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Showing posts from October, 2007

Tricks and Treats for Nashville Hockey Fans

The chilling tale of the Predators sale approaches the Witching Hour , and we have a host of spirits seeking to terrify and delight the hockey fans of Middle Tennessee:     A Holiday-themed insight into the current state of mind for most Preds fans, especially after last night's debacle in Calgary .   1)  The Globe & Mail's Allan Maki broke the news that Doug Bergeron (originally from Windsor, Ontario) has joined the Freeman group.  Does this mean additional capital and stability, or another force looking to relocate the team?  Nobody can say at this point.   2)  With today being the end of the exclusive negotiating period with Craig Leipold, word comes that  the deadline may be extended somewhat if the local investors can hammer out a deal with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today on adjustments to the Sommet Center lease.   3)  As always, the most thorough analysis of this developing situation can be found at the Nashville Post , where Richard

Predators and their Captain go down in Flames

Heading into Tuesday night's tilt at Calgary the Nashville Predators have seemingly righted their ship, having won twice at home over Atlanta and Florida before heading out for an extended five-game road trip. The Flames (5-3-3) have been playing mostly competitive hockey of late, balancing an amazing comeback win over Minnesota last week against a 4-1 loss to San Jose two nights before. In their previous meeting this season, the Flames toasted the Predators 7-4 in Nashville, breaking open a 4-4 tie with a dominating third period. For those of you out celebrating Devil's Night , here's the detailed recap.... Goaltenders: Chris Mason for Nashville vs. the newly-signed Miikka Kiprusoff for Calgary Period The First: Continuing a trend seen against Florida, Martin Erat starts on left wing next to Jason Arnott & J.P. Dumont. Whatever it takes to get him rolling... At the 18:12 mark David Legwand chases down a sloppily-played puck by Calgary that leads to a brea

Updated Penalty Draws, and Some Notes

If you're wondering who's drawing the most penalties in the NHL , I've performed the weekly update over at the publicly available Google spreadsheet. Currently Sidney Crosby leads the way with 12, and then we have a five-way tie between Alexander Ovechkin, Joe Thornton, Scott Gomez, Mike Cammelleri, and Anze Kopitar, who have each drawn 11 penalties this season. I've added a few columns to the spreadsheet, including Games Played, Average Time on Ice, and Position, for those of you who were wondering about such things. NOTE - There's currently a formatting issue with any player averaging over 24 minutes per game, and I'm hoping to fix that by next week. Dion Phaneuf, for example, shows as having an average ice time of 3:31, rather than 27:31. WEEKEND NOTES I missed Saturday night's thriller between the Predators and Panthers, as I took my wife to the Grand Ole Opry, something she'd wanted to do since we moved to Nashville two y

Thrashers Bring the Cure for What Ails You

Last night's 3-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers certainly was the tonic for many depressed Predators fans; it brought an end to the 6-game losing streak, backup goaltender Dan Ellis recorded his 1st shutout in only his 2nd NHL start, a variety of grinders contributed to the scoring, and perhaps most importantly, Nashville put together three solid periods of hockey, something that had been missing over the last two weeks.  Barry Trotz made a couple noteworthy adjustments in this game.  First, he jumbled up the lines extensively, putting Martin Erat up alongside Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont for example.  Secondly, Marek Zidlicky was a health scratch , reportedly for only the second time in his four-year tenure with the team.   Zidlicky has incredible puckhandling talent, to be sure, but for a defenseman that's often as much a curse as a blessing; if he's the last man back and loses the puck, it's a breakaway for the other team.  Was this benching a shot a

A Test of Leadership

After Tuesday night's 6-0 drubbing by the Los Angeles Kings, the Predators held a closed door meeting to address their lackluster play of the last two weeks.  Will that private session result in shaking the team back into order?  The early proof will be seen in tonight's contest with the visiting Atlanta Thrashers (side note:  in a symptom of how badly the NHL schedule is screwed up, this is only the fourth time in 10 years that the Predators have hosted the team which is closest to Nashville).   While the message boards are abuzz with the " Fire Trotz !" mantra, the reality is that every NHL team faces a difficult stretch at some point during the season, and the true measure of a team's leadership (coach, captain, assistant captains) lies in how they react to such challenges.   GM David Poile's made some comments Thursday morning basically saying that everyone could perform better, it's up to the leaders to provide a working example

Bit by Bit, Little by Little...

The pace appears to be quickening in the negotiations between the Freeman group and the Nashville Metro government regarding the Sommet Center lease, which remains the main obstacle in completing the purchase of the Predators from Craig Leipold. This evening, lawyers representing the city sent a letter ( available here from the Tennessean ) which appears to indicate that the main terms of an agreement have been struck, and in return, the city would like a firmer long-term commitment by the ownership group to keep the team in Nashville. From that letter: "As we have discussed, the Mayor has indicated a willingness to support an additional operating subsidy for the Sommet Center for a period of five years, as well as the expenditure of $6,900,000 in capital expenditures, in order to assist the local owners to have a reasonable opportunity for success. In order to justify renegotiating the current lease, a new owner must commit to provide NHL hockey in Nashville for a period long

Locals to miss Halloween deadline, but not by much

The following statement was released this afternoon by the legal counsel to David Freeman's Venture 36 Capital group, the local investors who are seeking to purchase the Nashville Predators from Craig Leipold: NASHVILLE - "The local ownership group can only worry about what we can control. Right now, what we can control is our continued work with the Mayor and his team. We have presented what we believe is a specific framework that achieves the goals of keeping a viable hockey team in Nashville and respecting the needs of the City. It is our hope to complete this part of the process by this Friday and then deal with scheduling a full and complete public airing of the agreement. At the end of the day, it will be the collaborative effort of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor, the Council, and the Sports Authority that keeps this opportunity from slipping through our fingers.” If they can indeed strike a deal by this Friday, then the Metro Council needs at least seven days notic

From L.A., it's the Late Late Live Blog Show

The Nashville Predators are trying to end a five-game losing streak in L.A. tonight against the Kings, and for all of you with early bed-times, I thought I'd capture the action for you, blog-style. Can the Preds keep those young L.A. Guns under control? The Goalies Chris Mason vs. Jason LaBarbera 1st Period Nashville starts out with the new combo of Vern Fiddler/Radek Bonk/Jed Ortmeyer, which goes right to work on the dump & chase, getting a good couple of whacks at a rebound off a Greg de Vries shot. The other new line (Martin Gelinas/Jason Arnott/J.P. Dumont) follows next but fails to make much noise. L.A.'s first good shot comes off a sloppy giveaway in the Nashville zone. de Vries (who's had a very rough time the last couple weeks) came around behind the net and his pass ended up on a Kings defenseman's hockey stick , which led to a strong shot and rebound opportunity. Mason has coughed up plenty of juicy rebounds lately, and another one at the 14:

Predators Hoping to Lift Off in L.A.

Last week if you looked at this West Coast road trip, you'd probably say that the Nashville Predators would do well to get anything more than two or three points from combined stops in Anaheim, San Jose, and Los Angeles.  The Ducks and Sharks are Stanley Cup contenders, while the Kings are basically a train wreck.  By dropping those games in Anaheim and San Jose , however, the Preds have set up tonight's contest in L.A. as a pretty critical game; they need to put an end to this five-game losing streak, and while the Kings boast some impressive young talent in Anze Kopitar and Mike Cammalleri, there are more questions than answers in that lineup.  This is a team the Predators should beat, and hopefully the best cure for an offense that can't seem to bury its chances is an opponent without a solid #1 goalie.     L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi widens his search for goaltending talent   This game is interesting in that if you look at how the two teams are p

Who draws the calls

As a followup to last week's piece about which players are drawing penalties more frequently than others, I've posted a publicly available Google Spreadsheet which shows updated numbers through Sunday night.  I'll try and refresh the spreadsheet each Monday morning throughout the season, for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  If you're using Excel or OpenOffice, you can easily Export this document into your favorite format for your own use (such as totalling by team, or whatever you like).  As with the Super Schedule , if you have anything you'd like to see added to this spreadsheet, or have other suggestions for information which you'd like to see posted, drop a note in the comments and I'll see what I can do.  When I've got some time I'll also update the template here to provide a quick & easy bookmark to this information, as well as some other stuff that I may post as well.   The leaders through the October 21 games are

Taking the Lid off the Vid of Sid the Kid

There shouldn't be doubt in anyone's mind that Sidney Crosby carries the NHL's fortune on his (hopefully) able shoulders. Groomed for years to be the standard bearer for professional hockey, Crosby has given fans everything they could hope for in his first two seasons; a scoring title as a teenager, countless highlights to draw in the casual fan, and a Gretzky-like awareness of his responsibility to the business aspect of hockey in terms of marketing and promotion. When I'm flipping through the Center Ice channels and I see a Pittsburgh Penguins game, it's a guarantee that I'm going to stop for a while in the hopes of seeing something truly special. Crosby is a fan's (and league commissioner's) dream come true. We're also fortunate that Crosby is joined by dynamic young rivals like Alexander Ovechkin, which should benefit all hockey fans as we watch them constantly try to one-up each other year after year. Crosby's fans are so rabid that

A Saturday Night Stinker, and a Sunday Stroll

Last night's 3-0 loss in San Jose carried much the same stench as Wednesday's defeat in Anaheim. The Predators played forcefully enough in the early going, failed to cash in on scoring chances, and got bitten by critical miscues later on that allowed the Sharks to steal the win. Chris Mason, thank goodness, looked sharper than he has in a couple weeks, but the guys up front have left him no margin for error. Heading into the next game at Los Angeles, perhaps Barry Trotz needs to shuffle the deck, splitting up the usual duos of Jason Arnott/J.P. Dumont and David Legwand/Martin Erat (those four players combined for a mere 6 shots last night). Sometimes that forces players to take a fresh approach and focus on the basics. No matter the case, the Kings game looms terribly large in light of what is now a five-game losing streak. Here are some links I'd recommend for a leisurely Sunday stroll around the hockey world: Joe Pelletier's Legends of Hockey network is alway

Halloween Horrors

I know, I know, detailed discussion of arena leases can incite riots of excitement, but I'll take that risk today in light of the approaching October 31 deadline that exists on the Nashville Predators sale.  The drive for local investors to purchase the team has hit a bump in the proverbial road, not due to resistance or disagreement between the parties involved, but rather the complicated legal implications of dealing with the bonds that the city of Nashville issued to fund the construction of the Sommet Center and related improvements.    Basically, there are two main types of bonds that governments issue.  First are  general obligation bonds , which are paid back out of the government's overall ability to tax.  The most prominent example of this type are U.S. Treasury securities , which are the bedrock of the finance industry as they are generally considered to be the lowest-risk $US-denominated investment vehicle out there, backed by "the full faith and

Close But No Cigar in Anaheim

Last night's 3-1 loss in Anaheim stretched the Predators' losing streak to four games, but there was certainly a night-and-day difference to how the team performed despite dropping the decision.  Chris Mason was mediocre in net (a big step up from last week), and at least during the first half of the game, the forwards did a good job cycling the puck and generally carrying the play into the Anaheim end.   One episode in the third period raised an interesting question, however.  At the end of a play near the Nashville net, Chris Kunitz dropped the gloves and started throwing punches at Predators defensemen Marek Zidlicky, who instead of engaging, covered up with his gloves over his face and waited things out until the linesmen intervened.   What stunned me was that Zidlicky got five minutes for fighting just as Kunitz did, even though he never dropped his gloves or threw a punch (Terry Crisp called it "five minutes for receiving" ).  Was it just a ca

Thrashers leave their Hart in Philadelphia

Well, it looks like I'm wrong once again.  A few weeks ago I guessed that Craig MacTavish would be the first NHL head coach to be fired this season, but the ax fell this morning on Bob Hartley in Atlanta instead (found via Kukla ), after an ugly 4-0 loss last night in Philadelphia.  Hardly surprising given the Thrashers' expectations after their division title last year, and the awful 0-6  start this season, which includes the rare double accomplishment of a league-low 1.5 goals per game, paired with a league-high 4.5 goals against.  Heck, if you go back to the playoffs last year, the Thrashers are in a 0-10 slide in games that count.   To paraphrase the original CBC caption , "Bob Hartley ecstatic not to coach the Atlanta Thrashers anymore."   Last night on TSN, Bob McKensie said that Hartley and GM Don Waddell had been given contract extensions this summer and that a move like this would cost the Atlanta ownership, but this article from the At

Predators in a Fowl Mood

The Nashville Predators start a three-game West Coast swing tonight in Anaheim, against a Ducks team coming off an impressive 6-3 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings Monday night. It will be interesting to see how the Predators respond to Barry Trotz's high-intensity workout on Sunday after a disappointing 7-4 loss to Calgary the night before. The players said all the right things afterward, but the proof will be a strong team effort at both ends of the ice. The big challenge for the Predators is to regain the defensive composure that's been missing in recent losses to St. Louis, Phoenix and Calgary. Even though it's still early in the season, pressure is mounting on #1 goaltender Chris Mason to shake off last week's outings and establish some consistency in net. Of course, it's not all up to him, as the defense corps has struggled while trying to make up for the loss of Shea Weber. On the offensive end, there's reason for optimism. Alexander Radulov h