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

Nashville Predators v New Jersey Devils

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 Fans: Don’t Cry because It’s Over; Smile because It Happened

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Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Well ladies and gents, that certainly wasn’t the outcome we all wanted for the home team by any means but all good things must come to an end at some point. Unfortunately for Nashville, that end came at a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Perhaps it was because we gaffed at the Dallas Stars as they fell to the St. Louis Blues 6-1 in their Game 7 the day before that lead to Nashville’s beatdown from the Sharks. Could it have also been the extra day of rest due to a Selena Gomez concert at the SAP Center, an event that caused almost all Preds fans to become Selenators (yes, I looked that up)? Was it the little black cat adorably named “Joe Paw-velski” that ran across the ice during Game 1? Maybe it was because Nashville has never won a game in a playoff series in San Jose. Whatever voodoo or karma you wish to believe in that caused Nashville to crumble last night, it happened and the history making season has come to a close.

But history for the seventeen-year-old franchise was made and that should certainly not be overlooked. Nashville witnessed its first ever Game 7 in Round 1 against the Anaheim Ducks and sealed their first ever Game 7 victory in the same bout. Nashville would reach its second Game 7 in franchise history last night against the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, the history books had shut on the Predators at that point. The Predators hit some amazing milestones for its young franchise this season and postseason, which only means they will have to work to go further in the future.

Also to be noted was how the city of Nashville – and all of Tennessee, for that matter – stood with the Predators on their postseason journey towards bringing the Cup to Nashville. Though the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators have a friendly relationship that only rivals due to business aspects, the NFL home team stood tall next to its professional brethren and the players and coaching staff made sure a side of the sports world that may not be as familiar with hockey got a taste of it.

Nashville’s sports roots do belong to football and baseball; there’s no doubting that. But those football/baseball fans have latched onto this frozen sport quite tightly and, whether it was a PR stunt on the Titans part or not, this relationship between the Titans shown through the playoffs was a beautiful thing indeed. With the torrential badmouthing of the Titans and their output on the field, perhaps this was a way for the Titans organization to not only back a winning team, but show its players what winning does for the growth of a fan base. Don’t get me wrong; no matter how terrible the Titans continue to be, they aren’t going anywhere and you won’t find a decrease in tickets sales either. But seeing the emotional connecting that the Predators organization has with its fans – who are also Titans fans – is definitely something of which a fellow professional team should be mindful. Several Titans players, including Marcus Mariota, Taylor Lewan, Delanie Walker, and crowd favorite Avery Williamson made appearances at several playoff games in Nashville.

The Titans weren’t the only Nashville team to stand with the Predators, either. The Nashville Sounds sent out their best wishes via a video:

And, being the Music City, the Predators had plenty of musicians cheering the team onto victory including Dierks Bentley, Chris Young, Vince Gill, Tim McGraw, and – of course – Carrie Underwood.

Several Nashville businesses jumped behind their favorite hockey team as well during the postseason push, including the following:

Seeing all the love from around the city and state was a beautiful sight for us who love the sport of hockey. Not only does this benefit the Predators, it also sheds light on youth hockey – in a strange way – as well. There’s no doubt that, when a team is winning, its exposure grows exponentially and, since we live in a college football dominated region, even a little bit of exposure goes a long way. So many new fans were born this post season and, while some will drop off, a good number will continue to follow the Predators into the next season this October and their love (because there’s no other word for it) will blossom into a passion for the sport. I would say Nashville’s exposure as a legitimate hockey town was an eye-opener to many outside of the city. Of course, the All-Star festivities this year certainly helped, but the fan base made its point that we should be taken seriously as a hockey-loving Southern city. It’s that college football mentality that makes us so unique; makes us so passionate. It’s what makes Nashville a true contender for the Stanley Cup at some point.

So what do the Predators and its organization do now? Well, relax, for one thing. Relax then begin preparing for next season. Now that the 2015-16 run is over, news on injuries sustained by some of the players is beginning to surface, including the fact that Roman Josi has been playing with both a broken finger and nose. Filip Forsberg, who was rather quite and “un-Forsberg-like” this postseason, revealed to Tre Kronor, the Swedish national team, that he has been nursing a back injury. I have been asked if Shea Weber was injured due to his performance last night but not every bad night is due to an injury. Sometimes, bad nights just happen. Sadly for Weber, that night came last night in Game 7. Again, these injuries definitely do not excuse for a poor performance, but they do add into it for sure. No player – on any team in the postseason – is playing at 100% right now. The endurance of a hockey player is insane; something I feel basketball and soccer players could learn from.

It would b e difficult to overlook last night’s performance and remember what an incredible season and postseason Nashville has had this year, but it is possible. Before you even realize it (maybe even now), you’ll be asking, “Is it October yet?” and the excitement of a new season will turn you into a little kid again.

The Sharks played a clean, tough series and you can’t fault them at that. I just hope they take out the Blues. And remembering that Nashville was one of the Top 5 teams this postseason is something to be proud of, too. As old Dr. Seuss once coined, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” Yeah, that was cheesy but it’s true… and you know it.

Preds force Game 7 against Sharks

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After losing 5-1 on Saturday in San Jose, Nashville found itself coming home to a do-or-die situation for Game 6. But this wouldn’t be the first Game 6 of the playoffs where the Predators were facing elimination. In the first round, Nashville jumped up 2-0 over the Ducks, then the Ducks came back and tied the series 2-2. Anaheim would then push ahead and take the series 3-2 in Game 5, but Nashville found the back-burners and won games six and seven. This time around, San Jose jumped forward 2-0 in the series, with Nashville then tying it 2-2 in the next two games. While it’s a little opposite of the first series, it has reverted back to Nashville being on the elimination block. But the home crowd has the magic and, as James Neal mentioned:

“We weren’t ready to go. But we’ll be ready on Monday.” – James Neal

First Period:

So the first period wouldn’t exactly start out in Nashville’s favor, with Chris Tierney notching two goals at 9:55 and 11:51. However, things would finally begin to click for the Predators at 15:27 when Roman found a hole through the crowded net-front to put the Predators on the board.

Interestingly enough, Roman Josi (who tallied 14 goals in the regular season) had 38 shots on goal before finally notching one, the most by an NHL player this postseason. Hey, one was bound to go in eventually, right?

Second Period:

Nashville would come out swinging in the second period, notching 14 shots on goal, ten more than San Jose. Out of the fourteen, one would sneak past Martin Jones; a beautiful backhander from Ryan Johansen, his fourth of the postseason. Ryan Ellis would pick up the assist on Johansen’s goal.

Third Period:

Miikka Salomaki would be flagged for hi-sticking Martin Jones, which would result in a Sharks PP goal from Logan Couture at 10:04. With half a period to go, Nashville was one goal down from being eliminated in front of the home crowd. But alas, the butterfly of the playoffs emerged at 12:44 to tie the game 3-3; Colin Wilson’s fifth goal of the postseason.

Seriously though, where does this kid hide during the regular season? Where ever it is, there’s not denying that while he may be quiet in the regular season, Colin Wilson is a beast in the post season. Someone who has been rather quiet in the postseason, though? Filip Forsberg.

Bonus Hockey:

Overtime. Nashville’s best friend in this series. After three overtime periods in Game 4, Predators fans were prepared to spend another night/morning at the Bridgestone Arena… as long as the outcome was the same as Game 4. Well, the boys in gold had other ideas; ideas to finish the game in one overtime instead of three. Viktor Arvidsson, a young Swede with the heart of lion, would be the one to save Nashville from elimination.

With a beautiful backhand shot, Arvidsson not only notched the game-winner, but his first career playoff goal.

Arvidsson, who has been beaten & kicked down throughout the playoffs (and in the regular season), somehow has always come out with heart & fire. To say he deserved this goal is truly an understatement.

History to Be Made:

The Predators are in business of making franchise history during these playoffs and they aren’t ready to stop. Thursday’s game will be Nashville’s second Game 7 in playoff history with the first being previously against the Ducks in the first round. This will also be the first time Nashville has advanced beyond Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs. More history to make? Nashville has never won a playoff game in San Jose. But, as I have said in the past, there’s a first for everything. Why not this year?

Also, it is amazing to see the support the Predators are receiving throughout the city and the state. Businesses and fellow professional teams alike are standing with the Predators, cheering them onward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

So rest up and come ready to rock, Preds fans. This is history in the making for the Nashville Predators franchise. Similar to Game 7 against the Ducks, the Predators will be holding a viewing party on the plaza at Bridgestone Arena at 7PM. It’ll move inside to the Lexus Lounge if the nasty weather persists.

Preds tie Series in Triple OT; Longest Game in Franchise History

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Wow. Honestly, I am not sure what else to say regarding last night/this morning’s Game 4 between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks. Up 2-1 in the series, the Sharks were hoping to go up 3-1 before heading back to San Jose for Game 5 but… Nashville had other ideas. Mainly, it came down to a goaltender showdown. Who was going to break first: Rinne or Jones? Well, it would take until 1AM before one finally crashed. A game full of controversy, rage, and excitement, I will say this game, even if Nashville doesn’t get beyond the second round, will be remembered and talked about for years to come.

PRE-GAME:

After being healthy scratched on Tuesday night, Mike Ribeiro found himself sitting out again for last night’s game. Ribeiro is consistent with inconsistency and the playoffs are no place for reckless passes and puck-handling. After dismantling the Sharks 4-1 on Tuesday, it was no surprise that Ribeiro was scratched for Thursday night’s game.

FIRST PERIOD:

Playoff Wilson wasted no time putting his team on the board, scoring the fastest goal in Preds playoff history at 41 seconds into the game. This was Wilson’s fourth goal of the playoffs; he only notched six during the regular season. Over the last few playoff runs, Wilson has essentially “emerged from his cocoon”, blossoming into a beautiful playoff butterfly. Yes, I enjoy comparing Colin Wilson to a butterfly. There’s no way to really explain why he does this, but no one is complaining; his push and effort has gotten Nashville to where it is now.

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Three minutes later, Brett Burns would tie the game at 1-1 for his third goal of the playoffs. But at 9:50, Mike Fisher would give Nashville the lead again for his third goal of the playoffs. Similar to Wilson, Fisher has been a consistent factor in Nashville’s playoff push this year.

SECOND PERIOD:

San Jose would control the second period with Joonas Donskoi tying the game 2-2 in one of the more controversial calls of the night and possibly of the playoffs. While it looked like Joel Ward was offside (which he was and that is all Preds fans saw), as the NHL Situation Room explains in the tweet below, the Sharks tagged up and entered the attack zone legally, thus wiping out Ward’s offside. Despite the explanation, that did not change the feelings amongst the fans inside (and those watching on TV) the Bridgestone Arena.

THIRD PERIOD:

Brett Burns would give San Jose the lead at 6:48 in the third, quieting the Nashville crowd… but not for long. Both Rinne and Jones would bend over backwards, stopping both teams from further advancing until 15:39 when James Neal would tie the game 3-3.

By the way, James Neal may have the best facial expressions in the league. There’s no poker face for this guy. Neither team would be able to top the tie, leading to the first OT for both teams during this series. If you believe that stats determine everything, then you would have left the arena before the start of OT – if you were a Predators fan, that is. That’s because Nashville has never won a home overtime game during the franchise’s history of playoffs. But there’s a first time for everything and fans (and the organization) were ready to give it a shot.

First OT… Second OT… Third OT… This was truly – as mentioned previously – a battle between two outstanding goaltenders. It really was a shame to think, while experiencing the game, that one of those goaltenders would ultimately lose. As one overtime would come and another would go, the crowd at Bridgestone Arena would hold tight despite the ever-present knowledge that work was approaching fast. If you were anything like me, I was counting each time it hit on the 30s how many hours I’d have left to sleep before having to get up for work. Both Nashville and San Jose would get there chances, including the waved-off goal in the first OT when the officials deemed goaltender interference. Again, a good call, though San Jose would probably beg the differ.

Finally, shortly after 1AM at 11:12 in the third OT, Mike Fisher finally said “I’m ready to go to bed” by slipping the puck past Martin Jones for the game winning goal. If you were not there to witness the eruption from both the Predators bench and the crowd, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing and electric the atmosphere was. It truly can be considered Nashville’s greatest sports moment thus far (aside from the Music City Miracle, of course). Most certainly in the last decade.

Pure elation from both the fans and the players; it was amazing. I’m honestly not sure how to truly describe it. I feel as if this game was not only a great representation of the strength and endurance of the Nashville Predators, but also its fan base as well. There’s no doubting Nashville is the biggest underdog in the entire playoffs amongst all of the teams left competing for the Cup. But that’s the beautiful thing about being a “non-traditional” hockey market; the passion is unique and powerful as we try to prove that we – the fans and the organization – deserve to be where we are; contending for the Stanley Cup. Whether Nashville takes this series or not, there is no doubt that the league will remember this game; that fans of other teams will take a moment to consider Nashville’s hockey legitimacy. As a fan I am happy to say that we are proud people, us Predators fans. We are passionate, we are fiery, and we are hopeful. And you can continue to deny our presence, but you will never shatter our passion for the game of hockey in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Weber named NHL Leadership Award Finalists

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Yesterday afternoon, the NHL announced the finalists for the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership award, which includes John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.

The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award is awarded to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season. Though suggestions for nominees are solicited from fans, clubs and NHL personnel, the selection of the three finalists and the ultimate winner is made by Messier, one of the finest leaders in NHL history; the six-time Stanley Cup champion is one of three players to have captained three teams (Edmonton, N.Y. Rangers, Vancouver).

Weber is the first Predators player/personnel to be nominated for a 2016 NHL award and Roman Josi was quoted about his fellow defenseman and captain:

“He’s one of those guys that leads by example. We know we can count on him every time he steps on the ice; we know he’s going to leave it all out there. He’s just a great leader, he’s been a great mentor to me. He’s one of those guys who plays the game really honest. He’s such a great leader, and we’re happy to have him as a captain.”

Game 1 Recap: Sharks Capitalize on Preds Exhaustion

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Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After winning the franchise’s first Game 7, the Predators hopped onto a plane and headed to Northern California to face the San Jose Sharks, who eliminated crowd favor L.A. Kings in five games. Underdogs yet again, the Predators would either see one of two things from the Sharks: a well rested group or a slow-to-go team. While knocking out your opponent in as few games as possible can be a good thing, it can also knock you out of your winning rhythm. And while going all seven games can keep you in that rhythm, it can also cause a burn out. So, how did Game 1 between the Sharks and Predators turn out?

PRE-GAME:

Well, Predators playoff savior Craig Smith’s nagging lower-body injury kept him from the lineup in Game 1 against the Sharks. With Craig Smith, the Predators are 4-0. Without Craig Smith? 0-4. So who did Nashville pull in to replace Smith? Eric Nystrom, who did not see any ice time during the first series against Anaheim. Pontus Aberg was initially recalled by the team from Milwaukee earlier in the day, but was ultimately scratched before game time.

Also, this happened right before the game:

No one is sure where this little black cat came from, but it wasn’t the thing superstitious fans wanted to see scurrying across the ice before the game.

FIRST PERIOD:

While neither team managed to score during the first, there were definitely plenty of close calls. This particular shot-on-goal had to be reviewed. Of course, there’s no way it would’ve been deemed a goal, there is still the rule that it could have been:

San Jose would send eleven shots at Pekka, with the Finnish wall managing to stop them all. Nashville would notch twelve shots against Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.

SECOND PERIOD:

Nashville would come out swinging in the Second Period, with Mike Fisher notching a “top cheddar” goal to take the lead on the power play:

Fisher and the Predators would hold onto that lead throughout the period, giving Nashville some glorious hope going into the third period.

THIRD PERIOD:

Ah, but that sweet lead by the Predators would be short lived as the Sharks found their rhythm and began attacking the net, while Nashville’s juice began to run out. At 2:37, Tomas Hertl notch a beauty of a goal, finding the one hole in Rinne’s armor to tie the game at 1-1 on the power play.

Former Nashville Predator Joel Ward would give San Jose the lead at 11:49 with a breakaway goal, pulling a feisty move to trick Rinne into giving him plenty of room. Shortly thereafter, Logan Couture would give San Jose a 3-1 lead with less than five minutes left in regulation. The wheels, it seems, had fallen off the Predators wagon and the Sharks were ready to bounce on their opportunities.

However, Ryan Johansen would give Nashville a glimmer of hope at 18:11 making the score 3-2 with plenty of time left to tie it up. Unfortunately, both Couture and Tommy Wingels would pound two empty-netters, sealing Game 1 in favor of the San Jose Sharks 5-2.

So what happened? It all came down to the fact that Nashville hit an exhaustive wall and the Sharks, who played rather steady throughout the first and second periods, hit the rocket boosters in the third period and powered past the worn out Predators. While some saw the first and second periods as being rather slow, the Sharks knew exactly what they were doing and made some seriously smart moves, which ultimately lead to their victory.

So what can Nashville do to avoid this tomorrow night? Honestly, it’s a matter of regrouping and coming out refreshed and ready to play a smart, even strength game. The Sharks feed on power play opportunities, and Nashville must stay out of the box on Sunday. I know that is definitely a common sense strategy, but sometimes you have to go back to the basics to seek victory. Nashville will also need to keep a consistent flow through all three periods to outsmart the Sharks. It was clear last night that the Sharks waited until Nashville began losing steam before taking charge and it worked well for them. Though coming out on fire is a good thing, hoping that one goal will keep the Sharks at bay is just not going to work.

Before I am finished, I do have to mention this that happened:

This should’ve been where the Sharks originally tied the game, but somehow, someway, the puck just stopped short of the goal line. Lucky for Nashville at the time, but the Sharks would find a way to score anyways.

Losing Game 1 is not the end of the series by any means. However, Nashville will need to take away some things from this game and apply them to Sunday night’s game to avoid going 0-2 in this series.

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 to face Ducks in First Round

Source: Harry How/Getty Images

With the Anaheim Ducks shutting out the Washington Capitals 2-0 tonight, Nashville finally knows who it will face in the First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Anaheim Ducks.

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Game 1: Friday, April 15th @ 9:30PM – Honda Center
Game 2: Sunday, April 17th @ 9:30PM – Honda Center
Game 3: Tuesday, April 19th @ 8:30PM – Bridgestone Arena
Game 4: Thursday, April 21st @ 7:00PM – Bridgestone Arena
Game 5: Saturday, April 23rd – TBA – Honda Center
Game 6: Monday, April 25th – TBA – Bridgestone Arena
Game 7: Wednesday, April 27th – TBA – Honda Center

Bold: If Necessary

The last time the Predators faced in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was back in 2011. Nashville ended up defeating the Ducks, securing their first advance to semi-finals in franchise history.

Can Nashville do it again? There’s only one way to find out. See you Friday.

 

 

Preds are Officially Playoff Bound

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With the Colorado Avalanche losing to the Washington Capitals tonight 4-2, the Nashville Predators are officially playoff bound. Fourth time seems to be the charm for Nashville, as they’ve had the opportunity to clinch a spot since March 28th. Of course, as you are probably aware, the Predators have gone 0-3 on their last three games, so it took Nashville’s former head coach to get the job done by knocking off the Avalanche.

Whatever way, Nashville is officially in and since the Blackhawks won and the Wild lost, there’s a good chance the Predators will face either the Kings or the Ducks in the first round. It also looks like the Blackhawks and the Blues will face each other in the first round (if you care).

It’s officially time to #StandWithUs, Smashville. Oh, and finish out the last four regular season games, too.

Preds recall Stefan Elliott

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Late this afternoon the Nashville Predators announced that they have recalled defenseman Stefan Elliott from the Milwaukee Admirals:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has recalled defenseman Stefan Elliott from Milwaukee (AHL) under emergency conditions. He will wear No. 7 for the club.

Elliott, 25 (1/30/91), has 24 points (8g-16a) in 82 career NHL contests with Colorado and Arizona since the 2011-12 season. Prior to being acquired by the Predators on Jan. 15, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound blueliner notched six points (2g-4a) in 19 games with the Coyotes, and since the trade, he has 17 points (6g-11a) in 29 AHL games with the Admirals. Colorado’s third selection, 49th overall (second round), in the 2009 Entry Draft was a 2015 AHL All-Star, the 2011 recipient of the Bill Hunter Trophy as the WHL’s top defenseman and the 2009 CHL Scholastic Player of the Year while with the Saskatoon Blades.

ICYMI, the 25-year-old defenseman has been recalled in time to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night due to Ryan Ellis suffering an upper-body injury in last night’s game against the Dallas Stars.

As you can see from this .gif, there’s no doubting why Ellis left the game last night. Ouch. While I am not sure how serious this injury is, I can assume he’ll be out for a few games – possibly the remainder of the regular season, which consists of just five more games.

The Predators will have their third chance to clinch a playoff spot tomorrow night with a win over the 43-25-8 Penguins. Also, if the Avalanche lose to the Presidents Cup-winning Capitals Friday, that will also give Nashville a spot in the playoffs.