Vladislav Kamenev called up by NSH

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Image Source: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Nashville’s second round draft pick (42nd overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft may just make his NHL debut this evening against the Florida Panthers. The Predators announced earlier this afternoon that Vladislav Kamenev, the 6’2″ Russian center, was called up from the Milwaukee Admirals due to injury involving James Neal (upper-body, missed last night’s game in Tampa), Viktor Arvidsson, and Mike Ribeiro (both left the game yesterday with undisclosed injuries).

The 20-year-old currently flies second in goals this season for the Admirals, with nine goals and fifteen assists. Center Trevor Smith leads him by one with 10 goals, eleven assists.

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Saros earns first NHL career shutout; blank Blues 4-0

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the Predators needed to feed off the frustration that mounted in last night’s loss against Chicago and boy, did they.

While the first period saw no net action, Nashville did prevent St. Louis from advancing on two power play chances thanks to some handy penalty kill work. Nashville would begin its onslaught of goals in the second period, starting with Yannick Weber at 4:52 for his first goal this season (and within the Predators organization). Craig Smith (7) and Mike Ribeiro (16) would assist on Weber’s first goal.

Filip Forsberg would answer the call at 7:26 on the power play to give Nashville a 2-0 lead for his 8th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (17) and Ryan Johansen (20) would pick up the assists.

While Weber and Forsberg’s goals were wonderful gifts from the hockey gods, it would be Viktor Arvidsson’s dirty wrister that would steal the show:

Viktor Arvidsson, who was been quite the shining star for Nashville, earns his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Irwin (5) and Mike Fisher (10).

Carter Hutton was brought in at the beginning of the third period to relieve Jake Allen between the posts, but could not stop Colin Wilson from netting his 6th goal of the season on the power play at 8:08. Wilson’s wrister was assisted by Filip Forsberg (15) and Ryan Ellis (8).

While St. Louis would be given one extra power play chance at 13:14, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros would keep the Blues at bay, earning his first career NHL shutout. Saros, who has shined as Nashville’s backup, further proved tonight that he will be the future between the posts for the Predators. But leave it to Pekka to have us all a little misty eyed as he congratulates his apprentice on his shutout:

After a tough loss against the Blackhawks last night, tonight’s shutout against the Blues certainly has the potential to set things straight for Nashville and its hopes for a playoff run. If anything, it is a great way to end the first half of the 2016-17 season and, likewise, opens up the Predators to a fresh start in 2017.

Next up, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens come to town on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7PM. Hopefully, P.K. Subban will be ready to face his former team as we celebrate Nashville’s former captain and defensive rock.

 

Jarnkrok pushes Predators over Blues 3-1

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Image Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Show of hands as to how many of us thought the first winning streak would come in mid-November? Okay, so there’s no doubt we all thought Nashville would have at least more than one back-to-back set of wins by now, but that is just one of the fun things about the regular season. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there was so much hype coming into the season regarding this team that, without perceived perfection, fans can’t help but think the 2016-17 season is doomed. Well, good news; it isn’t. We are on game 13 of an 82 game season. Nashville is fine.

Granted, that doesn’t make the 5-5-3 record Nashville is totting around anything to be gloating about. But the team has been addressing its issues and last night’s win against the 7-5-3 St. Louis Blues could be chalked up as a testament to this improvement.

While the first and second periods looked a bit out of sync (which allowed Jaden Schwartz to tally his third goal of the season), it took a wrister from Calle Jarnkrok at the end of the second period to give the home team some confidence. Jarnkrok’s wrister, assisted by Colin Wilson & (surprise) Matt Irwin, was his first of the season.

When the Predators hit the ice for the third period, the group looked much more put-together and, dare I say, like a well-oiled machine. After a clean connecting pass from Mike Ribeiro, James Neal collected his fourth goal of the season with a secondary assist from Pontus Aberg (who notched his very first NHL point). Not even a minute later, Calle Jarnkrok picked up his goal of the night (and season) at 4:50, slipping it past former Predators goaltender, Carter Hutton. Nashville would hang onto the lead for the remainder of regulation, giving the Predators their first winning streak of the season.

Pekka Rinne continues to be “the eraser” that he is, but he needs the rest of his team to jump on that consistency train. Personally, I am not worried about this team just yet. As I stated, last night’s tilt was game 13 of 82; Nashville has time to figure out what the issues are and get them fixed. However, they can’t put that on the back-burner and coast to the playoffs by any means.

Nashville welcomes in the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday for a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night at 7PM. Anaheim’s current record is 7-5-3 and sits second in the Pacific Division, just two points behind Edmonton. While the win over St. Louis certainly boosted some much needed morale around Nashville, a continued streak over Anaheim could be what sets the Predators on a track of success.

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Off-Season Presser: Who’s In, Who’s Out

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay duke it out and St. Louis and San Jose press on, here in Nashville our thoughts are focused on off-season changes. General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette met with the media today to address trials and tribulations of the 2015-16 season, post season, and what should be expected from the organization through the off-season and into the next season.

Both Poile and Laviolette addressed the disappoint Game 7 loss against the San Jose Sharks, but praised the city of Nashville for the passion shown for the team throughout the playoff push:

While the disappointing loss still stings just a wee bit, most have moved onto more pressing matters such as the status of certain players. From the presser today, this is what we know:

  • Paul Gaustad will not be returning. A 34-year-old UFA, it was only a matter of time before Gaustad was replaced with a younger center.
  • Colton Sissons may be that replacement. Totted as Gaustad’s “heir apparent” in the conference today by David Poile, Sissons notched four goals and two assists this past season, which earned him some playoff time as well.
  • Eric Nystrom will either be bought out or traded. Yes, the Nystrom Show will have to find another host (and another name) next season. While in his first season he notched 21 points (15 of which were goals) in 2013-14, the past two seasons haven’t been as fruitful (just 19 points combined). Needless to say, Poile would like to attempt a trade with another organization, but will not hesitate to buy out the 36-year-old to free up space for someone younger.
  • Poile would like to keep Carter Hutton. Well yeah, me too, Poile (thanks for having me guys), but thinking from a hockey standpoint, it may be time to bring up either Marek Mazanec or Juuse Saros to possibly become – dare I say – Pekka’s replacement. It wouldn’t be the worst decision ever if Poile and Hutton’s agent can come to an agreement, but anything more than a year might be pushing it for the young guns lying in wait.
  • Contract negotiations: Calle Jarnkrok. David Poile mentioned that he hopes to begin contract negotiations with Jarnkrok “right away”. Jarnkrok, who was Nashville’s gain in a trade with Detroit for David Legwand, has proven his worth within the organization; perhaps it’s because he’s Swedish. Swedes are good. I mean, the kid missed one game in the regular season and totaled 30 points. Saying he’s worth having around is truly an understatement.
  • Contract negotiations: Filip Forsberg. Well, there’s no doubt somehow, someway, David Poile and Filip Forsberg will come to an agreement on a contract this off-season… and possibly a lengthy one at that.
  • Gabriel Bourque has an update. Yes, Gabriel Bourque. Injured back in November, Bourque has been working hard to get back into the lineup but a persistent UBI has kept him sidelined. Per Poile, Bourque has seen some improvement (noted that he could’ve hit the lineup if the Preds had made the Western Conference Finals) and hopes to find him a place with the team in the future.
  • Cody Bass will be re-signed. With Nystrom and Gaustad out of the future picture, Bass will be needed to fill that void on the fourth-line. Not exactly known for being a huge scorer, his presence is certainly felt both on and off the ice in positive aspects, so – as mentioned – he will be needed in the near future.
  • Ribeiro has some work to do. David Poile noted that Mike Ribeiro will need to have the “summer of his life” this off-season. I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Poile.

So, there you have it. Hopefully that was enough Predators information to last you for a little while until your cravings start to hit again. If you aren’t too familiar with the off-season, it stays rather busy. The 2016 NHL Draft will be held on June 24-25, which will bring plenty of buzz before and after the picks are in.

Preds crush Blues 5-0

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Making Moves: NSH Recalls Fiala & Bass

Source: Preds.NHL.com

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

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

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

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

So, what moves did David Poile make this afternoon?

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Preds thump Blackhawks 5-1

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Image Source: Sanford Myers/Getty Images

While Blackhawks fans joke that Bridgestone Arena may as well be “United Center South”, the boys in gold had different plans last night as they welcomed in fellow Central Division team the Chicago Blackhawks to Nashville last night. The first meeting in Nashville this season, the Predators and Blackhawks’ first bout with one another since last season’s playoff run was Tuesday in Chicago. Excelling on home ice, the Blackhawks dismantled the Predators 4-1 while extending Patrick Kane’s point streak.

While Predators/Blackhawks games aren’t exactly the most enjoyable when they come to town for the Nashville fan, it seemed like the building belonged to its home fans well before the hockey teams hit the ice. I’d go as far to say that the Predators fans drowned out the opposing fans quite well, minus the occasional Hawks cheer here and there. While Blackhawks band-wagoners scoff at the fact that Predators fans get run out of the building when they come to town, it’s the obvious and overstated reminder that Nashville is still a fairly young team. We don’t have to do the math to say that one of the Original Six teams that was established in 1926 has more fans than a team founded in 1998. Who gives a flying you-know-what as to how many Cups you have? You have six and three of those were won within the last decade. It’s not that Nashville has a lack of fans; hockey has been around long before the NHL decided to place a national team here. Piss-ass drunk fans that thrive on being an embarrassment to society are what make Predators fans avoid the arena when Blackhawks fans come to town. Congrats on that achievement.

Moving onward, after the loss Tuesday night in Chicago, the Predators didn’t have to wait long for a rematch as the Blackhawks would arrive for their first match in Nashville this season last night.

FIRST PERIOD:

  • James Neal launched the Predators in the right direction at 6:54 for his 11th goal of the season giving Nashville an early 1-0 lead over Chicago. Shea Weber (10) and Mike Ribeiro (13) notched the assists.
    https://twitter.com/TomAWillis/status/675123214167707649
  • Craig Smith would make his move count at 15:56 for his 6th goal of the season with Viktor Arvidsson picking up his first assist.
    https://twitter.com/TomAWillis/status/675128236347666432
  • Not even a minute later, Filip Forsberg would push Nashville up 3-0 with a power play goal. Heck, Paul didn’t even finish saying the word before Forsberg scored. It was pretty fantastic, really. Roman Josi (15) and Calle Jarnkrok (4) would notch the assists on Forsberg’s sixth goal of the season.
    https://twitter.com/CMS_74_/status/675128630310236161
  • There was no denying who dominated the first period, but the question on everyone’s mind was would Nashville continue the momentum through the remaining forty minutes? Pekka Rinne looked like him old self despite having a few uncharacteristic games as of late. Though Chicago only managed seven shots on goal in the first period, they were all pretty stout.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Though no goals were scored in the second period, what was expected out of Chicago – for the most part – happened. They came out with more flames under their feet than Nashville did, but the Predators didn’t make the usual “second period funk” that they usually take. Chicago would out-shoot Nashville 13 to 8 in the second, but Pekka being Pekka and all…
    https://twitter.com/justinbbradford/status/675141340775215105

THIRD PERIOD:

  • At 5:43, Patrick Kane would “score” to not only put Chicago finally on the board, but extend his point streak to 24. Now, I am not one for conspiracies, but really… this was definitely goaltender interference. Any other time, I am almost willing to bet that goal would’ve been thrown out, but because Kane’s streak is involved… yeah, I do believe it. So sue me. I’m a fan, not a NHL employee.
    https://twitter.com/TomAWillis/status/675150837568679936
  • Neal, on the other hand, extended Nashville lead to 4-1 at 14:55 for his second goal of the night and his 12th of the season. No assistance was needed for his Frosty goal.
    https://twitter.com/TomAWillis/status/675157043905478660
  • And, in a last ditch effort to get Chicago in the game, Scott Darling was pulled to give the Blackhawks the extra man. Unfortunately for them, Eric Nystom has a way of hitting the empty nets (even when down a man on the penalty). Nystrom’s empty-netter + shorthanded goal is his fifth of the season. Like Neal’s second goal, no assistance was needed.
    https://twitter.com/SteveLayman/status/675157760699457537

While Blackhawks fans filed out of the arena before the final horn could signify the victory in favor of the home team, Nashville was gaining a huge morale boost in this win (along with the points, of course). The players are not immune to the fact that Chicago is notorious for taking over the Bridgestone Arena. They take just as much pride in winning these games as the fans do.

With this victory under their belts, the Predators improve their record to 15-9-5 and now sit in third in the Central Division with 35 points (Chicago has 34 and St. Louis -2nd- has 36). Nashville currently sits fourth in the Western Conference.

The Predators welcome in the 12-16-1 Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, but don’t let that standing fool you. Just because the Avalanche are last in the Western Conference doesn’t mean they won’t come out kicking and screaming.

Preds rally to beat Arizona 5-2

Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Oh wow, I am actually getting a chance to update the blog! For those of you who have been waiting patiently, thank you. I am wrapping up my senior year at Tennessee Tech and – along with work – it has me pressed for any kinds of free time. It’s worth it though, really.

Any who, enough excuses — What excuse does Nashville have with this scoring drought their experiencing? Since I last posted an article, the Predators have had twelve goals in six games. Okay, so it’s not all about how many you can score — this is hockey, not basketball. Well, what if I told you, in those six games, Nashville tallied 198 shots-on-goal. Needless to say, it isn’t a matter of why aren’t the Predators taking shots (because they clearly are), it’s why can’t they put the biscuit in the basket? Which teammate pissed off the hockey gods? Well, let’s just move forward into the recap, shall we?

PRE-GAME:
• Nashville recalled forward Cody Bass to replace the injured Colin Wilson. While we aren’t 100% sure how or when Wilson got hurt, we want to believe it has something to do with this:

FIRST PERIOD:
• Arizona would get the ball rolling first at 17:20 on a powerplay goal from Oliver Ekman-Larsson for his sixth goal of the season.
• Despite knocking 13 shots-on-goal compared to Arizona’s 4, the Predators trailed the Coyotes going into the second period 1-0.
• Oh, and Pekka was doing #JustPekkaThings again:

SECOND PERIOD:
• Mike Fisher went down in an awkward stance, leading to him slowly limping off the ice.

While it doesn’t look like much, he did not return to the game and is expected to be our for the next four games.
• Calle Jarnkrok would finally slip one past Mike Smith at 12:32 on the powerplay for his fifth goal of the season. Shea Weber (5) and Filip Forsberg (11) would tally the assists.

• However, Kyle Chipchura would answer at 17:09 to retake the lead going into the third period.

THIRD PERIOD:
• At 2:33, Mike Ribeiro did something we never thought he’d do… he shot and scored for his third goal of the season! Cody Hodgson picked up his fourth assist as well.

• Two minutes later, at 4:49, Filip Forsberg would end his goal-less streak for his fourth goal of the season. Craig Smith (3) and Shea Weber (6) collected the assists.

• Nashville looked like they were on pace to hit 4-2 when James Neal was practically handed an empty net after catching Mike Smith out of his element:

Ah, but he released his inner Craig Smith and completely woofed it. Whoops.
• But Filip Forsberg would answer the Frosty call at 17:01 with a beautiful feed from Mike Ribeiro for his fifth goal of the season. Ribeiro would collect his eleventh assist along with Shea Weber who collected his seventh.

• James Neal would make up for that missed opportunity at 19:10 with an empty-netter to seal the game 5-2 in favor of Nashville. Neal would notch his 10th goal, along with Roman Josi picking up his 11th assist.

While Nashville certainly woke up in the third period, is their scoreless streak finally over? I wouldn’t bet my money on it just yet. While they are making a consistent effort, something just isn’t connecting. Coach Laviolette made some notable line change-ups last night that aided in securing the win, but there is still a missing element. With the need of a top center added to the roster and the possible loss of Mike Fisher for a good while, Nashville may find itself in a toughie for a bit. Maybe not. Who knows.

The Predators welcome in Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers tomorrow night at 7PM.