Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shea Weber Scenario

Well, the most important arbitration deadline in Preds history came and passed this morning. All indications and guesses by those "in-the-know" said a deal would get done before today. So let's ponder what this means from many angles.

1. David Poile/Shea Weber's promise- both parties said this would get done before arbitration and Shea would be a Predator for a long time. They are committed to each other, the city and the franchise. Somebody told a story to be determined later. This should not have went to arbitration.
2. David Poile/Preds- The fans have seen minimal free agent signings because of small market limitations. The salary purge of Timmonen, Vokoun, Hartnell(and others) still stings to this day. If the Preds can't sign Weber for more than 2 years, the fans have every right to stop supporting a franchise who can't pay the best players to stay in Nashville.
3. Shea Weber- We have heard nothing from him other than he wants to be here but actions speak louder than words. Leak some info to the newspapers, ESPN, etc. if the Preds aren't making a good faith effort. Show the fans you are trying to get a deal done. I haven't seen anything to make me believe he wants to remain in Nashville long term. I hope I am wrong.
4. Poile/Preds ownership- Saw a recent stat concerning the 16 teams that made the playoffs this past season. Counting the top 5 salaries already committed to for 2011-12 season, the Preds were at the bottom of the list at $20.1 million. The Capitals were #1 at 32.6 million. I would say there is room to sign Shea Weber. Who cares if you overpay some? The fans and franchise need a leader. Quit worrying about how Rinne and Suter's deals come into play. Just get it done.

Interest details should be coming out later today. I just hope the Preds ownership have not lost a large block of fans playing moneyball with Weber. All the momentum from last year looks to be in jeopardy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Playoff Roller Coaster Continues, Game 4 Tonight

They say playoff hockey is an emotional roller coaster. And I must say I am exhausted after round 1. Can you imagine if the Preds go to the finals what this would be like?

GAME 2- The Preds get a crazy goal from behind the net to tie in the final minutes and then win in the 2nd overtime. Pekka Rinne makes several saves that had Vancouver victory written all over them. Game winner scored by unlikely hero Matt Halischuk.

GAME 3- The Preds miss chances early to go up 2-0 or 3-0 but only get 1 goal. The second period was something to forget and then the Preds tie things up 2-2 with 6 minutes to go on Joel Ward's wraparound. If emotions weren't high enough then, toss in the questionable penalty call on Shea Weber 10 minutes into overtime. Then sudden death strikes on the Kessler goal for Vancouver.

GAME 4- Preds offense has to get going and I hope I finally get to see Colin Wilson play since Steve Sullivan is injured. He is the top stick handler and one of the best offensive players on the roster. Steve Sullivan is not known for defense, so Colin's lack of 2 way play is not going to be any different that what we are getting now. Jared Smithson can't take penalties waving sticks in Roberto Luongo's face either. Vancouver's power play now has confidence after GAME 3(2 for 4), the Preds have to stay out of the box.

The roller coaster cranks up again tonight at 7:30. Have your Tums ready.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Game 1 to Canucks 1-0

Had it not been for Pekka Rinne, the Preds would have lost 5-0 tonight or worse. In a game resembling the 1998-2002 Preds, it was a case of no offense and many shots on goal against the goaltender. Nashville will have to pick things up, especially on offense to have a chance in the series. For 2 1/2 periods last night, it was men(Vancouver) playing against boys(Nashville).

Other observations from Game 1:
* Kevin Klein had a defense breakdown like he was doing the first half of the year that led to the only goal of the game. Hope it is an isolated incident.
* Somebody please tell the Vesus channel play-by-play man that Kevin Klein is #8 and Jonathon Blum is #7. For most of the game he was announcing Blum as #7 and #8.
* I did enjoy the Versus broadcast team high praise for Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber.
* Martin Erat didn't look 100% healthy
* Patrick Hornqvist took 2 penalties and couldn't get his normal disruptive offensive game going. That led to the first line struggling on offense all night.
* With our solid scoring chances going to be few and far between in the series, Mike Fisher really needed to bury the breakaway in the 3rd period.

Game 2 Saturday night is almost a must win. If we go home down 0-2, there will be so much pressure to win the 2 home games. A split in Vancouver would give us room if the Canucks happen to come into Nashville and win either game 3 or 4.

I look for a better showing out of the Preds in Game 2 offensively. Let's hope Pekka Rinne can continue his great play and sneak out of western Canada with the series even at 1-1.

Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks-Round 2

The reward for beating Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs? You get the best team in hockey in round 2-the Vancouver Canucks. During the regular season, Vancouver was the #1 team in goals scored, fewest goals allowed, best power play and best penalty kill. The teams split their 4 regular season games against each other this year, but the Canucks were the best team top-to-bottom in the NHL.

How do the Preds pull off the upset?
1. P-E-K-K-A R-I-N-N-E. He has to be sharp and on his toes from the start. Vancouver will bring offense in waves. Pekka Rinne and all 6 defensemen have to be on their game.
2. Stay out of the penalty box. After the Anaheim series, you hope Shane O'Brien and rest of team will not put the #1 power play on the ice much.
3. Disciplined hockey. Be smart on offense. Don't get caught in too deep and give Vancouver any more scoring chances than you have to.
4. Score on the power play. The Preds did a decent job against Anaheim, but against Vancouver they have to score as much as possible in power play situations to pull off the upset.

Prediction time- the Preds have to win 1 of the first 2 games in Vancouver. If they do that and score on the power play, they could squeak out a victory in 6 or 7 games. But if my life depended on getting the prediction right, I say Vancouver in 6.

But I sure pray that I am wrong. Let's go Preds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

History is Made, Preds Defeat Ducks in 6 Games

The Predators win their firt playoff series ever over Anaheim. It was raining catfish and rally towels in Bridgestone Arena Sunday afternoon. It was an electric atmosphere and so fun to watch David Legwand's empty net goal seal the deal. Going back to Friday night, it was an amazing 3 days in Preds history.

Game 5- When in Anaheim and Disney's backyard, why not a fairy tale ending? Shea Weber's wrister with 36 seconds left to tie will go down as the biggest goal in franchise history. If that doesn't happen, Jerred Smithson doesn't win the game in overtime and the Preds are in a deep hole. Jordan Tootoo played his best game ever as a Pred. David Legwand will be forever remembered on Bobby Ryan's unreal goal that will be shown in NHL highlights forever, but the Preds get the last laugh in the 4-3 win.

Game 6- The Preds stayed out of the box and rallied from an early deficit to close out the series 4-2. Pekka Rinne made big saves when he had to and Nick Spalling added 2 goals on top of his solid defensive performance. And who would add the empty net goal to finish it off? Of course, David Legwand.

As I predicted before the series, the Preds won in 6 games. The 2 games won by Anaheim were from the Preds taking too many penalties and getting their lethal power play on the ice. Discliplined Preds hockey led to 4 wins and also showed the Ducks to be no match for the Preds at even strength across all 4 lines.

Since San Jose closed out their series with the L.A. Kings last night, that means the Preds will not have home ice in round 2 of the playoffs. The Preds will face Vancouver if they defeat Chicago, Detroit if Chicago beats Vancouver.

Get your rest, round 2 is coming soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HUGE Game 4 Wednesday Night

With the Preds up in the series 2 games to 1, a victory at home Wednesday night would have Nashville in great shape to win their first playoff series in franchise history. That would leave the Preds only having to win one of the 3 games remaining.

Bobby Ryan finishes his 2nd of a 2 game suspension Wednesday night for stomping on Jonathon Blum's skate in game 2 of the series. It is safe to say it was a big loss for Anaheim affecting their top line. The Preds took advantage in game 3 as Anaheim could only scratch out 16 shots on goal for the game.

The Preds must continue to avoid time in the penalty box. In even strength play for the series the Preds have the upper hand. Anaheim's scoring has mostly come from the power play. Shane O'Brien in particular has to stop taking penalties. Three times his penalties have resulted in Anaheim goals.

So here is what is at stake. If the Preds take game 4, they lead the series 3-1 and have to feel very good about winning the series with tons of momentum. If Anaheim can pull off the victory, they regain home ice, tie the series at 2-2 and get a big lift from Bobby Ryan's return for game 5.

Tons of pressure on both teams. Let's hope the Preds dominate like they have in games 1 and 3. They have shown to be the better all-around team so far in the series.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preds Take Game 1 in Dominating Fashion

Any road win in the playoffs is good, but the Preds sent a message in the 4-1 win last night over Anaheim. Anaheim has to be worried about their offense against a stingy Preds defense backed up by hot goalie Pekka Rinne. The confidence of Anaheim has to be rattled as well with their only goal coming on a 5-on-3 power play. Now all the pressure is on Anaheim in game 2. The Ducks can't go down 0-2 with 2 losses on their home ice to start the series and feel they have a reasonable shot to come back and win the series.

Other notes:
* Mike Fisher showed why the Preds traded for him with 2 laser shots for goals. His 2nd (and the 4th overall) sent Dan Ellis to the showers early.
* The Preds must be disciplined and not take penalties. The 5-on-3 was a situation where Kevin Klein lost his cool against Corey Perry. Anaheim's power play is deadly (#3 in NHL), but the Preds showed Anaheim last night that in even-strength situations they will have a tough time scoring against our defense.
* Anaheim really went after the body early and then got chippy at the end of the game. Again, Preds must keep their cool and know this is going to happen again if the Ducks can't get their offense going.
* Even though Preds won, I don't like Colin Wilson not playing. He is one of our top 5 players in terms of offensive skills. I would have him in instead of Halischuk.
* Will Cal O'reilly get back in lineup during the series? He is skating again now with the team since the broken leg suffered midway through the season. He is ideally situated to take Jerrod Smithson's place as center on the 3rd line in my opinion.

Friday night at 9:30 for game 2. If the Preds can withstand Anaheim coming out in full force and pull this game off, they would be in the driver's seat to win their first playoff series. It will be a war because Anaheim must win. The Preds better be ready.