Kukla's Korner

Be thankful, for a change

We hockey fans tend to be a cranky lot. If we’re not griping about the meddling coach, the underachieving star player, or the tight-fisted owner, we find endless reasons to complain about the game itself; whether it’s on the right TV network, or if the rules themselves need to be tweaked in a thousand different ways.  We tell ourselves that it’s the greatest game out there, but we certainly don’t act like it very often.

In a refreshing change of pace, Paul Nicholson takes the time to say thanks to the people and organizations that make NHL hockey a reality here in Nashville. I think it’s an exercise that fans in every city should consider undertaking. Be thankful for what we’ve got, and for all those who put in the money and the effort to make it happen.  In particular, Paul notes what happened when he got the opportunity to chat with the owner of Dolphini Networks, a major Predators sponsor:

A bit later I said “thanks” from all of us fans, that we really appreciated what he and others like him had done. I felt it was a unique opportunity to directly tell a major sponsor “thanks” in person for supporting the team I love…

His response shocked me.

After a few minutes, he came back and thanked me for thanking him.

Read on for the rest of the story…

Filed in: Nashville Predators, NHL Commentary, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Dustin Brown defending his crown

It’s time once again to update those NHL Penalty Plus/Minus rankings, and marvel again at how Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown continues to lead the way; as I’ve noted before, Brown led the league last year in this measure as well, so this is hardly a fluke.

You know what is interesting, though? As I looked at last year’s results, I scanned the runners-up, and found typical big-name superstars like Crosby, Datsyuk and Ovechkin in spots 2-4.  While Datsyuk’s +12 this season is still quite positive, Crosby (+2) and Ovechkin (0) are mired in mediocrity.  I’ll leave to their fans (or their detractors) to help explain why they’re just not drawing the whistles like they were before.  One theory could be that the referees were included in that recent ESPN survey in which Sid the Kid was named the biggest complainer in the league…

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Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

A good start down a long road

Two short weeks ago, all seemed lost; an out-of-control spiral into the All-Star Break saw the Nashville Predators battered, beaten, and humiliated at times.  If you follow the projections over at Sports Club Stats, their chance of making the playoffs for the fifth straight season dipped as low as 13% after that 3-1 loss to the Devils on January 19.

But now?  A recent 5-2 stretch has brought them back into the Western Conference playoff mix, and the four-game homestand which starts tomorrow night against Detroit is the next step along the road to the postseason.  Interestingly, none of the four opponents coming up (Red Wings, Blues, Bruins & Senators) are among the teams they’re trying to catch; at this point, it’s always nicer to know that your victory is also a critical loss for the opponent.

So realistically, what do we need to see out of these next four games, as the Preds continue climbing their way up through the standings?

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Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

A sneak peek at Jonathan Blum

Thanks to The Program for pointing this one out. Here’s a profile of defenseman Jonathan Blum, the Nashville Predators 1st-round pick in 2007, and a rarity among elite hockey players; a native-born Californian…

 

Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Predators continue stalking the playoff pack

The Nashville Predators have done an admirable job reversing their 1-4 slide into the All-Star break with a 4-1 record since then, but there’s little time for rest or celebration as the team heads into Minnesota tonight and Dallas on Sunday.

Last night’s victory over Anaheim was an impressive, whole-team effort; Pekka Rinne continued his strong play in goal, the defense stood toe-to-toe with a tough, physical set of Ducks forwards, and the Nashville forwards kept bringing the pressure even while holding down a late lead.  While it was refreshing to see them light the lamp four times, two Preds goals in particular gave me cause for hope…

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Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Keep the momentum rolling

A nice post-All Star break start by the Predators (3-1) has Nashville back within hailing distance of playoff position, with a critical stretch coming up over the next four days; tonight vs. Anaheim, Friday at Minnesota, and Sunday at Dallas.  All three of those opponents are included in the cluster of teams battling for four available playoff spots, so making progress in the playoff race means taking at least 3 points out of these games (considering two are on the road).

One tempting storyline has attributed the Preds’ recent success to the reunion of the Sullivan/Arnott/Dumont line, especially in light of the production of Dumont (3 goals) and Arnott (2 goals) of late.  However, you might be surprised to find out that these three, as a line, haven’t actually done much…

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Filed in: Nashville Predators, NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Top 25 Hockey Fights

Hawerchuk over at the Behind the Net Blog fulfills yet another service to the hockey-loving community:

...I was looking over hockeyfights.com (purportedly the 7th-most popular hockey site on the internet) and I noticed that there was no way to rank fights based on user rankings. I’m surprised - you’d think the hockey fight “Hall of Fame” would be one of the most viewed pages on the site. Well, here are the top 25 fights of the last three seasons based on user ratings.

Head on over for the biggest and baddest scraps of the last few years (2006-present).

Filed in: NHL Commentary, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Not on Twitter yet? Here’s another reason

Just in case you haven’t jumped on board the Twitter bandwagon, a fresh incentive was put out there today by Michael DiLorenzo (@umassdilo), the NHL’s Director of Corporate Communciations:

When u Tweet re: NHL Game of the Week on NBC (Sun., Penguins/Red Wings); use #NHLonNBC and u may win a sub to NHL GameCenter LIVE for 08-09!

When he says to “use #NHLonNBC”, that refers to the use of hashtags, a means by which Twitter users tag their updates for a specific topic.  So a typical comment might read “Nice lead pass by Malkin, but Crosby dived on that tripping call. #NHLonNBC”.  Hashtags are easily searchable, so all you have to do is sign in to Twitter, join the conversation Sunday afternoon, and you just might win!

Filed in: NHL Commentary, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Inside the numbers: those dismal Thrashers

Over at The Iceman Bloggeth, Bill Tiller breaks down the performance of all NHL teams over the course of the Atlanta Thrashers nearly 10-year existence.  He includes a simple, straightforward criticism of Atlanta management that speaks volumes about whether Thrashers fans should hold optimism about the short-term future:

So, can anyone guess which would be the one and only team in this group [the bottom ten teams] that has… despite the less-than-stellar record of the past decade… chosen to remain with the same GM?

Unfortunately for Atlanta’s hockey faithful, with the current ownership situation there it doesn’t appear that the will to drive fundamental change exists within the organization.

Filed in: NHL Commentary, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

Dierks Bentley; music star by day, hockey player by night

The Predators website brings us a profile of country music star Dierks Bentley, who isn’t just a Nashville Predators fan, but he plays the game as well:

A visit to the Iceholes’ Web site will show a number of things—Bentley plays left wing, was acquired in the fall of 2007, and has skated to over a point-per-game clip. Most important however, is “the work ethic that (Bentley) brings with him,” according to the Iceholes’ site.

It goes on to state that “When he is on the ice it is clear that he is giving 110 percent. This sends a message to the other team and sets the pace for ours. He is a perfect fit for the Iceholes, (sic) we expect he’ll be around for a long time.”

I must admit I do like their team motto “we strive for adequate!”, but we’ll see just how that sunny disposition and work ethic holds up after his IceHoles face my new team, the Piranhas, in about a month’s time.

Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

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