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More NHL Thoughts from Lee Snowden

A lot has happened in the NHL in the last week whether it has been free agent signings or trades.

As such, I figured we would once again check in Lee Snowden (@SnowdenNHL) to get his latest views and opinions on all things NHL.

PH: So, a lot has happened in the last week or so in the NHL. What are your thoughts on what went down with the whole Shea Weber situation? Do you really think he wants to be with the Predators? Why or why not?
LS: I think he does want to be with the Preds and always has. With the uncertainty of the new CBA, and what type of contracts will be allowed, Weber just wanted to be paid. Philadelphia definitely wasn’t a bad option should Nashville not have matched the offer sheet. Weber has been in Nashville his entire career so I’m sure he’s happy staying put. If he truly didn’t want to be in Nashville, he would have forced a trade or signed a one-year deal and gone to unrestricted free agency next summer.

PH: What does Weber signing with the Predators mean for the Flyers? Do you think the Flyers will try and upgrade their back end since they lost Carle (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Pronger (concussion symptoms)?
LS: I think Holmgren will be looking to add someone back there for sure. Gervais and Lilja are decent number 7 guys, but there are better free agents still out there (Roszival, Hannan, Colaiacovo). He could also go the trade route, as I think he will be searching for a forward as well.

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  Tags: @snowdennhl, artem+anisimov, brandon+dubinsky, calgary+flames, jarome+iginla, lee+snowden, los+angeles+kings, mike+cammalleri, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, phoenix+coyotes, rick+nash, scott+howson+columbus+blue+jackets, shane+doan, shea+weber, tim+erixon

Hockey Success Found in Somewhat Odd Places

When one thinks of hockey, one probably thinks of places like Canada (obviously), the Northeast, the Northwest, upper Midwest and so on and so forth.

One does not, however, think of places like Florida, Phoenix, Nashville, Los Angeles or San Jose. With warm climates such as those, who would think that hockey could be so successful?

Well, the above-mentioned areas have done the unthinkable and have all had various degrees of success not only in the National Hockey League, but also in developing the game in surrounding areas. This all starts from a place of building a winning NHL franchise.

In fact, all five of cities/states mentioned above all had NHL teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, where the Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history over the New Jersey Devils in six games.

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  Tags: edmonton+oilers, florida+panthers, los+angeles+kings, nashville+predators, phoenix+coyotes, san+jose+sharks, wayne+gretzky

A Vezina Trophy Battle: Lundqvist vs. Quick

There is no doubt that all three goaltenders that were nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder in the regular season are all deserving of the coveted Trophy.

While Nashville Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne had a terrific season and deserved to be nominated this season, this trophy will really be between Los Angeles Kings’ Cup winning goaltender Jonathan Quick and New York Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Taking a look at Quick, it felt like he almost had to be perfect in every game he played. The Kings were one of the worst teams in the league in terms of scoring goals in the regular season, which meant that Quick needed to be ready to make a big save at all times.

Quick succeeded in doing so and had his best regular season in his young NHL career. Quick went 35-21-13 with a 1.95 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and was tied for the league lead in shutouts with 10.

In Quick’s 69 games played, many of them were low scoring games and despite not getting enough offensive support, he still found ways to win. Quick was confident, consistent and did about anything and everything to help his club sneak into the postseason.

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  Tags: henrik+lundqvist, jonathan+quick, los+angeles+kings, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, vezina+trophy

Looking to Close Out the Homestand with a Win Against the Sabres

Prior to the 7-game homestand, the New York Rangers knew that it would be a great opportunity to really establish home ice before the postseason and pick-up some points to help build on their Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings lead.

In six games so far, the Blueshirts have gone 4-2. The team has beat the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings while losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche.

Tonight’s game between the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden is an important one for both clubs. For the Rangers, it is an opportunity to go back to being three points ahead of the Penguins as the Penguins beat the Nashville Predators last night by a score of 5-1.

For the Sabres, it is an opportunity to get two huge points to put them in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have been playing playoff hockey for the last month or so and have really turned their season around after a rough few months and after last night’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Penguins, the Sabres can move into the eighth spot over the Washington Capitals with a win.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, brad+richards, brandon+dubinsky, brian+boyle, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, colorado+avalanche, derek+stepan, detroit+red+wings, marian+gaborik, nashville+predators, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, washington+capitals

Do Not Take Lightly

This is the attitude that the New York Rangers should have going into tonight’s tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.

The Penguins may be without Sidney Crosby and some of their other better players but they have definitely picked-up their play in the last few games. Guys like Evgeni Malkin, who should be considered the Penguins’ most valuable player right now, and James Neal are doing everything they possibly can to keep their club afloat while Crosby is still recovering.

Furthermore, defenseman Kris Letang will be making his return to the Penguins’ line-up tonight. This will give the Penguins some added firepower and as well as a lethal threat on the power play.

Like team head coach John Tortorella said two nights ago, the club should not be thinking about the Stanley Cup right now. This Blueshirts’ hockey club has a long way to go and needs to take things on a game-by-game basis, something that has worked well for them so far this season.

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  Tags: evegni+malkin, henrik+lundqvist, james+neal, john+tortorella, kris+letang, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, sidney+crosby

Holding Onto the Top Spot

That is what the New York Rangers continue to do as the team picked-up a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators last night at Madison Square Garden.

Due to playing in a hockey game of my own, I was not able to catch any of the game. With that said, it was nice to see Henrik Lundqvist get another shutout and the team come out with a much better defensive performance than they did against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night in Montreal.

It was also nice to see that John Mitchell scored another goal for the Blueshirts. No one really knew whether or not Mitchell would fit in with this Rangers’ team but he has come in and gotten the job done by working hard every night, forechecking hard, going to the net and cashing in on opportunities when they present themselves.

This is a team that continues to show that it can respond well after a loss. Too many times in the past few seasons would the Rangers follow up a loss with another bad game but this season, team head coach John Tortorella has seemed to keep that to a minimum.

With the win, the Rangers improved to 29-11-4 for 62 points. The team has a one point edge over the Detroit Red Wings for first in the league and a three point edge over the Boston Bruins for first in the Eastern Conference.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, detroit+red+wings, evgeni+malkin, henrik+lundqvist, james+neal, john+mitchell, john+tortorella, montreal+canadiens, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, sidney+crosby

Is the Central Division the Best in the NHL?

Over at TrueHockey.com today, I explored that topic:

When looking at the Central division, it’s possible all five teams could clinch playoff spots in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

Detroit Red Wings

Even without the likes of Brian Rafalski, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Mike Modano, the Detroit Red Wings could very well be the class of the Central Division once again this season.

The Red Wings still have guys like Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall and goaltender Jimmy Howard. These players all had solid seasons last year and got the Wings to within one game of the Western Conference Finals.

This team will be the team to beat not only in the division, but possibly the entire conference.

Click here for more on the rest of the division.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, detroit+red+wings, nashville+predators, st.+louis+blues

Buddy Oakes Gives Us His Trade Deadline Thoughts

Buddy Oakes, the mastermind behind Preds on the Glass, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the NHL trade deadline as well as what the Nashville Predators may or may not do today.

PH: What are some of your general thoughts on the trades that have been made so far prior to the NHL trade deadline? Which deal do you think was the best? Why?
BO: It has obviously been surprising that things got moving as early as they did this season. We have also seen a return to real “Hockey type” trades that haven’t been seen since before the lockout. Players that have years remaining on their contract such as the Mike Fisher to Nashville trade have been different that the rental trades that have become the rule in recent years.

Two trades have really gotten my attention so far. The Alex Goligoski to Dallas for James Neal and Matt Niskanen appeared one sided on the surface but Goligoski has looked great in his first two games in Dallas.

The most surprising trade was the midnight deal of four youngsters between Colorado and St. Louis. Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart were thought to be keys to the Avalanche’s future as Erik Johnson and Jay McClement were integral pieces of the Blues stockpile of assets.

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  Tags: buddy+oakes, nashville+predators, preds+on+the+glass

Is Lundqvist Back on Track?

After being out of town for the last two days, it was nice to see the New York Rangers get the job done on the road and get back-to-back wins against the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.

It was even nicer to see that Blueshirts’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist started both games and played well in them. Unfortunately, I did not get to watch either game but just looking at his statistics, it looks like he faced a lot of rubber and was able to pick-up his second shutout of the season against the Panthers and get the shootout victory against the Predators last night by stopping all three Predator shooters.

It may just be two games but for Lundqvist, they should be considered confidence boosters. He had been struggling up until late last week and needed to show his hockey club that he is still the backbone of the team and show them why he is considered one of the top netminders in the National Hockey League.

The Blueshirts have another big week on tap beginning tomorrow night when Sidney Crosby and the Penguins visit Madison Square Garden for a tilt. Later in the week, the Blueshirts will take on the New York Islanders in the beginning of a home-and-home series at the Coliseum on Thursday night followed by a game at MSG on Friday night before closing out the week with a game against the Ottawa Senators at the Garden on Sunday evening.

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  Tags: florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, nashville+predators, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, sidney+crosby

Start Biron Tonight Against the Panthers

Good morning folks. I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and that your Black Friday’s are off to a great start.

As you recall, I am heading to Newport, RI with my wife in a few hours so I figured I would post something before leaving.

I will say this again before getting into the subject of this blog: there is NO goaltending controversy when it comes to the New York Rangers.

It is apparent that starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist is struggling. He is not coming up with the big saves when he needs to, he is allowing soft goals and more importantly, he is not winning hockey games for his team.

With that said, however, it appears that the team is playing much better defense in front of their back-up goaltender, Martin Biron while leaving Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. While this may make some sense because Biron is the back-up, it should never be the case because the team should play the same way regardless of who is between the pipes.

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  Tags: florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, martin+biron, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers

I’m Hitting the Road for a Few Days

Good morning folks. I wanted to let everyone know that I won’t be posting for the next few days as I have an extremely busy Thanksgiving planned and then I’m going to Newport, RI for a few days with my wife.

Unfortunately, I’ll miss two of the three New York Ranger games so feel free to post your comments on the games in the comment section of this blog as I’m sure there will be things to talk about.

Much like myself, the Rangers will be on the road the rest of this week with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning (tonight at 7:30 p.m.), Florida Panthers (Friday night) and the Nashville Predators (Saturday night) before heading home to take on the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that the team could win all three games but considering how tough the Lightning can be, picking up four points with wins over the Panthers and Predators seems a lot more realistic right now.

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  Tags: florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, tampa+bay+lightning

An E-mail Interview with a Predators’ Blogger

As we all know, there are many terrific hockey bloggers out there. Obviously, there are those that cover the major/well-known teams while others cover those that do not get the attention they deserve.

This e-mail interview is a case of the latter as I would like to introduce you folks (many of you may know him already) to Buddy Oakes of PredsOntheGlass.com, a blog covering the Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League.

Buddy was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into the game, how he got into blogging about the game and of course, his thoughts on the Predators:

PH: How did you get into hockey?
BO: My introduction to hockey was in the late 1960’s when I would occasionally attend Nashville Dixie Flyers games at the old Municipal Auditorium. I was a casual fan thought the years and really didn’t get bitten as a hockey fan until 1998 when the Predators came to Nashville. At that point, I gave up baseball as my life-long favorite sport and sold out to hockey.

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  Tags: buddy+oakes, nashville+predators, predsontheglass.com

Upcoming E-mail Interviews

Good afternoon folks. Is everyone pumped up for this afternoon’s/tonight’s playoff games? I am certainly looking forward to all the Conference Finals action and will be curious to see how everything unfolds.

I just wanted to let you folks know that my next two e-mail interviews will be with Buddy Oakes of PredsOnTheGlass, the terrific Nashville Predators/hockey web site, and Michael Russo, the Minnesota Wild Beat writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

I love doing these e-mail interviews so let me know if there is anyone that you folks would like me to try and get.

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  Tags: minnesota+wild, nashville+predators

Another Two Points Out the Window

I am not going to lie - I did not watch the New York Rangers vs. Nashville Predators game last night. I was busy shoveling and getting my car out of the snow last night.

Judging by the outcome of the game though, it would appear that I might have worked as hard as the Rangers did. However, the difference is that I didn’t end up losing two crucial points in a playoff race.

Looking at the box score, it would appear that the Blueshirts peppered Nashville netminder Dan Ellis (38 shots), only to be stopped time and time again (37 saves). This happens often to the Rangers but at this point in the season, this is something that the team should avoid at all costs.

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  Tags: nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, tampa+bay+lightning

Big Two Points on Tap for Blueshirts Tonight at MSG

The New York Rangers will look to pick up a crucial two points tonight when they take on the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden.

As of right now at least, the game is still on as New York City is expecting quite amount of snow. However, if the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals were able to play on Sunday afternoon, there is no reason why the two teams should not be able to play tonight.

For the Rangers, that means bringing the same effort they did on Saturday night at home against the New Jersey Devils, while doing a better job of keeping the shots against total lower. Against a team like the Predators, that should be a reachable goal.

However, much like the Rangers, the Predators are in a fight for their playoff lives as they currently sit tied for the seventh spot in the Western Conference with the Calgary Flames while the Blueshirts are in the tenth spot in the Eastern Conference.

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  Tags: nashville+predators, new+york+rangers

Tough Loss in Philly

The New York Rangers fired everything but the kitchen sink at the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon and came away with a 4-2 loss, putting them at risk of dropping out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

The team was certainly not afraid to shoot the puck as they fired 41 on Flyers’ netminder Marty Biron, who made 39 saves and was the major reason why the Broadstreet Bullies picked up two points. Aaron Asham also played well for the Flyers, scoring his sixth and seventh goals of the season.

This was a game that the Blueshirts could have won. They had lots of shots on goal, they moved the puck around well but as always, they had trouble burying their chances.

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  Tags: aaron+asham, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marc+staal+scott+hartnell, marty+biron, mike+richards, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, nikolai+zherdev, philadelphia+flyers, sean+avery

Crucial Tilt Against The Predators

As of this morning, the New York Rangers were ninth in the Eastern Conference with 76 points, just one point out of the 8th spot (currently held by the Florida Panthers) and two points out of the 7th (currently held by the Carolina Hurricanes) and 6th (currently held by the Pittsburgh Penguins). This makes tonight’s game against the streaky Nashville Predators extremely important and much like the Blueshirts, the Predators are doing everything they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race (currently 8th in the Western Conference with 71 points).

Another reason why tonight’s tilt in Nashville is important is because of what a win would mean for Blueshirts’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist. The “King” is one win away from establishing a new NHL record by becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to win 30 or more games in each of his first four seasons. That should show you just how valuable Henrik is to this team and that he is one of the major reasons why the team has qualified for the postseason in each of their last three seasons.

While Monday’s night 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes wasn’t pretty, the team still looks like they are close to where they need to be in order to make the playoffs. They’re scoring more goals (except for Monday), going harder to the net, getting goals from guys that should be scoring, still playing sound defense and getting great goaltending from Henrik.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, sean+avery

A Fish out of Water

This would be the perfect way to describe Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith.

He’s up, he’s down, he’s to the left, he’s to the right, he’s on his belly, he’s on his feet, etc. However, it’s a style that works for Smith and his statistics through the first month and a half of the regular season.

In 14 games, the 26-year-old is 5-4-5 with a 2.35 goals against average, a .932 save percentage (fourth in the league) and 1 shutout.

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  Tags: mike+smith, nashville+predators, rick+tocchet, tampa+bay+lightning

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