Tag: Stanley Cup playoffs

Predators Fall Short…Again.

predators-loseJohn Klingberg probably did us a favor when he scored from the left circle in overtime which ended the season for the Nashville Predators.  He put an end to the most frustrating experience I have had since I moved to Nashville four years ago and became a Predators’ fan.

Yes, the Predators did repeat as Central Division champions – and they will probably raise another banner for that one to go with all the others that have fallen short of a Stanley Cup champion.  I honestly don’t know how they won the division this year.  They certainly didn’t make it easy.  This is the earliest exit for Nashville since losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.

This team once had so much promise but the future is uncertain.  Will the Predators fire Coach Peter Laviolette?  What moves with the team make in the off season?

There is definitely a problem that is hard to put a finger on.  Maybe there are personality issues in the locker room.  Perhaps there is a lack of leadership.  Right now there are a lot of questions about this team.  If they don’t correct it soon, the window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup may be closing.

After watching the Predators this season here are the glaring weaknesses:

Power Play

The Power Play is awful and ended up doing them in against Dallas.  They were 0 for 11 in the series and had a power play in the final two minutes in Game Six.  I know these guys try to set up the play but at one point I counted seven passes before they turned the puck over without even attempting the shot.  Something has to be done about this.  Oddly enough, it seemed during most of the season that our best scoring chances were when we were shorthanded.  The Power Play must be fixed.  The Predators were the first team in 10 years to qualify for the playoffs with the worst power play in the league.  They finished 33-for-269 during the season and did not score a power play goal in the playoffs.

Lapses on Defense

The Predators used to be the best in the National Hockey League (NHL) on defense but they have gotten awful on defense.  Too many defensive zone breakdowns and turnovers have made goalkeepers Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros’ jobs much harder than it needed to be.  While it is easy to blame the goaltenders for goals, they have kept the team competitive.  Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Sabban were once the main guys for defense but they aren’t getting the job done.

Inconsistent Scoring

While Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith are usually pretty reliable in getting the pucks to the net, the others are horribly inconsistent.  This is clearly evident when you get someone like Rocco Grimaldi who comes in and out plays the other “stars” on offense.  Maybe it’s time to trade some of those stars.

So, if I were in charge, what moves would I make?

#1 – Trade P.K. Subban

Yep, I know he’s a fan favorite and all that but his defense has been terrible this season.  I think it’s time for a change.

#2 – Trade Kyle Turris

Turris is one of those offensive stars who was supposed to be the goal scoring machine when he came to Nashville.  Since coming to the Predators in 2017-18, he has only scored 20 goals.  I think he’s expendable.

#3 – Bring up Eeli Tolvanen

There was quite a splash when the Predators signed Tolvanen but what have they done with him?  I don’t think they have given him much of a chance to prove himself.  Bring him up now and insert him into the lineup.

#4 – Restore home ice dominance

Enough with the “someone sucks” chants by the fans.  Bridgestone Arena has not be a good place for the home team to play.  When your team plays better on the road than at home then something is wrong.  Change up the goal songs and get some new energy in the home games.  Make it a feared place for opposing teams to play again.

It’s time to take a break from hockey.

While it has been frustrating to watch the Predators this season, I’m still a fan and always will be.  It’s sad that the season is over but a relief that we can take a deep breath and take a break for the next five months.   Some times it’s easy being a fan because I don’t have to make these difficult decisions and can actually forget about hockey for the summer.

 

 

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Toothless Predators Enter The Playoffs

Toothless PredatorsI will save you the suspense.   No, the Nashville Predators will not win the Stanley Cup.

Don’t judge me.  I am fan of the Predators but after coming within two games of winning the Stanley Cup two summers ago, the Predators have not had that “it” factor since the bitter defeat in Game 6 against Pittsburgh.

It is amazing that the Predators managed to squeak past the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues to win the Central Division title on the last day of the season.  This season has been quite frustrating to watch the Predators.   They started the season on fire by going 9-3 in the first month of the season but injuries, lack of scoring and a season-long disability on the Power Play kept them from being the same team in the past two seasons.

The main problem with the Predators is scoring.  They can’t seem to find consistency with putting the puck into the net.  Aside from Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, the Predators have no scoring punch.  The acquisitions of Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds have not fixed an inept power play either.  The defensive effort has been a glaring weakness at times with defenders giving up the puck in their own end too many times.  I have lost count the times I have heard the play-by-play announcers tell us that P.K. Subban  has turned over the puck.  If not for the awesome goaltending of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, the Predators would have been sunk.

One of the announcers made a painfully obvious statement in one of the games when he said “you can’t score unless you shoot the puck”.   The Predators have driven us crazy with passing way too many times before taking a terrible shot attempt.  I have joked during the season that maybe we can get a banner for that too.   Stop looking for the perfect shot.  Take the shot!

One thing that we have also wondered about the team is if there are some problems in the locker room.  I haven’t heard or read about any rumors of any personality issues in there but there is definitely a problem as the team seems to be out-of-synch.  That “it” factor or “mojo” they have had in the past is definitely not there now.  They need to figure out how to get it back or they could be done early this season.

Tonight they open the playoffs with the Dallas Stars.  The Predators were 2-1-1 against the Stars this season.  If there’s anything we have learned about the Predators this season is that they play better on the road than they do at home and no lead is ever safe.

Oh I want to Predators to prove me wrong and win the Cup but honestly there are better teams in the playoffs with more offensive power than Nashville.  If the Predators can miraculously revive their 29th-ranked power play in the playoffs it might change things.   If they can build on the momentum from their come-from-behind win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the regular season finale, maybe they can regain that “it” thing.

I’m being a realist here and say that I expect the Dallas Stars to eliminate the Predators in six games.

 

National Anthem, Barry Trotz and Bird Scooters

trotzOkay, so let me get this straight, the National Football League (NFL) will have a new policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field for the national anthem but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer?  Yeah, that’s not a fix.  Not to sound anti-patriotic here but do we really need to have the national anthem before sporting events anymore?  This whole thing started back in the World War days to rally the country in support of our troops and the war effort.  Honestly unless you are patriotic or a veteran, not many people really care about the national anthem.  People are on their cell phones, talking or anything but being rallied so we’re going to punish players for kneeling?  The fix is to not even have the national anthem performed at sporting events.

Barry Trotz is the head coach for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL).  Last night he led his team to a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 to win the Eastern Conference final and advance to the Stanley Cup final against the Vegas Golden Knights.  This will be the second appearance for the Capitals in a Stanley Cup final in their 44-year history.  Trotz is in his fourth season as head coach for the Capitals.  Here’s the interesting part to this story – he was the head coach for the Nashville Predators for 15 years until he was replaced by Peter Laviolette.  Laviolette took the Predators to the Stanley Cup last year.  Wouldn’t it be a kick in the gut if Trotz won the Cup with the Capitals?

Downtown Nashville has been invaded by bird – scooters.  This is a new form of transportation downtown where you can rent a scooter and leave it at random locations.  Yes, add this to the pedal taverns, golf carts, bicycles, cars and pedestrians.  There has been controversy over these scooters not being safe and riders not using the appropriate lanes.  They aren’t supposed to ride on sidewalks or the roads unless they are in the bike lane.  People ignore the rules.  No surprise there.  In fact, yesterday I saw two bird scooter riders nearly get smashed because they were going the wrong way and crossing in front of oncoming traffic to the sidewalk.  These folks already can’t drive all these other vehicles downtown and now we have to deal with these bird scooters?

Why is it when you get on an elevator and press the button to go to the top floor that some folks feel the need to comment like “Oh, going to the penthouse huh?” or “All the way to the top I see?”   What’s up with that?  These aren’t people I know either.  Random strangers.  What compels people to comment?  I usually ignore the comment or give one of my fake laughs (as if were the first time I have heard this).  One day I responded that that is where the psych ward is located and I’m going back to my room.

Jim Bakker is claiming that Yellowstone is going to erupt into a Super Volcano which will devastate America.  Yes, I’m talking about THAT Jim Bakker.  But, not to worry, you can order emergency food buckets he is selling on his website to survive it.  My fav would be the Italian Variety Bucket for $100.  Included in the bucket are all of the ingredients you need to prepare Pizza, Italiano Marinara, Fettuccine Alfredo, Breadsticks and Macaroni and Cheese. These delicious meals are easy to prepare and, with an extended shelf life, offer your family a convenient way to enjoy a hot comforting meal during an emergency or to fulfill your Italian food cravings whenever they may arise.  So, there’s a super volcano erupting, let’s make a pizza!

Trump has cancelled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  Maybe I’m the only one but I’ve been highly suspicious of this whole summit to begin with and the sudden change in Kim Jong Un.  It wasn’t long ago that he was test launching missiles and name calling.  I’m not so sure we know the real story about what’s going on here.

I was dropping off a package at UPS last week at the Music City Center and saw that they were having the American Colon/Rectal Surgeons Convention there.  Talking about awkward.  I was only passing through but when I got on the escalator there was a banner which covered the entire side of the escalator advertising the “new” triple staple device.   Yeah, I got out of there real fast.

 

 

Smashed-ville

After 95 games the season is over. Nashville’s Game 7 loss to the Winnipeg Jets ended a season of high expectations for the Predators who came within two games last year of winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate prize.

Yes, I know they won the President’s Trophy for having the best regular season in the NHL this season but you aren’t going to see anyone skating around with that one in the air or chanting that “We’re Regular Season Champs”. Do we at least get a plate or a saucer since we didn’t win the Cup?

Bottom line. This really stinks. I won’t lie about it.

Anyone that knows me knows I am not a bandwagon fan. Heck, I have been an Atlanta Falcons’ fan forever. That alone should tell you something about my allegiance to my teams and my familiarity with being disappointed.

To me, the season means nothing without the championship. It really sticks me that the Predators got the home ice advantage and blew it. It was nothing special playing at home. That just boggles my mind. I don’t care what celebrity you ushered in their to sing the National Anthem or how many of those stupid catfish fans throw on the ice to redneck things up.

There is a lot of blame to go around for this colossal collapse to the expectations for this team.

Pekka Rinne said that he let the whole team down. I’m not going to sugar coat it – he’s right. But he’s not the only one. The defense had breakdowns at the most crucial times throughout the season. P.K. Subban was another source of frustration. Mike Fisher came out of retirement for what? Kyle Turris never turned into the offensive giant he had been in Ottawa. A total bust for getting pucks in the net. And what happened with Kevin Fiala? Sure, he got the overtime game winner in the only home win in the series but we needed him to be a goal scorer which he really didn’t become.

Yes, I have stewed on this for the past two days.

Something needs to be done about the goalkeeping. I know everyone loves Rinne and I want him to do well too but it’s time to change. Mike Fisher should go back to retirement. Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala should be traded. Eelin Tolvanen needs to be in the lineup. I really don’t know what to do with P.K. Subban.

The Predators won’t win the Cup with this team. I watched every game and I’m telling you that they never made it easy. It is bad when your team has a 3-0 lead and you know it won’t be enough.

Maybe at some point I will appreciate this past season. It is going to take me a while. I can tell you that I’m nowhere close yet.

Yes I’m mad and pissed off about it.

I know those fans who like to live in La-La Land and refuse to listen to anything negative about their team. I’m sorry to to bring them back into reality but there is a lot of negative here to deal with but that doesn’t mean I won’t “Stand with Us” or any of that other rah rah stuff.

I don’t care who wins the Cup now. I’m not one of those fans who roots for the team that eliminated us because of some twisted allegiance in thinking that because the Winnipeg Jets beat us that if they win the Cup it will mean they had to beat us to do it. That’s stupid. I want Winnipeg to get blown away. I want them to feel the pain of getting so close and not win it.

My wife made some very sharp observations about the Predators in this years’ playoffs. She didn’t think they were trying and that something was just off with them. I think she was right. The Predators weren’t having fun like they were last year when no one expected them to do what they did. They were not able to handle the weight of the expectations.

This one hurt. It’s going to take me a while to recover. Yeah, I know it’s just sports but I can’t convince the bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach right now.

I am all too familiar with my teams losing. I’m used to it. Remember I said I have been a Falcons fan? The pain of disappointment is nothing new but you never get good at dealing with it.

I am smashed.

Game 7

It will be the end of the road for someone tonight. It is the most anticipated game of a playoff series when teams reach the seventh and deciding game of a series. For fans, we are nervous. We feel it in our stomachs. We know it could end in one final game.

The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets have battled to the seventh game of their Western Conference Semifinal series. It won’t go down as a classic. For the most part it has seemed like an uphill struggle for the Predators. They sure haven’t made it easy. Even with a four-goal lead with four minutes left in Game 6 I still could not relax. That’s just how explosive the Jets can be. They proved that in Game 3 when they scored three goals in two minutes to erase a 3-0 Predators’ lead.

The expectations are that the Predators have the depth and experience to win it. Most are giving the edge to Nashville in this game and many are already talking about Vegas.  If the local morning news show was telling us when Game 1 of the Western Conference finals would start against Vegas.

Not so fast my friend. Winnipeg isn’t going to go away quietly. In the Stanley Cup playoffs you assume nothing.

The Predators can be beaten at home and have been beaten twice in this series – badly. So much for the home ice advantage right? Well, these Game 7s are why teams want to have home ice advantage. Unfortunately it seems out so-called “7th man” has not given us the advantage as they did during last season’s run.

As we have seen in this series, no game has been alike. Each game has been a different story. Will Pekka Rinne be the brick wall he was in Game 6 or will he lose his focus as he has in other games in the series? Will the Predators clamp down on defense like they did in Games 4 and 6 or will they have breakdowns that we have seen too many times this season?

I can’t shake the image of Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. No, not the image that has been circulated which compares him to a goat but the one of the goal scorer with a score to settle. Could it come down to him and a shot from the point?

I’m not ready for this season to end but Winnipeg’s explosive offense scares me. Even with NBC’s Jeremy Roenick (gagging here) dressing up like a Jets’ they weren’t able to close the deal at home on Monday Night. I think the Jets will take it away from us in Game 7.

Previous Game 7s:

  • Nashville Predators
    • April 27, 2016 – Nashville 2, Anaheim 1
    • May 12, 2016 – San Jose 5, Nashville 0
  • Winnipeg Jets
    • None as the current franchise

Winnipeg has outscored Nashville 22-18 in the series.

I saw on the news this morning that Mike Fisher did not practice with the team and probably will not play in the game.  No one is saying what happened and why he left Game 6.  Hopefully someone else will step up and get the job done.

Game 7s are tough.  In the years I have watched the Stanley Cup playoffs and watched the seventh game of a series, most have been pretty close and several have even gone to overtime.  Yes, load up on the Xanax if that happens tonight.

My pick?  I don’t think overtime will be needed.  I think Winnipeg will be strong and win 4-2.

 

Predators’ Win, $100-Million Dollar Man, and more…

No Friday Flashback post today.  Instead I have a few sports-related rants and observations to share with you.  Yes,  I have a blog and I intend to use it.

The Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets last night to even their Western Conference Semifinal series at 2-2.  Yes, Pekka Rinne was in goal and played better than he has in recent games.  I still would have started Juuse Saros and I’m not so sure I can be very confident about Rinne even with last night’s win.  I also applaud the move to put Scott Hartnell in the game.  He’s a veteran player and definitely added the physicality to counter Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien.  I really was tired of hearing the endless comments from NBC’s AJ about how big and strong Byfuglien is.  I’m also glad that Patrik Laine FINALLY scored a goal so now the NBC commentators will shut up about it.  Enough already about how many games he had gone without scoring.  The young, goat-bearded wonder has scored now, let’s move on.

The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with quarterback Matt Ryan on a five-year, $150 million contract with $100 million guaranteed.  Are you kidding me?  Why?  Yeah, I know they call him “Matty Ice” (which is detest) but has he won any Super Bowls?  I won’t deny that Ryan is good but I wouldn’t necessary say his consistent.  Speaking of highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, when I asked Siri about it you won’t believe the top five:  Kirk Cousins (seriously??), Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Drew Brees.  What are owners and general managers paying all this money for?

Nashville’s Metro Council is set to vote on proposal to move our Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium which was originally supposed to be built on the Fairgrounds near downtown.   There is some consternation about the location.  A Nashville MLS spokesman fears that failure to support the site will cost Nashville its proposed MLS expansion which was awarded in December.  It’s a bit crazy to me that they can do this much work for a soccer stadium but they can’t come up with a plan to fix the traffic mess.  They will eventually approve and build a soccer stadium but it will be a mess trying to get there.

President Trump is going to appoint Bill Belichick to his sports council.  Yet another reason to dislike both.  Was deflate-gate not enough?

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart got a new 7-year , $49 million dollar deal from Georgia.  I’m a bit on the fence about this one.  At least Smart got the Bulldogs to the National Championship game right?  The Southeastern Conference is brutal.  It will be very difficult to repeat the success from last season.  Smart becomes the fifth highest paid coach in the big-time college football division.

Someone recently told me they would like the Kentucky Derby more if not for the horses.  They prefer all the hoopla (i.e. fancy hats, mint juleps) to the actual horse race.  You would hope they treat those awesome animals well and don’t abuse them.  Sorry, I’m not a fan.  It’s a horse race.

Who is Josh Rosen and why is he stirring up junk?  His feelings are hurt that he fell to 10th in the recent NFL draft before the Arizona Cardinals traded up to select him.  Really?  What exactly did he do in college football?  Well, he’s with the Cardinals.  It won’t matter much anyway.

I’m still disappointed that Georgia Running Back Nick Chubb got snagged by the Cleveland Browns.  I was hoping the Tennessee Titans would get him.  Poor Chubb.

In case you’re following the NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors 128-110 last night to take a 2-0 lead in their series.  Toronto is the #1 seed in the East but looks like they are fading fast.  To be honest, I haven’t been interested in the NBA playoffs since Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson retired.

I really wish the Washington Redskins would change their stupid name.

ABC-MNF-1977-13869_1-660x400
Is It Finally Time to “Turn off the lights” on Monday Night Football?

 

The best reason that John Gruden has returned to coaching again is that he won’t be on Monday Night Football anymore.  Have you heard that the new announcers will be Joe Tessitore and former Dallas Cowboys’ Tight End Jason Witten?  I know who Jason Witten is but I have to admit that I had to click on Joe Tessitore’s name link to refresh my memory on who he is.  We have come a LONG way from the days of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.  Frankly (no pun intended), I think they should finally put an end to Monday Night Football.  Turn out the lights and let the party be over.

Yesterday my wife gave me a Savannah Bananas shirt from the Coastal Plains League team.  It will go along with the Macon Bacon shirt I ordered a few weeks ago.  I think the Portland (Oregon) Pickles and Montgomery (Alabama) Biscuits will be next on my list.

Have The Predators Lost Their Mojo?

Predators_JetsIt did not surprise me when the Winnipeg Jets rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to the Nashville Predators last night in Game #3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.  I sat there without any reaction when the Jets had a 3-goal barrage in a short span in the second period.  It was the most goals the Predators have ever allowed so quickly in a postseason game.

The Predators have lost their mojo.

The scary thing is that if they don’t do something to fix it, they could be done by the end of the week.  The team that has that mojo seems to be Winnipeg.  Even their fans seem louder and a lot like the city of Nashville was a year ago when the Predators stunned everyone in the hockey world by making it to the Stanley Cup final.

Defensive breakdowns in their own zone seem to be a common theme to the meltdowns that the Predators have during the course of the game.  I also hate to say this but I think two of the biggest problems are P.K. Subban and Pekka Rinne.  How they are both in the running for league awards are not very evident in the playoffs.  Subban is notoriously for giving up the puck in his own end and trying to do things flashy instead of smart.  He will continuously flick the  puck behind him without knowing if anyone is there or not.  It is very scary when he is handling the puck.  As for Rinne, he is simply not on his game.  When he isn’t, he is very shaky.  I like the guy and I WANT him to do well but at this stage of the playoffs he isn’t very solid.  He is not a brick wall that the Predators desperately need.

Last night was an embarrassment and it should make the team mad and come out with some fire in the next game.  The Predators also have a problem dealing with the size of Winnipeg.  They are getting knocked around.  They need to push back.  One player that could put some physical play in the Predators’ game is Scott Hartnell.  He has surprisingly been left out of the mix.  Hartnell is a veteran who can create opportunities with his physical play.  He needs to be in there.

The Predators need to make some drastic moves to change things up.  I would start Juuse Saros in goal.  How much worse could he make than having Rinne in there already?  Saros has been outstanding and I think these are moments when someone can step up and regain the mojo.  Saros could be part of the answer.

Another change I would make would be to insert Eeli Tolvanen into the lineup.  Yes, I know he hasn’t played much and he’s a young guy but he has played in the Olympics and might surprise us if given an opportunity.  I know it would be a huge gamble but at this point I think you need to see if the magic can be there.  It isn’t as far-fetched as you might think.

The Predators desperately need a win on Thursday night to avoid going down 3-1 in the series coming back home.  At this point, the Predators do not look like the best team in the National Hockey League (NHL).  They aren’t even playing like the Predators’ team from last season’s incredible run in the playoffs.  The Jets are way too explosive and the Predators need to take charge and quick.

I have watched many Stanley Cup playoffs over the years and based on what I see now, the Predators won’t win another game in the series and will play their last game on Saturday.  After winning in double-overtime in Game 2 on Sunday I had predicted the series would go seven games.  After last night, I think it’s over.  I don’t see the same Predators’ team I have watched in the regular season.  It is very frustrating to watch the Predators.  They never make it easy – even when they have a 3-0 lead.

Anything can happen and the Predators’ have bounced back from these meltdown losses in the past but I think this time will be different.  This loss may be a fatal blow to their hopes to win the cup.