Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Preds Hang On Vs. St. Louis, win 4-3

Preds get a much needed win in St. Louis last night to stop a 3 game losing streak. Inside that losing streak was 2 losses to the Chicago Blackhawks. Had the Preds won those 2 games they would have been near the top of the western conference standings, but Chicago showed why they are tops in the western conference with 2 strong performances in defeating the Preds. Preds are in Columbus on New Year's Eve and then home for 4 straight before another western Canada 3 game trip. You can sense the importance of every game as the Preds try to hang onto 5th place in the conference playoff standings.

Other quick notes:
* Injuries are starting to be a concern after a good run of not too many significant injuries at once. Now Martin Erat and Kevin Klein were both hurt in last nights game. They join Tootoo and Smithson. When you are talking 4 of your top 20 players injured, that is a tough mountain to climb. Let's hope Erat and Klein are not out long.
* Missing in Action- Steve Sullivan and Jason Arnott. Two-thirds of the top line have disappeared as of late regarding offensive production. They have to get going.
* Patrick Hornqvist!!!!!!! You know my posting history. Didn't understand why he had dropped to the 4th line. You could argue he is MVP to this point in the season for the Preds. Glad to see him getting the ice team because he produces and provides traffic.

All for now. Happy New Year everyone. Let's go Preds.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Preds on a Roll, face Vancouver tonight

Preds roll into Vancouver with 2 wins in 2 games so far on the 3 game road trip. Preds are 6-0-1 over their last 7 and holding onto 4th place in the western conference standings. The word HOT is a good description of the team lately as we are 5 games from the halfway point of the season. With 4 of next 5 games on the road and 2 of those matchups with the western conference leader Chicago Blackhawks, the Preds have their work cut out for them and no let up in sight as far as the schedule goes heading into the new year.

Other thoughts as the way I see it:

* The law of averages say the Preds are due for a slight cool off with the winning, but if they were to beat Chicago twice and get points in 2 of the 3 other contests, the Preds could be in first place in the western conference heading into 2010.
* I told you so #1- You can go back and look at the posts where I told you Patrick Hornqvist did not belong on the 4th line based on his production. Last week he exploded for 4 goals and 3 assists leading to being named the NHL 3rd star for the week. He belongs on one of our top 2 lines.
* I told you so #2- Before the season I said if the Preds are to have a good season and finish in the top half of the conference it is Legwand/Erat who need to lead the way and get close to 30 goals each. Erat has now scored 12 goals after a terrible start and is on pace for 30 goals. Legwand has chipped in 8 goals but is playing the best 2 way hockey of his career. If they keep this up the Preds will be in good shape.

Get a quick nap in this evening for the 9:30 start tonight at Vancouver.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Big Game vs. Red Wings tonight

I'm Back- Laptop repaired and ready to give you the best Preds insight on the web. Preds 6-3-1 across the last 10 games and currently in 7th place in the western conference standings. If you take into consideration the Red Wings are in 9th place, 3 points behind the Preds, a win tonight by the Preds would give them a 5 point cushion on being out of the playoffs.

Other thoughts as Preds are just 10 games away from the halfway point of the season:

* Martin Erat has awakened! 5 goals across his last 3 games. As I blogged before the season, the Preds are a solid team when Erat/Legwand score and play well. When they don't the Preds struggle. Erat is now 3rd on team in points overcoming a terrible start to the season.
* Steve Sullivan has suddenly hit the skids and only has 6 goals thru 31 games. The Preds need him to score to keep their momentum going. Kudos to Sullivan for playing in every game when you consider the back injuries he has overcome.
* I have been blogging this for a while but why is Patrick Hornqvist still burried on the 4th line? Guess who still leads the team in shots on goal(93) and game winning goals(3). He produced when given the opportunity but somehow has dropped to the 4th line. He needs more ice time because he will go to the net.

All for now.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Seven Game Win Streak Ends

The curse of the 3rd jersey is alive! Just kidding, but the Preds do drop their first game wearing the new 3rd jersey. The 7 game win streak started by winning in St. Louis on November 12th and ends with a loss in Nashville on November 27th to the Blues. No time to rest because the Florida Panthers arrive in town tomorrow night followed by the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Chris Mason was solid in net for the Blues and the Preds couldn't catch a break the entire game. I chalk tonight up to the law of averages catching up. As much as we want them to the Preds are not going to win 11 out of every 13 games.

Other Thoughts Regarding the Preds:

* I don't like coach Trotz moving Patrick Hornqvist back to what is now the 4th line. Despite diminishing ice time, he is still tied for 7th in scoring (ahead of Erat, Smithson, Goc, Santorelli) and the top forward in regards to +/- ratio. There is no reason he shouldn't be on the 2nd line with Legwand and Ward.
* Thank you Pekka Rinne for the recent winning streak. He was spectacular as needed and solid every game of the winning streak. He made some great saves tonight against the Blues to keep the game close. I look for Dan Ellis to get a turn in net against Florida and allow Rinne some rest.
* Preds are in 6th place in the playoff race and seemed to have overcome the early poor start.
* Preds are 14th out of 15 teams in western conference in goals scored. Not good.
* Preds are 2nd out of 15 teams in western conference in goals allowed. Very good.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Preds Play Solid in 3-2 Shootout win over Devils

The Preds continue the recent strong run(8-2 record) over their last 10 games with a 3-2 shootout win against New Jersey last night. The Preds scratched out a win versus the best the eastern conference has to offer. The Preds now face 2 division foes (Columbus and Detroit) Saturday/Monday, but also 2 teams ahead of them in the western conference playoff race. Two wins should put the Preds in the top 8 in regards to the playoff standings.

Other Thoughts:
* Preds hung tough with a very solid and playoff bound New Jersey team. Preds fans should be encouraged that the team can play excellent hockey when on their game.
* Preds are 6-3 at home and have won 12 of a possible 18 points so far this year. Preds are Scrooge-like at home only allowing an average of 1.77 goals per game.
* Kudos to Cody Franson. Saw him in person last night and the game has obviously slowed down for him. I posted previously that he looked overwhelmed at times. He now has confidence as he stood up Devil attackers at the blue line and looks much better. Dan Hamhuis' solid play has to play a part in his resurgence as well.
* Considering Martin Erat and David Legwand have a combined total of 3 goals, you have to like where the Preds stand. They are also a combined -14 on the plus/minus. OUCH!!!!
* Knock wood that the Preds injuries have slowed down and the recent strong play is a direct result. I posted as the season started the Preds would be okay if the injuries don't pile up. Outside of Colin Wilson the Preds have everybody healthy at the moment.
* Jordan Tootoo took the Devils off their game last night, especially during an 8 minute stretch in the 2nd period. The Devils wanted him to fight and the bench along with those on the ice spent much of the time concerned with Tootoo than with the game. Tootoo performed his job very well and drew 1 penalty.

Two big divisional battles(Columbus and Detroit) on the way. I will be at the Detroit game Monday and post again then. Lets go Preds!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Game Night vs. San Jose Sharks

One of the hottest teams in NHL visits tonight in a true test for a resurgent Preds team that followed up a good 4 game road trip with a strong win against Montreal Saturday night.

Good news/bad news- The good news is the Preds put 55 shots on goal against the Canadiens Saturday night. The bad news is only 2 shots found the net. It is good to see the Preds playing most of the game in the other team's zone though. Maybe that is a good sign of things to come.

Pekka Rinne is the Man- It was a light night against Montreal but he came up big when needed. Pekka makes the spectacular look easy when he is on his game.

Sharks tonight and Devils on Thursday. Top teams in their respective conferences should be a good gauge on where the Preds are right now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What We Learned from 4 Game Road Trip West

The Preds have to feel pretty good about the west coast trip. Battling injuries and uncertainty as to the #1 netminder, they produce a solid effort with only a bad 3rd period against Anaheim in the trip's first game. Four points(2 wins & 2 losses) and Pekka Rinne entrenched as #1 goalie later, the Preds are ready to make a run up the western conference standings with 8 of the next 9 games at home. Quick thoughts on the trip:

* I really like the 2nd line of Legwand, Hornqvist and Ward. Ward and Hornqvist bring hard work, energy and toughness around Legwand. I think it will take Legwand's production even higher. Legwand has turned in some solid performances over the last few weeks. The kind of production needed for the Preds to be playoff contenders.

* Pekka Rinne had some spectacular saves against St. Louis to keep the Preds up 2-1 before Legwand added the empty netter. You see the skills that make him a #1 netminder. Let's hope Trotz gives him the reigns to take this team on his back the remainder of the season. One bad performance should not be an automatic switch to Dan Ellis.

* Welcome back Jordan Tootoo. The game winner vs. the Blues and toughness to the team. His willingness to get hit as he shot the game winner should be motivation to Erat, Legwand and the other youngsters on the team.

The Preds only leave Nashville 1 time the remainder of November. Let's hope they take advantage of being home. They have survived the heavy road trips on the first part of the schedule.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 Wins in a Row

Thanks to solid netminding by Pekka Rinne, the Preds have ripped off 3 straight wins and find themselves tied for 10th place in the western conference playoff standings. Two weeks ago they were 14th out of 15 teams and looking lifeless. Now its off for a 3 game west coast trip with a stop in St. Louis on the way back. If the Preds can come back with 4 out of a possible 8 points from the trip it would be a success considering they finish November with 8 of 9 games at home. A critical stretch for the Preds in November.

Other thoughts:
* Still waiting for the return of Jordan Tootoo. Until the recent 3 game win streak I thought he would be the life they needed. I still think he can take them to another level with the enthusiasm and spirited game he plays. It will pick up the pace everyone plays with and I think he ignites the young guys to play at another level. Let's see if I am right once he returns.
* Patrick Hornqvist continues to be early season MVP. 3rd in points, +5 rating(leads team) and 2 game winning goals says it all.
* Off to the road where Preds are 3-3-1 and averaging almost 2.5 goals per game.
* As posted many a time before: Rinne is the Preds goalie and a solid #1 NHL goalie. It should be his position to lose.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Game Night vs. Blackhawks

Preds finally return home to the friendly confines of the Sommet Center after a solid performance, winning against the Minnesota Wild 4-3 last night. The offense showed signs of life and Pekka Rinne had some big saves in relief of Dan Ellis that you hope might be the catalyst to a long run of great goaltending. Let's hope the momentum carries over against a very good Blackhawks team. The Preds are 1-3 at home with a total of 5 goals.

What to watch for tonight:
* Martin Erat needs to build on a solid skating game against the Wild to break the scoring drought and get some pucks in the net.
* Can Pekka Rinne take the lead in goal and hold the job for a 3-5 game stretch? He has #1 goalie talent and skills that can propel the Preds to a strong winning/points streak.
* Does Collin Wilson continue to grow confidence and push David Legwand for 2nd line center position once Jason Arnott returns? Legwand has to be hearing the footsteps and the competition should be good for him.
* Congrats to Mike Santorelli for his first NHL goal against the Wild. Maybe him now playing center instead of winger as before will open up his offensive game. Playing out of position may have held him back before.

All for now, another post will follow tonights game.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preds Blow 2 Leads, Lose to Bruins 3-2

Not having seen the last 4 games due to vacation, I can't compare this game to previous efforts to see if improvement is being made. The Preds TV crew seems to like the effort better than against the Capitals Saturday night, but the Preds got a point out of that game. No time to rest or dwell since it off to Ottawa for a game Wednesday night. My thoughts on the game:

* No Power Play- another 3 power play opportunities with no goals. Scored on first power play of the year and hasn't scored since. That is 1 for 27. YIKES!!!!

* Franson and Sulzer looked over matched on defense as a pairing at times, especially in the 2nd period. I think it best for coach Trotz to play them paired with a veteran separately as needed.

* Better game for David Legwand. Amazing what driving/challenging the net can do. His charge down the middle of the ice towards the Boston goal led to Smithson's 1st period goal. Had a blocked shot by going to the ice in the first period to show his teammates he was ready to play.

* I can't help but think of Ben Stein as the teacher in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off saying- Erat.....Erat.....Erat.....Erat. Where is Erat and where is the offense?

* Good defensive game for Kevin Klein. I thought he was in the right position all night to thwart several good Boston scoring chances.

* Watch out refs!!!! Two bad positionings of a linesman and referee cost the Preds possession of the puck on 2 Boston goals. You hate to complain but they played a big part in the Preds defense not being able to clear pucks that let to 2 goals.

* I hope the offense gets better soon. Right now it reminds me of some of those early Preds teams that really struggled to score.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crucial Stretch for the Preds

Sorry for no posts the last 10 days. Took the family for an extended stay at Disneyland and didn't get to post like I wanted. I am back now and ready to give the Preds my undivided attention.

Please note the 2 new features down the left hand site of the post. I have listed some quick stats broken down in home and away games. Gives you an idea of how Preds are playing home vs. road.

On Saturday the Preds were able to rally from an early 2 goal deficit to get a much needed point (ending a 4 game pointless streak) against a good Washington Capitals team. It was the first game of a 5 game road stretch and with the poor results of the previous 4 games (0-4 with only 2 goals scored), something positive needed to happen quickly. The Preds are already 14th (out of 15) in the playoff standings. It is time to make a move and not dig a huge hole again this year. One could argue that they may be too far behind already since they are only scoring 1.4 goals a game.

More to come on the scoring woes and lack of production individually. Keep your fingers crossed things turn around against the Bruins Tuesday night.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Predators go to 2-0 on the Season

Another solid performance and the Preds go to 2-0 on the season. Dan Ellis had another good game. Looks like Pekka Rinne will take a turn in net Saturday night. Will be interesting to see what happens if Rinne pitches a shutout. Patric Hornqvist looked like he had played with Arnott and Sullivan for years. He added 2 goals 2:17 apart in the 3rd period including the game winner. Kudos to Hornqvist for parking in front of the net to distract the goalie and Colorado. He was rewarded for his hard work with the game winner on a deflection.

Other food for thought from the game:
* Jason Arnott was huge. Great all-around game and showing the team how to play intently and give the effort.
* Where does Hornqvist go when J.P. Dumont comes back from injury? The argument could be made for 2nd line if Santorelli doesn't produce.
* Speaking of not producing, Martin Erat is off to a slow start. No points and losing the puck off his stick regularly. Would like to see more intensity and speed in his play.
* Jerrod Smithson seems to have taken a step forward this year. He looks strong on defense and penalty kill as usual, but seems to be in position on a regular basis for good scoring opportunities as well. I look for him to score some points very soon.

Heres hoping the hot start continues. The one we win on the front end means less scrambling at the end of the year for points to get in the playoffs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Season Off To A Good Start

Early goals by Arnott and Sullivan gave the Preds a good start but then had to pull some late dramatics to win in a shootout 3-2 over the Dallas Stars. Much has been said about Coach Trotz's decision to start Dan Ellis in goal over Pekka Rinne. Last night's choice was based on Ellis' strong preseason and previous success against Dallas per the coach. I agree with 95% of what Trotz does, but this is in my 5% disagree category. Rinne was clearly the #1 last year and deserved the start and opportunity to keep the job until performance dictated otherwise. The decision to go with Ellis could potentially divide a team/locker room if things go the wrong way. A big gamble by Trotz but so far so good.

My "wrist shots" from the game:

* Confidence builders for Legwand and Santorelli in the shootout. Legwand extends it with his goal and Santorelli wins it. Good first game for Santorelli with Erat/Legwand on #2 line.
* I posted yesterday major injuries have to be avoided for a successful season and Preds dodged a big bullet concerning J.P. Dumont. Luckily his injury will be minor and may return for next game.
* Francis Bouillon with a sold first game on defense and you see why some of the younger defensemen were sent back to Milwaukee.
* Marcel Goc showed some great savy and looked to be in the right place on the ice the entire night. He also gives Preds more size over a Vernon Fiddler/Scott Nichol the Preds had in the past.

All for now. Please comment if you want. Home opener Thursday night.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The long wait is over and Preds Fan is ready to blog all season long. Here are my keys to a successful season and playoff run:

1. Health- injuries took their toll on our scoring last year with Arnott, Sullivan, Erat and Legwand all missing considerable time. Due to payroll constrictions our top 6 has to stay healthy and productive all season long.
2. #6- Right now Mike Santorelli is the last of the top 6 forwards. Coach Trotz has to find the right person to mesh with Legwand/Erat.
3. 30/30- For the Preds 30 goals from Legwand/Erat each along with the expected production from the top line of Arnott/Sullivan/DuMont would get past the 90 point plateau and assure a good seed for the playoffs to avoid a first round matchup with San Jose/Detroit.
4. Klein will be fine- A lot has been made of Kevin Klein's importance of replacing steady Greg Zanon at the #4 defenseman spot. Although we will lose a little on the defensive side(Zanon very steady on D and great shot blocker), the offensive side gain will be better. Klein will help with those frustrating scoring droughts the Preds experience throughout the season.
5. Good start a must- The Preds don't need to fall behind like last year and have to press so hard to make up ground at the end of the season, especially being a more passive offensive team. Getting off to a good start and THEN relying on the defense/goaltending when ahead in the standing is the way to go.

Hard to believe the season is here, but glad it is. Another blog coming later tonight after the game.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Signing of Ryan Jones

The Preds on Monday made a statement about their confidence in Ryan Jones. Two year contract at just under $1 million per season. In 46 games last year he tallied only 17 points(7 goals and 10 assists). Ryan did show some promise at times in being a player who will sacrifice his body by standing in front of the net, a void yet to be filled since Scott Hartnell went to Philly. Popular opinion has him on the 2nd line with Legwand/Erat. If he blossoms into the player he has been projected, this is a great contract for the Preds. And if he struggles to score or goes to Milwaukee, it is not a big strain on the budget. Kudos to David Poile. I think Ryan will be a valued asset if he has some luck early and gets off to a good start.

Dan Ellis Watch- Keep an eye on other teams in the upcoming training camps. If a top goalie goes down to injury or one of the large market teams loses their top backup, it could be the domino to a trade. I still believe the goalie position is Pekka Rinne's and he can carry the load. Dan Ellis is David Poile's ace in the hole in getting one more top 6 forward. If not before the season, by trade deadline he will be dealt barring a Rinne injury.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Good Start to Free Agency for Preds

Hard to believe October is only 3 months away......
The Preds struck gold in getting Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward re-signed for 2 years and a budget friendly number. David Poile had to spend more than he wanted originally but he didn't have to pay outlandish money either. I am proud of the way the players and organization both handled the situation with class. Each side stated their reasons, negotiated fairly and were not offended with the final result.

* Kudos to Steve Sullivan who seems to really like the city of Nashville and was not money-hungry but just looking to get a fair market deal but stay in Nashville the entire time.
* Free agent needs- looks as if David Poile wants a veteran defenseman and another LW goal scorer going by conversations on local radio this week. In his usual fashion, he will watch the other deals and look to swoop in late and grab a $1-$3 million dollar player who seems to fall through the cracks once the big payroll teams are done spending.
* Alexander Radulov thoughts- with the world economy still struggling along, I think the chance of Radulov getting back over to the NHL gets better and better. Radulov has to play 1 more year for the Preds before a new contract can be negotiated, so he has to be weighing in his mind when is the best time to do so. Versus has the TV contract until 2010-2011. Radulov should consider playing this year and keep fingers crossed more player payroll money can come from the next TV contract if ratings still improve. With Ovechkin and Crosby becoming mainstream faces to the NHL, the future is looking better for the NHL as far as TV contracts go.
* Goal scoring need- I have said this before and still believe Antti Pihlstrom has another level of goal scoring in him. With his speed and toughness, he should be a 20-30 goal scorer. It may just be a confidence thing but if he was to have a hot streak of 3-5 goals in a 5-10 game stretch, I think it would catapult him into the 20+ goal scoring category.
* Trade bait- I know you are tired of hearing this. Dan Ellis=trade value. Pecca Rinne has arrived and is a clear #1 goalie. I know David Poile is holding him for the right time. Poile is weighing sign a free agent goal scorer vs. trading Ellis for someone under contract. Might be best to hang onto Ellis thru training camp to see if a top goalie gets injured. If the right large market team really needs a goalie for whatever reason, they will overpay and then the Preds/Poile can get crazy value for Ellis. Stay tuned.
* Hated to see Greg Zanon leave but it was all about $$$ for a small market club. We have young defensemen who can step up and our expendible cash had to go towards goal scorers Ward/Sullivan plus any free agent signing. It will be frustating though when Zanon keeps blocking all out shots when we play Minnesota.

Happy 4th everyone. Please comment if you want. Thanks to those who follow the blog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Regular Season Ends

Sorry for the delay but just now able to come to grips with the season being over. Considering all the injuries, it was a valiant effort to get to the brink of the playoffs. Kudos to coach Trotz and the effort of the guys down the stretch with seemingly miracle after miracle finish to games.

The answer to why we didn't make it? Not enough goals scored. We look to be solid in net and on defense for years to come but the lack of offense was the downfall. David Poile will be meeting with Alexander Radulov and his agent soon, let's hope that gets worked out so he can return next year. Signing Steve Sullivan will be important as well, but balancing the right amount of years/money versus his age/injuries will be interesting.

Year end wrap up coming soon. Try to enjoy the playoffs, it will be fun to watch even if we are not there.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Motor City Miracle, 4-3 OT Win vs. Detroit

Sorry Titans. I hope I get credit for naming it first. The Preds rise again from the ashes to hang onto the slim playoff hopes. Jason Arnott is proving the captain title is on the right player with 2 more goals and leading the late surge to come from 2 goals down in the 3rd period. Throw in some timely Pecca Rinne saves and it is time to beat the Minnesota Wild Friday night and then scoreboard watch. Kudos to coach Trotz for pushing the right buttons and holding this team together with all the injuries and adversity.

Other notes since my last blog(been watching games, just no time to blog)
* I am sorry to say it but I hope we can move Dan Hamhuis for some goal scoring in the off season. Teams value puck-moving defensemen. The Blackhawks game Tuesday night was another game with a huge defensive breakdown and a giveaway by Dan leading to 2 goals. It is time for Franzen, Koistenen or another young guy to move into his spot. In a year where we may miss the playoffs by 1 point, the mistakes he continues to make are very costly.
* Ville Koistenen is going to end up finding a place on the roster with his 3 way play. Part of the game as a winger, part leading the point on the power play. Now throw in his shootout success and he is a triple threat to give coach Trotz options when the injuries pile up.
* He will not win coach of the year but Barry Trotz should. Either that or Las Vegas magic act of the year. He has a defenseman playing winger, used at least 5 Milwaukee Admirals and played without 2 of his top 6 goals scorers down the stretch and still has the team in playoff contention.
* For all those bloggers on who trashed Trotz as a coach and GM David Poile for not making a deadline deal a while back, there should be some apologies posted. They were not too kind to Arnott as a captain either.

On to Minnesota, let's go Preds!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Than Just Wins Over Detroit, San Jose and L.A.

Is it just me or did you get the feeling watching the last 3 games the Preds are no longer intimidated by "the big boys"? In previous games and years it seemed we sat back on our heels and played in a super-defensive mode versus attacking as we did with wins over Red Wings, San Jose and L.A. this week. I personally think Shea Weber is leading the charge but others are contributing a toughness as well we haven't seen before. If you can, go back and watch Weber against the Sharks when they were down 2-0 in the 2nd period. He was jumping in on the rush, throwing the body and most importantly I sensed he was willing the Preds back in that game. Shea Weber was not letting them go down without a fight. The young defensemen(Weber, Suter, Zanon & Klein) are raising their games to new levels and the opponents offense is suffering.

How many times can we say HUGE game this year? Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. A win tonight goes along way to climbing as high as #6 in the west. Let's go Preds!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ducks Sneak Away with 2-1 OT Win

Good effort by the Preds considering still no Jason Arnott or Wade Belak. It was good to get a point for the 5th straight game when you consider 3 of the games were OT losses. When the Preds aren't playing great they are still getting points, so that keeps them right in the playoff mix. Other thoughts:

* Shea Weber scores a goal and had his way throwing around his weight on defense. I thought he deserved to be the #2 star for the game.
* The catastrophic Dan Hamhuis defensive breakdown almost reared its head again. He got beat badly midway through the 3rd period and had it not been for an errant shot by Anaheim, the Preds would have lost in regulation and not received any points for the contest.
* Thanks to the Red Wings for scoring 3 goals in the 3rd period to beat Edmonton 3-2. Big development for the Preds. With way Anaheim has it going now, it could come down to Preds/Oilers for that last playoff spot.

Watch those scores. Thurdsday night vs the Sharks. Let's go Preds.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Road Trip Ender at San Jose

So far 5 out of possible 6 points but the mighty San Jose Sharks are on the docket, the 2nd of back-to-back games on top of that. The Sharks are 4-5-1 over last 10 and no happy. With Arnott, Bonk & Belak(needed to keep Shelley in check tonight) out it will be a tough night to get points. How can the Preds get a win tonight?

Pecca Rinne must stand on the proverbial head. Let's go Preds.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pecca Rinne Returns, Stops Slide

Predators 2, Coyotes 0
Okay, the weak opponent didn't hurt either because Phoenix was a seller at the trade deadline. The Preds got it done with a 2-0 victory while Rinne only had to turn back 18 shots from the Coyotes. With what seems like everyone else in the playoff race getting victories around us, it was a much needed 2 points to get the Preds back to 9th place in the western conference.

Look on left side of blog to see the tribute to Jordan Tootoo's best punishment given out. Click on the link to see the video of the battles.

Other Thoughts:
* Hurry back Jason Arnott- hope he returns soon because offense is confused and lines not clicking so far in his absence
* Scoreboard today- Sharks stop Ducks, Red Wings stop Blue Jackets, Blues top the Wild. All help the Preds. Vancouver beating Colorado only game that worked against us.
* Remaining 13 games against teams either in playoffs or very serious contention for a spot. Phoenix game was last "breather" or game you count on as a win.
* Get that nap in tomorrow afternoon so you are ready for the late start on TV Monday night vs. the LA Kings.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Scoreboard Watching Time.......

When you have won 6 games in a row, the law of averages has to catch up to you and lose a game. With the playoff standings so tight, you hope to lose in overtime vs. regulation. Not so in the 4-1 loss to Philadelphia Saturday night. Combine that with wins by Vancouver and Columbus and the Preds go from 6th to 9th in no time. As I write this Sunday evening, Montreal does us a favor and beats Dallas 3-1 today. Once standings are updated, the Preds will move back into the playoffs #8 spot now they have played same number of games as Dallas. Both teams have 70 points but Preds have more wins. Thank you Montreal.

Minnesota vs. Anaheim in progress. Both teams trail Preds in standings.
Root for L.A. to beat Vancouver tomorrow night.

Tip your hat to Biron in goal for Philly last night. He made some spectacular saves to keep Philly up all night. When the Preds did cut the lead to 2-1 in the 3rd, Philly answered with a goal and sealed the Preds fate.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Preds 4, Blue Jackets 2

Actually at the game on Thursday and must say a little disappointed in the crowd. Thought the turnout would be more based on the winning streak and the guys getting back in the playoff race. Nonetheless, the ones there were in to the game and keeping the team energized.

I called in the local sports talk Friday morning about David Legwand. Pecca Rinne or Shea Weber would win a vote for team MVP, but if you look at Legwand since the all star break he has been the catalyst for the offense. He is scoring but also creating so much for those around him as well. I think a lot of Preds fans owe him an apology because he has taken a ton of heat over the years. He has been a solid two-way player but now he has taken his game to a level you imagine when you think of #2 overall pick.

Rare game in Philly tonight. Can we make it 7 in a row?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trade Deadline Passes Quietly

Part of me is disappointed my trade involving Dan Ellis I had envisioned since December did not happen. I still think a trade for more offensive help was needed, but we don't have the luxury to know the asking price and if other teams were trying to make us sacrifice way too much. The way the team is playing since the all star break, you have to wonder if a trade can mess up a good thing. I think this squad can get us in the playoffs on its own if it continues playing like it is now, but their limit is probably 2nd round of playoffs if they even make it. More offensive help via trade would make the playoffs and a deep run a better chance of happening.

We have to, as fans, trust David Poile. He is one of the top front office guys in the NHL. We may not agree with everything he does, but his track record with a small market team and budget is pretty darn good all things considered. He has pulled the big move(Forsberg, Witt) and made the subtle moves to strengthen the team when he can. In David Poile I trust.

Check out the Preds prospect article in the news section of the blog, taken from the Preds official website. We are the only team with 4 prospects in the top 50. I think this will make Ellis, Koistenen and other veterans available and traded when their value is better. The trade deadline brings vultures out looking for steals and David Poile probably had to pass because the asking price was too high for what he wanted or value for our guys too low.

I know this for sure, I will be there tonight to root for a win against the Blue Jackets. Let's go Preds.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Preds Embarass Red Wings, 8-0

What a night where everything went right. Pecca Rinne with super saves and a shutout. Hat trick by Arnott. Koistenen plays offense instead of defense and gets a goal. Pihlstrom gets a much needed confidence building goal. Cal O'Reilly comes up from Milwaukee and gets a point in first NHL game. Sullivan/Dumont 3 assists each. And with the winning streak at 4 games, the Preds are in the playoffs by being the #8 seed in the west at the moment.

Food for Thought........
* I know it was due to Martin Erat's injury but Ville Koistenen playing wing instead of defense may have been for other reasons. Was it to showcase his offensive skills as trade bait? He has been rumored in trade talks and he has publicly requested a trade. Scoring that goal didn't hurt. If David Poile is working a deal, Koistenen's stock went way up with that move.

* Preds still need a ton of help to make the playoffs. Winning 4 in a row is doing their part, now they need Minnesota, Dallas and Edmonton to lose because they have played 2-3 fewer games than the Preds. HUGE, HUGE, HUGE game versus Edmonton Tuesday night.

* I hope the scoring binge lately doesn't make David Poile ride out the season with what he has. Another goal scorer is needed not only to make the playoffs but make a run if they get in. A trade must happen and Koistenen is at peak value the moment.

* I love Shea Weber's game. Punish teams with the body, great shot from the point and bring the hammer when needed like you saw tonight. If Detroit thought about getting chippy being down several goals, he put that to rest with his response to Lilja. Three Weber uppercuts later the Red Wings knew the Preds would not allow a physical response.

That is all for now. Watch for a trade and watch those scores until Tuesday when Edmonton comes to town.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Recaps & THE TRADE!!!!

Preds 5, Blackhawks 3
This boiled down to some basic things on Tuesday night. This was Predators at their best. Two power play goals. Four of five goals from the top 6 players(first 2 lines). When the Preds get production from the power play and top 2 lines to go with Pecca Rinne in goal, they are a solid team and one that can make noise in the west.

Preds 4 , Coyotes 1
47 shots on goal says a lot. Pecca Rinne with 25 saves and another win. Top 2 lines score all 4 goals. Preds back in playoff picture with 3 straight wins. Team is rolling right now.

The Trade I Would Try
The Phoenix Coyotes are having financial troubles. They are now out of the race after the loss tonight. They probably need to go young, definitely cut pay and they need help in net. I know salaries play into this but David Poile should pick up the phone and see if Shane Doan or Olli Jokinen are available with a combination of Dan Ellis, Koistenen and a good draft pick. Bring a goalie back in the trade to back up Rinne.
Same thing with the Colorado Avalanche. Out of the race, need to go young and prepare for future. No strong goalie so Ellis, Koistenen, draft pick could go for Smyth/Hejduk/Wolski.

The Preds are back in the race and not far out of out of 5th place. Worth a shot to make the phone call and see. Preds can take on a salary some of the other teams looking to move. On Preds pre-game show tonight Kevin Allen from USA Today said talk of moving Ellis happening because Rinne playing so well. If you look back at my posts, this has been something I have called for as far back as 2 months ago. We will watch and see.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Preds Win Nail-Biter, 1-0 Over St. Louis in OT

What a tough game to watch! Once we got to late in the 3rd period and overtime, you knew a goal by St. Louis meant a loss and another nail in the playoff-hopes coffin. Credit the guys for hanging in and battling on a night where they struggled on offense but squeezed out an overtime win and get 2 much needed points in the standings. Now a couple of days off to work on the offense and power play for the stretch run starting with a home game Tuesday against Chicago.

My Predators Fan Thoughts........
* If you remember the last post on the blog, I asked when was the last time Shea Weber scored a goal. We now know it was a 15 game stretch to his game winner and potential season saver to beat the Blues 1-0 in OT.
* Pecca Rinne throws shutout #5 and joins elite company as far as rookie netminders. He now has the 2nd most shutouts ever for a single season in NHL history. In February he has started 9 games, yielded only 17 goals, .940 save percentage and 1.85 goals against. Can you say player of the month with a good last week?
* Glad to see Chris Mason playing well and holding a #1 position since it didn't work out in Nashville. Tough loss for him but he continues to perform for St. Louis.

Three home games this week but 2 are against Detroit/Chicago who are #2 and #4 in the west standings. A week of upsets could put the Preds back in the "serious" playoff picture category.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blues Win 3-2, Dash Playoff Hopes As Well

I hope I am wrong, but the 2-1 overtime loss tonight may have been the final nail in the coffin regarding the playoffs. I am not saying it can't happen, but there are now too many teams to pass in the standings meaning you must win everything and get help. The Preds are only 4 points out of the last playoff spot but they have played 2 or 3 more games than most everyone they are chasing. So in essence they are 5-8 points behind with only 23 games left.

It is going to be tough, but I will be rooting for the Preds all the way.

Predators Fan Facts As I See Them...........
* Pecca Rinne is the bomb. Lock him up with a long term contract and somehow score 3 goals a game and we will be fine going forward.
* Preds would have trouble scoring in a ladies prison at this point. Just another reason playoff hopes look grim because Preds can't score enough goals to win. Pecca Rinne would easily have 10 more wins if the Preds could score more on a regular basis.
* Way to go Steve Sullivan. Glad to see his hard work and perseverance paying off. If Preds keep losing and he keeps scoring, does he become a potential trade commodity.
* When was last time Shea Weber scored a goal?
* This team is a solid playoff team when the top 2 lines produce at the same time. Problem is Legwand/Erat/Dumont disappear for 3-5 game stretches at a time. They can be very good, but not consistently across a long period of time.

Off to St. Louis for a rematch Saturday. Gotta win this one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where is the Discipline? Where is the Pride? Detroit 6, Preds 2

As I watched the game tonight I couldn't help being overcome by anger on two accounts. See if you agree.

1. You are facing the #1 power play scoring unit in all of the NHL. Why do you take penalties to give them a chance to score when the odds are they will? And then you continue to take penalties after they show they are clicking tonight by scoring a power play goal? And then a second. And then a 3rd. And then a 4th. Continually taking penalties that result in Red Wing goals is beyond explanation and borderline stupidity.

2. Where is the pride? Letting the Red Wings skate freely all night and pile on the goals? Nobody playing the body. Nobody sending a message that if they are going to fly around in the Preds end at least they should have their head on a swivel watching to be hit. Is it too much respect. Maybe it is fear they make the Red Wings mad and they score even more goals. Whatever the reason it better change before the next time they play 2/28 or it will be another 5+ goal game.

Other thoughts on the game:

* Steve Sullivan responded to criticism in the local paper with a great game scoring 2 goals and staying active all night. That was the only bright sign of the night, that he could come alive and revive the offense.

* I have taken criticism for advocating a trade of Dan Ellis. I am afraid his value has plummeted too much now to get any value. My critics said we need him as our only #2 goalie option. I think we could get a journeyman goalie to provide what he is giving now. The optimum time to have traded him has now passed. Did the playoff window pass as well?

* A power play goal tonight helps but the Preds are still near the bottom of the NHL on the power play. Something must be rectified with that unit to take advantage of the opportunities. A struggling offense must score its fair share of power play goals. Preds didn't score on a 1:30 5-on-3 opportunity tonight. OUCH!

Enough of this game, still too mad about it. I am ready to move on. Two games with the St. Louis Blues up next and the Preds really need 4 points. Has the Russian league folded yet? Sure miss Radulov...........

It's Detroit Game Night

I am just going to gloss over the 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. A pretty lack luster effort, especially from the top line of Arnott/Dumont/Sullivan. They must, and I repeat, must provide goals and keep the puck in the opposition end for the Preds to have a chance. Were it not for another very good performance by Pecca Rinne in goal, this would have been much uglier than 2-0.

But let's forget and go forward. The Preds had won 7 of 10 for 14 points, so a clunker was due. Let's hope we rebound against the Red Wings and then sweep the Blues Thurs./Sat. 4 points is a must, 5 or more would be awesome.

Other Random Thoughts.........
* I understand there was an article in the Tennessean newspaper today concerning Steve Sullivan's production. I was going to post the very same thing before I knew of that. The Preds really go as he does. The goals must start coming. The warm up and re-acclimation to the game from the layoff is over.
* If Sullivan can't get it going, a goal scorer must come in a trade if we are serious about the playoffs. Otherwise, potential good-byes to Fiddler, DeVries, Nichol, Ward, Bonk and Sullivan in deadline trades to go full force into the youth movement. No veteran would be safe.
* The scuttle-butt is Dan Ellis in goal tonight and then Pecca Rinne for the 2 "winnable" games versus St. Louis. I say start Rinne tonight based on his strong performance in the last matchup. The Preds rebounded from a terrible start to take it to Detroit the last 2 periods. I think the Preds' confidence is up for Detroit. Don't send the message we concede to Detroit and going for wins against the Blues. A victory over Detroit is another boost for the playoff run. Ellis can handle the Blues more-so than the snipers from Detroit.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Preds Show They Can Play With the Big Boys

In a solid performance, the Preds overcome a late Boston Bruins goal to win in overtime 3-2 and get two points from the top team in hockey. A lot of Preds had solid games but the stars of the night were David Legwand and Pecca Rinne. Pecca Rinne was once again solid and didn't have a ton of saves but he was huge in net when required. The save on Phil Kessel's overtime breakaway was the difference between a one and two point night. David Legwand had 2 goals and the game winner in the shootout. When he skates like he did again the Bruins, the Preds are a team to be reckoned it. Let's hope it continues.

Other food for thought.......

* Welcome back Jordan Tootoo from the hand injury. He played a big part in the Preds first goal, his shot went of Legwand's skate for the goal.
* Preds have won 7 of 10 since all star break. 14 out of a possible 20 points. Preds are now 3 points out of final playoff spot and 4 points from 5th place in the western conference.
* Not sure about that 2nd period where Preds took the 4 minor penalties. Regardless if the refs got a little picky on the calls, when chasing a playoff spot and wins are needed, the Preds must show more discipline.
* This week there are 2 games with the St. Louis Blues, 1 with the Ottawa Senators which are great chances against teams that you should beat on paper. We know hockey is not played on paper, but a solid week should yield 5-7 points. Oh yeah, there is a trip to Detroit in there as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Preds Absolutely Steal an OT Win from St. Louis Blues

WOW!!! Talk about a turn of events. The Preds were about to suffer a terrible loss that would have been the beginning of the end to any playoff hopes. Instead, a miracle goal with 3 seconds left to send the game to overtime and then a shootout victory should be a huge momentum boost and hopefully a sign of good things to come. You almost feel bad for Chris Mason and the Blues because they deserved better than a 4-3 overtime loss.

Other nuggets of info:

* Great to see Steve Sullivan get the game winner with the shootout goal. You could see the facial expression after the goal saying it was about time. Let's hope this is the springboard to many more goals the rest of the season

* Yes, Dan Hamhuis scored a goal but another catastrophic turnover led to a St. Louis goal. At some point the defensive lapses are going to far outweigh the puck moving and occasional goal/assist.

* How about the goal that was scored by a defenseman(Kevin Klein) with assists by 2 defensemen(Shea Weber and Ryan Suter). Shea Weber gets an assist while sitting on the bench!

* Pekka Rinne shakes off 2 bad luck goals by the Blues in regulation to stop all 3 in the shootout. He is so big in net I imagine the shooters feel there is no room for the puck to fit through.

What a magical win and when (optimistic thinking) the Preds do make the playoffs they can look back at this one as a big part of the run.

Boston Bruins in on Saturday after a game with the NJ Devils tonight. Let's hope those legs are still tired on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tough 5-3 Loss to Red Wings

Tough loss in the respect that the Preds battled back from a bad start to almost steal a point by going to overtime on a night where they were outplayed for the most part. It was disappointing to see the amount of respect the Preds showed by not attacking/challenging the Red Wing skaters. I don't understand how the Preds could come out flat and sitting back on their heels with the playoffs on the line and playing your arch-rival. Let's hope this doesn't have carry over to the St. Louis game Thursday, but based on the importance of getting points for the playoffs it should not. I expect the Preds to play a strong game and get 2 points against the Blues.

Other thoughts on the loss.......
* Did Pecca Rinne's sweater/jersey have a Preds logo or bullseye on the front? 50 total shots with 27 coming in the first period. Ouch!!! I think there was 1 Red Wing goal he would like back but to turn back 46 shots against a good Red Wing team is not a bad night's work.
* Kudos to Radek Bonk with a goal and being on the ice for all 3 Preds goals, keeping his strong play of late going.
* Just a thought but is it time to try Radek Bonk between Legwand/Erat? Bonk is playing well and Legwand had a great stint on the wing before the all star break. May be time to see if there is any magic there.
* Joel Ward adds his 7th and 8th goals of the season. It is nice to see him rewarded for all the work he does in the corners and playing on a check line against the opposition top line a lot of nights.
* Coach Trotz could have a tough decision coming up soon about Steve Sullivan if the assists/goals don't start flowing more. If he doesn't produce soon, Trotz will have to look at moving Erat or someone to the top line for max production of Arnott/Dumont.

Schedule Notes:
3 of next 6 games are against the Blues. If they take care of business against the last place team in the west, they will have 6 much needed points.
Preds catch Red Wings 2 more times(out of 9 games) in February

Special thanks to Russ & Megan for being the first to sign up as followers of the blog. They are my "top line".

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stage All Set for Pecca Rinne Return to Net

The 2 game stint of Dan Ellis in goal came to an end in the 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Sunday. With the game 2-1 in favor of the Stars and the Preds' Steve Sullivan in the box for a double minor high stick, Dan Ellis' attempt to clear the puck goes over the glass for a delay of game penalty resulting in a 5 on 3 Stars power play. Dallas scores and in essence game over.

Talk about a grand opportunity and spotlight for Pecca Rinne. Think about it. You are rested. The team needs you to stop the losing streak at 1 game to keep the second half run going. You return against the arch rival and a top NHL team in the Red Wings. You will face lots of skilled shots and a power play clicking at a rate of 27%. Slam the door and you are the man, solidifying even more your place as #1 and an emerging elite NHL goaltender. What an opportunity for Pecca to shine.

Other thoughts regarding 4-1 loss to Dallas Stars........

* Jason Arnott continues hot streak and solid year with another goal. The captain is really leading by example.
* Power play didn't tally but showed improvement in regards to quality chances, especially in the 2nd period. If they don't start getting the puck in the net on power plays though they can look back at the end of the year and easily find why they didn't make the playoffs.
* Short handed goal allowed and another full 2 minute 5 on 3 power play were hard to stomach and easily the reason they lost.
* Martin Erat -3 on the night, ouch!!!
* Lets go Steve Sullivan. It is time to produce the points, we need you.

Red Wings, then Blues, then Bruins. All at home thank goodness. If you give me a win over the Blues and 1 of the remaining 2 I would be tickled pink and take it right now. LETS GO PREDS!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Million Dollar Question?

Welcome back Dan Ellis! Dan's first game in some time turns out to be a strong performance with a 2-0 shut out win over the Minnesota Wild. It was not a game of super saves but Dan was solid in turning back 22 shots. Now coach Trotz has a tough decision on who plays in net Sunday. Pecca Rinne who has been spectacular in net for some time or Dan Ellis? There is an unwritten rule in hockey that a shutout means the goalie starts the next game. There were also rumblings during the Preds tough stretch before the all-star break that Dan Ellis was unhappy with playing time. If Trotz returns to Rinne in net, does it cause trouble in the locker room? Tune in Sunday against the Dallas Stars to see what happens.....

* How about Greg Zanon giving up the body to block 4 shots against the Wild. Ryan Suter also tossed in 4 but Zanon seemed to be sprawled on the ice all night trying to block shots. Awesome!
* The Wild really went after the Preds with hard checks pretty much the entire game but to the Preds credit they returned almost every check and didn't back down.
* Shea Weber with some monster hits again shows you better be careful when you come into the Preds offensive zone.
* Steve Sullivan dug one out of the boards that led to Arnott's game winning goal. Seems back is getting stronger and stronger as he is taking on more contact and actually went after Cal Clutterbuck at one point. I think it is only matter of time before he starts piling on the points.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Preds Hotter Than February Love

Sorry I didn't blog after the Coyotes game, been a little under the weather. Here are my thoughts concerning the last 2 games

Preds 2, Coyotes 1
Give Preds credit for gutting this one out on a night they were not at their best. But an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day of the week. The main thing, 2 points in an outright win. The highlights:
* Super Duper Top Line gets another goal. Keep it together coach Trotz.
* Pecca Rinne was solid again and has a firm grip on the #1 goalie spot.
* Radek Bonk has been solid most of the year, but this was his strongest all-around game for the season. A nice goal and solid defense all night.

Preds 4, Ducks 2
Glad to see this one in person. A big win in front of a good Thursday night crowd. Good to see the support and the crowd really into the game. The good run since the all-star break has the excitement really building. Big developments in this one that bode well for the 2nd half of the season.
* Steve Sullivan seemed to take a step forward in confidence, skill and sticking his nose into trouble. A great behind the back pass, a nice backhand almost goal off the post, and a couple of body checks in the corners. All good signs.
* Pecca Rinne is approaching elite status among NHL goalies. He is now #6 in goals against average and #8 in save percentage. And growing in confidence with each start......
* Kudos to Kevin Klein for standing up and fighting in the absence of Belak and Tootoo. You know his teammates really respected him taking on Ryan Carter of the Ducks.
* Preds really stood up to a good, physical team. A solid game all the way around.
* A big part of the stagger/deficit in the standings has been made up quickly with winning 4 out of 5 out of the break. That leaves a little room if they have a bad couple of games. But right now they are not showing signs of slowing down.
* Back to Rinne- will he ever sit another game out? Keeps playing like he has, coach Trotz may prop him up in net and take his chances.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pecca Rinne Shines in Win Over Edmonton, 2-1

Following what I have been saying for weeks, Pecca Rinne is a solid #1 NHL goalie and he is now the man in goal for the Predators. Nothing against Dan Ellis, but Rinne has size to offer so little shooting room, great footwork for his size, and a competitive streak to defend the net. If you score on him he tries twice as hard the next time to keep the puck out of the net. It is time to deal Ellis for some goal scoring help because he has true value to other teams.

Preds playoff chances? Looking better and better as Pecca Rinne gets more confidence with each additional victory. He can be good enough to bring them all the way back.

Other nuggets from the win over the Oilers:
* Another goal for my theory of making the super-duper top line versus spreading goal scorers across all 4 lines. J.P. Dumont adds an unassisted goal off a turnover, but that is still 4 goals in 3 games since Arnott/Sullivan/Dumont were put back together.
* Ryan Jones looks to be the right match for Legwand/Erat. They have been the most active line creating great scoring chances on the western Canada swing.
* 4 out of possible 6 points on the trip takes them to 47 for the year and a tie for 12th place in the west. Good start to 2nd half but a long way to go.

Two home games and a trip to Minnesota this week. Lets go Preds!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tough Loss to a Solid Calgary Flames Team

I thought at times tonight the Flames really dominated the game, handcuffing the Predators in the neutral zone not allowing them to get any offense going. The penalty box parade reared its ugly head again. Several undisciplined penalties and when the Preds really needed goals in the 3rd period they were down a man killing penalties. Other news of note:

* The Super Duper Top Line- my strategy proves right again with a goal by J.P. Dumont but that was about it. But that is what I think it produces, 1-2 goals per game.
* Tip your hat to Miikka Kiprusoff- he stoned the legitimate chances the Preds had to get back in the game
* One of the tougher games we have seen Shea Weber play- had some good chances to score but also had a terrible pass/turnover that led to Calgary's 2nd goal
* Pekka Rinne- continues very good play with some incredible saves to keep Preds in it. I thought 2 of the Flames' goals were not his fault. One was a 2 on 1 after a Preds bad pass and the other was a shot Aucoin almost fanned on but managed to shot a change up past Rinne.
* I thought Jones/Legwand/Erat line had a good night but couldn't get a goal. Very active, good chances most of the night. They had some of the only good shifts thru the middle part of the game when Calgary dominated the middle of the ice.
* Still have some concern over Sullivan. Still not sticking his nose into the action but maybe that will take a little longer before complete confidence in the back returns.

Off to Edmonton. A win on Sunday would be a great 4 point trip to start the 2nd half.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finally Get My Super Duper Top Line Pairing!!!!!!

What a great start to the 2nd half!!!!!!!! The team came out skating hard with a fire we haven't seen in some time. Coach Trotz finally went with a oldie but a goodie top line of Dumont/Arnott/Sullivan which I have been begging to see. The result? 2 goals and some other very good chances. There is still a large mountain to climb but this is something to build from, especially rallying from a 3-1 deficit on the road. Other nuggets from the game of note:

J.P. Dumont- skating hard and scores goal, probably finding comfort playing with Arnott again
Steve Sullivan- looking better each time out but still shying away from contact situations
Power play- 3 goals on 8 tries, lets hope that continues
Ryan Jones- gritty play made Legwand/Erat/Jones line a solid second unit
Martin Erat- if he plays with that passion each night a playoff return very possible
Pekka Rinne- 3 goals for Canucks were crap and he made HUGE saves to keep them at 3
Joel Ward & Jordan Tootoo- drew 3 penalties aggravating and doing the dirty work

Bonk, Arnott, Legwand contributed strong games as well. Off to Calgary, we owe them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Respectfully Disagree with Trotz Line Pairings Against Devils

Outside of a brief time in the first and third periods, the offense didn't generate great chances in my opinion. The overall effort was better, but compared to Saturday night it had no place to go but up. Coach Trotz's lines tonight seemed to be an attempt to make 3 even strength lines along with a checking line. I say make the "big dog" line that generates a good chance 4 out of 5 times on the ice. I don't think the Preds have the talent depth to spread the offense across 3 lines. Go with Arnott, Dumont and either Sullivan or Erat at the top line. Make a second strong line. Pair some speed guys on the 3rd line and then go bruisers on the 4th line. Tootoo is best served on the 4th line agitating and drawing penalties. Legwand had an offensive resurgence at winger, but Trotz moved him back to center tonight. ???????. Move improved Radek Bonk up to center 2nd line. He wins faceoffs and will stand in front of the net. He can also bring the puck out of the corner. Here are my line choices for the 2nd half of the season that gives us the best chance to produce/score/win.

Arnott centers Dumont/Erat
Bonk centers Legwand/Sullivan
Santorelli centers Jones/Pihlstrom
Nichol centers Tootoo/Smithson

Other items of note from the Devils game:
* Listening to player's comments after the game they seem happy with effort and looking for some bounces to go their way. I think that is dangerous. I would like to see more unhappiness they didn't win, especially following the effort Saturday against Atlanta.
* Coach Trotz seemed to come down on J.P. Dumont after the game, saying he is not skating. He obviously wants to see more life and work out of him.
* We are still at a scary time. A win would have been great going into the all star break. How will the team react coming back? There is a big western Canada swing after the break followed by a bunch of home games in February. The Preds have a bunch of work to get done and little room for error.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coach Barry Trotz at Season's Breaking Point

In what had to be the low point of the season, the Preds give up the first 5 goals and lose 7-2 to the Thrashers. Coach Barry Trotz is going to earn his money in the next 48 hours. A loss like Saturday's to the Thrashers can be the tipping point to a season already in jeopardy of going completely bad. Coach Trotz has to get the team focused, eliminate the hangover from the loss and somehow get a victory over the New Jersey Devils heading into the all star break. Good luck coach Trotz, Preds nation hopes you can pull it off.

News and tidbits from the game:

* Bad luck for Dan Ellis continues- Bad bounces in such a short amount of time continue. The team has let him down as far as defensive support as well. He has been pulled in recents starts against Pittsburgh and Atlanta but his play was not that bad.

* Stats killer- If you believe in +/-, turn your head on Saturday's telling story. Hamhuis and Zanon at -4. Koistinen, Smithson, Santorelli and Dumont -3.

* Santorelli and Jones back to Milwaukee- Moved to keep playing during the lengthy all star break or sent down to make room for guys getting healthy?

That is all for now, send in those comments.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Oh Canada, We Got Two Points From Thee.....

Okay, sorry for the bad play on the anthem words. Two points from the 2 game trip to Toronto/Montreal not bad considering all the injuries team is dealing with now. Great effort in loss to a good Canadiens team last night. Were it not for 2 fluke goals by Canadiens, a 4 point trip(2 wins) was very possible. Here are the highlights as I see them:

* Welcome to NHL Alexander Sulzer- the prized defenseman had a solid debut and played well. Great pass to Santorelli late in the game set up a nice scoring chance.

* Great effort considering Preds were missing 2 of their top 5 players in Arnott and Weber. Like I said above, were it not for 2 bad bounces on Canadiens goals, Preds would have come away with 1 or 2 points from the game.

* Legwand/Erat continue to have bounce in their step and creating good offensive chances.

* Steve Sullivan having no major setbacks and with each passing game looks better and better.

* Would like to see Santorelli get a goal so he doesn't start to press and feel pressure of a trip back to Milwaukee if he doesn't.

* Beating the dead horse- I still think a trade involving Ellis and a defenseman can bring some offensive help.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Home and Home with Blackhawks

The 2 games in 2 days result in 2 points for each side with both winning on home ice. Several positive signs for the Preds though listed below:

1. Legwand/Erat contribute again with strong offensive efforts. The top line that includes Jason Arnott has provided results 2 games in a row counting Thursday's game with the Penguins.
2. Pecca Rinne solidified #1 goalie spot with another good effort in the win Saturday. Dan Ellis played well in loss today and still makes my suggestion he has the best trade value for David Poile look good.
3. Steve Sullivan returns and looks good all things considered. Sullivan gets time on 4th line and power play, created some good chances while on the ice.
4. With Arnott and Sullivan sitting out Sunday's game to be safe and fully heal, the Preds gave a good effort but came up short.

If Sullivan and Arnott return for Tuesday's game in Toronto as expected, it will tell if the progress/momentum from Thursday/Saturday is for real or just a temporary peak. Got my fingers crossed it is for real.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just What the Doctor Ordered?

So many good things from tonight's game. Let's review.......
1. Strong performance against a good team- play most of the night stayed in the Pittsburgh zone and two Penguin goals bounced over Preds. Easily could have won game 4-1.
2. Overcoming adversity- rallying from 3 goal deficit could be a springboard
3. Puzzle solved- we have been looking for a line mate to jump start Legwand/Erat and Arnott was the answer. Let's see if it continues.
4. Rinne is the man- huge save after huge save, he is the #1 goalie until he proves otherwise

Kudos to Legwand/Erat.....
After much criticism and mounting pressure to get going, they both tally a goal and were very active. More so than anything else, the passion they played with and displayed after each goal was very encouraging.

What's Next?
Sullivan return scheduled for tomorrow, what line does he play with? A lot of momentum from tonight, tough decisions for coach Trotz. Good problem to have.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Sullivan Countdown Begins.....

Looks like my prayer request from the 12/30 blog worked. Steve Sullivan announced in the last few days the back feels strong enough to give it a go in a game, tentatively set for January 1oth against the Blackhawks. Listening to the talk shows today you can sense the excitement building for the game Saturday. I would say this is the biggest game for excitement since the debut of Peter Forsberg. And the only thing bigger than the excitement is the pressure on Sullivan. The team really needs a lift on the offensive side, but how long will it take for Sully to get into game shape and get the magical touch with the stick back? I am afraid the current 5 game losing streak dictates it better happen quick, which puts pressure on his shoulders to lift the team out of its slump along with his back.

Line Combinations I Would Like to See
1. If Sully comes back healthy and gets in the groove, where does he go? Straight to the top line. Dumont/Arnott/Sullivan is my choice for the top line. Create the superpower line that will yield consistent, solid scoring chances each shift and 1-2 goals per game.
2. Ward/Legwand/Erat- Can Joel Ward work the corners and get some opportunities for the "skill" players Legwand/Erat? Still looking for the magical missing 3rd piece to make this line finally perform to expectations. Radulov is my first choice, but I digress....
3. Jones/Bonk/Pihlstrom- Bonk has been toiling and wasting time on the 4th line all year. He wins face-offs and still has some skills to create. Problem is when he gets space/puck control on 4th line, Smithson/Peverly/Fiddler/whomever rarely convert. Give him a shot at centering a line with a little more skill to see what he can do.
4. Tootoo/Nichol/Smithson- The gnat line. Tootoo/Nichol are smaller, solid guys who annoy and draw penalties by getting in your face. They also both have a good slapshot when they get an opportunity. When you have a team struggling to score, these guys provide much needed additional power play chances by disturbing the other team. If Sullivan returns to sniper form with his shot, these power play chances provided by the 4th line will be goals 20% of the time.

All for now, love to hear a comment from you.