Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:23 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:24 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When it comes to getting the most bang for the buck there are few front offices in the NHL better than the Nashville Predators, led by general manager David Poile and his assistant, Paul Fenton.
On Monday, the Predators announced that both men have had their contracts with the club extended, with Poile's deal running through the 2014-15 season.
“Today’s announcement is further recognition by the Predators’ ownership group of the outstanding job David has done as President of Hockey Operations since the franchise’s inception,” said Predators chairman Tom Cigarran in a statement releasead by the team. “The consistent success of the Predators on the ice is directly attributed to his ability to assemble and lead a team of management, coaches, scouts and administrators who continually identify, draft, develop and motive an exceptional group of experienced and young players. The ownership group believes that under his leadership, the Nashville Predators will soon achieve its goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
Stability has been a pretty big thing in the Nashville organization as Poile is the only general manager the team has had since it entered the league back in 1998. Along with having only one head coach -- Barry Trotz -- there has been a lot of consistency in Nashville over the past decade-and-a-half.
Despite not having the financial resources of some other teams across the league, the Predators have been a playoff team in six of the past seven seasons, and are currently one of the top teams in the NHL this season with 74 points as of Monday, a total that is more than all but four teams.
The Predators have been built primarily through the draft and their lineup is loaded with home-grown players up and down the roster.
Poile might have one of the toughest jobs in the NHL over the next two years as he figures out how to handle his two best players, defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Suter is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, while Weber will be eligible for that following next season.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 10:27 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's starting to feel like the Detroit Red Wings are never going to lose another home game.
The Nashville Predators certainly gave them a fight on Friday night, but Detroit managed to find a way to extend its NHL record home winning streak to an incredible 22 games with a 2-1 win, and it couldn't have happened with a more beautiful play. And that's really the only way to describe it. Just beautiful.
With just 5.8 seconds to play in the third period of a tie game, Pavel Datsyuk, always one of the most exciting players in the NHL, completed one of the prettiest plays you'll see in the NHL this season finishing a series of no-look passes from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom to beat Pekka Rinne for the game-winning goal.
That is simply great players at their very best, and let's not overlook that the defenseman Datsyuk completely turned around at the end was none other than Ryan Suter, one of the best defenseman in the NHL.
The win pushes Detroit to an NHL best 40-17-2 record, including 25-2-1 mark at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings will look to extend the streak again on Sunday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 5:25 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:28 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Friday that forward Rich Peverley is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks with what is being called a third-degree MCL sprain in his right knee. The injury occurred on Wednesday night during an extremely physical game with the Montreal Canadiens when he was hit on a knee-to-knee collission with Hal Gill.
(Gill, of course, was traded to Nashville on Friday afternoon).
The incident took place early in the third period of Boston's 4-3 shootout win.
There was no penalty called on the play and no punishment from the league. This happened in the same game that also included the Brad Marchand clipping incident on Montreal's Alexei Emelin (that did not result in a suspension) and Montreal fans cheering after Zdeno Chara was hit in the face with a puck. Yeah, it's a tough rivalry.
Peverley's absence will be a big loss for the Bruins as he's been a quality player since joining the team last season in the trade that sent Blake Wheeler to Atlanta. In 49 games this season he's scored nine goals to go with 29 assists and has been a 40-point player in each of the past three seasons.
Also at Eye On Hockey
Marchand not suspended for clip
Montreal fans cheer Chara hit by puck
Gill traded to Nashville
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:22 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 3:08 pm
Now the trades are starting to roll in. Took a while.
Gill has been one of the few names figured to for sure be on the trading block in what has been a pretty quiet trade season so far. A veteran defenseman on a team that's has sunk out of the race who doesn't have a contract after this season? Of course there would be demand for him.
His addition makes the Predators even tougher to attack. With already the best pair of defensemen in the game with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, Gill brings another strong defensive presence. He comes into a situation that's good for him where he won't be asked to play top pairing minutes. He's only averaged 16:44 per game this season.
“Hal Gill brings our team a number of elements -- size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience,” Preds GM David Poile said. “He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team.”
Interstingly, most have been thinking that the Preds needed to upgrade on offense. But realistically, they needed help on the back end as well. The Preds are actually 11th in the league in goals per game with 2.77, equal to the Rangers and Capitals. Defensively they are again 11th in goals against per game, not where you expect a Barry Trotz team to be.
"We felt that we needed to get some veteran experience," Poille said. "I think with Hal Gill we got everything we were looking for."
Some are going to speculate if this means anything for Suter and/or Weber. Stop that. Gill is 36 with no guarantee of being in Nashville next season. If anything, this only helps Nashville's situation with their top defensemen, it shows a commitment to winning and doing it now. They are buyers in an attempt to go for it.
The return package to Montreal isn't too shabby for a 36-year-old rental player. Of particular interest is Geoffrion going to the Canadiens. Of course that's where his legendary grandfather Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion made his Hall of Fame career. Oh, and his great grandfather was Howie Morenz.
Talk about a legacy and pressure. Geoffrion goes from playing for his hometown team in Nashville to playing for his grandpa's team in Montreal. That's quite a pill to swallow, as he noted via Twitter.
"Wow..what a day...its bitter sweet, going to miss my hometown of nashville, but going to where it all started with my family...MONTREAL!!!"
It seems like a pretty good deal for the Preds to me. You get a good defenseman to help position the Preds for a deeper run this season and they give up a couple of mid-level prospects and a second-round pick. Geoffrion could still develop into a top-six forward, but so far he hasn't been able to show it for the Preds. In the last two seasons he has 22 games in the NHL with six goals and five assists, only three assists in 22 games this season.
The asking price could be pretty big in return. At first brush it looks like a pretty expensive sell and it could prove to be. But the jury is still out on Geoffrion -- granted, he's 23 -- and Slaney while second-round picks very often don't turn to be that big, as Adam Gretz pointed out today.
But if you want to get something you have to give up something.
"The parity that we have in the NHL right now is as close as it's been ... you have to be willing to pay a price to get what you want," Poile said. And he did.
Let's hear your verdict: You like it?
Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
Hey, a team can dream can't it?
The above is a sign that's hanging in the halls of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. As you can see it's home to the Nashville Predators as the sign so proudly declares.
"Interesting sign at Bridgestone Arena, considering the #preds haven't won a Stanley Cup yet" Preds beat writer Joshua Cooper tweeted with the picture.
Now before you get in a tizzy about the Preds not being Stanley Cup champions as the sign also proudly declares, it's more of an inspiration. It's a reminder that together, everything is possible, as it says on the left side.
To be honest, it's not that impossible of a thing to dream of, Nashville isn't among the elite contenders this season, but don't be fooled, they're high on that next tier. Everybody knows anything can happen in the playoffs in the NHL.
If it wasn't a motivational ploy and just a big booboo? Well then have your tizzy.
Posted on: February 5, 2012 4:06 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 4:16 pm
As big of a loss as that is for the Caps, seeing Brooks Laich go down in the game is as big of a concern as anything for Washington right now.
In the second period, Laich was playing the puck behind the Bruins net when Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg delivered a check into the boards. It looked innocent enough but there was some contact on the play that pinned Laich's knee against the boards. Moments later he was being helped off the ice and down the tunnel toward the locker room without putting any pressure on his leg.
He came out during a television time out to test the knee but he couldn't go on. He left the arena with a brace on his knee and with the help of crutches.
"I’m not a doctor, but with these things sometimes there’s some swelling ... But I don’t think it’s anything serious," Laich said after the game. "I'll get some ice on it and see how I feel when I wake up."
"He's day to day right now," Caps coach Dale Hunter said after the game. "We're just going to wait and see."
They better hope so. It's no secret that this season the Caps are in a dog fight just to make the playoffs. With the loss today, they remain out of the playoff seedings in the East at the moment. If they are going to sans Laich for any length of time, that makes things even tougher.
The Capitals already have a weakness up the middle with Nicklas Backstrom still on the sidelines since he was hit in the head by Rene Bourque. They can't afford to lose another center like Laich, who is one of their more consistent players and is a big piece for a team that hasn't been scoring much.
The good news for Washington is that despite the loss, they actually outshot an opponent on Sunday afternoon. They had 36 shots to the Bruins' 30, so there's that. Their pace of shooting has been way too low for well over a month now so that's a step in the right direction.
But they need to keep their fingers crossed Laich will be OK. He's a very underrated player for the Capitals, a solid two-way guy that probably every team in the NHL would like to have on their side.
With a win over the Canadiens on Saturday, normally you'd say a weekend split isn't bad. But depending on how Laich comes out of this, it could be.
Hit of the weekend
I'm not sure it's 25 feet as the Penguins announcers says. I have a hunch they might have been dabbling in the art of hyperbole, something I do myself from time to time. But that still is probably the greatest hit in the history of hockey hits.
In this day and age you're not used to seeing the Bruins players acting as the ragdolls, they're usually the ones doing the pushing.
The Colorado Avalanche are historically good when it comes to the shootout. They just don't lose in the "skills competition." That was until Saturday.
On the season the Avs were 7-0 in shootouts. Go back to last season and the streak was 10 consecutive shootouts. For an event that is statistically close to a tossup, that's pretty remarkable.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. The Avalanche finally lost a shootout this Saturday to the division rival Vancouver Canucks, failing to score in their three attempts.
Their shootout success has been a big reason why the Avs are as close in the playoff picture as they are. Those are crucial points to be picking up. And while losing the extra point to the Canucks doesn't seem like the biggest thing in the world considering they likely aren't catching the reigning Western Conference champs in the Northwest, it is obviously critical in the hunt for that eighth spot.
What a game
Speaking of shootouts, the only other team this season who had yet to fall in a shootout also suffered the fate on Saturday.
Of course Sam Gagner played a huge part in the Oilers effort. He scored a point on each of the Oilers' eight goals against the Blackhawks in Edmonton's last game and then he was in on each of the Edmonton's first three goals against Detroit.
While he didn't get in on the game-tying goal in the final minute for the Oilers to snap his streak, Gagner did tally a score in the shootout, helping the Oilers eventually prevail thanks to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' shootout goal in his first game back, giving the Red Wings their first shootout defeat.
It was one of the better games of the season, a very entertaining, back-and-forth game. Minus the shootout, it had everything most every hockey fan likes to see.
Hit of the weekend Part II
I'm not sure this can compete with the Orpik-on-Paille hit, but it's still worth watching. I mean, who doesn't love guys being dumped over the boards?
The Wild and Stars got together for a crucial game for the West playoff picture and at least this hit showed how big it was. Watch Jake Dowell get dumped over the boards and into the camera well by Jed Ortmeyer of the Wild.
I'd say that's as good as time as any for a line change.
Quote of the weekend
“It was a party. It’s always fun. It keeps you in the game. Who knows, though? The next game I might get 15 to 20 shots, and you have to be ready for that, too.” -- Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators goalie on facing 43 shots against the Blues. (from the Tennessean).
Only a goalie could think his team facing 43 shots in one game could be considered a party.
Then again, when you beat a division rival 2-1 and move second place in the ultra-competitive Central, well then it might feel pretty good.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Brooks Laich, Brooks Orpik, Colorado Avalanche, Dale Hunter, Dallas Stars, Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Jake Dowell, Jed Ortmeyer, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Nicklas Backstron, Pekka Rinne, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, St. Louis Blues, Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Weekend Wrap
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 3:51 pm
Let's go back just over a month on the NHL schedule, shall we? The Philadelphia Flyers had just finished losing to the New York Rangers in one hell of a finish in the Winter Classic hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.
The first half of the game was pretty dull, no scoring. But the game made up for it with a great second half, including a penalty shot in the final minute.
Among the two goals that the Flyers potted that cold January day was a beauty from Claude Giroux. It was his 18th of the season. It was a great start to the season that led me to pick him as my midseason Hart Trophy winner.
Would you believe that Giroux went the entire rest of the month without a goal? In the remaining 12 games in January, Giroux had nine assists.
You could look at it as a classic case of regressing to the mean. Giroux can score, but in his previous four seasons with the Flyers he never scored more than 25 (the mark he hit last season). Interestingly, he has exactly twice as many assists in his career as goals at this point. So his 18 goals and 29 assists were a bit out of whack. He's still a play-making center.
The only thing I wasn't sure about if it was a regression to the mean or not is if we were going to see a new way of playing for Giroux. There was obviously a lot more pressure put on him to carry the load after the offseason the Flyers had, jettisoning Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Well, a Flyer can't change his wings. Or something like that.
Now of course Giroux scored on Thursday night in the Flyers' win over the Nashville Predators and ruined the nice little tie in I was going for here. That being the Flyers visiting Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Rangers for their first encounter since that day outside in South Philly.
It should be a nice appetizer for the Rangers/New York Giants fans before the Super Bowl.
Little will be all that different from that Jan. 2 meeting either. The teams are still two of the best in the NHL, fighting each other in the Atlantic Division and the Rangers are even expected to be wearing their Winter Classic jerseys. Old-schoolers can rejoice, that would mean the Rangers are wearing white (or at least off-white) at home again. For one day.
Yes, it will be a pretty familiar feel, except for, you know, the game being played indoors on a quality sheet of ice (no disrespect to Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru). And perhaps a different Giroux from that earlier meeting, but the same Giroux the Flyers have fallen in love with and have come to count on, goals or not.
It seems like every weekend there is a massive matchup from the Central Division. I guess that happens when you have four of the eight teams in the league that have reached the 65-point mark.
Between the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, that's 36 games against one another throughout the season. So if the schedule were completely balanced, it would actually be more than once a week.
So it's not a rare occurrence to see one of the games. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be missed or not enjoyed to the fullest.
That's why we suggest you don't miss out on the Blues' visit to the Predators on Saturday night. It might help if you like defensively sound hockey, though.
This is their fourth meeting this season and if we throw out the Predators' 4-2 win in the second game of the season seeing that it's pre-Hitchcock, each game has played out the same way, a 2-1 shootout win for the Preds. That's not a lot of scoring but it doesn't mean it's not a lot of good hockey.
Don't underestimate the importance of all these games in the Central. They are what people like to call four-point games because of the potential swings they can cause in the standings. Considering the second and third seeds will go to the Pacific and Northwest, the second spot in the Central by season's end will be crucial, it will give that team home-ice advantage against what will surely be another Central foe.
Battle of Ontario resumes
This season the stakes have been ramped up in the Battle of Ontario already with the success the teams have enjoyed thus far and their battling at the bottom half of the East's playoff picture. But this one is crucial for the Sens.
This will be their second game back on home ice since Jan. 16 (Friday night they host the Islanders) and for the first time this season, the Sens have lost four straight in regulation. For a team that has played more games than anybody in the NHL, that has made their somewhat comfortable position in the playoff picture much more perilous. Considering the Leafs are one of their competitors for one of the East's eight spots, you can see why this is a massive game for Ottawa.
The captain is back
On the other side of that provincial border down in Montreal, Ovechkin will play his first game since his three-game suspension before the All-Star break. Because of the time off it feels like Ovi has been out much longer than three games, his last game coming way back on Jan. 22.
"I'm not used to watching the games from upstairs and staying [on the ice] after the morning skates," Ovechkin told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. "I'm pretty excited. I miss hockey a lot. It's a situation where you miss the game and you're tired of watching."
The Caps weren't bad in his absence, playing honestly about the same level they were with him, going 1-1-1 in the three games. But there's no doubt he's welcome back in the lineup for his offensive ability on a team that just isn't doing a whole lot when they have the puck these days.
But they are clearly much more meaningful this season, more than just some interesting nostalgia coming back up to the fore. This is about the playoffs.
The West has six spots pretty much spoken for already and the Kings are making a good case for the seventh. That means there are a lot of teams fighting for one final spot in the playoff picture, currently held by Minnesota. The Stars are right behind them, three points back with a game in hand. So yea, the games are pretty big.
Of course that includes Saturday night's tilt in Dallas. Both teams could stand to get some wins going again as the Wild are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 while the Stars are 3-6-1 in that same span.
Fight for Florida
Are you noticing a little bit of a rivalry sense this weekend?
It's hard to quite believe, but this Saturday's game in Tampa Bay will mark the sixth and final meeting between them this season and there are still 30 or so games to go in the season.
Don't let the importance of the game for the Lightning be lost. Their playoff hopes are slim but not non-existent. A chance to take two points from the Southeast-leading Panthers would help them stay within striking distance. It's pretty close to the clichéd must-win game for the Bolts.
We're going streaking!
Here is a look at the streaks, both good and bad, headed into the weekend across the NHL.
San Jose Sharks: Believe it or not, this is the only team in the league right now that has a winning streak (three games in a row or more). And the Sharks barely qualify with three straight. They visit the Coyotes on Saturday night looking for four straight.
Senators: Already covered above, they have lost four in a row in regulation for the first time this season. They have two home games, against the Isles and Leafs.
Tags: 2012 Winter Classic, Alex Ovechkin, Brian Stubits, Chicago Blackhawks, Claude Giroux, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Dion Phaneuf, Florida Panthers, Joffrey Lupul, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Phil Kessel, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 3:41 pm
Remember Alex Radulov, the Russian forward who was drafted by and played two seasons for the Nashville Predators, including his sophomore campaign when he scored 26 goals and had 32 assists for the Preds back in 2007-08?
In case you were wondering, he's been plying his trade back in the KHL since then, and doing it very well. Last season he had 80 points in 54 games for his Salavat Yulayev Ufa team.
So you would think he has some pretty good handling, right? I mean a guy who 60 assists in 54 games must be good with the stick.
What was that all about? Apparently angry, it sure seemed as though Radulov checked his back before doing anything then unleashing a whip backward and slashing one of his team's coaches in the process.
I'm just having a little fun here, it seems (relatively) clear that it was an accident when he hit the coach, signified by his quick apologetic wave and reciprocation from the coach. But what exactly was the intent?