Roman Josi named Predators Captain

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Photo Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As most expected, the Nashville Predators announced in today’s press conference that the 8th captain in franchise history would be none other than No. 59, Roman Josi.

Along with Josi, Ryan Ellis (who is currently suffering from a post-season injury) was named Associate Captain while Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg have all been given the roles of alternate captain.

Fun Fact: Roman Josi is the second Swiss-born player to be named a captain in the NHL.

For more information, check out the Predators’ official statement here.

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JOFA Line Back in Business: NSH & Johansen agree on Contract

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Happy birthday to me, y’all. Seriously, it’s my birthday and I am going to choose to believe that Ryan Johansen and his agent purposefully held out on a contract agreement until today. True story.

But for those of you who want the real facts, the Nashville Predators announced shortly after 2PM today that a special presser would be held at 3PM & almost everyone had their thoughts as to what it would be about:

Oh, but it did, Justin. It. Did. Shortly after Justin Bradford tweeted this, Adam Vingan of the Tennessean posted his article announcing that Ryan Johansen and the Nashville Predators had indeed come to an agreement on a new contract. Those contract details?

Eight years, $64 million.

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Image Source: Brooks Bratten/Nashville Predators

POW.

So with that news, it is official: the JOFA line is back in business. In case you aren’t sure who or what the JOFA line is, it consists of Ryan JOhansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson. Forsberg is already in year two of a six-year, $36M contract and Arvidsson just signed his seven-year, $29.75M contract on July 22nd.

In the presser today at 3PM, Ryan Johansen also announced that has recovered from his injury sustained during the playoffs (acute compartment syndrome) and is ready for a new season.

 

Preds release NHL Expansion Draft Protected List

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UPDATE: More players have been added to the exposed list as of 11:20AM CST.

After pushing the release of the lists back by thirty minutes, the NHL officially allowed us commoners to see who teams protected… and who they did not. By no surprise, the great debate between James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok has left the Real Deal exposed along with a few others that were expected.

Exposed Players:

  • James Neal
  • Matt Irwin
  • Colton Sissons
  • Craig Smith
  • Colin Wilson
  • Cody McLeod
  • Yannick Weber
  • Marek Mazanec
  • Pontus Aberg
  • Cody Bass
  • Vernon Fiddler (UFA)
  • Mike Fisher (UFA)
  • P.A. Parenteau (UFA)
  • Adam Payerl
  • Mike Ribeiro
  • Miikka Salomaki
  • Trevor Smith
  • Austin Watson
  • Harry Zolnierczyk
  • Taylor Aronson
  • Anthony Bitetto
  • Stefan Elliott
  • Brad Hunt
  • Andew O’Brien
  • Adam Pardy
  • Petter Granberg
  • Jaynen Rissling
  • Scott Valentine

Protected Players:

  • Viktor Arvidsson
  • Filip Forsberg
  • Calle Jarnkrok
  • Ryan Johansen
  • Mattias Ekholm
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Roman Josi
  • P.K. Subban
  • Pekka Rinne

If you are freaking out about Neal (or anyone else) being exposed, as I mentioned in my previous post, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s headed to Vegas. Now that the exposed players have been released, teams can negotiate trades between the Golden Knights to attempt to protect these particular players. However, David Poile will more than likely have an uphill battle when it comes to negotiating with Las Vegas General Manager George McPhee (see Erat/Latta for Forsberg trade).

Wondering about Nashville’s other players? Here’s the list of the Predators’ exempt players from the Expansion Draft:

  • Kevin Fiala
  • Frederick Gaudreau
  • Vladislav Kamenev
  • Juuse Saros

UPDATE: It has now been acknowledged that Pontus Aberg, Mike Fisher, P.A. Parenteau, Vernon Fiddler, and Petter Granberg are not exempt from the expansion draft. It is important to note that Fisher, Fiddler, and Parenteau are all free agents, which means Vegas could go ahead and sign these players (the rest of the league has to wait until July 1st). However, if Vegas were to sign one of Nashville’s free agents, that would count as their expansion draft pick leaving the rest of the exposed players (like Neal, Watson, and Aberg) to stay with Nashville.

To see who the other teams in the league protected and exposed, here is the list from the NHL. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think GMDP can manage to work out a deal to save Neal? Whatever the case, there is no denying that George McPhee has the best seat in the house for this expansion draft and is soaking up every second of it.

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Memories & History Made: Remembering the 2017 Predators Playoff Run

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Image Source: NHL.com

As Garth Brooks once (and probably still does) sang, “I could’ve missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.” And what a beautiful dance it was for the Nashville Predators; one might even use the word “GLORIOUS” (all caps needed) to describe the unbelievable run that was the road to the Stanley Cup. Alas, the dance was abruptly cut short just two wins shy of the ultimate prize. And while it is easy to be bitter – be it termed salty nowadays – one cannot look back and be disappointed. The Predators barely scratched their way into a playoff spot – number 16 of 16 to be exact – and somehow defied the odds (and the experts) by sweeping the Blackhawks, bashing the Blues, defeating the Ducks, and landing in the Stanley Cup Final. This postseason brought more than just a city together, it brought a state, a region – one could even say – an entire hockey nation together. It certainly put Nashville in a spotlight that couldn’t be ignored and, once exposed, there was no returning that (saber tooth) cat to the bag.

It’s taken me three days, but I’ve gathered some of the best memories of the Nashville Predators’ outstanding push to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s funny what can be forgotten over a period of two months, so reflecting back on all of it kind of took the sting out of watching Crosby hoist the Cup in Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. So please enjoy this trip down Memory Lane with me and be warned, some of the video clips have not been censored. This is hockey, after all.

  1. The Sweeping of Chicago

The experts were all against us. Everyone was prepared for an early Nashville exit. Everyone except for the Predators. Sweeping a divisional rival is pretty huge to begin with, but having it be a team like the Chicago Blackhawks? This sweep was only the beginning to Nashville’s historic playoff push and it couldn’t have happened in a better fashion. No Chelsea Dagger was ever heard.

And of course, after the historic sweep of Public Enemy #1, people began to wonder where Jordin Tootoo disappeared to after making this comment before the series even began:

2. Fiddler, McLeod & Harry Z: The Heroes Nashville Needs

Three unlikely heroes were born during this postseason. Their names? Vernon Fiddler, Cody McLeod, and Harry Zolniercyzk. While you expect multiple goals from guys like Johansen, Subban, Forsberg, and the like, it was these three guys who played significant roles this postseason to push Nashville to its first Stanley Cup Final.

3. #DoItForKevin

Kevin Fiala has a bright future in Nashville and boy, did he light that fire during the playoffs when he was given the chance. No one can forget it was Fiala who helped Nashville sweep Chicago with his beautiful overtime goal. Sadly, his playoff run was cut short in the second round against the St. Louis Blues when a slam into the boards resulted in a fractured femur. The team made sure to fight on in honor of their young winger, taking out the Blues in six games.

4. This Corey Perry GIF

No real reason other than I truly enjoy watching this over and over.

5. Pekka being Pekka

“Rinne Wall”, “The Eraser”, “ImPEKKAble”. Whatever you call him, Pekka Rinne is a gift from somewhere else (see Finland) that tends to defy gravity and all human logic when it comes to minding the net. Here are a few examples of Rinne’s inhuman abilities caught on camera (along with a cameo from #MonsterBlock):

6. Captain Ellis (@Ellis4Captain)

Unless you are living under a rock (or just haven’t joined Twitter), there’s no way you missed the absolute gold from this parody account. The tweets are posed as a Civil War soldier writing to his mother on the front lines of battle, which magically paired well with its hockey theme. The comically Photo-Shopped images that accompany the tweets only further solidified this account into Twitter history.

7. #TEAMTN Love

The Tennessee Titans have not shied away from showing its love its professional counterpart across the Cumberland, with players appearing throughout the regular season taking in a match. However, it was the postseason that really brought that love out in the open, especially with the Titans Offensive Line. But beyond the beer chugging, catfish loving NFL players, the Memphis Grizzlies expressed their support, along with the Nashville Sounds. The #TeamTN love even extended to Atlanta, where the Braves sent their support as well. Sorry, diehard (clingers) Thrashers fans.

8. Ilya Bryzgalov

The Bryz. Where to begin with that guy? To avoid going to deep into the cosmos with everyone’s favorite Russian (feel free to look up anything involving the universe and bears with his name attached), let’s just say his visit to Nashville during the Stanley Cup Final was everything we could have ever dreamed of. Check out his videos below and – again – I encourage you to YouTube him for even more hilarity.

9. Instrument of Crime

Will we ever be able to associate catfish with anything else ever again? Let’s be honest: Pittsburgh had this coming. By baring folks with Tennessee licenses from purchasing catfish at local markets, you pretty much asked for it. Jake Deveral, better known as Catfish Jake, just happened to be visiting family in nearby Ohio when it occurred to him that he’d be in the area during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Purchasing a catfish in Nashville, Jake transported the mudcat up to Ohio and then over to Pittsburgh in his britches. Using Old Spice to cover the smell, Jake was able to smuggle the contraband into PPG Paints Arena and chuck it onto the ice. Deveral was escorted promptly from the building, but not all was over. A Pittsburgh judge slapped Catfish Jake with fines, which included “possession of an instrument of crime”. Long story short, the charges were dropped, but not before “Instruments of Crime” became a part of Predators history.

10. These Poor Penguins Fans

We won’t go into that “pumped in noise” conspiracy as these two fine Pens fans are a clear example of that bull-honky.

11. Best in the West

Bitter as you may all still be, there are plenty of good things to recall from this playoff run including that your Nashville Predators – coming in as the 8th seed – are officially the Best in the West for the 2016-17 season. Awarded the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl on home ice after defeating the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6, the Nashville Predators will officially have their first banner at Bridgestone Arena at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. While the ultimate goal was not met, one cannot dismiss this history-making moment.

12. Ryan Johansen

Yes, Ryan Johansen needed his own segment. Whether he was chirping with Kesler or notching goals, Johansen’s presence on the ice (and off) was exactly what Nashville needed in this postseason. We could pull the “what-ifs” about where Nashville would be at this moment had he not suffered from acute compartment syndrome, which required emergency surgery after Game 4 against Anaheim. Even after being sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, Johansen’s presence in the locker room kept the team on its toes. You just can’t help but love him and wish he had been around to help Subban get under Crosby’s skin in the Final.

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Photo Source: @PKSubban1

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Photo Source: Brooks Bratten, Nashville Predators

13. The Beautiful People

Oh, they tried, but no other NHL team was able to produce the star power that Nashville was able to garner throughout these playoffs. While some were new to the program, most of Nashville’s “beautiful people” didn’t just jump on the wagon in April. Notable names like Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood (obviously), and Kelly Clarkson have been active at games for years. Let’s also not forget to mention Rex Ryan, of all people, is a season ticket holder. While we didn’t include all the famous folks here, it is safe to say there was definitely a FOMO about Nashville.

14. Listerine Fights Bad Breath

Let’s begin by saying, when P.K. Subban was asked by a reporter as to what he and Sidney Crosby were chatting about on the ice, do you honestly believe he would repeat what was actually said? No. For one, it’s an in-the-moment conversation (if you want to call it that) and two, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Being a quick-on-his-toes kind of guy, Subban casually mentions that Crosby just didn’t care for his breath. Needless to say, the story took on a life of its own and Listerine got a nice little plug it didn’t expect. It is fair to say there was a Listerine booth outside Bridgestone Arena before Game 6 last Sunday.

15. Lavi Fist Pumps

No explanation needed as to why this made the list. BOOM.

16. #FireMilbury

To avoid firing myself up, I will not go into detail as to why Mike Milbury needs to be fired from NBC Sports, because I have a feeling you probably know why as well. There are many speculations as to why Milbury does not care for Subban and none of them are good enough to stand a solid reasoning. Whether it’s because he’s “old school” or what have you, his comments are not good for the growth of this sport, especially when it comes to minority viewers. Predators fans (and fans of other teams) made their opinions of the “shoe beater” known with signs and special words after Game 6.

17. Knoxville

While cities across the state hosted watch parties and cheered on the Predators, including Cookeville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Lebanon, etc., it is Knoxville who deserves a blurb on this list. Some have chalked up the enthusiasm as the city was just hungry for a championship (see 1998), whatever it was, Knoxville came out swinging in support of its brother to the west. As TV ratings began to come out after games, Knoxville continuously appeared in the top 5 cities watching the series, hitting double digits. Perhaps the combination of that winning hunger and the fact that the Predators and the Knoxville Ice Bears have such a great relationship helped open the eyes of many of our East Tennessee brethren to the greatness that is NHL hockey.

18. Dennis K. Morgan

Again, this is another topic that needs to be on the list, but I don’t particularly feel obligated to go into details about. Apparently approached by The Tennessean, regular anthem singer, Dennis K. Morgan, expressed his displeasure in being passed over by “A-List” singers during the playoffs. Needless to say, there weren’t many fans that came to his rescue and there’s a highly good chance the Predators will be searching for a new anthem singer for the 2017-18 season. If you missed this moment or want to relive the head-smacking, read the article below:

19. Goodwill amidst the Battle:

Although the Stanley Cup was the main focus, one cannot forget to mention the goodwill that came about throughout the postseason as well. During Round 2 against the Blues, the city of St. Louis was hit by historic floods. As a city that once faced our own thousand-year flood, it was only understandable that Predators CEO/President Sean Henry would partner with his Blues counterpart to help collect funds through auctions to assist in the relief. One particular feelgood moment that you may have missed was when Matt Irwin replaced a kid’s hockey gear after he heard that it had been stolen. Another heartfelt moment came just last week when Mike Fisher and Roman Josi visited their tiniest fan who was battling cancer. Sadly, the young boy passed away on Monday.

20. Good Gravy Goals

While some other good gravy goals have been scattered throughout this list, here are a few that didn’t fit anywhere else but are just too good to pass up and forget.

21. GLORIOUS

The word ‘GLORIOUS’ (again, all caps needed) has become almost synonymous with the Nashville Predators’ playoff run and I am betting it will be on the level of “All I do is Win” and “Run this Town” for future seasons. Nashville’s Game Ops enjoys their wrestling theme songs, but this one more than just stuck, it took on a life of its own. In my understanding, it was first played at Bridgestone Arena after Bobby Roode, the wrestler for whom this song belongs, performed in a Predators jersey against another wrestler donning a Blues jersey. Don’t quote me on that, but ever since that match, “Glorious” became Nashville’s anthem as they marched towards the Cup.

22. Hockey History

There’s no doubt this was a history making postseason for the Nashville Predators. While compiling all of the history would take a post of its own, here are a few notable records that Nashville broke and look to break again next season.

23. The 7th Man

And last, but certainly not least, we want to celebrate you, the 7th Man. You are what not only blew the minds of the hockey world, but the globe in general. There is no denying that Nashville is a hockey city; you just can’t argue it. While some have certainly tried, their negativism has been easily drown out by the Standing O and the thousands of fans outside of the arena. While we know the chants created by Cellblock 303 are nothing new, it came as a rude awakening to many an opposing fan, player, and members of the media. And while some were disgruntled by our “nontraditional” fan base, the majority were completely amazed and overwhelmed by your passion. Below are just some of the moments you blew the rest of the hockey world out of contention.

Looking back, it is amazing to see everything the Predators were able to accomplish in a matter of a few months not only for our city, but for the hockey world as well. NBC certainly can’t be mad at what Nashville brought to its ratings, and nor can the NHL. While this chapter in Predators history comes to a close, it certainly isn’t the end of the book. The Predators have the recipe in place to create another historic Stanley Cup run and we cannot wait for October to get that party started.

Hat Trick, Empty-Netters, and History: The Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Bound

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

I can’t see it, but go ahead and raise your hand if you woke up with that ‘Glorious’ song in your head and a ringing in your ears. The dance continues for the Nashville Predators as they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 to advance to the franchise’s very first Stanley Cup Final. Whether you witnessed the historic event in the arena, outside on Broadway, or in the comfort of your own home, there’s a good chance you will remember this night for years to come.

Preds fans have been pretty notorious for being the loudest fans in the National Hockey League, prompting officials from Guinness World Record to venture to Nashville last night to test the decibel levels. As of right now, no official word has been released as to if Smashville blew the previous record into the water, but considering my left ear feels like there’s something blocking it tells me we got pretty darn close.

To recap the game a little bit, Nashville came out on fire… for the first ten minutes of the game (or so). Austin Watson wasted no time by deflecting one by Jonathan Bernier at 1:21 for his third goal of the postseason. Colton Sissons would collect his first of the night (third overall) at 8:47 to give Nashville an early 2-0 lead. However, the remaining of the first period would be heavily dominated by the Ducks, even with a five minute power play in favor of the Preds (due to Nick Ritchie boarding Arvidsson and picking up a game misconduct).

The second period remained in favor of Anaheim, with Ondrej Kase earning the only goal of the period, but a goal to keep the Ducks in the running. Although the Predators’ defense was on point (brushing off two penalty kills), readjusting to Ryan Johansen’s offensive absence was painfully noted. However, just like on Saturday night, key players stepped up to fill the missing role and, three minutes into the third period, Colton Sissons would notch his second of the night, lifting Nashville to a 3-1 lead.

But the Ducks weren’t just going to sit back and watch. Just two minutes later, Chris Wagner would slip a wrister by Brickwall Pekka Rinne to keep Anaheim in the game. And, at 8:52, Cam Fowler would silence the home crowd (momentarily) with a slap shot to tie the game. If you weren’t freaking out at this moment, you are lying to yourself.

But, as I always say, “Win a period. Win the game.” And Colton Sissons must’ve had that same thought process because, at fourteen minutes exactly, the 23-year-old would notch his third goal of the game, a hat trick in the Western Conference Finals.

With Sissons propelling the Preds up 4-3, there was no stopping the home team. Moments after Bernier was pulled from the net, Filip Forsberg would send the puck sailing into the net. 5-3. Then, at 18:26, Austin Watson would further seal the coffin on the Ducks with another empty-netter. 6-3. The Nashville Predators are the 2017 Western Conference Champions.

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

And no, they did not touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl after all. But let’s be honest, they aren’t after a bowl; they are after a Cup.

If you are still in shock after last night, you aren’t alone. Sorry, Music City Miracle, but this was definitely the most important sports moment in the history of, not only Nashville, but the state of Tennessee. Yes, that even includes the University of Tennessee winning the National Championship in 1998 (because that actually happened in Arizona). This team’s run for the Stanley Cup has not only brought the city of Nashville together, but the state and across the country. Please review Captain Ryan Ellis on Twitter for a good understanding of the magnitude of how many people are standing with the Preds.

Is it a Cinderella story for Nashville? Maybe to some, but the team and organization probably doesn’t believe so. The first 16th seed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final? That’s just another notch taken off the history belt. This franchise is aware of what must be done to reach the ultimate goal and they are now on their way to (further) solidifying themselves in NHL history.

The Predators will have plenty of time to rest up for the Stanley Cup Final, as the first game is set to start on Monday, May 29th. Now, who will they face for the Cup? Tonight, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, will have a chance to eliminate the Cup-hungry Ottawa Senators. Like the Predators, this modern Ottawa Senators team has not won a Stanley Cup, so if they can win out tonight and force a Game 7, we could be looking at a brand new Stanley Cup winner. If you would like to see the entire schedule, check out our schedule page.

Take a deep breath and take it all in, Preds fans. The Nashville Predators have come so far and have one round to go. Be ready, 7th Man.

Lastly, please enjoy this photo:

 

Preds make history; advance to Western Conference Finals

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Image Source: NHL.com

Though Nashville had the chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals on Friday night, perhaps they purposefully lost that game just so they could seal the deal at home… one can dream, right? Whether that was Nashville’s original intent (wink, wink) or not, the Predators managed to fight off the feisty St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 win to take the series and advance to the third round, the first time in franchise history.

But let’s be honest; it wasn’t exactly the prettiest advancement ever. St. Louis wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and that was proven in Game 5 on Friday. Nashville’s performance in Game 5 was evidently still present in the first period, as the boys in gold had more issues than one, including connections on passes among other things. The first period would end with St. Louis up 1-0, thanks to an earlier wrister from Paul Stastny.

Perhaps Nashville just needed the first period to collect themselves (or Laviolette peeled the paint off the walls during that first intermission), but the Predators looked much more uniformed in the second period. Roman Josi would tie the game at 1-1 and put the home team on the board just 35 seconds into the second period. his fourth of the playoffs. Both teams would hang onto that tying score into the third period.

You know that whole “win a period, win the game” scenario? Yeah, that’s what both teams faced going into the third period. It came down to who was more desperate, to be honest. Another paint peeling by Laviolette set Nashville off on fire, with Ryan Johansen scoring his second goal of the playoffs, giving both the Predators and the home fans something to get extra loud about (along with a 2-1 lead).

Straying just a bit off topic, it is a beautiful thing to hear NHL bigwigs and announcers compliment Nashville and its fans; especially on how loud the Bridgestone Arena can get. I’ve sort of summed it up this way: When you combine a bunch of SEC football fans together, it can get a bit deafening. This is a predominately college football fan region; if you get a bunch of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, etc. fans loving a unifying sport, it’s going to get loud. College football fans – especially those in favor of the Southeastern Conference – are a unique breed, and hooking them on a game like hockey? It’s bound to be wild.

Back to the game at hand, and with the fans backing them from that point on, Nashville held their own, regaining the confidence expected of a team up 3-2 in a series. Holding onto Johansen’s one goal lead, the Predators would hang on from that point on until Calle Jarnkrok’s empty-netter goal with one minute remaining.

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have advanced to the Western Conference finals… and the city’s heart is on fire for this team. The amount of support the Predators have received during these playoffs is outstanding. Between the celebrity sightings, the Titans players getting “hype” for their fellow professional sportsmen, to the all-star anthem performances, it’s been phenomenal for this team and its city. And for all those fans who couldn’t get a ticket tonight? There were hundreds stationed outside the arena watching on a jumbo screen. Let’s also not forget who came out to pump up the crowd and team before puck drop tonight…

#DoItForKevin, y’all.

Whether you’ve been faithful since the beginning in 1998 or you are just entering the hockey atmosphere, be proud, Preds fans. Be proud of this team and what they have overcome to get here. 16th out of 16 teams and they are the first to advance to the conference finals? That’s playoff hockey for you, baby. Nothing is given. Anything can happen.

Since the Oilers just defeated the Ducks 7-1 to force a Game 7 in the series, it’ll be interesting to see who Nashville will end up facing in the conference finals. So here’s the question: Who would you rather face? The young, spritely team lead by McJesus or Ryan Kessler?

BONUS:

Carter Hutton told Pekka Rinne during handshakes: “Go all the way, buddy.”

Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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After the frustrating loss against Montreal on Tuesday, it was clear the Predators had moved on after trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 last night. While it is easy to fuss about the inconsistency Nashville has been plagued with this season, the type of communication and style of play that came from the team last night was further proof that they are capable of working together successfully. One could argue that perhaps Tampa Bay was simply having an off night and maybe they were. The difference here is Nashville’s victory was not guided by fluky behavior from the Bolts; they were actually organized.

Mike Fisher got the ball rolling at 2:25 in the first period, earning his 11th goal of the season. Fisher’s powerplay goal was assisted in part by Ryan Johansen (21) and Mattias Ekholm (13).

While the first period would end 1-0 with Nashville on top, Filip Forsberg would open the second period at 3:56 with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Kevin Fiala (3) and Ryan Johansen (22), to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

It would begin to look like Tampa Bay was on its way back as Tyler Johnson collected his 12th goal of the season, breaking Nashville’s lead in half a 2-1. Colton Sissons, however, would object to that and punch his 3rd goal of the season, assisted by Mike Fisher (12).

Not even a minute later, Ryan Ellis would notch his 5th goal of the season, but not first without some nay-say from the officials. Linesmen initially called goaltender interference on Viktor Ardvisson, claiming the goal was no good:

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette quickly challenged the ruling, which was reversed despite the disapproval of the home crowd. But before Nashville could celebrate, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, threw out the challenge that Jarnkrok was off-sides prior to the goal. However, after thoroughly reviewing the play, it was deemed inconclusive and Ryan Ellis’ goal would stand. Colin Wilson (11) and Viktor Arvidsson (15) would notch the assists.

The third period would belong to Colton Sissons as he not only notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season, he also picked up his first career NHL hat trick. This was also his first multi-goal game in his NHL career, too. Oh, and yeah, he’s the first player in NHL history to record a hat trick with the second goal an empty-netter and the third goal with a goaltender in net. Sort of a weird record but I highly doubt Sissons is complaining.

Victories like these can help propel the Predators through this second half of the season and give them the boost for which they have desperately been searching. They will have tonight to see if that momentum lasts as they move south to Sunrise to take on the 16-15-8 Florida Panthers. Game time is at 6:30PM.

 

Saros earns first NHL career shutout; blank Blues 4-0

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the Predators needed to feed off the frustration that mounted in last night’s loss against Chicago and boy, did they.

While the first period saw no net action, Nashville did prevent St. Louis from advancing on two power play chances thanks to some handy penalty kill work. Nashville would begin its onslaught of goals in the second period, starting with Yannick Weber at 4:52 for his first goal this season (and within the Predators organization). Craig Smith (7) and Mike Ribeiro (16) would assist on Weber’s first goal.

Filip Forsberg would answer the call at 7:26 on the power play to give Nashville a 2-0 lead for his 8th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (17) and Ryan Johansen (20) would pick up the assists.

While Weber and Forsberg’s goals were wonderful gifts from the hockey gods, it would be Viktor Arvidsson’s dirty wrister that would steal the show:

Viktor Arvidsson, who was been quite the shining star for Nashville, earns his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Irwin (5) and Mike Fisher (10).

Carter Hutton was brought in at the beginning of the third period to relieve Jake Allen between the posts, but could not stop Colin Wilson from netting his 6th goal of the season on the power play at 8:08. Wilson’s wrister was assisted by Filip Forsberg (15) and Ryan Ellis (8).

While St. Louis would be given one extra power play chance at 13:14, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros would keep the Blues at bay, earning his first career NHL shutout. Saros, who has shined as Nashville’s backup, further proved tonight that he will be the future between the posts for the Predators. But leave it to Pekka to have us all a little misty eyed as he congratulates his apprentice on his shutout:

After a tough loss against the Blackhawks last night, tonight’s shutout against the Blues certainly has the potential to set things straight for Nashville and its hopes for a playoff run. If anything, it is a great way to end the first half of the 2016-17 season and, likewise, opens up the Predators to a fresh start in 2017.

Next up, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens come to town on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7PM. Hopefully, P.K. Subban will be ready to face his former team as we celebrate Nashville’s former captain and defensive rock.

 

Frustration mounts after 3-2 loss against CHI

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

While it was clear that Nashville was the better team last night, it wasn’t enough to earn the win against Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, there were some questionable calls (and no calls) that ultimately gave Chicago their first win in three games.

Unfortunately for Nashville, while it is great to be the better playing team, time is running out as the second half of the season looms in just a few days. Needless to say, moral victories are worthless unless there’s a W behind them. But it is frustrating to see blatant calls missed by the official; even worse, when the wrong penalty is called and the opposing team notches a goal from it. Yes, mistakes like this happen in all sports; officials can’t see everything and sure, they call it to the best of their abilities, but come on. When the replay clearly shows the goaltender tripping a player as he passes through the crease, then you (the official) calls it against the player that was actually tripped? Not only was this game frustrating for the players, it only further disheartened an already frustrated Nashville fan base.

Although the first contact between Kevin Fiala and Corey Crawford was not caught (in .gif form), the contact between Craig Smith and Crawford was:

Somehow, Smith was given the penalty, which lead to Jonathan Toews’ tying powerplay goal. However, Patrick Kane’s goal shortly thereafter (his 700th career point) was totally on Nashville, but it’s still frustrating to think that should have been the goal to tie the game.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. The NHL isn’t going to reverse the call or makeup the game. It’s done and in the record books. Maybe Crawford will be fined by the league, but that is highly doubtful. All Nashville can do is build off this frustration and use it to their advantage going into the second half of the season.

Ryan Ellis, for instance, is clearly fed up in this video above. Yes, he’s reacting to the fact that the outcome of the game was essentially decided by the officials, but it also shows how much frustration has been building within this team. Hyped as one of the potential Stanley Cup front runners this off-season, the Predators have done everything but proven they are Stanley Cup contenders. The talent is there, but something just hasn’t clicked. And with both P.K. Subban (and now) James Neal on the day-to-day with upper-body injuries, will the Predators find their way into 2017?

All was not lost last night, however. Mike Fisher picked up his 10th goal of the season, Filip Forsberg notched his 7th, and Ryan Johansen tallied his 18th and 19th assists of the season.

Nashville has one last chance to end 2016 on a high note as they take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight at 7PM. Again, building on that frustration from last night’s loss may be what turns this team around for the second half of the season. Just maybe.

O Captain, What Captain: Who will be the 7th Nashville Predators Captain?

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While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.

While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.

Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.

I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.

Possible Captain Candidates:

Josi

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.

 

Fisher

  • Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).

Neal

 

  • Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
  • Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.

Alternate Captain Candidates:

I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:

 

Rinne

 

  • Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.

 

Johansen

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.

Forsberg

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.

Subban

  • Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.

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  • Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.

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  • Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.

So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.

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