Predators Top Devils 3-1

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Three games into the young 2015-16 and the Predators are off to a great lead… but all three games thus far have been more or less sleepers. Should it be something to worry over or ignore since the W’s keep coming? There are a ton of arguments to be made here: for one, it’s just three games into the season; two, not all games are going to be nail-biters (and anxiety inducers); and three, the Predators are getting the job done nonetheless.

However, what happens when they do enter those nail-biters? The all-too familiar lethargic second and third periods are going to catch up to them sooner rather than later and hopefully, Nashville will be able to adapt and quickly. It may be one of those instances that we’ll just have to “cross that bridge” when we get there.

Looking at the positives, however, Roman Josi is proving why he is the most underrated defenseman in the NHL by notching two of Nashville’s goals tonight:

May we also mention that Pekka Rinne picked up an assist on Josi’s second goal.
Eric Nystrom collected the third goal of the night on an empty-netter, shortly after Kyle Palmieri put New Jersey on the board.

The power play and penalty kill continue to impress, which is fantastic. But we don’t have to tell you that, because you already know.

Let us also not fail to mention that this was Mike Ribeiro’s 950th NHL career game. That, my friends, is a lot of games.

A brief post? Yes, sir. The Predators move on to New York to take on the Islanders Thursday night at 6pm. More goals in that game, perhaps? The fan in me says, “Hey, I don’t care how many goals they score as long as they come out with the two points.” The blogger in me says, “Yeah, but when is that going to bite them in the butt?”

Preds Release Opening Night Roster

opening night

Yesterday afternoon, the Predators released the finalized 23-man roster for the 2015-16 NHL season. Without further ado, here are your Nashville Predators:

FORWARDS

Smith

Forsberg

Arvidsson

Bourque

Fisher

Gaustad

Hodgson

Neal

Nystrom

Wilson

Ribeiro

watson

51(1)

DEFENSE

Bartley

Bitetto

Ekholm

Ellis

Weber

Josi

Jackman

Jones

GOALIES

Rinne

Hutton

 

So, are you surprised by who made  the roster? We certainly are happy to see that Austin Watson made the cut, as that kid has been working something hard in the AHL. The same can be said for Viktor Arvidsson, who is definitely ready for his light to shine this season.

The 2015-16 NHL season opens tonight with the Maple Leafs vs. the Canadiens, the Blackhawks vs. Rangers, the Flames vs. the Canucks, and the Kings vs. the Sharks. However, Nashville opens the season tomorrow at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Mike Ribeiro & Wife Settle Lawsuit

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Late yesterday afternoon, Mike Ribeiro and his wife settled out-of-court with his former nanny that he was accused of sexually assaulting when she was a teenager. Though the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Ribeiro’s lawyer did make a statement to the Nashville Post regarding his client:

“This civil matter has been amicably resolved without incurring further time-consuming and potentially costly litigation,” Ribeiro’s attorney, Brian Lauten of Dallas’ Deans & Lyon, said in a statement to NashvillePost.com. “I am unable to discuss any of the elements of this confidential resolution. Mike looks forward to continuing to play hockey at a high level and looks forward to aggressively pursuing a Stanley Cup alongside his teammates. The Ribeiro family will not have any further comments on this matter.”

Shortly after Ribeiro’s lawyer’s statement, the Predators also released a remark of their own:

“The organization understands Mike Ribeiro has resolved his civil case. We are pleased that Mike and his family can focus on their future and we will have no further comment.”

So there you have it. Ribeiro has been exonerated from this lawsuit, but the question is, “Has this incident tarnished his reputation and possible future within the league?” Perhaps not with Nashville (organization), but possibly for other teams in case he seeks greener pastures elsewhere. Also, the fans that so quickly turned their pitch forks against him, are they willing to let this go or will they stubbornly hold onto pride?

You can read more details of this case over at OntheForcheck.com.

 

Preds re-sign Mike Ribeiro

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Whether you like it or not, the Predators organization and Mike Ribeiro have agreed on a two-year, $7M contract.

GM David Poile mentioned yesterday in his press conference with the media that the news of Ribeiro’s contract agreement would be made either last night or early this morning.

Highlights from Today’s Presser

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile answers questions at a news conference Monday, April 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators announced earlier in the day that head coach Barry Trotz's contract won't be extended and they will begin looking for a new head coach. Trotz is the only head coach the NHL hockey team has had. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Source: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Predators General Manager David Poile met with the media today regarding free agency, the recent draft, and… you know, little stuff here and there. I’ve compiled some of the thousand tweets from media and condensed them for your reading pleasure:

In case you missed it, the NHL passed the new 3-on-3 overtime. As Poile mentioned, there’s a good chance we’ll see less shootouts now.

If you needed official word on Clune and Stalberg’s departure, here it is straight from the horse’s mouth. Stalberg’s buyout will cost the Predators $4.67M over the next four years. Yay.

As you recall (or if you missed it), Austin Watson was just signed to a two-year deal yesterday. It’s been a long time coming for the 2010 draft pick and it will be interesting where he’ll mesh in as far as the lineup goes.

Again, straight from the horse’s mouth himself. Take a deep breath and remember: patience is a virtue.

Yes, the Predators and David Poile have extended an offer to Mike Ribeiro. Please also remember the whole “innocent until proven guilty” motto. You know, the law.

Not much to commentate on as this information was made known much earlier.

We should all expect to hear whether or not Ribeiro accepts the Predators’ offer by this evening or early tomorrow morning.

Okay, here’s the statement everyone should read and set down their pitchforks. The NHL is involved, along with law enforcement. Poile would not have moved forward with offering Mike Ribeiro a new deal if he felt like this was going to continue imploding. This isn’t Poile’s first rodeo as GM, my friends.

Be ready for an explosion on Twitter and the Predators’ Facebook account.

No surprise that Volchenkov will be left to wander to greener pastures.

Another no surprise, Poile mentioned that the organization is actively seeking a trade involving goaltender Magnus Hellberg. Hellberg is definitely ready to move up to the NHL (or somewhere he’ll get the chance) and Nashville is overrun with netminder potential at this point. You know, especially after signing Saros the other day.

Honestly, I forgot he was injured. Good news – he’s doing well.

And, last but not least, Adam Vingan has this statement regarding the Ribeiro civil lawsuit. Maybe it will help lower the amount of torches and pitchforks a little, yes?

So, there you have it. Trust me, this is a condensed list of tweets from today’s presser. Free Agency starts tomorrow, July 1st. It should prove for an interesting day. I hope.

 

 

Mike Ribeiro Assault Case Update

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Source: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

By now, everyone is pretty familiar of the baggage Mike Ribeiro packed with him when he was signed by the Nashville Predators in the off-season last year. Personal issues off-ice finally began to affect his on-ice performance, eventually cutting ties with the Arizona Coyotes. Yes, the signing of Mike Ribeiro was definitely a bold move by David Poile, but that risk turned quickly to reward, with Ribeiro ending the 2014-15 season 15-47-62. He also played in all 82 games.

Ribeiro left the Coyotes in search of a new start with a new organization willing to give him a chance. Nashville was that answer, and – as far as we know and from what we saw on ice – his off-ice issues all but were left in the desert. Unfortunately, the past has continued to creep up behind Ribeiro everywhere he goes and the Music City was no exception.

In March, TMZ reported that a former nanny of the Ribeiros was suing Mike for sexual assault and his wife, Tamara, for verbal abuse. The Predators were quick to make a very basic statement, which was about all they could honestly do at the time with such little information of the accusation:

“We have been made aware of a complaint against Mike Ribeiro, dating back to his playing time while he was in Dallas,” the Predators said in a statement. “Mike has indicated that the charge is without merit and is prepared to vigorously defend himself. We will allow the legal process to move forward without further comment.”

After a week or two, the hype over this accusation died down and, to be honest, most of us completely forgot about it altogether. On The Forecheck, however, did not forget about it and made the initial update earlier this afternoon.

Because OTF has all the latest on this subject, I will direct you to their site for the full story. Be warned, however, some of the details are very graphic and may be disturbing to many readers.

Now that you are back (hopefully) from reading that, yeah… yikes, y’all. Of course, along with this new update and information, a lot of people are questioning that initial statement from the Predators organization and just how much they did know about this incident before signing in back in the off-season. Of course, you have to also account for the following facts:

  • The victim had not come forward before David Poile and the organization signed Ribeiro.
  • Mike and his wife may not have gone into detail as to what exactly those “off-ice personal issues” were.
  • David Poile is not a newbie at this; there is no doubt he did his due-diligence before signing Ribeiro.

Seriously, I stand firm in saying that the Predators and David Poile did not know of the details of the accusations until the victim took action. Here’s an article excerpt from Dan Rosen regarding Poile’s due diligence back when Ribeiro was first signed:

Poile said the Predators did their due diligence on Ribeiro. He said they talked to former teammates, coaches, general managers and more people inside and outside Ribeiro’s circle, including Predators forward James Neal, who played with Ribeiro in Dallas from 2008-11.

“It’s well known that Ribeiro had some off-ice situations that he had to take care of. He has done that,” Poile said. “He and his family were separated and now they’re back together. He and his wife [Tammy] and three kids [Mikael, Noah and Viktoria] are trying to make a new life, want to make a new life for themselves here in Nashville.”

Poile wouldn’t divulge any details as to what Ribeiro has done to address the issues he was dealing with off the ice, saying it was personal information. He did say any further off-ice issues would not be tolerated.

“We can’t have a distraction on our team. We can’t have something that’s affecting our franchise,” Poile said. “Mike and his wife realize that. There is no tolerance for off-ice issues. This clearly is really his last chance.

I mean, has everyone really forgotten that whole curfew-gate from the 2012 Playoffs when Andre Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov frolicked around Scottsdale and were suspended by Poile – no the league – for Game 3 for their violation. And, as we all know the outcome now, Radulov and A. Kostitsyn were not re-signed the next season. Needless to say, David Poile does not take off-ice shenanigans lightly and, as I stated, you know he did his digging before finally okaying the Ribeiro contract.

As mentioned by On The Forecheck, the next hearing is set with a July 27th deadline. It will be interesting, since Ribeiro will be seeking a contract extension this year, as he was only signed to a one-year deal last July. Unfortunately, due to his past coming back to haunt him (whether guilty or not), his future in Nashville may be on the chopping block, despite having one of the best seasons of his career.

The Morning After: Game 5 – Don’t Snub the Prince

filip

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

My brain is still at home sleeping and did not make the trip to work with me today. Why? Because the adrenaline from last night’s win to force a Game 6 still has me buzzing! …Well, for the most part – I am slowing entering zombie mode. Whether you were in the crowd or cheering from afar, last night’s game was anything but outstanding. The boost from the home crowd, the pressure on Darling, and the resilience of Pekka Rinne gave Nashville the 5-2 victory, providing the good guys a chance at another game.

  • Small Market Snubbed: Yesterday afternoon, the NHL announced who the PHWA had chosen as their nominees for the Calder Trophy, an award that essentially serves as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. A name most notably absent? Filip Forsberg. Per Pete Jensen, “since 1997-98, only one NHL rookie has posted 25+ goals, 60+ points, +15 or better & 200+ shots on goal: Filip Forsberg”. If the award is going to go to a player that sort of makes a showing during the latter-half of the season, then the trophy needs to be known as the “Rookie of the Latter-half of the Season” award, not year.

  • Return of the Fish: Mike Fisher was seen participating in practice yesterday morning, but as to if he’d be in the game was questionable. He even said himself that he wasn’t sure:

    However, he was on the ice during pregame warm-ups and was a starter for the game. No doubt his return helped boost some morale around the locker room.

  • The Real Deal Steal: James Neal gave the Predators their first lead of the night just 47 seconds in the third, opening the flood gates for Wilson and Forsberg.
  • Hey, Mr. Wilson: What a post season it is for Colin Wilson, collecting his fifth of the series last night & setting a franchise record.

  • Don’t Snub the Prince: Filip Forsberg’s a classy kind and he knows just how to retaliate in the right way against the NHL’s Calder snub. Intentional or not, it was truly poetic justice as Forsberg sunk two goals on his former roommate (Darling) and sealed the game winner and Hat Trick on an empty net.

  • First Time for Everything: The Predators are notching a bunch of franchise records this post season, which is understandably awesome. As the old saying goes, “There’s a first time for everything”.

    Nashville squashed that little fact into the dirt (thankfully) and look to squander a few other “never have I evers” before this series is over, too. The Preds are 1-4 in Game Sixes and have never been to a Game 7. As I said, there’s a first time for everything and now’s that time.

  • Three’s a Crowd: Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg, and Craig Smith are all tied for the team’s lead in points (5) during this post season.
  • All Business: Per Kris Martel of Fox Sports, the locker room after the game was all but celebratory.

    Though they deserve to wear the smiles on their faces, it’s still a job out there and their butts are on the chopping block. There’s no time to rest and the boys know it.

Going back to Chicago is going to be tough tomorrow; there’s no easy way to put it. The odds are stacked against the Predators, but they aren’t called the Pesky Preds for nothing, right? Backs against the wall style hockey. If Nashville can pull out the win tomorrow night, I have no doubt in my mind that they can conquer Game 7 at home. They just have to get there. Tomorrow’s game with not only be a physical challenge, but one of mental strength, too. They broke Darling last night and they can sure as all get out do it again. Get through tomorrow night; get through the series.
A quote from Coach Laviolette: “Our back is still up against the wall, and we are still a team who needs to realize where we are at and our place in life right now. If we win, we can come back and play Game Seven, and if we don’t, then we start our summer. I don’t think our guys are ready to go home.”

Other Thoughts:

Puck drops for Game 6 at 7PM.
It’s far from over, folks.
roman-josi-james-neal-nhl-tampa-bay-lightning-nashville-predators-850x560

 

 

The Morning After: Game 3

ribeiro

If only it had ended as bad as these guys made it out to be. Source: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Well, the Predators certainly forgot to pack that momentum in their carry-on bags from Friday on the way to Chicago because… well, we all saw the outcome of yesterday’s game. Not a complete and utter beat down, but not the heat we hoped to had seen for sure. The two goals Nashville did muster were exciting, to say the least, as they responded almost immediately after Chicago. However, after those two, there were no more follow-ups and the Blackhawks took Game 3 by a score of 4-2.

So what happened? Well, some could argue that the United Center is just a tough atmosphere for any team. Well, yea – it is, but here’s the thing: the Predators have played enough times in that arena that this should no longer be a surprise. Yes, the atmosphere during playoff hockey is a little more… unique, but these guys aren’t fresh off the boat; they know what to generally expect.

Another argument is regarding the absence of pack leaders, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher. The Predators played just fine Friday without Fisher and lit the jet fuel after Weber went out of the game. Though Weber and Fisher play significant roles on the ice, injuries like this are bound to happen and the Predators have adapted well before; unfortunately, unlike regular season, they cannot take their time figuring out a game plan. I was asked yesterday via Twitter on the health condition of Pekka Rinne; surely, he must still be injured. As much as I want to talk myself into believing that is the root cause of his awkward mistakes, it just isn’t. The only discomfort I believe he is in is the frustration of his gaffes. Unfortunately, even the best find themselves in a rut – Chicago resorted to their backup, Scott “sold my soul to the Devil to get out of the SPHL” Darling yesterday because Corey Crawford is way off his game.

No offense to Carter Hutton, but Nashville does not have someone who will all of sudden become the brick wall needed for the playoffs. After his hip surgery last season and his lengthy injury this season, many have questioned Rinne’s performance as it is easiest to blame the goaltender in these situations. However, blame cannot be solely rested upon the shoulders of the net-minder, as it takes other factors (defense) to keep a breakaway from happening in the first place.

Honestly, you could sit there and watch the replay of the game over and over and nitpick every thing that went wrong last night; so easy. The sloppy passes, bad man-to-man coverage, whatnot, but to keep a positive mindset, the First Round is far from over and anything can happen. Now that they have one playoff game under their belts in Chicago, tomorrow shouldn’t come as a shock and they should be a little more level-headed and prepared. There’s a good chance, since he traveled with the team, that Mike Fisher may be back for tomorrow’s game. Not that he’s the saving grace that’ll set everything straight, but Fisher’s authoritarian presence may be the kick in the rear end Nashville needs.

Shout out to Mike Ribeiro and Mattias Ekholm for cracking the “Darling Dam” yesterday and at least keeping the game interesting, to say the least. Now that I think about it, I am sad I forgot to post this photo:
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Twitter Thoughts:

Preds tackle Avs 5-2

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

After a not-so stellar performance on the road, the Predators headed back home to welcome in the divisional rival Colorado Avalanche, who might be sitting at the bottom of the Central Division, but certainly not out. Last Friday night, the Avalanche whipped fellow Central Division mate, the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1 and then went on to defeat the 7th team in the League (the Tampa Bay Lightning) 5-4. Again, Colorado might be down, but they aren’t out. However, Nashville is the Top Dog in the League for a reason and tonight was a night to shush the naysayers.

SCRATCHES: Taylor Beck

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Nathan MacKinnon (13) got the puck moving at 3:57, a lucky break as the puck deflected off of Roman Josi’s skate into the net. Ryan O’Reilly (25) and Brad Stuart (8) notched the assists.
  • Not fifteen seconds later, Mister “I was healthy scratched on Sunday” Calle Jarnkrok answered the call to action and netted one alone for his sixth of the season.
  • Around the 13-minute mark of the game, Avalanche Captain, Gabriel Landeskog took aim at Roman Josi along the boards.
  • As you can see, Landeskog absolutely levels Josi with the hit, prompting both Paul Gaustad and Shea Weber to come to the rescue. Though I wouldn’t want to go up against Gaustad or Weber, I think if I had to choose, I’d go with duking it out with Gaustad. Unfortunately for Landeskog, #AngryShea got to him before Gaustad did.
  • Both players would be given majors (5 minutes) for fighting, but somehow, Weber also received a 10-minute misconduct AND an instigator penalty, totaling his time in the box at 17 minutes.
  • Nashville would finish out the remainder of the first period without their Captain and notch nine SOG to Colorado’s three.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Craig Smith would open the second period with his 19th goal of the season, giving Nashville the 2-1 lead at 4:32. Mike Fisher (17) collected the lone assist.
  • Roman Josi would punch his 11th goal of the season at 11:06 with assistance from Matt Cullen (10).
  • Colorado would only manage five SOG during the second compared to Nashville’s sixteen.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • To remind everyone he’s still here (like we’ve forgotten), Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-1 lead just 52 seconds into the third period for his 21st goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro picked up the assist, his 39th of the season.
  • Patrick Roy, who is known for pulling his goaltenders early in the games, did just that, giving Colorado a two-man advantage (Craig Smith called for hi-sticking & Shea still in the box). Eric Nystrom (7) slapped a wrister down the length of the ice, nailing the empty net for a short-handed goal at 8:28. Roman Josi (33) grabbed the assist.
  • With under two minutes to go, Colorado slipped on passed Pekka Rinne for a powerplay goal by John Mitchell (7), but it was too late for the Avalanche to make a comeback run.

It is pretty evident why Shea Weber risked a lifetime in the penalty box to protect his fellow linesman. First off, he’s the leader and that’s what a great leader does; second, the memory of Steve Downie’s hit on Roman Josi, just two games into last year’s season. That hit was not investigated like it should have been and Josi was concussed for a few months. Though Downie no longer is a member of the Colorado Avalanche, that wound was reopened by Gabriel Landeskog last night.

Now 41-13-7, the Predators now sit six points ahead of the team second in the league, the Montreal Canadiens. The closest divisional rival, the St. Louis Blues, sit nine points back. Chicago? Twelve points back.

The Predators welcome in the Minnesota Wild for a special 7:30PM start time on Thursday night (airing on NBC Sports).