Archive for April, 2007

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Scary Sharks

April 27, 2007

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These Sharks of San Jose are a scary team this post season. They came into the playoffs as probably the hottest team and have continued their hot streak winning five of their first six playoff starts. Last night they proved just how good they are with a convincing 2-0 win on the road against Detroit.

But here is where it gets more scary for me. I don’t think this team is going away any time soon. Regardless of what they do this postseason (and right now it looks like they are playing some of the best hockey out there) this team has the chance to stay almost entirely in tact following this season.

I went to one of my favorite sites (http://www.nhlnumbers.com) last night to take a look at the numbers for the Sharks next year. Bad news if you’re in the Western Conference because the Sharks are getting nearly everyone back…and those that are unrestricted (Rivet and Hannan) are not huge losses for them. Sure if they lost both Rivet and Hannan it would be a blow to their D but I doubt they lose them both and if they did they could reload in free agency themselves.

The bottom line…the Sharks are going to be good for a while.

*I know I did not mention Guerin but he is a rental…if they resign him in the off-season that is just a bonus.

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Difference Maker

April 26, 2007

So I am sitting here getting ready to watch game one of the Wings and Sharks and the Versus guys are talking about difference makers. They picked Lindstrom…pretty easy choice. He can make a huge difference with this puck contolling Wings team but I can’t help but think about the Sharks (their defeat of my Preds still fresh on my mind) and for me one guys face keeps coming back to me like a bad dream. That guy? Thornton? No. Cheechoo? No. Nabokov? No. For me it was #25 Mike Grier. Everytime I looked up he was there hitting, shooting and skating past my Preds.

Good luck Wings trying to stop him.

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Foppa To Pull A Rocket?

April 25, 2007

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So I was thinking about the Predators and all the unrestricted free agents that we have (Hartnell, Timonen, Kayria and Forsberg and a few others but these are the big profile guys) and it caused me to really think about the future of Forsberg.

When Nashville traded part of our future for the future hall of famer I thought the only way he would resign with us would be if he wins a cup or we go extremely deep into the playoffs, neither of which came close to happening. Now that I really feel he won’t be coming back to Nashville I turned to where I thought he might go.

1. Philly – Perhaps Peter wants to finish what he started there. Perhaps there was even a gentlemen’s agreement between he and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren “Do this for the team now and come back for next year and we’ll be better for it with the players and draft picks we can steal from Nashville.”

2. Colorado – Joe Sakic has said that he is coming back and wouldn’t it be fitting for Peter to end his career with the Av’s and Joe? I think Denver still holds a soft spot for Peter and the fans would welcome him with open arms.

3. Sweden – There is part of me that believes that Peter will forgo the next year here in the states and instead play his final year of competitive hockey in his homeland. Coming back home as Sweden’s anointed one…you can see the film credits rolling as he wins a championship in his homeland.

4. Retires – There are many, including Preds GM David Poile, who think Forsberg has played his last game. In a press conference on Tuesday Polie said this in response to Forsbergs plans.

“If he said he was going to play, I don’t think he’d rule out Nashville, I think his experience was good here. I don’t think he’s thinking, ‘I’ll only play in Denver.’ … I think he’s thinking of not playing.”

5. He Pulls A Rocket
– But the most intriguing option is one that I have not seen anywhere else. Perhaps Foppa pulls a Rocket. Roger Clemens has for the past two seasons taken part (if not close to all) of the season off before coming back for a pennant push. Couldn’t Peter do the same? He could rest his foot, work out, stay in shape and make his decision shortly before the trade deadline. This way he could really take the time to see which teams could use him and pay him the most for his time served. Could you imagine the bidding war that would take place between teams making a push for the cup?

If I’m Nashville I keep a little cash reserved just in case. Peter played great for us and I would love to see him in the blue and gold one more time…this time taking a victory lap with the cup above his head, not finishing the game in the penalty box.

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Predictions for the Semi’s

April 25, 2007

Predictions for the Conference Semi-finals:

Buffalo versus The Rangers: While I was impressed with the way the Rangers swept the Thrashers in round one I think they run into a wall here against Buffalo. I see Ryan Miller having a huge seires and really frustrating the Rangers. Look for Drury to continue to produce (let’s not forget the 18 points he put up in last years playoffs.) and for this tea, to really step it up. There is a lot to be said for coming close like they did last year…these boys are hungry and New York will not stop them. Should be a great series…Sabres in 6.

Ottawa versus New Jersey: This promises to be a great series. The way I see it is as a battle of a great goaltender against a potent offense. I believe that the Sens will just have too much for New Jersey. One thing you can expect is a disciplined series from both of these clubs. I expect all of these games to be close and low scoring…no 5-4 wide open games here. Senators in 6

Detroit versus San Jose:
Having just seen this San Jose team up close and personal here in Nashville I have to say they are playing great hockey. The problem is that Detroit can really get teams off of their plan and force them to play their game. I see this as one of those series that could go either way but if Nabokov plays like he did against the Preds I predict a San Jose win. Sharks in 7

Anaheim versus Vancouver:
Robert Luongo has been incredible so far this post season and the Canucks are finally getting the production from the twins that they bargained for when they took them in the draft years ago. The Ducks bring a potent offense and Selane continues to defy age and score goals. I love J.S Giguere in goal this post season for the Ducks too. All logic tell me that the Ducks will win but my gut says it will be Vancouver in 7.

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Preds Attendence Figures Better…

April 25, 2007

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Early estimates had the Predators averaging 13,600 fans this past season but Tuesday the Predators announced that the average paid attendance was in fact 13,815. That puts the Preds much closer to the magic 14k paid figure that they need by 08-09 (a stipulation set in the last CBA)to take part in the revenue sharing. On the flip side it also still has them below 14k and that would allow them to set in motion a clause with the city that allows them to ask for assistance and potentially leave. (I posted about this in detail earlier HERE).

Here’s the deal…if the Preds still decide to activate this option in their agreement I think it will do irreparable damage from a public relations stand point. The momentum that the Preds have from three straight playoff appearances and an incredibly bright future would all be put in jeopardy to the average fan. They would see a team biding their time. Not a team committed to it’s city and fans the way the Predators have been since day one.

I implore you, Mr. Leipold, for the sake of hockey’s future in Nashville please do not activate this clause…you’ll be sorry if you do.

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‘Bull Hartnell Kept His Feet Moving’

April 24, 2007

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As the off season begins several key personal moves will determine how the Predators will look next season. One major decision is that of young Scott Hartnell. The former first round draft pick (6th in 2000) has literally grown up in this organization and from a fans point of view seeing him in another uniform would be really weird.

Year Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM Shots Sh%
2006-07 Nashville NHL 64 22 17 39 +19 96 150 14.67
2005-06 Nashville NHL 81 25 23 48 +8 101 211 11.85
2003-04 Nashville NHL 59 18 15 33 -5 87 154 11.69
2002-03 Nashville NHL 82 12 22 34 -3 101 221 5.43
2001-02 Nashville NHL 75 14 27 41 +5 111 162 8.64
2000-01 Nashville NHL 75 2 14 16 -8 48 92 2.17

While Hartnell will never be a threat to the league scoring title his physical, tenacious style is an intangible that many teams are willing to pay for. He is a pesky player. He gets under the skin of the opposition. He is willing to throw his body around and to sacrifice his body planting himself in front of the opponents goal. He has developed into a good skater and his defensive skills allow him to matched up against many other top lines.

The major downside I see to Hartnell is the amount of penalties that he takes. On several occasions it is this behavior that has put him in the doghouse of Preds coach Barry Trotz and the fans. With the exception of his 48 minutes in 75 games his rookie season Hartnell has been at or near the century mark in PIMs each season. If Hartnell can limit those to the 60-80 minute range it would make a big difference. The Preds saw in the most recent playoff series with the Sharks just how important staying out of the box can be.

When you weigh all the factors I still think Hartnell is a must keep for the Preds this off season. I would love to see it happen prior to July 1st (when he officially becomes a UFA) and is able to talk to any team he chooses. I imagine that he will be looking at somewhere in the 3-3.5 million range for a four year deal…if that is all he is asking then i say we have to do it. If he is looking at 4 or more then we may be able to get better value for the money.

Perhaps we can hope that Hartnell was genuine when he said “It’s the only team I’ve known and the only city I’ve known. I’ve played for the Predators since year one, and the people in the city are awesome. It’s a great bunch of guys. To come back would be the first priority, obviously. Hopefully, things will work out.”

Yes Hartsy…hopefully they will.

(the title of this post is a quote from Terry Crisp that was used in a Predators radio promo piece for a long time)

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Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

April 23, 2007

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Predator Owner Craig Leipold has repeatedly said that he wants to stay here in Nashville but a decision that will be made in the next 60 days may tip his hand on just how serious he is about that.

The Predators have to decide whether or not to activate a clause in their agreement with the city which would give Metro the option to buy hockey tickets from the Predators if they fail to meet the 14,000 average paid attendance figure. The way I understand it is if the Preds fail to hit that mark they would can ask the city to make up the difference. Let’s say that the Preds averaged 13,600 for each game…which over a 41home games that would translate into 16,400 tickets that Metro would have to decide to buy or not. If Metro buys the tickets (what price would they pay I wonder? An average ticket price I assume) then the Preds stay and all is well with the world.

Where it gets interesting is if the Preds exercise their option fail to hit the 14k in attendance mark and then the city declines to buy the tickets. This would allow the Preds to then exercise and 18 million dollar early buyout and search for greener pastures. One such pasture would be Kansas City which recently offered the Pittsburgh Penguins free rent in their new arena if they were to relocate (Pittsburgh has recently inked a new arean deal so Sidney Crosby and company are staying put).

I have no clue what Leipold is thinking but I would venture to guess that he is going to be weighing all his options over the next 60 days.

My gut feeling says that the Preds will exercise the option. When they do, be prepared for a number of “the sky is falling” articles written by the Tennessean. The bad thing is that even though this clause may be activated it doesn’t mean the Preds will ever leave town…but the confusion it will create may be tough to overcome.