Thursday, April 28, 2011

Game 1 to Canucks 1-0

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

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

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

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

Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks-Round 2

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

History is Made, Preds Defeat Ducks in 6 Games

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

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

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

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

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

Get your rest, round 2 is coming soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HUGE Game 4 Wednesday Night

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preds Take Game 1 in Dominating Fashion

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

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

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

Predators vs. Ducks, Playoff Time in Smashville!!!!

It's playoff time again. The Preds face Anaheim in the western quarterfinals starting tonight in Anaheim. The Preds won the season series 3-1, scoring at least 4 goals in each contest. Good sign? I think so. Also it looks as if Anaheim's goalie could be former Predator Dan Ellis because of injuries and #1 goalie Jonas Hiller suffering from vertigo. If that is the case, the advantage goes to the Predator forwards who know where to shoot against Ellis, due to all the practice time spent with him while a Predator.

As far as what to watch for, this series boils down to one thing in my opinion. Anaheim has one of the top 3 lines in all of hockey(Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry). They are good and they log a lot of ice time. Can the Preds manage them? Yes, especially when Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are on the ice against them. On games in Nashville, the Preds get last line change and can match Weber/Suter against them at any time. While in Anaheim, can Cody Franson/Shane O'Brien and Kevin Klein/Jonathon Blum hold their own until the Preds can dump the puck and get Weber/Suter on the ice against Getzlaf/Perry/Ryan? The good news is if they do slip up, the Preds have Pekka Rinne as the last line of defense as well.

My Prediction- Preds in 6 games. If the Preds can pick off game 1 or 2 in Anaheim, they are in great shape. Any games in Nashville should be wins for the Preds because they get last line change and can neutralize Anaheim's top line. Anaheim's defense allowed the Preds an average of 4.5 goals in their 4 matchups this year. Pekka Rinne and the boys on defense should win any game where they hold Anaheim to 2 goals or less, which they are very capable of doing. 9;30 tonight can't get here soon enough.

Let's go Preds!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Preds in Playoffs, Awaiting Opponent

The Preds finished the season strong down the stretch, but if they lose in the first round of the playoffs a lot of folks will look back to last night's season ending 2-0 loss to St. Louis. A victory would have meant the #4 seed in the playoffs and home ice in the first round. Now the Preds will finish anywhere from #5 to #7 based on the outcome of Detroit/Chicago today. Did you know the Preds are 1 of 6 NHL teams to make playoffs 6 of last 7 years? And Barry Trotz is the only coach that has done it. I will blog about the first round opponent after we know later Sunday. It will be either Anaheim, San Jose or Detroit. The Preds have winning records against all 3 this year, but the playoffs are another story. I hope it is Anaheim.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preds Thrash Atlanta, 2 Games Left

Kudos to the Preds for coming fast out of the gate last night and putting their boot on the throat of Atlanta. Three goals in the first period put the game away early and the Preds cruised to a 6-3 win. Great goal by Matt Halischuk with his back to the net to get things started. Atlanta outshot the Pred but it was not the quality chances to make you think the game was in any danger of slipping away. Preds currently sit 4th in the western conference standings, 1 point ahead of Phoenix and Los Angeles. Both of those teams have played 1 less game than the Preds though. If the Preds win their last 2 games, that should be enough to keep them either a 4 or 5 seed and substantially increase their chances of finally winning a first round playoff series. Lose a game or two and you could be looking at playing San Jose or Detroit in the first round. Time to do a little scoreboard watching the next few nights until the Preds close out with back to back games Fri/Sat. Also look for Steve Sullivan to try to get on the ice to show he is healthy and worthy of a playoff roster spot. He has to show in one of the last 2 games he has recovered from the groin surgery and has his speed back. The Preds can't take a chance of having him on the roster and he is unable to go. I had posted previously I thought he was done as a Predator, we shall see. I don't see the Preds paying him what he wants next year at his age and injury risk.