The Age of Swede (in Nashville)

Getty Images/Zimbio.com

Getty Images/Zimbio.com – Left: Calle Jarnkrok, Right: Filip Forsberg

With the regular season coming to a close, most Preds fans have given up on the hopes of clinching a playoff spot. Though mathematically, the Preds still have an itty bitty, miniscule chance, but unless you are a betting man or an overly optimistic person, you’ve pretty much come to terms that, for the fifteenth year, the Predators will be Cup-less. It has also been excruciatingly difficult to handle (as a fan) the onslaught of opposing fans over-running the Bridgestone Arena, bashing the home team and drowning out the voices of the remaining faithful. But alas, that is a story for a different time. Right now, I am here to relay some optimism; optimism in the form of 20-something Swedes.

It wouldn’t be a far stretch to say ice hockey is pretty popular in Sweden. Tre Kronor (Team Sweden) is a dominant force when it comes to IIHF World Championships (9 gold medals/19 silver/16 bronze since 1920) and the Olympics (2 gold medals/3 silver/4 bronze since 1920) and those figures do not include the junior or women’s teams over the years. Surprisingly though, there aren’t as many Swedes in the NHL as you would think. There are (as of 9:44am on 3/27/14 & not including farm teams) 51 Swede holding roster spots amongst the 30 teams in the NHL, which averages out to about 2 Swedes per team (that has a Swede). Detroit should be renamed Stockholm as it employees the most Swedes at nine. Everyone but the Islanders, Blue Jackets, Penguins, Stars, Oilers, Panthers, Kings, and Sharks have Swedes. Nashville has had its fair share of Swedes in the past fifteen years, with Viktor Stalberg, Patric Hornqvist, Mattias Ekholm, and Calle Jarnkrok holding roster spots at the given moment; Filip Forsberg and Patrick Cehlin currently round out the Milwaukee Admirals roster.

While a veteran like Patric Hornqvist remains at the top of his game (14 goals, 25 assists 2013/14 season), it’s young-guns like Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg who will continue the tradition of Swedish dominance. Both Filip Forsberg and Calle Järnkrok were acquired within trades – Forsberg was claimed from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat and Michael Latta in April 2013 & Jarnkrok (along with Patrick Eaves) was picked up from the Detroit Red Wings for David Legwand – and, you can disagree with many of David Poile’s choices, but the man clearly got the better deal in both trades.

It tends to be frustrating to fans that Filip Forsberg spends more time on planes than on the ice, constantly being called up and sent back down to Milwaukee. His outstanding performance in the World Juniors tournament had fans threatening a mob if he wasn’t brought back to Nashville (4 goals, 8 assists/silver medal), but alas, he has still flipped back and forth. It is sometimes hard to remember that Forsberg is only 19-years-old and made his NHL debut with Nashville last season (Detroit won 3-0); he still has plenty of time to adjust to the system and I would almost put money on a bet that he’ll have a more permanent roster position with the Predators next season. With the Admirals this season, Filip Forsberg has 10 goals and 17 assists.

Calle Jarnkrok is the newest Swede to board the dingy that is the Predators organization, but he’s come out blazing with three assists in the three games he’s appeared with Nashville. He’s quick, but controlled; his puck-handling skills put Colin Wilson to shame. He also does not shy from pressure what-so-ever. Usually Craig Smith or Matt Cullen, Jarnkrok was given the task of first at bat for the shootout against the Colorado Avalanche last Tuesday. Though Nashville eventually lost to the Avs (thanks to another Swede – Gabriel Landeskog), Jarnkrok scored in his first NHL shootout. He may share the same love of hairstyle with Sergei Kostitsyn, but he is a far cry from that Belorussian blunder.  Hopefully, Jarnkrok can teach fellow Swede, Viktor Stalberg to slow his roll and control his speed and the puck. I also hope the ‘Way of Trotz’ does not seep into the youngster, killing his game altogether.

You know their names: Henrik Lundqvist, Niklas Kronwall, Daniel & Henrik Sedin, Niklas Backstrom, Gabriel Landeskog, Henrik Zetterberg, Peter Forsberg, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Lidstrom, Alexander Steen, Loui Eriksson, and so forth. The Swedes are here to stay in the NHL and Nashville needs to collect as many as they can get. Along with an IKEA; we need one of those, too.

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Med den ordinarie säsongen närmar sig sitt slut , har de flesta Preds fans gett upp hoppet om att fästa en slutspelsplats . Även matematiskt , de Preds har fortfarande en Itty Bitty , världsdelen chans , men om du inte är en vadslagning man eller en alltför optimistisk person , du har ganska mycket komma till rätta som för femtonde året kommer rovdjuren bli Cup – mindre . Det har också varit otroligt svårt att hantera ( som en fläkt ) angrepp av motsatta fans över kör Bridgestone Arena , bashing hemmalaget och drunkna ut röster återstående trogna . Men tyvärr , det är en historia för en annan tid . Just nu är jag här för att vidarebefordra viss optimism , optimism i form av 20 -någonting svenskar .

Det skulle inte vara en långt sträcka att säga ishockey är ganska populärt i Sverige . Tre Kronor ( Team Sweden ) är en dominerande kraft när det kommer till IIHF-VM ( 9 guld medals/19 silver/16 brons sedan 1920 ) och OS ( 2 ​​guldmedaljer / 3 silver / 4 brons sedan 1920 ) och dessa siffror gör inte inkludera junior eller damlag under åren. Förvånansvärt Men det finns inte så många svenskar i NHL som man kan tro . Det finns ( som av 09:44 på 3/27/14 & exklusive jordbruks lag ) 51 Swede håller rosterfläckar bland de 30 lag i NHL , som i genomsnitt ut till ca 2 svenskar per lag ( som har en svensk ) . Detroit bör döpas Stockholm eftersom den anställda flest svenskar vid nio . Alla men Islanders , Blue Jackets , Penguins, Stars , Oilers , Panthers, Kings och Sharks har svenskar . Nashville har haft sin beskärda del av svenskarna under de senaste femton åren , med Viktor Stålberg , Patric Hörnqvist , Mattias Ekholm och Calle Järnkrok håller rosterfläckar vid given tidpunkt , Filip Forsberg och Patrick Cehlin runda för närvarande ut i Milwaukee Admirals deltagarlistan .

Medan en veteran som Patric Hörnqvist är fortfarande på toppen av hans spel ( 14 mål , 25 assist 2013/14 säsongen ) , det är unga – gevär som Calle Järnkrok och Filip Forsberg som kommer att fortsätta traditionen av svenska dominans . Både Filip Forsberg och Calle Järnkrok förvärvats inom handel – Forsberg hävdades från Washington Capitals för Martin Erat och Michael Latta i April 2013 & Järnkrok ( tillsammans med Patrick Eaves ) plockades från Detroit Red Wings för David Legwand – och , du kan inte håller med många av David Poile s val , men mannen fick klart bättre affär i båda branscher .

Det tenderar att vara frustrerande för fans som Filip Forsberg tillbringar mer tid på plan än på isen , ständigt ringde upp och skickas tillbaka till Milwaukee . Hans enastående prestanda i World Juniors turneringen hade fans hotar en pöbel om han inte kom tillbaka till Nashville ( 4 mål , 8 assist / silver ) , men tyvärr , han har fortfarande bläddrade fram och tillbaka . Det är ibland svårt att komma ihåg att Forsberg är bara 19 år gammal och gjorde sin NHL-debut med Nashville förra säsongen ( Detroit vann med 3-0 ) , han har fortfarande gott om tid att anpassa sig till systemet och jag skulle nästan sätta pengar på en satsning som han kommer att ha en mer permanent roster läge med Predators nästa säsong . Med Admirals den här säsongen , har Filip Forsberg 10 mål och 17 assist .

Calle Järnkrok är den nyaste svensken att gå ombord på jolleseglare som är Predators organisation , men han har kommit ut flammande med tre assist i de tre matcher han dök med Nashville . Han är snabb , men kontrollerad , hans puckhanteringfärdigheter satte Colin Wilson på skam . Han gör dessutom inte blyg från tryck vad – så – någonsin. Vanligtvis Craig Smith och Matt Cullen , Järnkrok fick i uppdrag att först på slagträet för straffar mot Colorado Avalanche i tisdags . Även Nashville till slut förlorade med Avs ( tack vare en annan svensk – Gabriel Landeskog ) , Järnkrok gjorde mål i sin första NHL- straffar. Han kan dela samma kärlek till frisyr med Sergei Kostitsyn , men han är långt ifrån det vitryska blunder . Förhoppningsvis kan Järnkrok undervisa karl svensk, Viktor Stålberg att sakta sin rulle och kontrollera sin hastighet och pucken . Jag hoppas också att ” Way of Trotz ” inte tränger in i unge och dödade hans spel helt och hållet.

Du vet deras namn : Henrik Lundqvist , Niklas Kronwall , Daniel och Henrik Sedin , Niklas Bäckström , Gabriel Landeskog , Henrik Zetterberg , Peter Forsberg , Oliver Ekman – Larsson , Daniel Alfredsson , Niklas Lidström , Alexander Steen , Loui Eriksson , och så vidare . Svenskarna är här för att stanna i NHL och Nashville måste samla så många som de kan få . Tillsammans med en IKEA , vi behöver en av dem också.

 

SK74 headed to KHL for Good?

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Well, we all saw this coming… even the most diehard SK74 fans. It began even more clear during the lockout, when Sergei Kostitsyn, everyone’s favorite Belorussian, made a name for himself with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. At the time, it was inspiring to Preds fans watching the struggling talent shine so brightly amongst the KHL; so much so that we all hoped he would bring that momentum back with him when the lockout ended… He didn’t.

SK74 managed to score 27 points in 28 games with Avangard, but only 15 in 46 when the NHL season resumed. Ouch.
Sergei was a force to be reckoned with when he was picked up from the Montreal Canadiens before the 2010-11 season, scoring 23 goals and picking up 27 assists in that season alone. But after that season, everything seemed to fall apart for the young Kostitsyn, with the 2011-12 season producing a lesser, but still good, 17 goals and 26 assists. This past season? An embarrassing three goals and twelve assists. Ouch again.

During the 2011-12 season, the Preds tried to bolster SK74’s momentum by bringing his older brother, Andrei on board, picking him up before the trade deadline from Montreal. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and trouble between the Kostitsyn brothers and Alexander Radulov resulted in Andrei and Radulov’s dismissal from the team. Understandably, that left a bad taste in Sergei’s mouth.

And again, when he went to the KHL during the lockout this past season, it was another sign that SK74 felt more comfortable amongst more common fellows. It couldn’t have been more clear as to how truly comfortable he was with Avangard and, for the Predators, that wasn’t a good sign for the future of SK74 with Nashville.

The GM of Avangard Omsk offered Sergei Kostitsyn a contract this past week, wishing him to return to the Alexander Frolov and Dmitry Semin line that worked so well together. Apparently, by the stats, it worked 10 times better than the SK74-Fisher-Erat line. Preds GM David Poile has been quoted has saying he would have “no objection” for allowing SK74 to return to the KHL.

The question in the coming day is, will David Poile risk one of two Compliance Buyouts to keep the struggling Belarussian or will he let Sergei go after this year? Also, there is the possibility that SK74 pulls an Alexander Radulov and runs off before his contract ends.

The truly sad thing is, even though he is given a lot of grief for his terrible performances and his huge mistakes (A.K.A. the infamous “quit” moment), Sergei Kostitsyn has a ton of talent that, for some reason or another, cannot be displayed. And that goes for any NHL team, not just the Predators. He struggled with behavioral and accountability issues while with Montreal and he would do it again with any other NHL team that gave him a chance.

Could it be he is more like Radulov in the sense that, in the KHL, rules are different and life is a little bit less strict for a player? I believe it is a mixture of that and the comfort level he feels being back in a more familiar role, surrounded by people who all speak the same language and there really isn’t a barrier for him to get stuck behind. Unlike his fellow non-American teammates, like Pekka Rinne and Patric Hornqvist, SK74 has not clung to English very well and is not comfortable with ten mics thrown in his face. However, interviews seem to come naturally to him when they are in Belarussian or Russian, two languages he is comfortable relaying information in.

You can’t hate the kid for wanting to return to something familiar and somewhere he excels. He’s given the NHL his best shot and, unfortunately for the few SK74 fans other there, it wasn’t his best. As long as he doesn’t jump ship like Radulov, we won’t turn our backs on SK. We’d like him give it all he’s got this last season because, even if Nashville offers him an extension, I believe this is our last season with Sergei Kostitsyn in the Predators gold.

Austin Watson’s NHL Debut marred by Preds 4th loss to Chicago

Source: Zimbio.com

The post-season train is about to board and Nashville is falling further and further to the back of the pack, with Chicago claiming their ticket and jumping aboard with tonight’s win over the Predators 5-3. As stated in a previous post, the lockout was more than helpful for the Chicago Blackhawks, as they started out the season undefeated through 24 games. Though they have since lost, their record against Nashville thus far remains 4-0.

Don’t laugh off the Predators just yet, though. They fell to the Blackhawks 3-0 in their first meeting, but Nashville has kept the games close against the leader of the NHL. But close doesn’t cut it when the playoffs are on the line and, though they fought a good fight, quality doesn’t always produce quantity when it comes down to it.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s game at the United Center:

BEFORE THE GAME:

  • Though he played in yesterday’s game, Mike Fisher was pulled from the lineup for safety reasons and an emergency recall from Milwaukee was made. Insert, Austin Watson: Nashville’s first round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft. As Milwaukee’s leading scorer, it was more of a “when is he coming” situation for the Predators.

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Andrew Shaw drew blood first with a slap shot past Pekka Rinne at 6:34 into the game, his 8th goal of the season.
  • Nashville would kill any chance of a shutout for Chicago at 17:16 with a wrister from Nick Spaling, his 7th goal of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would pick up his 11th assist of the season.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Similar to the first period, Chicago would start out with a goal first, this time from Bryan Bickell, his 8th of the season.
  • The Predators would respond at 5:54 with a clean slap shot from Shea Weber, his 8th goal of the season. Nick Spaling would pick up the assist on Weber’s goal, his 4th of the season.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • David Legwand would give Nashville its only lead of the night at 6:54 for his 11th goal of the season. Matt Halischuk (5th) and Shea Weber (15th) would nab the assists on Leggy’s goal. Legwand is now just one goal away from his 200th NHL career goal.
  • Chicago would both tie and take the lead within 55 seconds of each goal, the first one nailed by Brandon Saad and the second collected by Jonathan Toews.
  • With the clock winding down, Patrick Kane collects his 20th goal of the season with an empty netter, sealing the game 5-3 in favor of the Blackhawks.

     

    The Blackhawks only needed one point to punch their ticket into the playoffs, but with their win in regulation, Nashville may have unwillingly handed Chicago their possible ticket, too.

The Predators have made the playoffs every year since 2003, spoiling Predators fans who weren’t aware of the franchise before that year. Do fans know how to handle an early off season filled with golf while watching other teams claw for the Cup?

The Predators pack up and head home to welcome the St. Louis Blues to the Bridgestone on Tuesday night. The Predators are just five points behind Detroit for 8th position and just six from St. Louis who sits in 7th. Two things need to happen to help the Predators: everyone else to lose and Nashville to actually win.

Preds prove Victorious at Home; Silence Jackets 5-2

Source: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Hey! Long time, no see! We’ve been awfully quiet lately (on the blog-front, that is) and we apologize for leaving you in the dark on here, at least. We are still staying busy on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s time to give the actual blog some loving, too!

So what’s been going on since we last posted? Well, nothing to brag about, honestly. From the horrendous road trip to Sergei Kostitsyn’s lapse in judgement, there hasn’t been much to be proud of with Nashville. But the Predators dragged themselves back home, taking on Brian McGrattan and the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. Nashville has always had better luck at home and proved that fact by knocking out the same team (5-3) that pummeled them 6-3 not even a week before.

With just two points away from holding down a playoff spot, Nashville would need to come out strong against the hot-streaking Columbus – wait, what? Blue Jackets? No, that is no typo. The Blue Jackets, who is normally the weakest team of the Central Division, has found some miracle only devised by a Disney movie. Well, with whatever Peter Pan magic the Blue Jackets have come across, Nashville would need a regulation win to power back towards the playoffs. Here are the highlights from last night’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Scott Hannan, Ryan Ellis, and Craig Smith (who is sitting pretty in Milwaukee) landed on the Scratched List last night.
  • Taylor Beck got the ball rolling at 7:11 in the first with a straightaway wrister past Sergei Bobrovsky to collect his first career NHL goal. Beck was assisted two former teammates on the Admirals Gabriel Bourque (3rd assist) and Jonathon Blum (5th assist).
  • Less than a minute later, Shea Weber sent a snap shot into the net on the powerplay for his sixth goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his forth assist along with Martin Erat picking up his 13th assist.
  • Columbus would finally notch at controversial goal at 9:29 when R.J. Umberger slipped a wrister past Rinne.
  • Columbus fans weren’t given a chance to celebrate, as David Legwand put the Preds up 3-1 at 9:46 for his seventh goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque notched his fourth assist (second of the night) and Taylor Beck nabbed his first career NHL assist.
  • A goal at 10:15 by Matt Halischuk gave Nashville it’s fastest Frotsie in franchise history, his second goal of the season. Bobby Butler picked up his second assist of the night (fifth overall) and Chris Mueller (first overall).
  • Rich Clune would receive a five-minute interference major along with a game misconduct, tossing him from the game. Though not seen a t first, Clune apparently elbowed Artem Anisimov in the face when he did not have the puck. However, even with a five minute penalty and a relatively strange interference on goalkeeper call on Mike Fisher, Nashville was able to hold Columbus at bay.
  • Nashville would end the first period with a history-maker, the fastest number of goals in one period in franchise history.
  • The second period would be less intense, but one goal would be scored in favor of Columbus thanks to Artem Anisimov, his eighth goal of the season.
  • Brandon Yip and Derek MacKenzie would drop the gloves at 17:06 in the second, with no explanation of what caused the tiff. You can see the video of Yip’s domination here:
  • Similar to the second period, the third stood no contest to the first period, with the only goal scored at 19:36 by Roman Josi on an empty-netter, his fifth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his eighth assist along with Martin Erat collecting his 14th overall assist.

With the way the team has played the last two games, it stands to wander “where did this team come from?” Going from one extreme to the other, Nashville definitely keeps its fans on their toes and their hearts in their throats.

Though two wins in a row relieves a little bit of stress, the Predators are still in hot water and, though a little bit closer, just aren’t as close to the shore as they need to be.

Nashville remains at home tomorrow night, welcoming in the Edmonton Oilers, who have also won their last two games. Though Edmonton is sitting in 13th, whereas Nashville is in 10th (tied with 32 points with San Jose and Columbus), the Oilers are chopping at Nashville’s tail at 29 points.

With only sixteen games left in the regular season, the room for error is getting slimmer by the minute for Nashville.

A Shutout leads to a Shootout in Nashville: Oilers & Wild Recap

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

Rich Clune takes on Mike Brown, while SK74 tries to derail Ryan Suter.

After being completely manhandled by the L.A. Kings on Monday, the Predators took a much needed four-day rest, hoping to regenerate some sort of game plan to make it through the rest of the season. The Predators have proven they do slightly better at home this season, but back-to-back games? Let’s highlight the recaps of both games against the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild:

FRIDAY – EDMONTON OILERS

  • Patric Hornqvist picked up his first goal since returning from the IR, sending a wrist shot past Devan Dubnyk at 6:07. Colin Wilson picked up his 11th assist and Mike Fisher picked up his 5th assist.

  • Rich Clune and Mike Brown dropped gloves shortly after Hornqvist’s goal. Here is the video of the punch fest:

  • David Legwand would end the 1st period 2-0 with a strange wrist shot from the centerline that Dubnyk just didn’t seem to know what to do with. Legwand was first noted as unassisted on his fourth goal, but Colin Wilson was awarded his 12th assist on the goal. Here’s the video of this head shaking goal:

  • At 51 seconds into the second period, Rich Clune picked up his second NHL career goal, assisted by Paul Gaustad (3rd assist) and Sergei Kostitsyn (8th assist). Made up for that five for fighting, right?

  • One of the new B’s (all three actually were in the lineup as expected), Zach Boychuk made his presence known at 18:22 with his first goal of the season and first as part of the Nashville organization. His tip-in goal was assisted by Shea Weber (7th assist) and Martin Erat (10th assist).

  • Colin Wilson would lead the Predators up 5-0 at 4:43 into the 3rd with a backhander for his sixth goal of the season. Mike Fisher picked up his sixth assist along with Shea Weber picking up his 8th assist.
  • Colin would then again nab his second goal of the night at 16:39 on the powerplay, his seventh overall. Shea Weber would collect his ninth assist, along with Craig Smith obtaining his third assist. This was Wilson’s first career 4-point game.

  • Although Nashville put a pounding on  their first meeting with Edmonton, the Oilers ultimately sent Patric Hornqvist back out of the lineup. Suffering from an upper body injury, Hornqvist missed ice time against the Minnesota Wild and will be out against Dallas for tomorrow’s game.

SATURDAY – MINNESOTA WILD

  • Ouch. Although they were shown for the likes of Steve Sullivan and Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Suter did not receive a tribute video for his contributions while with the Predators. As you heard from the video above, Nashville hadn’t forgotten Suter’s “sneaky” ways around signing with the Minnesota Wild. A video was indeed made, but after the reaction the fans would give every time Suter hit the ice, the video was canned.
  • Minnesota would strike first at 9:01 in the second with a powerplay goal by Zach Parise for his ninth goal of the season. Ryan Suter would pick up his 15th assist along with Mikko Koivu (15th assist).
  • David Legwand would tie the game at 6:28 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Sergei Kostitsyn would collect his ninth assist and Shea Weber would collect his 10th assist.

SHOOTOUT:

MINNESOTA – Zach Parise – MISS
NASHVILLE – Gabriel Bourque – MISS
MINNESOTA – Mikko Koivu – GOAL
NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
MINNESOTA – Matt Cullen – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – MISS

  • Though not exactly the 6-0 shutout from the night before, Nashville still managed to grab a point instead being demolished by Parise and Suter. However, Colin Wilson did leave the game with an upper body injury, similar to Hornqvist’s the night before.

Nashville is currently sitting in fourth in the Central Division, with Columbus just two points behind (26, 24). However, the are sitting in an ugly 11th in the Western Conference, tied with Dallas at 10th and just two points behind St. Louis who sits in 8th. While we are at it, let’s just go ahead and tell you were Nashville sits league-wise: 20th. With less than a month left in the regular season, Nashville will have to make some major adjustments, which (in a way) they have with the Three B’s, if they want to see an extended season. Or, maybe they are just ready for an early golf season?

UPDATES:

  • Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson have now been placed on the IR, which means they will both at least be out for a week. Brandon Yip, on the other hand, has made his way off the IR, practicing with the team this morning. Hal Gill is on the mend, but is still day-to-day.
  • Matt Halischuk has returned to Nashville early, due in part to both Colin and Patric’s injuries. Though we don’t believe he was on the same track initially as Brian McGrattan, Colin and Patric’s injuries may have bought Halischuk some time. Who knows. We could be completely wrong. There is still much to be seen with the Nashville Predators.

The OT Champs: Preds comeback against Stars 5-4

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Overtime seems to be the way of the world for the Nashville Predators this season. The NHL season is just barely a month old and the Predators have already seen ten overtime periods (and six shootouts) in just twenty games. I am no math wizard, but anyone can do the equation on that one. I remember getting excited when games would go into overtime and it was a treat to see a shootout; now, it’s just part of the normal routine as a Nashville Predators fan.

But what about the team? Do they enjoy the uncertainty of overtime and/or shootout? You can’t say it’s for the worst – overtime and shootouts, no matter the outcome, get both teams at least one point, which is better than nothing with a loss in regulation. But with only four regulation wins out of twenty games, is Nashville banking on non-regulation points to power them into the playoffs and does said technique even work during that critical time period?

Monday night’s game of high blood pressure. The tension was high from the get-go with Nashville opting for “God Bless America” over the traditional national anthem (Stars fans tend to get a little rowdy during particular points in the song). After defeating the San Jose Sharks three to one on Saturday night, Dallas was flying high as they entered Music City. Nashville, on the other hand, were a bit bruised and beaten after suffering two shutouts back-to-back against Vancouver on Friday and Detroit on Saturday. Would the Stars’ momentum power them past the ailing Predators? Here are the highlights from last night’s game:

FIRST PERIOD

  • The first period remained relatively quiet, with both teams taking their share of shots at their respective nets. The Predators did manage to out-shoot Dallas eight to six at the end of the period.
  • Craig Smith relieved fans from the possibility of a shutout at 13:43 of the first period with a snap shot passed Cristopher Nilstrop for his second goal of the season. Rich Clune picked up his first assist of the season and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his sixth.

SECOND PERIOD

  • Apparently something snapped between the two teams during the first intermission, for the second period turned the tides on a new game. Dallas wasted no time tying the game at 1:20 into the 2nd period with a slap shot past Rinne by Matt Fraser for his first NHL career goal.
  • Fifteen seconds later, Reilly Smith would pick up his third goal of the season with a tip-in goal, nudging the Stars over the Predators 2-1.
  • Roman Josi would collect his second goal of the season at 3:05 with a slap shot assisted by David Legwand (4th assist) and Patric Hornqvist (5th assist).
  • Mike Fisher would pick up a double minor for a high-sticking penalty at 7:29, giving former Pred, Vernon Fiddler his first goal of the season with a slap shot, thus beginning the onslaught of tension between the teams.
  • Brandon Yip and Eric Nystrom would drop the gloves at 11:45. Yippers isn’t one to back down from a fight, but he isn’t the first to start a scrum, either. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it:

  • Loui Eriksson would push the Stars up 4 to 2 with a powerplay tip-in past Pekka Rinne at 9:21 for his fifth goal of the season.
  • Mike Fisher and Vernon Fiddler would jabber back and forth, a typical trait of Fiddler that works very well against his opponents. It wasn’t until after Shea Weber was high-sticked in the face (and would eventually need stitches) that things started to turn in favor of Nashville. It’s amazing what an Angry Shea will do to motivate a team.
  • Patric Horqnvist would rally back for the Predators at 13:43 with a powerplay backhander, his second goal of the season. Martin Erat would pick up his eighth assist and Roman Josi would pick up his third of the season, second point of the night.
  • The Stars would hold the lead 4-3 at the end of the 2nd period, with them out-shooting Nashville thirteen to ten. After a few scrums around the net and a couple dirty swings, both teams were ready to seal the win in the third period.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Still working with the momentum from the second period, both teams kept both goaltenders on their toes, but it would be Mike Fisher who would find the sweet spot, backhanding a goal through Nilstrop’s five hole. Fisher’s game tying goal was his fourth of the season, with an assist from Colin Wilson (10th assist) and Roman Josi (4th assist, 3rd point of the night).

OVERTIME

  • It took Roman Josi just 28 seconds into overtime to collect his third goal of the season for the GWG. Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his seventh assist with Shea Weber picking up his fifth assist.

 

MUSINGS:

  • Roman Josi not only sealed the game winning goal in favor of Nashville, he also hit a career milestone. Josi collected four points overall during last night’s game, a career high in his young professional career.
  • Speaking of milestones, Mike Fisher’s GTG was his official 200th career goal.
  • And yet another milestone to talk about, last night’s game was Shea Weber’s official 500th professional game, all noted as a Nashville Predator.
  • Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, and Brian McGrattan were all scratched for the night, with Gaustad expected to return Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. Gill, who is suffering from an upper-body injury, is still deemed day-to-day.

 

Although regulation wins are cleaner and a bit less stressful, points are points and, in the race for the Stanley Cup, one point is better than no point, right? Either way, overtimes and shootouts are becoming part of the norm for the Nashville Predators, so as long as they can get the two points out of them, a win’s a win.

UNTIL THEN,
GO PREDS

 

Preds narrow past Red Wings in OT, 4-3

Craig Smith picks up his first goal of the season against Detroit

After Monday’s rough ending against the Colorado Avalanche, the Predators had two choices: either shake it off and prepare themselves for the first meeting of the season against the Detroit Red Wings or let frustration take over and destroy any chance of making a recovery. What did the Predators ultimately choose to do as they welcomed Jordin Tootoo and the rest of the Motor City to Nashville Tuesday night?

FIRST PERIOD

  • Craig Smith took the first strike, sending a wrister past Jimmy Howard at 5:01 to seal his first “regulation” goal of the season (he has done his share of shootout goals) and also on the powerplay. Colin Wilson, who continues to dominate in points, picked up his eighth assist of the season, along with Shea Weber who picked up his fourth.
  • A little over five minutes later, Gabriel Bourque notched his fourth goal of the season with a tip-in at 10:41. Scott Hannan (first assist) and Mike Fisher (fourth assist) would nab the assists on Bourque’s goal.
  • Detroit goaltender, Jimmy Howard would be pulled after Bourque’s goal, but not from a terrible performance or an injury sustained in the game. Howard had been suffering from blurred vision, but professed that he was fine in practice Tuesday morning. But during game time, his vision just wasn’t up to par to face the Predators.
  • The Predators wouldn’t hold their 2-0 lead for long, for Detroit had a short-handed goal up their sleeves. Daniel Cleary broke free on the Predators’ powerplay and slipped a wrister past Pekka Rinne to put Detroit on the board at 15:01. Pavel Datsyuk picked up the assist.

SECOND PERIOD

  • The second period would produce no goals, but plenty of action left both sides frustrated and exhausted. Nashville would out-shoot Detroit 12 to 7, but backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was everywhere the Predators wanted to be.

THIRD PERIOD

  • A costly mistake by Kevin Klein at 11:33 gave Detroit its second goal of the game, awarding the goal to former Pred, Jordin Tootoo. As pressure took to the net, Klein accidentally knocked the puck into his own goal.
  • Roman Josi would quickly give the Predators the upper-hand once again at 12:54 for his first goal of the season. His first goal was also unassisted.
  • Just as Josi put Nashville up 3-2, Detroit fought back, with Pavel Datsyuk nailing his eighth goal of the season, tying the game at 3.

OVERTIME

  • Nashville wasn’t going to see yet another shootout, with Shea Weber sealing the winning goal in OT at just 44 seconds into the period. Weber’s third goal of the season was assisted by Sergei Kostitsyn (fifth assist) and Colin Wilson (ninth assist).

 

MUSINGS:

  • Patric Hornqvist’s presence was well-received on home ice after missing the last ten games (excluding Monday on the road). Hornqvist led the Predators in shots-on-goal with four against the Red Wings, which doesn’t sound like too much, but he did take twelve shots alone the night before against Colorado. Considering he has only played in two games and has garnered sixteen shots-on-goal? Yea, Patric is creating chances that other players just can’t do; though Colin Wilson has been giving Patric a run for his money.
  • Paul Gaustad, still nursing an upper-body injury, was missing from action against Detroit as expected. Nashville took the hit on face-offs, losing the majority of them against the Red Wings. Hal Gill was scratched, along with Brian McGrattan, who is spending some quality time in Milwaukee.
  • Shea Weber may have found his rhythm, picking up an assist and a goal, his first game with two points. Weber has already notched his third goal of the season, hopefully giving us all a collective sigh of relief for the Captain.
  • Rich Clune is pulling out his checkbook, as he has been fined for boarding Colorado Avalanche forward Aaron Palushaj during Monday’s game. In the amount of $1,452.70 (half of his daily salary), the fine will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Brendan Shanahan has been awfully busy for such a short season…
  • Head Coach Barry Trotz has taken on a new title: Longest tenured coach in the National Hockey League. The Buffalo Sabres fired Lindy Ruff, who had been with the team for sixteen years, passing the title on to Barry Trotz.

 

The Predators almost let the Red Wings slip away with the win, but a win’s a win (even in OT) against Detroit. The Predators were given a rare two day break before facing the Vancouver Canucks for the first time tomorrow night.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Blown Call gives Avs Win over Preds 6-5

Sergei Kostitsyn picks up a goal and an assist in Denver.

Missed us? Last week was a bit hectic and with all of us at the games, it was hard to motivate ourself to hit the blog after a long day. We’ll get to those games later, but right now, let’s discuss the game that went down today in the Mile High City.

With the season being as short as it is, there are going to be a lot of back-to-back games and today’s afternoon set in Denver is just the start of a long two-day stretch for the Predators. The Avalanche have had their share of highs and lows so far, but the last few games have been rough on the Avs, with Colorado losing three of their last four. Needless to say, the Avalanche, playing on without their fearless leader Gabriel Landeskog, were hankering for a win. The Predators, having lost three of the last five games, were sitting in a similar boat.

FIRST PERIOD

  • The Avalanche were quick to strike first, with a wrist shot from Aaron Palushaj at 3:43 for his second goal of the season.
  • The Predators would put the pressure on Semyon Varlamov, but the Avs would capitalize again at 9:30 over Mason on the powerplay, with a slap shot from Tyson Barrie, sending Colorado up 2-0 early in the first.
  • Colorado’s two goals would awaken the Predators at 17:20 with a powerplay wrister from Sergei Kostitsyn, his second goal of the season. Colin Wilson would pick up his seventh assist, along with Craig Smith (2nd assist).
  • The Predators kept the pressure in the Avalanche zone, out-shooting Colorado nine to eight.

SECOND PERIOD

  • The second period would become one for the history books, with outstanding goals and controversial miscalls.
  • Matt Duchene’s goal at 3:18 will forever be one of controversy, though it is clear that the lineman that missed the blatantly obvious offsides. You can see the play here:
  • Even if you don’t understand anything about hockey, you can tell something was wrong here. Even Duchene hesitated before shooting the puck, knowing good and well he was offsides. However, when the whistle was not blown, Duchene took full advantage of the mistake and capitalized with a goal. After the game, the NHL did agree that the offsides call should have been made, but what does it help now?
  • Mike Fisher would put the missed call behind him, sending a wrist shot past Varlamov at 10:16 for his third goal of the season. Shea Weber, who was originally accredited with the goal picked up his third assist and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his fourth assist of the season.
  • Colorado wouldn’t give Nashville a chance to gain momentum, sending snap shot past Mason at 11:06 from Chuck Kobasew, his first goal of the season.
  • Colin Wilson would battle back at 13:17 with a backhand into the net for his fifth goal of the season. Martin Erat would nab his seventh assist and Jonathon Blum would collect his fourth.
  • Paul Stastny and Jamie McGinn would surprise and embarrass Mason with two goals in less than sixteen seconds of each other, sending the Avs up 6-3 late in the second. Mason was promptly pulled, giving Pekka the reins.
  • With Pekka Rinne in net, the Predators were able to hold the Avs back long enough for Jonathon Blum to nab his first goal of the season with a clean slap shot at 19:10.
  • Colorado got the upper-hand on Nashville in the second, out-shooting the Preds fifteen to twelve.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Unlike the second period, the third period was filled with exhaustion on both sides. Shea Weber would capitalize on a wrist shot, putting the Preds within one (6-5) at 18:42 for his second goal of the season. Mike Fisher (3rd assist) and Patric Hornqvist (4th assist) assisted in the late minute goal.
  • Nashville overpowered the Avalanche in the third, out-shooting them seventeen to five, but it just wasn’t enough to tie the game, giving the Avs a much needed win in regulation.

 

MUSINGS:

  • Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after suffering a lower-body injury against the Ducks on January 26th. Apparently, Hornqvist jumped right back in without skipping a beat, picking up an assist on Shea Weber’s goal and took twelve shots on goal.
  • Paul Gaustad suffered an “upper-body” injury in the first period, taking him away from the rest of the game. The Predators took a hit on the face-offs, with Colorado winning 29 of 46 of them. Yikes. Gaustad’s injury remains unknown and his condition is said to be “day-to-day” at this point.
  • Chris Mason got the nod as starter for the game, though it wasn’t exactly the presence he intended to make. Pekka would have to come in during the second period to take over, after Mason allowed two goals in just sixteen seconds.

 

As we mentioned before, the NHL admitted that Duchene’s goal should have been waved as he was offsides, but that does not help the Predators now, who would have eventually tied the game late in the third period, sending the game into overtime, which could have produced an entirely different outcome. But the nothing can be done now. The final score is in the books and, although we are not bitter about it (Duchene did what any player would do), when will the NHL take responsibilty for their linesmen missing such obvious calls?

The Predators head home to face the much missed (NOT) Jordin Tootoo and his Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night at home. Tickets are still available, but expect the 21st consecutive sellout tomorrow night.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Sweet Revenge: Predators Pummel Blues 6-1

Marty Erat does like to be injured.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. The team that hit the ice wearing Nashville sweaters was NOT the same club that has worn the jerseys previously. The Predators stayed consistent in both defense and offense, and Pekka Rinne was back in his Finnish phenom pants. Though the Predators only lead in shots over the Blues in the first period (9 to 4), the fact Nashville took a chance on shots for once proved successful, thus putting the breaks on the Blues 6-1. Again, I’m not sure even where to begin. So many plays, passes, shots, etc. were in Nashville’s favor, I just hope they can hang on to this voodoo that they’ve come across. For a team that has only two regulation wins, ten points are mind-blowing. Here are the highlights from tonight’s blowout over the Blues:

KEY POINTS:

  • Martin Erat powered back from his lower-body injury, hitting the ice against the Blues. Jonathon Blum, who proved his worth on NHL ice last Saturday against San Jose, got the nod to suit up once again. Brian McGrattan and Matt Halischuk settled with scratches.
  • Blues’ Center Andy McDonald took an early tripping penalty in the first, giving Nashville a chance at a powerplay goal. Ryan “The Rocket Ship” Ellis took a wrister from the corner, sneaking it past Brian Elliot for his second goal of the season (2:10). Martin Erat picked up his third assist and Colin Wilson picked up his second.
  • Nashville camp out in the Blues’ zone, with newcomer Rich Clune slipping a tip-in to sink his first NHL goal at 15:53. Colin Wilson would pick up his second assist of the night (third altogether) and Paul Gaustad would pick up his first assist.
  • Nick Spaling would sink his teeth into a wrist shot, earning his second goal of the season at 19:13, putting the Predators up 3-0 at the end of the first. Brandon Yip would pick up his second assist and Roman Josi would gain his first assist of the season.
  • Nashville would extend the momentum into the second period, with Kevin Klein pulling a Shea Weber and sending a killer slapshot past Elliot, thus pulling him from the game completely. Klein gained his first goal of the season at 9:09, with assists from Jonathon Blum (1) and Martin Erat (4).
  • Gabriel Bourque decided it was his time for a goal, tipping it in past rookie goalie Jake Allen. Not a good start to his NHL debut, no? Bourque’s goal was assisted by Colin Wilson, his third of the night and fourth overall.
  • A holding call on Roman Josi would prove why the Blues are second in the league in powerplay goals. Alex Pietrangelo would nab his second goal of the second with a backhander past Pekka Rinne. Pietrangelo’s goal would shift the momentum in favor of the Blues, pushing the Predators to either buck up or fall back.

Though the Blues took the reins in the third period, Nashville remained consistent, despite being out-shot 14 to 7. Pekka Rinne can be praised for his continuous saves, keeping the Blues at bay. A wrist shot at 16:34 from Martin Erat was the nail in the coffin for the Blues, sending Nashville up 6-1. Erat’s third goal of the season was assisted by Ryan Ellis (2) and Jonathon Blum (2).

Thirty-two shots on goal and only one snuck by. That’s the Pekka we know. Looks like the Finnish phenom is getting back into a rhythm, one I hope I didn’t just jinx. Even rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko couldn’t work his magic around Peks.

Penalties are still an issue with the Predators, with Nashville seeing six and the Blues only taking three. For a team that is second in the league for powerplay goals, the Blues weren’t exactly the team to give powerplay chances to. However, Pekka and the Predators held strong, only allowing one PP goal. Here are the six box sitters:

  1. David Legwand – 12:41, 1st Period – Diving or “embellishing”
  2. Roman Josi – 11:53, 2nd Period – Holding
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 16:07, 2nd Period – Hooking
  4. Shea Weber – 19:38, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Roman Josi – 1:15, 3rd Period – Cross-Checking
  6. Nick Spaling – 17:07, 3rd Period – Slashing

 

What a step in the right direction for Nashville. As I mentioned in previous posts, though shootout points are helpful, points in regulation are the key to the Stanley Cup. Okay, not the key, but one of many that the Predators have to nail down to compete throughout the season.

But there is certainly no way I can criticize tonight’s game. Absolutely outstanding defense, offense, and overall teamwork shown by the Predators tonight. It’s hard to believe that, just five games ago, Nashville fell 3-0 to this exact same team. This is the Predators team we expect to see. This is the Predators that will make it far in the playoffs.

Don’t forget! Tomorrow night at Dave and Buster’s at Opry Mills: The debut of The Kevin Klein Show at 6pm! Get there early for prime seating, as you don’t want to miss Kleiner or his special guest, Pekka Rinne!

Until then,
GO PREDS

Predators Knock off Last Undefeated Team in SO

Craig Smith does not like the doghouse.

Now that shootouts are becoming the norm for the Predators, it is only natural that they would eventually get pretty good at them (thankfully). The Predators have only notched one regulation win, the other two being settled in a shootout. Nashville seems to be a freak of nature in the league this season, with that one regulation win, yet still holding their own with nine points. However, they are still last in the league in offense (gasp) and are the only team not to have a win on home ice, thus far (excuse me, they’ve been on a long ass road trip, thank you). Even with their setbacks and chug-a-lug start, the Predators are hanging in there, trying desperately to get a bit of momentum to power through this short, but backbreaking season. Knocking the last remaining undefeated team off its high horse? Very good start. Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game in San Jose:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum hit the ice Saturday night, his first steps on NHL ice since December of 2011. Blummer stepped up to replace the ailing Martin Erat, who took a puck to the ankle/foot during practice on Friday. Don’t expect Marty’s injury to be as bench-warming as Hornqvist’s, however.  Brian McGrattan remains on the scratched list.
  • The first and second period’s produced zero goals for either side, but action remained on high as both teams tore out of the gate on fire. San Jose out-shot Nashville in both periods, but Pekka remained on point, keeping the Sharks at bay and preventing them from continuing their undefeated streak.
  • Something sparked the Predators in the third, with Sergei Kostitsyn notching his first goal of the season with just 59 seconds on the clock. His wrister was assisted by Colin Wilson, his first assist of the season.
  • The Predators would hold the Sharks back until a careless mistake by the Predators in the form of a “too many men on ice” penalty stopped them in their tracks, allowing Martin Havlat to gain his third goal of the season. The Predators would out-shoot the Sharks nine to seven in the third period.
  • As usual, overtime was uneventful, though the Predators continued to out-shoot the Sharks, this time two to one. While that isn’t much, it is refreshing to see the Predators take a few shots every now and then.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

  • SAN JOSE – Michal Handzus – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE
  • SAN JOSE – Ryane Clowe – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
  • SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski – SAVE

Now, what were we saying in the last post? Maybe Sergei dropping down to the third line and Craig finding himself in Trotz’s doghouse would possible motivate them to prove their worth? Looks like, so far, it’s doing the trick. Another face to commend is Jonathon Blum – for someone who hasn’t been in a Predators sweater in over a year, he didn’t bat an eyelash when it was his time to step up.

Penalties were abound in this game, a usual thorn in Nashville’s side. Here are the five penalty takers:

  1. Brandon Yip – 0:59, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Jonathon Blum – 16:15, 1st Period – Interference
  3. Mike Fisher – 6:05, 2nd Period – Slashing
  4. David Legwand – 17:01, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Craig Smith – 12:26, 3rd Period – Too Many Men on Ice

Though we are happy the Predators are getting points, wether they win or lose in the shootouts, they cannot slide their way to the Stanley Cup on shootout points alone. The Predators are nearing the cliff of safety points and are going to have to nab some regulation wins if they want to continue pushing towards the Cup.

The Predators will finish out their road trip tomorrow against the nagging St. Louis Blues, an opponent that hasn’t been as kind to the Predators thus far.

NEW TO SMASHVILLE:
102.5 THE GAME and FIFTH THIRD BANK present the all-new Kevin Klein Radio Show, starting this Wednesday (2/6) at 6PM at Dave & Buster’s at Opry Mills! Kevin’s first guest of the season will be goaltender, Pekka Rinne! Someone had to replace Tootoo, right?

Until tomorrow,
GO PREDS