Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Predators Enter Critical Phase in Their Schedule

The Nashville Predators finished the first month of the young NHL season about where most would have predicted at the start of the season. However, no one could have foreseen the roller-coaster ride that got them to where they stand today.

After starting the season on a high note with a road win over Dallas and then a win over this year’s surprise team, the Colorado Avalanche, things began to unravel quickly.

Anemic offensive production and a defense that was prone to periodic meltdowns led quickly to six losses in a row, leaving the Predators in a 2-5-1 hole that many felt had doomed them for the season.

After averaging 1.4 goals a game and having a streak of 30 power play attempts with nothing to show for it, a very unexpected thing happened one night in Ottawa. Out of the blue, the Predators scored six goals in route to an overtime victory over the Senators and even picked up two power play goals in the contest.

The next game, two days later, appeared to be a return to mediocrity as they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0, in spite of the defense showing signs of improvement.

The following week, the Predators had a complete turnaround, winning three games in a row, and appeared to have righted many of the wrongs that haunted them during the earlier losses.

Goalkeeper Pekka Rinne won all three contests and was given the NHL second star of the week award on Monday.

About his improved play Rinne said, "The last week or so, I've been feeling a little better." Further he said, "Every time you don't let in goals, it's going to build up your confidence. That's what I needed now. It's been a tough start for me, and for now things look a little better for me and the team."

Heading into November with a 6-6-1 record, the Predators are poised to make progress in the Western Conference standings during the month of November.

Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo who have all missed considerable time due to injuries are expected to return this week. As they return, Shea Weber (lower body) and rookie Colin Wilson (groin) will be sidelined for a few games.

The Predators are headed west in the annual early November road trip, made necessary by the CMA awards taking over the Sommet Center for an extended period. The Predators will play Anaheim on Thursday, Los Angeles on Saturday and San Jose and St. Louis next week before returning home.

Their next game at the Sommet Center will be on November 14 and will begin a run where they play 12 of the next 15 games at home.

The upcoming road trip and the next home-heavy portion of the schedule will play a large part in deciding if the Predators will be in position to make a run for the playoffs in the second half of the season.

In Preds Nation...

Bryan Mullen has a story on the turn around of Pekka Rinne and the reaggravation of Colin Wilson's groin. He also reports on Tuesday's practice and the line combos used.

More bad news from @NHLPredsInsider: Wilson reaggrevates injury, won't make trip tomorrow... Also, happy birthday Pekka Rinne and congrats on being name 2nd Star of the Week. There was also an indication that J P Dumont left practice early with a minor problem.

From @Short_Shifts: Our source indicates Andreas Thuresson will be recalled to Nashville They also have a complete look at the Chicago Wolves who the Ads play tonight. Chris Chelios now plays for Chicago so I'm sure there will be plenty of cat-calls from the stands.

Forechecker hands out a few more grades, this time to the Pred's Defense.

Mark Willoughby from The View From 111 will make his debut tonight on Hockey Buzz Radio at 6 p.m. on WNSR.

We will have a look at tomorrow night's Pred-Ducks game in the morning but we will note that their struggles continue as they lost to Pittsburgh 4-3 last night.

The Preds ECHL affiliate, Cincinnati Cyclones are off to a 4-2 start. Cycwords has the story.

Around the NHL...

Ryan at the RedLightDistrict is introducing this year's debut of his own playoff formula with an explanation of how it works. Check it out.

As we close out the decade, Puck Daddy is running a series of best/worst of the decade. Here is his list of the Ten Best Teams of the Decade. This is sure to cause debate.

Michael Del Zotto was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for October.

Yahoo Sports is looking for a temporary Full-Time Blogger for the Winter Olympics. Any Takers?

Leave it to the Globe and Mail to highlight the all time low attendance of 5855 at the Yotes-Kings game on the day that he Coyotes made it out of bankruptcy. The new owners will have their work cut out for them but we have seen a team make a comeback before in Nashville.

From @Sean_Leahy USA Hockey to announce Olympic roster on Jan. 1 during NBC's Winter Classic broadcast Great Idea! It will help the NHL ratings as well as give USA Hockey more exposure. I wonder if anyone can keep it from being leaked before then.

Jim Diamond looks at the Team USA defensive prospects.

The Hockey Writes take a shot at listing the top 20 fastest skaters in the NHL. More room for debate.

B D Gallof writes about the political landscape of Long Island on election day for the Huffington Post. It appears the results from yesterday's election will negatively impact the Lighthouse Project's future viability as lead political proponent and lease signer Ton Suozzi appears to have lost his re-election bid. Correction: @LetThereBeLH reports He's up by 400 votes right now, 12,000 absentee ballots sent out....this is going to a recount, therefore this may take a recount.

Dobber hockey has a complete look at every Western Conference goalie from a fantasy standpoint.

Allan Bass looks at the results of the last NHL CBA at Hockey 54.

Another day, another story about the NHL and Twitter lists.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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