Hutton leads Predators over Jets 3-1

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

The Predators have had some great outcomes thus far this season, but tonight it was finally time to let the Finnish phenom take a break and let the backup try his hand at a full NHL game. Insert: Carter Hutton, the confident backup for Pekka Rinne who has only had one shot at protecting an NHL basket. When was that? First game of the season when Peks was pulled in the first period against the St. Louis Blues. But hey, Pekka’s looking much better now (scared me there for a moment).

So, how did Hutton fair against Matt Halischuk and the Winnipeg Jets? Here are the highlights:

First Period:

  • No goals were tallied during the first, but Matt Cullen did collect the only penalty between both teams in the first at 15:58 with a hooking call on Matt Halischuk. Nashville was able to keep Winnipeg at bay, despite the Jets outshooting the Predators 15 to 12.

Second Period:

  • Ten seconds in, Matt Hendricks would head to the box for a tripping call, giving the Jets an early advantage in the opening of the second period.
  • Eric Nystrom didn’t mind being down a man, sending a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for a shorthanded goal just twenty seconds in.
  • Patric Hornqvist would collect this third goal of the season at 12:07 with an unassisted snapshot.
  • Matt Cullen would pick up his second goal of the season at 14:17 with assists from Colin Wilson 4th assist) and Craig Smith (5th assist).
  • Winnipeg would lead Nashville in shots on goal with eleven to seven at the end of the second.

Third Period:

  • Evander Kane would collect his fifth goal of the season with a tip-in past Hutton, though it was simply a case of “lost puck”.
  • Carter Hutton and the Preds would hold off the Jets 3-1, despite being outshot in total 26 to 39.
  • Hutton would inevitably block 38 of those 39 shots; pretty good for his first full NHL game, right?

The NHL take notice of Hutton’s success as proven with this tweet:

Well, we had our stats wrong shots wise, but oh well.

Nashville has just one more game on the road before they head back home Thursday and, who’s that team? The Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Preds Rookie Poise 2; Canadiens 1

The Predators started their mini road trip with the first stop in Montreal against the 5-2-0 Canadiens. Nashville didn’t fair so well against fellow Original Six Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, so how would they fair against the Habs?

Well, you’re about to find out:

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Shea Weber found the net first at 12:31 with a powerplay goal due to a deflection off of Josh Gorges. David Legwand (3rd assist) and Filip Forsberg (2nd assist) picked up the assists on Weber’s wrister.
  • Eight penalties (three on Nashville, five on Montreal) would be tallied during the first period, with Weber the only one capitalizing on said chances.
  • Controversy came at 14:15 when Victor Bartley was given a goaltender interference penalty after being blatantly tripped into Carey Price. Luckily, Nashville used its penalty kill well and avoided a goal from the Habs.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Brendan Gallagher would tie the game at 7:02 with a wrister past Pekka Rinne, his fourth goal of the season.

The game would remain tied at 1 at the end of the second period.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Nashville would notch three penalties in the third, giving Montreal almost every possible chance to take the lead as possible, but Nashville’s penalty kill has been on point as of late.
  • At 18:33, the rookie that was picked 4th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft collected his second goal of the season (and second NHL goal overall) with a clean wrist shot past Carey Price. David Legwand (4th assist) and Colin Wilson (3rd assist) helped setup the puck for Jones’ incredible goal. See video below:

Wowza. Yep. Wowza.

The Predators would keep Montreal at bay until the final buzzer, collecting their first away game win of the season.
The Predators have no time to celebrate, though; it’s off to Winnipeg to take on Matt Halischuk and the Jets, the first meeting of the two new conference rivals this season.

Matt Halischuk signs with Jets

No more happy Halischuk in Nashville…

While we were writing the Jonathon Blum post, we completely missed the announcement of now former Nashville Predator, Matt Halischuk signing with the Winnipeg Jets.

Like we mentioned in the Blum post, Halischuk is a diamond in the rough; he has potential, but he had a difficult time finding his niche while with the Preds. The Right Winger signed a one-year, two-way deal with Winnipeg this afternoon, which will pay him $650,000 on the NHL level and $250,000 on the AHL level.

But don’t be sad, Hally-faithfuls. With the new realignment, Halischuk won’t be going very far and you’ll see him more often than not as Winnipeg is sitting pretty in Conference B.

We wish you well, Halischuk!

Jonathon Blum to Minnesota?

Bye, bye Blummer?

Is Jonathon Blum headed North? Well, those are the rumors swirling this afternoon as the young defenseman who has been with Nashville his entire career begins seeking ice time elsewhere.

Blum has been iffy for Nashville, bouncing between the Predators and the Admirals in Milwaukee since being drafted by Nashville in the 2007 NHL Draft. There’s no surprise as to why Nashville did not extend an offer to Blum; he struggled while younger, thirstier players took charge, tossing Blum in the funk he eventually settled in. With only one goal and six assists in the 2012-13 season, Blum’s future amongst the rising defensemen in Nashville looked bleak.

But don’t count him out just yet. Although he has struggled with the Preds, Blum isn’t a terrible, get-out-of-the-NHL defenseman. Similiar to Halischuk, Jonathon Blum is a diamond in the rough that, unfortunately, just couldn’t quite shine here in the Music City.

The rumors state Blum is expected to sign a contract with the Minnesota Wild as early as tomorrow, but other teams, including the Flyers, have shown interest in him, as well. No matter who Blum chooses to sign with eventually, that said team will get a bargain and a potential goal-scorer. We suspect Blum will do well elsewhere, we are just disappointed it wasn’t here in Nashville.

We will let you know as soon as we hear word as to where Jonathon Blum eventually signs.

UPDATE:
As we expected, Jonathon Blum signed a one-year, two-way contract this morning with the Minnesota Wild. Like Halischuk, you will still get your Blummer fix. The Wild are in the same conference as the Nashville Predators.

Good luck, Blum!

Qualifying Offers, Draftees & KHL, Oh My!

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Predators GM, David Poile spoke with the media yesterday regarding a few topics, including the upcoming draft and qualifying offers for currently players. The Preds organization is chomping at the bit for a top draft pick, and with the names that are in the hat, this high draft pick could be history-changing for the young team. Though, as much as the draft intrigues us, we have to admit it was more interesting to hear Poile’s take on some more familiar names and where they’d be for the 2013-14 season: Matt Halischuk, Jonathon Blum, Nick Spaling, and Sergei Kostitsyn.

David Poile stated that he did, in fact, extend a qualifying offer to Nick Spaling, which make no sense if he didn’t. Spaling wasn’t a powerhouse by any means this past season, but he knew when to make his presence count. With nine goals and four assists in the shortened 2012-13 season, Spals kept himself well on Barry Trotz’s good side. But two players Poile said he is “keeping his options open” with are Matt Halischuk and Jonathon Blum, two low radar players who have teetered on the fence between the Preds and their farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals. As much as we personally like Hally and Blummer, it might be wise for Poile to use them as leverage to swing a possible mid-to-late-round pick this weekend.

So with Nick Spaling pursued and Blum and Halischuk headed towards the door, that leaves Mr. Belarus himself. In a previous post, we relayed the information that SK74 had been offered a contract from the GM of Avangard-Omsk of the KHL. David Poile addressed this topic yesterday, confirming that there has been talks of “loaning” Sergei to the KHL, if he chooses to accept Avangard’s proposal. Due to a clause in the CBA, the Preds wouldn’t have to pay Kostitsyn’s salary or take his cap hit if he were to jump ship to Russia. Poile also stated that he would not risk a compliance buyout on SK74 and wants the issue resolved by July 5th.

Although Poile said that he’d ideally like to get a Top 6 forward, a Top 4 defenseman, and a backup goalie for Pekka Rinne, we are being skeptical and will wait to see his moves during this draft this weekend. We are hoping he does go in this order, however, as that is the magic combination for the Predators if they want to contend this upcoming season.

Austin Watson’s NHL Debut marred by Preds 4th loss to Chicago

Source: Zimbio.com

The post-season train is about to board and Nashville is falling further and further to the back of the pack, with Chicago claiming their ticket and jumping aboard with tonight’s win over the Predators 5-3. As stated in a previous post, the lockout was more than helpful for the Chicago Blackhawks, as they started out the season undefeated through 24 games. Though they have since lost, their record against Nashville thus far remains 4-0.

Don’t laugh off the Predators just yet, though. They fell to the Blackhawks 3-0 in their first meeting, but Nashville has kept the games close against the leader of the NHL. But close doesn’t cut it when the playoffs are on the line and, though they fought a good fight, quality doesn’t always produce quantity when it comes down to it.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s game at the United Center:

BEFORE THE GAME:

  • Though he played in yesterday’s game, Mike Fisher was pulled from the lineup for safety reasons and an emergency recall from Milwaukee was made. Insert, Austin Watson: Nashville’s first round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft. As Milwaukee’s leading scorer, it was more of a “when is he coming” situation for the Predators.

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Andrew Shaw drew blood first with a slap shot past Pekka Rinne at 6:34 into the game, his 8th goal of the season.
  • Nashville would kill any chance of a shutout for Chicago at 17:16 with a wrister from Nick Spaling, his 7th goal of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would pick up his 11th assist of the season.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Similar to the first period, Chicago would start out with a goal first, this time from Bryan Bickell, his 8th of the season.
  • The Predators would respond at 5:54 with a clean slap shot from Shea Weber, his 8th goal of the season. Nick Spaling would pick up the assist on Weber’s goal, his 4th of the season.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • David Legwand would give Nashville its only lead of the night at 6:54 for his 11th goal of the season. Matt Halischuk (5th) and Shea Weber (15th) would nab the assists on Leggy’s goal. Legwand is now just one goal away from his 200th NHL career goal.
  • Chicago would both tie and take the lead within 55 seconds of each goal, the first one nailed by Brandon Saad and the second collected by Jonathan Toews.
  • With the clock winding down, Patrick Kane collects his 20th goal of the season with an empty netter, sealing the game 5-3 in favor of the Blackhawks.

     

    The Blackhawks only needed one point to punch their ticket into the playoffs, but with their win in regulation, Nashville may have unwillingly handed Chicago their possible ticket, too.

The Predators have made the playoffs every year since 2003, spoiling Predators fans who weren’t aware of the franchise before that year. Do fans know how to handle an early off season filled with golf while watching other teams claw for the Cup?

The Predators pack up and head home to welcome the St. Louis Blues to the Bridgestone on Tuesday night. The Predators are just five points behind Detroit for 8th position and just six from St. Louis who sits in 7th. Two things need to happen to help the Predators: everyone else to lose and Nashville to actually win.

Preds prove Victorious at Home; Silence Jackets 5-2

Source: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Hey! Long time, no see! We’ve been awfully quiet lately (on the blog-front, that is) and we apologize for leaving you in the dark on here, at least. We are still staying busy on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s time to give the actual blog some loving, too!

So what’s been going on since we last posted? Well, nothing to brag about, honestly. From the horrendous road trip to Sergei Kostitsyn’s lapse in judgement, there hasn’t been much to be proud of with Nashville. But the Predators dragged themselves back home, taking on Brian McGrattan and the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Nashville has always had better luck at home and proved that fact by knocking out the same team (5-3) that pummeled them 6-3 not even a week before.

With just two points away from holding down a playoff spot, Nashville would need to come out strong against the hot-streaking Columbus – wait, what? Blue Jackets? No, that is no typo. The Blue Jackets, who is normally the weakest team of the Central Division, has found some miracle only devised by a Disney movie. Well, with whatever Peter Pan magic the Blue Jackets have come across, Nashville would need a regulation win to power back towards the playoffs. Here are the highlights from last night’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Scott Hannan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith (who is sitting pretty in Milwaukee) landed on the Scratched List last night.
  • Taylor Beck got the ball rolling at 7:11 in the first with a straightaway wrister past Sergei Bobrovsky to collect his first career NHL goal. Beck was assisted two former teammates on the Admirals Gabriel Bourque (3rd assist) and Jonathon Blum (5th assist).
  • Less than a minute later, Shea Weber sent a snap shot into the net on the powerplay for his sixth goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his forth assist along with Martin Erat picking up his 13th assist.
  • Columbus would finally notch at controversial goal at 9:29 when R.J. Umberger slipped a wrister past Rinne.
  • Columbus fans weren’t given a chance to celebrate, as David Legwand put the Preds up 3-1 at 9:46 for his seventh goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque notched his fourth assist (second of the night) and Taylor Beck nabbed his first career NHL assist.
  • A goal at 10:15 by Matt Halischuk gave Nashville it’s fastest Frotsie in franchise history, his second goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his second assist of the night (fifth overall) and Chris Mueller (first overall).
  • Rich Clune would receive a five-minute interference major along with a game misconduct, tossing him from the game. Though not seen a t first, Clune apparently elbowed Artem Anisimov in the face when he did not have the puck. However, even with a five minute penalty and a relatively strange interference on goalkeeper call on Mike Fisher, Nashville was able to hold Columbus at bay.
  • Nashville would end the first period with a history-maker, the fastest number of goals in one period in franchise history.
  • The second period would be less intense, but one goal would be scored in favor of Columbus thanks to Artem Anisimov, his eighth goal of the season.
  • Brandon Yip and Derek MacKenzie would drop the gloves at 17:06 in the second, with no explanation of what caused the tiff. You can see the video of Yip’s domination here:
  • Similar to the second period, the third stood no contest to the first period, with the only goal scored at 19:36 by Roman Josi on an empty-netter, his fifth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his eighth assist along with Martin Erat collecting his 14th overall assist.

With the way the team has played the last two games, it stands to wander “where did this team come from?” Going from one extreme to the other, Nashville definitely keeps its fans on their toes and their hearts in their throats.

Though two wins in a row relieves a little bit of stress, the Predators are still in hot water and, though a little bit closer, just aren’t as close to the shore as they need to be.

Nashville remains at home tomorrow night, welcoming in the Edmonton Oilers, who have also won their last two games. Though Edmonton is sitting in 13th, whereas Nashville is in 10th (tied with 32 points with San Jose and Columbus), the Oilers are chopping at Nashville’s tail at 29 points.

With only sixteen games left in the regular season, the room for error is getting slimmer by the minute for Nashville.

A Shutout leads to a Shootout in Nashville: Oilers & Wild Recap

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

After being completely manhandled by the L.A. Kings on Monday, the Predators took a much needed four-day rest, hoping to regenerate some sort of game plan to make it through the rest of the season. The Predators have proven they do slightly better at home this season, but back-to-back games? Let’s highlight the recaps of both games against the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild:

FRIDAY – EDMONTON OILERS

  • Patric Hornqvist picked up his first goal since returning from the IR, sending a wrist shot past Devan Dubnyk at 6:07. Colin Wilson picked up his 11th assist and Mike Fisher picked up his 5th assist.
  • Rich Clune and Mike Brown dropped gloves shortly after Hornqvist’s goal. Here is the video of the punch fest:
  • David Legwand would end the 1st period 2-0 with a strange wrist shot from the centerline that Dubnyk just didn’t seem to know what to do with. Legwand was first noted as unassisted on his fourth goal, but Colin Wilson was awarded his 12th assist on the goal. Here’s the video of this head shaking goal:
  • At 51 seconds into the second period, Rich Clune picked up his second NHL career goal, assisted by Paul Gaustad (3rd assist) and Sergei Kostitsyn (8th assist). Made up for that five for fighting, right?
  • One of the new B’s (all three actually were in the lineup as expected), Zach Boychuk made his presence known at 18:22 with his first goal of the season and first as part of the Nashville organization. His tip-in goal was assisted by Shea Weber (7th assist) and Martin Erat (10th assist).
  • Colin Wilson would lead the Predators up 5-0 at 4:43 into the 3rd with a backhander for his sixth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his sixth assist along with Shea Weber picking up his 8th assist.
  • Colin would then again nab his second goal of the night at 16:39 on the powerplay, his seventh overall. Shea Weber would collect his ninth assist, along with Craig Smith obtaining his third assist. This was Wilson’s first career 4-point game.
  • Although Nashville put a pounding on  their first meeting with Edmonton, the Oilers ultimately sent Patric Hornqvist back out of the lineup. Suffering from an upper body injury, Hornqvist missed ice time against the Minnesota Wild and will be out against Dallas for tomorrow’s game.

SATURDAY – MINNESOTA WILD

  • Ouch. Although they were shown for the likes of Steve Sullivan and Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Suter did not receive a tribute video for his contributions while with the Predators. As you heard from the video above, Nashville hadn’t forgotten Suter’s “sneaky” ways around signing with the Minnesota Wild. A video was indeed made, but after the reaction the fans would give every time Suter hit the ice, the video was canned.
  • Minnesota would strike first at 9:01 in the second with a powerplay goal by Zach Parise for his ninth goal of the season. Ryan Suter would pick up his 15th assist along with Mikko Koivu (15th assist).
  • David Legwand would tie the game at 6:28 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would collect his ninth assist and Shea Weber would collect his 10th assist.

SHOOTOUT:

MINNESOTA – Zach Parise – MISS
NASHVILLE – Gabriel Bourque – MISS
MINNESOTA – Mikko Koivu – GOAL
NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
MINNESOTA – Matt Cullen – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – MISS

  • Though not exactly the 6-0 shutout from the night before, Nashville still managed to grab a point instead being demolished by Parise and Suter. However, Colin Wilson did leave the game with an upper body injury, similar to Hornqvist’s the night before.

Nashville is currently sitting in fourth in the Central Division, with Columbus just two points behind (26, 24). However, the are sitting in an ugly 11th in the Western Conference, tied with Dallas at 10th and just two points behind St. Louis who sits in 8th. While we are at it, let’s just go ahead and tell you were Nashville sits league-wise: 20th. With less than a month left in the regular season, Nashville will have to make some major adjustments, which (in a way) they have with the Three B’s, if they want to see an extended season. Or, maybe they are just ready for an early golf season?

UPDATES:

  • Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson have now been placed on the IR, which means they will both at least be out for a week. Brandon Yip, on the other hand, has made his way off the IR, practicing with the team this morning. Hal Gill is on the mend, but is still day-to-day.
  • Matt Halischuk has returned to Nashville early, due in part to both Colin and Patric’s injuries. Though we don’t believe he was on the same track initially as Brian McGrattan, Colin and Patric’s injuries may have bought Halischuk some time. Who knows. We could be completely wrong. There is still much to be seen with the Nashville Predators.

Matt Halischuk sent to Milwaukee

Source: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

“Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has assigned forward Matt Halischuk to Milwaukee (AHL) on a conditioning assignment. Halischuk remains on Nashville’s active roster during the conditioning stint.

Halischuk, 24 (6/1/88), has one assist and six penalty minutes in 16 games for the Predators this season. He last appeared with the Admirals during the 2010-11 season when he amassed 23 points (11g-12a) in 37 games.”

Sound vaguely familiar? It should. Brian McGrattan was sent to Milwaukee for a conditioning stint, in which he was placed on waivers then picked up by his former team, the Calgary Flames.

Now don’t jump to conclusions – Just because Halischuk is being sent on the same route McGrattan was, doesn’t mean he’s going to be placed on waivers (but don’t put it out of your mind altogether).

Though Halischuk isn’t exactly the bright, shining star like some of his fellow teammates, his presence didn’t go unnoticed and has been a connecting piece to the overall puzzle that is the Nashville Predators. However, in times like these, pieces that kind of fit just aren’t going to take the place of pieces that fit perfectly. If they want to see the playoffs, the Predators have to find the perfect pieces, not just ones that “kind of fit there” for now. Sadly, Matt Halischuk is one of those pieces.

Again, don’t get us wrong – Halischuk has had his shining, impressive moments, but they just aren’t the numbers the Predators need right now. Hopefully, ice time in Milwaukee will get him fired up and ready to return to the NHL action. Or, maybe that will get him ready for a trade… or waivers…

Controversial Call Leads to Demise in Minnesota

There’s a reason Gaustad is a bit irate.

The Predators have already had their way with Minnesota once this year, reminding Ryan Suter of the team he abandoned back in the off-season to “be closer to home”. With a shutout victory of defending Stanley Cup champs the L.A. Kings on Thursday, Nashville was still riding high as they flew into St. Paul to face the menacing Wild. However, tonight would prove much more difficult than the last time they visited, with controversy to follow suite.

KEY POINTS:

  • The seven d-man assault left Matt Halischuk on the scratched list, along with Brian McGrattan. Similar to the first encounter with Minnesota, Chris Mason was called up to man the net.
  • Paul Gaustad would be the leading man of the night, notching his first goal of the season at 10:11 in the first period with a wrister past Backstrom. Craig Smith would pick up his first assist of the season as well.
  • As usual, the Predators were out-shot in the first period, this time 10 to 6 by the Minnesota Wild.
  • The second period would prove a bit more physical for the Predators, with the Wild hammering down at all costs. After immense pressure on net, the Cal Clutterbuck collected a tip-in goal from Ryan Suter to tie the game at one.
  • The Predators would not retain a goal after Clutterbuck’s, nor would the Wild, thus sending the game into an all-too-familiar scenario. However, this is where the controversy comes into play. Apparently, there is a new face-off rule and Mr. Paul Gaustad did not abide to those new standards… Here’s Rule 76.4:

“Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck withtheir hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shallresult in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as ” Minor Penalty for Delay of Game – Face-off Violation”. The two players involved in the actual face-off (the centers) are not permitted to play the puck with their hand without incurring a penalty under this ruleuntil such time as a third player (from either team) has at least touched the puck. Once the face-off is deemed complete (and a winner of the face-off is clear) hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.”

Slow motion for me, move in slow motion for me.

…And here’s a .gif of what Gaustad did wrong:
Did you catch Gaustad’s mistake? No? As you watch the animation above, note that Gaustad’s hand grazes the puck as he and Granlund battle it out. Although it is clear Gaustad is not “batting the puck away to win the faceoff”, that is what the referee apparently thought, as this was probably his first encounter with this new rule at hand. The Wild would inevitably score on Gaustad’s penalty, sealing the win in favor of Minnesota in OT.

But was it really a bad call on the ref’s behalf that crushed the Predators? Though it wasn’t very helpful, this new rule did not solely cause certain doom for the Predators last night. A double minor on Devin Setoguchi in the third period, giving the Predators a four-minute powerplay, could’ve prevented this whole “Rule 76.4” mess in the first place, had the Predators worked together to nab a goal. Now, the Predators did outshoot the Wild twelve to eight in the third, but Nashville had plenty of opportunities to throw this one in the bag, but just couldn’t seem to get it together long enough to capitalize on their attempts.

The Predators will have to shake this one off quick, as they return tonight to face the ever welcoming Chicago Blackhawks, their first meeting of the season tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

Until then,
GO PREDS