Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
I still think the Nashville Predators are bound to come back to earth following their hot start to the season -- one that has them with the surprising lead in the stacked Central Division -- but the Preds secured another win Tuesday night, downing the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. New coach Peter Laviolette might have revitalized this team with a needed change in message, but Tuesday's win also underscored some key offseason moves by general manager David Poile.
more on the Preds plus Burnside on the Canucks and Islanders, Custance on Chicago's goalies and LeBrun on the Lightning...
NEW YORK (October 17, 2014) – The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced the selection of the Nashville Predators, the city of Nashville and Bridgestone Arena as hosts of the 2016 National Hockey League All-Star celebration. The League’s mid-season showcase will take place Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31 and will include the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL® All-Star Game.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
It’s hard – if not impossible – to get a read on a team after just two games, but the Nashville Predators have looked impressively different in their debut games under new coach Peter Laviolette. Laviolette’s promised to bring more offense to a Nashville organization that’s seen their goal-scoring dry up over the years, but early signs suggest that the team’s just going to be more aggressive in every phase of the game – not just in terms of getting pucks on net.
This, of course, gets into the many different ways a team can improve on their Corsi%. One example I like to give is the stark contrast between that of Los Angeles and Chicago; two virtually equal teams at dominating control of play at five-on-five, but two teams that go about their business in entirely different manners. Los Angeles is a dump-and-chase heavy team – they prefer to sacrifice a bit of lethality when attacking in exchange for being able to set-up with more structure when defending the neutral zone. Chicago’s a polar opposite – nearly every possession through the neutral zone sees the Blackhawks carrying in with control, and it’s reflected in their ability to pile up the shot-attempts and goals year after year.
The first two games Nashville’s played are interesting in the sense that they seem to have really dialed up the force and frequency in which they harass puck-carriers coming through the neutral zone. In years past, I’ve felt as though Nashville played a more passive game, which let super-talented teams dictate the run of play.
Nashville, Tenn. (September 25, 2014) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has agreed to terms with restricted free-agent defenseman Ryan Ellis. Full contract terms will follow on Friday, when Ellis is expected to arrive in Nashville.
from Gare Joynce of Sportsnet,
Biggest storyline to watch: Poile was a voice in the wilderness — a league executive who stood by his coach through thick and mostly thin. Laviolette is the face of a Nashville reboot as much as James Neal. If Laviolette enjoys early success, many will suggest Poile waited too long to change the culture in the organization. If Laviolette is only modestly successful but his teams play a more entertaining brand of hockey than most of Trotz’s teams, Nashville fans will consider themselves winners in a small way. If it’s more of the same, the franchise is at risk of losing its fragile hold of its fanbase.
2014-15 prediction: Though the Predators finished only three points behind Dallas for the No. 8 slot in the Western Conference last season, it’s hard to see how the Predators have gained any ground. Once more into the lottery.
from John Manasso at NHL.com,
For the first time in the Predators' 16-year history, they have a new coach, and to an extent a new philosophy. It's not as simple as plugging in what could be six new forwards and then going about predicting how the Predators will perform.
Out as coach is Barry Trotz and in is Peter Laviolette. The only holdover on the coaching staff is assistant coach Phil Housley. The goaltending and defense, with the exception of the addition of Anton Volchenkov and subtraction of Michael Del Zotto, remain the same.
The major difference, along with the new faces up front, will be the philosophy, which will focus on generating more offense. Last season the Predators had four 20-goal scorers for only the second time since 2007-08 but finished tied for 18th in the NHL in goals per game (2.61). Nashville has had four players reach the 30-goal mark in its history and the franchise's single-season record for goals is Jason Arnott's 33 in 2008-09.
"I think it's going to be exciting, it's going to be interesting," general manager David Poile said. "What we know for sure it's not going to be the same and that's because of the number of changes, especially at forward; the coaching staff with a little bit different philosophy in how we're going to play. Pekka coming back is another situation that should be positive. I'm excited about the possibilities."
via Josh Cooper of the Tennessean,
Checking in on the Predators roster as the 2014-15 season approaches:
Reason for optimism: Neal brings one of the best one-timers in the NHL to the Predators. He's a pure goal scorer, someone who immediately upgrades the attack, and is probably a lock for 30 goals. He adds a dimension the Predators have probably never had in their history.
Reason for pessimism: Neal has had discipline problems – the NHL has suspended him three times – and he has a reputation for being surly. Also, it's unclear how Neal will perform without All-Star pivot Evgeni Malkin – his centerman with the Pittsburgh Penguins – feeding him the puck.
from John Matisz of Canoe,
In today’s NHL, where each player is media trained almost exclusively in cliches, it’s rare to come across an unplugged interview.
Nashville Predator Rich Clune’s recent Q&A with nofilterblog.com, however, is certainly an exception.
Among the highlights in this doozy is Clune’s insight into the “hottest wife in the NHL” (hint: she’s a country music singer) and an intriguing anecdote about Clune and James Neal butt-dialing a veteran player whom they insulted via voicemail by accident.
Below are a few candid answers from Clune, a 27-year-old enforcer who had seven points and 166 penalty minutes in 58 games for Nashville last season.
(To read the entire transcript, click here.)
[WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE]
Who is your favorite person to fight in the league?
from Josh Cooper of The Tennessean,
“He knows he has to get stronger and fill out,” general manager David Poile said. “He’s a pretty determined and dedicated kid.”
It’s somewhat rare for Predators players to stay in town during the offseason. Most scatter for the offseason. Captain Shea Weber heads to his summer home in British Columbia. Goaltender Pekka Rinne goes to his native Finland. Forward Eric Nystrom resides in the Los Angeles area.
Predators strength and conditioning coach David Good has been able to monitor how the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft is developing physically. Jones said he has gained about five pounds of muscle so far and weighs 210. The Predators like that trend.
“Physically he needs to mature more,” assistant coach Phil Housley said. “He has to get stronger on his feet. He has to get more leverage, starting with the basic foundation of his legs up. That’s just going to come with maturity and having seasons of working out as he grows. Mentally, I think he’s mature.”
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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