Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Cigarran, Chairman of the Nashville Predators,
Dear Nashville Predators Fans,
On behalf of the Nashville Predators ownership group, staff and players, thank you for your outstanding support throughout this season and for turning Bridgestone Arena into a sea of gold during our playoff series against Chicago. Losing in the playoffs is always painful, especially considering how hard our team worked and how close we came to advancing to the next round. We share your pain and we are still coming to grips with the fact that our season has ended.
There is no doubt that this season, both the regular season but especially the playoffs, was an important learning experience for our very young team. A team that, based on what transpired throughout the year, will continue to grow and develop and be a team that will compete for the Stanley Cup every year for years to come. Among the keys to playoff success, in addition to a strong team and playoff experience, are health and good fortune. Playing without Captain Shea Weber for four games and center Mike Fisher for three certainly increased the challenge but our young players stepped up admirably. Losing double and triple overtime games while outplaying Chicago, games where one bounce of the puck would have changed a loss into a win, tested this teams’ character. They responded by fighting back to win Game Five on home ice and push the Blackhawks to the very end of Game Six.
A re-tooling of our team began just two seasons ago. In that short time, we acquired Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro; we drafted Seth Jones and Kevin Fiala (among other young prospects) and we changed course with the addition of Peter Laviolette as our head coach this season. While we are disappointed to not be playing today, it is a measure of our progress that in two years we have gone from finishing the regular season in 27th place in the NHL in the 2012-13 season, to 19th in the 2013-14 season to 6th in the 2014-15 season. And Coach Laviolette has certainly transformed our team into a more aggressive, offensive and exciting club to watch.
from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,
When the Predators acquired defenseman Cody Franson as part of a trade with the Maple Leafs on Feb. 15, it was viewed as the rich getting richer.
Franson was among the most coveted rental players available. His return to Nashville, which drafted him in 2005, strengthened what was already considered one of the best defenses in the NHL,
Yet Franson wasn't impactful in 28 regular-season and playoff games for Nashville, largely because he wasn't utilized nearly as much as he was in Toronto.
He averaged 21:23 per game for the Maple Leafs, which included 3:05 on the power play and 2:00 shorthanded. With the Predators, his ice time plunged to 15:25 per game, barely contributing to Nashville's special-teams units.
"It was definitely an adjustment," Franson said. "You go from playing over 20 minutes a night on any given night in a bunch of different situations, special teams and things like that, to more of a depth guy and trying to play more of a shutdown role and just not really allow much. I tried to adjust to it as best I could and contribute as much as I could."
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
To be a goalie is to be the target for target practice, the easy excuse for every goal and the person most likely to be benched. Yet goalies eat their gruel and ask for more.
Saturday was another reminder of the job’s wild extremes and why, given a choice, an aspiring goalie might want to seek more stable employment, such as bomb defuser.
Scott Darling, the biggest sports story in Chicago a few days ago, was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period and likely won’t see the ice again during the playoffs. Corey Crawford, treated like a communicable disease around town last week, took Darling’s place to huge roars at the United Center and even louder ones when the Blackhawks came back to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 and advance to the next round of the playoffs.
It would be a miracle if neither of these guys has major trust issues in life.
There would seem to be no turning back now for coach Joel Quenneville as it concerns his goalies. Crawford replaced Darling with 11 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first period, and it will be a shocker if we see Darling again in the playoffs. A coach can’t keep yo-yoing his goalies like this. Make a decision and stick with it.
In the end, when the horn went off, there seemed to be extra meaning in the hugs that teammates gave Crawford. First Duncan Keith, who scored the winning goal, then the rest of the Hawks, who know what Crawford has been through.
The Blakhawks have defeated the Nasville Predators 4-3 to win the series 4-2.
They will meet te winner of the Minnesota/St. Louis series.
The Nashville Predators announced Friday that Captain Shea Weber will miss the remainder of the club’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks due to a lower-body injury the defenseman suffered in Game Two of the series. However, contrary to erroneous broadcast and media reports over the last 24 hours, he did not suffer an ACL injury. Further updates will be provided as they become available.
from David Climer of The Tennessean,
The Nashville Predators arrived at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night with one objective:
Avoid being on the wrong end of a congratulatory handshake.
With a 5-2 victory in Game 5, the Predators survived to play another day. In the process, they postponed the traditional handshake that comes with the conclusion of each of the 15 best-of-seven series that comprise the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It's still an uphill climb for the Preds, who trail Chicago 3-2 entering Game 6 on Saturday at United Center.
Even so, this clearly is a team that is not going quietly. And after the events of the third period Thursday night, something tells me the Blackhawks are feeling pressure to close out the series at home Saturday. They don't want to come back to Bridgestone Arena for a decisive Game 7.
Below, Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times with "Everybody Else Wants To Be The Blackhawks"...
from John Glennon of The Tennessean,
Here are five key questions facing the Predators as they prepare for Game 5:
1. Can they slow down the Toews line?
Chicago's line of Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad has been dominant in the series, accounting for 12 points (four goals, eight assists) — one third of the team's points total.
Hossa has been the ringleader, seemingly all over the ice while posting five assists, including four primary assists. The absence of Mike Fisher, the Predators' best two-way center, and Shea Weber, one of the league's top defensemen, has really hurt Nashville in trying to match up with the talented trio.
"The challenge is they're a good hockey line," Laviolette said. "They present a lot of challenges with regard to talent and speed of the attack they bring to the game. I thought (Tuesday) for at least the first three periods we did a pretty good job, keeping them in check and not giving them too many quality chances."
2. Can the veterans bounce back?
When it comes to the very important center position, the Predators are an old team. First-line center Mike Ribeiro is 35, current second-line center Matt Cullen is 38 and fourth-line center Paul Gaustad is 33.
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Legs heavy, energy stores on empty, they raced up and down the ice, neither side wanting to give in to the other or to tiredness.
Three periods of playoff hockey had come and gone, with all the sweat and exertion and adrenaline that accompany it. Then one overtime, then a second, then into a third. Tuesday night became Wednesday morning at the United Center. Playoff beards filled in. Marian Hossa turned 45.
The Blackhawks and the Predators were carrying on as if everything was at stake, and maybe it was. Game 4 of their first-round series felt like a line in the sand. Whoever crossed it would win the series. Is that how it would be? Who knew? But with every frenetic rush into the other side’s zone, the desperation seemed to increase.
Neither wanted to cede anything to the other. Not any ground. Not any momentum. Certainly not a goal. Scott Darling was superb in the net for the Hawks. Pekka Rinne was crazy good for the Predators.
Something had to give. Theoretically. But doesn’t pi go on forever? So why couldn’t a hockey game?
Finally, at 1:16 a.m., with a heavy slap shot from inside the blue line and Bryan Bickell shielding Rinne, Brent Seabrook tucked this game in for a 3-2 Hawks victory. Good night to all.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Scott Powers of ESPN,
The Nashville Predators’ Colin Wilson thinks a lot about thinking.
Wilson, a 25-year-old forward, worked with a sports psychologist early in his pro career, found he liked it and has focused more on the mental part of his game in recent years. For him, it’s a way of comprehending why he has certain thoughts and trying to use that to make him a better player.
“I really like it,” said Wilson, who uses a sports psychologist outside of the Predators’ organization. “I think in the beginning when you start realizing how your thoughts can create this reality, I think it kind of is a little bit of a shock to you at the beginning. I think it’s an important part of life.
“I’m getting more into it now. It’s more just understanding your thought. I think there’s times where you know you can make a situation out to be too much pressure on yourself; you can make it however you want it to. It’s just something I’ve been focusing on. It seems to be working right now.”
Video of how the injury happened is below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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