March was a great month. After Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Kings, Barry Trotz said, "We've played seventeen games, the most of any team in the league this month. We're 11-5-1 now and if you had told me that in February, I'd say let's go to April now."
Every year, before the season starts, teams wonders how the squad will come together and what it will look like once they actually hit the ice. What we saw in March, as a whole, should be pleasing to Predator staff and fans alike. After five months of ups and downs, the true character of this year's team finally came together.
Some positives during March, after the return from the Olympic break, include:
- The return of Pekka Rinne's dominance in goal, with him winning three star honors two weeks in a row.
- The emergence of Colin Wilson as a dependable every day player that appears ready to stay in the NHL.
- Positive additions to the team in Dustin Boyd and Denis Grebeshkov, even though the latter has been sidelined with a freak injury.
- Patric Hornqvist becoming the fourth Predator to hit the thirty goal mark.
- David Poile's gamble to keep Dan Ellis and Dan Hamhuis paying dividends.
- Playing seventeen games in a month and going 11-5-1.
- Off the ice, attendance goals were met.
- The return of Jason Arnott's reoccurring head injury and injuries to Marty Erat, Joel Ward, Denis Grebeshkov, and others.
- A downturn in the Predator's ability to score, especially as the month wound down.
- Inconsistent play on special teams with a ying-yang thing going on between the power play and the penalty kill with each having good runs and dry spells at opposite times.
- A trend of third period defensive lapses including giving up two goals in three of the last four games and a complete melt down in San Jose where the Preds gave up six goals.
- A few games where the team failed to show up including games in Detroit and at a Sunday home game with the Canucks.
- Bad quality of ice at the Bridgestone Arena as the weather has warmed.
The Predators will return to the ice on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues to celebrate April Fools Day. Hopefully, the joke will be on the Blues and not the hometown Preds.
Here is our game recap from yesterday with post game interviews.
The Tennessean has the game story, notes column, and John Glennon's post-game ponderings.
Jim Diamond has his the AP story at Preds.com.
David Boclair at The City Paper has their game story.
From the Predator bloggers comes stories from Brandon Felder, See Puck City, Forechecker, Mark Willoughby, and Fan Huddle.
The other side of the King's story comes from the L A Times, Kingscast, FS West, Press Telegram, and the Kings Insider with Rich Hammond.
In Pred Nation...
Ryan at the RLD has an addition to the "History will be Made" series, with Radulov slamming Arnott in the playoffs.
Jim Diamond has an update from Saturday's Pet Adoption Drive. It was interesting watching the people and the dogs before the game.
Join Paul McCann and special Gust Host Dirk Hoag on HockeyBuzz Radio from Dave and Busters with guests Craig Custance of the Sporting News, St. Louis Blues analyst and former NHL goaltender Darren Pang, and Milwaukee Admirals radio play-by-play man Aaron Sims. It's also on WNSR at 6:00.
Ex-Pred Vern Fiddler's wife could have a baby at any time.
Pekka has a new mask. Unknown when he will wear it.
Those following the activities of potential Pred owner W. Brett Wilson may find this interesting.
Around the NHL...
Despite denials from all sides on Monday, the Globe and Mail is still pushing the Phoenix to Winnipeg story.
The hottest thing going on YouTube is parody vids of the NHL Cup commercials. This one that Steve Lapore found takes the cake. "What if Gordon Bombay didn't blow a .o8".
Matt Reitz looks at what having a new baby in the house does to a hockey player.
Brian Metzer has the story of the new Kris Letang contract.
Our friend, The Rick, assaults Joe Beninati for his horrible game call of the Bruins-Sabers game on Versus.
Puck Daddy has the real demise of the legendary Johnstown Cheifs (no, this is not a movie).
Hockey Fantasy Expert Rob Higgins' band, Dearly Beloved, has a new album out as of yesterday.
From @NHL: Best GAA since Olympic break: 1) Rinne (1.79); 2) Gustavsson (1.93); 3) Halak (2.03); 4) Rask (2.08); 5) Howard (2.11); 6) Elliott (2.16). Top teams (by PTS earned%) since Olympic break: 1) @detroitredwings; 2) @phoenixcoyotes; 3) @PredsNHLHockey; t-4) @sabresdotcom, @mapleleafs
New on @intenttoblow: Study confirms you do not miss every shot you never take.
Odds and Ends...
I've linked this Blackberry App several times and will continue to do so as it is the best one for hockey scores out there. It doesn't work on every model but offers scores with less than 30 seconds delay, shots, Corsi, face off, hits, and goal scorers.
Facebook will make a change from "become a fan" to "like" according to this piece. Our "Fan" page is under development at this time. We are adding thousands of original pictures that will only be available there once the roll out is complete. For a sample, go here and look at the pictures under the photo tab. We should have pictures of all 30 teams by this summer.
LinkedIn now has a Blackberry App.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass