Archive for November, 2007

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Answering The Bell

November 30, 2007

Answering the bell…that seems to be exactly what the Preds Thursday night in Ottawa with a 6-5 win over the Senators. Every time that they were challenged by the Senators they answered.

The Preds jumped out to a quick lead with a early powerplay goal in the first minute of the game. Ottawa would answer and tie it but instead of folding or laying back the Preds would charge ahead to the lead again. This, truth be told, is not something that us Pred fans are use to seeing. It was great to see this team fight for the lead so hard.

I can’t say enough about the play of our big line tonight. Jason Arnott (a pair of assists), JP Dumont (a goal and three assists) and Martin Erat (the game winner and two assits all played great games. I am going on record to say that this line right now is playing better than any other line in Predators history. They are clicking and their chemistry is great.

Tonight was also the night of our D-men getting involved in the offense. Dan Hamhuis, Greg De Vries and Ryan Suter all chipped in with goals tonight. All of these goals were heads up plays and about being in the right place at the right time.

This was not Predators hockey. This is not the game plan that Barry Trotz planned. This is not the tempo game that these Predators play. This was a huge win. A win that, I would wager, not too many people thought we would win.

Standings: Tonight’s win puts the Preds back in the playoffs at eight in the West with 26 points.

BOG Approves Preds: Great news…the BOG approved the Preds sale. No lets get some butts in those seats!

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Hey Dan…

November 29, 2007

(Not an actual OnStar call)

    Barry Trotz

: “Hey Dan…listen i know it’s been weeks since you’ve started for us and you may be a bit rusty but I’d like to give you the nod to start tonight in Ottawa against the Senators. I don’t know if you know this or not but the Sens are one of the best teams in hockey. They’ve actually lost four in a row so they are probably pretty ticked right now and looking to get out of their funk so I hope you’re ready.”

    Dan Ellis

: “Okay.” (oh…crap)

I know being a back up is about being ready to play at a moments notice and nobody expected Ellis to have as many starts as he does now or the stats he does but this is going to be a tough start for Ellis. This Sens team is going to come out flying and throwing everything they’ve got at us to try to end their four game slide. Ellis will be tested and tested often.

What I do like about this start though is that early in the year the Preds seemed to play a little tighter D when Ellis was in net. This might be exactly what Trotz is thinking. Give Ellis the start and make the guys on D think a bit more than they have been with Chris Mason back there. The truth is Ellis needed to get some work and this might be the perfect night for it.

Preds Sale Update: The sale of the Preds is on the official agenda of the BOG meeting in Pebble Beach today. The meeting will start around 5:30 central and the Preds are rumored to be one of the first items on the agenda. Let’s hope this formality doesn’t turn into anything else!

Shea Weber:
After reading my post yesterday a friend asked me ‘you really like this Shea Weber guy huh?’ I couldn’t contain myself as I gushed about how good he is and how great I think he will be. At our office we sometimes joke about having ‘man crushes’ on people. It’s early but I may be developing a man crush on Shea Weber! Don’t worry Julie you are still my number one!

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What Would You Do?

November 28, 2007

According to reports the local investment group trying to buy the Nashville Predators wants to take possession of the team as quickly as possible. This may mean as early as Monday and before the City Council and Sports Council vote on the measure. I have to think that this means that the group must feel that that approval is a mere formality at this point. Let’s say that all happens…they get the team by Monday. Time to play a little bit of ‘armchair owner’ where you get to say what YOU would do if you just bought the Nashville Predators.

Here is my list:

1. Hire a new marketing person ASAP. Steve Violetta left the Preds to take position with the Red Wings and that is a key opening. People have reason to not be happy with the way Violetta marketed this team but it is vital that we get a top notch person in here. If we do not market this team successfully then five years from now the Preds will be gone! The person hired doesn’t need to be someone with hockey experience but someone who knows and understands the people in Middle Tennessee that the Preds market to.

2. Sign Shea Weber to a long term deal. Shea will be a restricted free agent at the end of this year but the Preds need to do everything in their power to lock him up long term. He is a special player and one who can, like Pronger was in St. Louis, be the foundation on this franchise. This could be the most money the Preds have ever laid out for a player but we all know how good he is and what he means to this team.

3. Make a deal for a solid scoring forward. I realize we are not going to make a deal for a marquee name but we need a player with some offensive touch and who would make a nice line mate for our third line. I feel like we have two lines going really well right now and are just a player away from getting our top three rolling. I would hate to see Klein go but I am guessing that he might be desirable enough to other teams to hold out their as bait. We need a Daniel Cleary or a Scott Walker type player to help us out (not those specific players but players in that mold).

What would you do?

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Tuesday Trivia – (No Cheating!)

November 27, 2007

Two quick questions. I don’t have a prize but for fun let’s pretend that the person who gets them both right the fastest gets season tickets for life to the NHL team of their choice! (for the sake of competition don’t go running to TSN or NHL.com to get the answer!)

What team leads the NHL in goals?

What team has allowed the fewest goals?

(Insert Jeopardy music here)

And…..GO!

(note: these are for all games through November 26th…not all teams have played the same amount of games. Just looking for the leading teams regardless of games played…was that a hint? Who knows!)

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Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

November 26, 2007

Yes I know that I took some time off from the ol’ blog this weekend. Truth be told it felt kind of good. I took the time to sit back and enjoy time with my wife and 23 month old little girl. Don’t get me wrong…I watched some hockey but this weekend was about family and pausing to take time and be thankful for what we have been blessed with. I have an incredible wife, a beautiful daughter and another on the way. We have a four year old miniature Dachshund (our first born) who, like it or not, rules our home. I am blessed.

Now onto the hockey…which is why you read my blog.

The Thanksgiving weekend saw the Preds come up big against the Wings on Thanksgiving night winning 3-2 in regulation. There is no doubt that the Red Wings are the team to beat in the Central but there are some chinks in that Red armor that is evident by their 4-4-1 record in their nine game Central series. Without a doubt this was a huge win for the Preds and one that, hopefully, will give them confidence going forward against the Wings. (On a side note…who else is shocked at the play of Osgood and Hasek? Have they traded places? Osgood has played great this year while the Dominator seems to be a bit off.)

Saturday night saw the Minnesota Wild visit and escape with a 4-3 win. The Preds outplayed the Wild for most of the night but the Wild really made the most of their chances. As a fellow Pred fan noted to me at the game Saturday…it’s these type of games that the Preds seem to lose. We win the games where we get out shot but have a hard time when we dominate a team (outshooting them 43-25).

With 22 games played the Preds sit last in our division and 11th in the conference with 24 points. While many might look at that and be down I look at it in a positive light (see first paragraph again if you must to see why!). Since the Preds six game slide early in the season they have rebounded going 9-3-2 in their next 14 games including 5-1-2 against Central division foes. These Preds have turned it around. The inspired play of Arnott, Erat and Dumont line and the return of big Shea Weber have pushed this team right back in the thick of it. It’s going to be a fun season!

Central Standings (through 11-25)
GP W L OTL PTS
DETROIT 23 15 6 2 32
CHICAGO 22 12 8 2 26
COLUMBUS 23 11 8 4 26
ST LOUIS 21 13 8 0 26
NASHVILLE 22 11 9 2 24

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Announcement…Game Tonight

November 19, 2007

(a note to the Nashville haters..can you give us this day? Can you give it to us without the negative comments and Nashville bashing? Thanks)

Well…the day that Pred fans have been waiting for has arrived. A deal has been reached with the city on a new lease the guarantees that Nashville hockey fans have the Predators for at least five more years. The hard work of the local investment group, Our Team Nashville, Phil Bredesen and his wife and the Mayor of Nashville Karl Dean has paid off in a deal that protects the city and gives new ownership a real chance to make this team viable here. A crowd of about 200-300 showed up for the mid day announcement.

Let me also say publicly that George Plaster, afternoon host on the #1 sports talker in Nashville 104.5 The Zone, was a lightening rod for the support that got this deal done. Predator fans owe a great deal to the efforts of George and The Zone to keep the Preds here. Until this point I didn’t have a great deal of respect for Plaster. It started back when the NHL entry draft was held here and he said that we would be lucky to have ‘3,000 people’ there for the draft. The next day over 10,000 hockey fans poured into the then GEC and proved him wrong. From that point on I took him as a hockey hater. I guess I was wrong. Above all this guy loves Nashville and knows and understands how much this team means to it.

Blues Again: The Preds will play the back end of a home and home against the Blues in St. Louis tonight (on 104.5 The Zone at 7:30). The Blues came in an took two points in a shootout victory Saturday night. The Preds played a solid game but couldn’t solve goalie Hannu Toivonen who played a great game. It’s another key match up in the ultra competitive Central where these points are precious. Look for Ellis to get a spot start tonight.

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If…

November 17, 2007

I hate to write blogs based on ‘ifs’ but this one was too good to pass up.

IF
(not the use of bold to emphasize how this is not happening) the NHL season were to end today (it would be crazy for it to since we haven’t even hit the quarter pole yet) the Central Division would boast FOUR (note bold use again…this time to emphasize how crazy this statement is) playoff teams. Take a look at the seeding.

1. Detroit
2. San Jose
3. Colorado
4. Minnesota
5. Nashville
6. Chicago
7. Columbus
8. Anaheim

While these are early results it does point to one thing that I have been harping on over the past few weeks…the Central is one tough place to play hockey. Gone are the days that the Preds could beat up on the Blues, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets…these teams are too good. We will not win all eight tilts against the Blues like we did last year (in fact we lost our first contest during our six game slide) nor will we control the Hawks or our rival in Columbus.

This makes this year, for me as a Preds fan, not only more exciting but better for our team. I think it will make us a better team come playoff time having to play night in and night out against what could end up being the best division in hockey this year. Yes I know it’s early and there are some teams on the outside of that top eight right now who may find there way in but don’t be surprised come April when you find three Central teams in the playoffs.

And yes…like it or not Nashville will be one of them.

Big Game Tonight: Another Central game and the return of Paul Kariya as the St. Louis Blues skate into Nashville. I hope that the fans treat him with the respect he deserves. I can’t blame him for wanting to make six million a year from the Blues. Nashville owes Paul a debt of gratitude as he was the first marquee player to come to Nashville as a free agent.