Friday, March 25, 2011

Preds Rolling Along, Stars are Next Big Game

The Preds keep answering the bell against teams they are fighting with in the western conference standings. The latest was the 5-4 win over Anaheim(8th place) last night. The Preds sit currently in 6th place with a Godzilla-huge game Saturday night versus the Dallas Stars. A Preds win Saturday would put them 6 points ahead of 9th place Dallas and get some measure of breathing room in the playoff race.

Schedule- 7 games left with 5 at home. 2 vs. top tier(Detroit, Vancouver), 4 vs. bottom feeders (Atlanta, St. Louis, Colorado, Columbus) and the big one vs. contender Dallas.

Quick Thoughts:
* Anaheim not a team you want to play in playoffs. It seemed like they had extra players on the ice all night. Other teams I don't want to play if Preds get in: L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks.
* Pekka Rinne continues to carry the team. Hope the Preds can win a few more to solidify a playoff position and get him a little rest. The last 2 games of the season are back-to-back games and you don't want Pekka having to play both in order to secure a playoff spot.

25 hours and 20 minutes from the biggest game of the year. Let's go Preds!!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Reason for Buffalo to Hate Nashville

Were you watching Sunday afternoon for Music City Miracle #2? Okay, it didn't happen in Nashville but it involved a Nashville/Buffalo match up. The Preds scored twice in the last 2:30 of the game to tie it up and then win on the first rush in overtime, 4-3. Blake Geoffrion is now the #2 most hated Nashvillian in Buffalo right after Frank Wycheck. His hat trick, with 2 goals coming in the last 2:30 of the game, was gritty and showed he is as good as advertised. Geoffrion now has 6 goals in his first 11 games in a Preds uniform. Across a full season that would have him in the 40-45 goals range.

Are the Preds ready for a serious playoff run? I think tonight's game with Edmonton will tell you a ton about the team. The Preds are on a roll. They are playing a team who has struggled all year and spent most of the year in last place of the western conference. If the Preds are dialed in, ready to solidify a playoff spot and carry momentum into the playoffs, they come out hot early and put Edmonton away. If they lay back, play conservative and lose tonight, I think you will see them struggle the rest of the way to hold onto the last playoff spot.

* Mike Fisher needs to score. He has played so solid but now the pucks are not finding the net. The Preds need a scoring binge from him. Once he gets hot, I think the rest of the team will start scoring as well.
* Pekka Rinne is good. Just look at the amount of goals the Preds have scored this year and tell me how they are in playoff contention. The answer-Pekka Rinne.
* Jonathon Blum has a knack for knowing when to pinch in and help on offense without putting hit team at a defensive disadvantage. He is a very good offensive defenseman. Watch for him to start getting more and more praise around the NHL as people notice him.
* Thanks to Russell and Amanda Mundy for the ticket to the L.A. Kings game last week and being faithful followers to the blog. Kudos to Megan Summers to who lets me tag along to games with her as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Giant #1 Defeated(Bruins), Giant #2 Tonight(Red Wings)

The Preds got their biggest win of the year Thursday night over the Boston Bruins. In an almost must-win situation, Shea Weber's game winner in overtime gave the Preds a much needed 4-3 victory.

The Preds currently sit in 9th place in the western conference. Good news-8th place Calgary is only 1 point ahead of the Preds and have played 2 more games already. Preds sit 2 points behind Calgary & Dallas, 3 behind L.A.

Will the Preds make the playoffs? It looks as if they will sneak in, but it is definitely 50/50 at this point. The Preds ace in the hole? The last 3 games are Atlanta, Columbus and St. Louis- definitely games the Preds should win and gain 6 points if needed.

Other quick notes:
* Mike Fisher is due for a string of goals. He is too good and too active to only have 1 goal since joining the Preds. His luck should turn soon.
* Erat and Legwand have to continue to score and be aggressive on offense if the Preds are going to make the playoffs.
* Pekka Rinne gives the Preds a chance against any team. He is the MVP and one of the top 5 goalies in the NHL. Stats wise he is # 2.
* I have concerns over Kevin Klein's defensive breakdowns as of late. He has been out of position in several goals for the opposition. He has to play better in these pivotal games.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preds Finish Road Trip with Overtime Loss to Sharks

What could have been. Preds finish final extended road trip of regular season 1-1-2 for 4 points. The Preds went toe-to-toe with western conference leaders Vancouver and San Jose, but also lost in overtime to last place Edmonton. Hopefully fortunes will change with 12 of the last 15 games in Gnashville.

* If it were not for Pekka Rinne, the Preds would be out of the playoff race. He was incredible tonight against San Jose, especially in the 3rd period. The Preds made turnover after turnover in front of him, yet he got the Preds to overtime somehow. Rinne could sue the Preds offense and defense for lack of support. If they can just get 3 goals per game, they would win 80% of their games.
* Lazy, soft, cross-ice passes in their own zone are an epidemic and something too many players are guilty of right now. Preds have to take better care of puck and clear their own zone better to relieve pressure on Pekka Rinne.
* I know I have said it way too much but the Preds are hanging with everyone they play considering the amount of players out due to injury. I would love to see this team playing with its full complement of players.
* Mike Fisher is as solid as they come. He is so strong with the puck and not afraid to stick his nose in tough spots. He sets a good example for others to follow.
* I feel sorry for J.P. Dumont. I think it is time for him to get a chance again with something other than the 4th line. Other players have been given a chance to score with no success. The Preds have scored 15 goals in their last 9 games. J.P. will capitalize and score if he is paired with linemates who can get him the puck in good scoring opportunities.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

HUGE win vs Vancouver Thursday, GIGANTIC game Sunday night vs. Calgary

After Tuesday's bummer shootout loss at struggling Edmonton, the Preds get off the mat to hand NHL-leading Vancouver a 3-0 loss on Thursday. To say the Preds needed that win is the understatement of the year. Next up we play at Calgary Sunday who sits in 5th place in the western conference, but only 2 points ahead of the Preds.

How tight are the standings these days? After the Preds victory over Vancouver Thursday they were in 6th place. The Preds now sit in 10th place, dropping 4 places in 2 days without playing a game. If the Preds had 3 more points(78), they would be in 4th place. Every game is so important these day. It is also important to win in regulation. You get 2 points and the opponents get 0. The true way to move up the standings is win games in regulation, not O.T. or shootouts.

Other Notes:
* After this 4 game road trip ends Tuesday in San Jose, the Preds finish March with 9 of 11 games at home. April has 4 games with 3 being in Nashville. Schedule is in our favor.
* Blake Geoffrion looks to be adjusting to NHL just fine. 2 goals in 4 games so far with limited ice time. With Preds struggling to score, more ice time looks to be coming.
* Ryan Ellis is doing well in minors, named OHL player of the month. He is on the fast track to the NHL and will probably replace a veteran in a couple of years to save payroll.

Get ready. The finish to March will be awesome. Preds hockey and NCAA basketball. Can't wait.