Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Strobel of the Toronto Sun,
Nashville Predators are selling out home games faster ’n a scalded hound.
They’re at 26 already this season, a record. Those Tennessee hicks are making the storied Leafs look sick.
Likely, you remember guffawing in 1998 when the NHL expanded to a small city best known for Hee Haw.
Well, he who laughs last ...
The Predators were expected to draw 17,113, a full house, for their game against Montreal Tuesday night — not all of them there just to see forward Mike Fisher’s wife, country star Carrie Underwood, and their new baby.
It’s a raucous crowd, too, known for being in their seats when the puck drops and for frequent standing ovations.
The Leafs, on the other hand, suffered their worst attendance ever at the Air Canada Centre against Minnesota on Monday night.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It was a week ago Sunday night, the eve of the NHL general managers’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., and a smattering of club executives were posted up at the resort lobby bar, watching NHL games.
The TV at one end of the bar was showing Washington and Boston. That’s where you would find Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli. The TV at the other end had Anaheim and Nashville, which was where Predators’ GM David Poile was sitting.
The GMs from a few other teams were sitting between, or around, them, with Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher checking his phone now and again for other hockey scores, keeping his peers updated not only on the third NHL game, Philadelphia vs. Ottawa – The Hamburglar was a big deal, even amongst the GMs – but a handful of U.S. college playoff games being played that night, too.
"What’s the Harvard-Yale score?" Poile would ask Fletcher on a number of occasions.
Everyone there, of course, knew, Poile had a vested interest in the outcome. If Yale beat Harvard in the third-and-deciding-game of their ECAC playoff series, it could mean an end to the Crimson’s season and, therefore, allow for the possibility of Harvard goal-scoring machine Jimmy Vesey, the Predators’ third-round pick, 66th overall, in the 2012 NHL draft, turning pro and joining the Preds for the stretch drive and playoffs.
Chiarelli, himself a Harvard grad, good-naturedly poked fun at Poile from the far end of the bar, suggesting no Harvard player would leave such an esteemed institution without first graduating. Vesey is in his junior year.
from Pete Weber at the Predators' website,
It’s a typical question when I meet with students: “What is your day like on a game day?” The next is: “How much time do you spend preparing for each game?”
The answer to the second question is very complicated for me, because just before a road trip, I may be preparing for several games at once, so it’s difficult to allocate time across the individual games. So let’s skip the second and concentrate on the first here.
(I will use a home game as my example here. Understand that on the road, there are busses to catch, bags to pack, etc. There are a number of variables always at play, so there is no real “typical” game day.)
On the day of a game, the first thing we have is a production meeting for the telecasts. This year they have been held at 9:45 a.m., before the team’s morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. In that meeting are producer David White, analyst Stu Grimson and reporter Lyndsay Rowley. At that point in time, we concentrate on our broadcast open, usually spending as much as 30 minutes to plan the opening four and a half minutes you see before the commercial prior to puck drop.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
In a quiet room on the event level of Bridgestone Arena one recent afternoon, Ribeiro is animated, healthy and eager to discuss how those moments -- Was it really just a year ago? Somehow it seems longer -- have evolved into a most unexpected fit with the Nashville Predators.
To fit here, though, Ribeiro had to first find a fit with himself and with the family from whom he'd been separated.
Ribeiro voluntarily went into the NHL/NHL Players' Association substance abuse and behavioral health program at the end of the 2013-14 season after a long heart-to-heart discussion with Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett.
Ribeiro's family -- his wife, Tamara, and their three children, two boys aged 14 and 10 and a daughter aged 9 -- was there when he left the rehab center a few weeks later, making the trip home somehow shorter, the future somehow less daunting, the possibilities within reach.
The trip back home with his family was the start of a different kind of journey, a dramatic divergence from the path Ribeiro had traveled in the preceding months.
"I think the kids were happy to see me and to see that Daddy was getting better," Ribeiro said.
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.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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