Memories & History Made: Remembering the 2017 Predators Playoff Run

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Image Source: NHL.com

As Garth Brooks once (and probably still does) sang, “I could’ve missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.” And what a beautiful dance it was for the Nashville Predators; one might even use the word “GLORIOUS” (all caps needed) to describe the unbelievable run that was the road to the Stanley Cup. Alas, the dance was abruptly cut short just two wins shy of the ultimate prize. And while it is easy to be bitter – be it termed salty nowadays – one cannot look back and be disappointed. The Predators barely scratched their way into a playoff spot – number 16 of 16 to be exact – and somehow defied the odds (and the experts) by sweeping the Blackhawks, bashing the Blues, defeating the Ducks, and landing in the Stanley Cup Final. This postseason brought more than just a city together, it brought a state, a region – one could even say – an entire hockey nation together. It certainly put Nashville in a spotlight that couldn’t be ignored and, once exposed, there was no returning that (saber tooth) cat to the bag.

It’s taken me three days, but I’ve gathered some of the best memories of the Nashville Predators’ outstanding push to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s funny what can be forgotten over a period of two months, so reflecting back on all of it kind of took the sting out of watching Crosby hoist the Cup in Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. So please enjoy this trip down Memory Lane with me and be warned, some of the video clips have not been censored. This is hockey, after all.

  1. The Sweeping of Chicago

The experts were all against us. Everyone was prepared for an early Nashville exit. Everyone except for the Predators. Sweeping a divisional rival is pretty huge to begin with, but having it be a team like the Chicago Blackhawks? This sweep was only the beginning to Nashville’s historic playoff push and it couldn’t have happened in a better fashion. No Chelsea Dagger was ever heard.

And of course, after the historic sweep of Public Enemy #1, people began to wonder where Jordin Tootoo disappeared to after making this comment before the series even began:

2. Fiddler, McLeod & Harry Z: The Heroes Nashville Needs

Three unlikely heroes were born during this postseason. Their names? Vernon Fiddler, Cody McLeod, and Harry Zolniercyzk. While you expect multiple goals from guys like Johansen, Subban, Forsberg, and the like, it was these three guys who played significant roles this postseason to push Nashville to its first Stanley Cup Final.

3. #DoItForKevin

Kevin Fiala has a bright future in Nashville and boy, did he light that fire during the playoffs when he was given the chance. No one can forget it was Fiala who helped Nashville sweep Chicago with his beautiful overtime goal. Sadly, his playoff run was cut short in the second round against the St. Louis Blues when a slam into the boards resulted in a fractured femur. The team made sure to fight on in honor of their young winger, taking out the Blues in six games.

4. This Corey Perry GIF

No real reason other than I truly enjoy watching this over and over.

5. Pekka being Pekka

“Rinne Wall”, “The Eraser”, “ImPEKKAble”. Whatever you call him, Pekka Rinne is a gift from somewhere else (see Finland) that tends to defy gravity and all human logic when it comes to minding the net. Here are a few examples of Rinne’s inhuman abilities caught on camera (along with a cameo from #MonsterBlock):

6. Captain Ellis (@Ellis4Captain)

Unless you are living under a rock (or just haven’t joined Twitter), there’s no way you missed the absolute gold from this parody account. The tweets are posed as a Civil War soldier writing to his mother on the front lines of battle, which magically paired well with its hockey theme. The comically Photo-Shopped images that accompany the tweets only further solidified this account into Twitter history.

7. #TEAMTN Love

The Tennessee Titans have not shied away from showing its love its professional counterpart across the Cumberland, with players appearing throughout the regular season taking in a match. However, it was the postseason that really brought that love out in the open, especially with the Titans Offensive Line. But beyond the beer chugging, catfish loving NFL players, the Memphis Grizzlies expressed their support, along with the Nashville Sounds. The #TeamTN love even extended to Atlanta, where the Braves sent their support as well. Sorry, diehard (clingers) Thrashers fans.

8. Ilya Bryzgalov

The Bryz. Where to begin with that guy? To avoid going to deep into the cosmos with everyone’s favorite Russian (feel free to look up anything involving the universe and bears with his name attached), let’s just say his visit to Nashville during the Stanley Cup Final was everything we could have ever dreamed of. Check out his videos below and – again – I encourage you to YouTube him for even more hilarity.

9. Instrument of Crime

Will we ever be able to associate catfish with anything else ever again? Let’s be honest: Pittsburgh had this coming. By baring folks with Tennessee licenses from purchasing catfish at local markets, you pretty much asked for it. Jake Deveral, better known as Catfish Jake, just happened to be visiting family in nearby Ohio when it occurred to him that he’d be in the area during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Purchasing a catfish in Nashville, Jake transported the mudcat up to Ohio and then over to Pittsburgh in his britches. Using Old Spice to cover the smell, Jake was able to smuggle the contraband into PPG Paints Arena and chuck it onto the ice. Deveral was escorted promptly from the building, but not all was over. A Pittsburgh judge slapped Catfish Jake with fines, which included “possession of an instrument of crime”. Long story short, the charges were dropped, but not before “Instruments of Crime” became a part of Predators history.

10. These Poor Penguins Fans

We won’t go into that “pumped in noise” conspiracy as these two fine Pens fans are a clear example of that bull-honky.

11. Best in the West

Bitter as you may all still be, there are plenty of good things to recall from this playoff run including that your Nashville Predators – coming in as the 8th seed – are officially the Best in the West for the 2016-17 season. Awarded the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl on home ice after defeating the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6, the Nashville Predators will officially have their first banner at Bridgestone Arena at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. While the ultimate goal was not met, one cannot dismiss this history-making moment.

12. Ryan Johansen

Yes, Ryan Johansen needed his own segment. Whether he was chirping with Kesler or notching goals, Johansen’s presence on the ice (and off) was exactly what Nashville needed in this postseason. We could pull the “what-ifs” about where Nashville would be at this moment had he not suffered from acute compartment syndrome, which required emergency surgery after Game 4 against Anaheim. Even after being sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, Johansen’s presence in the locker room kept the team on its toes. You just can’t help but love him and wish he had been around to help Subban get under Crosby’s skin in the Final.

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Photo Source: @PKSubban1

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Photo Source: Brooks Bratten, Nashville Predators

13. The Beautiful People

Oh, they tried, but no other NHL team was able to produce the star power that Nashville was able to garner throughout these playoffs. While some were new to the program, most of Nashville’s “beautiful people” didn’t just jump on the wagon in April. Notable names like Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood (obviously), and Kelly Clarkson have been active at games for years. Let’s also not forget to mention Rex Ryan, of all people, is a season ticket holder. While we didn’t include all the famous folks here, it is safe to say there was definitely a FOMO about Nashville.

14. Listerine Fights Bad Breath

Let’s begin by saying, when P.K. Subban was asked by a reporter as to what he and Sidney Crosby were chatting about on the ice, do you honestly believe he would repeat what was actually said? No. For one, it’s an in-the-moment conversation (if you want to call it that) and two, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Being a quick-on-his-toes kind of guy, Subban casually mentions that Crosby just didn’t care for his breath. Needless to say, the story took on a life of its own and Listerine got a nice little plug it didn’t expect. It is fair to say there was a Listerine booth outside Bridgestone Arena before Game 6 last Sunday.

15. Lavi Fist Pumps

No explanation needed as to why this made the list. BOOM.

16. #FireMilbury

To avoid firing myself up, I will not go into detail as to why Mike Milbury needs to be fired from NBC Sports, because I have a feeling you probably know why as well. There are many speculations as to why Milbury does not care for Subban and none of them are good enough to stand a solid reasoning. Whether it’s because he’s “old school” or what have you, his comments are not good for the growth of this sport, especially when it comes to minority viewers. Predators fans (and fans of other teams) made their opinions of the “shoe beater” known with signs and special words after Game 6.

17. Knoxville

While cities across the state hosted watch parties and cheered on the Predators, including Cookeville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Lebanon, etc., it is Knoxville who deserves a blurb on this list. Some have chalked up the enthusiasm as the city was just hungry for a championship (see 1998), whatever it was, Knoxville came out swinging in support of its brother to the west. As TV ratings began to come out after games, Knoxville continuously appeared in the top 5 cities watching the series, hitting double digits. Perhaps the combination of that winning hunger and the fact that the Predators and the Knoxville Ice Bears have such a great relationship helped open the eyes of many of our East Tennessee brethren to the greatness that is NHL hockey.

18. Dennis K. Morgan

Again, this is another topic that needs to be on the list, but I don’t particularly feel obligated to go into details about. Apparently approached by The Tennessean, regular anthem singer, Dennis K. Morgan, expressed his displeasure in being passed over by “A-List” singers during the playoffs. Needless to say, there weren’t many fans that came to his rescue and there’s a highly good chance the Predators will be searching for a new anthem singer for the 2017-18 season. If you missed this moment or want to relive the head-smacking, read the article below:

19. Goodwill amidst the Battle:

Although the Stanley Cup was the main focus, one cannot forget to mention the goodwill that came about throughout the postseason as well. During Round 2 against the Blues, the city of St. Louis was hit by historic floods. As a city that once faced our own thousand-year flood, it was only understandable that Predators CEO/President Sean Henry would partner with his Blues counterpart to help collect funds through auctions to assist in the relief. One particular feelgood moment that you may have missed was when Matt Irwin replaced a kid’s hockey gear after he heard that it had been stolen. Another heartfelt moment came just last week when Mike Fisher and Roman Josi visited their tiniest fan who was battling cancer. Sadly, the young boy passed away on Monday.

20. Good Gravy Goals

While some other good gravy goals have been scattered throughout this list, here are a few that didn’t fit anywhere else but are just too good to pass up and forget.

21. GLORIOUS

The word ‘GLORIOUS’ (again, all caps needed) has become almost synonymous with the Nashville Predators’ playoff run and I am betting it will be on the level of “All I do is Win” and “Run this Town” for future seasons. Nashville’s Game Ops enjoys their wrestling theme songs, but this one more than just stuck, it took on a life of its own. In my understanding, it was first played at Bridgestone Arena after Bobby Roode, the wrestler for whom this song belongs, performed in a Predators jersey against another wrestler donning a Blues jersey. Don’t quote me on that, but ever since that match, “Glorious” became Nashville’s anthem as they marched towards the Cup.

22. Hockey History

There’s no doubt this was a history making postseason for the Nashville Predators. While compiling all of the history would take a post of its own, here are a few notable records that Nashville broke and look to break again next season.

23. The 7th Man

And last, but certainly not least, we want to celebrate you, the 7th Man. You are what not only blew the minds of the hockey world, but the globe in general. There is no denying that Nashville is a hockey city; you just can’t argue it. While some have certainly tried, their negativism has been easily drown out by the Standing O and the thousands of fans outside of the arena. While we know the chants created by Cellblock 303 are nothing new, it came as a rude awakening to many an opposing fan, player, and members of the media. And while some were disgruntled by our “nontraditional” fan base, the majority were completely amazed and overwhelmed by your passion. Below are just some of the moments you blew the rest of the hockey world out of contention.

Looking back, it is amazing to see everything the Predators were able to accomplish in a matter of a few months not only for our city, but for the hockey world as well. NBC certainly can’t be mad at what Nashville brought to its ratings, and nor can the NHL. While this chapter in Predators history comes to a close, it certainly isn’t the end of the book. The Predators have the recipe in place to create another historic Stanley Cup run and we cannot wait for October to get that party started.

Rich Clune asks for Your Help

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Rich Clune is an outgoing, one-of-a-kind character who makes his presence known on and off the ice. But behind that charismatic smile and sarcastic (and somewhat dark) sense of humor, the 26-year-old left winger from Toronto has seen his share of downfalls and heartbreaks. Drug and alcohol addiction is a nasty battle to overcome, but despite these tribulations, Rich Clune fought back against his demons and has continued on the winning side of said battle. The Predators and its fans are no stranger to welcoming players who have battled addictions; Jordin Tootoo and Brian McGrattan were very open with their hardships and were not afraid to ask for help when needed. Rich Clune is no exception.

And with that, Preds fans, we ask you to help Rich Clune and a program that is near and dear to his heart. With the help of Renascent and his mother Anne Marie, Rich was able to overcome his demons and be able to continue his professional career as the hockey player and goon we have all come to know and love.

Both Rich and his mother are nearing their goal of raising $10,000 for the cause and they need your help!
Please visit here to make a donation. Any amount helps for this great cause.

Preds narrow past Red Wings in OT, 4-3

Craig Smith picks up his first goal of the season against Detroit

After Monday’s rough ending against the Colorado Avalanche, the Predators had two choices: either shake it off and prepare themselves for the first meeting of the season against the Detroit Red Wings or let frustration take over and destroy any chance of making a recovery. What did the Predators ultimately choose to do as they welcomed Jordin Tootoo and the rest of the Motor City to Nashville Tuesday night?

FIRST PERIOD

  • Craig Smith took the first strike, sending a wrister past Jimmy Howard at 5:01 to seal his first “regulation” goal of the season (he has done his share of shootout goals) and also on the powerplay. Colin Wilson, who continues to dominate in points, picked up his eighth assist of the season, along with Shea Weber who picked up his fourth.
  • A little over five minutes later, Gabriel Bourque notched his fourth goal of the season with a tip-in at 10:41. Scott Hannan (first assist) and Mike Fisher (fourth assist) would nab the assists on Bourque’s goal.
  • Detroit goaltender, Jimmy Howard would be pulled after Bourque’s goal, but not from a terrible performance or an injury sustained in the game. Howard had been suffering from blurred vision, but professed that he was fine in practice Tuesday morning. But during game time, his vision just wasn’t up to par to face the Predators.
  • The Predators wouldn’t hold their 2-0 lead for long, for Detroit had a short-handed goal up their sleeves. Daniel Cleary broke free on the Predators’ powerplay and slipped a wrister past Pekka Rinne to put Detroit on the board at 15:01. Pavel Datsyuk picked up the assist.

SECOND PERIOD

  • The second period would produce no goals, but plenty of action left both sides frustrated and exhausted. Nashville would out-shoot Detroit 12 to 7, but backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was everywhere the Predators wanted to be.

THIRD PERIOD

  • A costly mistake by Kevin Klein at 11:33 gave Detroit its second goal of the game, awarding the goal to former Pred, Jordin Tootoo. As pressure took to the net, Klein accidentally knocked the puck into his own goal.
  • Roman Josi would quickly give the Predators the upper-hand once again at 12:54 for his first goal of the season. His first goal was also unassisted.
  • Just as Josi put Nashville up 3-2, Detroit fought back, with Pavel Datsyuk nailing his eighth goal of the season, tying the game at 3.

OVERTIME

  • Nashville wasn’t going to see yet another shootout, with Shea Weber sealing the winning goal in OT at just 44 seconds into the period. Weber’s third goal of the season was assisted by Sergei Kostitsyn (fifth assist) and Colin Wilson (ninth assist).

 

MUSINGS:

  • Patric Hornqvist’s presence was well-received on home ice after missing the last ten games (excluding Monday on the road). Hornqvist led the Predators in shots-on-goal with four against the Red Wings, which doesn’t sound like too much, but he did take twelve shots alone the night before against Colorado. Considering he has only played in two games and has garnered sixteen shots-on-goal? Yea, Patric is creating chances that other players just can’t do; though Colin Wilson has been giving Patric a run for his money.
  • Paul Gaustad, still nursing an upper-body injury, was missing from action against Detroit as expected. Nashville took the hit on face-offs, losing the majority of them against the Red Wings. Hal Gill was scratched, along with Brian McGrattan, who is spending some quality time in Milwaukee.
  • Shea Weber may have found his rhythm, picking up an assist and a goal, his first game with two points. Weber has already notched his third goal of the season, hopefully giving us all a collective sigh of relief for the Captain.
  • Rich Clune is pulling out his checkbook, as he has been fined for boarding Colorado Avalanche forward Aaron Palushaj during Monday’s game. In the amount of $1,452.70 (half of his daily salary), the fine will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Brendan Shanahan has been awfully busy for such a short season…
  • Head Coach Barry Trotz has taken on a new title: Longest tenured coach in the National Hockey League. The Buffalo Sabres fired Lindy Ruff, who had been with the team for sixteen years, passing the title on to Barry Trotz.

 

The Predators almost let the Red Wings slip away with the win, but a win’s a win (even in OT) against Detroit. The Predators were given a rare two day break before facing the Vancouver Canucks for the first time tomorrow night.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Blown Call gives Avs Win over Preds 6-5

Sergei Kostitsyn picks up a goal and an assist in Denver.

Missed us? Last week was a bit hectic and with all of us at the games, it was hard to motivate ourself to hit the blog after a long day. We’ll get to those games later, but right now, let’s discuss the game that went down today in the Mile High City.

With the season being as short as it is, there are going to be a lot of back-to-back games and today’s afternoon set in Denver is just the start of a long two-day stretch for the Predators. The Avalanche have had their share of highs and lows so far, but the last few games have been rough on the Avs, with Colorado losing three of their last four. Needless to say, the Avalanche, playing on without their fearless leader Gabriel Landeskog, were hankering for a win. The Predators, having lost three of the last five games, were sitting in a similar boat.

FIRST PERIOD

  • The Avalanche were quick to strike first, with a wrist shot from Aaron Palushaj at 3:43 for his second goal of the season.
  • The Predators would put the pressure on Semyon Varlamov, but the Avs would capitalize again at 9:30 over Mason on the powerplay, with a slap shot from Tyson Barrie, sending Colorado up 2-0 early in the first.
  • Colorado’s two goals would awaken the Predators at 17:20 with a powerplay wrister from Sergei Kostitsyn, his second goal of the season. Colin Wilson would pick up his seventh assist, along with Craig Smith (2nd assist).
  • The Predators kept the pressure in the Avalanche zone, out-shooting Colorado nine to eight.

SECOND PERIOD

  • The second period would become one for the history books, with outstanding goals and controversial miscalls.
  • Matt Duchene’s goal at 3:18 will forever be one of controversy, though it is clear that the lineman that missed the blatantly obvious offsides. You can see the play here:
  • Even if you don’t understand anything about hockey, you can tell something was wrong here. Even Duchene hesitated before shooting the puck, knowing good and well he was offsides. However, when the whistle was not blown, Duchene took full advantage of the mistake and capitalized with a goal. After the game, the NHL did agree that the offsides call should have been made, but what does it help now?
  • Mike Fisher would put the missed call behind him, sending a wrist shot past Varlamov at 10:16 for his third goal of the season. Shea Weber, who was originally accredited with the goal picked up his third assist and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his fourth assist of the season.
  • Colorado wouldn’t give Nashville a chance to gain momentum, sending snap shot past Mason at 11:06 from Chuck Kobasew, his first goal of the season.
  • Colin Wilson would battle back at 13:17 with a backhand into the net for his fifth goal of the season. Martin Erat would nab his seventh assist and Jonathon Blum would collect his fourth.
  • Paul Stastny and Jamie McGinn would surprise and embarrass Mason with two goals in less than sixteen seconds of each other, sending the Avs up 6-3 late in the second. Mason was promptly pulled, giving Pekka the reins.
  • With Pekka Rinne in net, the Predators were able to hold the Avs back long enough for Jonathon Blum to nab his first goal of the season with a clean slap shot at 19:10.
  • Colorado got the upper-hand on Nashville in the second, out-shooting the Preds fifteen to twelve.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Unlike the second period, the third period was filled with exhaustion on both sides. Shea Weber would capitalize on a wrist shot, putting the Preds within one (6-5) at 18:42 for his second goal of the season. Mike Fisher (3rd assist) and Patric Hornqvist (4th assist) assisted in the late minute goal.
  • Nashville overpowered the Avalanche in the third, out-shooting them seventeen to five, but it just wasn’t enough to tie the game, giving the Avs a much needed win in regulation.

 

MUSINGS:

  • Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after suffering a lower-body injury against the Ducks on January 26th. Apparently, Hornqvist jumped right back in without skipping a beat, picking up an assist on Shea Weber’s goal and took twelve shots on goal.
  • Paul Gaustad suffered an “upper-body” injury in the first period, taking him away from the rest of the game. The Predators took a hit on the face-offs, with Colorado winning 29 of 46 of them. Yikes. Gaustad’s injury remains unknown and his condition is said to be “day-to-day” at this point.
  • Chris Mason got the nod as starter for the game, though it wasn’t exactly the presence he intended to make. Pekka would have to come in during the second period to take over, after Mason allowed two goals in just sixteen seconds.

 

As we mentioned before, the NHL admitted that Duchene’s goal should have been waved as he was offsides, but that does not help the Predators now, who would have eventually tied the game late in the third period, sending the game into overtime, which could have produced an entirely different outcome. But the nothing can be done now. The final score is in the books and, although we are not bitter about it (Duchene did what any player would do), when will the NHL take responsibilty for their linesmen missing such obvious calls?

The Predators head home to face the much missed (NOT) Jordin Tootoo and his Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night at home. Tickets are still available, but expect the 21st consecutive sellout tomorrow night.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Predators Knock off Last Undefeated Team in SO

Craig Smith does not like the doghouse.

Now that shootouts are becoming the norm for the Predators, it is only natural that they would eventually get pretty good at them (thankfully). The Predators have only notched one regulation win, the other two being settled in a shootout. Nashville seems to be a freak of nature in the league this season, with that one regulation win, yet still holding their own with nine points. However, they are still last in the league in offense (gasp) and are the only team not to have a win on home ice, thus far (excuse me, they’ve been on a long ass road trip, thank you). Even with their setbacks and chug-a-lug start, the Predators are hanging in there, trying desperately to get a bit of momentum to power through this short, but backbreaking season. Knocking the last remaining undefeated team off its high horse? Very good start. Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game in San Jose:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum hit the ice Saturday night, his first steps on NHL ice since December of 2011. Blummer stepped up to replace the ailing Martin Erat, who took a puck to the ankle/foot during practice on Friday. Don’t expect Marty’s injury to be as bench-warming as Hornqvist’s, however.  Brian McGrattan remains on the scratched list.
  • The first and second period’s produced zero goals for either side, but action remained on high as both teams tore out of the gate on fire. San Jose out-shot Nashville in both periods, but Pekka remained on point, keeping the Sharks at bay and preventing them from continuing their undefeated streak.
  • Something sparked the Predators in the third, with Sergei Kostitsyn notching his first goal of the season with just 59 seconds on the clock. His wrister was assisted by Colin Wilson, his first assist of the season.
  • The Predators would hold the Sharks back until a careless mistake by the Predators in the form of a “too many men on ice” penalty stopped them in their tracks, allowing Martin Havlat to gain his third goal of the season. The Predators would out-shoot the Sharks nine to seven in the third period.
  • As usual, overtime was uneventful, though the Predators continued to out-shoot the Sharks, this time two to one. While that isn’t much, it is refreshing to see the Predators take a few shots every now and then.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

  • SAN JOSE – Michal Handzus – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE
  • SAN JOSE – Ryane Clowe – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
  • SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski – SAVE

Now, what were we saying in the last post? Maybe Sergei dropping down to the third line and Craig finding himself in Trotz’s doghouse would possible motivate them to prove their worth? Looks like, so far, it’s doing the trick. Another face to commend is Jonathon Blum – for someone who hasn’t been in a Predators sweater in over a year, he didn’t bat an eyelash when it was his time to step up.

Penalties were abound in this game, a usual thorn in Nashville’s side. Here are the five penalty takers:

  1. Brandon Yip – 0:59, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Jonathon Blum – 16:15, 1st Period – Interference
  3. Mike Fisher – 6:05, 2nd Period – Slashing
  4. David Legwand – 17:01, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Craig Smith – 12:26, 3rd Period – Too Many Men on Ice

Though we are happy the Predators are getting points, wether they win or lose in the shootouts, they cannot slide their way to the Stanley Cup on shootout points alone. The Predators are nearing the cliff of safety points and are going to have to nab some regulation wins if they want to continue pushing towards the Cup.

The Predators will finish out their road trip tomorrow against the nagging St. Louis Blues, an opponent that hasn’t been as kind to the Predators thus far.

NEW TO SMASHVILLE:
102.5 THE GAME and FIFTH THIRD BANK present the all-new Kevin Klein Radio Show, starting this Wednesday (2/6) at 6PM at Dave & Buster’s at Opry Mills! Kevin’s first guest of the season will be goaltender, Pekka Rinne! Someone had to replace Tootoo, right?

Until tomorrow,
GO PREDS

Schedule Excitement & a Marty Party

Just a few more days… Can you handle the anticipation?

Last night was a big one for NHL fans – the much anticipated schedule was released, thus sending a bunch of us into a calendar blowout, cramming the newly slated games into our already busy schedules. But we must say, what a relief! With the schedule officially released, it’s starting to feel as if the season really is about to start (ahem, finally).

We promptly posted the schedule in our schedule section last night, in case you missed it. It’s there in its entirety for your viewing pleasure (though we believe you have already run your feasting eyes across it elsewhere).

What games have you circled (and circled, and circled) on your calendar? The Predators will host the first two games at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 19th, followed by the St. Louis Blues on January 21st. Then it’s off on a seven-game road trip across the Western Conference. Some key games most fans and analysts are interested in are the games against both the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild. Any Preds fan will tell you why; Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Suter. The Predators will face Suter and the Wild on January 22nd in Minnesota, but Preds fans will have their shot at the runaway on March 9th. Jordin Tootoo will be visiting Smashville on February 19th, though I don’t believe many fans will be blowing their Tootoo whistles. The Predators will then travel to the Motor City on April 25th. On a personal note, one particular Lady Pred is excited about April 2nd, when the Colorado Avalanche come marching into Music City (we miss you, Shane O’Brien! ahem).

To be officially official, the actual Lockout ended last night after it was confirmed that the Memorandum of Understanding was completed. Who cares… NHL HOCKEY IS BACK NOW!

NHL training camps opened today, but the Predators stuck to their normal “preseason” routine of training off-ice to start out. However, tomorrow begins the on-ice practice at Centennial Sportsplex which, good news for fans, is open to the public. The practice will run Monday through Friday, 10AM to 11:30AM. Though we’ll be at work, we’ll try to slip in an early lunch break to come soak in the fact NHL hockey is truly back in Nashville.

Martin Erat was named the new Alternate Captain today, stepping up into Ryan Suter’s once shoes. Shea Weber is, of course, still Captain, along with Mike Fisher as the other Alternate. Pekka Rinne has also been given a leadership role this season, which is not surprising by any means. And yes, David Legwand is still the alternate Alternate Captain.

Tickets for the first two home games are on sale now via TicketMaster, while the rest of the regular season will go on sale Friday, January 18th at 10AM.

Have you gotten your tickets for Saturday night? We hope to see you there!

O Captain, Our Captain? The Decisions of Signing Shea Weber

Is signing Shea Weber that important to the future of the Predators organization?

It’s been awfully quiet on the home front as the wake of Ryan Suter’s signing with the Minnesota Wild is finally beginning to settle. Though some are still licking the wounds Suter [and Jordin Tootoo] inflicted on both the fans and organization, most are finally turning their attention on the captain himself and what David Poile will do to anchor the star defenseman in Nashville.

Ryan Suter high-tailed it to Minnesota to be closer to friends and family, we understand. However, it’s quite obvious that Suter was tired of living in Weber’s shadow – It was a little Batman and Robin-ish, if you think about it – and was ready to be the star of his own team. Yet, Suter won’t be the star by any means; thanks to the combined signing of he and Zach Parise, it looks like it’ll be ‘two’s company’ in Minnesota. Sorry, Suter.

Becoming the face of the franchise
Due to Suter booking it North, now Shea has the opportunity to be the face of the Nashville Predators. Even though Mike Fisher, Pekka Rinne, and David Legwand are pretty familiar faces, Weber is the most familiar amongst the league and beyond. Essentially, if signed, the Nashville Predators will be Shea Weber’s team. It will be his opportunity to take the horse by the reins and steer this franchise into a legacy lead by him alone. Now, who do we think will take Suter’s Alternate Captain position? We’re going with David Legwand and we’re almost positive you were, too.

Make him an offer he can’t refuse
A bit ‘Godfather’-ish, right? Well, it’s either that or trade him for all he’s worth. Suter can go on and on until his face turns blue about being completely “forward” with David Poile and the Predators franchise, but we aren’t buying. However, we cannot completely turn this all on Suter; absolutely not. No, David Poile should not have built his pillars so high on promises alone. Anyone can say half way through the season that he has no intentions to pursue other opportunities, but thoughts and minds change. It was clear Suter was not going to return to the Predators, and Poile wasted too much precious time waiting on his decision. His attention now should be fully focused on signing the captain – which means offering what is reasonable without going overboard – and, if it starts looking hairy, make a decision or move on to Plan C. If not, Poile might see even more players jumping ship before Weber’s wake can subside.

A team without Shea Weber
Say, worst comes to worst, and David Poile and the Predators cannot reach a deal with Shea Weber. What’s next for the Predators? With Tootoo and Suter jumping ship, it’s enviable fans will be left with lifesavers themselves, completely disheveled as to what happened to their unsinkable team and what will happen next. However, not all is lost if the captain abandons ship before the passengers do.
Let’s use the Edmonton Oilers, for example:
When Wayne Gretzky was traded, the decision by the Oilers was deemed complete ludicrous and mind-boggling by the rest of the league. I mean, it was Wayne Getzky. However, as we all know, one player does not constitute a team; he can make a huge, major contribution, but he is not a team as a whole. Likewise, the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup two years later.
The Predators have this opportunity, just as much as the Oilers did back in the day. Is Nashville in the same predicament as the Oilers? No, but it’s a good life example of how a move so ridiculous and outrageous can turn into the greatest celebration in the hockey world. Shea Weber is not everything to Nashville and, if traded, the Predators could gain a Stanley Cup-worthy team from his departure to another franchise. Or, it could send Nashville into a Columbus-like atmosphere (worst scenario).

The Waiting Game
Unfortunately, until David Poile and Shea Weber come to a deal, all the fans can do is wait and watch. Weber has opted out of arbitration, which is a good sign, but it doesn’t mean everything. Every day that goes by is both good news and bad, though most lean to the pessimistic side of that coin. David Poile is a general manager for a reason, so – although most are hurt to admit it – we must put faith in Poile’s decision making and his ability to convince Weber that Nashville is the place plant his roots long-term, possibly for the rest of his career. It’ll be difficult, especially with the prestige history that shines from teams like Pittsburgh, Montreal, and/or Detroit, but what Nashville has that these teams do not is a building legacy. Every year, the Predators break a new record franchise-wise, and why wouldn’t Weber want to lead this organization to its first third-rounder, its first Stanley Cup finals, its first Stanley Cup.

Ryan Suter and Jordin Tootoo are gone, there’s no time to look back on the past and dwell. The time now is to continue to Predators run towards the Cup and it’s time for David Poile to either do this with Shea Weber behind the wheel or leave him at the station. Weber isn’t going to come back cheaply, but Nashville’s perseverance has proven it can make it through the toughest of times…
and Shea can either tough it out long-term or hit the trail.

The Tootoo Whistles Silenced: Jordin Tootoo takes Deal from Detroit

Tootoo heads North to Nashville’s rival.

Welp, weren’t we all thrown for a loop? One move we did not see coming came from Jordin Tootoo himself. Tootoo chose to accept the Detroit Red Wings’ three-year, $1.9 million contract after turning down Nashville’s almost identical offer.

When Tootoo decided to turn down the Predators’ offer, it was clear he was letting everyone know his distaste in being benched late in the past season. Of course, as a free agent, Toots was given free range to dip his feet in other franchises’ waters, but when TSN announced Jordin Tootoo’s decision, all of Nashville went silent, as jaws hit the floor.

Detroit. He chose Detroit.
Not Vancouver, not Anaheim, not Chicago (granted, we aren’t sure if these teams even offered him anything, but he admitted three other teams made him offers). Detroit.

His decision to head North to Nashville’s rival “big brother” can be seen in many, many different lights. Either Nashville’s “sizable” three-year contract was bogus or Jordin Tootoo just made it very, very clear to Nashville and its fans he was an unhappy camper by giving them a big middle finger.

It’s hard for us to believe that, after everything Nashville has done for Toots (along with vise versa for what he’s done for Nashville), the enforcer would up and leave to, of all the teams, the Predators’ biggest rival just because he was benched for the later half of the season.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to put on that Red Wings jersey and play for an Original Six team,” Tootoo stated on a conference call with the Red Wings. This whole sentence feels like, in essence, a knife digging deeper into the backs of the Predators and its fans. Playing for an Original Six team is truly a great feeling for an NHL player but, again, it comes down to which team he ultimately signed with and its history with Nashville.

Although we ultimately have to thank Jordin Tootoo for all that he did for the city of Nashville, we can’t help but refer back to his final ‘Tootoo on 2’ video. The whole “only wanting to hold the Cup in Nashville” and “Nashville is my home”; was that all a lie just to warm our little hearts?

In the end, Toots has signed the papers and is on his way to Detroit, wiping his hands of Nashville for good. Toots, of all people, should know, Predators fans don’t take players leaving on bad terms easily (ask Dan Hamhuis). If he had chosen to go to any other team, Predators fans should be more than happy to cheer for the enforcer when he returned to play against Nashville. However, since he will be wearing red and white, Toots better prepare for the Tootoo whistles to be chucked at him. Nashville and Detroit open the 2012-13 in Motor City on October 12th at 6:30PM.

Good luck in Detroit, Jordin… but don’t expect fans to welcome you back with open arms.

(Photo courtesy of Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Predators stay Busy while Suter Watch Continues

McGrattan, Gaustad, Mason, and Gill all quipped for Nashville next season.

The Predators made some key moves before and on July 1st, the day that Free Agency went into effect. Though many eyes are watching the Suter and/or Parise situation, the Predators weren’t going to hold off until #20 finally came to a decision.

On Friday, just two days before his chance at Free Agency, Nashville signed the Goliath himself, Hal Gill to a two-year, $4 million contract, sealing himself to Predators gold for the 2012-13 season. With the size, strength (and surprisingly a bit of speed – when he gets moving), Gill will continue to shine alongside Roman Josi for two more years.

Fairly late last night, Nashville released the news of the signing of another trade deadliner – Paul Gaustad. Obviously, Poile recognized his expertise in Face Offs and Penalty Kills, signing Goose to a four-year, $12 million contract. Wowza. There is much debate about wether Nashville overpaid for Gaustad, but his last contract was for $9.2 million; of course he wasn’t going to go for anything less. Plus, Gaustad’s consistency rules him as a green flag for Nashville; something they’ll really need if Suter bails.

The Predators decided, for their first ever July 1st signing, to chose goalie (and former Predator) Chris Mason to a one-year, $1.25 million contract as a backup for Pekka Rinne. Though many were lead to believe Milwaukee’s Jeremy Smith was going to jump over to Nashville and cover Rinne, Poile did not lie when he said he wanted a veteran goalie to take the backup position. However, one-year contracts can mean many a thing; Wether Nashville brought Mason back aboard to help get Smith ready to take over or what, we don’t think Mason will be with Nashville very long. The Predators have never had a veteran backup before, so it will prove interesting to see how Mason will do behind the Finnish phenom.

And, as of a few moments ago, Brian McGrattan posted an excited tweet about returning to Nashville (to counteract a previous disheartening announcement from Jordin Tootoo…). The Predators confirmed that they did, in fact, sign enforcer Brian McGrattan to a one-year, $600,000 contract to wear the gold once again in the 2012-13 season. With Tootoo’s signing with Detroit (we’ll have a whole separate post about that one), it seems like Big Ern will be the new favorite of the Predators. After being picked up in October of last year, Preds fans fell in love with the big guy, thanks to his beloved antics, wild fights, and heartbreaking struggles off the ice. Like we said, McGrattan will be replacing Toots very quickly as everyone’s favorite tough guy.

As of 8:30, that is all Nashville has locked in for certain, but Ryan Suter watch is still having some of us bite our nails until the bitter end. As we mentioned earlier, Jordin Tootoo split for Detroit, leaving a bunch of bewildered, speechless fans in his wake. Like we said, we’ll have a complete post dedicated to his “unjustified” decision momentarily. Besides Tootoo, Nashville said au revoir to veteran Francis Bouillon, as the Montreal Canadiens took him back for a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Bouillon is a bit of a hometown hero in Montreal, so returning to Canada is a welcoming sign for the Cube. He was a class act in Nashville and we wish him all the best with the Habs.

It’s getting late, but the night’s not over; anything is bound to happen now that the free agents are on the loose. Stay tuned for more information with the Predators as it comes through the media.

Avalanche sign Shane O’Brien to Three-Year Contract

Shane O’Brien’s finally settling down!

Congratulations are in order to former Nashville Predators defenseman, Shane O’Brien as the Colorado Avalanche sign the 28-year-old to a three-year, $6 Million contract. O’Brien is set to make $1.8 Million his first year under the contract, $2 Million in the 2nd year, then finally $2.2 Million in the third.

When word of Jordin Tootoo’s need to be free of Nashville was announced, it was tossed around as to wether Nashville would make a run for the defenseman once again. However, Shane O’Brien didn’t wait until July 1st to hit UFA, snatching up Colorado’s offer as they dealt it.

Signing this three-year contract more than likely comes as a relief to O’Brien, as the brutal enforcer hasn’t had time to set roots in any teams he has been with so far. Those teams? The Anaheim Ducks (1 year), the Tampa Bay Lightning (3 years), the Vancouver Canucks (1 year), and the Nashville Predators (1 year). Okay, so he spent some time in Tampa Bay, but bouncing around the league eventually takes its toll.

We were personally sad when the Predators did not offer O’Brien a contract last summer, but after posting three goals and 20 points this past season, it seems he’s found a fit in Denver.

Shane was well liked for his short time in Nashville and, as such, we wish him the best of luck the next three years with the Avalanche. The Predators host the first meeting between Colorado on October 16th in the 2012-13 season.