Kukla's Korner

Category: Nashville-Predators

Taylor Swift flashes her Fang Fingers

Shortly after the Super Bowl concluded last night, Predators fans all over Nashville got an unexpected treat; a new commercial featuring Taylor Swift, the young country/pop music star.  It’s another example of how the new ownership group is bringing fresh energy to their advertising campaign, and doing a fine job getting their message out to the broader audience (in the past, the only time you saw a Preds commercial was during a Preds game!).

 

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Sully delivering the goods so far

A big part of Tuesday night’s big win in Vancouver was the contribution of the Nashville power play, which scored three times in a game for the first time in nearly two years (March 3, 2007 vs. Los Angeles).  John Glennon makes the case that the mere presence of Steve Sullivan, even despite the fact that he only has two assists in six games so far, is perhaps the difference maker.

Sullivan has only recorded assists on two of the seven power-play goals, but he was on the ice for two more of the scores and is being credited with injecting a little more unpredictability in the extra-man attack.

“Our power play has confidence that when something gets taken away, he has the ability to think outside the box,’’ Coach Barry Trotz said. “He understands where people are and sort of freelances a little bit. Our power play has gone from being more static to a little more freelance concept, just by having him there.’‘

It’s a good observation by Glennon, and the advanced statistics from Behind the Net back the argument up…

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Out of the frying pan, into the fire

The last time the Nashville Predators played in Calgary, it was one of the wildest games in recent memory; after falling behind 5-0, the Preds clawed their way back to pull within a goal at 7-6 in the final moments, and had possession in the offensive zone as the final horn sounded.  That determination to keep fighting despite early troubles is still a hallmark of this team, as evidenced by recent comeback victories over Pittsburgh and Vancouver, each of which saw Nashville overcome a 3-1 deficit to score 4 unanswered goals and win 5-3.

While it would be nice to see the boys make things easier on themselves by taking an early lead and locking things down, that will be a tough task tonight as the Flames are one of best teams in the league over the last several weeks (29 points in last 19 games).

According to John Glennon at the Tennessean, either Ville Koistinen or Greg de Vries will replace Alexander Sulzer tonight, as Sulzer’s shoulder will keep him out for weeks.  There’s been no word yet on another potential call-up from Milwaukee.

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Sulzer’s shoulder separated

From the Tennessean:

Predators defenseman Alexander Sulzer has a separated left shoulder and is expected to be out three to four weeks, according to coach Barry Trotz.

Sulzer was playing in only his 2nd NHL game last night in Vancouver, when former Pred Darcy Hordichuk hit him along the boards early in the 1st period.  While Greg de Vries appears to be about ready to rejoin the lineup, this will likely put a damper on some of the trade speculation that’s been bandied about wherein Nashville would part with a defenseman in order to bolster the offensive attack up front.

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Don’t Touch That Dial

For the hometown fans catching the Predators/Canucks game late Wednesday night, Nashville gave every reason to turn the TV off and head to bed early in the 2nd period.  After taking a 1-0 lead late in the 1st, the Preds allowed Vancouver to answer back with 3 straight goals, and things were looking hopeless.  This time, however, Barry Trotz tried something different to “change the luck”.  Instead of yanking the starting goalie, he called a timeout and spoke to the team.

I’m sure Pekka Rinne appreciated that move, as it’s not the way Dan Ellis has been treated lately.  Even though at least one of the Vancouver goals (by Burrows) was probably a soft one to give up, Rinne took charge from then on.  His teammates answered back with a few goals of their own, including 3 straight Power Play goals (yes, Nashville scored 3 PP goals!) to take a 5-3 win on the road.  In the final minutes of the 3rd, it was the Vancouver fans booing their team, a pleasant reversal for a Nashville team that got booed at home in a 7-2 loss to Atlanta earlier this month.

Seeing some of the goal-challenged forwards like J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott, and Joel Ward score is hopefully a sign that all those shots being fired will result in steady goal-scoring.  One game is hardly enough to turn things around, but this Western Canadian swing (which leads next to Calgary Friday night) is certainly off to a good start.

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Rinne reigns

Barry Trotz refuses to say as much, but his actions appear to indicate that Pekka Rinne has assumed the starter’s role in the Nashville net these days, as he’s been tabbed to start tonight’s game in Vancouver.  The worries of some of the Preds’ fans seem to be coming true in terms of how Dan Ellis is getting handled, but some of his poor starts lately may have put the team’s season on the brink of ruin.

So, for your Predators Question of the Week, I ask you: Who should be Nashville’s #1 Goaltender?

It’s pretty clear what the coach thinks, if you take a look at recent work trends…

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Riding to the rescue

Quoth John Glennon at the Tennessean:

The Predators will be looking to both the past and the future as they seek to rediscover their long-lost offense following the NHL All-Star break.

In practice Monday, their first after six off days, the Predators reunited one of the more successful lines in franchise history -

Yes folks, you know what that means…

J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott, and Steve Sullivan of the Nashville Predators

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Is a missing Scooter Nashville’s problem?

While pondering the possible solutions to the Nashville Predators’ offensive woes today, I was trying to decide on which angle to evaluate when @pwnicholson Twittered the following...

Can you run a comparison of the Preds w/ & w/o Nichol in the lineup? I’ve seen stuff in the past showing how ‘vital’ he is.

This issue had been bouncing around inside my head for a few days now, and was brought up again in this morning’s update in the Tennessean about Jones & Sulzer getting recalled from Milwaukee.  While Greg de Vries will go along on the road trip through Western Canada that begins Wednesday night in Vancouver, Scott Nichol is still “sidelined indefinitely” with the concussion he suffered December 9 on a hit by Rob Davison.

Now, nobody’s going to confuse Scott Nichol with a top-line center, but how big a hole is left in the Nashville lineup without him?

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Jones & Sulzer recalled to Nashville

From the Tennessean:

Nashville has recalled forward Ryan Jones and defenseman Alexander Sulzer from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League as the Preds prepare to make a three-game road trip through western Canada.

Jones has notched eight points (four goals, four assists) in 21 games during previous stints with the Predators this season, while Sulzer has played one NHL game – earlier this month in Montreal.

This move brings the Predators’ roster back up to 22 active players, GM David Poile’s preferred number.  While none of the Predators rookies have lit up the scoreboard in various stints at the NHL level, Jones at least has been able to create power play opportunities at a rate among the NHL’s best.

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Shea Weber’s road to NHL stardom

James Mirtle gives us the background story on Shea Weber, the Nashville Predators phenom who has joined the ranks of the NHL’s elite defensemen this season:

Seven years ago, Shea Weber was about as far from being in this photo [at the All-Star Game] as you can get.

Undersized. Undrafted by the WHL. Playing in Junior B in his hometown of Sicamous, B.C., two levels below major junior hockey and about as removed from the spotlight as possible. He was only 16, but by then, most future Norris Trophy winners are earning accolades, being scouted by NHL teams and playing with the national team.

Weber was just hoping to get taller.

It’s a dynamite article about a relatively unheralded star, and especially for Nashville fans, it’s a welcome step forward from the “he was injured last year, now he’s great” articles that we usually see from the MSM.

 

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