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 crush Blues 5-0

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Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There’s no doubt St. Louis Blues fans travel well; at least to Nashville, anyway. And, with it being a rare Saturday afternoon game, there was certainly no shortage of Blues fans in the Bridgestone Arena for today’s match up. As I heard a St. Louis fan near me, “Well, looks like St. Louis’ll have the home advantage tonight!” I couldn’t help but giggle as the Predators silenced the Blues travelers from the moment the puck dropped.

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding the victory over Chicago in the United Center, Pekka Rinne has undoubtedly regained his groove and today’s game only helped solidify this notion. While Nashville certainly came out with more fire than the Blues both offensively and defensively, Rinne was still put to the test several times. Notching his fourth shutout this season, Rinne put a stop to all 28 shots on goal from the St. Louis Blues, while his fellow teammates snagged four goals on Jake Allen and one on backup Pheonix (yes, that’s spelled correctly) Copley. Attributing to Rinne’s rebound is Carter Hutton’s impressive performance of late, which has given Pekka a chance to rest — something he’s needed desperately. With division-leading Dallas coming in Tuesday, Rinne will certainly need to be net, but Hutton should definitely be called to lead against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Moving on to goal scoring, Craig Smith would get Nashville started early in the game, notching his 14th goal of the season at 5:39. Mike Ribeiro (34) and Filip Forsberg (20) would collect the assists. Smith’s goal would be the only snagged in the first period, but that didn’t mean there was a lack of momentum by a long shot.

The man of the hour, Filip Forsberg, would essentially own the second period, collecting his second natural hat trick in this week alone. That’s a feat that hasn’t be done since Peter Bondra did it in eight games back in the 1987-88 season. Yeah, I wasn’t even born yet and Forsberg wasn’t even a glimmer in his mother’s eye. Naturally, this was also a first in Predators history as Forsberg is the first to register multiple hat tricks in one season.

I have to hand it to you, Mr. Poile. Martin Erat, who demanded a trade to anywhere as long as he could get out of Nashville (so he could have a chance to win a Stanley Cup) is now sitting on six goals with Omsk Avangard in the KHL. Nashville snagged a questionable rookie from Washington who turned out to be arguably one of the best forwards in the league while Erat mustered a total of two goals with Washington before demanding to be traded from there, too. As long as Forsberg continues to perform in the manner that he is, I’d hang my hat on this trade too, David Poile.

Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg aren’t the only two to score today for Nashville, oh no. The long awaited goal from Colin Wilson came at 4:37 in the third period, his fifth of the season. Wilson’s name has been pretty prominent of late, mostly due to being involved with trade talks; more specifically, a trade between he and former Predator Scott Hartnell. While only one reputable source has mentioned this trade with some sort of seriousness, as of 8:50PM, neither team has budged. Of course, Kevin Fiala’s name has been brought up in the rumors as well, but until some big names start shuffling the news, I am not reporting it. Any who, Colin Wilson was definitely due and collecting Nashville’s 5-0 game winning goal may be the boost he needs to find his groove. Rinne found his, after all, and it looks like Craig Smith is, too.

With this win, Nashville is now just six points behind the Blues and just eight points behind Chicago. Also, the Predators have the best record in the Central Division for the month of February: 7-3-3.  It is funny to think that this time last year, Nashville had hit their seasonal rut and were slowly losing their hold of the League and Central Division. Sadly, as we are all very much aware, Nashville could not get out of the rut in time to clinch the Central Division after holding it for so long.

As Nashville pulls itself together just in time for the playoff run, the organization isn’t going to find itself with many chances to relax. Division-leading Dallas comes in Tuesday, then its a bout with the Devils Thursday, then Nashville takes off on a five-game road trip out west. But this is the best the Predators have looked all season. Be excited. The road to the playoffs comes fast.

Hornqvist & Spaling to Pens for James Neal

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By now, you already know about the trade between Nashville and Pittsburgh involving the exchange of Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling for Right Winger, James Neal. Has it had time to sink in yet? Nick Spaling was on the radar to take flight, but Hornqvist came as a surprise to just about everyone.

James Neal, first drafted in the second round in the 2005 Draft by the Dallas Stars, was a goal collector from the get-go. Scoring no less than 20-goals a season, in the 2011-12 season, Neal topped the charts with 40 goals — as a Preds fan, could you imagine forty goals from one player, not a multitude of several together? Since the 2011-12 season, he has lost some steam, but in Predators terms, he’s still on fire (again, no less than twenty goals since).

Though the loss of Hornqvist tears deeply at the heartstrings — the price of being a fan — now that the dust has settled from yesterday’s trade, you’ll be able to see with clearer eyes that, in order for the Predators to make the move towards the ultimate prize, sacrifices must be made. Unfortunately, Hornqvist was that sacrifice (sorry, Spals). This is a great sign from the leaders of this organization that good things are on the horizon. Moves like these are (for Nashville’s sake) what it is going to take for Nashville to get back in the playoff chase and make a legitimate run towards the Stanley Cup.

Here’s an exchange between the media, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin:
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That was a good little .gif set to find, right? Neal wants t he puck. He wants to shoot. For a defensive team like Nashville, this is the exact exchange we want to hear from former teammates. Shooting leads to goals. Goals leads to winning. Winning leads to playoffs. Playoffs lead to Cup. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

https://twitter.com/richcluneshow/status/482690204407300096

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Laviolette named Head Coach of Predators

Courtesy: Yahoo! Images

Courtesy: Yahoo! Images

Sorry I’m late to the party — I was actually at LP Field (where the Tennessee Titans play, for those of you who are NFL-challenged) on a tour with my company when the news broke. Any who, so by now you know Nashville has hired Peter Laviolette as the new Head Coach, the second HC in Predators franchise history. Laviolette has had his name in the hat since Trotz was handed the pink slip, so it was no surprise when it was finally announced that he would be taking over the coveted position.

Laviolette agreed to a multi-year contract and is a former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders. He ended up winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Hurricanes and went to the Cup Final with the Flyers in 2010. Philadelphia then fired him early in the 2013-14 season, though Laviolette has a 389-282-25-63 overall NHL record; Trotz’s record? 557-479-60-100.

With the presence of a new HC, you know that means some of the pieces to the Trotz administration will change. Though Lane Lambert and Phil Housley are expected to stay with Nashville, goal-tending Coach Mitch Korn will more than likely go with Trotz on his future endeavors, which is a detrimental loss for Nashville.

The Predators will be having a formal presser at 2PM CT and we will add more details as they arrive.

Highlights from the press conference:

Barry Trotz Out as Head Coach

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Though you knew it was coming, it was announced just moments ago that Barry Trotz was relieved of his duties as Head Coach with the Nashville Predators.
Trotz has been there from the get-go; he even had a hand in selecting the franchise name. But after fifteen years and with little hope for a Stanley Cup, it was time to part ways.

What Barry Trotz has done for this organization cannot be overlooked nor replaced. He helped establish Nashville as a contender in hockey and placed Nashville on a permanent ice hockey map when it was deemed nearly impossible. Calling him a class act is an understatement & he will be genuinely missed, even by those who have been calling for his head since the beginning.

Though details as to who will be his replacement or any set reason for his firing haven’t been released, we will post it as soon as information becomes available. As for those wondering what will happen to Trotz? Don’t worry – he won’t be unemployed for long; he will make another NHL General Manager extremely happy.

What were your favorite Trotzy moments?

https://twitter.com/PredsWebGirl/status/455739854140481536

New Details:

  • Per the official press release, Trotz has been offered a position with the Predators Hockey Ops Department.

  • General Manager David Poile to host press conference at 3:30PM to discuss the details of this morning’s news.

 

News from the Press Conference:

 

Seek Change or Bent on Tradition: Nashville’s Fan Base

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Though the odds were slim (miniscule, even), coming into last night’s game against Dallas, Nashville still had a shot at squeezing into a playoff spot. And, in a fashion fit for a Hallmark movie, the deciding factor came down to a shootout; an area Nashville has struggled with this season and in the past. The Predators, in order to keep that playoff hope alive, needed the full two-points of a win over the Dallas Stars. Did last night’s game have a happy ending?

No.

Gabriel Bourque’s two goals kept the game tied to send it into overtime and inevitably into a shootout; Roman Josi’s shootout goal pushed Nashville to another round, but it was with the leadership of Captain Jamie Benn that snuffed the light on Nashville’s playoff hopes; and possibly a few positions as well.

No one likes missing the playoffs and, every season that is cut short, doesn’t mean heads should roll as a consequence. But for Nashville, struggle to make it to the playoffs, let alone contend, has been a multi-year occurrence. It may finally be time to put the focus on the coaching staff and their guidance. Now, before you accuse me of hating on Barry Trotz, let’s get this straight: Barry Trotz is an amazing leader on and off the ice. As Patten Fuqua so nicely put it:
https://twitter.com/smashville/status/453909920945950720

The same goes for David Poile. Some times, it’s just better to take a step back, re-evaluate the situation, and move on. Both Trotz and Poile have been at the helm of the Nashville Predators organization for fifteen years, but when you continuously hit a rut every season in just about the same area (i.e. no playoffs – second round), it’s time to make changes (and not necessarily on the player-front). Though committed wholly to this organization, many players have begun expressing their frustration; some have even asked to be traded. Will we see players ask to be traded over this upcoming off-season? Maybe, maybe not, but we wouldn’t blame them.

It’s easy for fans to turn on each other at this point; you have two dividing sides: Those seeking a major change and those bent on tradition.
Neither side is more of a “loyal fan” than the other, but at times, it gets down right vicious. But honestly, what doesn’t tempt vicious behavior on Social Media?
Everyone’s opinion is different and everyone’s view on how the team and organization can benefit varies, but let’s be honest here: Nothing proceeds without change. The game is changing and the Predators need reflect those changes before the organization winds up somewhere in Canada. I’m not saying the Predators need to throw everything out and start from scratch, but some hard-hitting decisions and changes need to be made and first and foremost is to re-evaluate the coaching staff.

So what if Trotz and Poile are booted in the off-season? Does that mean Nashville will be in the Stanley Cup finals during the 2014-15 season? No, not it doesn’t (though that’d be pretty nice). What it does mean, however, is that the organization has taken responsibility for its continuous issues and has taken what it thinks are the necessary steps in order to push forward. It also shows that the organization realizes that relying solely on a goaltender and putting the blame on his absence is complete nonsense and asinine. Mind you, the team won 27 games without Rinne, so please, put that ideology to rest, will ya?

I could dive into the details, the stats, what have you regarding why the Predators need a major change, but I will leave that to the other bloggers (they have a little bit more time and resources than I do). I can see both sides of the fan base debate, but the point of this post is to get both sides thinking. Do you want to see this organization prosper? Do you want the team you canonize to hoist the Stanley Cup? Then take a step back, re-evaluate your perspective, and allow some sort of change to happen.

Predators blank Red Wings 2-0

Courtesy: Getty Images — And yes, this is an older photo

After a less than successful road trip to their tremendous win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night 7-2, Nashville hit the road again, making their first stop in the Motor City; the first time since Detroit hopped ship to the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for the Wings, after years of questioning their position in the West, their debut in the East hasn’t exactly been the brightest. Though a better record than Nashville at 9-5-7 (NSH – 9-9-2), the Wings have been on a downslope the last six games. That’s right; six games. Luckily for Detroit, however, 5 out of 6 of those losses have resulted in either a SO or OT, so at least a point is gained.
So, after the outstanding performance against the Blackhawks Saturday night, would the Predators extend the momentum to the Joe and hand their old foes their seventh consecutive loss? Let’s jump to the highlights:

First Period:

  • Neither team was able to collect a goal during the first period, but it was far from uneventful.
  • Both sides were given Power Play opportunities, but neither goalie was willing to give the other side any leeway.
  • Nashville outshot Detroit 10 to 7 at the end of the first period.

Second Period:

  • Plenty of penalties were had in the second period, with the Red Wings notching three and the Predators picking up one from Mike Fisher’s holding call.
  • Nashville would finally connect on a Power Play opportunity at 19:55 (yes, just five seconds left in the period) with an infamous slapshot from Shea Weber (6th overall). David Legwand notched his 14th assist on Weber’s goal.
  • Detroit would take the lead in shots-on-goal in the second, 9 to 7.

Third Period:

  • Gabriel Bourque would put Nashville up 2-0 at 7:13 with a backhander around Jimmy Howard (3rd overall). Viktor Stalberg would pick up the assist (2nd overall).

In an interesting and bizarre call, Viktor Stalberg and Mikael Samuelsson both received holding penalties, though they clearly initiated a fight. Was it because no punches were thrown? Who knows, but both we given minors for the incident.
Detroit would attempt to take the helm by outshooting Nashville 11 to 8, but it just wasn’t enough to power past the rookie goaltender.
Speaking of rookie goaltender, kudos to Marek Mazanec for his first career NHL shutout. And in the Joe, nonetheless! Mazanec is just the second Czech-born goaltender to record a shutout for the Predators.
Final shot count: Detroit 27, Nashville 25.
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I’d like to believe that Nashville has shaken their slump and that the sting of 5-0 shutouts have faded from recent memory, but I won’t be setting up my lawn chair for the Stanley Cup parade on Broadway just yet… but I like the path they are on currently. A win over Chicago and Detroit are always confidence builders.

The Predators head East to Toronto to take on the 13-7-1 Maple Leafs, who Nashville has already beaten on the road once this season. So, can they do it again? We’ll find out Thursday night at 6PM.

Preds vs. the 2013 Draft

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The much anticipated 2013 NHL Draft is just around the corner on June 30th, and rumors of who will nab who are floating around the Internets, clogging our Twitter feeds and Facebook walls.
So, say you’re new to this whole “draft” thing. You just started following hockey within the last few seasons or are just now getting interested in more than just the gameday routine. Well, here’s a background on the 2013 Draft in a nutshell:

Hockey players born between January 1, 1993 and September 15, 1995 are eligible for selection in this year’s draft. Along with those players, any un-drafted players over the age of 20 are also eligible for the draft on June 30th, as long as they are not from North America. And, last but not least, any players who were drafted in the 2011 Draft but were not signed by an NHL team who were born after June 30, 1993 are eligible to re-enter this year’s draft.

The NHL hosts a “Draft Lottery” every year to determine who will get the first overall pick in the Draft. All fourteen teams that did not qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs were given “weighted” chances towards the first pick, with the Colorado Avalanche winning the coveted first choice.

The Draft order ranks as follows (Top 10):
Colorado Avalanche
Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nashville Predators
Carolina Hurricanes
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres
New Jersey Devils
Dallas Stars

We’d go through all 30 teams, but that would make this an extremely long post and would stray from the original point. Anywho, as you can see, our tried and true Predators have the No. 4 pick, which is a relatively relieving position to be in… IF the organization chooses wisely.
Wait- How can Nashville possible go wrong? A chance at any of the top four picks in the draft; there’s no way. Oh, with Nashville’s history of choosing “defensively”, so to say, there’s a definite way, alright. But let’s give our guys a break and put some faith behind them, shall we? Here are the top 5 prospects in this year’s Draft:

NORTH AMERICAN
Seth Jones (D)
Nathan MacKinnon (C)
Jonathan Drouin (LW)
Darnell Nurse (D)
Sean Monahan (C)

EUROPEAN:
Alexander Barkov, Jr. (C)
Valeri Nichushkin (RW)
Elias Lindholm (C)
Rasmus Ristolainen (D)
Alexander Wennberg (C)

Now, you would assume that Colorado would go for Seth Jones, the prospected No. 1 pick, right? Well, in the last few days, Colorado has began to back away from the young defenseman, claiming that their options are “open” to any of the top prospect, not just Jones. Though the chances of him, if Colorado passes him up, ending up within Nashville’s grasp are slim, the possibility is still there. Thus leads to this blog post that you are reading.

Without dreaming of Seth Jones, Nashville’s most realistic draftee would be Alexander Barkov, a young Finnish-Russian who collected 21 goals in the 2012-13 season with Tappara in the SM-liiga, along with 27 assists. And you are thinking, “How could Nashville pass this kid up? Forget Jones! Let’s get a goal scorer!” Reviewing his stats with SM-liiga, it’s easy to g0al-hungry forget the fact that, although it is an utterly annoying cliche, NHL-style hockey is a whole new ballgame. Though he did extremely well in Europe doesn’t guarantee he’ll do well on NHL ice or under an NHL coach… especially one that does not take risky, unorganized plans very well (ex. Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, foresee the future of Filip Forsberg). However, despite that risk, in Nashville’s case, a Center with a positive goal and assist history is something to jump on if given the chance.

So with that, you wonder why Nashville would even go for a defenseman like Seth Jones. Well, remember, it is Nashville we are talking about; the team that loves to known for their defensive abilities. While being known as one of the top defensive teams in the league is great, one excelled attribute doesn’t win the ultimate goal. You have to find the right mixture of defense and offense and, for the Predators, that has been awfully difficult. This may be considered tacky, but let’s use this as an example: Everyone played the Sims (don’t you dare deny it). Whether you played to live our your fantasy life with a crush or just enjoyed setting your Sims on fire, you had to design your Sim person before you could start anything. If you actually played more than just to burn the house down, you had to create a Sim with a good, even mixture of personality. Be too “outgoing” and you’d come off as annoying to other Sims; not enough “neat” and your trash would be piling up all over the house. Again, terrible and silly comparison, but you have to admit; it’s true.

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You remember this…

While Nashville had the defensive powerhouse that was Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the rest of the team was neglected, thus leaving the Predators to come up short time and time again in the playoffs (this year, not even making them). Sadly, this theory can be thrown at the team over and over, but action has to be taken in order to see the fruits on one’s labor.

The Preds tend to stay in the “safe zone” when it comes to drafting or trading, and that goes for any time of the season. More than likely, the same will happen June 30th. If Seth Jones is still available by the fourth pick, Nashville will undoubtedly snatch him up. You can’t blame them, of course. Ranked the best upcoming defenseman? Sure, he’s an outstanding choice that Nashville would be nuts not to pick up. However, it is a fact that Seth Jones would be much better for other teams, but I assume it would be okay to greedy… until he grew to big for his britches and he would either ask to be traded or would take an offer elsewhere when given the chance.

Speculation is all that is.

As much as either Seth Jones or Alexander Barkov would make Nashville a happier organization, no pick is set in stone. Colorado could be lying and grab Jones with their first pick, or they could go off the wall and draft someone further down the line. Tampa Bay could tell Nashville to kiss their butts and draft Barkov or Jones before Nashville gets the reins. Luckily, the Predators have landed in a good spot, no matter who they end up drafting. Personally, we pray it is NOT a defenseman but hey, all we can do is put faith in our fellow man and pray they spice it up a bit with an offensive player.

Preds aquire Filip Forsberg from WSH for Erat & Latta

 

Image Source: Thescore.com

Image Source: Thescore.com

Wowza. What an unexpected surprise for Nashville, wouldn’t you say? Though I would’ve loved to rush to the blog to get this story out sooner, my employer wouldn’t have appreciated me cussing under my breath at my phone as I fought to get WordPress to work on my phone.

Though you know the story by now, the Predators made a surprise move on the last day of the Trade Deadline in the form of trading both Martin Erat and Mike Latta to the Washington Capitals for a forward by the name of Filip Forsberg. *I beg your pardon? We traded Erat and Latté for who?* Well, we hope that now that most of the story and facts have trickled out, we can get you the full blown information here. Let’s take a look at what Mr. Poile did today and was it worth the loss of a veteran like Erat?

Well, from what we gather in a nutshell: Yes, yes it was.
Filip Forsberg was selected 11th overall by the Capitals in the 2012 Draft, the third Forward to be drafted. Let us also mention that the young Forsberg, born on August 13, 1994 (I feel old), has no relation to Peter Forsberg who played for Nashville for a brief time in 2006. The 18-year-old is not currently with the Capitals, though; he isn’t even floating around their Farm Team. Honestly, he isn’t even in North America at all. No, Forsberg is currently in Sweden (where he hails), filling a roster spot with Leksands IF of the Swedish Elite League. With 15 goals and 18 assists in just 38 games, Forsberg looks like the offensive powerhouse that Nashville has longed to acquire (Hey, Radulov…).

Though he hasn’t proven himself in the NHL yet, it was a risk Poile and Co. were willing to take in order to take Nashville to a Stanley Cup. The young Swede has already signed a 3-year entry level contract and is cleared to play in North America now, if he chooses. Though he has one game left in Sweden, it is not for certain if he will make the jump to the NHL this season or next, but believe us, he’ll be wearing the Predators gold soon. David Poile made the comment today that he does want to see him in the lineup soon.

So, if this prospect is so good, why did the Capitals let the 18-year-old go for a 31-year-old vet?
Truth is, Washington gave up on him. Okay, there was more than that, but that is the reason in a nutshell. He hasn’t seen a second of NHL ice time and risking him for a veteran like Martin Erat wasn’t a tough decision for Washington. Plus, they acquire Michael Latta with the trade, who has been a standout for the Milwaukee Admirals as of late. Though Latta will probably hit Washington’s FT, Erat will join alongside Alexander Ovechkin and former Predator, Joel Ward.

More news trickled out as the trade announcement had been made; one that shook Predators fans to the core. Per David Poile in his press conference to the media, Martin Erat had expressed his interest in being traded. Still sore from the Ryan Suter debacle, fans were not ready to hear that Marty Erat, who has been with the team for twelve years, spoke with Poile two weeks before the Trade Deadline about waiving his ‘no-movement clause’ and search for greener pastures. It was clear Erat was no longer happy here in Nashville, which is a shame, but Nashville was “moving on with a younger team” and he doesn’t “have 6- to 7 years to wait for it [Stanley Cup] to happen”.

You can’t hate the guy for being unhappy and for being honest. Poile expressed his displeasure that the Predators and Martin Erat had to come to an end in a negative way, but I wouldn’t say Erat is leaving in a negative light. He expressed his displeasure and Poile honored his request, nothing more, nothing less.

We wish Marty all the luck in the world with Washington and hope he finds a better fit with Ovie and Wardo. It’s hard to see a leader and veteran like Erat wish to leave and, as a fan, it makes you wonder what went wrong. Why was he so unhappy here? Well, everyone has their own opinion as to why Erat may have been unhappy – as do we – but from his own mouth, he and Nashville were no longer on the same page. His lack of performance this season proved his displeasure here, and that you cannot dispute.

As for Mike Latta, we were looking forward to the feisty enforcer in Nashville, but alas, that ship as sailed to the Hershey Bears (Washington’s FT). He was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2008 NHL Draft (72nd overall) and has made a name for himself while with Milwaukee as a fan favorite.

Ecstatic, isn't he?

Ecstatic, isn’t he?

From fellow teammate and Preds prospect, Magnus Hellberg

From fellow teammate and Preds prospect, Magnus Hellberg

 

To gain is to lose, and in order to aquire the future of the Nashville Predators organization, we had to let go of the past; a part of the foundation that his held Nashville together for twelve long years. It is hard to see Erat go, but again, to gain is to lose. Once Filip Forsberg has joined the Predators, fans will see that David Poile made the right move to push the future of the Nashville Predators towards the ultimate goal: the Stanley Cup.

We wish you well, Martin Erat.


We wish you well, Mike Latta.

Welcome to the greatest team in the league, Filip Forsberg.

 

 

 

 

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