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Your #1 Source for Nashville Predators News, Updates, and Opinions – A Nashville Predators Blog

In the Corners

   with Brandon Felder

Feb 2, 2015 - Adversity Arrives, Predators Still Regain #1 League Ranking

All opinions expressed below are just that, opinions of a long-ago Predators blogger who had his time covering the team. They in no way reflect the thoughts or view of The Predatorial or its’ staff. Brandon Felder has a unique perspective that can be viewed as negative, although he prefers it to be called realistic. You can respond to said views in the comments below or reach him personally on Twitter via @brandon_felder

The Nashville Predators knew any stretch of time this season without Pekka Rinne would be a time of adversity. We are seeing that play out this past week. The good news is that as Pekka did travel with the team and has begun practicing it appears his return is imminent. What happened in the mean time?Some battles for sure.

Four games on the week and things started out well enough. Tuesday the All-Stars had returned and regular season hockey was back. The Colorado Avalanche presented an interesting challenge as they set out to test the Preds physicality and block shots. It was a fairly even game that the Preds quickly took a lead just :32 seconds into the 3rd period with a goal from All-Star forward Filip Forsberg. Just when it looked the Preds would close the game out in regulation the D shifted too hard to one side allowing a back door goal to tie with only :36 seconds left. Craig Smith was the OT hero after a beautiful saucer pass from Mike Ribeiro sprung him for the breakaway chance and 4-3 win.

After that game is when things began to get even tougher. Thursday night was the final matchup with St. Louis in the regular season. Every contest between these two teams has been entertaining and this one lived up to that as well. What felt like a playoff game went back and forth all night. It took power play and shorthanded goals to keep things close. The Blues led 4-3 late in the 3rd period until Mike Fisher put a puck out in front for James Neal. He fired a quick one-timer into the high corner of the net and tied the game with one of his #HeroicNealGoals. The OT proved scoreless so in the shootout it was the Blues and American shootout Hero T.J. Oshie who led the way for the 2nd point.

Quickly it was off to the Mile High City to meet the Avs yet again. This time Colorado had Nashville’s number. A 3-0 loss in which the Preds just played sloppy, uninspired, and frankly didn’t give Marek Mazanec a good enough effort in front of him. It was evident the compete level wouldn’t be good enough so the Preds would need a Saturday to reset.

The final game of the week was a rare Sunday afternoon affair. This one took place in Pittsburgh and the main storyline heading in was James Neal returning to the home of the Penguins for the first time since his trade. Things got off to a rather fast Nashville start with goals from Roman Josi and Gabriel Bourque. Eric Nystrom and Mike Fisher only made things better as the Preds returned the Penguins the “embarrassing home loss” favor from earlier this season winning 4-0.

A 5 point week but the shutout and shootout losses felt like the most adversity this team has faced all season. That means they are having a great season.

Felder’s Fickle FiveRespond or react using the #PredsItC5

1. Adjusting to the New Strategy to beat Nashville - One thing I noticed this week is Colorado may have found a way to get the Preds off their game. They turned up the physicality and tried to limit possession in doing so. It seemed effective. So far this year the Preds aren’t known to be a team that’s out to hit you. Colorado may have exploited that Friday night and I think the Preds noticed it. Sunday they suddenly were hitting more in a game then I can remember this season. 37 hits in the game! That brought them up to 982 on the season which is 24th in the NHL. Going forward I’m curious to see how many teams try this strategy.

2. Recovering from a Shutout - This team knows how to bounce back. That’s a character trait you hope your team has. We know they’ve rarely lost 2 in a row. This is now the 3rd time they’ve come back from a shutout and secured a win. Being able to quickly forget a previous game and get back to what works is a key mentality to stay in a playoff series no matter what.

3. Keeping Your Identity - This team is all about the process that Peter Laviolette has set forth. As the months have rolled on they have maintained that identity. As we get into the late season more and more teams are going to try and crack the process and get the Preds away from their game that is so successful. We saw some of that this week and it’s something Laviolette will have to coach against upcoming.

4. Finding Ways to Get Points - The most impressive part of this stretch without Pekka Rinne has been the way this team finds ways to get points even in games they seem they should lose. Look at the St. Louis game this past week as an example. This has helped them maintain their position in the standings, aka the top of the Central Division. 70 points on February 1st? Yeah, we’ll take that.

5. The Meat Month is Here - This month could be the most critical one until playoffs. 15 total games, 10 of which are at Bridgestone Arena. The opportunity that is in front of them comes in the form of Eastern Conference opponents. 10 games against the East and these are points that can be used to extend some point leads over the Western foes. This month to me is all about positioning for the post-season. It’s a month to pad your points and get sharper for the final Divisional battles ahead in March.


3 Stars of the Week:

1. Roman Josi – 2 goals, 3 assists, +5, and 12 shots on goal.

2. Mike Fisher – 3 goals, 1 assist, +0 and 9 shots on goal.

3. Filip Forsberg – 2 goals, 2 assists, +1, and 9 shots on goal.


Goalie Grade

Carter Hutton – B+ – Hutton ended the week on a confidence building note with his 21 save shutout. Prior to that he was pretty good in the other games. On the week he stopped 73 of 80 shots against.

Marek Mazanec – B – Mazanec had the tough assignment of getting in net on the Colorado road game. The team didn’t really play that well in front of him. 25 stops on 37 shots against. Really a solid effort that’s squandered in my opinion.


Perilous Prediction – The prediction last week was 3 PP goals or more for the week. They registered exactly 3 PP goals. Love that but my favorite moment of the week was when late in the 3rd period of the STL game I tweeted, “We need a heroic Neal goal here.” 10 seconds later that #HeroicNealGoals occurred. It’s worth seeing the mentions that tweet received. I will likely never have a greater moment on Twitter.

This week my Perilous Predicition is Pekka Rinne will register a shutout in a game this week.

Join in with your own Perilous Prediction by using the #PredsItCPP



The Week Ahead –  In my #PredsItCWAP I went with a 1-1-2 predicted record for a 4 point week. The Preds went 2-1-1 for a 5 point week and maintained their Central Division lead.

The week ahead features 4 games, 3 of which will be against Eastern Conference teams.

Tuesday is the first game of a 3 game home stretch. The maligned Toronto Maple Leafs will be visiting. They are the anti-Atlanta Hawks of January. The Leads last win occurred on Jan 9th, some 10 games ago. The Preds will be looking to maintain their home ice edge and deliver a 10th consecutive loss to Toronto. It seems unlikely they will score as many goals this time as the last one when these two teams played. This game will be at 7 PM CST and there is a hope that Pekka Rinne will make his return that night.

The next home game is the only Western Conference matchups the week and features one of the teams challenging for the President’s trophy: the Anaheim Ducks. Through 50 games the Ducks had a league leading 70 points. This is going to be a fun battle and is the 2nd of 3 games between these clubs this season. Last time it took a shootout to solve things in CA. A 7 PM CST start that will feature a great measuring stick of who really is the best in the West.

Saturday is the last home game of the week with the New York Rangers visiting Music City. For a team that was recently in the Stanley Cup Finals the Rangers seem a touch overlooked this year. Perhaps the Islanders are to blame. Either way the Rangers have been pretty good this year and hold a playoff spot at the time of writing. The Rangers are a very good road team against Western Conference teams. They are 9-2-3 overall vs the West but an impressive 7-1 on the road vs the West. Could be an interesting decision for Laviolette as to which goalie starts here for the 2 PM CST start. Afternoon hockey in Nashville. Don’t miss that start time local Nashville fans.

Finally it’s another Sunday game this time in Florida. The Panthers have had a small resurgence with Roberto Luongo in net but they remain chasing a playoff spot in the East. This is another 2 PM afternoon game.

My #PredsItCWAP is the Preds go 2-1-1 for a 5 point week.

Feel free to add your own prediction for the week at #PredsItCWAP.


Enjoy all this hockey in the month even more by engaging in the conversations on Twitter.

Follow me @brandon_felder and don’t be shy to join in the fun. Remember to join in on the year long conversation using the #PredsItC.

Till the next time, take care.

To get in the conversation, use the Twitter hashtag #PredsItC