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.