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

The Lineup Shuffle: Who’s getting Switched Around?

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Is this Colin Wilson’s time to shine?

Looks like Trotzy is trying out some new lineups in hopes of a boost some offensive action i.e. goals and maybe – going out on a limb here – a win or two.

Here are the new lines:
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Martin Erat
Brandon Yip – David Legwand – Gabriel Bourque
Nick Spaling – Craig Smith – Sergei Kostitsyn
Matt Halischuk – Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune

Huge step forward for Colin Wilson who, not even a year ago was trying to claw his way out of Trotz’s doghouse. Huge step backwards for Sergei Kostitsyn who, as we all know, just isn’t quite getting the whole “shoot the puck because you can score” concept. Colin is creative on the ice, which may just be exactly what the Preds need to get a move on in this season.

Trotz has also thrown around the idea of bringing up a few prospects from Milwaukee, but no confirmation as of yet.

The Predators take on the defending Stanley Cup champs, the L.A. Kings, tomorrow night at 9:30 CT.

Frustration Builds as Predators fall 4-0 to Coyotes

It has to be frustrating to more than just the fans, right?

Is frustration building amongst the team or is it just amongst the fan base? It would be difficult to believe that the team wouldn’t be, as the season just isn’t adding up to what they imagined thus far. It isn’t as if the Predators are just daydreaming along, but they just can’t seem to get the upper-hand when it comes to hammering a nail in the win column. The Predators had plenty of opportunities tonight, but again, the Predators just couldn’t squeeze one in, inevitably locking the 4-0 shutout in favor of the Coyotes. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan continue to sit on the scratched list, with Patric Hornqvist joining them, for what looks like 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
  • Although the Predators came out on fire, the Coyotes scored first, with a wrister from Antoine Vermette past Pekka Rinne at the three-minute mark in the first (his third goal of the season). Phoenix would out-shoot the Predators 5 to 3 in the first period.
  • The second period would produce another goal for the Coyotes, sending Phoenix up 2-0 at 16:48 with a wrist shot by Lauri Korpikoski (third goal of the season). Phoenix would again out-shoot Nashville, this time 9 to 7.
  • Poor passing attempts would prove fatal for the Predators in the third, with Nick Johnson notching his first goal of the season with a – get this – wrister past Peks at 11:34.

The Predators were given plenty of powerplay opportunities, and managed to shutdown all six penalty kills awarded to the Coyotes. Here are the six troublemakers:

  1. Rich Clune – 15:12 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Craig Smith – 6:28 2nd Period – Hooking
  3. Matt Halischuk – 11:03 2nd Period – Interference
  4. Martin Erat – 5:24 3rd Period – Roughing
  5. Colin Wilson – 8:08 3rd Period – Too many men/ice
  6. Gabriel Bourque – 13:15 3rd Period – Tripping

Frustration. The word of the day, folks. We can’t imagine the team and the fans are feeling anything else. The second shutout of the season, the Predators are needing more help than we first imagined. Poor passes, unnecessary penalties, and zero offense won’t get you into the post season, especially when you are working with a 48-game season, and you’ve already lost five of the six.

What can the Predators do to reach Stanley Cup potential? I am afraid we’ve exhausted all of our options, but as a UT/Titans fan, you have to keep your head held high. Still early, the Predators can bounce back.

KEEP CALM AND 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.

Preds Shutout by No. 1 Blues

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Shea tries some defensive moves to avoid another Blues goal.

If you watched any of tonight’s game, you noticed the Predators did not retain any of their confidence from Tuesday night’s win over the Minnesota Wild. Or maybe, they are just that unnerved by the St. Louis Blues. Nonetheless, wether it be sheer nerves or a lack of confidence, it was clear the Predators were not ready to gain their second win. What was also clear? The lack of a complete offensive initiative. Any Predators stronghold will tell you, offense is not Nashville’s strong suite, but tonight’s performance made it overly apparent.

Plentiful penalties also played a huge factor in tonight’s loss for the Predators, with both sides taking their share, but the Preds took six to the Blues’s five. By the looks of the way they performed tonight, Tuesday’s game was a mere fluke by the Wild. The Predators have an uncountable amount of work to do if they wish to see the post-season. Here is the rundown of tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad remains on the scratched list, along with Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan. Keeping with the lines from Tuesday, Yip, Bourque, and Spaling stick together, while Craig Smith finds himself center on the fourth line.
  • T.J. Oshie capitalized on the Blues’s first powerplay of the night at 12:59, sealing his third goal of this early season with a wrister past Pekka Rinne.
  • The only goal from the second period would rise from the Blues, a penalty shot (possibly the first of the NHL season) by Patrik Berglund sinking his second goal of the season, a wrister of his own past Rinne. The penalty shot was brought about due to a hooking on the breakaway from Mike Fisher. Pekka has struggled thus far this season when it comes to one-on-one situations (do we need to go into detail?).
  • The third period goal also belonged to the Blues, with Vladimir Tarasenko, the Russian youngster taking the NHL by storm, gaining his fourth goal of the season. Again, with the wrist shot.
  • From the get-go, the Blues had the upper-hand against the Predators, both offensively and defensively. Out-shooting the Predators 24 to 13, Nashville was at a loss from the very beginning.

Like we mentioned above, penalties plagued both sides tonight, but the Predators took the brunt of the penalties. The Predators were given five chances by the Blues to gain their footing, but St. Louis wanted nothing of it, denying any chance of a goal for Nashville. Here are your penalty box lovers:

  1. Matt Halischuk – 4:22, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Mike Fisher – 12:10, 1st Period – Hooking
  3. Rich Clune – 6:11, 2nd Period – Fighting
  4. Mike Fisher – 9:26, 2nd Period – Hooking on Breakaway (Penalty Shot)
  5. Craig Smith – 16:20, 2nd Period – Hooking
  6. Rich Clune – 17:42, 3rd Period – Roughing

No fight, no battle from the Predators tonight against the Blues. Expressing the fact that the Blues had the upper-hand the entire game cannot be spoken enough. The Predators were not physically, mentally, or emotionally ready to face the No. 1 Blues tonight, no excuses needed.

Though the Predators will find their groove again, this will not be the end of the psychological impact the Blues have over the Preds this season. The Predators face the Blues in St. Louis once again on February 5th.

The Predators are off to the Golden State to face the Anaheim Ducks this Saturday at 9:30PM. Hopefully, the Ducks do not hold the same voodoo over the Predators has the Blues do.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Predators put on the Pressure, Coyotes Advance to Western Conference Finals

Wilson was ready in practice on Sunday and proved himself on Monday night.

It was do or die time for the Predators as they stepped out onto the ice in Phoenix on Monday night. Desperation was the main play and collecting goals was the idea. However, with Commissioner Bettman wringing his hands at the thought of selling off the Coyotes, the Predators would need just about everything to fall correctly into place. Unfortunately, even after doing everything they could, including out-shooting the Coyotes, the Predators just couldn’t muster past Phoenix to press on. Although the odds did not fall into the Predators’ favor, Nashville still kicked butt and took names like the team Nashville is used to seeing. Here are the highlights from last night’s series and post-season ender:

KEY POINTS:

  • After the loss on Friday night, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were back in the line up, benching the bruised and beaten Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk. Jack Hillen took to the pre-game warmups, but enviably sat on the scratched list with Brian McGrattan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith.
  • The Coyotes struck first, with Derek Morris notching his first goal of the playoffs at 3:54 in the 2nd Period. As with this entire series, the first team to score won.
  • Phoenix would jump up 2-0 over the Predators at 15:09 with a wrist shot passed Pekka from Martin Hanzal. Hanzal’s goal was his 3rd of the post season.
  • Nashville would pressure the goal hard, keeping the puck, for the most part, in front of Mike Smith. It seemed, though, that no matter what the Predators did, the odds just weren’t in their favor last night (nor the refs…). Colin Wilson, who recently bumped Sergei Kostitsyn from the top line of Fisher and Erat, was the only Predator to slip one passed Mike Smith at 14:01 in the 3rd Period. Although his first goal of the post season, had he spent more time on the ice in the playoffs, we are positive Wilson would have had more. David Legwand (3rd Assist) and Ryan Suter (3rd Assist) picked up the assists on Willy’s goal.
  • The Predators never seem to do well when they out-shoot their opponent, which was the case for last night as Nashville out-shot Phoenix 33 to 17. With every close call, the Predators just couldn’t knock out the relentless Mike Smith.
  • The Predators were given plenty of power play opportunities as well (four), but just couldn’t get a grip around one. In Nashville’s favor, the Predators only gave the Coyotes one power play, with Roman Josi taken an interference penalty at 4:19 in the 2nd Period.

The Predators battled hard, but with fatal mistakes and terrible calls, both made and missed, making it passed Round 2 just wasn’t in the cards this year for Nashville. Although favored heavily to make it to the Western Conference final, Nashville just couldn’t catch a break in this series. The Predators had a tremendous 2011-12 season and notched a few franchise records along the way. To say the Predators “flopped” or “failed” is not optional, for Nashville defied the odds of an extraordinary hockey club in a non-traditional hockey market yet again.

Win or lose, we stand proudly behind the Nashville Predators.

With the advancement to the Western Conference finals, the Phoenix Coyotes will take on the L.A. Kings once the Capitals/Rangers series ends (possibly) tomorrow night. The New Jersey Devils surpassed the Philadelphia Flyers about an hour ago to move on to the Eastern Conference final.

The memories we gained from this past season and post season are once in a lifetime and we are proud to stand behind our Nashville Predators. Lady Preds will continue to post news and information throughout the off-season, so keep checking in!

Until October,
GO PREDS.

Preds gain Momentum in Game 3, Fall Hard in Game 4

The Game Ops Department really stepped up for Round 2

After A. Kostitsyn and Radulov’s curfew incident, it would be up to the rest of the team to take the reins and prove to the NHL world that, even though some of their players aren’t taking the playoffs seriously, there are others who are willing to step up and earn their place on the ice. Lady Preds has had a busy weekend, so we apologize for not having Wednesday and Friday’s games up earlier, but we shall condense them both into one post for your viewing pleasure. Here are the highlights from Game 3 and Game 4 in Nashville.

GAME 3 – WEDNESDAY NIGHT:

  • For their first game at home for Round 2 against Phoenix, Nashville’s Game Ops department really stepped up to amp up the fans. With laser etchings of the Predators logos, a catfish, the players numbers and even signatures, it was hard not to be completely mesmerized. Here’s a video of it shot by a fan:
  • With AK46 and Rads suspended for the night, two hungry bench-warmers got the chance to prove themselves on the ice Wednesday night. Those two? None other than Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo. Although we wouldn’t deem Hali a bench-warmer, he has been sitting out a few games due to an ailing injury. Tootoo, on the other hand, has been warming the bench during the playoffs, so proving his worth and not losing focus was key for the enforcer. Also getting another shot on the ice was Mr. Controversy himself, Colin Wilson. Brian McGrattan, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis topped out the scratched list.
  • David Legwand took advantage of a scoring opportunity at 8:10 in the 1st, notching his 3rd goal of the playoffs. Gabriel Bourque (2nd Assist) picked up the lone assist on Leggy’s wrister past Mike Smith.
  • Mike Fisher would counter Legwand’s goal at 9:16 of the 1st, grabbing his first goal of the playoffs thus far. Sergei Kostitsyn (1st Assist) and Martin Erat (3rd Assist) picked up the assists.
  • Nashville would hold the 2-0 lead over Phoenix in both the second and the third periods, giving the Predators their first playoff win in this series against the Coyotes. David Legwand tried pressing the Predators further with a second goal of his own, but the goal was inevitably ruled as an “intent to blow” call.
  • Nashville took control of the game defensively, with Pekka Rinne blocking all 32 shots on goal, his first shutout of the 2012 playoffs. The Predators gave the Coyotes four power play chances, but Nashville’s defense stepped up when needed and held Phoenix at bay to seal the win. Here are the four penalty offenders:
  1. Mike Fisher – 11:04 1st Period – Interference
  2. David Legwand – 15:39 1st Period – Hooking
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 12:59 3rd Period – Hooking
  4. Martin Erat – 14:18 3rd Period – Tripping
  • Interesting note: Although all four players took 2 minutes in the penalty box, each man collected a point in the game winner for the Preds.
  • The Predators proved that a snide incident involving two irresponsibly players would not phase them while fighting for the Stanley Cup. However, Nashville would have to come out with the same intensity on Friday to keep them from falling deeper into the hole…
GAME 4 – FRIDAY NIGHT:

  •  After a stellar performance on Wednesday night, it was obvious why Coach Barry Trotz did not put Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn back in the lineup. However, would Phoenix expect this out of Trotz and anticipate Nashville’s every move? From its outcome, it looks as if Nashville fell right into Phoenix’s trap, which was for the Predators to come out and play the exact same way on Wednesday.
  • After getting bruised and beaten on Wednesday, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo took the place of AK46 and Radulov once again, with both players showing great determination on Wednesday. Colin Wilson also came out, once again, proving his puck-handling skills are worth the ice time. Jack Hillen, Brian McGrattan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith continued on the scratched list.
  • Paul Gaustad and Kyle Chipchura dropped the gloves in the first period, with the announcers originally calling Gaustad as Kevin Klein. Here is the video of the two knuckle heads:
  • Rostislav Klesla wasted no time pummeling the Predators, sending already bruised and beaten Matt Halischuk violently into the boards. Klesla was only given a minor penalty of 2 minutes, but Brendan Shanahan ruled this afternoon that Klesla will be suspended for one game (Game 5) due to his unsportsmanlike hit. Luckily, Halischuk was not seriously injured. The video of the hit is below, but you can check out Shanahan’s take on the hit here.
  • Coyotes captain Shane Doan would scored shortly after Klesla’s hit on Halischuk at 14:52, his third goal of the playoffs.
  • At one point during the third period, Nashville was able to slip the puck past Mike Smith for a goal, but in true NHL referee fashion, the goal was waved off due to an “intention to blow” call. This is the second consecutive goal that has been waved off for Nashville due to this “unbelievable” call. Although completely overrun in the first period, the Predators pressured hard in the second and third periods, but were unable to slip past the Coyotes defense.
  • Nashville out-shot Phoenix by one (25 to 24), but even with all the potential chances the Predators were given, Nashville just wasn’t able to pull one out. It also did not help that Phoenix was out to weaken the Predators, pummeling them left and right into the boards.
  • Both Nashville and Phoenix had the same amount of power play chances at three, but neither team was able to capitalize on their advantage. Here are the three Predators offenders of the first period:
  1. Jordin Tootoo – 1:30 1st Period – Interference
  2. Paul Gaustad – 10:00 1st Period – Fighting
  3. Gabriel Bourque – 15:55 1st Period – Slashing

Although coming out with an intensity that can only be described as Predators hockey on Wednesday night, Nashville’s flame completely burned out on Friday, not what the Predators needed in order to contend for the Cup. It was clear Phoenix was completely and utterly prepared for Nashville to play the exact same way they did on Wednesday, which is one of the major flaws in the way Barry Trotz coaches. Now, don’t get us wrong, Trotz is an outstanding coach… in the regular season. However, teams anticipate opponents to fall to familiarity, and Nashville did just that on Friday night. They played it safe and kept the same lineups and plays as Wednesday, giving Phoenix the completely advantage. The one change that was noted was that SK74 was bumped from the star lineup and replaced with Colin Wilson. And, a question we ask, why wasn’t Paul Gaustad in the face-offs? With the highest winning percentage, why did he not get first choice in face-offs?

We could ask questions like these all day until our faces turn blue, but what ultimately matters now is that the Predators stitch themselves back up, change it up a bit, and come out swinging in Glendale tomorrow night. With the Stanley Cup on the line, if Nashville is as hunger as they think they are, tomorrow will not even be a factor.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Radulov & A. Kostitsyn Suspended for Team Violation

Don't make that face! You got caught red-handed, mister!

As you may have all heard by now (yes, we are way behind on relaying this message), forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn have been suspended for Game 3 of the series between Nashville and Phoenix on Wednesday, after violating team rules late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

General Manager David Poile laid the hammer down hard on the two Eastern European players, extending this message to both the press and public:
“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things,” Poile said. “We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”

Per sources who know of the issues, Radulov and A. Kostitsyn were seen in Scottsdale, Arizona (about 45 minutes away from Glendale, AZ) at a bar and were there as late as 4AM. The team has a strict policy on “party hardying” and it is clear why the two drove that far to go to a bar: they didn’t want to get caught.

Both Radulov and A. Kostitsyn have been notable in the playoffs thus far for the Predators, with Alexander notching one goal and five assists and AK46 three goals and one assist. Although Radulov’s puck-handling will be missed, AK46 could possibly be the thorn in Nashville’s side on Wednesday night.

With Radulov and Andrei out of the lineup, who will be their replacements?
Don’t get too nervous, there are plenty of guys biting at the tooth to get some playoff ice time.

JORDIN TOOTOO:
Here’s one guy that’s definitely been itching for more ice time; he’s been pretty vocal about it as of late. If Toots can manage to keep a level head, his physicality could come in handy against the pesky Coyotes. However, there’s a reason Toots has taken a back seat and, although he’s worked hard during practices, his silly mistakes could prove fatal to the Predators with the series so close to being handed to Phoenix.

MATT HALISCHUK:
Halischuk is what we call a “silent assassin”.  Although not a popular, well-known player, Matt Halischuk has made a name for himself and found a permanent home on Predators ice. Halischuk averaged 15 goals and 13 assists in the 2011-12 season, saving the Predators with a few of those moves. However, Hally’s been a  bit quiet in this post season, but he has been nursing an injury.

CRAIG SMITH:
Rookie Craig Smith has had a good mixture of awesome and complete atrocious moments, but the boy is a good hockey player all around. Craig averaged 14 goals and 22 assists in the 2011-12 season, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. Craig hasn’t seen much ice time during the playoffs thus far, but has managed to sneak in an assist so far. However, Smith is a speedster and has proven by showing a little aggression out on the ice, both attributes the Predators could use at this time in the series.

There is simply no excuse for the actions both Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn committed on Saturday night. Some would just brush it off as two young, 20-somethings looking for a good time after taking their first loss, but rules are rules and both David Poile and Barry Trotz were not afraid to put their foot down, risky playoff move or not.

It’s never good to defy your team and teammates at any time, but during such a pivotal point in a series that could end your run at the Stanley Cup is NOT the best time to drink your cares away (especially when there’s a game the next day).

With punishment, maybe Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov will realize that their team, teammates, and fans take this series very seriously and would appreciate that, no matter how old and rambunctious they are, they are professional athletes that should act as such.   

Just chalk this mistake up as another thorn in Nashville’s side as they fight to regain their footing towards the Stanley Cup.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Predators End Regular Season with a Bang; Demolish Avalanche 6-1

Alexander Radulov celebrates with teammate David Legwand.

It’s hard to believe, but the regular season came to an end last night for the National Hockey League and the Nashville Predators. Although the post season gets underway starting next Wednesday for the Predators and many other teams, for Nashville’s oppenent last night, the Colorado Avalanche, the skates will be hung until October.

The Avalanche, despite making the playoffs, actually had a pretty good season. Holding 3rd place in the Northwest Division, Colorado had every intent on slipping into a playoff spot. Unfortunately for Colorado, 3rd place in their division just couldn’t top the tougher Western Conference teams, ending their run 41-35-6 for the 2011-12 season.

The Predators scratched quite a few of their predominate players, trying to avoid injury at all cost. Thus, it was basically the rookies chance to prove themselves amongst the team going into the playoffs. Here are the highlights from last night’s game in Denver:

KEY POINTS:

  • As stated above, many top players were scratched last night including Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Brian McGrattan, Francis Bouillon, and Hal Gill. Colin Wilson got another chance at ice time, along with Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis.
  • David Legwand wasted no time getting points on the board, hitting a wrist shot passed Jean-Sebastien Giguere at 3:39 in the 1st Period. Gabriel Bourque (12th assist) and Alexander Radulov (4th assist) picked up the assists on Leggy’s 19th goal of the season.
  • Colorado tied it up shortly after at 8:09 with a goal from Matt Duchene, his 14th goal of the season.
  • Craig Smith would gain his 14th goal of the season at 12:10, his first points (and goal) since playing against the Phoenix Coyotes back on March 12th. Matt Halischuk (13th assist) and Colin Wilson (20th assist) grabbed the assists.
  • Patric Hornqvist would seal the final goal of the first period with less than a second left at 19:59, ending the regular season with 27 goals (Coincidence?). Kevin Klein (16th assist) and Andrei Kostitsyn (20th assist) picked up the assists.
  • Roman Josi would notch his 5th goal of the season at 16:09 in the 2nd Period, with assists from Craig Smith (21st assist) and Kevin Klein (17th assist).
  • Brandon Yip would cause the Colorado bench to cringe as he scored his 3rd goal of the season against his former teammates at 1:57 into the 3rd Period. With a wrap-around goal, did Yip remember that was Giguere’s weakness? Nick Spaling (12th assist) picked up the lone assist.
  • Matt Halischuk added the last nail in the coffin at 6:20 for his 15th goal of the season. A trend is starting to appear with Hali, where when he is scratched, he retaliates with a goal the next game. Good way to retaliate, we think. Craig Smith picked up his third point and 22nd assist on Hali’s goal.
  • Anders Lindback took the reins in the net last night, blocking 28 of 29 goals taken on goal. Unfortunately, in a freak accident, Ryan Ellis fell onto Lindy’s head during play, sending Lindback to the locker room. Pekka Rinne finished out the rest of the game, blocking all 10 shots taken on goal. Anders is expected to be Pekka’s backup for Wednesday’s playoff game, but for safe measure, Jeremy Smith was brought up from the Milwaukee Admirals.
  • Both the Predators and the Avalanche were equal in penalties, with neither team able to snag a goal. With as many penalties as the Predators have been taking lately, racking up just two last night was a relief. Here are they two offenders:
  1. Patric Hornqvist – 14:03 2nd Period – Cross Checking
  2. Craig Smith – 19:45 2nd Period – Hooking

It’s been a long and rewarding season for the Predators, who are preparing for a challenging post season against the Detroit Red Wings. The Predators have thus far proven themselves Stanley Cup worthy, but they just need to cling to their confidence and strength throughout this upcoming playoff round. The Predators have faced the Red Wings before in the playoffs, losing both times. However, this is a different team and a ready team.

We leave you with this video we came across on YouTube. The first 1:49 is rough, but it leads up to Nashville showing off their “pesky” comeback skills from the 2011-12 season. It’s been a roller coaster, but we’ve enjoyed every second of it.

Until Wednesday,
GO PREDS.

 

(Photo credit: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)