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!!!!!!!!