As the off season starts to settle in, Predators fans do have some activities to look forward to this summer.
Up first is the NHL Awards show in Vegas on June 22nd. Tickets are on sale now as fans are allowed and encouraged to attend. If you can’t attend in person, the event will be aired live at 6 pm CT on Versus in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
- Signing Weber is the Predators main priority this off season
Jay Mohr is hosting the event for the second year in a row. In a press release issued by the NHL, Mohr stated that he was “really excited to return to Las Vegas for the 2011 NHL Awards in June.” Mohr added that he “had a great time hosting the event last year and look[s] forward to celebrating thos season’s top hockey performances — and the chance to poke a little fun, too.”
Nashville Predators forward Joel Ward believes the Preds have moved forward this past season as a hockey club. But the question is whether Nashville will continue to move forward with or without Ward as a member come next season.
The Predators completed their best ever season when ousted in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals series against Vancouver. A part of the team’s success can be attributed to the consistent play of Ward throughout the Anaheim and Vancouver series. Ward now owns the Predators franchise record for goals and points in a post-season with 7 goals and 13 points.
“We made strides over the year. We all got together and made a pretty good push. We’ll have to go over it in the summer and regroup, just give it an extra little bit over the summer and hopefully have a better result,” he said.
While the product on the ice has made strides, so has the off-ice product. The Predators went from averaging 14 900 fans a game to 16 100 fans. The growth has not been lost on Ward.
As the off season for the Nashville Predators begins so continues speculation about free agency. General Manager David Poile says signing restricted free agent Shea Weber to a new deal is the Predators top priority.
While the Predators and Weber’s agent have met a couple of times during the season, negotiations were put off until Nashville’s season was over.
“They definitely want to wrap it up before July 1,” Poile said about the possibility of having Weber signed to a deal before the July 1st deadline.
If the Predators sign Weber to a new deal or if salary arbitration is sought before July 1st, other teams will not be able to sign the All-Star defenseman to an offer sheet. If the deadline passes and an offer sheet is signed, the Predators can still match it.
Nashville lost another one-goal game as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Predators 2-1 to win the Western Conference semi final series in six games. Every game in the series was decided by a single goal, with the exception of Game 4 when Henrik Sedin scored an empty net tally to give the Canucks a two-goal cushion.
“Before we start,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said as he sat down for his post game press conference, “I just want to congratulate the Vancouver Canucks. I thought they played a great series and obviously the coaching staff did a great job.”
The Predators came out Monday night and dominated the first period of play in shots, outshooting the Canucks 11-7, but at the end of 20 minutes trailed 2-0.
“We played well.” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said about Nashville’s first period. “I think they only had a couple chances in the first period. They executed both of those. Those were playoff goals — lucky bounces and they put it in the back of the net.”
The Nashville Predators have been looking for a playoff hero during the Western Conference semi-finals. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been incredible, keeping the Predators in close one-goal games. But scoring goals against Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo has not been easy.
Mike Fisher, Shea Weber, Jerred Smithson and Jordin Tootoo–heroes in the series against Anaheim–have been all but kept off the scoresheet. Fisher recorded his first point in the series on Saturday night when he set up Joel Ward’s snap shot early in the third period to give the Predators a 3-2 lead.
Predators forwards, and linemates, Ward and David Legwand rose to the challenge Saturday night in Vancouver, each scoring two goals for Nashville.
“Our backs are still against the wall. We have to come home and play hard and get another win at home. You have to fight your way out. We were in a crunch for the last 20-30 games. Hopefully we will be ready to go,” Legwand said about the Game 5 victory and being prepared for Game 6 on Monday.
The Western Conference Semi-Finals series between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks is back in British Columbia for Game 5 on Saturday night, with Nashville on the brink of elimination.
Before game 4, Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien talked about how important it was for the team to even the series.
“We let one slip away there in game three. They took home ice advantage right back from us. If you look at the playoffs, home ice advantage hasn’t been as important as years before,” O’Brien, the former Canuck, said about the overtime loss in game three when the Canucks were awarded two questionable power plays that both resulted in goals for Vancouver, including a power play marker to end the game in overtime.
“It’s no secret, we don’t want to get down 3-1 in this series against a good time like that over there. You don’t want to fall down 3-1 going back to Vancouver for game 5.”
It took 94:51 and double overtime to do it, but the Nashville Predators evened their Western Conference Semi Finals series against the Vancouver Canucks at 1-1. Matt Halischuk scored with 5:09 left in the second overtime.
Halischuk doesn’t take credit for the goal and highlights the play of his linemates. “It was a great play by Spals [Nick Spaling] to get me the puck. Smitty [Jerred Smithson] did a great job of winning the draw and driving to the net. I was able to get a quick shot off and I was lucky it went in,” he said.
“It’s definitely a big boost to split with Vancouver,” Halischuk added.
The Predators acquired Halischuk from New Jersey when Nashville traded Jason Arnott during the off season last summer. Nashville also received the Devils second round pick for the 2011 Entry Draft.
Halischuk spent most of the season in Milwaukee and was first called up for Nashville’s January 16th game against Chicago. Halischuk was sent to Milwaukee after the February 9th game against Colorado and was called back up in time for the February 26th contest against the Dallas Stars. During his 27 regular season games, Halischuk picked up 4 goals and 8 assists.
Barry Trotz was nominated for the Jack Adams Award given to the Coach of the Year in the NHL. It is the second consecutive year Trotz has been nominated for the award. The Nashville Predators walked away with four nominations to the NHL Awards Ceremony held on June 22 in Vegas.
Other nominations received by the Predators include David Poile for the GM of the Year Award, Shea Weber for the Norris Trophy and Pekka Rinne for the Vezina Trophy.
Here is the press release from the Predators organization:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / APRIL 29, 2011
BYLSMA, TROTZ AND VIGNEAULT NAMED JACK ADAMS AWARD FINALISTS
NEW YORK (April 29, 2011) – Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks are the three finalists for the 2010-11 Jack Adams Award, presented to the head coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association submitted ballots for the Jack Adams Award at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2011 NHL Awards from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas. The 2011 NHL Awards will be broadcast by VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Jordin Tootoo’s goal and 4 assists in six games during Nashville’s Western Conference Quarter Finals series against the Anaheim Ducks is considered by many to be a key turning point of the series in the Predators favor.
Tootoo assisted on Jerred Smithson’s overtime winning goal in Game 5, as well as both of Nick Spalings goals in the series clinching Game 6 last Sunday at Bridgestone Arena.
As a result of his slick play-making abilities, Tootoo has been attracting national attention.
Wednesday, Tootoo was named the National Hockey League Players Association’s (NHLPA) player of the week for his role during the quarter finals.
In previewing the upcoming Western Conference semi-final between the Predators and Canucks, Radio Team 1040′s Jeff Paterson points out that in the last month, from March 24th, Tootoo (5 goals, 7 assists) has more points than last year’s Hart Trophy winner, and Canucks captain, Henrik Sedin (1 goal, 11 assists).
With the San Jose Sharks eliminating the Los Angeles Kings Monday night, the Predators await the result of one game that will determine their opponent for the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Chicago forced Vancouver to play a game 7 Tuesday night after Ben Smith, playing in just his 12th NHL game, scored in overtime Sunday night, extending the series to the final game after having been down in the series 3-0 to the Canucks.
If Vancouver wins, the Predators face the Canucks. If Chicago becomes the second team in as many years to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series, the Predators will play the Central Division champion Detroit Red Wings.
Looking at the rosters alone, like the Anaheim series, it will be high-flying offense against the Predators stellar back end lead by Captain, All-Star and now Norris Trophy nominated Shea Weber, U.S. Olympian Ryan Suter and Vezina nominated goaltender Pekka Rinne.