Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
It’s called home ice, not home nice, a fact that never has been clearer than it is today.
On Sunday, the Ducks were left to defend the frozen turf of suddenly hospitable Southern California in a postseason that has begun, locally at least, as a sobering thaw.
Instead, they just melted down by being “stupid” – Coach Bruce Boudreau’s assessment – and lost Game 2 of their first-round series against Nashville, 3-2.
After spending the final stretch of the regular season taffy pulling for the top of the Pacific Division, the Ducks and Kings ended up Nos. 1 and 2 but both still earned the purported advantage of starting the playoffs at home.
At this stage, identifying that advantage requires equal amounts of wild creativity and blind denial.
With this defeat, the Ducks dropped both their home games, just like the Kings did to San Jose, each team quickly turning an opening series into something that feels more like a closing ceremony.
Now, the Ducks are faced with the reality of having to win 4 of 5 against an opponent that so far has worked harder and smarter and executed more frequently.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
Five years have passed since the Ducks and Nashville met in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the personnel has dramatically changed.
What hasn’t changed is the Predators coming into Honda Center and taking Game 1.
Filip Forsberg’s goal with 9:35 remaining was the difference this time as Nashville got the early jump in the best-of-7 first-round series with a 3-2 triumph Friday night. It is the first Game 1 loss for the Ducks since the 2014 Western Conference semifinals and just their second under Coach Bruce Boudreau.
“They’re a good hockey club,” Boudreau said. “They outplayed us tonight. I don’t know if we didn’t think they’re as good as they are because we haven’t played them in such a long time. We know they’re a good hockey club.”
Game highlights are below...
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
In the end, the Nashville Predators couldn’t get close to prized prospect Jimmy Vesey. Literally.
A guaranteed spot on the top two lines, a chance to skate into the Stanley Cup playoffs three weeks after stepping off the ice as a Harvard student and the benefit of burning a year off his restrictive rookie contract were not enough to lure Vesey to the Music City.
It wasn’t even enough to secure a face-to-face meeting with the team that drafted him four years ago, Predators GM David Poile alleged.
“It’s a bizarre situation,” Poile told the Nashville Tennessean. “For whatever reason, and after all the time and resources that we invested in Jimmy Vesey’s development, we could not get a meeting with Jimmy, his family and his representatives all together. That’s the only thing I asked for after [last week] and they would not accommodate us on that.”...
Vesey will not gain any financial leverage elsewhere. The maximum salary on NHL entry-level contracts is $925,000, and he would have received the same maximum rookie attainable performance bonus structure ($2.85 million) with likely any team.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just around the time the first period in Nashville concluded Saturday night with the Predators launching a franchise-record 27 shots at the Columbus Blue Jackets, one had to ask himself: How many teams are playing better hockey than the Nashville Predators right now?
Shhhhh, the Preds don't want anyone to know, but they're 19-5-5 since Jan. 21 and 12-2-2 since Feb. 22, absolutely sizzling in their team game as the playoffs approach.
"We tried to keep it a secret as long as we could, but I guess it's got to come out at some point," chuckled Predators captain Shea Weber on Monday morning when I suggested they were flying under the radar.
Seriously though, after an opening half to the season that was marred by inconsistency and left many wondering if the Preds would even make the playoffs, they've steadied the ship and then some.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Burnside: Was there a sense of sadness of leaving the team that drafted you?
Johansen: Definitely. The city of Columbus, the Columbus Blue Jackets will always have a special place in my heart. I have so many great memories. Friends that'll last over a lifetime that I developed over the years from playing there. I truly did love being a Blue Jacket. It was a fantastic five years of my life. Speaking for me and my family, it was just such a first-class organization and place to play. It's really unfortunate things didn't work out there because I really did believe we had a good team and we were capable of being a great team for a long time. But, you know, it's professional sports and things don't always go as planned.
Burnside: What was the adjustment like coming to a new team, especially as a skill player where the expectations were really high for you?
Johansen: There are a few people on the Predators that are from the area that I live in, and things like that, and you run into people, whether through appearances or the All-Star Game or things like that. It was great to see a few familiar faces when you walk into the arena. That for sure helped when I first arrived. At the end of the day, the puck is dropped and you just want to go out there and work your hardest and not worry about all the little X's and O's right away. That was my approach when I first arrived. I was just trying to go out there and play my game and do my best. Obviously, they didn't just flip a coin and say, "Let's trade for Johansen." They did some research into the way play I played the game and thought I could help the hockey club. And that was the main message that the coach and the GM were telling me when I arrived.
from John Glennon of The Tennessean,
Since losing to Tampa Bay in overtime on Feb. 12, however, the Predators have rattled off a record of 10-1-4, capturing 24 of a possible 30 points while moving comfortably into the conference’s sixth playoff spot.
Twelve games remain in the regular season, but the Predators hope their best hockey of the year continues straight into the postseason.
“When you look back at last year, we definitely struggled later in the season right around this point,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “I still think we found a way to really challenge Chicago (in the playoffs).
“But hopefully the way we’re going right now and the confidence we’re building will give us an even bigger boost. Given the choice ... you’d rather choose to be playing your best hockey going into the playoffs.”
What do you think?
Marko Dano did return to the game.
First up is Michael Neuvirth to save a win for the Philadelphia Flyers and below is Pekka Rinne in a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Smith did score in the shootout to give the Predators the victory.
By Joe Sudberg,
Whether from the couch or at the arena, it’s common practice for hockey fans to don their favorite player’s jersey and cheer their team to victory. But how often do the stars align for fans to truly meet their heroes up close and personal?
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org