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Thursday's news: Opening night in Nashville, at last!

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Tonight's the night, Predators fans, when we can finally cheer on the boys in a game that counts, and with the 2-0 Avalanche coming to town, this one certainly counts a lot. I'll have your game preview later on, so for now, let's jump right into the news and notes to start your day.

After the jump, we've got a new Preds blog going the extra mile to check out our boys in Milwaukee, a thorough overview of the team's financial and ticket sales position from The Tennessean, and two fans-eye views of the Meet the Team party from Tuesday night...

Predators News

See Puck City: You Gotta Pay The Toll Troll To Get In
Welcome to the newest Preds blog to join the local scene; stop on by to check out their road trip to Chicago to catch the Milwaukee Admirals against the Wolves, and see just what we NHL fans are missing out on.

For Predators, making playoffs is lifeblood - The Tennessean
John Glennon provides an overview of the Preds' financial situation; the new ownership has basically righted the ship, but to get moving forward, a playoff run would make the biggest impact.

Where Predators rank in ticket prices - Inside Predators
Glennon also points to the latest Team Marketing Report, which puts the Preds in the middle of the pack in NHL ticket pricing.

The View from 111: Meet the Predators 2009
Mark shares his photos from the Preds' Meet the Team party Tuesday night.

Confessions of a Predators Fanatic: WARNING! FANGIRLY GUSHING AHEAD...
Kelly gives us the lowdown on her night at the Predators' Meet the Team Party, with a slightly different perspective than Mark's (to say the least).

Western Conference: Central -
Maybe SI stands for Stupidity Illustrated? Their Nashville summary rehashes old Globe & Mail copy from 2 summers ago about bankruptcy and relocation, while the Columbus one raves about the fact that they sold out 6 of their final 16 home games due "both to Nash's brilliance on the ice and to Hitchcock's brilliance behind the bench." Puh-lease!

The Rink Episode 48: Tweetcast - The Rink Podcast
Buddy Oakes from Preds on the Glass is a guest on the latest edition of "The Rink", one of my must-listen hockey podcasts.


Around the NHL

The Scraps of Free Agency - Hockey Or Die!
Jonathan Willis looks at players still available who might help various NHL teams.

Canucks Make Bold Statement in 7-1 Destruction Over Canadiens - Nucks Misconduct
They're finally breathing in Vancouver, where the Canucks won their first game of the season at home against Montreal.

Coyotes Shutout Penguins 3 - 0 in Whistle Filled Affair - Five For Howling
Phoenix is off to a 2-0 start after blanking the Cup champs on the road.

Frequently Asked Question #1: A quick spin through +/- statistics at Behind the Net
A basic primer on on- & off-ice +/-, and how it helps identify quality hockey players.

Behind The Net: A Basic Goaltending Model - Puck Prospectus
Gabriel Desjardins takes a different approach to evaluating how many wins a given goaltender is worth to his team. It validates two trends seen in many statistical analyses - 1) the vast bulk of NHL goalies are interchangeable, and 2) Tomas Vokoun is one of the few real gems out there (sorry, Preds fans).

The 09-10 Columbus Sabres - The Cannon
Are this year's Blue Jackets the second coming of the 2006-7 Buffalo Sabres, which made a deep run in the playoffs?

Bill Clement on James Neal - Andrew's Dallas Stars Blog
Remember James Neal, who scored twice against Nashville Saturday night? Bill Clement says that against Edmonton, he "looked like an NHL player dropped into a men's senior league." High praise indeed...

Tamper Tantrum: Canucks GM explores charges for Leafs' Burke - Puck Daddy
The NHL's most irascible general manager, Toronto's Brian Burke, has stirred up a tempest in Vancouver after tossing their names around in pre-draft trade rumors caught on camera.

Bettman's not the bad guy -
With that headline, Joe O'Connor probably put his Canadian citizenship at risk (hat tip to Kukla's Korner)

Montreal Canadiens Sign Marc-Andre Bergeron - Hockey Or Die!
The Habs signed free agent Marc-Andre Bergeron to fill in while their #1 blueliner, Andrei Markov, recovers from a torn tendon. Jonathan Willis breaks down how MAB will fit with Montreal.