Kukla's Korner

Preds aim to keep Chicago in its place (3rd)

Barry Trotz and the gang head into the Windy City tonight to tangle with the Blackhawks, and per John Glennon’s update, Ryan Jones will be scratched again, while the decision on which defenseman watches from the press box is pending.  As for Jones, it will be interesting to see when he’ll get another crack at live action.  Against the Blues, he looked like a kid in over his head, and I tend to side with those who think he’d be better off playing a ton of minutes in Milwaukee than practicing and watching games with the big club.

Besides, the Predators have precious little time to spend here in the regular season deciding who can play; points earned in October count just as much as those in February and March, and the job right now is to smack down the Blues, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets before they get much momentum rolling.  Chicago has started off 0-2 with losses on the road against the Rangers and Capitals, and will surely be jumping in their home opener tonight.  They should particularly be gunning for the Predators, as the Blackhawks have been the “sexy pick” in the Western Conference to take a big step forward this season, and leapfrog over Nashville to get that up-close view of Detroit’s rear end in the Central Division.

Despite all the excitement surrounding Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, though, I think people have been prone to overlook the paper-thin depth Chicago has up front.  Not only did Robert Lang depart for Montreal, but remember also that Jason Williams signed as a free agent with Atlanta over the summer.  Last season, Williams was on his way to his most productive NHL season, with 36 points in 43 games.  While the Blackhawks boast a number of exciting players, they’ll need time to properly complement them with supporting talent.

One key to tonight’s game will be for Trotz to get either the Arnott or Legwand lines favorable matchups against Chicago’s depth forwards.  Also watch for the offensively-minded Nashville defense to take advantage of those young forwards by jumping into the play early and often, just as Ryan Suter and Shea Weber have in scoring their goals against the Blues and Stars in recent days.  Dan Ellis starts again in goal, having rebounded strongly from a lousy team outing in St. Louis Friday night.  Expect Pekka Rinne to see action later this week as part of a home-and-home with Columbus, however.

For some pre-game analysis from the home side, be sure to stop by Here Come the Hawks.  Fun Fact:  did you know that not a single Chicago player boasts a positive Plus/Minus figure so far?

One quick reminder; a new addition to the Predators presence in the local sports media comes tonight with the debut of HockeyBuzz Radio at 6 p.m. on 560 AM WNSR.  Brandon Felder and Paul McCann will chime in weekly with Preds talk and a variety of guests.

Speaking of the local media market, a major raspberry goes to Hope(less) Hines and WTVF, Channel 5 here in Nashville.  Mr. Hines is the Sports Director there, and hosts their weekly Sunday night sports wrapup show.  The Predators, despite opening the season Friday in St. Louis and selling out the Sommet Center in their home debut over Dallas Saturday, warranted only a 30-second blurb buried deep in the broadcast last night, with Hines bumbling his way through the abbreviated highlights.  The NFL’s Titans, however, dominated the first 15 minutes of the show, with multiple stories and an interview with one of the coaches, despite the fact that the Titans didn’t even play this week.  Mr. Hines, you do know that the title “Sports Director” implies that you cover more than one sport, don’t you?

Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
  Tags: ryan+jones

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