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.

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Review

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Columbus, Ohio was the place to be this weekend has the city hosted the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. As you know, Nashville was chosen as the host city for the 2016 ASG Weekend, which will be an event on its own. But until then, let’s recap the fun that happened this weekend in Columbus… Oh, and for the sake of keeping this post from being ninety pages long, we’ll stick to Nashville’s accomplishments:

Team Foligno:

  • Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Brian Elliot – St. Louis Blues
  • Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues
  • Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers
  • Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Anze Kopitar – L.A. Kings
  • Radim Vrabata – Vancouver Canucks
  • Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Zemgus Girgensons – Buffalo Sabres
  • Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
  • Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Coaching Staff: Darryl Sutter – L.A. Kings

Team Toews:

  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers
  • Jaroslav Halak – New York Islanders
  • Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers
  • Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
  • Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Brent Seabrook – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
  • Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
  • Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
  • Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins
  • Rick Nash – New York Rangers
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Jakub Vorachek – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Coaching Staff – Peter Laviolette – Nashville Predators

As you recall, Pekka Rinne was not included in the All-Star “draft” due to sustaining a knee sprain. Because Filip Forsberg was chosen last for Team Toews, he was the lucky winner of a brand new Honda Accord. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also won a new Honda, as he was chosen last for Team Foligno.

Source: @NHL

Source: @NHL

Saturday – Skills Competition – Winner: Team Foligno

Despite a good show by Team Toews, it was Team Foligno who reigned in the Skills Competition held on Saturday evening. Both Weber and Forsberg participated in the relay and shootout, but it was Weber who shined – not surprisingly – during the Hardest Shot round.

Shea originally missed his first shot, but more than nailed his second attempt, clocking his shot at 108.5 MPH. Weber certainly won the competition, but missed notching the hardest shot ever recorded, which is held by Zdeno Chara at 108.8 MPH. Forsberg shined in the relay portion, showing off his crazy insane puck-handling skills.

Sunday – All-Star Game – Winner: Team Toews

Though the fell short in the Skills Competition, Team Toews out-powered Team Foligno by a long shot during the actual All-Star Game, winning 17-12. And, believe it or not, though the All-Star Game tends to always have a ton of goals, this was the highest scoring game in its history. Filip Forsberg’s two goals helped get Team Toews to the win, the first goals scored by a Nashville Predator in an All-Star Game. Shea Weber also notched an assist off of Tyler Seguin’s goal.

From the World Wide World of Twitter:

So that’s a wrap on the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. Next Stop: Nashville! But before then, the Predators must press forward with the remainder of this season and push into the playoffs. Pekka Rinne should also be re-evaluated soon, along with Ryan Ellis. The Predators return to the regular season this Tuesday as they welcome in the Colorado Avalanche at 7PM.

Hörnqvist Injury Determined, out 3-4 Weeks

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After taking a slap shot from Shea Weber and a nasty hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf Saturday night, Patric Hörnqvist’s lower-body injury has a name and a length of recovery time: a sprained knee that will leave him sidelined for 3-4 weeks.

Honestly, we are wiping our brows. Just look at the photo above. Hörnqvist’s injury looked much worse than what the initial outcome has presented, thankfully.

Hörnqvist is back in Nashville after seeking medical attention and it looks like someone like Colin Wilson or Paul Gaustad will be stepping up to take the often beaten and pummeled Horny’s position near the net.

The Predators are in Phoenix tonight to face last year’s playoff foes, the Coyotes. The puck drops at 8PM.

Preds fall to Ducks 3-2 in 3rd Shootout of Season

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Gill putting the Ducks in their place.

Shootout. The third in just five games. The Predators are 0-3 on the shootout thus far.
After the Ducks’ embarrassing 5-0 shutout against the Canucks the night before, it is not surprising the Ducks weren’t forgetting what time the game started tonight. However, unlike Thursday in St. Louis, Nashville came out strong, though both sides stayed evenly matched when it came to shots on goal throughout the game. The Predators played much better and much more level-headed compared to Thursday, but the Ducks just weren’t going to suffer two nasty losses in a row. Both teams were licking the wounds of a shutout, but only one could savor sweet victory. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Golden State:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan remained on the scratched list, along with Matt Halischuk.
  • Brandon Yip struck gold first with a backhanded goal past Viktor Fasth, who made his NHL debut during tonight’s game. Yip’s first goal of the season was unassisted.
  • The Predators would hold down the fort throughout the remainder of the first and for all of the second, except for Bobby Ryan notching his first goal of the season with just over 30 seconds left in the second to tie the game.
  • David Legwand would seal his second goal of the season at 10:09 in the third with a backhander, assisted by Kevin Klein (second assist) and Gabriel Bourque (first assist).
  • Daniel Winnik would respond moments later with his fifth goal of the season, a tip-in past Pekka to tie the game once again.

Overtime proved to be a heated match, but neither side could find the sweet spot to end the game, thus throwing the game into a shootout, the Predators’ apparent mortal enemy.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Ryan Getzlaf – SAVE
NASHVILLE – Mike Fisher – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Corey Perry – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE

Penalties, yet again, plagued the Predators tonight. With Nashville’s four and Anaheim’s two, the Predators gave the Ducks more chances to advance. Luckily, the Ducks just couldn’t nail that powerplay goal. Here are the four guys who like the box a little too much:

1. Nick Spaling – 6:28 1st Period – Slashing
2. Craig Smith – 16:56 1st Period – Throwing Stick*
3. Brandon Yip – 9:16 2nd Period – Boarding
4. Hal Gill – 5:17 3rd Period – Tripping

*Rule 10.3 – “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice.” Yea, it’s real.

  • Patric Hörnqvist suffered a lower-body injury tonight during the third period, first from taking a Shea Weber slapshot to the leg and another hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf. Per Coach Trotz, Patric will be out indefinitely and most likely will be on a plane back to Nashville to be examined by the team doctors. Although a tremendous loss for a struggling team, Patric’s healing time may lead to more opportunities for players such as Colin Wilson.
  • Craig Smith looks like he has made his way into Trotz’s infamous “dog house”, with a very noticeable lack of ice time with one shift in the second period. There will be no sending him to Milwaukee, however, as that would expose him to waivers. After his senseless penalty, Smith may not see the ice for a while. Colin Wilson’s heart may be smiling, as he is most notable for being Trotz’s go-to player to punish.

Rough beginning to the season for the Preds, but don’t jump ship just yet, fellow Preds fans. Though Nashville does not have the luxury of an entire season to gain momentum, they still have time, if they push themselves to victory. It can be done, but they cannot take their time. Do not turn on Peks, either. Though he hasn’t quite reached his typical Finnish phenom status, he isn’t the problem. Yes, shootouts are not his strong suite, but he is not the only factor that leads to a shootout scenario.

The Predators wander out to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on their turf, another game that could prove rough for the Predators. Then again, they may pull some confidence from midair and nab a much-needed win. Preds and Coyotes match up Monday, January 28 at 8 PM.

Keep Calm and Go Preds.