Tag:Nashville Predators
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 2:35 pm

Weekend Preview: Flyers streak on sans Pronger, G

Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

By Brian Stubits

There must be something in the water in Pennsylvania. That's the old cliché people turn to when they can't make sense of what's going on, how people (or teams in this case) continue to perform at a high level despite the obstacles.

We saw it last year (and again this season, really) with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite being without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the second half of last season, they just kept on winning. Their 106 points were tied with the Flyers for most in the Atlantic and were just one point behind the Capitals for best in the East.

This season, the Flyers are getting their own taste of life without their Stars. And just like their Keystone State brethren, they continue to win. As in seven in a row.

Philly has been playing without its captain Chris Pronger for a month now. After yesterday's news, they are going to have to play the rest of the season without him, too. In fact, some are saying that Pronger might never play a game again. After all, he is 37 and he has a life after hockey to think about.

As good as Pronger is and has been his entire career, the Flyers have done a good job overcoming his absence this season -- nay, a great job. Since he last played against Winnipeg on Nov. 19, the Flyers have won nine of 11 games.

As callous as it always feels, the Flyers must move on. While their captain and best defenseman deals with severe post-concussion syndrome, they have a very promising season to continue. With the roster freeze coming next week, it's unlikely the Flyers will acquire some additional help on the blue line in the near future, but it will have to be a consideration for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

Holmgren told the media on Friday that he's already considered that, having called all 29 teams, presumably about any defensemen they might have available.

But that's for then. Right now, the Flyers are making due without him or their budding superstar center Claude Giroux (or simply G, as they team calls him). It doesn't seem like it will be a long shelving for Giroux, but you never can know, concussions tend to be pretty fickle.

In the only games the Flyers have played without either player, they have won. Despite missing their leading scorer and a point-producing defenseman, Philly has still averaged 4.5 goals in the two games without Giroux and Pronger.

But now a real test comes to see how they compare with the other beats of the East without the two stars.

The Boston Bruins are nipping on the Flyers' heels for the best record in the Eastern Conference and they, too, have been playing without arguably their best player (skaters-only division) in Zdeno Chara. But the big man might be back in time for the Saturday matinee in Philadelphia.

"We're going to give him a chance to fly and see how he feels," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If he feels good then we have a chance of seeing him."

Normally I'd lament this game being played without Giroux, Pronger and possibly Chara. But with the way both of them, the Flyers in particular, have played without the all-stars, I don't see it stopping what will likely still be a very good game.

Winnipeg welcome wagon rolls on

This first season with the Jets back in the NHL has been an ongoing welcome wagon for the folks in Manitoba. They were licking their chops at getting to see Ilya Bryzgalov, they relished the opportunity to see former Jet Shane Doan back in Winnipeg.

Now comes perhaps the best welcome/return of them all; Teemu Selanne.

The veteran once starred for the Jets before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks. He has waited for the chance to go back and play in the first NHL city he called home. Now it comes on Saturday night.

"You know, even when the schedule came out, even when I didn't know if I was going to play or not, I checked right away if we were going to Winnipeg," Selanne said. "That day was on my calendar right away.

"I knew there were two really special things. Obviously the Finland trip and then Winnipeg. It was really exciting to even think about it."

Unlike the welcomes fans in Winnipeg gave to Bryzgalov and, to an extent, Doan, it's hard to imagine there will be any jeers, only cheers for Selanne.

"He was so admired. It was overwhelming," Jets chairman Mark Chipman said of Selanne. "This guy was so good and so approachable and so humble in his approach that the community just absolutely fell head over heels for the guy."

Amazingly, Selanne is still performing at the level he was when he first broke into the NHL with the Jets in the early 90s. That's only going to help the flashbacks for the fans -- minus that whole wearing the Ducks jersey part.

Back in Buffalo

One of the more criticized offseason signings (excluding just about every move made by the Florida Panthers) was the Toronto Maple Leafs signing former Sabres center Tim Connolly. Leafs GM Brian Burke gave Connolly a two-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.

People in Buffalo laughed and simply said "Enjoy!" to their near-neighbors in Toronto. It wasn't about Connolly being a bad player -- he's not at all -- but it was about his health concerns. There always seemed to be something that was keeping Connolly on the bench.

So there's a sense of irony when the Maple Leafs visit the First Niagara Center this weekend. Connolly will be healthy and on the ice against his former team. Although he hasn't been without his health issues this season, when he's been on the ice, he's been good for Toronto. In 18 games played, he has 15 points.

On the other hand, the deal that Buffalo signed with Ville Leino was widely applauded. That one hasn't worked out so well.

Reunion tour continues

The Washington Capitals will be visiting the Colorado Avalanche this weekend. That means they will get to see their old goalie Semyon Varlamov up close and personal again.

Varlamov was traded to the Avs this summer after he made it clear that he was looking to play in the KHL over Washington. So Caps GM George McPhee swung a deal with the Avs to give them Varlamov in exchange for Colorado's first-round draft pick this offseason and their second-round pick.

So not only do the Caps get the chance to say hi to an old friend, but they can help themselves out in more ways than one. The points in the standings are the first and most obvious way, but every game without points for the Avs helps the Caps' first-round draft pick go higher and higher.

Although it's quieted down with Varlamov coming back down to earth, when he and the Avalanche were off to their hot starts, some in Washington wondered if the team made the wrong goalie decision. There might still be some questions considering the duo of Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth hasn't fared much better, if at all. But at least Neuvirth comes into the game having just shut out the Jets in Winnipeg, so there might be some positive momentum building. The goaltending problems have been as much an issue as anything in D.C. this season.

Canucks are still great

In fact, according to Roberto Luongo they are better than they were last season, which was great.

"We were one win away, so I don't think you need to change much," Luongo said. "That being said, though, we went through a lot last year, and I think we grew as a team. So for that reason alone, I think that we're better than last year."

That's even with him still getting a lot of starts in the net. Remember, he was a Vezina finalist last season. This season? Not so much.

Their next chance to prove Lu right will come in Toronto on Saturday evening for another Hockey Night in Canada appearance.

Stammer don't hurt 'em!

More like don't get hurt Stammer.

With his overtime winner on Thursday night, Steven Stamkos joined Milan Michalek on the top of the goal-scoring list this season with his 19th. Hopefully the same fate that has befallen many of the game's best scorers in recent weeks won't strike the Lightning's superstar.

With Michalek, Giroux, Sidney Crosby and Jeff Skinner (among many others) recently being diagnosed with concussions or at least post-concussion symptoms, the last thing the league wants is another young star to go down. If anything, it would probably love to see Stamkos go on one of his tears and become a positive story in the league again.

He'll have the chance to take the lead in the goals race by himself when Tampa Bay heads to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.

We're going streaking!

Flyers: As mentioned, they are the hottest thing going in the NHL right now between their seven-game win streak and HBO's 24/7.

Bruins: Philly's opponent brings a modest three-game run of itself into the Saturday matchup.

Chicago Blackhawks: A double-dip awaits the Blackhawks and their three-game win streak as they face the Ducks and Flames.

Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues: We're going to combine these two because they are both riding four-game win streaks and they will face off against one another on Saturday. The Blues also have the Jackets on Sunday.

Dallas Stars: Last on the win side, the Pacific-leading Stars take to New Jersey seeking to extend their three-game streak on Scott Niedermayer Night.

New York Islanders: Once again, the Isles are slumping. They get to face the NHL-best Minnesota Wild with a four-game skid. The good news for New York is Minnesota is likely down a lot of bodies.

Florida Panthers The Southeast leaders are on a mini slump having lost three in a row. They have the Flames and Hurricanes at home this weekend to try and cure the ills.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:21 pm

Watch Shea Weber score from the upper deck

By Brian Stubits

You know how most teams have some kind of intermission gimmick where a fan comes onto the ice and launches a puck from the opposite end of the rink trying to get it in the net? It is often a challenge. Even with no defense to speak of, a lot of fans don't score.

It can be tough for All-Stars like Predators defenseman Shea Weber too ... when you add a few thousands seats into the equation as well.

Weber recently took to the stands of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to attempt an empty-netter ... from Section 317. Alongside country singer Dierks Bentley (if you are as Country music illiterate as I am, here you go).

After he fires the shot, Weber laments that it's too far right, but he gets an awfully friendly bounce -- shall we say, a member's roll? -- and it kicks just enough toward the goal to hit the side of the post and scoot in.

Next I want to see him bank it off the video screen and into the near-side goal. I just hope for Bentley's sake that it wasn't a game of HORSE.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:21 pm

Tootoo suspended two games for hit on Ryan Miller

By Brian Stubits

The NHL has handed down the punishment on Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators for his crash into Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller from over the weekend. The result is a two-game suspension for the Pesky Preds forward.

As has become customary, here is video from Brendan Shanahan explaining the decision, but this one coming on location from Pebble Beach instead of New York because of the Board of Governors meetings.

In detailing the suspension, Shanahan notes a few factors that played into the rationale. First is the fact that while there is pressure from defenseman Jordan Leopold, it's not enough to significantly steer Tootoo toward the crease. This is something to keep in mind when you look at the David Booth hit on Miikka Kiprusoff again and why it's unlikely the Booth hit was given much of a look from the league.

Secondly is perhaps the money quote from Shanahan in this conversation: "Goalies should feel safe in their crease." For those wondering why Tootoo's hit warranted two games while Milan Lucic, who ran into Miller a month ago, resulting in a concussion and this high state of awareness, that's a key difference even if the rulebook clearly states that goalies aren't free to be hit no matter if they are in the crease or not.

Also coming into play was the fact that before the collision, Tootoo looks up and spots Miller before running into him. I don't see how that should have much of an impact, by the time he actually looks at Miller, there is nowhere left for Tootoo to go.

If anything, and Shanahan concedes as much, it looks like Tootoo actually tries to leap over Miller and avoid the hit. Bobby Orr he is not. Still, it didn't save Tootoo completely. The fact that he was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit was also a factor for Shanahan, perhaps reducing the suspension since he was punished in-game as well.

The environment around this topic is toxic right now, particularly around Ryan Miller and the Sabres. As some have joked, Tootoo was suspended two games for Lucic's hit on Miller. But if there was no punishment for Tootoo here, there would have been a near riot among the Sabres faithful.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff saw this as an opportunity for the league.

"I hope to see a strong message," Ruff said following practice on Monday. "Really, it’s just time. I just hope they do the right thing with it.

"I understand with a phone hearing the max you’re going to get is [a five-game suspension]. In my eyes, is that a big message? It’s OK. I look at the NFL and I look at the Detroit Lion [Ndamukong Suh] that got two games for a 6-inch kick. He got kicked out of the game, and then that amounted to one-eighth of our season. That’s a 10-game suspension. I think they do it right. The message there is we’re not putting up with this stuff. I think we need a strong message. Is five strong enough? I don’t know."

How about two, coach?

Even with Tootoo getting a boot, I don't think Ruff will be overly pleased. It was him, you might remember, that said the lack of suspension on Lucic meant it was open season to run goaltenders. That's why he was hoping for a clear message. Well that and his starting goaltender was run over twice in two games.

I know the folks in Buffalo won't agree, but I think it's a pretty good scenario of the punishment fitting the crime here, particularly with no injury resulting on the play. But it will cause every hit to be scrutinized, just like a lot of other hits around the league.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 11:05 am

Ryan Miller gets run over in return

By: Adam Gretz

The last time Ryan Miller was in the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres he ventured out of his crease to play a loose puck and ended up on the train tracks that were carrying the Milan Lucic Express. The result, as you may already know by now, was a huge collision that fired up the debate about how much protection goalies get, while Miller missed nearly a month of action.

He returned to the lineup on Saturday night in Nashville in a game the Sabres won 3-2, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced. Not a bad night, other than the fact he was on the receiving end of yet another big-time hit, this time as he was standing in his crease attempting to make a save.

With less than five miutes to play in yhe second period Miller was crushed by Predators forward Jordin Tootoo on a play that resulted in Tootoo receiving a five-minute major for charging, as well as a game misconduct.

Here's the video, via On The Forecheck:

According to Predators beat writer Joshua Cooper, Tootoo said after the game that he anticipates having a disciplinary hearing with the league as a result of the hit. Assuming that happens, it will be interesting to see the result.

Remember, when Lucic hit Miller outside of the crease back in November (goalies out of the crease are not "fair game" according to NHL rules) he recieved a two-minute minor penalty during the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline, which drew plenty of criticism, especially from Miller and the Sabres.

The fear was that the lack of discipline would make it "open season" on goalies, and in the Sabres very next game Miller's backup, Jhonas Enroth, was inteferred with.

Previously At Eye On Hockey

Ryan Miller hit by Milan Lucic
No suspension for Lucic
Sabres Respond

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 1, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 5:09 pm

Barry Trotz: 'Our games started being optional'

trotz1By: Adam Gretz

The Nashville Predators are fighting through a rough stretch right now, having lost five of their past six games and head into Vancouver on Thursday night to play the suddenly streaking Canucks, winners of five straight and eight of their past 10. Two trains that are, for the time being, headed in completely opposite directions.

Barry Trotz, the only coach the Predators have ever known, sounds as if he's starting to become a bit frustrated with his team's work ethic and had some strong words on Thursday afternoon for why their team skates are no longer optional.

Said Trotz, via Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province, “Our skates aren't optional anymore because our games started being optional.”

Under his watch the Predators have always been a team that's been praised for their work ethic, discipline and defensive structure. Through their first 24 games this season they've been out-shot 18 times and are giving up over 32 shots per game, the third-worst mark in the NHL, better than only Dallas and Phoenix. An obvious drop from recent years when the Predators have usually finished the season in the top-half of the league in terms of shots allowed.

The additional shots and chances are obvously creating more work for goaltender Pekka Rinne. A lot more, actually. Especially when you add in the fact he's started nearly every game the Predators have played this year.

The team has been riding Rinne all season and relying on him more than any other goaltending in the NHL. He's started 22 of the team's 24 games, and if is asked to continue at this pace would face one of the heaviest workloads of any goaltender over the past three decades.

He's been great, and they've needed him to be, because the offense has struggled, entering Thursday's game 18th in the NHL in goals-per-game, and having scored just 10 goals over the past six games.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:32 pm

Jordin Tootoo: bloodiest interview of the season

By: Adam Gretz

Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators doesn't have the best reputation in the NHL when it comes to embellishing plays (things like this on Monday night don't really help), and he doesn't always get the benefit of the doubt, even when he probably should.

During the first period of Nashville's game in Calgary on Tuesday night, the forward took a high stick in the face from Flames defenseman Scott Hannan.

After the period when Tootoo was speaking with analyst -- and former NHL coach -- Terry Crisp on the between periods interview, his nose started to bleed, presumably a result of the impact from Hannan's stick, forcing the interview to be cut short.

Unless he shoved a couple of blood capsules up his nose before going on camera, you can't really fake that one.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:25 pm

Report: Ducks are shopping Bobby Ryan

By Brian Stubits

Two nights ago, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet said he was hearing rumblings out of Washington that Bruce Boudreau would be fired in 24-48 hours. Fast forward 12 hours and the deed was done.

On Monday night, Kypreos said he was hearing rumblings out of Anaheim that the Ducks are shopping young forward Bobby Ryan. Might be time to pack your bags, Bobby.

There is no team struggling worse than the Ducks right now, and that includes the New York Islanders. They have lost seven consecutive games, 13 of 14 and 16 of their last 18 games. The word atrocious comes to mind.

From the news conference of Capitals GM George McPhee on the firing of Boudreau on Monday, there was a line he used to describe that situation which applies equally, if not more so to the Ducks.

"This wasn’t a slump," McPhee said. "You can ride out slumps."

At this point, it looks like a lot more than a slump in Anaheim too. That's why something has to be done, something big. Trading Ryan would qualify as something big.

In Ryan, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne, the Ducks have about as powerful of a top four scoring set as you can name in hockey, truly. But what they don't have is a lot of depth. Or a shutdown defenseman. In order to get those holes filled, especially the defenseman part, they need a pretty big bargaining chip.

It makes Ryan even more of a target when his slow start to this season is considered. Through 23 games, the 24-year-old American has seven goals and four assists. That puts him on pace for just about 40 points and we're a quarter of the way through the season. His lowest point-total (excluding his 23-game rookie season) was 57 ... and he did that in just 64 games. In each of his three "full" seasons, Ryan has had at least 31 goals. He's already a proven scorer who would be attractive to every single team in the NHL.

For some evidence, here's a trade proposal from Nashville Predators blog Section 303, suggesting the Preds offer Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Teemu Laakso and a first-round draft pick. I like the offer, it's at least much more realistic than most fan proposals that normally look like "Sean Avery and a conditional pick ... come on, why wouldn't they take that?"

One person that you can almost guarantee is salivating at the idea and has likely already put a call in to Ducks GM Bob Murray, is former Ducks GM and current Maple Leafs boss Brian Burke. He obviously knows Ryan since he drafted him, he has already worked some deals with the Ducks, snagging Joffrey Lupul, and it appears he has a strong affinity for American players.

The moral of the story? Whether the rumor that Ryan is being actively shopped is true or not, it's about time the Ducks do something to shake things up.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 9:27 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 10:52 pm

Eaves hit in ear with shot, leaves on stretcher

By: Adam Gretz

Blocking shots is a valuable, but extremely dangerous part of hockey, as Patrick Eaves found out on Saturday night (as you can see in the above video).

Late the third period of the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, Eaves went down to block a shot by Nashville's Roman Josi when the puck came up and struck him in the right ear.

It was a scary situation as Eaves remained on the ice for some time. He was eventually able to get himself up, briefly, and was taken off on a stretcher.

In nine games this season Eaves has yet to score a goal and recorded one assist. He has 70 goals in 370 career NHL games.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com