Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,
Once firmly positioned as the NHL's best team, Nashville has staggered as the end of the regular season nears. The Predators have lost nine of 11 games since Feb. 26, turning their nine-point lead atop the Central Division into a one-point deficit with 10 games remaining.
"It's tight," defenseman Roman Josi said. "Chicago's right there; St. Louis is, I think, ahead of us now. It's a tight race. We've got to find a way to get points."
The Predators' ascent to the top of the league was unexpected before the season. It was an improbable run fueled by the on-ice aggressiveness preferred by new coach Peter Laviolette and a roster capable of high-scoring offense. Their 27-9-4 record through 40 games was the best in franchise history.
Nashville has barely resembled that team lately, struggling for offense with just 19 goals during a 2-8-1 slump. Before the start of the skid, the Predators averaged 2.7 goals per 60 minutes at even strength, tied for second-most in the NHL. However, that average has dropped to 1.7 goals, a total that puts them near the bottom of the league over that span.
"We're right in the thick of it," forward Matt Cullen said. "We had a real nice cushion, and for whatever reasons, we kind of let it evaporate here. Ultimately, it just comes down to, in here, we need to get our game in order."
from John Glennon of The Tennessean,
Despite the high-octane first period, the Predators surrendered the game's opening goal for the 10th consecutive time. In fact, the Islanders scored twice on five shots in the first period before Colin Wilson cut the lead to 2-1 just before the horn sounded.
"We need to stop getting down in these games," Wilson said. "We keep starting off behind and then we have to battle back. We keep having great efforts, but we need to start to get those goals."
And then there was the disappointment of the final period, when – three minutes after the Predators rallied from 3-1 down to 3-3 – Brock Nelson's shot from the slot won it for the Islanders. It was a bit of a fluke opportunity, as Michael Grabner's shot ricocheted off the endboards and bounced over Predators defenseman Seth Jones' stick in front before sliding to Nelson.
"It seems like that's where we're at right now," Laviolette said. "Our guys played hard, fought back and we catch a tough bounce on a rebound that jumps over a defenseman's stick."
John Glennon on the lawsuit filed by Mike Ribeiro's ex-nanny,
from John Glennon of The Tennessean,
The Predators' game Tuesday against New Jersey will mark the team's 20th in 36 days since the NHL All-Star break. Only one other team, Florida, has played 20 in 36 since the break, and only two teams, Washington and the New York Islanders, have played as many as 19 games in those 36 days.
"It's been a grinding schedule since the All-Star break," Predators general manager David Poile said, hours before his team tries to snap its season-high, three-game losing streak at New Jersey.
"It's been very, very busy, and it doesn't seem like it lightens up much. There have hardly been any practice days. I'm not trying to give excuses. I'm just trying to say it's been a grueling schedule.
"To me, the last couple of games, we just haven't had our legs. Other teams have been quicker than us the last two games, and we just need to get that back."
Grabovski did not return to the game and coach Capuano said post-game, “I’m sure he’s going to be out a while though.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"I can just watch you guys on TV this year and enjoy it," the Nashville Predators veteran general manager chuckled Sunday after pulling off an impressive trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs that landed him Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli.
Not that the Maple Leafs didn't do well, too, because GM Dave Nonis deserves full marks for pulling a first-round pick his way as well as prospect Brendan Leipsic -- two good assets. Plus the Leafs can also flip Olli Jokinen for a draft pick before March 2.
But for the Central Division-leading Predators to add a top-four blueliner of Franson's ilk plus versatile top-nine forward Santorelli, suddenly you have to consider the possibility that the Preds aren't simply going to get stomped on by a team like the Blues or the Blackhawks in the second round.
What's apparent more than ever is the Preds have the talent and the depth to take a long playoff run of their own.
Nashville, Tenn. (February 15, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Sunday that the team has acquired defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Nashville’s first-round selection in the 2015 Draft, and forwards Brendan Leipsic and Olli Jokinen.
“In preparation for the 2015 playoff run, our goal was to add a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations and a proven forward who could move up and down lineup based on the situation,” Poile said. “We were fortunate to do this in the same transaction with players who are in the prime of their careers more than two weeks before the Trade Deadline in order to give them more time to contribute and gel with their teammates.
"Both Cody and Mike were drafted, developed and began their NHL careers here. They know our organization and still have former teammates and friends on the roster. We are fully confident that they will seamlessly fit into our team.”
“Cody brings size, offensive ability and the capacity to play in all situations to our lineup,” Poile said. “He is the perfect component to round out our defensive corps and give us eight proven NHL defensemen.”
“Mike is a versatile player that can move up and down the lineup based on the situation,” Poile said. “He has fantastic speed, is excellent in the face-off circle, and can play all three forward positions if called upon. He is an excellent complement to our existing group of forwards.”
from John Glennon of The Tennessean,
So what might interest the Predators over the next few weeks? Here are some positions and names that might make sense:
Defensive depth. The Predators have a very talented and offensive-minded defensive corps when everyone is healthy, but outside of Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Anton Volchenkov, there's not a lot of experience on the blueline.
Nashville would be well-served to add at least one quality defenseman, most likely a player with size who is good in his own end and can log a decent amount of minutes. Some players that might fit the bill are Ottawa's Marc Methot, Colorado's Jan Hejda, Carolina's Andrej Sekera and Arizona's Zbynek Michalek.
Center depth. The Predators have fared well offensively with their one-two punch of Mike Ribeiro and Fisher, but scoring becomes more challenging in the postseason and it would be good to have more options in the middle. Along the same lines, injuries have to be expected in the playoffs, another good reason more is better.
It would be pretty challenging to find a No. 1 center at the deadline. But some players that could supplement Ribeiro and Fisher are Arizona's Antoine Vermette, Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly (if he's on the market), Colorado's Daniel Briere and even former Predator Mike Santorelli, now with Toronto.
Tyler Myers barely put some sweat on his new Winnipeg Jets sweater when late in the game, he decided to stand in front of a Shea Weber shot. And why quick to learn why that’s a bad idea.
Below, Myers talks post-game, saying his leg went dead but he is ok. Myers also talked about playing for the Winnipeg Jets.
from Darren Dreger of the Dreger Report,
There has been much speculation on Nashville's interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Cody Franson.
However, general manager David Poile is as much or more interested in one of Toronto's forwards to strengthen his lineup. Poile isn't looking to add a major piece and risk disrupting what he has up front, but there could be a fit with centre Mike Santorelli or winger Daniel Winnik. Poile and Leafs GM Dave Nonis met in Nashville on Thursday night, but neither appears to be in any rush to make something happen.
The Maple Leafs did have some discussions with Santorelli's agent J.P. Barry about re-signing the pending unrestricted free agent, but the Leafs have not made an offer to extend. It's believed Santorelli is looking for a three-year term with a minimum of $3 million per season to stay in Toronto.
read on for Evander Kane and Mike Richards talk...
from Mike Organ of The Tennessean,
The Predators have skated into a brighter spotlight this season.
Their dramatic improvement over last season has been a natural attention-grabber, but other factors have contributed to a new level of respect for the franchise locally and nationally.
“They’re getting more attention because it’s such a surprise for them to be where they are,” USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen said. “And also there is the storyline of (Peter) Laviolette replacing Barry Trotz, who everyone had such great respect for. He’s moved on and you go from a defensive coach to an offensive coach. The story is intriguing.”
At the NHL All-Star break, the Predators (30-10-5) lead the Central Division and are second in the Western Conference and overall NHL standings.
The story is intriguing, Allen said, not because Trotz failed to move the Predators into a more prominent position, but rather because he laid the foundation for them to evolve to where they are mentioned among the league’s best teams.
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