Predators seek Ice Time in IIHF World Championship

Roman Josi will hit the ice with Team Switzerland.

The playoffs and hopes of a Stanley Cup in Nashville are over for the Predators, but for some of the players, a chance at a championship isn’t quite over. As teams have slowly but surely been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, NHL players have been packing up and heading to Europe to compete with their country’s national team for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship.

Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Yevgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh) quickly joined up with Team Russia once eliminated, along with notable Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara joining Team Slovakia. Corey Perry (Anaheim), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Patrick Sharp (Chicago) and Alexandre Burrows (Vancouver) hopped aboard Team Canada, along with Jimmy Howard (Detroit) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim) joining Team USA.

With sixteen countries represented, almost all have some support from an NHL player, minus France, Latvia, Italy, and Kazakhstan. If you’d like to check out who’s representing who, check out the IIHF website. However, since being eliminated on Monday night by the Phoenix Coyotes, members of the Nashville Predators have been stepping up for their respected national teams and continuing their time on the ice.

The rookies have proven they aren’t ready for off-season, with defenseman Roman Josi jumping on board with Team Switzerland and forward Craig Smith joining Team USA. Martin Erat is in the works with joining Team Czech Republic, along with Andrei and Sergei negotiating with Team Belarus. More Predators players are suspected to join their respected countries as the week goes on.

The IIHF World Championship tournament is going on now until May 20th, in both Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden.

Update: Just as we expected, another Predator has joined the IIHF for the World Championship. Patric Hornqvist has hopped on board with Team Sweden. We will keep you updated as new players join their country’s team.

Radulov & A. Kostitsyn Suspended for Team Violation

Don't make that face! You got caught red-handed, mister!

As you may have all heard by now (yes, we are way behind on relaying this message), forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn have been suspended for Game 3 of the series between Nashville and Phoenix on Wednesday, after violating team rules late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

General Manager David Poile laid the hammer down hard on the two Eastern European players, extending this message to both the press and public:
“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things,” Poile said. “We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”

Per sources who know of the issues, Radulov and A. Kostitsyn were seen in Scottsdale, Arizona (about 45 minutes away from Glendale, AZ) at a bar and were there as late as 4AM. The team has a strict policy on “party hardying” and it is clear why the two drove that far to go to a bar: they didn’t want to get caught.

Both Radulov and A. Kostitsyn have been notable in the playoffs thus far for the Predators, with Alexander notching one goal and five assists and AK46 three goals and one assist. Although Radulov’s puck-handling will be missed, AK46 could possibly be the thorn in Nashville’s side on Wednesday night.

With Radulov and Andrei out of the lineup, who will be their replacements?
Don’t get too nervous, there are plenty of guys biting at the tooth to get some playoff ice time.

JORDIN TOOTOO:
Here’s one guy that’s definitely been itching for more ice time; he’s been pretty vocal about it as of late. If Toots can manage to keep a level head, his physicality could come in handy against the pesky Coyotes. However, there’s a reason Toots has taken a back seat and, although he’s worked hard during practices, his silly mistakes could prove fatal to the Predators with the series so close to being handed to Phoenix.

MATT HALISCHUK:
Halischuk is what we call a “silent assassin”.  Although not a popular, well-known player, Matt Halischuk has made a name for himself and found a permanent home on Predators ice. Halischuk averaged 15 goals and 13 assists in the 2011-12 season, saving the Predators with a few of those moves. However, Hally’s been a  bit quiet in this post season, but he has been nursing an injury.

CRAIG SMITH:
Rookie Craig Smith has had a good mixture of awesome and complete atrocious moments, but the boy is a good hockey player all around. Craig averaged 14 goals and 22 assists in the 2011-12 season, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. Craig hasn’t seen much ice time during the playoffs thus far, but has managed to sneak in an assist so far. However, Smith is a speedster and has proven by showing a little aggression out on the ice, both attributes the Predators could use at this time in the series.

There is simply no excuse for the actions both Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn committed on Saturday night. Some would just brush it off as two young, 20-somethings looking for a good time after taking their first loss, but rules are rules and both David Poile and Barry Trotz were not afraid to put their foot down, risky playoff move or not.

It’s never good to defy your team and teammates at any time, but during such a pivotal point in a series that could end your run at the Stanley Cup is NOT the best time to drink your cares away (especially when there’s a game the next day).

With punishment, maybe Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov will realize that their team, teammates, and fans take this series very seriously and would appreciate that, no matter how old and rambunctious they are, they are professional athletes that should act as such.   

Just chalk this mistake up as another thorn in Nashville’s side as they fight to regain their footing towards the Stanley Cup.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Battle of the Goalies: Rinne vs. Smith

The Phoenix/Nashville series will come down between goalies.

Tomorrow starts Round 2 of the 2012 NHL Playoffs, starting with the Nashville/Phoenix series at 8PM CST. Nashville was the first of all sixteen teams in the playoffs to advance to the Semifinals and waited patiently for their next opponent who was announced as Phoenix after the Coyotes knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks with a series win of 4-2.

Although both in the Western Conference, both Phoenix and Nashville aren’t bitter rivals by any means. With Nashville contending in the ever-difficult Central Division and Phoenix powering through the Pacific Division, these two very similar teams only saw each other four times this past season, with a record of 1-2-1 in favor of the Coyotes. Don’t let that deter you from siding with Nashville, though; the Predators have grown through this season, with the perfect pairings of Roman Josi and Hal Gill, and the sudden leadership of players like Kevin Klein.

However, what will come down between who ultimately takes the series and moves on to Round 3 will be all on the two elite goaltenders, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Phoenix’s Mike Smith.

Although Pekka Rinne leads the NHL in wins, games played and is a finalist for the 2012 Vezina Trophy, Mike Smith blocked 229 of 241 shots during Round 1 against the Blackhawks and even more impressive, Smith went 11-0 in February alone, snagging NHL Player of the Month. Both goalies have made some impressive strives this past and post seasons, so in a nutshell, the successor will come down to which goal makes a mistake first.

Unlike Nashville, who has Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Mike Fisher, Phoenix does not have big names like the Predators necessarily. Captain of the Coyotes, Shane Doan, was drafted in the 1995 NHL Draft by the former Winnipeg Jets, who ultimately moved to Phoenix in 1997. Doan is just about nine years Predators captain Shea Weber’s senior and, although experience and wisdom comes along with age, Weber’s physique and youth may overpower Doan in the long run.

One thing is for sure between these two contenders, however; both teams are more alike than different. Both were threatened with relocation (and Phoenix is still fighting it off) to Hamilton, Ontario from now former Co-CEO of Research in Motion, Jim Balsillie. Nashville almost met the fate of Canada back in 2007, but luckily, loyal Predators fans were able to nip that decision quickly in the bud. The Coyotes, who are a currently owned by the NHL, are purely at the mercy of the City of Phoenix, who currently pays to keep the team in near by Glendale, Arizona.

Also, both teams play in very eerily similar ways, which will ultimately make for one interesting match up. No matter which team that ultimately advances to Round 3, both Nashville and Phoenix have the potential of going far, if not all the way to the finals.

You won’t see many goals during these series, not with these two extraordinary goalies in net. Again, it will all come down to which goalie makes the first mistake. May it not be Pekka Rinne.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

 

Predators Advance to Next Round, Eliminate Detroit 2-1

The Predators exit the bench after eliminating the Detroit Red Wings.

The Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings faced off in Game 5 last night in Smashville, with the Red Wings hanging at the mercy of the Predators in what could have been their final game in the playoffs. The Predators took Game 1  with ease, lost Game 2 at home, then pummeled the Wings back-to-back in the Joe. With Nashville holding the series 3-1, Detroit needed a “Pittsburgh/Vancouver” miracle to keep the series going, but Nashville was already looking forward to Round 2. Here are the highlights from last night’s history making game:

"All Night Long"

KEY POINTS:

  • Although day-to-day at this point, Hal Gill placed it safe and sat out yet again on the scratched list. Colin Wilson, Brian McGrattan, Chet Pickard, Jack Hillen, Matt Halischuk, and Jordin Tootoo topped out the scratched list. After making a good impression in Detroit, Ryan Ellis got another chance at playoff time, along with Craig Smith.
  • After expressing much frustration, Alexander Radulov finally sealed a playoff goal at 16:10 in the 1st Period, thanks to a nice pick from David Legwand. Leggy’s 2nd assist was the only one on Rad’s first playoff goal.
  • The 2nd Period belonged solely to the Red Wings, with Jiri Hudler slipping a backhander passed Pekka Rinne at 13:45. Hudler’s goal was his second of the playoffs.
  • After helping Radulov seal his first goal, David Legwand reminded Detroit of how well he plays against them by scoring his 2nd playoff goal just 13 seconds into the 3rd Period. Gabriel Bourque (1st assist) and Alexander Radulov (4th assist) picked up the assists on Leggy’s goal. With this goal, David Legwand has clinched the 1st Round game-winning goal two years in a row.
  • Although Leggy scored only seconds into the third period, giving Detroit plenty of opportunities to tie or even surpass the Predators, Nashville’s extraordinary defense held the desperate Red Wings back, sealing the series in Nashville’s favor and sending Detroit into an early retirement.
  • Although the Predators do better when out-shot, the Predators surpassed the Red Wings in shots on goal 25 to 22, with Pekka blocking all but one. Detroit attempted to stay under the Predators on shots, only surpassing them in the 3rd Period 8 to 7. If there was an MVP per Round, it’s clear Pekka Rinne would be the winner, hands down. Detroit had many a chance to take the lead and perhaps take the series, but Pekka Rinne and Nashville’s defense (A.K.A. Kevin Klein) thwarted any chance for advancement for the Red Wings.
  • The Predators only faced two of five penalties, with neither team able to score on the given power plays. Here are the two penalty offenders of Game 5 for Nashville:
  1. Mike Fisher – 31 seconds 1st Period – Interference
  2. Brandon Yip – 18:26 1st Period – Goalkeeper Interference

Reaching an outstanding 112 decibels, it was clear the fans were happy with the end result last night in the Bridgestone Arena as the Nashville Predators knocked off the Detroit Red Wings in the Quarterfinal Round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs. This is the third time in the past sixteen post-seasons the Detroit Red Wings have failed to reach the second round of the playoffs, even more reason for the Predators to celebrate.

As they say, third time’s the charm, as this is the third meeting between these two teams during the post-season, with Detroit knocking out Nashville in both 2004 and 2008. Last night was little brother’s turn to finally surpass big brother and how sweet it was.

The Predators will now take a nice hiatus while the rest of the league continues to knock one another out, but Nashville will ultimately face the winner of the Chicago/Phoenix game.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo courtesy of John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

GO PREDS

Around the League: Two Games & Fired Up

The 2012 NHL Playoffs are in full swing, with every team already playing two games each (minus Florida and New Jersey, who started on Friday).

So far, everyone is tied at one a piece, minus Philadelphia, who holds a 2-0 lead over Pittsburgh, and the Kings, who hold a 2-0 lead of their own over the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s a good layout of how everything is going thus far:

The Panthers and the Devils just had to start on Friday...

We have to say, these playoffs haven’t been boring, with seven overtimes being forced (both Chicago/Phoenix games went to overtime). Along with overtimes and unbelievable comebacks (thanks a lot, Chicago…), it looks like Brendan Shanahan’s going to have a long night…

Detroit fans complained about Shea Weber’s hit on Henrik Zetterberg during Game 1 on Tuesday, but after all of the cheap shots that happened thus far, Weber’s hit looks like a tap compared to the following videos:

Andrew Shaw plows into Phoenix goalie, Mike Smith:


Shaw was immediately ejected from the game. Whether intentional or not, any hit to a player’s head is subject to automatic suspension, which means Chicago may not have Shaw in Game 3.

Carl Hagelin elbow’s Daniel Alfredsson in the head:


Hagelin has his disciplinary hearing with Mr. Shanahan on Sunday.

Matt Carkner’s cheap shot on Brian Boyle:


Scroll to 2:08 in the video where the camera angle clearly shows Carkner’s brutality. Carkner was penalized with a game misconduct, along with Rangers player, Brandon Dubinsky who was trying to defend his fellow teammate.

I'd throw that Gatorade cooler, too.

There was probably plenty of other controversial plays, but it is well passed midnight and we want to go to bed at some point, but you get the fact that these first two games have been awfully interesting. Most of us were thinking the majority of the fights would come out of the Penguins/Flyers match up, but they’ve been relatively quiet (minus the Flyers owning the first two games in the series).

Game 3 starts tomorrow for a few teams, including the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings. For the Panthers and the Devils, Game 2 is just beginning. We will update happenings from around the league throughout the week, so keep checking in!

Penalties Eat Away at Game 1, Predators snag Win 3-2

Alexander Radulov prepares during pre-game practice.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” – No, it’s not Christmas; It’s NHL Playoff time! The Nashville Predators hosted the Detroit Red Wings to Game 1 at the Bridgestone Arena last night in the heart of Smashville amongst a sea of pure gold. For the first game of Round 1 set on the schedule, a lot of eyes were on Nashville and it’s arena. It was clear that the “Keep the Red Out” memo got around town, for there were only a handful a Wings fans floating amongst the gold and blue.

For the first time in franchise history, the Predators topped the Red Wings in points, thus giving Nashville home ice advantage. This isn’t, however, the first time Nashville and Detroit have faced one another in the first round of the playoffs. Nashville and Detroit met in both 2004 and 2008, but Detroit powered through both times, ending the Predators from the get-go. This year is different. Nashville has been predicted over Detroit in almost all circumstances, and for once, the Red Wings find themselves on the underdog side of the fence.

KEY POINTS:

  • Ryan Ellis, Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jordin Tootoo, and Jeremy Smith (called up from Milwaukee to back up Peks in case Lindback was still iffy) topped out the scratched list for Game 1. However, one name that surprised many fans was leading penalty killer, Hal Gill. Gill was expected to be scratched and due to that fact, the rest of the defense would have to step up.
  • Paul Gaustad sent the crowd in an uproar at 6:59, his first goal of the playoffs and as a Nashville Predator. Brandon Yip (1st assist) and Francis Bouillon (1st assist) picked up assists on Goose’s goal.
  • Detroit’s Darren Helm left the game during the 1st Period after sustaining an injury after coming in contact with Alexander Radulov. Helm knocked Radulov to the ice, and, in a freak accident, Radulov’s skate flew up and slashed Helm across the arm. Helm left the ice immediately and would end up not returning the rest of the game. Helm’s gash across his arm was deemed surgery worthy, as Radulov’s skate hit some major tendons. Helm’s playoff run is more than likely over for now.
  • Henrik Zetterberg would tie the game at one with a wrist shot passed Pekka Rinne at 2:29 of the 2nd Period on the power play, his first goal of the playoffs.
  • Gabriel Bourque would put the Predators up 2-1 ten minutes later at 12:29 for his 1st goal of the playoffs. Matt Halischuk, who was originally awarded the goal, picked up the assist.
  • Gabriel Bourque would nail his second goal of the night at 11:35 of the 3rd Period, putting the Predators up 3-1 over the Red Wings. Nick Spaling (1st assist) and Patric Hornqvist (1st assist) picked up the assists.
  • Tomas Holmstrom would give Detroit its second goal of the night at 17:53 with Detroit’s second power play goal, but the Predators would run the clock down, sealing the win in their favor 3-2.
  • Although the First Star of the Game was awarded to Gabriel Bourque, Pekka Rinne shined through out the game, blocking 35 of 37 shots on goal, including this one that got him the #2 spot on ESPN’s Top 10:

    Isn’t that chanting of “Pekka” just music to your ears?
  • As stated in the headline, penalties plagued the entire game, with a total of 17 penalties called amongst both teams. Many would say the refs were being extra cautious due to the fact the Big Wigs like Gary Bettman was there, but best believe there won’t be nearly as many penalties on Friday night. The Predators faced ten penalties in Game 1 alone, with Detroit scoring their two goals on two of them. Here are the ten penalty box bummers:
  1.  Brandon Yip – 1:59 1st Period – Roughing
  2. Gabriel Bourque – 8:50 1st Period – Boarding
  3. Roman Josi – 1:10 2nd Period – Cross Checking
  4. Martin Erat – 13:50 2nd Period – Roughing
  5. Patric Hornqvist – 19:54 2nd Period – Hi-Sticking
  6. Roman Josi – 5:06 3rd Period – Hooking
  7. Jack Hillen – 14:52 3rd Period – Interference
  8. Ryan Suter – 16:08 3rd Period – Slashing
  9. Martin Erat – 19:37 3rd Period – Holding
  10. Shea Weber – 20:00 3rd Period – Roughing
  • See that last penalty? If you saw or read any of the highlights from last night, the biggest story was not of the Predators winning or Pekka Rinne’s amazing blocks, but of an incident between Shea Weber and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. After the whistle had blown, Shea Weber grabbed Zetterberg’s head and slammed it into the glass, thus putting him the box for the remaining seconds. Wings fans called for suspension, but instead the league fined Shea $2,500, which is A-Okay with us. Of course, Weber better be on his best behavior, for the league probably won’t be as lenient if he were to do something of the sort again. However, the league also has a more level head than fans. Brendan Shanahan, the head of disciplinary actions (who is also a former Red Wing), chose to fine Weber instead of suspending him, clearly since Zetterberg was not injury by the hit. Yes, Weber was in the wrong, but Shanahan is aware that Weber is in no way a malicious player and would not have done this without being provoked. You can clearly see where Zetterberg provoked Shea in this video:

Game 1 is in the books and favored the Predators 3-2, but Friday looms quickly and the Red Wings tempers are rising. Friday will prove to be a little more difficult for the Predators, even if they are at home. Detroit doesn’t want to get swept, and we doubt the will, but they also known that Nashville is clearly the favored team in this match up.

The puck drops thirty minutes early tomorrow, starting at 6:30 rather than 7PM. Be prepared to lose your voice, Preds fans. We’re going to run this town.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo courtesy of Kristen Jerkins Photography

Predators unable to Shake the Blues, Fall 3-0

Pekka Rinne goes to stop the puck before St. Louis could score again.

St. Louis already has their playoff spot clinched, but the Predators only need one more point to capture a spot of their own. The only team standing in their way, of course, is the leader of the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues. Nashville has actually made a good standing against the Blues this season, only losing once 3-2 in a shootout back on February 23rd. In the previous three games, the Predators were able get the best of St. Louis.

Only one game stood between the Predators and a playoff spot (and Barry Trotz’s 500th win). Were the Predators able to knock off the reining champs of the division? Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Although he practiced this morning with the team, Martin Erat remained on the scratched list this evening in St. Louis. Colin Wilson, however, has recovered from his groin injury and joined the lineup once again. Roman Josi, Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen, and as expected, Jordin Tootoo rounded up the scratched list.
  • Neither team was able to score in the first period, but Nashville came out strong with the shots, out-shooting St. Louis 8 to 6. However, both Brian Elliot and Pekka Rinne were light on their feet, blocking some key shots on goal.
  • St. Louis built momentum off their home crowd in the second period and were finally able to capitalize on the chaos at 6:35 with a snap shot from Jamie Langenbrunner (6th goal of the season), putting the Blues up 1-0 over the Predators.
  • With St. Louis only up by one point going into the 3rd, the Predators had prime opportunities to tie up the game or surpass the Blues. However, St. Louis continued to control the puck over the Predators, with a goal from David Perron at 4:47, his 17th goal of the season.
  • So after Perron’s goal, it looked as if the Blues would take it a little further with a third goal from T.J. Oshie, but the goal was waved off, due to Pekka being pushed into the net. To be honest, it should have been ruled a goal, but the Predators were able to bite the bullet on that call.
  • Oshie must have taken offense to the ref’s call, for at 16:00 he snuck a back-hander behind Pekka to put the Blues up 3-0 (his 19th goal of the season). The Predators would push hard to at least sink one goal, but Brian Elliot was just too fast and accurate for the Predators to sneak one by.
  • The Blues and the Predators were even with shots, but it was clear who had control of the game the entire time. The Blues stole way too many passes from the Predators, making Nashville look like pee wee hockey team compared to the team that destroyed the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Brian Elliot is a beast in his own, though; this shutout over the Predators gave him his third consecutive shutout (9th of the season).
  • There were only two penalties in the entire game, one on the Predators and one on the Blues. Alexander Radulov picked up a hooking penalty at 7:00 in the 2nd Period, but the Blues weren’t able to gain a goal from his mishap.

Not the game the Predators needed to lose, but the team has no time to sulk in misery. Luckily, the Blackhawks lost in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils, falling back a few steps, too. Although the Predators are not likely to face the St. Louis Blues to start off with in the playoffs, depending on how far they advance, they will eventually… and that’s nerve-wracking from a fan’s perspective. If only the Predators can channel the momentum they had against Chicago on Sunday and continue to play that way.

The Predators aren’t headed home just yet. Before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Nashville, the Predators have to drop by Detroit one last time this season to face the Red Wings on Friday. Again, channeling Sunday’s game would be ideal. Barry needs his 500th.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)

Radulov saves Preds from Shutout; Penguins Win 5-1 over Predators

Alexander Radulov wastes no time getting back into a Preds sweater.

After a rough and embarrassing loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the Predators took to the road once again, seeking a win in Pittsburgh against the newly-returned Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Since Crosby’s return last Thursday, the Penguins have left a wake of destruction behind them, burying the Rangers, the Devils, and the Jets. The only team to escape unscathed was the Flyers, and even then it was an OT loss 3-2. Just looking at Pittsburgh’s past schedule (their last loss since Sunday was against Buffalo on February 19th), it is clear the Predators weren’t just going to walk in here and walk out with a win. Even with the return of Alexander Radulov, the Predators were going to have to make little to no mistakes against this Eastern Conference powerhouse in order to steal their ranking back from the Red Wings.
Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Pittsburgh wasted no time letting their fans sing, as Evgeni Malkin sent a speeding slap shot passed Pekka Rinne to seal his 44th goal of the season at 1:23. Malkin is currently 2nd in goals in the league, sitting just a few goals behind Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Pascal Dupuis sealed his 22nd goal of the season at 4:06, putting the Penguins up over the Predators early in the 1st 2-0.
  • Pittsburgh would continue to dominate the Predators into the 2nd, with Matt Cooke sending a wrist shot passed Pekka to land his 17th goal of the season at 1:58.
  • Putting the Penguins up 4-0, Chris Kunitz would hit a wrist shot of his own passed Nashville’s goalie to collect his 22nd goal of the season at 7:35.
  • Nashville would finally sink a goal passed Marc-Andre Fleury at 12:01 from Alexander Radulov. Good start since leaving the Predators and NHL four years ago, it was clear that Pittsburgh fans did not approve of Radulov’s return. Hall Gill (11th assist) and Patric Hornqvist (14th assist) picked up the assists on the newly-returned Russian’s goal.
  • Evgeni Malkin would remind Pittsburgh fans who the better of the two Russians were with his second goal of the night at 19:04, sending the Penguins up 5-1. Although his 45th goal of the season, Malkin still falls behind Stamkos in the standings. However, he did surpass Steven Stamkos in points. Many believe Malkin will be top contender for the Hart Memorial Trophy this year.
  • The Predators took plenty of shots on goal tonight, but their accuracy lacked the intensity that the Penguins were able to bestow upon Nashville defense and net. Nashville out-shot Pittsburgh 30 to 23, but again, accuracy was just not in the cards with the Predators tonight. Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, and Mike Fisher had prime goal chances, but the connection just wasn’t there. Alexander Radulov and Craig Smith also had some close goals, but in the end, it just wasn’t meant to be for the Predators.
  • Although having a rough night, Pekka Rinne was not pulled and replaced with Anders Lindback. As you recall, Pekka was pulled at the beginning of the 2nd Period on Tuesday night against Edmonton due to a chippy performance. Trotz let Peks play the 60 minutes, which may have actually been the best for him. Instead of being frustrated and discouraged from being pulled, a loss at which he had control of may cause him to snap back into his former self. Unfortunately, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has now surpassed Pekka as leader in wins… just by one point, though. Pekka still has a chance to overthrow the French-Canadian.
  • The Predators only gave the Penguins one penalty throughout the entire game with an interference call on Shea Weber at 19:01 in the 1st Period. The Predators were given two chances, but were unable to perform on either power play.

Most would say, “Oh well, at least the loss was to an Eastern Conference team.” However, with the playoffs inching closer by the minute and with teams like the Red Wings surpassing the Predators and Chicago on their coattails, the Predators have no room to be lazy and sluggish. Keep in mind, though, every team goes through rough patches and, unfortunately, the Predators happen to be bopping through theirs close to the playoffs. It’s easy to get discouraged and flustered about the Predators and their future in the playoffs (again, lackluster plays = couch time), but rough patches will and do happen.

Last but not least, congrats to Alexander Radulov and sealing his first goal of his NHL career since leaving for the KHL four years ago. Not only that, sinking that said goal in his first game back. Similar to Andrei Kostitsyn’s first goal as a Predator during his first game (also on the road), Radulov started off on the right foot tonight.

The Predators are on their way back to Nashville tonight, taking tomorrow off and then taking on another Eastern Conference foe, the Atlanta Thrash- err, Winnipeg Jets. And, just for good measure, the puck will drop at 6PM instead of the usual 7PM start time, easing the folks on EST (what about us with Pacific time?!). Don’t forget, the Predators will be having a public practice tomorrow at 11AM at Centennial Sportsplex.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)