Archive for the ‘Nashville Predators’ Category

Last season: 44-27-11 99pts, 2nd Central, Lost in 2nd Round of Playoffs

Additions: Brodie Dupont, Robert Slaney, Kyle Wilson, Zack Stortini, Tyler Sloan, Jack Hillen, Niclas Bergfors

Losses: Tyler Stefishen, Dan Gendur, Mark Santorelli, JP Dumont, Shane O’Brien, Steve Begin, Wade Belak, Aaron Johnson, Joel Ward, Marcel Goc, Mark Dekanich, Steve Sullivan, Andreas Thuresson, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson

Offense: As been the Predators modus operandi throughout their existance, the Preds rely on the depth of their team for offensive exploits. No one person truly outperforms the others to be called the one the team relies on for their scoring. And this year will be no different. Expect the younger forwards to be your best producing this season Kostitsyn leading the charge for the Preds offensively with Erat, Fisher, and Legwand toeing the line with their usual outputs. Intrigued to see what a full year in Nashville will do for Mike Fisher and will being under Barry Trotz, who milks the most out his guys year after year, finally get consistency and full effort from Niclas Bergfors?

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Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

Shea Weber could be on the move this year (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Shea Weber, one of, if not the, best defenseman in hockey today. After being unable to come to a contract agreement before arbitration with Nashville (in which he hit the Jackpot at $7.5 million for a one year deal.) there are bound to be rumors that he will be dealt this year at the trade deadline, if not before.

Obviously, this could change, he wants to be on a cup contender, and Nashville could very well turn into that. But for the sake of writing, lets say they don’t and he decides to demand a trade. Here are 4 possible destinations I think he could end up before or at the trade deadline.

4.) The New Jersey Devils: Now I will admit, “cup favorite” isn’t exactly what I would say about New Jersey this year, however, there is no way the team can be as bad as last year. But if New Jersey were to swing a deal, im not sure if it would be for just a rental, or for a re-signing possibility. They have a lot of contracts expiring next year (4 RFA’s, 6 UFA’s including both goaltenders). They already have $5.8 million in available space, with a few pieces that can be moved in a deal, it’s a long shot, but I think New Jersey could pull it off.

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After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

With the Atlanta Thrashers’ inevitable move to Winnipeg, the NHL will undergo its’ first major realignment since 1998.  The Winnipeg team will likely play as a member of the Southeast Division during the 11-12 NHL season, before the league realigns in 2012.  The Thrashers, Jets, or whatever their name is, will move from the Eastern Conference to the West.  So a Western team will have to move East to balance out the conferences.

There are three logical possibilities to take Atlanta’s spot in the East.

Detroit has wanted to move East for a while now, citing travel and TV viewership.  But, with the Red Wings as a huge draw for Western Conference teams, a Detroit move seems unlikely.  Columbus would benefit by moving to the East.  They’ve struggled with attendance; it’s hard to grow a fanbase of a young franchise with a quarter of the team’s games starting after 9:00.  Out of the three, Nashville makes the most geographical sense.  Even in  the Central time zone, they’re the closest team to the other four currently in the Southeast.

One of those three will likely move into the East; but who will replace them in the Central?  There are a few possibilities. (more…)

With six of the eight first round series going at least 6 games and four going 7, one would expect the NHL 2nd round to continue the drama.  Thus far, it has been quite the opposite.  Three series have gone 3-0, including the Lightning sweeping the Capitals last night.

The only series that definitely won’t be a sweep is Vancouver vs. Nashville.  The Canucks hold a 2 games to one advantage heading into tonight’s matchup at Bridgestone Arena.  The second round potentially can end only nine days after it began, compared to the first round’s fifteen day schedule.

Common sense would lead one to believe that rested team has an advantage over a team who played more games in the first round.  In fact, no team who has played a first round game 7 has won the Stanley Cup since the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins.  Unfortunately for Washington and Detroit, resting after their quick first round series hasn’t helped.

The three teams who are (or were) down 0-3, all got there differently.  Washington was outskated by Tampa.  The question mark for the Capitals, defense, loomed large in the series, and some of their big guns (Backstrom, Semin) were invisible.  The 4th straight early exit for Washington may spell the end of coach Bruce Boudreau.

The Flyers failed to show up in two games.  Obviously the goalie carousel has played a huge part, but effort has also been a main problem.  Philly has struggled with the problem for most of the second half.  Can the Flyers pull another miracle like they did last year against Boston?  Not with their current play.

Detroit hasn’t looked bad.  In fact, all three games have been one goal games, with two won by the Sharks in overtime.  A couple bounces the other way, and Detroit could be leading this series.  The Red Wings are still a scary playoff team though, and the Sharks would be best advised to put Detroit away as soon as they can.

However, the second round hasn’t been completely lacking drama, as six games have gone to overtime so far.

1995 was the last time four game 7s happened in the first round, and eerily, was the last year that three teams were swept in the second round.  Except in that year, the teams who played shorter series in the first round easily dispatched their opponents in the second.

Hopefully one of these teams can give their opponents a run for their money, or at the very least, we get an exciting final three series.

For the last couple years, two men dressed in green spandex have been irritating penalized opposing players in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.  Their act has ranged from being a creepy annoyance to doing handstands on their seats.  The guys known as Sully and Force have become the most well-known fans in “super fan suits”, made famous on the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Vancouver's Green Men and the Kings' Jack Johnson

On Hockey Night in Canada last night, Glenn Healy went off on these two guys, calling them “a circus sideshow.”  He said they are a “pain in the neck to almost every team that plays here [Rogers Arena].”  Isn’t the point of home ice (or field or court) advantage to make it uncomfortable for opposing players?  Healy also said it was not appropriate to “make faces at the players.”  Really? I guess none of the other 18,000 or so fans ever make faces. No, never!

Now, after reported Nashville complaints (which were denied by the team), the Green Men were told through the NHL that they have been told “not to touch the glass anymore”.  I don’t know how “touching the glass” is a violation, let alone how it is going to change anything.  They are still going to do their act.  In that case, should nobody be allowed to touch the glass then?  Does the guy banging on the glass when players are near get in trouble from the league too?

All in all, these guys are having some fun.  They pay good money to sit there and aren’t doing anything distasteful, harmful or endangering.  They aren’t disrupting the game or altering its’ play.  Their antics aren’t during play, blocking other fans’ view of the game; in fact, they seem to help the crowd get pumped up for the Canucks’ forthcoming powerplay.

So, does anyone agree with Glenn Healy?