Preds Re-Sign Forward Cody Bass

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Image Source: The Tennessean

Earlier this afternoon the Predators organization and Cody Bass came to a contract agreement to re-sign the 29-year-old forward to a two-year, two-way deal. Here’s the official word from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has signed forward Cody Bass to a two-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level in 2016-17, and $650,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 at the AHL level in 2017-18.

Bass, 29 (1/7/87), split his first season in the Nashville organization between the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals (39gp, 4g-5a-9pts, 84 PIMs) and the Predators (17gp, 0pts, 17 PIMs), while also suiting up for six of the team’s seven games during their Round One series victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has appeared in 66 career NHL contests with Nashville, Ottawa and Columbus since 2007-08, posting five points (2g-3a) and 88 penalty minutes, and 370 career AHL games with Milwaukee, Binghamton, Springfield and Rockford, posting 98 points (41g-57a) and 794 penalty minutes. The Owen Sound, Ontario, native has served as an alternate captain at the AHL level in five of the past six seasons, and won the 2011 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as presented annually to the AHL’s man of the year for service to his local community. He also helped Binghamton win the 2011 Calder Cup.

Bass’s return to the Nashville hockey club comes as no surprise; at least to some of us.

With the departure of veterans Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom, Bass will play a pivotal role as younger wingers make their move up to the big league meaning I do not believe he is the solution, but rather an answer for the time being. However, Bass does provide a positive feel amongst his teammates, which is always a good thing for sure. Of course, while he is a friendly little fellow in the locker room, we are mostly familiar with his enforcer-like attitude on the ice:

How could we forget when former Nashville Predator Rich Clune poked the bear because we was irked Bass took his old number?

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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.

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 Thump Sharks 2-1

Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Did you make it through the entire game last night? I’ll be honest, I conked out at the end of the second period. A lot of you fought the strong hand of the Sandman and are now hooked up to your trusty caffeine IVs while you struggle through the workday. But alas, you have a smile on your face and deem it completely worth the lack of sleep because the Predators extended their record to 7-1-1 after defeating the 5-3-0 San Jose Sharks last night. Want some highlights? We’ve got your highlights:

First Period:

  • Eric Nystrom was on point from the very beginning, sending a gorgeous one-timer on net passed Martin Jones at 3:22 for an early 1-0 lead. Roman Josi (4) and Paul Gaustad (2) nabbed the assists on Nystrom’s third goal of the young season.

  • Barret Jackman picked up a roughing penalty against Tommy Wingels, but the Predators penalty kill did its job and ended the first period 1-0.

Second Period:

  • No goals were had by either team in the second, but Joe Thornton and Shea Weber did get called for Unsportsmanlike conduct when Weber cross-checked Thornton after he checked Roman Josi.

Third Period:

  • Just 1:28 into the third, San Jose finally slipped one passed Rinne with Joe Pavelski collecting his fourth goal of the season.
  • Calle Jarn-CROAK, on the other hand, wasn’t having a tied game for long, picking up his first goal of the season at 8:52. Gabriel Bourque (1) and Seth Jones (5) assisted on Jarnkrok’s wicked wrister.

  • The boys in gold white would hold off the Sharks until the end though, with Nashville out-shooting San Jose 24 to 21.

Random Musings:

  • For those Wilson lovers out there, Colin took a puck to the head during the first period. No need to panic, he is okay. I just really wanted to post this gif:

  • Wondering why I said “Jarn-CROAK” earlier? The announcers had a bit of a difficult time pronouncing it during the first period. Glad they got it corrected before he scored the game winning goal.

That last tweet by Mr. Bradford needs to be further addressed. The Sharks won 80% of the face-offs in the first period alone. There were 53 face-offs total last night, with San Jose winning 37 and Nashville only winning 16. Eek. Time to panic? No, because as great as they are to win, they don’t necessarily define how the outcome of the game. Nashville is not chasing the puck when they lose (for the most part), which keeps them on the plus side of possessions. Though it is certainly something to work on, it is not a dire situation like other aspect could be (penalty kill, power play, etc.). So, in a nutshell, don’t freak out over win/loss numbers within the faceoff just yet.

Nashville continues down the West Coast with a stop in Los Angeles on Saturday for a special Halloween puck drop of 3PM.

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.

Preds help Hawks Count; Take Game 2 6-2

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Well, if that wasn’t a good way to show that Nashville has what it takes to make it beyond the first round then I can’t tell you what was. Similar to Wednesday’s game, there were quite a few circumstances that certainly went against the Predators. However, instead of allowing those instances to bog them down, Nashville persevered and then some to take victory of Game 2 6-2. Here are the main highlights you should take away from last night’s game:

  • Definition of Top Shelf Cheddar? That’d be Colin Wilson, who did just that to give the Predators the lead early in the first period. That snipe was Wilson’s third of the playoffs – he might just be the hero of the playoffs.
  • Patrick Sharp would put Chicago on the board, but Roman Josi would make sure Nashville ended the period in the lead with just three seconds left in the first.
  • The penalty kill was overtly prepared for the possibility of spending some time in the box, due in part to Wednesday’s shenanigans. Gaustad was called for a four-minute high-sticking during the second period, putting the Predators in an all too familiar setting. However, the PK only allowed one shot-on-goal during that four minute spat, boosting not only the crowd but the team as well.
  • Patrick Kane’s goal was greatly celebrated, one could say, as he had five other buddies on the ice to do so with! A huge, monstrous missed too-many-men call lead to Kane’s first goal of the playoffs – one that happened to tie the game. To add insult to injury, the officials would soon wave off a perfectly clean goal from Calle Jarnkrok.

  • Injuries were abound last night, with Taylor Beck traveling back to the locker room after a Seabrook shot, and Shea Weber leaving for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury. Weber will not be making the trip with the team to Chicago, definitely confirming he will be out at least two game. Mike Fisher, on the other hand, will be making the trip. Here’s a .gif of where Weber’s injury occurred:

  • Craig Smith notched his first of two goals last night in the second, helping to break that awful second period slump and gave Nashville a 3-2 lead going into the third.
  • Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-2 lead in the third, becoming the youngest player in Preds franchise history to score a post-season goal.
  • And, quickly after Forsberg, Craig Smith wanted another taste and notched his second goal of the night on Corey Crawford. Ah, and Pekka Rinne picked up the assist on his goal, too.
  • Mike Santorelli would get the deciding goal for his first in the playoffs, making the final score 6-2 in favor of Nashville.
  • Vince Vaughn was in town to watch his beloved Blackhawks along with NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. The Predators should be beaming to show off such a great game to someone who doesn’t care much for small markets.

Other Thoughts:

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a game for the ages. The Predators went in knowing that things would possibly go against them – as it always has. Instead of taking the beating, Nashville stood firm and expressed the type of discipline they have been lacking for a while. Maybe it was the loss of Weber; maybe it was the excellent PK on that double-minor; whatever the case, there was a fire lit under the Predators that needs to stay lit for tomorrow’s game in Chicago and beyond.

Game 3 in Chicago starts at 2PM — A little bit earlier than the two here at home, I’d say. Like I said, that fire from last night needs to be there tomorrow. Chicago will have the crowd and home ice advantage, which could break them mentally. No need for mentality breaks.

Preds shutout Sabres 3-0

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Call this just as much a morale victory as it was a shutout because the Predators needed a win like this desperately. Nashville, who has been in a deep, inescapable rut, last won a home game back on February 24th against the Colorado Avalanche. Actually, that was the last game the Predators played well before completely dismantling. Although the Sabres are 20-44-7 (before the game), that did give many fans much encouragement as the Predators continue digging out (or deeper) of their rut.

PRE-GAME NOTES:

  • Viktor Arvidsson was recalled by the Predators under emergency conditions to replace Colin Wilson, who is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury. This would be Arvidsson’s NHL debut.

SCRATCHES:

  • Anton Volchenkov, Colin Wilson, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Victor Bartley

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators gave Matt Hackett, the Sabres goaltender, a run for his money with seventeen shots-on-goal. However, for a net-minder who has only played in a handful of NHL games, he played rather well. The Sabres were only able to notch six shots-on-goal during this period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The lamp would finally be lit at 14:52, just four seconds into Nashville’s powerplay, by Taylor Beck, his 7th goal of the season. Shea Weber (30) and Matt Cullen (16) would tally an assist.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Craig Smith would put Nashville up 2-0 at 5:49 for his 23rd goal of the season. Ryan Ellis (16) and Matt Cullen (17) would notch the assists on Smith’s goal.
  • Mike Fisher would collect the game winner at 15:01, his 17th of the season. Viktor Stalberg (6) and Ryan Ellis (17) would tally the assists.

POST GAME NOTES:

  • Paul Gaustad did what he does best by winning all 13 face-offs in last night’s game.
  • Craig Smith was fined $5,000 by the league due to his high stick on Jerry D’Amigo; a penalty in which he served a double-minor.

  • The Predators are now just one point behind St. Louis from retaking the Central Division, whilst Chicago sits an uncomfortable four points behind Nashville.

Again, this could be chalked up as a morale victory more than anything for Nashville. I, for one, am hoping this win will boost the team out of their rut and onward into playoff contention. Ah, but the next opponents isn’t so easy… Montreal is on pass to be one of the first teams to surpass 100 points this season (the other team being Anaheim), a feat we once though Nashville would do. The Canadiens not only lead the Atlantic Division, they also dominate the Eastern Conference at 46-20-7. With Carey Price in net, who has now surpassed Pekka Rinne for wins at 40 (Rinne – 38), this will not be a walk in the park. But I bet you already knew that.

Ugly OT Win breaks Preds 6-Game Losing Streak

Source: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Call it what you will: ugly, gritty, rough, etc., but the Predators pulled out the two-points over the Arizona Coyotes to end their six-game losing streak last night.

SCRATCHED: Victor Bartley, Calle Jarnkrok, Eric Nystrom, Anton Volchenkov

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators came out with a little more fire under their belts, but goaltender Louis Domingue interrupted all 13 SOG that Nashville mustered. For someone who has only tended NHL ice once previously to this match, Domingue brought his A-game; a testament to his solid abilities.
  • Pekka was on point, too, last night, blocking all nine shots-on-goal from the Coyotes in the first period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • At 3:26 into the second period, Paul Gaustad collected his third goal of the season with assistance from Taylor Beck (7).
  • Both Arizona and Nashville were given two power play opportunities, but neither could capitalize on the advantage.
  • The Coyotes out-shot the Predators eleven to eight.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • At 7:27 into the third, the Coyotes set the game with a tip-in from Kyle Chipchura, his 4th goal of the season.
  • Nashville was awarded three power play chances in the third, including one that would follow up to the end of regulation, but they were unable to connect.
  • The Predators out-shot the Coyotes twelve to eight in the third period.

OVERTIME:

  • James Neal came to the rescue, scoring his 22nd goal of the season just 2:45 in overtime. Seth Jones (17) and Cody Franson (29) tallied the assists on Neal’s game-winning-goal.

POST GAME NOTES:

  • The Predators are now 8-0-1 when Paul Gaustad notches a point during the span of a game.
  • Nashville is also 9-1-2 when Viktor Stalberg is in the lineup.
  • Gaustad’s goal ends another poignant streak; the eleven-straight games without tallying the first goal. Reminder: six of those eleven resulted in losses.
  • Cody Franson tallied his first point with the Predators since being traded to the team back in February (and, if we want to get really technical, his first points with the Preds since the 2010-11 season).
  • With two points, the Predators jump the Anaheim Ducks to reclaim first in the Western Conference and league. That’s an amazing stat in its own, that Nashville was able to lose six-straight and still bounce back into the lead with one win.
  • Pekka Rinne now has 199 career wins and the Predators franchise now has their 599th win.

The Predators aren’t out of hot water just yet; oh no. Nashville heads further west, taking on all three teams in California before making it back home on Tuesday to face the Minnesota Wild. The Sharks, who Nashville plays Thursday night at 9:30PM, will be desperately looking for a win as they are sitting in fifth in the Pacific Division and just one point behind the Kings.

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).

Fans brave Ice & Preds Win 5-1

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

How’s everyone doing during the #ICESTORM2015? What was supposed to be ideal, beautiful snow turned into hazardous, just-plain-evil ice across the entire state. In fact, it has been so bad, Tennessee officials declared a State of Emergency. Needless to say, the attendance for tonight’s game against the 29-21-8 San Jose Sharks wasn’t expected to be a sellout. However, the fear of being stranded somewhere along one of the deserted interstates tonight didn’t stop the Loyal Legion from turning out.

NOTEWORTHY (PRE-GAME):

  • As mentioned in the previous post, Anthony Bitetto was recalled last minute by Nashville to fill a void in the defense (Anton Volchenkov was placed on IR).
  • However, where Bitetto made the flight to Nashville, his equipment bad did not. This left Nashville with a ton more forwards than defensemen.
  • Nashville’s solution? During warmups, Viktor Stalberg – who just cleared waivers not even 24-hours ago – was paired on the defense with Seth Jones…
  • Just before puck drop, Viktor Stalberg was declared the healthy scratch and Anthony Bitetto was given the green light.
  • But… the team was down to just five d-men for a few minutes, as Bitetto’s bag arrived a little after game start.
  • Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli did not make their return tonight due to issues with their work visas. So… they don’t already have those?

SCRATCHES:

  • Viktor Stalberg, Cody Franson, and Mike Santorelli

FIRST PERIOD:

  • San Jose’s Matt Irwin (5) drew the first blood at 5:26, sending a wrister past Pekka Rinne.
  • Shea Weber quickly tied it up at 13:42 with his signature slapshot, his 14th goal of the season. Mike Fisher (15) picked up the assist.
  • Craig Smith took a chunk of Alex Stalock at 16:02, collecting his 17th goal of the season with a wrister. Mattias Ekholm (9) and Mike Ribeiro (36) tally the assists.
  • Preds end the first period up 2-1 on the Sharks, though San Jose out-shoots Nashville 17 to 15.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Just 52 seconds into the period, Craig Smith notched his second goal of the season (18) on the powerplay. Colin Wilson (20) and Seth Jones (15) punch the assists.
  • Paul Gaustad wanted a piece of the pie and got his at 1:43, his second goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (6) and Shea Weber (28) pick up the assists on Gaustad’s wrister.
  • James Neal would finish off the second period with his 20th goal of the season at 10:31. Mike Ribeiro (37) collects the lone assist.
  • San Jose out-shot Nashville 15 to 13.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • No goals in the third.
  • San Jose out-shot Nashville in each period, this time 11 to 9.

NOTEWORTHY (POST GAME):

  • Pekka Rinne is a beast indeed (not that you needed any convincing). You know he’s doing big things when NHL takes notice:

  • James Neal is the first on the roster to reach 20 goals and he now has 7-straight 20-goal seasons.
  • Both Shea Weber and Mike Fisher are now on three-game point streaks.
  • Another reminder of how great Rinne is:
  • Pekka stopped 42 of 43 shots-on-goal tonight. Tell me he isn’t Vezina worthy.
  • The Predators now hold a six-point lead over the entire NHL.

With this win, the Predators are just seven wins away from clinching a playoff spot (and it isn’t even March yet) and are now 39-12-6. Wowza. The Preds take off for a three-game road trip to the East, starting with the New York Islanders on Thursday.