Archive for March, 2012
By Seth Lake
In what was likely a meeting between two teams facing each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning in a little over a week from now, the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings each came into Friday night’s meeting at Joe Louis Arena coming off of losses to divisional opponents. Both teams were looking to right the ship as they battle for the fourth seed in the Western Conference and the home-ice advantage that comes with it.
After exchanging blows throughout the first half of the contest, the Predators got on the board first with Gabriel Bourque’s 6th goal of the season midway through the second period and used the strength of goaltender Pekka Rinne and the penalty kill to fly out to a 3-0 lead early in the third period. The Wings got on the board late, but after a couple of late saves by Rinne, Predators captain Shea Weber buried his 17th goal of the season into an empty-net from center ice to seal the victory by a 4-1 final, leap-frogging the Predators over the Red Wings into fourth place in the Western Conference and securing the team’s 500th win in franchise history.
- Predators pounce first – Despite Detroit controlling play for most of the first half of the second period, the Predators got on the board first on a play beginning with a long stretch pass out of the defensive zone from Hal Gill to Gabriel Bourque standing just outside the Detroit blue line. Bourque quickly one-touched the puck over to Jordin Tootoo supporting through the middle of the ice with speed and Tootoo skated the puck in and around the Detroit end zone before finally finding Bourque standing in a quiet area in the high slot. Without wasting any time, Bourque snapped a shot on goal through using the screen of Paul Gaustad at the front of the net to beat Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to take the 1-0 lead. The importance of scoring the first goal cannot be underscored enough in terms of seizing momentum and allowing the Predators to force their style of hockey onto their opponent. When scoring the first goal of the game, the Predators are now 32-3-4 this season. (more…)
Chicago Blackhawks 43-26-9
Nashville Predators 45-25-8
The Nashville Predators reclaimed fourth spot in the Western Conference standings with their 4-1 win over Detroit on Friday night. Now, just shy of 24 hours later, the Predators will try to put some distance between themselves and their Central Division rivals when they host sixth place Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena.
The Blackhawks are only three points behind the Predators in the standings, and each team has four games remaining, including Saturday night’s tilt. Tonight’s game will be the second time this week the Predators play the Blackhawks on the back end of back-to-back contests. On Sunday, Nashville beat the Blackhawks 6-1 at the United Center.
Chicago remains without Norris Trophy winning defenseman Duncan Keith who will be serving the fourth game of a five-game suspension he received for an elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Sedin is out of the Canucks lineup with a concussion, but the team hopes to have him back by the start of the playoffs.
The Nashville Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings by a 4-1 score on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. With the win, the Predators move into fourth spot in the Western Conference standings with 98 points, one point ahead of Detroit. The victory also gave head coach Barry Trotz his 500th NHL win.
It was a night of milestones for the Predators. Besides Trotz picking up his 500th win as an NHL coach, as well as the franchise, General Manager David Poile became the first GM in the history of the NHL to win 500 games with two different teams.
On the ice, David Legwand assisted on Nashville’s empty-net goal to pick up his 50th point of the season, which includes 18 goals and 32 assists. Legwand has hit that particular milestone for the second time in his career. Furthermore, Alexander Radulov’s goal and assist on the night gave him 100 career NHL points including 46 goals and 54 assists in just 150 games.
Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne had a shutout most of the night, but it was spoiled with just 3:03 remaining in regulation when Jiri Hudler scored the only Red Wings tally. Rinne made 31 saves. Jimmy Howard picks up the loss for Detroit, making 23 saves on the night. With the win, Rinne picks up his League-leading 42nd win of the season. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury has 41 wins on the season.
Nashville Predators 44-25-8
Detroit Red Wings 46-26-5
Only one point separates Nashville from Detroit for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. With 97 points, Detroit has the slight advantage over Nashville’s 96 points. Both clubs have 5 games remaining in the regular season.
This weekend, Nashville plays its final set of back-to-back games when the Predators travel to Detroit on Friday and then host Chicago Saturday at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have a 7-3-0 record on the front end and a 5-5-0 record in the second game of back-to-back contests this season.
Nashville and Detroit have both secured their playoff berths, but who will have home ice advantage is still in the air. A win on Friday is essentially a four-point game where if Detroit wins, they take a three-point lead over Nashville. A win by the Predators will put Nashville one point ahead of Detroit with four games left to play.
Both Detroit and Nashville are coming off of losses to Central Division foes. On Tuesday, Brian Elliott picked up his third consecutive shutout as St. Louis blanked the Predators 3-0. Wednesday, Columbus doubled the Red Wings 4-2.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that Jimmy Howard has been cleared to play and is ready to return to action from a groin injury. Howard may face the Predators on Friday night. Howard hasn’t played since March 19th. A team that was once missing several key players, the Red Wings are nearly healthy and hope to be back to regular form come the start of the playoffs.
On Friday, the Predators and Red Wings will close out their season series at Joe Louis Arena, but are likely first round opponents, though Chicago is only one point behind the Predators, making the battle for fourth place actually a three-team fight.
The Red Wings have a 3-2 season series lead against Nashville. Last time the two teams played, the Predators edged the Red Wings 3-2 in Nashville on March 10th. Andrei Kostitsyn scored two power play goals.
In his career, Predators netminder Pekka Rinne has a 10-5-3 record against Detroit, including a 2.36 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
While the Predators look for fourth place in the standings, head coach Barry Trotz could win his 500th game with a victory over the Red Wings. General Manager David Poile will be looking for his 500th win as well, and will become the first general manager in the history of the NHL to win 500 games with two separate teams. Poile also accomplished the feat as the general manager of the Washington Capitals between 1982-97, picking up 594 wins during that time span.
There are only four other head coaches to win 500 games with the same team, including Al Arbour with the New York Islanders, Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff, Billy Reay with Chicago and Toe Blake in Montreal.
The Predators wrap up the regular season a week from Saturday in Colorado. The NHL playoffs begin April 11th.
On Wednesday night, the Nashville Predators clinched a berth for the Stanley Cup playoffs when San Jose lost 3-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. It is the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Predators will see post-season action.
With two weeks left until the playoffs begin, Nashville’s ticket to the post-season has been punched earlier than most previous times the Predators have secured their trip to the post season. While the seeding has yet to be determined, it is likely Nashville’s first-round opponent will be either the Detroit Red Wings or the Chicago Blackhawks, two teams the Predators have battled with and lost against in post season action. As all three teams fight for the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings, it will be a fight for positioning until the very end of the regular season.
With five games remaining, the Predators have only once before clinched a playoff berth earlier than March 28th. A look through Nashville’s past shows that the Predators traditionally take it down to the wire before securing their playoff berth.
2010-11 – A season ago, it took the Predators until April 8th, with just one game remaining on their schedule before the Nashville clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 win over Columbus at home. Fourth place was Nashville’s to lose and that is exactly what happened as the Predators lost their season finale by a 2-0 score to the St. Louis Blues.
By Seth Lake
Facing their divisional rival for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators had gone 4-0-1 in their first five meetings of the season with the St. Louis Blues. Coming off a 6-1 victory on Sunday night in Chicago, the Predators knew they would face a dramatically different opponent in the Arch City where the Blues have relied all season on tight defense and solid goaltending to guide them to the top of the NHL standings board heading into the final couple weeks of the season.
After surviving the first period, when the Predators outshot the Blues 8-6, but where badly outchanced throughout the period, the Blues turned up the forechecking pressure in the second period leading to a turnover deep in the Nashville end to take the lead after 40 minutes of action.
As they have all year long, the Blues stuck to their system in the third period taking a 2-0 lead off a turnover in the neutral zone, and a 3-0 lead after pinning the Predators deep in their end of the rink after a turnover high in the offensive zone at the other end. In the end, the Predators and Blues each threw 24 shots on goal, but only three entered the net and the Predators found themselves on the wrong side of a shutout for the third time this season falling by a 3-0 final.
- Shots don’t tell the story – While in the end the scoresheet reads 24 shots on goal for each team tonight, if you dig a little deeper you can see very quickly where the Blues controlled the game for much of the night. The NHL doesn’t officially track scoring chances, but they were an unofficial stat heavily favoring the Blues through the first period that leveled out in the middle a bit only to tilt back in St. Louis’ favor as the third period continued. In all, the Predators fired 48 shots towards Brian Elliott’s net tonight, while St. Louis countered with 55 shots towards Pekka Rinne when you count in the attempts blocked and missed shots columns for each team.
All citizens of Smashville are being asked to show their Predators pride this Friday, March 30th. To celebrate the upcoming post season, Predators pride day is an opportunity for fans to get excited for the weeks ahead.
The Predators are asking fans to wear Predators clothing to work, school or just around the house.
To coincide with a call for fans to show their gold and blue, there will also be large cutouts of netminder Pekka Rinne making saves around town.
The Rinne cutouts will show the goaltender sprawled out in his patented save position. Called Pekka-ing, fans are being asked to find the cutouts around Middle Tennessee and to take pictures of themselves Pekka-ing with the cutout. Then, send in your photo to the Predators social media sites either on Facebook or Twitter.
Of course, if you cannot find a cutout of Rinne, you can always just take your own picture in your best save position and send it on in to the Predators.
If you are looking for tickets to round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs, you can pick up yours at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, as well as nashvillepredators.com or by calling 615-770-PUCK (7825).
The Nashville Predators are next in action on Friday, Predators Pride Day, when they travel to Detroit to wrap up the season series against the Red Wings.
The Nashville Predators were looking for a single point to clinch their seventh playoff berth in the last eight seasons on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues. The Predators had a 4-0-1 record against the Blues this season heading into the contest.
Nashville’s official ticket to the post-season would have to wait, as Brian Elliott picked up his third consecutive shutout, and ninth of the season.
It was a scoreless first period, but the Blues controlled much of the play despite being out shot 8-6 by the Predators. By the end of the game, shots would be even at 24 from each team.
The Blues carried much of the play and had some early scoring opportunities on their one power play chance. With Alexander Radulov in the box for hooking Kevin Shattenkirk at the 7:00 minute mark of the first period, the Blues registered only 2 shots on goal with the man advantage, but had a number of scoring chances. With Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne sharp in goal, Nashville’s penalty kill, ranked 13th ranked in the League, was able to weather the storm.
It would be St. Louis, however, that opened the scoring when Jason Arnott picked up the puck in the slot and passed it back to Jamie Langenbrunner who was alone in front of Rinne for his sixth goal of the season. Alex Steen also assisted on the play.
The Predators would respond well after the tally picking up the next five shots on goal, but would not be able to find the equalizer before the second period ended.
Nashville, Tenn. (March 27, 2012) – This week fans have a unique opportunity to win country music star Vince Gill’s two first-row seats for the April 3 Nashville Predators home game vs. the Minnesota Wild. Gill has long been one of the Predators’ biggest supporters and he rarely misses a game. On April 3, Vince will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City with Sting, Elton John and others, and he wants a lucky fan to use his Preds tickets!
WHAT: Win Vince Gill’s front-row tickets!
WHEN: Enter before 12 p.m. this Friday, March 30. Winner will be notified soon after.
The game is next Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Section 110, Bridgestone Arena, 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN
NOTES: Visit nashvillepredators.com/
Nashville Predators 44-24-8
St. Louis Blues 47-20-9
The St. Louis Blues are battling the New York Rangers for the top spot in the National Hockey League. While the Blues contend for the President’s Trophy, the Nashville Predators battle for fourth spot in the Western Conference standings and home ice during the first round of the playoffs. The Predators and Blues meet for the final time on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.
The Predators lead the Blues 4-0-1 in the season series. While Nashville maintains a 16-7-0 record in St. Louis since 2005-06, the rivals often play close contests, with 17 of the last 26 meetings between the two clubs decided by one goal.
Goaltender Brian Elliott is coming off of back-to-back shutouts going into Tuesday night’s game against the Predators and has not allowed a goal in 126 minutes, 45 seconds. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch reports that Elliott will be in goal Tuesday night against Nashville. (more…)