Ryan Ellis: Is He Nashville’s Trade Bait?

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Before I get started, please note that this is just my opinion and my speculation. If I end up being right, that’ll be cool; if not, no big deal!
With the trade deadline fast approaching (March 2nd), the rumors are bound to fly and who does Nashville have that could be trade-worthy? Remember, in order to get something good, you have to give up something good in return (i.e. a player, draft pick, or a combination of both). That player, in my opinion, could be Ryan Ellis.

Before you implode, I personally think Ellis is a good fit with where he is; I’d rather not see him get traded away. However, he may be the only aspect Nashville would be willing to part with and still get what they need.

Ellis, though doing exceptionally well under Peter Laviolette’s system, is actually down in points from last year (a time when some people thought then that his trade value was decreasing). However, he could still surpass those numbers this season (27 overall last season, just 18 so far this season), but where is he?

Yes, I am aware he is listed on the Injured Reserve, but you usually hear updates periodically during this stance as to a player’s condition. Ryan Ellis? The last thing I find reported on his condition was from Tom Willis on February 6th:

And even this does not give a “yea or nay” as to how he’s coming along since suffering a lower-body injury back on January 8th against the Dallas Stars. What I thought was just an ankle sprain must’ve been much more, as he has missed fourteen games since then; and the Predators aren’t slowing down without him. Mattias Ekholm, who is normally paired with Ellis, has done exceptionally well without his counterpart, though an injury from Sunday’s bout in Florida has him sidelined.

Ah, but he signed a five-year, $12.5M contract extension back in August, which caused a bit of controversy, if my memory serves me correctly. That, unfortunately, doesn’t exactly matter; if Nashville can get what they want out of a deal, they’ll take it. A good example would be this past off-season when Nashville traded Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward James Neal. Hornqvist was signed to a five-year, $21.25M extension at the end of the 2012-13 shortened lockout season, but was dealt to the Penguins just a year and two months after his five-year contract went into effect. And you know you never thought Hornqvist would ever be traded; don’t lie.

Another prime example? Kevin Klein. Nashville signed Klein to a five-year, $14.5M contract extension in September of 2012, but traded him off to the New York Rangers for Michael Del Zotto just a year and four months into his extension. So, needless to say, although Ellis’ contract will come into play if Nashville does consider him for trade, it won’t play a huge factor if they can get what they want.

Another, more interesting topic to point out is… Where is Ryan Ellis’ jersey on the GnashVegas auction block? A far stretch into me searching for reasons as to why Ellis would be up for trade consideration, but a clue nonetheless. Check out all the auction items here, if you haven’t seen the list yet. Ellis is a popular player and still on the organization’s roster; so where’s his jersey? Heck, they even have a Marek Mazanec and Vince Gill jersey up for bid. Just a speculation, but if he is up for trade, who would want to bid upwards to $600 for a jersey, only to have that player traded right afterwards? Who knows, maybe that’s not even on the Predators radar and they just haven’t gotten his jersey up there yet. But, my lovely sister (you may know her as @Hutch8504 on Twitter) pointed that out to me last night while at the game and it piqued my interest.

Beyond all those factors, Ryan Ellis has trade worth. His history of junior hockey achievements is what ignited Nashville’s interest in him back at the 2009 NHL Draft, chosen 11th overall and that performance could enhance his trade value. Another factor is that he is on a team with the best defense in the league; any team struggling with this component would bite at the chance to snag Ryan Ellis.

Again, all of this is just my two cents: take it or leave it. But, if Ryan Ellis is a trade factor, who would you like to see Nashville claim? Personally, I’m liking the thought of bringing Cody Franson back or possibly even Phil Kessel. Evander Kane was on my radar at one point, but then he went all MIA and yea, Nashville doesn’t need that (see: Andrei Kostitsyn & Alexander Radulov take Phoenix). That, and Kane was just traded to the Buffalo Sabres (along with Zach Bogosian, and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf) for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, prospects Brendan Lemieux and Joel Armia, along with a 2015 first-round draft pick. Good gravy.

Ah, the fun of speculation and rumors abound before the NHL Trade Deadline. It never ceases to fail us… for the most part.

Ribeiro’s 3rd Period Goal secures Preds Win 3-2

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After losing the Western Conference lead to the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night, the Predators needed the boost from regulation win against the New York Rangers to regain some momentum Saturday afternoon. The Rangers, who were 30-15-4 coming into yesterday’s bout, were riding confidently on a three game winning streak & hoping to extend that to four. Without King Henrik in the net, could the Rangers pull off the win? Or would Pekka Rinne’s return hold off the Blueshirts?

SCRATCHES: Olli Jokinen

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The first period saw plenty of pressure from both sides, but neither team could capitalize on their chances. The Rangers out-shot the Predators 10 to 8.
  • By no surprise, the Predators welcomed back former Predator Kevin Klein with a nice tribute video. Klein, who was drafted by Nashville 37th overall in the 2003 draft, spent his entire NHL career with the Predators up until last season when he was traded to the New York Rangers for… sigh… Michael Del Zotto. You can watch the tribute video here.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The Rangers struck gold first, capitalizing on the powerplay from Rick Nash (33) at 11:49.
  • Roman Josi would respond at 18:39, collecting his 10th goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (5) and Calle Jarnkrok (9) would pick up the assists.
  • Shea Weber (12) would give Nashville the lead 2-1 at 19:20 with his signature slapshot past Cam Talbot. Roman Josi (27) and Matt Cullen (6) would notch the assists.
  • The Rangers took to out-shooting the Predators during this period as well, this time 12 to 10.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Ryan McDonagh wasted no time tying the game early into the third; his fourth goal of the season.
  • But it was Mike Ribeiro’s seemingly angry slapshot at 12:46 that sealed the game in favor of Nashville 3-2. Seth Jones (14) and Filip Forsberg (30) tallied the assists on Ribeiro’s 11th goal of the season.
  • The Rangers would – yet again – out-shoot the Predators, this time 10 to 5, but Nashville would come out as the victors.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • With his 11th goal of the season, Mike Ribeiro has now tallied his 700th career point. Ribeiro, who has been pretty consistent this season and lead the team in points for a good while, hasn’t had a point since January 29th against the Avalanche (picked up an assist). Chalk it up as patience towards that 700th point.
  • Colin Wilson sustained an injury during the first period and did not return to the remainder of the match. It was later released that he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
  • Filip Forsberg continues to slap the NHL with his Calder Memorial Trophy contingency as he continues to lead the Predators in points and in every category that a rookie can (minus goaltending). Forty-seven points in 52 games? Yea, you can’t ignore that.

As usual, the Predators have no time to rest. Today, the team is in Sunrise, Florida to take on the 23-17-10 Panthers who are currently sitting pretty in 5th in the Atlantic Division. With Colin Wilson out, there’s a good chance Olli Jokinen will be off the scratched list and, due to being a back-to-back, Carter Hutton will start in net.

Preds Trade Klein for Del Zotto

PicMonkey Collage

The Preds have made yet another surprising roster move, this time coming in the form of a trade between the New York Rangers. Nashville agreed to exchange defenseman Kevin Klein for New York’s defenseman, Michael Del Zotto this afternoon. Here is the official press release from Nashville:

Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Michael Del Zotto from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Kevin Klein.

“Michael gives us another young, gifted left-handed shooting defenseman with significant offensive upside,” Poile said. “We look forward to his presence on our already talented young blue line, further balancing our defensive corps.”

Del Zotto, 23 (6/24/90), has 11 points (2g-9a) in 42 games this season for the Rangers while averaging 17:44 of ice time. In 292 career NHL games – all with the Rangers – the 6-0, 195-pound native of Stouffville, Ont., has amassed 121 points (26g-95a), including 37 (9g-28a) in 80 games in 2009-10, being named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Del Zotto has also appeared in 32 postseason contests over the past two springs, posting 12 points (3g-9a).

The New York Rangers’ first choice, 20th overall (first round), in the 2008 Entry Draft, Del Zotto posted 183 points (39g-144a) in 190 Ontario Hockey League games with Oshawa and London from 2006-09. He also represented Canada at the 2010 World Championships.

Though it sucks to see someone go who has been a face of the Predators like Klein, it was actually a very smart trade move by David Poile, whether fans like it or not. With both Weber and Jones being right-handers, it only makes sense for Nashville to trade for a left-hander so that it evens out (Josi is the other lefty).

What are your thoughts on this trade and do you think Nashville is finished trading?

Wishful Thinking: Nashville in the Eastern Conference

Image Source: Getty Images

After a dominating win of 4-1 over the Rangers in New York last Tuesday, the Predators have relocated their proverbial “groove” through the last three games, defeating the likes of new divisional rival, the Dallas Stars 3-1. Before regaining the taste of victory, the Predators had fallen five times in a row, spawning some much needed criticizism from the peanut gallery.

With the win over San Jose (20-6-6) last night, Nashville’s standings are now at 16-14-3, placing the Predators 11th out of 14th in the Western Conference and 6th in the Central Division, just two points ahead of Winnipeg (who is at rockbottom).

Okay, that’s a bit disheartening, isn’t it? Well, how about this: Where would Nashville stand in other divisions and the Eastern Conference? Let’s find out:

  • If Nashville was in the Metropolitan Division, which consists of Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, New Jersey, Columbus, Islanders, Rangers & Philadelphia), the Predators would hold 3rd place over the Carolina Hurricanes. Wishing the Predators were in the Eastern Conference now, huh?
  • If Nashville was in the Atlantic Division, they would be sitting in 6th out of 8th place, just surpassing the Ottawa Senators by three points. Not nearly as good as the Metropolitan Division, but with two teams sitting behind you instead of one, it subconsciously makes things better, right?
  • So, overall, where would Nashville stand as of Sunday, December 15th in the Eastern Conference? Carolina would be pushed aside once again and the Predators would snag 8th out of the 16 teams. Significantly better than sitting in 11th of the 14 teams in the West, right?

Well, wishing is wishing and, unfortunately, the Predators cannot hop into the Eastern Conference just because their standings would be better there. Also, a good question is, does that mean the Eastern Conference is weaker than the Western? Eh, not necessarily. Although it is clear by the numbers that Chicago (who leads the Western Conference with 51 points) would overpower the Pittsburgh Penguins (leader of the Eastern Conference with 47 points), hockey is not defined by numbers alone. That is one of the bittersweet joys of the sport of hockey; nothing is written in stone until the final sound of the buzzer. So, even though Nashville’s record would technically be better in the Eastern Conference, things could flip upside down in the matter of the 60 minutes it takes to complete an NHL game.

But, let’s stop looking at the what-ifs and take a look at the right-nows:

  • The Predators are now 9th in the league when it comes to power plays at 20.0%.
  • Carter Hutton is now 3-0-0 in the month of December, despite having a relatively awful November.
  • Carter Hutton has only allowed four goals thus far in the month of December.
  • Nashville is 13-1-2 when they score the first goal.

Stats from us, what?! Yea, we usually leave those details to the guys with credentials, but sometimes, we like to surprise the masses. But we needed to remind the masses at large that, although Nashville is sitting at the bottom of the Central Division and the Western Conference, not all the stats are bad. So keep that in mind the next time the Predators hit a snag and take a loss. It may not be all rainbows and sunshines, but it sure isn’t grey skies all the time.
Oh, and Kevin Klein got in a fight last night; so did Rich Clune, but we are more impressed by Klein.

Predators Fall to Flyers in SO 3-2

Image courtesy: Getty Images

The Predators have been back and forth lately, with a 4-0 shutout win against the Blue Jackets Wednesday, to a 3-0 shutout loss to the Oilers on Thursday. So, with the Flyers coming into town after their win against Winnipeg on Friday night, maybe the back and forth would continue with a win for the pesky Preds, right? Philadelphia’s record is pretty close to Nashville’s, 11-12-2 to the Predators’ 13-11-2 so honestly, it was either team’s game… except that Nashville was missing Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, Filip Forsberg and Pekka Rinne.

  • Shea Weber took a puck to the face on Thursday night against Edmonton, ruling his injury day-to-day. Kevin Klein sustained a lower-body injury at some point, placing him on the scratched list also. And little Filip Forsberg, who’s injury at first was considered minor, was placed on the Injured Reserve and Joe Piskula was recalled from Milwaukee.
  • Not all was bad news, as Patric Hornqvist made his return to the lineup after sitting out a few games with an injury.

First Period:

  • The Flyers stepped to the plate first, with a clean slapshot from Captain Claude Giroux at 16:49.
  • Mike Fisher would give Flyers fans just one minute to celebrate before tying the game at 1 with a snap shot setup from Patric Hornqvist at 17:49. Fisher’s goal was his 6th overall and Hornqvist’s 8th assist overall.
  • The Predators were given two powerplay opportunities in the first period, but failed to collect on either one. Philly was unable to capitalize on their one powerplay opportunity.

Second Period:

  • No goals were collected in the second period, but Nashville once again outshot the Flyers, this time 11 to 8.
  • The Predators again had prime powerplay opportunities, but failed on all three once again.

Third Period:

  • Colin Wilson would put the Predators up by one in at 5:05 in the 3rd period for his 4th goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (7th assist) and Ryan Ellis (7th assist) assisted on #33’s goal.
  • Sean Couturier would breakthrough for Philadelphia at 13:06 with a slick snap shot, tying the game at two a piece.
  • Nashville would outshoot Philadelphia 9 to 4.

No goals would amount in OT, so Marek Mazanec would get his first NHL career shot at a Shootout. Craig Smith, Matt Hendricks & Matt Cullen would all miss their shots at Steve Mason, but it would be Vincent Lecavalier’s sole goal to seal the game in favor of the Flyers.

So with Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, Filip Forsberg & Pekka Rinne out, who will rise up and shine for the Predators? Though Kevin Klein shouldn’t be out for too long, it looks like Forsberg and Weber may be (we already know about Rinne’s outlook). Somewhere the Predators will need for someone to rise up is on the powerplay. Although Nashville has always struggled in that area, last night’s performance was hard to watch.

Nashville has two more games at home before heading East to see Joel Ward, Mike Latta and, maybe, Martin Erat in Washington D.C. Until then, the Predators welcome the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday and Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

Preds Fall 4-1 to Penguins

Courtesy: Getty Images

The final stop of the 17-day road trip brought Nashville to 11-7-0 Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night. The tail end of this road trip has been brutal on the Predators, losing twice 5-0 and then scoring only one goal each in two games. Yea, the Predators have seen better days. So, would a trip to the Steel City bring the momentum Nashville so desperately desires? Well, not really.

  • Gabriel Bourque got the ball rolling early for Nashville at 2:28 with a tip-in goal with an assist from Kevin Klein’s shot.
  • Marek Mazanec was pulled after the second period, allowing two goals in the first period and two in the second. He’d come away blocking 21 of 25 shots, but Carter Hutton would block all eight taken in the third period.
  • Eric Nystrom would give the Predators a scare after coming out on the back end of his tussle with Tanner Glass. A little shaken up and sent to the locker room, Nystrom sent out this Tweet after the game:

  • Scratches of the Night: Rich Clune, Matt Hendricks & Victor Bartley

Pittsburgh would enviably overpower Nashville 4-1, putting them now at 12-7-0 overall & the Predators 8-9-2. Time to come home, boys! The Predators will welcome the ever-loved Chicago Blackhawks to town Saturday night, then return to the road Tuesday to face the old foe, the Detroit Red Wings.

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

Preds return Home, Blank Kings 3-0

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The high from knocking off the Blues must’ve been strong, and it probably didn’t hurt to finally see the comfort of home ice either, as the Predators welcomed the L.A. Kings to Nashville Thursday night. Coach Trotz is a strong believer in the “if if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, sticking with the same seven d-man lineup from the game against St. Louis.

KEY POINTS:

  • Matt Halischuk is going to be finding himself on the scratched list a lot as the d-man line continues to dominate, but Brian McGrattan keeps him company.
  • Gabriel Bourque wasted no time taking shots, banking on a slap shot past Jonathan Quick at 2:54 for his second goal of the season. David Legwand picked up his second assist, with Kevin Klein picking up his third.
  • Bourque’s goal would be the only one in the first, with the Kings out-shooting Nashville 8 to 7. However, there was more action to be seen in the first, with Rich Clune and Kyle Clifford dropping gloves at 2:15. Here’s the video:

  • Colin Wilson would pick up where Bourque left off, sending a wrister into the net at 7:01 of the second, nabbing his second goal of the season. Kevin Klein picked up his second assist of the night (4th overall) and Brandon Yip collected his third of the season.
  • Six minutes later, Wilson repeated his success on his first goal, sending a wrister past Quick, just five seconds into the powerplay. Shea Weber collected both his first assist and point of the season on Wilson’s second goal of the night. Mike Fisher nabbed his second assist of the season.
  • The Kings had plenty of chances in the second period, out-shooting the Predators a whopping 20 to 5. If that isn’t proof that Pekka Rinne is finding his groove, I don’t know what would.
  • No goals in the the third gave the Predators their first shutout of the season, with goalie Pekka Rinne picking up his first shutout win, blocking all 32 shots on goal.

Penalty Box Summary:

  1. Rich Clune – 2:15, 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Martin Erat – 16:03, 2nd Period – Goalie Interference
  3. Paul Gaustad – 8:28, 3rd Period – Roughing
  4. Mike Fisher – 14:07, 3rd Period – Roughing

Have the Predators gotten their groove back? Well, don’t catch your chickens before they hatch, so to speak. Though we don’t want to be Debbie Downers, it’s only a matter of time before the seven d-man strong lineup with crack, with teams who fell for it before will be prepared for it in the next round. However, it is good to see the Predators taking shots (shots on goal = goals in net, right?). Unfortunately for the Kings, that statistic doesn’t work that well. Thirty-two shots compared to the fourteen Nashville took kind of makes that equation fall flat. It should be more Shots on Goal + Accuracy = Goals in Net. But hey, I’m no math major. Just keep that fire alive, Preds.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Sweet Revenge: Predators Pummel Blues 6-1

Marty Erat does like to be injured.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. The team that hit the ice wearing Nashville sweaters was NOT the same club that has worn the jerseys previously. The Predators stayed consistent in both defense and offense, and Pekka Rinne was back in his Finnish phenom pants. Though the Predators only lead in shots over the Blues in the first period (9 to 4), the fact Nashville took a chance on shots for once proved successful, thus putting the breaks on the Blues 6-1. Again, I’m not sure even where to begin. So many plays, passes, shots, etc. were in Nashville’s favor, I just hope they can hang on to this voodoo that they’ve come across. For a team that has only two regulation wins, ten points are mind-blowing. Here are the highlights from tonight’s blowout over the Blues:

KEY POINTS:

  • Martin Erat powered back from his lower-body injury, hitting the ice against the Blues. Jonathon Blum, who proved his worth on NHL ice last Saturday against San Jose, got the nod to suit up once again. Brian McGrattan and Matt Halischuk settled with scratches.
  • Blues’ Center Andy McDonald took an early tripping penalty in the first, giving Nashville a chance at a powerplay goal. Ryan “The Rocket Ship” Ellis took a wrister from the corner, sneaking it past Brian Elliot for his second goal of the season (2:10). Martin Erat picked up his third assist and Colin Wilson picked up his second.
  • Nashville camp out in the Blues’ zone, with newcomer Rich Clune slipping a tip-in to sink his first NHL goal at 15:53. Colin Wilson would pick up his second assist of the night (third altogether) and Paul Gaustad would pick up his first assist.
  • Nick Spaling would sink his teeth into a wrist shot, earning his second goal of the season at 19:13, putting the Predators up 3-0 at the end of the first. Brandon Yip would pick up his second assist and Roman Josi would gain his first assist of the season.
  • Nashville would extend the momentum into the second period, with Kevin Klein pulling a Shea Weber and sending a killer slapshot past Elliot, thus pulling him from the game completely. Klein gained his first goal of the season at 9:09, with assists from Jonathon Blum (1) and Martin Erat (4).
  • Gabriel Bourque decided it was his time for a goal, tipping it in past rookie goalie Jake Allen. Not a good start to his NHL debut, no? Bourque’s goal was assisted by Colin Wilson, his third of the night and fourth overall.
  • A holding call on Roman Josi would prove why the Blues are second in the league in powerplay goals. Alex Pietrangelo would nab his second goal of the second with a backhander past Pekka Rinne. Pietrangelo’s goal would shift the momentum in favor of the Blues, pushing the Predators to either buck up or fall back.

Though the Blues took the reins in the third period, Nashville remained consistent, despite being out-shot 14 to 7. Pekka Rinne can be praised for his continuous saves, keeping the Blues at bay. A wrist shot at 16:34 from Martin Erat was the nail in the coffin for the Blues, sending Nashville up 6-1. Erat’s third goal of the season was assisted by Ryan Ellis (2) and Jonathon Blum (2).

Thirty-two shots on goal and only one snuck by. That’s the Pekka we know. Looks like the Finnish phenom is getting back into a rhythm, one I hope I didn’t just jinx. Even rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko couldn’t work his magic around Peks.

Penalties are still an issue with the Predators, with Nashville seeing six and the Blues only taking three. For a team that is second in the league for powerplay goals, the Blues weren’t exactly the team to give powerplay chances to. However, Pekka and the Predators held strong, only allowing one PP goal. Here are the six box sitters:

  1. David Legwand – 12:41, 1st Period – Diving or “embellishing”
  2. Roman Josi – 11:53, 2nd Period – Holding
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 16:07, 2nd Period – Hooking
  4. Shea Weber – 19:38, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Roman Josi – 1:15, 3rd Period – Cross-Checking
  6. Nick Spaling – 17:07, 3rd Period – Slashing

 

What a step in the right direction for Nashville. As I mentioned in previous posts, though shootout points are helpful, points in regulation are the key to the Stanley Cup. Okay, not the key, but one of many that the Predators have to nail down to compete throughout the season.

But there is certainly no way I can criticize tonight’s game. Absolutely outstanding defense, offense, and overall teamwork shown by the Predators tonight. It’s hard to believe that, just five games ago, Nashville fell 3-0 to this exact same team. This is the Predators team we expect to see. This is the Predators that will make it far in the playoffs.

Don’t forget! Tomorrow night at Dave and Buster’s at Opry Mills: The debut of The Kevin Klein Show at 6pm! Get there early for prime seating, as you don’t want to miss Kleiner or his special guest, Pekka Rinne!

Until then,
GO PREDS

Preds fall to Ducks 3-2 in 3rd Shootout of Season

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Gill putting the Ducks in their place.

Shootout. The third in just five games. The Predators are 0-3 on the shootout thus far.
After the Ducks’ embarrassing 5-0 shutout against the Canucks the night before, it is not surprising the Ducks weren’t forgetting what time the game started tonight. However, unlike Thursday in St. Louis, Nashville came out strong, though both sides stayed evenly matched when it came to shots on goal throughout the game. The Predators played much better and much more level-headed compared to Thursday, but the Ducks just weren’t going to suffer two nasty losses in a row. Both teams were licking the wounds of a shutout, but only one could savor sweet victory. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Golden State:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan remained on the scratched list, along with Matt Halischuk.
  • Brandon Yip struck gold first with a backhanded goal past Viktor Fasth, who made his NHL debut during tonight’s game. Yip’s first goal of the season was unassisted.
  • The Predators would hold down the fort throughout the remainder of the first and for all of the second, except for Bobby Ryan notching his first goal of the season with just over 30 seconds left in the second to tie the game.
  • David Legwand would seal his second goal of the season at 10:09 in the third with a backhander, assisted by Kevin Klein (second assist) and Gabriel Bourque (first assist).
  • Daniel Winnik would respond moments later with his fifth goal of the season, a tip-in past Pekka to tie the game once again.

Overtime proved to be a heated match, but neither side could find the sweet spot to end the game, thus throwing the game into a shootout, the Predators’ apparent mortal enemy.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Ryan Getzlaf – SAVE
NASHVILLE – Mike Fisher – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Corey Perry – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE

Penalties, yet again, plagued the Predators tonight. With Nashville’s four and Anaheim’s two, the Predators gave the Ducks more chances to advance. Luckily, the Ducks just couldn’t nail that powerplay goal. Here are the four guys who like the box a little too much:

1. Nick Spaling – 6:28 1st Period – Slashing
2. Craig Smith – 16:56 1st Period – Throwing Stick*
3. Brandon Yip – 9:16 2nd Period – Boarding
4. Hal Gill – 5:17 3rd Period – Tripping

*Rule 10.3 – “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice.” Yea, it’s real.

  • Patric Hörnqvist suffered a lower-body injury tonight during the third period, first from taking a Shea Weber slapshot to the leg and another hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf. Per Coach Trotz, Patric will be out indefinitely and most likely will be on a plane back to Nashville to be examined by the team doctors. Although a tremendous loss for a struggling team, Patric’s healing time may lead to more opportunities for players such as Colin Wilson.
  • Craig Smith looks like he has made his way into Trotz’s infamous “dog house”, with a very noticeable lack of ice time with one shift in the second period. There will be no sending him to Milwaukee, however, as that would expose him to waivers. After his senseless penalty, Smith may not see the ice for a while. Colin Wilson’s heart may be smiling, as he is most notable for being Trotz’s go-to player to punish.

Rough beginning to the season for the Preds, but don’t jump ship just yet, fellow Preds fans. Though Nashville does not have the luxury of an entire season to gain momentum, they still have time, if they push themselves to victory. It can be done, but they cannot take their time. Do not turn on Peks, either. Though he hasn’t quite reached his typical Finnish phenom status, he isn’t the problem. Yes, shootouts are not his strong suite, but he is not the only factor that leads to a shootout scenario.

The Predators wander out to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on their turf, another game that could prove rough for the Predators. Then again, they may pull some confidence from midair and nab a much-needed win. Preds and Coyotes match up Monday, January 28 at 8 PM.

Keep Calm and Go Preds.