Hutton Shines but Preds fall 2-1 in OT to Habs

Source:  John Mahoney

Source: John Mahoney

Are you still a little hot under the collar after last night’s game? You should be. Though the Predators came out with one point, they still lost in what could be the worst way possible: terrible calls from the officials. Both goals awarded to Montreal were brought on by fluky penalties called on Craig Smith (first a holding, then a tripping in OT). The Predators also lose their record of no back-to-back losses this season. Very frustrating, indeed.

Things to take away from this game:

  • Taylor Beck was indeed the odd man out for last night’s bout against the Canadiens, meaning Olli Jokinen is safe for another day.
  • Eric Nystrom, as expected, returned to the ice last night after being placed on the IR back on January 8th. Nystrom saw 13:41 minutes of ice time.
  • Mike Ribeiro notched his 10th goal of the season off a tip-in deflection from a Seth Jones shot. Ribeiro was drafted 45th overall by the Canadiens in the 1998 NHL Draft and spent the 1999-00 through 2005-06 seasons (including a few stints with Montreal’s AHL team and a stint in Finland during the 04-05 lockout) with Montreal. Needless to say, last night’s goal for him hit the sweet spot for this native of Montreal.
  • Seth Jones collected his 11th assist of the season on Ribeiro’s goal, along with Filip Forsberg who picked up his 25th assist. Forsberg know has 40 total points this season and continues to lead rookies in all categories.
  • Carter Hutton had his best game this season, hands down. Sure, he hasn’t gotten to see too much ice time, but with Pekka out, he has certainly stepped up when it mattered most. Check out this save below:

  • Though his record states 1-4-3, you cannot argue that this is truly a stat that undermines the true skill behind Carter Hutton. He blocked 25 of 27 shots, most of which were very Pekka-esque. Luck, sadly, just hasn’t been on his side so far.
  • Peter Laviolette had some choice words for the officials last night after that botched tripping call that lead to Montreal’s victory in OT. If you read lips, you know what the head coach is barking about (and he has every reason to do so):
  • Mike Ribeiro also went on record to express his feelings towards the refs:

The Predators are now 30-10-5, which – on the bright side – is a feat to be proud of in its own right. Unfortunately, it stings a little more when you’ve gotten spoiled on multiple victories. A game like Detroit’s on Saturday should’ve hit Nashville right in the gut – now that was a face-plant. Last night’s in Montreal, however, can be dealt to the zebras; the Predators dominated that entire game and did not pull a “Green Bay” and drop the ball in the last few moments of the game.

The Predators get a much needed hiatus due to the All-Star break and will be back here at home on Tuesday, January 27th to welcome in the Colorado Avalanche.

Preds Sign Roy & Ribeiro to 1YR Deals

PicMonkey Collage

Who knew Nashville was in need of a few Centers? Late this morning, word came trickling through the social media world that David Poile had signed two Centers to the Nashville Predators roster. Those two? Former Phoenix Arizona Coyote, Mike Ribeiro (1-year, $1.05M) and former St. Louis Blue, Derek Roy (1-year, $1M). Both veterans of their trade, Ribeiro was drafted 45th overall in the 1998 Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and Roy drafted 32nd overall in the 2001 Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. They have both put up some outstanding numbers during their tenure, but – as more athletes do – have started to decline as they’ve aged. But let’s not forget Nashville just got away with a steal of a deal. Ribeiro, Roy and Jokinen each for 1 year for a total of $4.55M? Poile, you crazy GM, you! As I type, GM David Poile is hosting a presser to address the two new signees, with Ribeiro at his side. Here are some snippets from the press conference:

What? A player actually sought out Nashville on his own accord? Take that, Spezza. So, how many Centers does Nashville have now? Let’s see: Wilson, Ribeiro, Roy, Jokinen, Cullen, Gaustad, Smith, Jarnkrok, and Fisher (though he’s down for the count). That means someone will have to “fight for their job” as Poile has stated.

Interesting information coming out of the Preds organization this afternoon! We will add more as the presser continues and as more information becomes available.

Trade Deadline: MTL nabs Dubnyk

Dubbie's off to Montreal

Dubbie’s off to Montreal

So this comes as no surprise that the Predators needed to pass Devan Dubnyk on to greener pastures, but in all honesty, I expected him to fall down to the Admirals. That, my friends, was not the case today. Around noon, TSN confirmed that the Predators had traded Devan Dubnyk to the Montreal Canadiens for “future considerations”. Carey Price has been suffering from an injury, but Montreal refuses to say that is the reason for picking up Dubnyk.

That being said, Dubnyk has had a rough, but interesting, season thus far; Montreal will be his third team and he is yet another backup for an injured goaltender. That doesn’t seem to phase Dubnyk much, though; he still believes he has the ability and talent to be a starting goaltender. It’s good to have ambitions. Unfortunately, we just got word that Dubnyk is, for now, being assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs, which is Montreal’s farm team.

Dubnyk isn’t the only goalie who has been traded thus far, though; he joins the ranks of six other goalies who are making the move, which consists of Roberto Luongo (VAN-FLA), Ilya Bryzgalov (EDM-MIN), Viktor Fasth (ANA-EDM), Ryan Miller (BUF-STL), Jaroslav Halak (STL-BUF) & Jacob Markstrom (FLA-VAN). It truly is the Goalie’s Deadline this year.

We wish Dubnyk well on his ventures with the Canadiens and we hope than not too many fans ran out and grabbed up a Preds Dubnyk jersey. We must say, though, Dubnyk lit a fire under Carter Hutton’s bottom when it came to who would hang onto that backup position. For that, we thank you.

We’ll keep you updated if Nashville decides to do something productive or absolutely asinine.

https://twitter.com/smashville/status/441269676882919424

SK74 headed to KHL for Good?

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Well, we all saw this coming… even the most diehard SK74 fans. It began even more clear during the lockout, when Sergei Kostitsyn, everyone’s favorite Belorussian, made a name for himself with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. At the time, it was inspiring to Preds fans watching the struggling talent shine so brightly amongst the KHL; so much so that we all hoped he would bring that momentum back with him when the lockout ended… He didn’t.

SK74 managed to score 27 points in 28 games with Avangard, but only 15 in 46 when the NHL season resumed. Ouch.
Sergei was a force to be reckoned with when he was picked up from the Montreal Canadiens before the 2010-11 season, scoring 23 goals and picking up 27 assists in that season alone. But after that season, everything seemed to fall apart for the young Kostitsyn, with the 2011-12 season producing a lesser, but still good, 17 goals and 26 assists. This past season? An embarrassing three goals and twelve assists. Ouch again.

During the 2011-12 season, the Preds tried to bolster SK74’s momentum by bringing his older brother, Andrei on board, picking him up before the trade deadline from Montreal. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and trouble between the Kostitsyn brothers and Alexander Radulov resulted in Andrei and Radulov’s dismissal from the team. Understandably, that left a bad taste in Sergei’s mouth.

And again, when he went to the KHL during the lockout this past season, it was another sign that SK74 felt more comfortable amongst more common fellows. It couldn’t have been more clear as to how truly comfortable he was with Avangard and, for the Predators, that wasn’t a good sign for the future of SK74 with Nashville.

The GM of Avangard Omsk offered Sergei Kostitsyn a contract this past week, wishing him to return to the Alexander Frolov and Dmitry Semin line that worked so well together. Apparently, by the stats, it worked 10 times better than the SK74-Fisher-Erat line. Preds GM David Poile has been quoted has saying he would have “no objection” for allowing SK74 to return to the KHL.

The question in the coming day is, will David Poile risk one of two Compliance Buyouts to keep the struggling Belarussian or will he let Sergei go after this year? Also, there is the possibility that SK74 pulls an Alexander Radulov and runs off before his contract ends.

The truly sad thing is, even though he is given a lot of grief for his terrible performances and his huge mistakes (A.K.A. the infamous “quit” moment), Sergei Kostitsyn has a ton of talent that, for some reason or another, cannot be displayed. And that goes for any NHL team, not just the Predators. He struggled with behavioral and accountability issues while with Montreal and he would do it again with any other NHL team that gave him a chance.

Could it be he is more like Radulov in the sense that, in the KHL, rules are different and life is a little bit less strict for a player? I believe it is a mixture of that and the comfort level he feels being back in a more familiar role, surrounded by people who all speak the same language and there really isn’t a barrier for him to get stuck behind. Unlike his fellow non-American teammates, like Pekka Rinne and Patric Hornqvist, SK74 has not clung to English very well and is not comfortable with ten mics thrown in his face. However, interviews seem to come naturally to him when they are in Belarussian or Russian, two languages he is comfortable relaying information in.

You can’t hate the kid for wanting to return to something familiar and somewhere he excels. He’s given the NHL his best shot and, unfortunately for the few SK74 fans other there, it wasn’t his best. As long as he doesn’t jump ship like Radulov, we won’t turn our backs on SK. We’d like him give it all he’s got this last season because, even if Nashville offers him an extension, I believe this is our last season with Sergei Kostitsyn in the Predators gold.

Realignment: Who will Rival the Nashville Predators?

Could this mean the end of the NSH/DET rivalry?

After tonight’s rough and disheartening shutout, I think it’s time to move onto a much lighter subject. Possible realignment of conferences!

Wait – Are you having déjà vu? You should be, for this isn’t the first time it has been brought up. A proposed realignment of the Western and Eastern Conferences into four smaller conferences has been put out there, but has also been shutdown in the past.

The possible realignment was brought up by the boys over at Hockey Night in Canada, which got a lot of people taking about rivalries that could come to an end next season if said proposal was passed. Here’s a look at the possible conferences:

Proposed “Conference 1” and “Conference 2” – Source: HNIC

The proposed “Conference 3” and “Conference 4” – Source: HNIC

Thanks to Nick Costonika for the screen captures from HNIC, you can see that a few teams lose their renowned rivalries. Okay, none are terrible on the Eastern Conference front (the Flyers still have the Penguins, Toronto still has Montreal), but – and this could be because we are partial to the Central Division – Detroit will lose its in-conference rivalries with Chicago and Nashville. Though in all honesty, it makes more sense for Detroit to be in the East, the breaking up of the Central Division would be devastating, as they are the most heated division in the Western Conference.

However, it would be interesting to see if Detroit could stay on their toes in a division alongside such teams as the Boston Bruins (which would lose their heated meetings between the Rangers and such).

How about the Nashville/Detroit rivalry? How will the “Pred Wings” handle not seeing their beloved “team on the down low” as often in Music City or vice versa? Yes, it would be difficult to say goodbye to such a loving rivalry, but Nashville no longer relies on big names like Detroit, Chicago, or St. Louis to pack the house. With twenty-two straight sell outs, the Predators have dug themselves a nice, cozy home at the Bridgestone Arena, and they have plenty of inhabitants to keep the electricity on.

Nashville will still have Chicago and St. Louis if the conference realignment was allowed, but a new, more original rivalry may come about. St. Louis and Chicago would pair up, no doubt, and Dallas and Colorado could knock each other around, but Nashville? Who would Nashville choose to be eir “team they love to hate”?

We’ll give that honor to the Minnesota Wild. Why Minnesota? Really, must you even ask? With Ryan Suter making the move to the Wild in the off-season, Nashville fans already have a bad taste in their mouths whenever the name “Minnesota” or “Wild” is even mentioned. Yes, we have no doubt the Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators would form a new, possibly historical rivalry, and that sounds fantastic.

Either way, this realignment is just a talking point. Though it has been proposed and is on the table for next season, it is not set in stone and will probably be shot down just like in previous attempts. Though we like the rivalries we have now, realignment would be helpful, especially travel-wise for teams like Nashville (the farthest East team in the Western Conference) and Winnipeg (the farthest West team in the Eastern Conference).

A girl can only hope, right?

Sergei Kostitsyn seeks Long-Term Contract with Nashville

Sergei taking a break during practice.

Sergei Kostitsyn, or SK74 as he is affectionately called, is what is known as a “young gun, rebel” type… or, at least, he was. Sergei has worn the Predators jersey for two seasons now and, although they’ve heard the many of rumors, Nashville has never seen the rebel, immature side of the 25-year-old Forward from Belarus.

A 7th Round Pick in the 2005 Draft at the tender age of 18, Sergei was a bit of a diamond in the rough. The potential was clearly there (he wouldn’t have even been considered for the NHL if it hadn’t), just a little masked by insecurity and a lack of confidence in himself. SK74 was drafted by the  Montréal Canadiens, the same team that found potential in older brother, Andrei Kostitsyn.

As most former Habs players have admitted, finding the perfect fit in Montréal is a bit challenging, and with his lack of confidence and insecurity, Sergei found himself fighting to stay above water. In frustration, Kostitsyn did whatever he thought would get himself more attention, and potentially more ice time. However, acting out and bad behavioral issues wasn’t the direction the young Forward wanted to walk down, especially alone.

Missing the bus to a preseason game in 2009, being suspended for not reporting to Montréal’s AHL farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs; Sergei and fellow teammate, goaltender Carey Price even got into an argument about Sergei’s lack of effort and commitment to the team. Montréal and Sergei Kostitsyn were clashing, and both the NHL and the KHL were watching.

Though his behavioral issues out-shined his potential as a great player at times, one team saw past the frustration and immaturity that comes with being a young, ice-deprived hockey player. The Nashville Predators traded Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis in the off-season of 2010, giving the Belorussian a chance at a fresh start.

Both Coach Barry Trotz and General Manager David Poile worked with Sergei, highlighting both his strong and weak spots, instead of letting him fall the the wayside like he had with the Habs. Two seasons later, Sergei Kostitsyn found himself on the top line along with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat, and notched his first career Hat Trick on January 1st.

However, Sergei still had his off moments in both the 2011-12 season and post season. Lack of confidence still plagues the young Belorussian, causing him to miss key passes, shots, and goals. Although he performed well during the Detroit series in the playoffs, SK74 struggled in the Phoenix series, being replaced on the top line by Colin Wilson.

After two season, Sergei Kostitsyn has expressed his desires to be signed to a long-term contract by Nashville, the one team who he was nestled with soundly. No word if SK74’s agent has met with the club yet, but the deadline to tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents is June 29th, giving both sides a little over a month to come to a decision.

Recently, both Sergei and older brother Andrei jumped on board with Team Belarus for the IIHF World Championship. Although Belarus was recently knocked out by Team Canada, Sergei was able to score a goal in his short time with his country’s team. However, Sergei collided with Team Canada’s Kris Russell yesterday, separating his shoulder. Team Belarus Head Coach, Kari Heikkilä stated that Sergei will be all right, but will need to rest for one to two weeks.

Looking back at his issues with Montréal, it’s clear why Sergei wishes to stay with the Nashville Predators. Not only has Nashville worked one-on-one with SK74, tweaking and fine-tuning his value, the club has become both a home and family to Sergei. Nashville has just begun polishing this diamond in the rough, and Sergei Kostitsyn wants to shine brighter.


Here’s a highlight video of today’s (15 May 2012) IIHF tournament games. You can see Sergei’s goal against Canada at the beginning of the video.