Rinne Wins Vezina – Finally

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s about darn time, y’all. After being nominated three times previously (2011, 2012, 2015), fourth time was the charm for our beloved Finnish goaltender.

Pekka knocked off Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and fellow Central Division goaltender, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.

Congrats, Peks!

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Watson Arrested for possible Domestic Assault

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Image Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Earlier this morning, it was first reported via Predneck Nation that Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson was arrested over the weekend for a possible domestic assault incident.

Here is the arrest affidavit information released by The Tennessean:

According to an arrest affidavit, just after 7 p.m. that day, a Franklin police officer was flagged down by a witness for a possible domestic situation at the Shell Station on Murfreesboro Road.

When the officer responded, he noticed a vehicle at the station whose passenger was trying to “back away from being shoved away,” the affidavit states. “The passenger said ‘stop’ and was trying to cover her face.”

When the officer made contact with the driver, later identified as Watson, he said that he and his girlfriend, who was the passenger, were having an argument about her drinking and not being able to attend a wedding, the officer wrote in the affidavit.

At the scene, the affidavit continues, Watson admitted to pushing his girlfriend and the officer said he noticed red marks on her chest.

Yikes, Watty.

As expected, the Nashville Predators released a statement regarding the arrest as well:

“We are aware of the incident involving Austin Watson on Saturday night. We are still gathering facts and it is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time, but this is a matter that we are taking very seriously and will cooperate fully with the investigation by law enforcement. The Nashville Predators have and will continue to stand side by side with AMEND in the fight to end violence against women.”

The AMEND Campaign is program created by the YWCA that, per their website, “seeks to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls by empowering young men and boys to become the catalyst for cultural change”. Unfortunately, Austin Watson played a major role in the promotion of this project and the video has since been removed from their site.

The NHL has also responded with their own response, as reported by Katie Strang:

I’ll be the first to admit, I do not keep up with the players and their relationship statuses so the confusion between if it was his girlfriend or wife raises many questions. To squash any rumors that this also involved a cheating situation, this is what we have gathered since this news first broke earlier this morning:

Because the first tweet was confirmed by the organization, take that as truth; as for this second tweet, take it as you will. But let it be known that this was not a cheating situation (not that it makes this accusation any better).

So what does this mean for Watson and his future with the Predators? Well, let us remind you that he has not had his day in court yet (6/28/18 at 1PM) and, as of right now, this is just an accusation. No, I am not defending what took place, but there is still much more to hear before judgement is cast. However, with what was detailed in the affidavit, it isn’t sounding too good for the young forward.

As more information is released, I will update this post with the latest. Until then, let’s all hope for the best and that this isn’t another incident like the Mike Ribeiro one.

 

 

Preds buyout Jackman Contract

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Image Source: The Tennessean

So who all woke up this morning thinking the Weber/Subban trade was all a dream? Yeah, it’s still hard to wrap your mind around and it’ll be a while before it all sinks in. But, while you continue to process that information, the Predators camp is far from settling down.

Early this afternoon, it was announced that the Predators bought out the contract of veteran defenseman Barret Jackman. Jackman (35), who was signed to a two-year, $4 million contract on July 1, 2015, spent his first 16 years with Central Division rival St. Louis Blues. With this buyout, the Predators now have around $9.3 million in available cap space, which could mean additional assets are on the horizon (free agency starts tomorrow).

Jackman’s buyout came as a surprise to just about everyone as he brought an exceptional veteran presence to not only the ice, but off ice as well. This move, as mentioned above, could signify that David Poile has his eye on someone special.

Though he was part of the organization for less than a year (by one day), Barret Jackman played a significant role with Nashville and its push towards the Cup. I wish him well in his future with the league and/or beyond.

Preds force Game 7 against Sharks

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

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

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

First Period:

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

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

Second Period:

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

Third Period:

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

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

Bonus Hockey:

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

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

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

History to Be Made:

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

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

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

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

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

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

PRE-GAME:

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

FIRST PERIOD:

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

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

SECOND PERIOD:

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

THIRD PERIOD:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Preds announce 2015 Pre-Season Schedule

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Early this afternoon, the Predators released the upcoming pre-season schedule for the 2015-16 season – woot! For those of you who are impatient, the regular season schedule should be released this Thursday.

  • Sunday, September 20th – Florida Panthers @ 3:30PM
  • Sunday, September 20th – Florida Panthers @ 7:00PM
  • Tuesday, September 22nd @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 6:30PM
  • Wednesday, September 23rd – Tampa Bay Lightning @ 7:00PM
  • Tuesday, September 29th – Columbus Blue Jackets @ 7:00PM
  • Saturday, October 3rd @ Columbus Blue Jackets – 6:00PM

There you go, folks – mark your calendars and get ready for some pre-season action! Also, new this year, the Predators have partnered with Kroger to incentivize you to come to the pre-season games in the form of free tickets. Yes, free pre-season tickets! Starting in mid-August, fans can pick up a voucher at all participating Middle Tennessee Kroger locations while supplies last, up to four tickets! So now you really have no excuse for not putting butts in the seats.

Preds take Lightning 3-2 with OT Winner

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Has it decided that the Predators love the game so much they just have to beyond regulation? Or am I – and everyone else – just suffering from a case of déjà vu? Either way you slice it, the Predators are coming out with the two points — whilst doling a point to their given opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning are just as their name perceives – lightning fast and that trait has helped boost them to the top of the Eastern Conference and fourth in the league (tied at 74 points with the Blues who have one less loss than the Bolts). The Predators have more of a “if I can setup the play, I’ll just dump it” mentality, which has gotten better this season than in the past, but with a in-your-face team like Tampa Bay, the Predators needed to be a little more risqué when it comes to shooting the puck… at the net.

SCRATCHES: Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Olli Jokinen

FIRST PERIOD:

  • For the third game in a row, neither team was able to get one in the net during the third period. Chalk this one up to both Pekka Rinne and Andrei Vasilevskiy just being on point. Rinne blocked ten shots-on-goal while Vasilevskiy blocked his eight shots. I mean, look what this kid did to rob Mike Ribeiro:

SECOND PERIOD:

  • In only his second NHL Career game, Anthony Bitetto – who was called up to fill in for the injured Mattias Ekholm – dropped the gloves against Brett Connolly. Bitetto did so to defend fellow player Craig Smith, which made a fairly good impression on his teammates – that, and Bitetto clearly won the bout.
  • Seth Jones would finally get the blood flowing at 8:31 with his 6th goal of the season. Viktor Stalberg (4) and Anton Volchenkov (5) nabbed the assists.
  • Just four minutes later, Taylor Beck would put Nashville up 2-0 at 12:47, his fifth goal of the season. Paul Gaustad (9) and Eric Nystrom (5) would tally the assists.
  • Nashville would own the second period, sending 11 shots-on-goal compared to Tampa Bay’s eight.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Ah, but the Lightning weren’t going down without a fight. At just 1:20 into the third, Brett Connolly made up for losing his bout with Bitetto and sent a wrister whizzing past Rinne, his 10th of the season.
  • And, just seven minutes later, Nikita Kucherov would tie the game at 7:50 with a slapshot, his 21st of the season.
  • The Predators just couldn’t muster up another goal (nor could Tampa Bay) so thus the déjà vu of bonus hockey returns.

OVERTIME:

  • In what everyone deemed was going into a shootout, James Neal had other plans. Breaking the puck away with less than 30 seconds left in overtime, Neal connected on a wrister to win the game, his 18th goal of the season. Roman Josi (28) and Matt Cullen (7) assisted in the winner.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • Viktor Stalberg, who was called up to fill in for the ailing Colin Wilson, saw 11:43 of ice time walked away with one point (assist).
  • With the trade deadline fast approaching (March 2nd), will Nashville make a move? No doubt they will, but in order to get something good, you’ve got to trade something good in return (whether that be a player, draft pick, or a combination of both). With no word on Ryan Ellis’ return (and the fact his jersey has no appeared in the GnashVegas auction), my guess is Ellis will be up for trade bait. Yes, he did just recently sign a five-year, $12.5M contract, but remember, we traded Patric Hornqvist off during his five-year contract extension, too (just one year after he signed it).
  • Colin Wilson may be ready to return within the next game or two, as he was practicing with the team yesterday morning.
  • With just ten more wins, Nashville can secure a playoff spot. That, and they are just two points from being the first team to reach 80 points this season. Me gusta.

If you missed last night’s game, then you surely don’t want to miss tomorrow’s against the Winnipeg Jets, a division rival that’s clawing for a playoff spot. Winnipeg is twelve points behind Nashville, but has won their last two; they’ll be looking to knock of the league leader for sure tomorrow night.

Preds pummel Flyers 4-1

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

After a disheartening loss to the Bruins last Tuesday 5-3, the Predators spent a much needed Christmas break with friends and family before returning to home ice Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers, who are 14-14-6, currently sit in 5th within the Metropolitan Division, just eight points shy of Washington. Though their record does not compare to Nashville’s, Philadelphia’s bulk adds an advantage that the Predators do not have. The Flyers know how to put on the pressure and keep teams from scoring and Nashville has a hard time with pressure…

First Period:

  • Filip Forsberg lit the lamp first at 9:41 for a rare Predators powerplay; his 14th goal of the season. Roman Josi (15) and Shea Weber (17) notched the assists.

Second Period:

  • Claude Giroux would tie it up at 6:50 in the second for his 12th goal of the season.
  • Seven minutes later at 13:57, Mike Fisher would notch the second powerplay goal of the night; his 4th goal of the season. Filip Forsberg (20) and Mike Ribeiro (20) would both assist.
  • Not even a minute later, Colin Wilson, too, would collect a powerplay goal with a laser shot past Ray Emery; his 9th goal of the season. Seth Jones (7) and Roman Josi (16) would assist in the goal.

Third Period:

  • Colin Wilson would tally his second goal of the night (10th of the season) on an empty-netter at 16:42. Mike Fisher (5) would do the assisting on Wilson’s goal.

With this cozy win, the Predators record now jumps to 23-9-2, but Nashville has no time to rest. Monday night, the Predators enter the United Center to face divisional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, who are above the Predators in first (within the division) by two points. Without taking a breath, the Predators will return home to face another divisional rival, the St. Louis Blues, who sit just three points behind Nashville in the division. Sheesh. The question now will be, which game will Pekka have to take a seat and let Carter Hutton take the reins? Or will he even get a rest at all?