Thursday, February 26, 2009

Predators Face Coyotes in Critical Contest

The Nashville Predators return to the ice tonight to play the Wayne Gretzky led Phoenix Coyotes at the Sommet Center at 7 p.m. This is a must win contest as the Coyotes are three points behind the Preds in 14th position in the tightly bunched Western Conference.

The Predators are fresh off the season’s most unlikely win Tuesday night, where they scored four goals in the third period to win 5-3 over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Preds have been offensively challenged all year and only scored four goals in four games last week, so the four goals in a period was certainly an unexpected boost to keeping the Predators in the playoff hunt.

After the game, Coach Barry Trotz emphasized the intense nature of the Predators situation, "We talked about having to play with desperation because we're down to the last 20 games. This is our chance to claw back into this thing. There's not a much better way to do that than being down a couple pucks to a pretty good team, so that should be a confidence boost.''

After two seemingly devastating losses to Ottawa and Detroit last week the Predators picked up 5 of 6 points in the last three games. Tuesday's win left the Preds with 62 points and in 11th place, 3 points behind a four way tie for seventh.

The Predators need to win 14 of their final 21 games to have a realistic chance to be in the hunt for the final playoff position. Since the all-star break the Preds have compiled a 9-5-1 record primarily behind the stellar goaltending of Pekka Rinne who is garnering interest in the rookie of the year voting.

Congrats! Congratulations to Dirk Hoag, who writes the "On The Forecheck" column, who is moving from Kukla's to SB Nation. SBN just completed a deal to receive wider exposure through Yahoo sports so this is a big opportunity for Dirk and the others at SBN. Speaking of SB Nation, James Mirtle, who is one of the premier hockey writers in North America and writes the "From the Rink" column, will be in attendance at tonight's and Saturday's Preds game. This would be a good time to show what Pred fans are made of to dispel all notions among some of those in Canada who think Nashville is not deserving of an NHL team.

New Owner Word is circulating that wealthy Canadian Brett Wilson is potentially buying a share of the Predators, alleged to be 5% or less. This is unrelated to the 26% share of the team tied up in bankruptcy that was formerly owned by “Boots” Del Biaggio. Wilson and majority owner David Freeman have had other business partnerships including joint ownership of the Jackson, TN. based Diamond Jaxx minor league baseball team and a soccer team in England. Freeman had indicated in an interview last week that he and co-owner Herb Fritch had guaranteed 60 to 70 million dollars recently related to the Del Biaggio situation, so this may only be a matter of bringing in fresh capital. This certainly is no threat to the team moving from Nashville, as has been the case in the past involving Blackberry head Jim Ballsille.

Twittergate The mini blog phone/internet application "Twitter” has become amazingly popular in the last few month allowing users to send out short messages to folks who are interested in their whereabouts. A major controversy arose in the hockey world in the last few days with an individual setting up fake accounts in the name of several NHL general managers as well as Commissioner Gary Bettman. Fake updates were sent out under the prominent names that many did not find funny. For the record, “taylorswift13” appears to be the real deal as she advised fans that she would attend Tuesday’s Preds game in a Twitter post midday Tuesday saying “A relaxing day off :) I think I'll go see a hockey game tonight?” and she did.

Pred Fan Taylor Swift Singer and heartthrob, Taylor Swift, has recently been the star of a Predators television commercial and is a big supporter of the team. The connection between the Predators and the music world was never more apparent than at Tuesday’s game. Near the end of the first period, Taylor Swift was shown on the Megatron sitting near an aisle in the lower bowl of the arena. Within minutes a throng of several hundred fans surrounded her during the game and throughout the first intermission. Event security finally had to disburse the crowd as the second period began. Note to Taylor: You may want to stay in the luxury boxes if you want to watch the game.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and The Columbia Daily Herald

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