Wednesday, September 30, 2009
As with last season, Patric Hornqvist will start the season as a Predator, although I think he's matured enough to stick around this time.
Other new faces to the lineup include Marcel Goc and Ben Guite (both off-season acquisitions), most likely playing on the third and fourth lines, respectively.
Mike Santorelli had a great pre-season and is most likely set to find himself on the second line with David Legwand and Martin Erat. This is kind of a heady role to thrust upon a rookie and I hope Mike handles it like a pro.
With all these new guys, I've got work to do. I need to come up with some new nicknames STAT.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I'm not too surprised to see Grant and Olvecky go down as they didn't leave much of an impression during camp.
Poor little hockey baby Cal just had a rough go of it from the beginning and while his strongest days at camp came within the last few days, it sadly seemed to prove too little, too late.
Nolan Yonkman was never a guy I was looking forward to seeing around all the time so there's definitely no love lost here. While I understand what a struggle it must be for an older player like Yonkman to continually fight his way towards the ultimate goal of playing at the NHL level, there is just something about the guy that has never sat right with me. Witnessing the awkward (and I do mean AWKWARD!) fight between he and Hugh Jessiman during those first days of Training Camp just confirmed my feelings of dislike. I hope that one day he is able to finally make the jump to the big leagues but would much prefer to see him with another organization when that time comes.
Obviously the biggest shocker of the five sent down is Alexander Sulzer, who most viewed as a shoo-in for one of the open spots on defense. With a one-way contract coming into the season, I think Sulzer might be in a bit of shock over this decision as well. He didn't have a great camp but he didn't have a horrible camp either. He was decent throughout and the "ehh?" factor may have been what separated him from the more stand out players like Cody Franson and Teemu Laasko.
I might possibly be more shocked that we chose to keep Cody Franson around. This franchise does not have a long history of using big guys on defense so there was always a question of whether or not Cody would ever see time in a Predators jersey. He's been a much talked about player since we picked him up in the draft so he might finally be able to show all of those talkers what he's got to offer in the coming months.
With this last round of cuts, the roster is pretty close to (if not already completely) being set. Joel Ward has been placed on injured reserve with persistent groin strain; an injury that plagued so many of our guys during camp. Colin Wilson has been listed as a "non-roster" player, which leaves the door open for him to (possibly) make his NHL debut at some point soon.
If this is how our roster stands for certain after tomorrow, then the stage has been set for an interesting season ahead of us. Who knows what the future holds...for now, it's a total crap shoot.
With that said, bring on the start of the season! I'm all about rooting for the underdogs. Let's see what we can do with the team we have.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Our intro video for pre-season games is just WAY too long.
Dear Pekka...please get better.
Watching the game with someone who is dying to see a "knucklepuck" is comical.
I'm sorry but I can not see anyone but Kariya wearing #9, I just can't.
OMG, the Family Line is back together!!!
Kevin Klein whipped out his Shea Weber slapshot on a good play in the first. Felt a little sorry for the Carolina player who took that puck to chest.
Tootoo took a lot of faceoffs in the first and I am not okay with that.
Cody's nose looks pretty good for it being broken and all.
Santorelli's shot was not very good tonight. I was surprised at how many times he missed the net.
The top line was clicking; very reminscent of last season's pre-season.
Seeing Alexander Sulzer's 52 on the ice makes me think I'm dyslexic and seeing Smithson's number backwards.
Big defensive breakdown on the 2nd Carolina goal. I totally saw that one coming.
I'm really not a big fan of our third and fourth lines tonight. No one looks good out there. I know they're all fighting for spots but come on, get it together.
We look tired. REAL tired.
Quote of the night: "There are Hurricanes everywhere. It's like the Gulf of Mexico out there."
Hornqvist's PP goal was sweet. It snuck right in through the five hole. Niiiice.
Triston Grant had a good game tonight. It was surprising and refreshing.
Hornqvist had a great game too. It's nice to see some other players do some damage. Now's the time to go big, boys.
We paced Carolina in SOG all night but our goaltending was not where I thought it should be.
Our in-game people are really trying to be funny with all their thought bubbles but it's totally not working.
The person I'm with would also very much like to see the "Flying V". I can not deal with his out-of-date hockey movie references.
Is it bad that I had a feeling we were going to lose tonight?
I did not think the second line had very good communication tonight. They were missing lots of passes.
Ooooo, full on bad play by Hammer right at the end there. That was painful to watch. Have to say he did what he could but wow, it was ugly.
So we take a lot from this loss and hopefully learn from our mistakes and refocus ourselves going into our last pre-season contest. The boys are scheduled to take to the ice at 10:00am tomorrow morning at the Sportsplex before heading off to Columbus for a 4:00pm puck drop against the Bluejackets.
For some reason, I have a feeling tomorrow's morning skate might be a doozie.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
"On the way to Ft. Campbell for team building..."
I can not stop laughing at this picture because, I'm sorry but those boys could not look less enthused [see Ryan Jones, specifically]. The cramped quarters and the early morning might have had something to do with it.
Now everyone say a big "HOO-RAH" and have fun.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
On a team with a seemingly endless supply of defensive talent, this
Wow, Kevin. Maybe I should have written a “Step It Up” edition post for you.
In pre-seasons past, there is always one player to rise above the metaphorical ashes and somewhat surprisingly find himself with a spot on the team at the end of training camp. Two season ago, it was Dan Ellis. Last season, it was Joel Ward. There’s no question in my mind that the player with bragging rights to this title at the end of camp will be one or two of the rookie defensemen left. If I were Alexander Sulzer, Teemu Laasko, Jonathan Blum or Cody Franson, I’d be kicking it into high gear right about now. As Tyra Banks asks in the intro to her show, America’s Next Top Model, “You wanna be on top?”.
*The link is in French. I can translate it for you, if needed, because I'm talented like that.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
With the first period barely underway, Columbus was already out for blood.
There was a lot of back and forth early in the first. And a lot of aggression.
For all who care, the "Fang Fingers" screechy sounds were back tonight. All is right with the world again.
Towards the end of the first, we were barely playing. It really seemed a little like we're phoning it in.
I know it's only preseason but the refs are already testing my patience. That call on Triston Grant was just flat out WRONG.
Coach Trotz tried out every line combo possible tonight. It was messing with my head.
Jordin Tootoo had already established himself as a fighter and I think that fight with Sestito was slightly unnecessary. Watching a player get hit and go down like a rag doll was more than I needed to see from this fight.
I have no idea how I missed Steve Sullivan going off the ice and didn't even realize he was gone until the second period when Trotz started pulling guys onto that top line left and right. I hate that he left with an injury but it was good to hear that it was not a back injury.
Somehow I also TOTALLY missed the first Bluejackets goal. Wow, what was I doing?
I hate that I was calling for us to pull Pekka in a pre-season game but wow, that second Columbus goal was just a huge FAIL on his part.
The Dan Ellis Shuffle is back and in full affect. I've missed his in-game rituals.
Ryan Jones played a really physical game tonight...and I like it. Good to see him score the first goal too. About time.
This 80's cover band is killing me. Final Countdown?! Where's Gob with an illusion or two?
There is a lot of animosity towards our captain and his seemingly lackluster performance from game to game but Jason Arnott always come through in a pinch.
That third goal left me saying "Got what I wanted!!!" Shea Weber scored, right after I said "Shea, can I see a goal from you, please?". His slap shot is alive and well.
Today's scheduled 1:00pm practice at the Centennial Sportsplex was cancelled and after these last few days, this is a well deserved break. And while the guys might have gotten a day off of the ice, the Front Office is still hard at work. Ten additional players were sent down to Milwaukee today, with the training camp roster now standing at 34. The next couple of days are going to be crucial for those few fringe guys. With Admirals training camp opening on Tuesday, the pressure is on.
Training Camp resumes tomorrow with on-ice practice at the Sportsplex starting at 10:00am.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
So I realize I have issues with recapping a pre-season game.
Here's just a few thoughts I had tonight. I'll leave the more thorough observations for the later pre-season games, when there's a better established roster. It's just too difficult with all these young ones everywhere.
Slightly disappointed to not see more of the veteran guys on the ice tonight. I get that the young guys need their one game or so before they send them down to Milwaukee but I really wanted to see more of our regulars in action.
I never had a doubt in my mind that the Sullivan-Arnott-Dumont line would be great. It was good to see them clicking from the get go, even amongst a sea of little hockey babies.
I forgot how much I love fights during the pre-season. They are always so much more gritty than during regular season. Also, Cody Franson's bloody face made me throw up a little in my mouth. Sitting close to the bench is not always fun for that reason alone.
Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist and Teemu Laasko were standouts for me tonight. I particularly liked the fair-haired pairing of Wilson and Hornqvist. They seemed to click. And my nickname of "Twins" might have to be taken away from Suter and Weber and given over to those two because man, I'm having an increasingly hard time telling them apart.
While Dan Ellis didn't face many shots during his half of the game, he still looked great out there. I've been loving his play during training camp so far as well and we all know how much I love Elly in general.
LOVED the Saved By The Bell clip after the Franson-Kulda fight. Boy, did that bring back memories of Saturday mornings gone by.
Oh, and the "Stomp, Stomp, Clap" audience participation crap during the third period was more like "Stomp, Stomp, FAIL". Dear In-Game Crew, please don't pull that one out again, okay? Thanks.
Pre-season shootouts are the only shootouts that don't result in giving me an ulcer and/or cause me to want to throw up. Besides, Cody Franson's bloody face filled my vomit quota for the night anyway. I knew all of our guys were going to miss their shots so maybe that helped a little with the nerves this time around.
Hockey Night in Nashville makes my heart happy. It felt good to be back in the arena; I always feel so at home there. I can't wait to do it all over again. The Predators (hopefully a different line up, please?) take on the Columbus Bluejackets Saturday night at the Sommet. The puck drops at 7:00pm.
Ahhh, welcome back, hockey season. Oh, how I've missed you.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Q: Now that Radek Bonk is gone, have the coaches talked to you at all about possibly leading the way for faceoffs this season?
A: No, but you know that's something I've thought about too. We've lost some good face off guys with Vern Fiddler, Radek Bonk and Scott Nichol. It's going to be a big hole to fill but I think we're up for the challenge. It's something I take a lot of pride in and know I have to be better at and know I can be better at so I'm definitely up for the challenge this year.
Q: Have the coaches talked to you at all as far as your role in the penalty kill because again, you just named three guys we lost this year that were strong penalty killers. What was your focus in the off-season to prepare for that role?
A: I really didn't change too much, you know. Losing those guys, it's going to give other guys an opportunity to step in but we definitely need all four guys going at once. It's a unit thing, it's not just one guy so I think if we can get some good chemistry going on the penalty kill and feed off some guys and get comfortable, I think we'll be okay.
Q: Your shot has really been on target in the last three days of camp and you even got a shout out on John Glennon's blog about possibly being the next shoot out guy. Did you do anything over the off season to make your shot better or have you just come into your own now that you're under the spotlight a little bit?
A: It's something I've been kind of working on a little bit in the summer. That, and listening to my dad bark at me all the time that I don't shoot the puck enough. [Laughs] It's a big year for everyone here and everyone's gotta step up and I realized that this summer and I tried to work on a few things and hopefully I'll get a chance to do that.
Q: Would you welcome a shoot out position if they called you?
A: Oh, without a doubt! I think that'd be a ton of fun. We've got a lot of sharp shooters on our team though so they might have to go pretty deep before I go but if I ever got the call, yeah, I'd be excited.
Now, I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, this blog post had something to do with him thinking about taking a bigger role in the face off circle and working on his scoring. BUT I'm not going to hold my breath on that one. In any case, it's good to see that at least one of the veterans took some time over the summer to think about how to increase his performance and role on the team.
Just for the record, I think I would pass out if he ever got called on for a shoot out.
MAJOR props to Jeremy K. Gover of Section303.com for helping me with this. You freaking rock, Jeremy.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Ryan Jones and Ryan Maki both impressed me this morning.
Little Mike Santorelli was scoring some pretty snazzy goals out there as well.
Martin Erat still looks strong. I'm hoping with all that I am that he keeps it up!!
David Legwand appeared to have woken up on the right side of the bed today. Much improved from yesterday, for sure.
The "lesser" boys (meaning no-names) were fighting it out this morning. I noticed a lot more players stepping up to the plate, er, blue line today.
I'd like to see some more defensive drills though. None of the boys are standing out to me because none of them are doing too much, except for not taking a good pass.
Alexander Sulzer has amazing English for someone from Germany. So, I would selfishly like him to make the team (and I think he will) to show Erat how it's done.
Jerred Smithson continues to look good. Skating fast, shooting the puck. Scoring goals...I like it, I love it.
Smithson's linemate for most of second session, Marcel Goc looked sharp today. A standout for me.
Ben Eaves and Steve Sullivan look like little kids when standing next to pretty much ANY of their teammates.
Ummmm, Nolan Yonkman and Hugh Jessiman totally got in a fight. I couldn't even begin to tell you what caused it because nothing happened to lead up to it. My guess was that there were some words exchanged. In any event, it was AWKWARD!!
Whatever drill they decided to do at the end of both sessions was confusing to EVERYONE. None of the players on either team seemed to understand how to carry it out. It was real funny.
Patric Hornqvist is looking better, faster, more consistent.
JP Dumont is tough as nails. The man went down on the ice for a second and needed the trainer to help him off. He sat down on the bench for maybe 30 seconds and then got up and skated it off. That's my tough little Frenchman!
Seriously, Jerred Smithson is OWNING this session. OWNING. IT.
Okay, this is slightly off-topic but I have a pretty funny theory about why you can hear Coach Horachek's voice on the ice better than Trotz's. I won't divulge it here but if you ask me in person, I'll fill you in on the theory. Trust me, it makes total sense.
Faceoff drills with Smithson right at the end of the session, just like they used to do with Bonk and Fiddler. Can I make a living out of hockey team role player predictions? I would own at my job.
So the first of two rookie games against the Atlanta Thrashers takes place tonight at 6:00pm at Duluth Ice Forum. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll know the outcome of the game unless we get some inside tweets during the game. I'm curious to see which players stand out [Colin Wilson?].
On-ice sessions continue tomorrow with the teams flip flopping times; Team Silver takes the ice at 10:00am, followed by Team Blue at 11:30am. I might pop in for the 11:30am session but I'm not positive I'll make it. However, there's no way I'll miss Wednesday's scrimmage. I'm all over that.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Jerred Smithson continues to be listed as a center but he is practicing as a right wing...and it's working for him so far.
Nolan Yonkman is ENORMOUS...seriously, like 7'4".
Like the Ward-Smithson pairing. It worked well last season and I would love to see them kept together.
Ben Eaves had a solid day on ice. He is the newbie that has impressed the most thus far.
Dan Hamhuis was bringing it today. Glad to see a strong performance from him this morning.
New speed drills=Arnott kind of phoning them in toward the end there. I was a little disappointed to see that.
Shea Weber as this season's permanent alternate captain? Ummmm, yes please! And THANK YOU!
Speaking of Shea, I really think he packed on some more muscle this summer.
OMG, you guys! Martin Erat looks good out there so far. He's got some speed under him right now.
Jordin Tootoo was out of breath A LOT, I noticed that yesterday and today. I'm going to blame his summer diet [TOTAL speculation. Please don't ream me out for this.] Too much seal and other sordid raw meats, perhaps?
Yes, yes, Y-E-S! Dan Ellis is working it today, and I do mean WORKING. IT.
Overall, the Blue group seemed really clumsy to me and far less together than Team Silver.
Though he might have been a bit out of breath, it appeared Tootoo did some stick work this summer. He was doing some pretty fancy tricks with the puck out there. My other theory is that he hooked up with Fiddler before he left for Phoenix and asked to learn his backhand pass because Toots pulled that one out of his bag of tricks too.
David Legwand disappointed me. I'd like to think he disappointed himself as well.
Coach Trotz seemed to keep the lines together more on Team Blue. I'm not sure why he did this but I thought it was worth noting.
Andreas Thuresson has a hard shot but it's rarely accurate.
I just want to pinch Cal O'Reilly and Mike Santorelli's cheeks. They look so wide-eyed and innocent out there.
Feeling a wee bit sorry for Chet Pickard having to pull double duty in regular and rookie sessions.
Colin Wilson is looking sharp....and I'm not surprised.
Ryan Ellis has improved from Development Camp; had a great goal in behind Pickard during one of the drills.
I can't believe it's already Training Camp time again. I'm looking forward to getting the party started on the right foot this season. This year is going to be the year of the young ones for us. I can't wait to see how it all shakes out.
Day Two of the on-ice sessions starts at 10:00am tomorrow with Team Blue first, followed by Team Silver at 11:30am. Looks like I'll have plans for lunch every day this week.