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.

Predators put on the Pressure, Coyotes Advance to Western Conference Finals

Wilson was ready in practice on Sunday and proved himself on Monday night.

It was do or die time for the Predators as they stepped out onto the ice in Phoenix on Monday night. Desperation was the main play and collecting goals was the idea. However, with Commissioner Bettman wringing his hands at the thought of selling off the Coyotes, the Predators would need just about everything to fall correctly into place. Unfortunately, even after doing everything they could, including out-shooting the Coyotes, the Predators just couldn’t muster past Phoenix to press on. Although the odds did not fall into the Predators’ favor, Nashville still kicked butt and took names like the team Nashville is used to seeing. Here are the highlights from last night’s series and post-season ender:

KEY POINTS:

  • After the loss on Friday night, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were back in the line up, benching the bruised and beaten Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk. Jack Hillen took to the pre-game warmups, but enviably sat on the scratched list with Brian McGrattan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith.
  • The Coyotes struck first, with Derek Morris notching his first goal of the playoffs at 3:54 in the 2nd Period. As with this entire series, the first team to score won.
  • Phoenix would jump up 2-0 over the Predators at 15:09 with a wrist shot passed Pekka from Martin Hanzal. Hanzal’s goal was his 3rd of the post season.
  • Nashville would pressure the goal hard, keeping the puck, for the most part, in front of Mike Smith. It seemed, though, that no matter what the Predators did, the odds just weren’t in their favor last night (nor the refs…). Colin Wilson, who recently bumped Sergei Kostitsyn from the top line of Fisher and Erat, was the only Predator to slip one passed Mike Smith at 14:01 in the 3rd Period. Although his first goal of the post season, had he spent more time on the ice in the playoffs, we are positive Wilson would have had more. David Legwand (3rd Assist) and Ryan Suter (3rd Assist) picked up the assists on Willy’s goal.
  • The Predators never seem to do well when they out-shoot their opponent, which was the case for last night as Nashville out-shot Phoenix 33 to 17. With every close call, the Predators just couldn’t knock out the relentless Mike Smith.
  • The Predators were given plenty of power play opportunities as well (four), but just couldn’t get a grip around one. In Nashville’s favor, the Predators only gave the Coyotes one power play, with Roman Josi taken an interference penalty at 4:19 in the 2nd Period.

The Predators battled hard, but with fatal mistakes and terrible calls, both made and missed, making it passed Round 2 just wasn’t in the cards this year for Nashville. Although favored heavily to make it to the Western Conference final, Nashville just couldn’t catch a break in this series. The Predators had a tremendous 2011-12 season and notched a few franchise records along the way. To say the Predators “flopped” or “failed” is not optional, for Nashville defied the odds of an extraordinary hockey club in a non-traditional hockey market yet again.

Win or lose, we stand proudly behind the Nashville Predators.

With the advancement to the Western Conference finals, the Phoenix Coyotes will take on the L.A. Kings once the Capitals/Rangers series ends (possibly) tomorrow night. The New Jersey Devils surpassed the Philadelphia Flyers about an hour ago to move on to the Eastern Conference final.

The memories we gained from this past season and post season are once in a lifetime and we are proud to stand behind our Nashville Predators. Lady Preds will continue to post news and information throughout the off-season, so keep checking in!

Until October,
GO PREDS.

Preds gain Momentum in Game 3, Fall Hard in Game 4

The Game Ops Department really stepped up for Round 2

After A. Kostitsyn and Radulov’s curfew incident, it would be up to the rest of the team to take the reins and prove to the NHL world that, even though some of their players aren’t taking the playoffs seriously, there are others who are willing to step up and earn their place on the ice. Lady Preds has had a busy weekend, so we apologize for not having Wednesday and Friday’s games up earlier, but we shall condense them both into one post for your viewing pleasure. Here are the highlights from Game 3 and Game 4 in Nashville.

GAME 3 – WEDNESDAY NIGHT:

  • For their first game at home for Round 2 against Phoenix, Nashville’s Game Ops department really stepped up to amp up the fans. With laser etchings of the Predators logos, a catfish, the players numbers and even signatures, it was hard not to be completely mesmerized. Here’s a video of it shot by a fan:
  • With AK46 and Rads suspended for the night, two hungry bench-warmers got the chance to prove themselves on the ice Wednesday night. Those two? None other than Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo. Although we wouldn’t deem Hali a bench-warmer, he has been sitting out a few games due to an ailing injury. Tootoo, on the other hand, has been warming the bench during the playoffs, so proving his worth and not losing focus was key for the enforcer. Also getting another shot on the ice was Mr. Controversy himself, Colin Wilson. Brian McGrattan, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis topped out the scratched list.
  • David Legwand took advantage of a scoring opportunity at 8:10 in the 1st, notching his 3rd goal of the playoffs. Gabriel Bourque (2nd Assist) picked up the lone assist on Leggy’s wrister past Mike Smith.
  • Mike Fisher would counter Legwand’s goal at 9:16 of the 1st, grabbing his first goal of the playoffs thus far. Sergei Kostitsyn (1st Assist) and Martin Erat (3rd Assist) picked up the assists.
  • Nashville would hold the 2-0 lead over Phoenix in both the second and the third periods, giving the Predators their first playoff win in this series against the Coyotes. David Legwand tried pressing the Predators further with a second goal of his own, but the goal was inevitably ruled as an “intent to blow” call.
  • Nashville took control of the game defensively, with Pekka Rinne blocking all 32 shots on goal, his first shutout of the 2012 playoffs. The Predators gave the Coyotes four power play chances, but Nashville’s defense stepped up when needed and held Phoenix at bay to seal the win. Here are the four penalty offenders:
  1. Mike Fisher – 11:04 1st Period – Interference
  2. David Legwand – 15:39 1st Period – Hooking
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 12:59 3rd Period – Hooking
  4. Martin Erat – 14:18 3rd Period – Tripping
  • Interesting note: Although all four players took 2 minutes in the penalty box, each man collected a point in the game winner for the Preds.
  • The Predators proved that a snide incident involving two irresponsibly players would not phase them while fighting for the Stanley Cup. However, Nashville would have to come out with the same intensity on Friday to keep them from falling deeper into the hole…
GAME 4 – FRIDAY NIGHT:

  •  After a stellar performance on Wednesday night, it was obvious why Coach Barry Trotz did not put Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn back in the lineup. However, would Phoenix expect this out of Trotz and anticipate Nashville’s every move? From its outcome, it looks as if Nashville fell right into Phoenix’s trap, which was for the Predators to come out and play the exact same way on Wednesday.
  • After getting bruised and beaten on Wednesday, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo took the place of AK46 and Radulov once again, with both players showing great determination on Wednesday. Colin Wilson also came out, once again, proving his puck-handling skills are worth the ice time. Jack Hillen, Brian McGrattan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith continued on the scratched list.
  • Paul Gaustad and Kyle Chipchura dropped the gloves in the first period, with the announcers originally calling Gaustad as Kevin Klein. Here is the video of the two knuckle heads:
  • Rostislav Klesla wasted no time pummeling the Predators, sending already bruised and beaten Matt Halischuk violently into the boards. Klesla was only given a minor penalty of 2 minutes, but Brendan Shanahan ruled this afternoon that Klesla will be suspended for one game (Game 5) due to his unsportsmanlike hit. Luckily, Halischuk was not seriously injured. The video of the hit is below, but you can check out Shanahan’s take on the hit here.
  • Coyotes captain Shane Doan would scored shortly after Klesla’s hit on Halischuk at 14:52, his third goal of the playoffs.
  • At one point during the third period, Nashville was able to slip the puck past Mike Smith for a goal, but in true NHL referee fashion, the goal was waved off due to an “intention to blow” call. This is the second consecutive goal that has been waved off for Nashville due to this “unbelievable” call. Although completely overrun in the first period, the Predators pressured hard in the second and third periods, but were unable to slip past the Coyotes defense.
  • Nashville out-shot Phoenix by one (25 to 24), but even with all the potential chances the Predators were given, Nashville just wasn’t able to pull one out. It also did not help that Phoenix was out to weaken the Predators, pummeling them left and right into the boards.
  • Both Nashville and Phoenix had the same amount of power play chances at three, but neither team was able to capitalize on their advantage. Here are the three Predators offenders of the first period:
  1. Jordin Tootoo – 1:30 1st Period – Interference
  2. Paul Gaustad – 10:00 1st Period – Fighting
  3. Gabriel Bourque – 15:55 1st Period – Slashing

Although coming out with an intensity that can only be described as Predators hockey on Wednesday night, Nashville’s flame completely burned out on Friday, not what the Predators needed in order to contend for the Cup. It was clear Phoenix was completely and utterly prepared for Nashville to play the exact same way they did on Wednesday, which is one of the major flaws in the way Barry Trotz coaches. Now, don’t get us wrong, Trotz is an outstanding coach… in the regular season. However, teams anticipate opponents to fall to familiarity, and Nashville did just that on Friday night. They played it safe and kept the same lineups and plays as Wednesday, giving Phoenix the completely advantage. The one change that was noted was that SK74 was bumped from the star lineup and replaced with Colin Wilson. And, a question we ask, why wasn’t Paul Gaustad in the face-offs? With the highest winning percentage, why did he not get first choice in face-offs?

We could ask questions like these all day until our faces turn blue, but what ultimately matters now is that the Predators stitch themselves back up, change it up a bit, and come out swinging in Glendale tomorrow night. With the Stanley Cup on the line, if Nashville is as hunger as they think they are, tomorrow will not even be a factor.

Until then,
GO PREDS

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)

The Desert proves too much for Predators, Phoenix takes Series 2-0

Brandon Yip has some choice words with Michal Rozsival.

Even before the puck dropped Friday night for Game 1 between the Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes, it was clear that this would be a series to make or break the playoffs. Because Phoenix was ranked with the 3rd seed, Nashville would have to start the series with two games in Glendale, Arizona, giving the Coyotes the upper hand with home ice advantage. However, Nashville has a point of making the best of an underdog situation, but would it be enough with an equally as skilled goalie like Mike Smith? Here are the highlights from the first two games of Round 2 between Nashville and Phoenix:

G A M E 1:

  • Colin Wilson, Jordin Tootoo, Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen, Matt Halischuk, and Ryan Ellis found themselves on the scratched list, but there is one name that did not make that list: Hal Gill. The week long break after Round 1 gave Gill just the amount of recovery time he needed to step up in Game 1 of Round 2.
  • Phoenix took the lead first at 7:23 with a wrist shot by Radim Vrbata on the powerplay, his first goal of the playoffs.
  • Brandon Yip would answer the call at 14:09 for his first goal of the playoffs with a wrist shot of his own. Francis Bouillon (2nd assist) and Craig Smith (1st assist) picked up the assists on Yip’s goal.
  • Rostislav Klesla would put the Coyotes up 2-1 early into the 2nd Period at 3:05 for his 2nd goal of the playoffs with a backhander passed Pekka Rinne.
  • Andrei Kostitsyn would respond at 11:19 for his 2nd goal of the playoffs with a wrist shot passed Mike Smith. Patric Hornqvist (2nd assist) and Francis Bouillon (3rd assist) picked up the assists.
  • Mikkel Boedker would end the 2nd Period with a wrist shot for his 3rd goal of the playoffs.
  • Martin Erat would tie the game at 15:18 in the 3rd Period on the powerplay, his first goal of the playoffs. Patric Hornqvist (3rd assist) and and Ryan Suter (1st assist) grabbed the assists.
  • After an impressive 3rd Period and OT push by the Predators, Ray Whitney ended the game in favor of the Coyotes at 14:04 in OT, his 2nd goal of the playoffs.
  • The Predators blew the Coyotes out of the water in shots (42 to 24), but Mike Smith lived up to his name, blocking 39 of those shots on goal. Pekka Rinne and the defense fell to Phoenix, who had a difficult time with both face-offs and miscommunicated plays.
  • Along with miscommunication and terrible face-offs, the Predators had a difficult time slipping the puck passed Mike Smith on power plays, and Nashville was given five chances against Phoenix’s three. Out of their three chances, the Coyotes were able capitalize on their first one, and Nashville was also only able to capitalize on one. Here are the three offenders:
  1.  Kevin Klein – 6:26 1st Period – Tripping
  2. Ryan Suter – 15:43 1st Period – Tripping
  3. Pekka Rinne (Yes, the goalie picked up a penalty & it was served by Brandon Yip) – 2:47 3rd Period – Interference

The Predators tend to have a rough start after taking long breaks (i.e. the All-Star break), but after one game, surely the Predators were able to get a good feel of what the Coyotes were capable of. Surely, right?

G A M E 2:

  • Colin Wilson was given his taste of playoff freedom tonight, stretching his legs on the ice after being scratched since March. Craig Smith, Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Ellis, Jack Hillen, Brian McGrattan, and Matt Halischuk rounded out the scratched list for Game 2.
  • The Coyotes started the game off with a goal at 8:32 with a wrist shot from Antoine Vermette, his 5th goal of the playoffs.
  • Andrei Kostitsyn would nab his 3rd playoff goal at 17:13, tying the game up going into the 2nd Period. Kevin Klein (2nd assist) and Nick Spaling (3rd assist) walked away with the assists.
  • The 2nd Period belonged to Phoenix, with Martin Hanzal gaining his 2nd goal of the playoffs at 3:47.
  • Radim Vrbata would push Phoenix up 3-1 at 7:05 for his 2nd goal of the playoffs.
  • Patric Hornqvist would seal his first goal of the playoffs with a tip-in passed Mike Smith at 11:20 on the power play. Ryan Suter (2nd assist) and Mike Fisher (3rd assist) picked up the assists.
  • Exactly thirty seconds later, Taylor Pyatt pushed the Coyotes up 4-2 for his 3rd goal of the playoffs.
  • Ryan Suter would score early in the 3rd Period (53 seconds) for his first goal of the playoffs. Shea Weber (1st assist) and Alexander Radulov (5th assist) nabbed the assists on Suter’s goal.
  • Shane Doan would silence the Predators at 3:36 with a tip-in goal, his second goal of the playoffs.
  • The Predators toned down the shots on goal in Game 2, only sending 33 towards Smith compared to Phoenix’s 39 at Rinne. However, the weaknesses in Nashville’s defense looked like a wide open net to Phoenix, who ate up every mistake the Predators made. Powerplays favored the Predators, however, with Nashville capitalizing on two of four chances. Nashville’s defense stepped up during the penalties, but failed during even play. Trotz’s experimental Josi/Klein line completely buckled under the pressure of the Coyotes, proving Roman Josi and Hal Gill should stick together.
  • As stated above, the Predators gave the Coyotes four powerplay chances, but luckily were unable to nab their chances. Here are the four penalty takers:
  1. Brandon Yip – 12:57 1st Period – Roughing
  2. Shea Weber – 17:07 2nd Period – Boarding
  3. Mike Fisher – 19:50 2nd Period – Roughing
  4. David Legwand – 19:14 3rd Period – Cross Checking

The Phoenix Coyotes are relentless at home and Nashville just wasn’t prepared for the Coyotes to come out swinging after just finishing their Round 1 with the Chicago Blackhawks. It was clear in Game 1 that Nashville was taken aback by the Coyotes’ ferocity, but were completely mauled in Game 2. The Predators head home to Nashville tonight to continue the series, hoping the familiarity of the Bridgestone Arena will bring life back into the struggling team.

What the Predators need to focus on/fix:

  • Miscommunication
  • Frustration/Complete mental breakdown
  • Fallout of the defense
  • Face-off wins
  • Turnovers

Game 3 starts an hour later than usual with the puck dropping at 8PM. Nashville will need to buckle down and work together to climb out of this hole they have dug called ‘Phoenix’ and remember that this isn’t the regular season. With such a prime opportunity to reach the Cup, why start breaking down now?

Until then,
GO PREDS

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 to face Coyotes in 2nd Round

Sergei Kostitsyn battles Rostislav Klesla.

After waiting three days to find out who they’d be facing in the 2nd Round, the Nashville Predators were finally given an answer about 20 minutes ago when the #3 Phoenix Coyotes knocked out the #6 Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 in Game 6 of the 1st Round.

Although Nashville has done much better against Chicago than Phoenix, ending the 2011-12 season 4-1-1, the Predators have, what we think, a better chance mentally against Phoenix than against a fellow Central Division rival like Chicago (i.e. the fans travel better in Chicago).

Nashville finished the 2011-12 season against Phoenix evenly with two wins, two losses, and zero ties, but both teams have top goal tenders with Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne, so both teams will have to keep the physicality up to par in order to get some pucks passed those goliaths.

Whilst waiting for the Eastern Conference to finish up Round 1 (Philadelphia is the only team to advance at this point), players like Hal Gill (who was practicing both yesterday and this morning) should be ready to go by Round 2. Also on the Predators’ side is the fact that Raffi Torres has been knocked out of the series altogether, eliminating any chances of any intentional injuries that may hurt the Predators in the long run.

Since Phoenix is the #3 seed and Nashville is the #4, Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 will be played in Phoenix, giving Nashville at least three potential home games. In other news, St. Louis and L.A. will duke it out, hopefully beating the you-know-what out of each other, wearing each other out for Round 3.

Phoenix will definitely be a challenge for Nashville, but it isn’t anything to fear. With players like Gabriel Bourque and Kevin Klein stepping up, along with the leadership and dependability of Pekka Rinne and David Legwand, the Predators can easily move on to Round 3.

Until then,
GO PREDS

(Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

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!

Predators vs. Red Wings – Playoff Schedule

Feel free to use in honor of the NHL Playoffs!

The NHL Playoff schedule was released a 12PM today and, sorry, we are just now getting to putting it up on the site! Although you probably know by now, the Predators will be taking on the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, a challenge Nashville has faced twice before and failed.

However, the Predators get to start the playoffs out at home and are a much better team than when they faced the Red Wings in the playoffs before in 2004 and 2008. We’ve already gotten the schedule up on our Schedule page (just scroll to the bottom), but we’ve added it here for easy finding.

2012 PLAYOFF SCHEDULE: ROUND 1
Wednesday, April 11th – Detroit @ Predators -7PM
Friday, April 13th – Detroit @ Predators – 6:30PM
Sunday, April 15th – Predators @ Detroit – 11AM
Tuesday, April 17th – Predators @ Detroit – 6:30PM
Friday, April 20th – Detroit @ Predators – 7PM
GAME 6: TBA
GAME 7: TBA

The Predators finished 4th overall in the Western Conference, the first time in franchise history that they topped the Red Wings in points. With that confidence boost, the Predators have every chance to knock the Red Wings from the Cup race.

Interested in the other match ups? Here’s what’s going on in the rest of the league regarding the playoffs:

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

  • L.A. KINGS vs. VANCOUVER CANUCKS @ VANCOUVER
  • SAN JOSE SHARKS vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES @ ST. LOUIS
  • CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS vs. PHOENIX COYOTES @ PHOENIX
  • NASHVILLE PREDATORS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS @ NASHVILLE

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

  • NEW YORK RANGERS vs. OTTAWA SENATORS @ NEW YORK
  • BOSTON BRUINS vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS @ BOSTON
  • PHILADELPHIA FLYERS vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ PITTSBURGH
  • NEW JERSEY DEVILS vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS @ FLORIDA

 

So there you have it. One great advantage is that no game starts after 8PM CST, which will be nice for all of us on Central Standard Time. The games begin on Wednesday, April 11th and we will update the winners of each round as the series plays out!

Until then,
GO PREDS.

Predators End Regular Season with a Bang; Demolish Avalanche 6-1

Alexander Radulov celebrates with teammate David Legwand.

It’s hard to believe, but the regular season came to an end last night for the National Hockey League and the Nashville Predators. Although the post season gets underway starting next Wednesday for the Predators and many other teams, for Nashville’s oppenent last night, the Colorado Avalanche, the skates will be hung until October.

The Avalanche, despite making the playoffs, actually had a pretty good season. Holding 3rd place in the Northwest Division, Colorado had every intent on slipping into a playoff spot. Unfortunately for Colorado, 3rd place in their division just couldn’t top the tougher Western Conference teams, ending their run 41-35-6 for the 2011-12 season.

The Predators scratched quite a few of their predominate players, trying to avoid injury at all cost. Thus, it was basically the rookies chance to prove themselves amongst the team going into the playoffs. Here are the highlights from last night’s game in Denver:

KEY POINTS:

  • As stated above, many top players were scratched last night including Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Brian McGrattan, Francis Bouillon, and Hal Gill. Colin Wilson got another chance at ice time, along with Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis.
  • David Legwand wasted no time getting points on the board, hitting a wrist shot passed Jean-Sebastien Giguere at 3:39 in the 1st Period. Gabriel Bourque (12th assist) and Alexander Radulov (4th assist) picked up the assists on Leggy’s 19th goal of the season.
  • Colorado tied it up shortly after at 8:09 with a goal from Matt Duchene, his 14th goal of the season.
  • Craig Smith would gain his 14th goal of the season at 12:10, his first points (and goal) since playing against the Phoenix Coyotes back on March 12th. Matt Halischuk (13th assist) and Colin Wilson (20th assist) grabbed the assists.
  • Patric Hornqvist would seal the final goal of the first period with less than a second left at 19:59, ending the regular season with 27 goals (Coincidence?). Kevin Klein (16th assist) and Andrei Kostitsyn (20th assist) picked up the assists.
  • Roman Josi would notch his 5th goal of the season at 16:09 in the 2nd Period, with assists from Craig Smith (21st assist) and Kevin Klein (17th assist).
  • Brandon Yip would cause the Colorado bench to cringe as he scored his 3rd goal of the season against his former teammates at 1:57 into the 3rd Period. With a wrap-around goal, did Yip remember that was Giguere’s weakness? Nick Spaling (12th assist) picked up the lone assist.
  • Matt Halischuk added the last nail in the coffin at 6:20 for his 15th goal of the season. A trend is starting to appear with Hali, where when he is scratched, he retaliates with a goal the next game. Good way to retaliate, we think. Craig Smith picked up his third point and 22nd assist on Hali’s goal.
  • Anders Lindback took the reins in the net last night, blocking 28 of 29 goals taken on goal. Unfortunately, in a freak accident, Ryan Ellis fell onto Lindy’s head during play, sending Lindback to the locker room. Pekka Rinne finished out the rest of the game, blocking all 10 shots taken on goal. Anders is expected to be Pekka’s backup for Wednesday’s playoff game, but for safe measure, Jeremy Smith was brought up from the Milwaukee Admirals.
  • Both the Predators and the Avalanche were equal in penalties, with neither team able to snag a goal. With as many penalties as the Predators have been taking lately, racking up just two last night was a relief. Here are they two offenders:
  1. Patric Hornqvist – 14:03 2nd Period – Cross Checking
  2. Craig Smith – 19:45 2nd Period – Hooking

It’s been a long and rewarding season for the Predators, who are preparing for a challenging post season against the Detroit Red Wings. The Predators have thus far proven themselves Stanley Cup worthy, but they just need to cling to their confidence and strength throughout this upcoming playoff round. The Predators have faced the Red Wings before in the playoffs, losing both times. However, this is a different team and a ready team.

We leave you with this video we came across on YouTube. The first 1:49 is rough, but it leads up to Nashville showing off their “pesky” comeback skills from the 2011-12 season. It’s been a roller coaster, but we’ve enjoyed every second of it.

Until Wednesday,
GO PREDS.

 

(Photo credit: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)