Thursday night the Nashville Predators open up the home portion of their preseason schedule as the Atlanta Thrashers come to town. So far, it appears that the main storylines for roster spots in Nashville involve supporting roles; who is going to back up Chris Mason in goal (Pekka Rinne or Dan Ellis), who will be the seventh defenseman (Ville Koistinen or Kevin Klein), and whether there is any room for a brash youngster like Antti Pihlstrom to earn a job among the forwards.
There's been some good discussion over at the Predators' message boards around this topic, which I thought I'd distill over here. Most of the 23-man roster appears pretty set at this point, looking somewhat like this:
Centers: Jason Arnott, Radek Bonk, David Legwand, Scott Nichol, Jerred Smithson
Left Wing: Martin Erat, Vern Fiddler, Martin Gelinas, Darcy Hordichuk
Right Wing: J.P. Dumont, Jed Ortmeyer, Alexander Radulov, Jordin Tootoo
Defense: Greg de Vries, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Greg Zanon, Marek Zidlicky
Goal: Chris Mason
That covers 20 spots for now, setting aside Steve Sullivan until Thanksgiving at least.
Since we've got two weeks (and four more exhibition games) before the start of the regular season, I doubt we'll see much tomorrow night in terms of veteran players and what the actual line combinations will look like when the puck drops vs. Colorado on October 4th, but I would think there should be plenty of opportunity for prospects like Cody Franson to impress the locals and face some more NHL competition before being shipped off to Milwaukee.
As a bonus, it looks like I'll get to meet up with the Falconer from Thrasher's Talons and Southeast Shootout, who's coming up to Nashville from Atlanta for the big tilt. It's really too bad Nashville and Atlanta don't play more often, as that would appear to be the natural local rivalry. Like everyone else, I'm waiting to see what the NHL comes up with for a revised schedule that tones down the divisional games and brings back the variety.
To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets: I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source.
Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.
A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.
Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant: But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.
It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.
The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…
Back in November, around the quarter-mark of the NHL regular season, I wrote a piece looking at Expected Winning Percentages for each team, based on their Goals For/Goals Against ratio, using the PythagenPuck method as outlined in Alan Ryder's "Win Probabilities" article over at Hockey Analytics. Since we're approaching the end of the campaign, I thought it worth revisiting the two assertions I made back in November - that the Ottawa Senators were capable of getting back into the playoff race, and that the Boston Bruins were in danger of a freefall to the bottom of the standings.
Just to review, the basic idea behind win probability models like PythagenPuck is that over the course of a season, the Goals For and Goals Against numbers can be used to derive a team's winning percentage, within a a surprisingly narrow margin of error. For instance, if you only had GF/GA information, you could make a very good stab at projecting what the standings would look like. The w…