Preds release NHL Expansion Draft Protected List

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UPDATE: More players have been added to the exposed list as of 11:20AM CST.

After pushing the release of the lists back by thirty minutes, the NHL officially allowed us commoners to see who teams protected… and who they did not. By no surprise, the great debate between James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok has left the Real Deal exposed along with a few others that were expected.

Exposed Players:

  • James Neal
  • Matt Irwin
  • Colton Sissons
  • Craig Smith
  • Colin Wilson
  • Cody McLeod
  • Yannick Weber
  • Marek Mazanec
  • Pontus Aberg
  • Cody Bass
  • Vernon Fiddler (UFA)
  • Mike Fisher (UFA)
  • P.A. Parenteau (UFA)
  • Adam Payerl
  • Mike Ribeiro
  • Miikka Salomaki
  • Trevor Smith
  • Austin Watson
  • Harry Zolnierczyk
  • Taylor Aronson
  • Anthony Bitetto
  • Stefan Elliott
  • Brad Hunt
  • Andew O’Brien
  • Adam Pardy
  • Petter Granberg
  • Jaynen Rissling
  • Scott Valentine

Protected Players:

  • Viktor Arvidsson
  • Filip Forsberg
  • Calle Jarnkrok
  • Ryan Johansen
  • Mattias Ekholm
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Roman Josi
  • P.K. Subban
  • Pekka Rinne

If you are freaking out about Neal (or anyone else) being exposed, as I mentioned in my previous post, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s headed to Vegas. Now that the exposed players have been released, teams can negotiate trades between the Golden Knights to attempt to protect these particular players. However, David Poile will more than likely have an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee (see Erat/Latta for Forsberg trade).

Wondering about Nashville’s other players? Here’s the list of the Predators’ exempt players from the Expansion Draft:

  • Kevin Fiala
  • Frederick Gaudreau
  • Vladislav Kamenev
  • Juuse Saros

UPDATE: It has now been acknowledged that Pontus Aberg, Mike Fisher, P.A. Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, and Petter Granberg are not exempt from the expansion draft. It is important to note that Fisher, Fiddler, and Parenteau are all free agents, which means Vegas could go ahead and sign these players (the rest of the league has to wait until July 1st). However, if Vegas were to sign one of Nashville’s free agents, that would count as their expansion draft pick leaving the rest of the exposed players (like Neal, Watson, and Aberg) to stay with Nashville.

To see who the other teams in the league protected and exposed, here is the list from the NHL. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think GMDP can manage to work out a deal to save Neal? Whatever the case, there is no denying that George McPhee has the best seat in the house for this expansion draft and is soaking up every second of it.

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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.

Hat Trick, Empty-Netters, and History: The Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Bound

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

I can’t see it, but go ahead and raise your hand if you woke up with that ‘Glorious’ song in your head and a ringing in your ears. The dance continues for the Nashville Predators as they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 to advance to the franchise’s very first Stanley Cup Final. Whether you witnessed the historic event in the arena, outside on Broadway, or in the comfort of your own home, there’s a good chance you will remember this night for years to come.

Preds fans have been pretty notorious for being the loudest fans in the National Hockey League, prompting officials from Guinness World Record to venture to Nashville last night to test the decibel levels. As of right now, no official word has been released as to if Smashville blew the previous record into the water, but considering my left ear feels like there’s something blocking it tells me we got pretty darn close.

To recap the game a little bit, Nashville came out on fire… for the first ten minutes of the game (or so). Austin Watson wasted no time by deflecting one by Jonathan Bernier at 1:21 for his third goal of the postseason. Colton Sissons would collect his first of the night (third overall) at 8:47 to give Nashville an early 2-0 lead. However, the remaining of the first period would be heavily dominated by the Ducks, even with a five minute power play in favor of the Preds (due to Nick Ritchie boarding Arvidsson and picking up a game misconduct).

The second period remained in favor of Anaheim, with Ondrej Kase earning the only goal of the period, but a goal to keep the Ducks in the running. Although the Predators’ defense was on point (brushing off two penalty kills), readjusting to Ryan Johansen’s offensive absence was painfully noted. However, just like on Saturday night, key players stepped up to fill the missing role and, three minutes into the third period, Colton Sissons would notch his second of the night, lifting Nashville to a 3-1 lead.

But the Ducks weren’t just going to sit back and watch. Just two minutes later, Chris Wagner would slip a wrister by Brickwall Pekka Rinne to keep Anaheim in the game. And, at 8:52, Cam Fowler would silence the home crowd (momentarily) with a slap shot to tie the game. If you weren’t freaking out at this moment, you are lying to yourself.

But, as I always say, “Win a period. Win the game.” And Colton Sissons must’ve had that same thought process because, at fourteen minutes exactly, the 23-year-old would notch his third goal of the game, a hat trick in the Western Conference Finals.

With Sissons propelling the Preds up 4-3, there was no stopping the home team. Moments after Bernier was pulled from the net, Filip Forsberg would send the puck sailing into the net. 5-3. Then, at 18:26, Austin Watson would further seal the coffin on the Ducks with another empty-netter. 6-3. The Nashville Predators are the 2017 Western Conference Champions.

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

And no, they did not touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl after all. But let’s be honest, they aren’t after a bowl; they are after a Cup.

If you are still in shock after last night, you aren’t alone. Sorry, Music City Miracle, but this was definitely the most important sports moment in the history of, not only Nashville, but the state of Tennessee. Yes, that even includes the University of Tennessee winning the National Championship in 1998 (because that actually happened in Arizona). This team’s run for the Stanley Cup has not only brought the city of Nashville together, but the state and across the country. Please review Captain Ryan Ellis on Twitter for a good understanding of the magnitude of how many people are standing with the Preds.

Is it a Cinderella story for Nashville? Maybe to some, but the team and organization probably doesn’t believe so. The first 16th seed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final? That’s just another notch taken off the history belt. This franchise is aware of what must be done to reach the ultimate goal and they are now on their way to (further) solidifying themselves in NHL history.

The Predators will have plenty of time to rest up for the Stanley Cup Final, as the first game is set to start on Monday, May 29th. Now, who will they face for the Cup? Tonight, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, will have a chance to eliminate the Cup-hungry Ottawa Senators. Like the Predators, this modern Ottawa Senators team has not won a Stanley Cup, so if they can win out tonight and force a Game 7, we could be looking at a brand new Stanley Cup winner. If you would like to see the entire schedule, check out our schedule page.

Take a deep breath and take it all in, Preds fans. The Nashville Predators have come so far and have one round to go. Be ready, 7th Man.

Lastly, please enjoy this photo:

 

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.”

UPDATE: Fiala hospitalized after early 2nd Period spill

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Image Source: NBC Sports

UPDATE: Per Thomas Willis, Digital Manager and Producer for the Nashville Predators, Kevin Fiala will be out the remainder of the playoffs with a fractured femur.

Just moments into the second period of Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, the Predators would find themselves down one of their key contributors to the playoffs thus far.

While fighting to maintain possession, Kevin Fiala skidded awkwardly feet-first into the boards, followed by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. Unable to get up on his own, a stretcher was brought out to assist the 20-year-old winger off the ice and to a local hospital. Per a recent update, Fiala is alert and in stable condition. Kudos to several St. Louis players, including Vladimir Tarasenko, for assisting the medical staff as they tended to Fiala.

Losing Fiala could be a rather significant blow for Nashville; especially since it looks like it could be for the long run. The Predators will just need to regroup and adjust as much as possible against this physical St. Louis bunch.

Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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After the frustrating loss against Montreal on Tuesday, it was clear the Predators had moved on after trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 last night. While it is easy to fuss about the inconsistency Nashville has been plagued with this season, the type of communication and style of play that came from the team last night was further proof that they are capable of working together successfully. One could argue that perhaps Tampa Bay was simply having an off night and maybe they were. The difference here is Nashville’s victory was not guided by fluky behavior from the Bolts; they were actually organized.

Mike Fisher got the ball rolling at 2:25 in the first period, earning his 11th goal of the season. Fisher’s powerplay goal was assisted in part by Ryan Johansen (21) and Mattias Ekholm (13).

While the first period would end 1-0 with Nashville on top, Filip Forsberg would open the second period at 3:56 with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Kevin Fiala (3) and Ryan Johansen (22), to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

It would begin to look like Tampa Bay was on its way back as Tyler Johnson collected his 12th goal of the season, breaking Nashville’s lead in half a 2-1. Colton Sissons, however, would object to that and punch his 3rd goal of the season, assisted by Mike Fisher (12).

Not even a minute later, Ryan Ellis would notch his 5th goal of the season, but not first without some nay-say from the officials. Linesmen initially called goaltender interference on Viktor Ardvisson, claiming the goal was no good:

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette quickly challenged the ruling, which was reversed despite the disapproval of the home crowd. But before Nashville could celebrate, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, threw out the challenge that Jarnkrok was off-sides prior to the goal. However, after thoroughly reviewing the play, it was deemed inconclusive and Ryan Ellis’ goal would stand. Colin Wilson (11) and Viktor Arvidsson (15) would notch the assists.

The third period would belong to Colton Sissons as he not only notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season, he also picked up his first career NHL hat trick. This was also his first multi-goal game in his NHL career, too. Oh, and yeah, he’s the first player in NHL history to record a hat trick with the second goal an empty-netter and the third goal with a goaltender in net. Sort of a weird record but I highly doubt Sissons is complaining.

Victories like these can help propel the Predators through this second half of the season and give them the boost for which they have desperately been searching. They will have tonight to see if that momentum lasts as they move south to Sunrise to take on the 16-15-8 Florida Panthers. Game time is at 6:30PM.

 

OT woes continue to plague Preds in 2-1 loss against MTL

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Although it was a bittersweet night with the return of Shea Weber to Nashville since being traded to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the off-season, it wasn’t how the Predators had hoped to start 2017 and the second half of the season. The 3-on-3 OT format has been in place since last season, and while the rest of the league has generally figured it out, Nashville just hasn’t seemed to get it down. In fact, Nashville’s OT/SO record since the start of last season is 7-20. Woof.

However, it’s that continuous inconsistency that forces the Predators into that all too familiar scenario that is the overtime loss. Nashville’s lone goal was notched by Kevin Fiala with less than a minute left in the second period, his sixth of the season. Fiala’s backhander was assisted by Ryan Ellis (9) and Roman Josi (15). It wouldn’t take long before Shea Weber would come knocking, collecting his 10th goal of the season with the assistance of former (and not so welcomed) Predator, Alexander Radulov. It’s almost like he doesn’t know how not to score in Bridgestone Arena.

While Nashville would push Montreal beyond regulation (which used to be considered a good thing), overtime would yet again deny Nashville of the much needed win and two points. Captain Max Pacioretty would seal Nashville’s OT fate for his 16th goal of the season. Let it also be known that Radulov assisted on this goal as well (his 20th overall).

Despite this loss, Nashville’s penalty kill looked rather decent, with the Predators denying the Habs four times throughout the match. Montreal gave Nashville three chances at the man advantage, but prevented them from ever getting a chance at net. Oh yeah, and Carey Price is a stud. And yet, so is Pekka Rinne. As Peter Laviolette mentioned after the game:

Of the 45 shots on net from Montreal last night, Pekka Rinne stopped all but two. Carey Price only faced 24 from Nashville. While some would rather argue that Juuse Saros should be given more ice time (and I don’t disagree – to an extent), Rinne is still Nashville’s veteran and starting goaltender; and pardon my French here, but he’s still damn good. Saros will be an outstanding successor for Rinne but for now, he’s just that; the future. He probably should see a little bit more ice time, but that’s a debate for another day.

Nashville has no time to pout about their former captain stealing the show; it’s onward to Florida to face the 19-16-4 Tampa Bay Lightning. At this point, the Predators have no time left to revel over poor performance; just time to recoup and continue seeking the solution to their inconsistency before the playoffs are out of reach.

Let me leave you on a rather heartwarming note with Nashville’s tribute video to Shea Weber. A TV timeout just wasn’t enough time to convey what Weber has done for Nashville and the growth of hockey in our city. So many lives have been impacted positively by your actions both on and off the ice. Truly, there are not enough thank yous that can be said to express how grateful we are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Frustration mounts after 3-2 loss against CHI

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preds crush Blues 5-0

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There’s no doubt St. Louis Blues fans travel well; at least to Nashville, anyway. And, with it being a rare Saturday afternoon game, there was certainly no shortage of Blues fans in the Bridgestone Arena for today’s match up. As I heard a St. Louis fan near me, “Well, looks like St. Louis’ll have the home advantage tonight!” I couldn’t help but giggle as the Predators silenced the Blues travelers from the moment the puck dropped.

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the victory over Chicago in the United Center, Pekka Rinne has undoubtedly regained his groove and today’s game only helped solidify this notion. While Nashville certainly came out with more fire than the Blues both offensively and defensively, Rinne was still put to the test several times. Notching his fourth shutout this season, Rinne put a stop to all 28 shots on goal from the St. Louis Blues, while his fellow teammates snagged four goals on Jake Allen and one on backup Pheonix (yes, that’s spelled correctly) Copley. Attributing to Rinne’s rebound is Carter Hutton’s impressive performance of late, which has given Pekka a chance to rest — something he’s needed desperately. With division-leading Dallas coming in Tuesday, Rinne will certainly need to be net, but Hutton should definitely be called to lead against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Moving on to goal scoring, Craig Smith would get Nashville started early in the game, notching his 14th goal of the season at 5:39. Mike Ribeiro (34) and Filip Forsberg (20) would collect the assists. Smith’s goal would be the only snagged in the first period, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of momentum by a long shot.

The man of the hour, Filip Forsberg, would essentially own the second period, collecting his second natural hat trick in this week alone. That’s a feat that hasn’t be done since Peter Bondra did it in eight games back in the 1987-88 season. Yeah, I wasn’t even born yet and Forsberg wasn’t even a glimmer in his mother’s eye. Naturally, this was also a first in Predators history as Forsberg is the first to register multiple hat tricks in one season.

I have to hand it to you, Mr. Poile. Martin Erat, who demanded a trade to anywhere as long as he could get out of Nashville (so he could have a chance to win a Stanley Cup) is now sitting on six goals with Omsk Avangard in the KHL. Nashville snagged a questionable rookie from Washington who turned out to be arguably one of the best forwards in the league while Erat mustered a total of two goals with Washington before demanding to be traded from there, too. As long as Forsberg continues to perform in the manner that he is, I’d hang my hat on this trade too, David Poile.

Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg aren’t the only two to score today for Nashville, oh no. The long awaited goal from Colin Wilson came at 4:37 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Wilson’s name has been pretty prominent of late, mostly due to being involved with trade talks; more specifically, a trade between he and former Predator Scott Hartnell. While only one reputable source has mentioned this trade with some sort of seriousness, as of 8:50PM, neither team has budged. Of course, Kevin Fiala’s name has been brought up in the rumors as well, but until some big names start shuffling the news, I am not reporting it. Any who, Colin Wilson was definitely due and collecting Nashville’s 5-0 game winning goal may be the boost he needs to find his groove. Rinne found his, after all, and it looks like Craig Smith is, too.

With this win, Nashville is now just six points behind the Blues and just eight points behind Chicago. Also, the Predators have the best record in the Central Division for the month of February: 7-3-3.  It is funny to think that this time last year, Nashville had hit their seasonal rut and were slowly losing their hold of the League and Central Division. Sadly, as we are all very much aware, Nashville could not get out of the rut in time to clinch the Central Division after holding it for so long.

As Nashville pulls itself together just in time for the playoff run, the organization isn’t going to find itself with many chances to relax. Division-leading Dallas comes in Tuesday, then its a bout with the Devils Thursday, then Nashville takes off on a five-game road trip out west. But this is the best the Predators have looked all season. Be excited. The road to the playoffs comes fast.

Making Moves: NSH Recalls Fiala & Bass

Source: Preds.NHL.com

After losing their fourth game in a row, the Predators organization made some moves today to hopefully spice up the lineup a bit. At least, we hope it will.

Earlier today, it was released that center Cody Hodgson was being placed on waivers. With only three goals and eight points in 39 games this season, it was time to free up his roster spot with someone else. As Adam Vingan pointed out, Hodgson notched 20 goals in 72 games during the 2013-14 season. However, in the two seasons since, he’s only managed nine goals in 117 games. Needless to say, David Poile gambled that perhaps Hodgson would regain that momentum under new leadership (i.e. Mike Ribeiro). Unfortunately, despite being a really great guy, it just didn’t work out in the end.

Along with Hodgson being placed on waivers, left wing Viktor Arvidsson has been reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals, thus freeing up yet another spot with the team. Ardvisson has three goals and two assists in the 24 games he has played with Nashville this season, but as of late, he has looked a bit lost on the ice at times. Being only 22-years-old, Arvidsson has plenty of time to re-coop in Milwaukee to hone his skills.

Freeing up yet another roster space – if but temporarily – is the announcement that Colin Wilson has officially been placed on the Injured Reserve after suffering a lower-body injury.

So, what moves did David Poile make this afternoon?

Well, from this little teaser and the headline, you probably guessed that the little Swiss spitfire that is Kevin Fiala was recalled from the Admirals to join the big boys. Fiala, who has been making quite a name for himself in the AHL, was notably upset when he was cut from the training camp roster back in September. Since then, Fiala has been playing rather well, but has had his share of controversy, including a two-game suspension back in November. So he has a bit of a temper, which most equated due to his discontent with being in the minor leagues. However, if the kid wanted any kind of chance to prove himself, this is it. Here’s a little bit from the Predators regarding Fiala’s recall:

Fiala, 19 (7/22/96), has 12 points (4g-8a) in his last 13 games, and is tied for the Admirals team lead in assists (15) and ranks third in points (21) in 34 AHL games this season. The St. Gallen, Switzerland, native has appeared in a pair of contests for the Predators – a 3-2 overtime win against Montreal on March 24, 2015, and in Game Four of the 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago, the longest game in franchise history. Nashville’s first choice, 11th overall (first round), in the 2014 Entry Draft, Fiala started the 2014-15 season with HV-71 of the Swedish Hockey League before being assigned to Milwaukee (AHL) following the World Junior Championship, recording 17 points (9g-8a) in his first 26 AHL games.

Bass, 29 (1/7/87), played in his first two games for the Predators on Dec. 1 vs. Arizona and Dec. 3 vs. Florida, going scoreless while averaging 6:31 of ice time. In 21 games for the Admirals this season, the Owen Sound, Ontario, native has five points (1g-4a) and 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 205-pound center has appeared in 51 career NHL games with Nashville, Ottawa (where he was a teammate of Mike Fisher) and Columbus, posting five points (2g-3a) and 71 penalty minutes. Ottawa’s third choice, 95th overall (fourth round), in the 2005 Entry Draft, Bass helped the Binghamton Senators win the 2011 Calder Cup as AHL champions, in addition to winning the 2011 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, as presented annually to the AHL’s man of the year for service to his local community.

Ah yes, the Predators also called up center Cody Bass as well. Bass has obtained one goal and four assists in 21 games this season with the Admirals, so this be a good shot for 29-year-old, too.

So, will these roster moves be the saving grace the team needs to regain the momentum needed to gain entry into the post-season? There’s only one way to find out.