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?
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…
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?
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…
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…
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…
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.
From the Nashville Predators:
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has recalled forward Patric Hornqvist from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. To make room on the roster for Hornqvist, defenseman Alexander Sulzer was placed on the injured reserve list.
Hornqvist, 22 (1/1/87) has seven points (2g-5a) in 15 games with the Predators this season. He was assigned to the Admirals on Nov. 20, and posted 23 points (9g-14a) in 33 games with Nashville’s primary development affiliate. The Sollentuna, Sweden native is just the ninth player to appear in an NHL contest after being selected with the final pick of an entry draft – he was chosen by the Predators with their seventh choice (230th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft.
Hornqvist, it was hoped, was to provide some goal-scoring from the wing, and struggled in that regard during his first stint in Nashville. He appears likely to play in place of Jordin Tootoo, who injured his wrist in a game last week in Calgary. Alexander Sulzer separated his shoulder in just his 2nd NHL game in Vancouver on January 28.
Over at Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog, Greg Whyshynski continues his “jersey foul” series with a fascinating sample for Nashville Predators fans:
For those unfamiliar, #47 was worn by Alexander Radulov…
Despite being routinely brought up by commentators around North America as a prime candidate for relocation, the Nashville Predators appear to be making progress in this first full season under local ownership. This morning’s Tennessean provides some details:
A Predators franchise that reported $70 million in losses under Craig Leipold is on target to make money for the second straight season under new ownership, majority owner David Freeman said.
The Predators are forecasting a tiny profit of $145,000, but — considering the team’s player salaries jumped by about $10 million this season — it’s one of a few figures that appear to indicate the franchise is weathering current economic hardships.
Paid attendance is up, and new corporate sponsorships have been struck as well. Continuing to make a modest profit in the face of this season’s rising payroll ($44.8 million vs. $35.4 million), along with the general economic headwinds that all businesses are facing, is a welcome piece of good news.