I’ve written before about how hockey fans (and players) are taking up Twitter, the social networking/microblogging platform that hosts wide-ranging conversations made up of 140-character “tweets”. But if you’re a newbie just getting started, how do you find other local fans to connect with?
Twitter user Fred Faust (@thefredelement) has your answer; a regularly-updated list of Twitter users broken down by team affiliation; simply follow the other users (“tweeps”) who are cheering for your favorite NHL squad, and jump into the hockey dialogue that seems to run 24/7…
In light of all the talk yesterday about Tampa Bay giving away reams of tickets (over 2,500 per game), I thought I’d do a little digging to see how the Nashville Predators are doing. Since their lease at the Sommet Center and the NHL’s revenue sharing plan each have clauses related to hitting the magic 14,000 average paid attendance mark, the Preds are usually the only NHL team for which the comparison is made against the attendance figure reported in NHL box scores, which includes giveaways.
Our starting point here is two years ago; the Globe & Mail published a (PDF) report which broke down paid vs. total attendance through the end of January during the 2006-7 NHL season. At that point, the average NHL team was giving away 1,194 tickets per game; the Preds were dishing out 1,718, down from 1,815 in 2005-6.
This season, it has been reported that through the first 22 home games, the Preds have averaged 13,744 in paid attendance per game (a 6% rise compared to the same point in 2007-8). Running that up against the published attendance figures for each home game gives us a total attendance average of 14,567. Giveaways, then, are running at 823 per contest.
Paid attendance is up, they’re likely to hit the 14,000 mark, and giveaways are down by nearly 50%. I’d say that progress is definitely being made in Nashville.
Can the Predators keep the good times rolling tonight as the Ottawa Senators come to town? Since Cory Clouston stepped behind the bench to replace Craig Hartsburg, the Sens have gone 4-1-1, including 3 straight road victories as they pull into Nashville. According to Bruce Garrioch at Slam! Sports, Alex Auld should get the start in goal for Ottawa. With back-to-back games coming up for Nashville Wednesday & Thursday, I’m guessing we’ll see Pekka Rinne tonight, and Dan Ellis in one the games later this week.
The Preds’ 7-3 run since the All-Star break, which was extended Saturday in a shootout victory over the Boston Bruins, is beginning to generate some positive press locally. The Tennessean boasts a profile piece by Jessica Bliss on the dynamic defensive duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter this morning, while the Nashville City Paper’s David Boclair takes a look at how Joel Ward’s game has sprung back to life over the last two weeks.
What better way to start the work week than with this Star Wars inspired look at the L.A. Kings from Barry Melrose Rocks...
Terry Murray: Only a precise shot will set off the goal light. The 5-hole is stick shielded so you’ll have to use wrist shots.
Alexander Frolov: That’s impossible. Even for a Gretzky.
Anze Kopitar: It’s not impossible. I used to bulls-eye 5-holes in the Elitserien back home. They’re not much better than Oilers.
[on the ice]
Sean O’Donnell: We’re in the Oilers zone.
Frolov: Look at the size of that guy!
If there was ever a time to face the best team in the Eastern Conference, it would appear to be tonight for the Nashville Predators; Mt. Chara and his Bruins are winless in their last three games, their power play hasn’t clicked lately, and they’ve got a few injuries that are forcing some lineup juggling.
All the same, tonight’s tilt will be a tough matchup for a .500 team that is waddling alongside 10 other contenders for Western Conference playoff berths. Scoreboard watching is a part of the business now, so it’ll be important for the Preds to see Columbus lose in Carolina, Minnesota drop one at home to Ottawa, Chicago beat Dallas, and Calgary top Phoenix tonight.
It looks like Jordin Tootoo returns to action this evening, likely on a line with Fiddler and Belak. As long as they’re in the lineup, they need to carry the fight to the Bruins, and take advantage of the fact that Boston is playing on consecutive nights after losing 1-0 to the Devils in New Jersey.
For those who wonder how often a shot in the dark actually hits a target, stop on by HockeyBuzzHogWash.com, a site which tracks the veracity of the notorious “anonymous hockey blogger”. They’ve already been slapped with a takedown notice from the COO of HockeyBuzz for re-posting the “Daily Rumor Chart”, but in the meantime they’re still documenting each reputed deal and keeping track of how often they come to fruition (so far: 3.4%).
Finally, in the 14th game of his sensational comeback from lingering back injuries, Steve Sullivan scores for the Nashville Predators. While it won’t show up in the stats as a goal, it was the winner in a shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues that only came about due to a goal scored with 3 seconds left in the 3rd period to tie the game at 3 and send it to overtime.
Enjoy the highlights from this crucial (and unlikely) Predators win… (and a nice fight by Wade Belak in his return)
In the chase for the Western Conference playoffs, it’s not just about earning points for your own team, but knocking down the competition as well when you have the chance. The Nashville Predators have an opportunity to deliver a critical blow to St. Louis’ faint playoff hopes, and lift themselves back into contention at the same time. After tonight’s game in Nashville, these two teams meet again next Thursday at the Sommet Center, and then Saturday, Feb. 21 in St. Louis.
Beating the Blues won’t be an easy task, however; despite dominating them in recent years, this season the Preds are 0-2-1 against the Central Division’s last-place team. Coming into tonight’s game riding a recent 6-2-3 stretch, the Blues are proving to be far more resilient than anyone could expect, particularly considering the rash of serious injuries they’ve had to deal with (Paul Kariya, Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson).
So what do the Preds need to do to turn things around tonight?
In light of that disappointing 5-3 loss last night against Detroit, here is a six-pack of thoughts on the state of the Nashville Predators:
1. The Preds have typically been over-loaded with defensive (read: limited offensively, but hard-working) forwards, but Joel Ward is clearly separating himself as a two-way player from the rest of the pack. Among the Preds who are eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency this summer, only he and Greg Zanon have made their case for another contract.
2. Speaking of upcoming UFA’s, Toronto GM Brian Burke has made it clear that Nik Antropov has no future with the Maple Leafs. Submitted for your Nashville Predators Question of the Week: Should the Preds look at the big Russian for some offensive punch down the stretch?
With the race to the playoffs so congested (particularly in the wild, wild, Western Conference), one area of focus is the remaining schedule for the various contenders. Which teams have the toughest schedule, the most games left, etc.?
Two fine articles dig into some of the details for you. First, over at mc79hockey, we get a schedule breakdown; which teams have the most home vs. road games, matches with elite teams, and back-to-back contests as well. The picture looks especially grim for Minnesota there.
Second, JavaGeek over at Hockey Numbers takes a look at just how much of an effect back-to-back games have on a team’s chances for winning. It helps put into perspective something that teams complain about all the time.