Roman Josi named Predators Captain

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Photo Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As most expected, the Nashville Predators announced in today’s press conference that the 8th captain in franchise history would be none other than No. 59, Roman Josi.

Along with Josi, Ryan Ellis (who is currently suffering from a post-season injury) was named Associate Captain while Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg have all been given the roles of alternate captain.

Fun Fact: Roman Josi is the second Swiss-born player to be named a captain in the NHL.

For more information, check out the Predators’ official statement here.

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Preds release NHL Expansion Draft Protected List

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

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

Exposed Players:

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

Protected Players:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Subban out against MTL on Tuesday

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Image Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Say it ain’t so… P.K. Subban will miss Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, his first chance to face his former team this season. And if his upper-body injury is as bad as speculated, he may miss his second opportunity in March. Per Elliotte Friedman, Subban is to meet with team doctors to discuss treatment for a possible herniated disc. He also mentioned the possibility of surgery, which would leave him on the mend for an extended period of time. Of course, that is worst case scenario, but it also cannot be ruled out until a decision is made from team doctors.

Subban, who lead the team in ice time before his injury on December 15th, could potentially be out for the remainder of the regular season; can Nashville rally around themselves and make the push without him? Well, since Subban’s absence after 12/15, Nashville has been 3-2-2, which isn’t fabulous, but not the absolute worst either. While it hurts to lose someone as dynamic in defense as Subban, Nashville has plenty of other strong defenseman to rely on, including Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis. The world won’t end without Subban in the lineup, but it sure puts a further kink into Nashville’s push towards the playoffs.

UPDATE:

Per the Predators organization, P.K. Subban has been placed on the Injured Reserve and his condition will be reevaluated in two to three weeks.

 

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Preds sign Jarnkrok to 6-Year Contract

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Moments ago, the Nashville Predators announced that they and Calle Jarnkrok’s camp have agreed to a 6-year, $12M contract. Here’s the official word from the team:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Tuesday that the club has signed forward Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year, $12 million contract. The contract will pay him $1.7 million in 2016-17, $1.8 million in 2017-18, $2.1 million in 2018-19, $2.2 million in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and $2 million in 2021-22.

Jarnkrok, 24 (9/25/91), appeared in all but one of Nashville’s 2015-16 regular-season games, more than doubling his previous career high in goals (16), as well as setting personal bests in assists (14) and points (30). The Gavle, Sweden, native also ranked second on the Preds in game-winning goals (4) a season ago, and saw his year-over-year average ice time increase by 3:17. In 167 career NHL contests since joining the Predators via trade on March 5, 2014, Jarnkrok has amassed 57 points (25g-32a) and played in all 20 of the team’s postseason contests, recording three assists.

Detroit’s second choice, 51st overall (second round), in the 2010 Entry Draft, Jarnkrok has represented Sweden in five international competitions in the last eight years, winning a gold medal at the 2013 World Championship and earning a bronze at the 2014 World Championship. Prior to making the jump to North America for the 2012-13 season, the 6-foot-1, 186-pound forward helped Brynas win the 2012 Le Mat Trophy as Swedish league champions on a team that also included Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, and was a finalist for the 2011 Swedish league rookie of the year (won by Ekholm).

As exciting as this is, there is speculation that Jarnkrok – unless protected by the organization – has a significant chance for being picked up by Las Vegas when it’s time for them to put together their team. But let’s not discuss those speculations and just enjoy the beauty that is the mane of Calle Jarnkrok.

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O Captain, What Captain: Who will be the 7th Nashville Predators Captain?

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While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.

While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.

Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.

I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.

Possible Captain Candidates:

Josi

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.

 

Fisher

  • Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).

Neal

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.

Alternate Captain Candidates:

I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:

 

Rinne

 

  • Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.

 

Johansen

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.

Forsberg

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.

Subban

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.

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  • Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.

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  • Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.

So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.

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Moving On: Preds defeat the Ducks in Round 1

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Source: Debora Robinson/Getty Images

First Game 7 in franchise history? Check. Thousands of people booing you in Anaheim? Check. Feeling like your going to get a stomach ulcer thanks to stress? Check.

If you were feeling a cocktail mix of adrenaline, stress, and excitement during last night’s (this morning’s) game, then you weren’t watching Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators. After leading the series 2-0, Nashville managed to lose three in a row to Anaheim, thus bringing Game 6 back to Nashville to face elimination. Do or die for the Preds, Nashville took the ‘do’ and forced a Game 7 back in Anaheim, winning 3-1.

Anaheim was kind to Nashville in Games 1 & 2, but… not so much in Game 5. Nashville managed to survive one ‘do or die’, but could they muster the energy to do it again; especially with everything falling in Anaheim’s favor…

Except one little itty bitty fact: The Ducks have lost Game 7 (at home) four consecutive years. And this fact about goals that led to their losses:

As a fairly superstitious person when it comes to hockey, I was not banking on Anaheim to make the same mistake again. Or, for the fourth time. There was just no way. I am glad I was wrong. But we all should have known that Nashville had the series when this guy chose the Predators over the Ducks:

There’s no doubting that Pekka Rinne was on point in Game 6 and, from the first puck drop of the night, the Preds goaltender was blocking shots and taking names. The Ducks would bring the pressure, but it would be Playoff Wilson who would get Nashville on the board first at 6:19:

Yes Colin, you have every right to celebrate this goal. You disappear in the regular season, only to emerge from your cocoon a beautiful playoff butterfly. Fly, Playoff Wilson; fly.

At 15:35, off a deflection from the Shea Weber slapper, Paul Gaustad would tally Nashville’s second goal of the night, giving the Music City team an early 2-0 lead:

The goal would be reviewed to see if Gaustad tipped it with a high stick, but – as you can see – it was a good goal and the folks in Nashville celebrated:

The second period would be a test for Nashville’s penalty kill, as the Ducks were awarded three different powerplay opportunities in this period alone. I could go on about how questionable some of these calls were, but the NHL refs (on all levels, not just this game) are a story for another time. We will just notate that Ryan Kesler did not receive a penalty for this head smash, which was quite obvious:

Kesler would do this again in the third period but to a helmet-less Barret Jackman. Penalty? Nope.

With their multiple powerplay opportunities, Anaheim would notch 13 shots on goal during the second period, but Rinne and the Nashville PK and defense would hold the Ducks at bay for another twenty minutes.

The penalties would keep coming into the third period, with both teams receiving two powerplay opportunities. Unfortunately, Ryan Kesler managed to score on one of those opportunities, putting the Ducks both on the board and into the game. This goal, of course, gave Anaheim a boost, but it also boosted Nashville’s desperation as well.

Nashville would only get four shots on goal during the third period compared to Anaheim’s thirteen. If that doesn’t tell you how on point Pekka Rinne was last night, I don’t know what will. How about this?

After what seemed like a lifetime, the clock finally ran down and it was official: Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs belonged to the Nashville Predators.

The fact that I am able to speak today is a miracle in itself. Also, the fact that my neighbors did not call the cops is amazing (and slightly terrifying because what if I was in trouble). If you were down at the Plaza Party Lexus Lounge Party, you had an extra special treat to share with all your fellow Preds fans.

After all the bickering and questionable hits and no-calls, it still never ceases to amaze me how professional both teams can be after it is all said and done. It is, after all, a career that they all love:

So, now that we can all somewhat breathe, what’s next? Well, Nashville doesn’t have far to travel. After eliminating the Ducks, and the LA Kings losing, the San Jose Sharks are the last California team to survive… and their Nashville’s next opponent. Here is the schedule:

  • Game 1 – Nashville @ San Jose – 9:30PM – Friday, April 29th
  • Game 2 – Nashville @ San Jose – 7PM – Sunday, May 1st
  • Game 3 – San Jose @ Nashville – 8PM – Tuesday, May 3rd
  • Game 4 – San Jose @ Nashville – 8PM – Thursday, May 5th
  • Game 5 – Nashville @ San Jose – TBA
  • Game 6 – San Jose @ Nashville – TBA
  • Game 7 – Nashville @ San Jose – TBA

So, you made it through Round 1. Congratulations. Let’s move onward to Round 2.

Preds Sweep Western Road Trip with 2-1 Win over Flames

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Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

No one can argue that Nashville looked like a completely different team this time around when it came to a road trip; especially compared to the previous one. Perhaps it was a change in the lineups, a stern lecture from the coaching staff, or a combination of a multitude of factors. Whatever it was, something connected within the team out in Western Canada and the Predators now have a record to prove it. After losing 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks last Tuesday, the Predators hit the skies for Manitoba to take on divisional opponent the Winnipeg Jets. In their first meeting with the Jets back on November 14th in Nashville, the Predators dominated the former Atlanta Thrashers 7-0. After that? The Jets returned to Nashville on January 5th, crushing the home team 4-1. And after that? The Predators nabbed their only point in their previous road trip, losing to Winnipeg 5-4 in OT. Despite a blaring concern in the goaltending department, the Predators pulled themselves together and started to dig – as a team – out of the hole they currently find themselves in, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.

Next on the schedule was Taylor Hall and his Edmonton Oilers. Nashville and Edmonton have only met once this season, which was back on October 10th in Nashville when the Predators defeated the Oilers 2-0. For some reason, the Oilers have always been a team that, despite their not-so-great record over the years (they currently sit in last in the Western Conference), a team that the Predators have struggled to beat. That wasn’t the case on October 10th nor was it the case Saturday when Nashville claimed victory in Edmonton, winning 4-1.

The Vancouver Canucks were Nashville’s next opponent on the schedule, another team that has held Nashville back many times before. Strangely enough, this was Nashville and Vancouver’s first meeting of the season. Though Nashville is ahead of Vancouver in the standings, that means nothing to the Sedin twins. Thanks to a first minute of the game goal by Craig Smith, the Predators held onto that momentum, even after the Canucks tied it shortly thereafter. It would be James Neal who sent the Predators up 2-1 early in the third period that would seal the game in favor of Nashville.

And lastly, we come to last night’s game against the Calgary Flames. In their first meeting of the season, back on December 15th, the Flames barely slipped by with the 2-1 OT victory. Nashville, high from winning their past three games, were no doubt itching to claim victory. Pekka Rinne was given the start in the previous three games, but last night was Carter Hutton’s time. And boy, did he shine. It is no secret that Predators fans are a bit hard on their team’s goaltenders. Despite a terrible game from the rest of the team, if a loss happens, somehow, someway, the blame falls to the goaltender. Sometimes though, it is an issue with goaltending. There’s no denying that Rinne has been in a rut lately and Carter Hutton, who is usually the subject of ridicule, has been playing rather well. However, this road trip undeniably showed the strength of both goaltenders and boy, was it something to behold.

Just six minutes into the first period, Mike Ribeiro notched his sixth goal of the season with assistance from Craig Smith (6) and Mattias Ekholm (16). Surprising that Ribeiro would score, as he tends to drop pass more than anyone in the league it feels like, but Nashville would hang onto that 1-0 lead through the remainder of the first period. Calgary would get the upper-hand three times alone in the first period due to penalties on the Predators, but Carter Hutton and the defense held their own to remain in the lead.

In the second period, however, Calgary would be at the disadvantage the most, taking four penalties throughout its course. Perhaps Calgary was called for so many penalties because of… this:

Dennis Wideman, apparently a little ticked that the officials missed the hit Miikka Salomaki jarred him with, cross-checks a linesman in retaliation. The more you watch it, the less case Wideman has to say it was “an accident”. There’s a good chance he’ll face a ten-game suspension at minimum. It’ll be interesting to see what the League does… or does. Wideman was not penalized during this game for this hit, by the way.

But, thanks to so many penalties, Shea Weber was able to launch one of his signature slapshots Karri Ramo to give Nashville the 2-0 lead on the power play. Weber’s 12th goal of the season, he was assisted by Roman Josi (25) and Ryan Johansen (27).

The Predators would continue to hold onto that 2-0 lead until about five minutes left of the third period when Flames captain Mark Giordano and his team crowded the net, finally catching Hutton off guard. Similar to Tuesday night’s showdown in Vancouver, Nashville would take a last minute penalty to give Calgary at 6-to-4 man advantage. The defense did what it does best and Hutton kept his cool, holding back the Calgary Flames to seal the 2-1 victory and to sweep the Western Canada road trip 4-0-0.

The Predators and the rest of the NHL have descended upon Nashville for this weekend’s All-Star festivities and holy crap am I excited. As are you, I bet. It was just recently announced – as I was writing this – that James Neal will now replace the sick Jonathan Toews in the All-Star lineup. Yay! We have four All-Stars now! Another injury to note, Alexander Ovechkin, will not make the trip here either and has been replaced with Evgeny Kuznetsov who also plays for the Capitals.

Four victories in a row. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? Very reminiscent of last season, yes? Now the question is, will Nashville lose its strength and momentum with this All-Star Break? Honestly, it’s not that big of a break. They are technically missing one day in which their could be a game (normally); they’ll be back at it against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. I guess we’ll just have to see. But for now, we’ve got some sure fire goaltenders and a spot in the wildcard for the playoffs.

 

Preds slide by Oilers 4-1

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Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After starting off the road trip 1-0-0 on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets, the Predators moved onward to “Oil Country”, hoping to extend that victory streak. Though two wins in a row doesn’t sound like a big deal, Nashville hasn’t notched a back-to-back win since December 19th against the Wild and December 21st against the Canadiens. That’s over a month. Not fun. But the Predators were in the right frame of mind last night, tackling the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Considering the last road trip ended 0-3-1, which was two weeks ago, last night’s win against the Oilers may be the boost Nashville needs to power out of their rut. Let’s hope so.

Goaltending has been a concern as of late for Nashville as they struggle to find the source behind this immeasurable rut and Pekka Rinne’s performance – or lack thereof – has been a bit of a head-scratcher. Of course, goalies are subject to losing their “groove” just like any other player would, but goalies tend to fall under the microscope the most, given that they are the last line of defense for your respective team. If your goaltender is struggling, the rest of the team has to step up by a ten fold. Unfortunately for Nashville, the Predators are notorious for counting on Rinne to erase their mistakes (i.e. the nickname “The Eraser”), so when he’s down, so too, can the team. While Carter Hutton is a decent backup, if the Predators continue to rely so heavily on his (Rinne) performance, it might be time to start the process of prepping a solidified backup. Juuse Saros and Marek Mazanec are both lying in wait, but one of them – preferably Mazanec – will need to be conditioned before making the transition from the AHL  to the NHL for good.

But, to everyone’s relief, Pekka Rinne found his groove last night and stopped 23 of 24 shots-on-goal, giving Nashville the 4-1 victory. Again, if we are feeling relieved when Rinne does well, does that ultimately mean the organization knows there might be a goaltending issue?

But, let’s not jump too far down that rabbit hole just yet. Perhaps we are just slapping a band-aid over a gaping wound, but for now, it suffices. However, this issue will have to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Moving onward, Mattias Ekholm led the charge last night, scoring two of the four goals – one that tied the game and one that gave Nashville the lead. With those two goals, Ekholm reached a career high in points (7g, 13a), something this Swede undeniably deserves.

Speaking of Swedes, Filip Forsberg also hit a milestone by notching his 100th career point (he gained 17th assist on Ekholm’s power play goal and notched the empty-netter). Rounding out the goals, Mike Fisher collected his sixth of the season on the 4×4.

As I mentioned previously, this road trip is turning out to be much better than the last (even if they lost the last two games, it’d still be a better outcome) with this 2-0-0 count. The Predators now move onward to British Columbia to take on the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night at 9PM (lots o’ coffee for Wednesday).

Nashville falls to Colorado 5-3

Image Source: Nashville Predators

Image Source: Nashville Predators

Everyone likes Fridays, but this one was a little extra special for Predators fans as newly acquired “savior of all things offense” Ryan Johansen would be making his debut in Nashville gold against the Colorado Avalanche. While we certainly didn’t expect Johansen to come out guns a blazing, the kid had other plans:

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Ryan Johansen decided 2:35 was the best time to show off his skills, notching his first shot as a Predator and his first goal (7th of the season) on the power play. Mattias Ekholm (10) and Mike Ribeiro (22) notch the assist on the new Predator’s goal. What beautiful patience.

  • Roman Josi would block a shot from captain Gabriel Landeskog shortly after Johansen’s goal, sending him to the locker room. Luckily, Josi would return to the bench.

  • Jarome Iginla would collect his 601st goal of his career (12th of the season) at 14:50 on the power play, tying the game at one.
  • A few minutes later, at 17:45, Cody McLeod would notch his seventh goal of the season, ending the first period 2-1 in favor of Colorado.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Ryan Ellis would light the lamp early at 2:45 with a wicked wrister, tying the game at two. Mattias Ekholm (11) and Colin Wilson (12) collect the assists on Ellis’s fifth goal of the season.

  • Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog would give the Avalanche another lead at 7:40 for his 10th goal of the season.
  • Filip Forsberg would notch his 11th goal of the season at 16:37, tying the game once again. Roman Josi (22) and Ryan Johansen (21) would pick up the assists. Note, this is Johansen’s first assist with the Predators.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Pekka Rinne would make some Pekka-esque moves – along with the help of Eric Nystrom – to keep the Avalanche from scoring early in the third:
    https://twitter.com/MCHisTweeting/status/685675180870471681
  • Despite Rinne’s exceptional moves, Tyson Barrie’s power play goal at 11:00 gave Colorado the lead once again.
  • Jack Skille would notch the empty-netter with just two seconds left in the match, sealing the game in favor of Colorado.

Despite the back-and-forth scoring between both clubs, the Predators could not regain the lead after Ryan Johansen’s initial goal in the first period and fell to the Avalanche 5-3. Though Johansen’s goal should have given Nashville a boost, it seemed as if the team did not respond well to the advantage. Penalties ravaged both clubs, with the Predators managing to tally six of the nine during the match. Within those six penalties, Colorado was able to score on three, essentially costing Nashville the win. However, looking at the bright side, Ryan Johansen looked great in his debut, collecting two points overall (1 G, 1 A).

Nashville will have to lick their wounds on the way to the airport as they take on the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow night in Phoenix.