, isn’t the first free agent that came to mind yesterday when free agency finally took effect; but don’t count him out as a David Poile dud. Jokinen, though 35, has a lot of spunk behind him and is still going strong, despite his numbers dropping (but hey, that’s what happens when you get older). And, if things don’t end up working out, DP got the waffle-loving center for only $2.5M and a one-year contract. Don’t shut down the computers yet, Preds fans; we have a feeling DP is still testing the water before the day’s over. Until the next move, here’s the infamous waffle gif of your newest Nashville Predator:
There’s no question that Nashville misses Pekka Rinne, but is it really just an absent five-star goalie that is slowly digging the Predators into a deeper hole? Sorry, but it isn’t. As easy as it is to blame Pekka Rinne’s hip infection for the reason Nashville has been imploding, it’s not the whole truth.
There is no reason for me to go over the highlights of the Winnipeg & New Jersey games, due in part there weren’t any highlights (for Nashville, anyway). For a team the Predators skated past twice this season, a trip to Winnipeg was supposed to be a no brainer on this 17-day road trip. And that, my friends, is the kind of thinking that gets you killed; or, in this case, completely and utterly dominated 5-0. You could almost say that’s exactly what the Jets were hoping for when the Predators came strutting into Winnipeg. One possible highlight from that game? Marek Mazanec got his NHL debut after Carter Hutton was pulled after 8:23 of pure torture.
And, after the embarrassing outcome in Winnipeg, Nashville took a second beating in Newark, losing yet another 5-0 matchup. Carter Hutton was again given the go in goal, but just couldn’t keep the Devils from racking up the goals. And don’t think I’m targeting Hutton; oh no. This is not only goalie error, but defensive error, too. The reason Pekka Rinne is known affectionately as “The Eraser” is because he is constantly erasing Nashville’s defensive errors. Pekka just has a knack for picking up where the defense leaves off and poor Hutton just hasn’t mastered that strange ability yet. It’s not that Carter can’t stop goals, he just needs more help from his teammates, who have always slacked just a bit.
So what’s next? The Islanders, who haven’t beaten Nashville in regulation since 2002, are up next on the schedule then one last stop in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Oh, and let me note that the last stop in Pittsburgh is back-to-back with a visit from the Chicago Blackhawks. No pressure, Preds.
One last thing: Check out this video of Rich Clune’s tussle with Winnipeg’s Adam Pardy. Blood.
The Predators have had some great outcomes thus far this season, but tonight it was finally time to let the Finnish phenom take a break and let the backup try his hand at a full NHL game. Insert: Carter Hutton, the confident backup for Pekka Rinne who has only had one shot at protecting an NHL basket. When was that? First game of the season when Peks was pulled in the first period against the St. Louis Blues. But hey, Pekka’s looking much better now (scared me there for a moment).
So, how did Hutton fair against Matt Halischuk and the Winnipeg Jets? Here are the highlights:
- No goals were tallied during the first, but Matt Cullen did collect the only penalty between both teams in the first at 15:58 with a hooking call on Matt Halischuk. Nashville was able to keep Winnipeg at bay, despite the Jets outshooting the Predators 15 to 12.
- Ten seconds in, Matt Hendricks would head to the box for a tripping call, giving the Jets an early advantage in the opening of the second period.
- Eric Nystrom didn’t mind being down a man, sending a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for a shorthanded goal just twenty seconds in.
- Patric Hornqvist would collect this third goal of the season at 12:07 with an unassisted snapshot.
- Matt Cullen would pick up his second goal of the season at 14:17 with assists from Colin Wilson 4th assist) and Craig Smith (5th assist).
- Winnipeg would lead Nashville in shots on goal with eleven to seven at the end of the second.
- Evander Kane would collect his fifth goal of the season with a tip-in past Hutton, though it was simply a case of “lost puck”.
- Carter Hutton and the Preds would hold off the Jets 3-1, despite being outshot in total 26 to 39.
- Hutton would inevitably block 38 of those 39 shots; pretty good for his first full NHL game, right?
The NHL take notice of Hutton’s success as proven with this tweet:
Well, we had our stats wrong shots wise, but oh well.
Nashville has just one more game on the road before they head back home Thursday and, who’s that team? The Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
The Predators started their mini road trip with the first stop in Montreal against the 5-2-0 Canadiens. Nashville didn’t fair so well against fellow Original Six Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, so how would they fair against the Habs?
Well, you’re about to find out:
- Shea Weber found the net first at 12:31 with a powerplay goal due to a deflection off of Josh Gorges. David Legwand (3rd assist) and Filip Forsberg (2nd assist) picked up the assists on Weber’s wrister.
- Eight penalties (three on Nashville, five on Montreal) would be tallied during the first period, with Weber the only one capitalizing on said chances.
- Controversy came at 14:15 when Victor Bartley was given a goaltender interference penalty after being blatantly tripped into Carey Price. Luckily, Nashville used its penalty kill well and avoided a goal from the Habs.
- Brendan Gallagher would tie the game at 7:02 with a wrister past Pekka Rinne, his fourth goal of the season.
The game would remain tied at 1 at the end of the second period.
- Nashville would notch three penalties in the third, giving Montreal almost every possible chance to take the lead as possible, but Nashville’s penalty kill has been on point as of late.
- At 18:33, the rookie that was picked 4th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft collected his second goal of the season (and second NHL goal overall) with a clean wrist shot past Carey Price. David Legwand (4th assist) and Colin Wilson (3rd assist) helped setup the puck for Jones’ incredible goal. See video below:
Wowza. Yep. Wowza.
The Predators would keep Montreal at bay until the final buzzer, collecting their first away game win of the season.
The Predators have no time to celebrate, though; it’s off to Winnipeg to take on Matt Halischuk and the Jets, the first meeting of the two new conference rivals this season.
The Predators have only met with the Winnipeg Jets since escaping Atlanta and the name Thrashers, but that was in the preseason on September 24th (the Predators won). The Jets have done fairly well this season, having their fair share of wins and losses. Currently sitting in 10th in the Eastern Conference, Winnipeg is only 5 points away from taking the 9th spot from the Washington Capitals and only 7 points from stepping passed the Buffalo Sabres to take the 8th spot, making them playoff eligible.
The Predators have been struggling as of late, losing two straight games against Edmonton and Pittsburgh and getting surpassed by Detroit for the 4th spot in the Western Conference. With a trip to Chicago and St. Louis looming in the week ahead, the Predators needed the right foothold to get back in the game and Winnipeg looked to be that essential step.
Here are the highlights from last night’s game against the Jets:
- With Alexander Radulov back in the lineup, a certain popular player had to take the night off. Jordin Tootoo joined the long list of healthy scratches, including Colin Wilson, Jack Hillen, Brian McGrattan, Roman Josi, and Craig Smith. With as well as some players have been performing lately, even the popular guys have to take a night off every now and then. We don’t expect Toots to be benched for long.
- The 1st Period produced no goals, but both teams controlling the puck evenly. The Predators took 10 shots in the first, but Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec was able to keep Nashville back. On the same means, although only taking seven shots in the first period, Pekka Rinne was able to keep Winnipeg from taking the lead early.
- Nashville would finally get the best of Pavelec, with a beautiful pass from Alexander Radulov, Matt Halischuk sent a slapshot cleanly into the net at 2:56 of the 2nd Period. Radulov picked up his first assist of the season along with Kevin Klein (14th assist) on Halischuk’s 13th goal of the season.
- Speaking of Kevin Klein, he was able to make the save of the night, blocking the crease from what would have been a clean shot from Bryan Little. While Pekka was distracted by Andrew Ladd, Klein jumped in front of the net, blocking two shots from Little.
- Gabriel Bourque would seal his 5th goal of the season with a backhanded goal at 10:01. Nick Spaling (10th assist) and Andrei Kostitsyn (16th assist) picked up the assists on the rookie’s goal.
- Tim Stapleton would finally get Winnipeg on the board at 12:53 into the 3rd Period for his 11th goal of the season.
- Shea Weber would sink his 15th goal of the season at 19:50 with an empty-netter, with an assist from Mike Fisher (24th assist) on the power play.
- Nashville was able to out-shoot the Jets 28 to 25, with Pekka blocking all but one. Although Pekka Rinne has been a little iffy lately, allowing 12 goals in the last three games (definitely not a trait of the Finnish phenom). However, as many games as he plays, it was bound to happen eventually. Every game is played differently, so only tomorrow will tell his Pekka is getting back on his A-Game.
- Like Thursday night’s game against Pittsburgh, the Predators didn’t give the Jets many penalty chances. Only Martin Erat took a penalty at 12:52 in the 2nd Period for hooking call. The Predators were able to capitalize on one of Winnipeg’s four penalties.
In the two games he’s played so far, Alexander Radulov has gained two points (a goal against the Penguins, an assist against Winnipeg). The fans seemed appreciative to have the Russian phenom back on the team, with the old rendition of “Panama” changed to “Radulov” playing over the speakers. And, with no surprise, the Predators gained their 22nd sellout of the season, thanks to help of many Atlanta Thrashers fans. It was confusing to tell who exactly they were cheering for, for some cheered for the Jets and others threw their jerseys on the ice, sporting Predators attire underneath. Were the Thrashers fans finally coming to terms with the loss of their team? Who knows.
The Predators have no time to relax with a win under their belt, for they are in Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks, who are chomping at the bit to pass the Predators for 5th place in the conference. The Blackhawks are only two points away from tying the Preds, so both teams need to be sharp tonight. The Blackhawks may have the upper-hand, not only because they are at home, but because they have won the last five games. But hey, the Predators could end that streak tonight, and as fans, we sure hope they do.