Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Amy Grant at NHL Connect,
The playoffs start for us tonight – and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ll have to confess right up front that my blogs won’t be politically correct ramblings about “how great the sport is” or about how ”it’s an honor just to make it to the playoffs”. I am an unashamed and proud NASHVILLE PREDATOR fan and I’m here to cheer them on!
from the Tennessean,
Coach Barry Trotz and his assistants have guided the team to 38, 49 and 51 regular-season victories, respectively, the past three seasons. But Predators General Manager David Poile has not exercised the option year on the coaching staff’s contracts and has said he won’t discuss new deals until the season is over.
That would seem to indicate playoff performance will weigh heavily on the staff’s future. Nashville has reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, losing in the first round as an eighth seed in 2004 and as a fourth seed last year.
“If the organization is happy, it won’t be a problem. If they’re not, they’ll move in a different direction.’‘
The series against the Sharks would appear to be as pivotal a time as any in the history of the Predators: so much reward for victory, so much concern with a loss.
from Larry Wigge at NHL.com,
Strong. Competitive. Skilled. With that great package of intangibles, coupled with discipline and determination and passion, Forsberg is a winner. And it just so happens that the months that Weight talked about are the most pressurized times of the season down the stretch and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“When I think of him,” Blues coach Andy Murray said, “I think of skill, strength, competitiveness and that insatiable stamina he has. There’s not a player in the NHL that plays such long shifts ... and is as good in the final 15 seconds as he was in the first 15 seconds.”
from the Mercury News,
This is the third time the Sharks will face the same opponent in the postseason two years in a row. On the previous two occasions, the Sharks won the first year and lost the second.
Last year, the Sharks beat Nashville in the opening round, four games to one. The Predators say they will be using that defeat as motivation.
“We saw them last year, and I think we’re a little more prepared as a team and as a group,” Nashville Coach Barry Trotz said.
The Sharks enter the playoffs on a roll, having finished the regular season with a 13-1-3 run. “The last three games especially, we’ve been honing our playoff intensity,” defenseman Kyle McLaren said. “We feel good about the way we’re playing.”
A four seed and undecided about who your goalie is to start the playoffs? Probably not what Barry Trotz expected. It would appear he's going with the vet.
But there's little doubt now that Tomas Vokoun will be the team's playoff starter. He started for the sixth time in the Predators' last seven games on Saturday against Colorado, stopping 29 of 31 shots in a 4-2 Nashville victory. "We've been trying to get (Vokoun) in a little rhythm,'' Trotz said. "And one of the strengths of (Mason) is that he is able to come off the bench a little easier, so to me, he doesn't need as many rhythm kind of games. I think Tomas does a little bit.''More from the Tennessean
from the Tennessean,
After positioning themselves in a race for the President’s Trophy, the Predators are now desperately clinging to the Western Conference’s fourth seed.
Trotz acknowledges that there is likely to be a lot of finger-pointing in the Predators locker room in the next few days, but despite its recent tailspin Nashville is not ready to call it quits.
“Everybody is going to be doubting everybody in our room,” Trotz said. “Our group has to stay galvanized, fix what we can fix and have a real good effort on Thursday (vs. St. Louis).”
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
The real issue on the table but seemingly never discussed is as simple as this: why do players flock to Nashville to play for the Preds but treat Edmonton as hockey’s version of a gulag?
The simple answer: Nashville wins. They do it regularly since they emerged from their expansion pains, they do it in a style that players love to play. Bur there’s more to it than that. They do it in the environs of a small but enthusiastic fan base in a city with a mild climate, countless entertainment options, relatively easy travel, a friendly family environment, surprisingly low-cost housing, no state income tax and, and this is no small consideration, a forward thinking management that believes in stability and a long-term view. Throw in the cream of country-western music talent, much of it tapped to sing the national anthem every night and still more of it playing the bars, clubs, honky-tonks and even the Nashville Arena on non-game nights and well…
more... plus other NHL bits…
from the Tennessean,
Jordin Tootoo will return from a five-game suspension tonight to the cheers of thousands at Nashville Arena, where he is loved by fans, appreciated by teammates and supported by coaches.
They recognize him for the hard-hitting, energy-supplying thunderbolt that he is.
Or is he?
Around the NHL, opposing players and fans have a decidedly different view of Tootoo. Some say he pushes the envelope too far; some call him reckless; and some say he’s just plain dirty.
from the Tennessean,
“They forecheck really well; they finish their checks well; and their forwards also chase you hard back to their zone,’’ Hamhuis said. “They just do a good job protecting the middle. That has to do with their speed and smarts.’‘
In a strange twist from yesteryear, the Wings’ tough defensive tactics also had the Predators complaining that they weren’t getting enough calls from the officials.
“There was an awful lot of clutching and grabbing going on out there,’’ Predators center David Legwand said. “It looked like the old NHL out there. But in the playoffs, that’s what we’re going to have to work through.’‘
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Peter Forsberg has been in Nashville since Feb. 15, and yet it seems as if he will add a fresh dynamic to the rivalry Thursday night when the Predators and Detroit Red Wings play for first place in the Western Conference….
The Predators acquired Forsberg specifically because of his reputation for bringing grit and high performances to big games, particularly in the playoffs. Thursday’s game has some qualities of a playoff game, only because Detroit is winning the season series and the Red Wings have long been a measuring stick for the Predators.
“Detroit is always hard to beat, no matter who you are,” Forsberg said. “I don’t think there is any mental hurdle. We know we are a good team. We know we can compete with them.”
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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