Kukla's Korner Hockey
from James Neal of The Players' Tribune,
So I’m the guy who’s supposed to put the little rubber puck into the back of the net. Pretty simple. The only thing is, there’s a 6’5” monster wearing pillows standing in my way — and for some reason the dude can do full splits on skates. It’s insane. When I came into the league, I was just like every other kid: “Uh yeah, you know, uh, just go out there and fire it hard and heavy, top-shelf.”
I’ll always remember my first day at training camp with the Dallas Stars. I skate out onto the ice and we’re all shooting around, getting loose. I’m seeing monsters like Jason Arnott, Bill Guerin, Mike Modano. Marty Turco is in net. It took literally one shot for me to realize that this was a whole different level of hockey. Arnott shot one from the top of the circle and got it past Marty. I tried to do the same thing. I went high glove, and Marty didn’t even have to flinch. The puck went right into his glove. I tried again — same thing. Then Modano comes down — bang. He scores five hole from the top of the circle.
I had to be in the middle of the circles between the hash marks to score on Marty. These guys were scoring from the top of the circles and from bad angles. They weren’t just shooting harder or more accurately than me. In the NHL, everybody shoots it hard. They were doing things before the puck even came off their stick to mess with Marty.
from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,
Even after missing three weeks because of a sprained knee sustained in January, Rinne still started 64 games, a total that only six other goaltenders surpassed last season. He won 41 games and was a legitimate MVP candidate midway through the season, leading his counterparts in wins (29), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.931) at the All-Star break.
Comparatively, the 32-year-old significantly struggled during the second half and playoffs, leading many to wonder whether his workload was to blame.
"It would be an easy game if you could say, 'OK, I'm going to play 60 really good games,' and then (backup goaltender Carter Hutton's) going to play 20 really good games," Rinne said. "It would be easy to say like that, but you never know what (the) situation is going to be during the season. Hopefully, I stay healthy and (am) able to play as many games as possible. Obviously, you want to play. That's the one thing you always want to do — is just play."
from Adam Vingam of The Tennessean,
T: Will there be an effort to reduce Shea Weber's minutes?
L: "Certainly, ideally you'd like to bring those minutes down a little bit if you could. Sometimes in the course of the game, it becomes a little bit challenging. I do think that we have the support and the depth to try to accomplish that this year, to see if we can't bring it down a little bit. One of the strengths on our team is defense, the depth of our defense. There's guys that still probably don't get the minutes or the situational play that they should, and that's got to be the challenge of the coaching staff, to make sure that these guys are getting the minutes, that they do get distributed a little bit more, that (Mattias) Ekholm's getting a little bit more and (Ryan) Ellis is getting a little bit more and Seth Jones is getting a little bit more and maybe Shea and Roman (Josi) come down a little bit. When you get into the game and the situational play, I think (assistant coach) Phil (Housley) does a pretty good job of putting players on the ice that give us a chance to be successful. ... I think Phil did a good job, but I think if we can try and watch that probably a little bit, we will."
T: Even after missing three weeks because of a knee injury, Pekka Rinne started 64 games last season. Preferably, how many games would you like him to start?
L: "I think a lot of it goes to the scheduling and where we're at, how Pekka's feeling, how the team's playing. There's a lot that factors into it. I don't think we're going to go into it and say we want Pekka to play 62 games this year. He'll probably be in that ballpark....
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
When the Hurricanes make the inevitable decision to move pending UFA Eric Staal, keep an eye on the Predators as a viable partner. Nashville’s current crop of centers—Mike Ribeiro, Mike Fisher, Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad—stands out as the weakest of any team with legitimate playoff aspirations. Ribeiro scored a respectable 62 points last season while Fisher chipped in 39 in just 59 games, but both players are now 35 years old, and it’s far more likely that their production will regress than match those levels....
Another team that might be looking to deal, maybe before the end of camp, is the Bruins. The upper-body injury that’s holding veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out for a few days may turn out to be minor, but it exposes the wafer-thin state of Boston’s blueline. Best-case scenario: the team's top-six stacks up as Zdeno Chara–Zach Trotman, Seidenberg–Kevan Miller and Torey Krug– Adam McQuaid....
more on each of the above topics plus additional hockey talk...
“Where we’re sitting right now from a hockey franchise standpoint, we’re better poised as a franchise because of the talent we have and how long they’re locked up, than we ever have been in the history of the team. When you look throughout the League, there’s probably not another team that’s set up for the next five to eight years to be as consistent as we’re going to be. Hopefully we catch the magic in that run and win the Stanley Cup, but at least compete for it year in and year out…[Predators General Manager] David [Poile] has done an incredible job, and the business side is coming around to give him those resources.”
-Sean Henry, President of the Nashville Predators. Henry spoke at a luncheon yesterday and the Predator's website has more from him.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
It’s a good bet that in a future practice, when Mike Fisher leans over to take a faceoff, the Nashville center will have a drone hovering overhead to film his technique. The Predators are one of the teams that have expressed interest in the Phantom 3 ($799) and the Inspire 1 ($2,899), two drones manufactured by DJI. The Predators, who are more invested in video coaching than most organizations, are considering drone use to complement traditional fixed-location cameras.
“They really want to use it as an eye in the sky to track players, track specific plays, and track the puck,” DJI marketing manager Michael Shabun said of teams considering drone use. “For example, they really love looking at the overhead shot for faceoffs to see exactly what the player is initiating. Before, you couldn’t really see a lot of things because of obstruction with pads and players. Anything overhead is extremely valuable for these guys.”
Outdoors, the FAA restricts drones from flying 5 miles from airports, over stadiums, or higher than 400 feet. Inside a rink, such regulations do not exist. Teams can employ drones as they like — over the faceoff circles, over the net to film goalies, or near the ceiling to capture breakouts, forechecks, and power-play formations. Currently, teams seeking multiple angles would have to build and break down traditional camera-atop-tripod setups around the rink. Such time is hard to find in a midseason road practice between games.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
One of the great things about this time of the year, the days after players have started to drift back into NHL cities in anticipation of training camps starting in a matter of weeks, is to project, to dream, to imagine what might be.
And what better thing to imagine than which of the 30 teams will still be standing in June at the start of the Stanley Cup finals?
It is an exercise in fancy and maybe a little fancy stats with intuition and common sense thrown in, although we know that hat sense is oft-times uncommon come playoff time....
Nashville Predators versus Columbus Blue Jackets
When this matchup actually unfolds next spring, I will preface all coverage with “as first reported by ESPN.com.” Because it could happen. For a stretch last season Nashville was the best team in the NHL, led by Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne and two-time gold medalist and team captain Shea Weber. The Preds swooned down the stretch and were bounced in the first round by Chicago but should learn from that experience and once again be a playoff team in spite of the intense competition bound to unfold in the Central Division. Columbus, meanwhile, was last fall’s Eastern Conference darling but a rash of injuries dashed playoff hopes early. Still, the Blue Jackets played hard and were tied for the league lead in wins after March 1. Add Brandon Saad to an already hard-working, talented team and factor in former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in goal and this is a team ready to make noise.
Prediction: Columbus in 7; Scott Hartnell with the Cup-winner on a rare breakaway after the Nationwide Arena cannon inadvertently fires during a Nashville power play in double overtime.
four more matchups...
from Robby Stanley at NHL.com,
Nashville added center Cody Hodgson and forward Steve Moses, whose 36 goals led the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Hodgson and Moses likely will start the season on the third line, which did not produce much offense last season. Young forwards Kevin Fiala and Austin Watson will have a chance to make the roster and compete for spots on the third or fourth lines.
Nashville's core remains the same. Weber and Josi will eat up a lot of minutes on defense; Forsberg and James Neal (23 goals in 67 games) will be the two main scoring options; and Rinne should play 60-65 games.
Secondary scoring will be key; forwards Colin Wilson (20 goals, 22 assists) and Craig Smith (23 goals, 21 assists) were productive on the second line. Each signed a long-term contract in July (Wilson, four years, $15.75 million; Smith, five years, $21.25 million).
"We improved the team, first of all, by keeping the team together," Poile said. "There has been so many changes in the last couple years, including leading into last year. I think we needed a little bit more stability than we've had the previous years. The previous years, we didn't win, we didn't make the playoffs, [and] we needed to make some changes."
from Josh Cooper of Yahoo,
We give five reasons why Nashville should trade Weber, at least at some point within the next year.
1. The offers will be ridiculously in Nashville’s favor
His $7.857 million salary cap hit, while less awful in today’s post 2012-13 lockout world, is a lot. Also, some teams have the money, and the lunacy, to part with multiple good, young NHL-ready forwards Nashville needs. Weber is a physical speciman and cornerstone defenseman, but his perceived value, especially amongst old boys GMs, may be greater than his actual worth. Many probably still drool over this 2010 Olympics shot where the puck went through the net on a goal.
The Oilers under former general manager Craig MacTavish always seemed to be hot after Weber. And he’s the type of player the current Edmonton group could use with Connor McDavid coming in. Wait, how would Weber ever allow a trade to EdmonHoth? Oh yeah, the Predators didn’t give him any no-trade clause. So they can deal him to whatever team they want.
And new Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli has seemed OK with dealing good, young forwards at points of his career. If you’re going to trade the face of your franchise, you need to make sure you get the right pieces back. There are teams that have the type of NHL-ready young talent who can step in and score right away – like again, Edmonton.
Nashville, Tenn. (July 27, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Monday that the club has signed restricted free agent Colin Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million contract. Wilson will be paid $3.75 million in 2015-16, then $4 million in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 for an average annual value of $3.9375 million.
Wilson, 25 (10/20/89), set career highs in goals (20) and points (42), while tying a personal best in assists (22) in 2014-15. The Greenwich, Conn., native also led the team and set a career high in plus/minus rating (+19), and tied a career high and ranked third on the Predators in game-winning goals (5). During the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 6-1, 216-pounder set franchise records for goals (5) and power-play goals (4) in a playoff series during the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago. In 368 career NHL contests since 2009-10, Wilson has 178 points (77g-101a).
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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