Update, Update: Viktor Stalberg placed on Waivers

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Well, it you are truly at all surprised by this move by the Predators, you have certainly been living under a rock for a good portion of the season. However, from the presser released by the organization, the decision was made in order to assign Stalberg to Nashville’s farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

After missing six weeks of action due to a knee injury, Stalberg is prepared to return to action. With the NHL roster freeze going into effect on Friday at 11:59 p.m. CT and lasting until 12:01 a.m. CT on Dec. 28, and the team being at the 23-player roster maximum, the move was necessary before the team heads out for its final three games before the holiday break.

“A couple of injuries early in the season have prevented this from being the season Viktor trained all summer for,” General Manager David Poile said. “He has worked hard to return to the lineup. With Paul Gaustad and Taylor Beck day-to-day and still on our 23-man roster, the best option for Viktor and the organization at this time is to place Viktor on waivers with the hope that he will clear, go to Milwaukee to play games and continue his efforts to be ready for NHL game action.”

You can read the full presser here. Stalberg has certainly been having a rough season thus far. Expected to shine last season when he was signed to a four-year, $12 million deal during the off-season, the Swedish forward has been a bit of a disappointment, to say the least. With the booting of Trotz, Stalberg’s promise began circulating once more as he would be under new coaching with Laviolette. Unfortunately, due to reoccurring injuries, that expectation has been all but dashed once more. But, as you read above, Nashville’s intent is to keep Stalberg within the organization, meaning they do see the potential he could provide. However, it comes under the risk of placing him on waivers and hoping he clears without another team shooting him an offer.

Update:
It looks as though Stalberg has indeed cleared waivers and will now be assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals. This favors Nashville ultimate plan for Stalberg, but many teams could’ve benefited from acquiring the young forward. Unfortunately, that hefty contract that he signed with the Predators proved to be a major turnoff to the rest of the league, thus allowing him to clear waivers.

Update No. 2:
Not even an hour after posting the first update, the Predators recall Viktor Stalberg to their active roster. This move comes as Paul Gaustad has been placed on Injured Reserve due to a lower body injury. So there you have it; Stalberg had a wonderful stint on waivers, yes?

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Neal faces $2K Fine for Embellishment

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Say it ain’t so! James Neal has officially become the first player to be fined for embellishment (dive, what have you) during a game under the NHL’s new diving/embellishment rules. Neal was first reprimanded back on November 13th for a dive against the Blues, but there is no second warning nowadays. Neal’s $2000 fine was dealt due to an embellished fall from Saturday’s game against San Jose. Here’s the .gif of the act in question:

hmmm

Source: @KMartel_Sports

I missed this play during the game, but with slow motion and the tuck-into-fetal-position, it definitely looks like a dive; sorry James. Like I mentioned above the .gif, there are not second warnings, so what happens if Neal accidentally does this again (we say accident because James Neal is a classy individual not capable of such acting skills):

  • First Offense: Warning
  • Second Offense: $2,000 fine
  • Third Offense: $3,000 fine
  • Fourth Offense: $4,000 fine
  • Fifth Offense: $5,000 fine for him, $2,000 for Laviolette

Pretty certain there won’t be any beyond a fifth offense as, once the coach’s wallet starts taking a hit, the acting career will be over for the player involved pretty quickly. Well, I hope Neal doesn’t get pegged for embellishing anymore for his wallet’s sake, though I would’ve thought some Canucks would’ve gotten tagged with this fine before anyone…

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NSH seeks Victory in SO over BOS

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

After a lackluster performance (by everyone but Pekka Rinne) in San Jose Saturday, the Predators returned home for a brief moment to welcome in the 15-13-2 Boston Bruins. So, how did the Predators fair against the “B”s from the East?

First Period:

  • Though both teams would send nine shots on goal during the first, none could get beyond the beasts from Finland in the nets.
  • Both sides were given powerplay opportunities, but could not capitalize.

Second Period:

  • Milan Lucic would get the ball rolling at 4:04, giving Boston the lead for the majority of the second period.
  • Mike Fisher would then tie it with just thirty seconds left in the period for his second goal of the season. May we also say this was on the powerplay? Yes, it was! Nashville is now a resounding 2-47 on the powerplay at home this season. Shea Weber (12) and Filip Forsberg (18) would do the assisting.

Third Period:

  • Mike Ribeiro would give Nashville the lead at 1:31 into the third for his ninth goal of the season. James Neal (8) and Ryan Ellis (9) would pick up the assist points.
  • The Preds wouldn’t lead long as Reilly Smith sent a wrister flying past Pekka at 3:28 to tie the game.

Overtime:

  • Despite a few shots on goal, the five minute overtime would prove uneventful.

Shootout:

  • NSH – Derek Roy – GOAL
  • BOS – Brad Merchand – MISS
  • NSH – James Neal – MISS
  • BOS – Reilly Smith – MISS
  • NSH – Filip Forsberg – MISS
  • BOS – Patrice Bergeron – MISS

With Pekka’s save on Bergeron’s shot, Nashville slipped away with the two points in the shootout. It wasn’t that Nashville didn’t come out strong last night, it was simply the fact that Boston is notoriously a bigger, more physical team than most others. They were there in the right places at the right time to put the extra pressure on Nashville, ultimately keeping the score as low as it turned out to be. You also have to factor in the fact that Tuukka Rask is simply on point when it comes to goaltending; very similar to Nashville’s Finnish phenom who occupies a net.

It is good to note that Filip Forsberg continues to master the leader board when it comes to rookies. Not only does he lead in total points within the rookie class (30), he also leads in plus/minus (23), goals (12), and assists (18). Wowza.

Another fun fact to point out is that, with this win over Boston, David Poile is now the second all-time winningest General Manager with victory 1,171. He trails New York Rangers GM, Glen Sather who hold 1,278 wins.

The Predators take a few days off before heading northward to Minnesota to take on the Wild, a division rival they have yet to face thus far this season. Then it’s a stop in Columbus and a visit to Boston before coming back to welcome in the Flyers on December 27th (Shea Weber bobblehead night).

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PPG for NSH; Preds bump Coyotes 5-1

Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

Nashville’s week-long trip West continued last night against the Arizona Coyotes, the Predators’ first trip to Glendale this season. Arizona, who has been on a three-game losing streak, is sitting in the same position in the Pacific Division as Nashville’s previous opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, are in the Central Division: sixth out of seven. With more losses than wins (10-15-3), the Coyotes need a confidence boost, and why not thwart the on-the-rise Predators? Not only is it Martin Erat’s former, former team that he needed so desperately to be out of, Arizona is also the former home of newest Nashville Predator, Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro struggled both on and off the ice while with the Coyotes, prompting the organization to cut ties with him. Nashville swooped in and snatched the center up, which raised a few eyebrows as a rather risky move. Ah, but that risky move has proven successful as Ribeiro has become a staple of the Predators lineup. Currently holding down the 6th ranking amongst players in +/-, he also holds 18th amongst players in assists and 15th amongst players in save percentages. And Martin Erat? He has had five goals this season compared to Mike Ribeiro’s eight and (his true replacement) Forsberg’s twelve. But who’s counting, right?
filip

First Period:

  • Arizona’s Antoine Vermette (7) got the ball rolling with a powerplay goal at 4:11 with assistance from Mikkel Boedker (9) and Keith Yandle (17).
  • Mike Fisher wouldn’t wait long, scoring his first goal of the season at 6:57 and a powerplay goal on top of that. A what? I don’t know what that is! Phil Housley is taking in a deep, thankful sigh right about now. Shea Weber (10) and Filip Forsberg (16) nab the assists on Fisher’s goal.
  • James Neal would push Nashville up 2-1 at 11:06 for his eleventh goal of the season. Mike Fisher (3) and Roman Josi (12) would assist in said goal.
  • At 18:30, Ryan Ellis would nab his third goal of the season, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. James Neal (7) and Mike Ribeiro (17) would be awarded the assists.

Second Period:

  • Just like in Colorado, no goals were mustered during the second period.

Third Period:

  • At just 2:43 into the period, Calle Jarnkrok would tally his second goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (2) and Filip Forsberg (17) power in with the assists.
  • Olli Jokinen would nab the GWG at 7:20, though it was a deflection off of Weber’s shot (oh well, he’ll take all the points he can get) for his second goal of the season. Colin Wilson (7) and Shea Weber (11) would be of assistance.

Another win tallied on this mini road trip as Nashville defeats the Coyotes 5-1 in Glendale. Not to jinx anything, but Nashville is now 19-7-2 on the season and is 2-0-0 on this road trip going into San Jose on Saturday. Though this should have been the game that Pekka Rinne got a much needed rest, he has still managed to keep it strong, blocking 57 of 58 shots in these past two games. Will Hutton get the start against the Sharks? Eh, though they are fourth in the Pacific Division, they are on a two-game winning streak and are 16-11-4. That’s a toughie to call, but we’ll see who gets to mind the net soon.

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Preds Knock Avalanche 3-0

Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

After being knocked from the top spot in the Central Division and losing to Chicago on Saturday night, the Predators headed West for a mini trip while Marvel Universe takes over the Bridgestone Arena for a few days. Truly, Nashville’s powerplay seems to be their only weakness at this point and, while it isn’t the worst of situations, it is still adding insult to injury where Nashville could use some help in dire situations (i.e. game changer). Anyways, this is the first meeting between the Predators and the Avalanche this season and, where normally the Avs are heading the top of the Central Division, this year has been a little different (so far). Colorado is currently in sixth in the Central Division, while Dallas is rounding out the last spot at seven. As I mention in almost ever post that Nashville plays a team struggling with numbers, don’t count them out; the Predators are notorious for getting sleepy during games like these. Colorado also has one of the top penalty kill percentages thus far this season, which probably doesn’t mean much to Nashville as… they are terrible at powerplays to begin with.

First Period:

  • Just 2:23 into the period, rookie sensation Filip Forsberg sends one past Chet Calvin Pickard; Chet’s brother — remember Chet, guys? You know, our first…round…pick… Gabriel Bourque (1) and Seth Jones (6) picked up the assists on Forsberg’s 12th goal of the season.

Second Period:

  • No goals, but Nashville led SOG ten to Colorado’s eight.
  • Nashville was given three powerplay chances in the second, but could capitalize on none of them.

Third Period

  • The last two goals would be empty-netters, with Gabriel Bourque nabbing his first goal of the season at 18:10 with assistance from Mike Ribeiro (15).
  • And James Neal would pick up his tenth goal of the season and the game winner at 19:02. Mike Ribeiro (16) and Filip Forsberg (15) would grab the assist points.

Nashville’s week-long roadtrip has started off on the right foot, with the Predators now at a 18-7-2 record thus far this season. Next stop is in Glendale, Arizona to spend a little time with Martin Erat. This will also be Mike Ribeiro’s first return to Arizona since being let go last season. I’m sure they’ll be excited to see how well he’s been doing with Nashville, right…? Right?

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Preds fall to Hawks 3-1; Time to Rest Rinne?

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Nashville hasn’t lost a home game since being pummeled 3-0 by the Penguins on October 25th, but another one was bound to happen sooner than later. Unfortunately for Preds fans, it came at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. What could add insult to injury is the fact that Chicago played the Montreal Canadiens last night at home, which usually puts said team at a disadvantage compared to a team [Nashville] who has a day to rest. Leave it to Chicago to bypass that hindrance and jump the Predators in the Central Division standings. You read that correctly:
Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 8.49.31 PMLooking at the glass-half-full, this loss wasn’t as devastating (stats wise) as it might feel; especially if you have to listen to belligerent Hawks “fans” as you leave the arena tonight. Though Nashville was only given two powerplay chances and managed to detour Chicago’s four chances, those were still two advantages the Predators failed to capitalize on that could’ve changed the game. However, the Blackhawks do currently hold the best penalty kill in the league, but that’s no excuse. The Predators are now 1-for-45 on powerplay goals at home this season; 28th in league just above the Wild and the Sabres. It is a weakness in advantage that is slowly catching up to the Predators as they push forward into the season.

Another factor to look at is impact on Pekka Rinne. Though there is no way you’d rest him while playing divisional opponents, when is the man going to get a break? Rinne has appeared in the 23 games thus far, whereas Carter Hutton has only seen three games worth of ice time. Yes, Pekka has been the much needed asset for securing many of Nashville’s 17 wins, but it may be time to give the Finnish Phenom a rest or two. Perhaps that will be the case for Tuesday’s game against Colorado; though a Central Division opponent, they sit four rankings below the Predators in sixth. However, ranking position means nothing if you’re goaltender isn’t on point, but Hutton has had enough rest and might want to stretch his legs. Truly, the only other time Pekka might legitimately get a break is on the 22nd when Nashville goes into Columbus. Yes, Pekka Rinne has saved many a butt and missing him from the net is definitely a risk (See last season), but starting him every single game is also a risk. You may play your best golf with your 9-iron, but eventually you’ll need your putter.

Kudos to Colin Wilson tonight for not allowing the Blackhawks to celebrate a goose egg tonight. His wrister past former Mississippi RiverKings (and Milwaukee Admirals, yea) goaltender, Scott Darling was his sixth for the season; assisted by Victor Bartley (1) and Mike Fisher (2). If you are stuck on the Mississippi RiverKings mention, that’s because it’s a Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team and he is the first of said league to make it to the NHL. Jumping around that stat, Colin Wilson is certainly on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career. I mean, this kid went from constantly being tossed into Trotzy’s Doghouse to actually getting ice time to find his comfort zone. He has put up great numbers in the past, but I am foreseeing a much better performance from the 25-year-old under Laviolette’s system for sure.

Welp, don’t get too down, Preds fans; it’s Saturday night and, just remember: the Predators are doing 100x better than the Titans and shhh! Hockey’s not supposed to do better than football!

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Preds thwart Brodeur’s NHL Return 4-3

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

After falling hard on their butts in Raleigh against the Hurricanes Tuesday night, the Predators returned home to face an all too familiar foe this season; the St. Louis Blues. Now, you’re probably thinking (or saying), “This is old news; the Blues have been in the Central Division longer than the Preds have been in existence.” True, but when was the last time Nashville and St. Louis became the equivalent of “big brother vs. little brother”, knocking each other for first place in the hearts of mom and dad (A.K.A. the Central Division)? In my personal opinion, Chicago took on the role of “big brother” after Detroit left for the Wild, Wild… East(ern) Conference. Though Chicago [fans] is still a pain in the rear end, this season has definitely been a “Nashville vs. St. Louis” for keeps and it doesn’t look like either side is going to back off any time soon.

Coming into Nashville on a four-game hot streak, St. Louis is just about cruising along, picking up NHL veteran goaltender (and household name) Martin Brodeur this week. Brodeur spent the last twenty-one *twenty-one* years with the New Jersey Devils organization until entering free agency after the end of last season. This man has won the Stanley Cup three times, won the Vezina Trophy four times, the William M. Jennings Trophy five times, and a multitude of other ones on top of those mentioned. In a word, the man’s a legend and will end up in the Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.

Okay, let’s get off the Marty Brodeur kicker and move on to the game
(warning: potato-quality .gif overload below):

First Period:

  • Vladimir Tarasenko started the Blues off in the right direction at 5:46 for his fifteenth goal of the season.
  • After Tarasenko’s goal, Coach Peter Laviolette called a time out to essentially remind the Predators that they had left Raleigh a day ago and it was time to wake up and get in the game.

    "Uh... Y'all know we're playing for real, right?"

    “Uh… Y’all know we’re playing for real, right?”

  • Apparently, Laviolette’s pep talked did some magic because Filip Forsberg would match Tarasenko at 14:10 with his eleventh goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (14) would nab the lone assist on Forsberg’s goal.
    mGrNqL
  • Eric Nystrom would give Nashville the 2-1 lead with just fifty-seven seconds left in the first period for his fifth goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (15) and Mike Fisher (1) would collect the assists.
    nystrom

Second Period:

  • Mike Ribeiro (who apparently took a lot from Laviolette’s pep talk) started the second period out in favor of Nashville, nailing his eight goal of the season at 1:25. James Neal (6) and Filip Forsberg (14) would do some assisting.
    MIKE
  • Ah, but Vladimir Tarasenko would retaliate at 3:51 for his second goal of the night.

Third Period:

  • With a breakaway sent from the Hockey Gods, Colin Wilson nailed a backhander on Brodeur at 9:30 for his fifth goal of the season. Roman Josi (11) and Craig Smith (8) helped assist #33 in the breakaway.
    COLIND
  • Jaden Schwartz would give St. Louis a reason to fight at 12:32, putting the Blues within one of tying with Nashville.

Unfortunately for the Blues, their four-game winning streak would end as Nashville was able to hold off the extra attacker to seal the victory and the Central Division lead. With this victory, Nashville is now 17-6-2 on the season where St. Louis has now fallen to 16-8-2. Ah, but Nashville is back at it on Saturday night as the Chicago Blackhawks bop into town.

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Nashville Falls 2-1 in Carolina

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The time has come for Nashville to visit the state to the right (…North Carolina) and take on the 7-13-3 Carolina Hurricanes. Interestingly enough, the ‘Canes collected their most recent loss to a team Nashville is currently tied first in the league with (A.K.A. the Pittsburgh Penguins). Ahh, but that doesn’t mean the Hurricanes are just going to bow down to Nashville and allow them to continue their hot streak – heck no; they’ve got the same finish line as the rest of the league. So, with that, let’s get to some highlights:

First Period:

  • Well, not too much action in the first period, except for a tip-in goal from Jeff Skinner (6) at 18:59, giving Carolina a late first period lead.
  • No penalties for either teams and Nashville managed to get eight shots on goal, while the Hurricanes tallied six.

Second Period:

  • No goals, no penalties, and just ten shots for Nashville and thirteen for Carolina.

Third Period:

  • Just 55 seconds into the third, Victor Rask (4) sent a slapshot past Pekka Rinne to put the ‘Canes up 2-0 over Nashville.
  • Mike Ribeiro makes certain Nashville doesn’t leave with a goose egg thanks to a backhander past Cam Ward. Roman Josi (10) nabbed the assist on Ribeiro’s 7th goal of the season.

Unfortunately, Nashville’s four-game winning streak came to an end in Carolina as the Preds fall 2-1 to the Hurricanes. The Predators need to brush it off fast as the St. Louis Blues will be in town on Thursday night.

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NSH takes Victory over CBJ 2-1

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Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Don’t you remember the good ole days when the Columbus Blue Jackets were a member of the Central Division and all was right in the world? Okay, the Blue Jackets in the Central Division certainly didn’t establish world peace, but it’s fun to reflect on times of old. Well anyway, Columbus and Detroit moved on to the Eastern Conference and have been trying to figure out their place in the world over there. Apparently, it hasn’t been exactly a warm welcome this season, as the Blue Jackets are sitting pretty at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and (to just add icing to the cake) the entire League. Ouchies. However, just because they haven’t had the ideal season thus far, doesn’t mean that the Predators should just wave them off as an automatic win. Those tend to be the games that Nashville (and honestly, any team) seems to fall flat against.

First Period:

  • Nashville came out on fire, taking 20 shots on goal compared to Columbus’s seven. Unfortunately, Curtis McElhinney just wasn’t going to let Nashville by that easily.

Second Period:

  • Mike Ribeiro would get the ball rolling at 12:47 with a wrap-around goal, his sixth of the season. Roman Josi (9) and Shea Weber (9) would collect the assists.
  • Nashville again would throw a number of shots on goal, this time thirteen to eight.

Third Period:

  • Columbus would enter the game at 3:48 on the powerplay, a trick that seems to be in their favor (including this goal, Columbus has nabbed 20 PPG this season). Ryan Johanssen would tally his ninth goal of the season.
  • Colin Wilson would seal the GWG at 17:48 for his fourth goal of the season. Craig Smith (7) and Calle Jarnkrok (4) would pick up the assists.

Now, this win not only puts Nashville’s record at 16-5-2, it also does the following:
IMG_3280 IMG_3281

What’s that? Nashville is now second in the entire league AND first in the Western Conference and Central Division! Some more optimistic folks may say we are tied for first in the league, but there’s a reason there’s not “two number ones”… that’s because Pittsburgh beat us head-to-head, therefore that gives them the No. 1. Darn you, Patric Hornqvist. However, if you want to look at it as a tie, you just go right ahead, you precious soul.

Nashville takes off East to North Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on Tuesday, then return to battle our buddy, St. Louis on Thursday night. Oh yea, and the Blackhawks drop by on Saturday. Joy.

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Forsberg gives Preds the Edge over Oilers 1-0 in OT

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images-

How about that “Scoresberg”, y’all? For Predators fans, he could essentially be considered a Saint; as for the Capitals faithful? Well, they are still peeved over that Martin Erat/Mike Latta trade, and you can’t blame them. Though he was just a draft pick at the time (where as Erat/Latta had were exposed to the NHL), Forsberg was certainly a risky pickup. Did David Poile successfully predict his potential? Apparently, but we doubt he’d be the Rookie Offensive leader if he were still under the guidance of Barry Trotz.

Screen shot 2014-11-29 at 9.02.25 PM

I won’t go into the highlights of last night’s game other than Filip Forsberg’s goal at 3:55 in overtime for his tenth goal of the season. Roman Josi (8) and Shea Weber (8) nabbed the assists on the rookie phenom’s goal, giving Nashville the victory on Thanksgiving. The Oilers have now lost eight in a row, losing by one point in each of those games (minus the 7-1 loss against Chicago). Edmonton is floating in a boat all too familiar to the Predators; you have great talent (such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), but something just isn’t connecting. Whether that missing piece be within the coaching staff or the players, they have good pieces, but they just haven’t found the rhythm. Good news, though! The Columbus Blue Jackets, who Nashville faces on Saturday night, are last in the league (Edmonton is above them with 16 points). Oh, and let us not forget to mention that it was also Mike Fisher’s season debut. No big deal.

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