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Uncovered Predators prepare to storm Alberta - Weekend notes

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As the Predators approach the mid-point of what is perhaps their most critical road trip of the season, the team looks forward to a back-and-back swing through Alberta, at Edmonton tomorrow and Calgary on Monday. It's a shame that The Tennessean hasn't seen fit to send beat writer Josh Cooper along for the ride, as we've had to wait for dribbles and drabs of information related to injured players who may or may not return to action, and there's been little insight direct from the team about the big wins recently at Phoenix and Colorado.

Instead, the paper has been spending their resources on another crappy redesign of their website. Seriously, take a look through the Predators section. I see a box titled "Predators Insider", but instead of Josh's blog posts it's got a bunch of non-hockey related political stories. There's also a box for "Predators AP News", breaking such recent stories as Mark Dekanich getting sent to Milwaukee (from over a month ago), Cody Franson's new contract (from September), and the hiring of COO Sean Henry (from August). Dazzling stuff, that is.

In the meantime, you can listen to GM David Poile's interview segment on 104.5 The Zone from yesterday afternoon. He talks about the current road trip the team is on, the challenge of using short-term focus to drive long-term results, and starts with a subtle dig at the Titans. He also says that Francis Bouillon will likely remain out of the lineup through the All-Star break:

David Poile on 1045 The Zone 20110121 (MP3)

And then, follow after the jump for your morning hockey news!

The Preds have 9 home games coming up in the month of February, including dates against the Detroit Red WingsVancouver Canucks, and Chicago Blackhawks. Save some cash and get yourself some discount Nashville Predators tickets for these, or any other home game.

Nashville Predators News

Joel Ward is living proof of power of dreams - The Globe and Mail
The wonderful, improbable tale of Joel Ward's rise to the NHL, told by Allan Maki. Outstanding stuff here, and just another example of the opportunities that the Preds make available to guys who want to earn them.

The 303:30 – the offense, winning the Central & should Preds claim Nabokov to spite Wings? | Section 303
Jeremy gets your weekend rolling with a podcast chock-full of Preds talk.

Rinne makes case as Preds march on | The Hockey Writers
Another writer out there agrees with Chris.

J.P. Dumont is finding his groove - NHL Hot Stove
J.P.'s goal-scoring has been a welcome addition of late... but will it continue? That's the big question.

"I Think It’s Our Worst Game Of The Season" | Admirals Roundtable
A 3-0 got the Milwaukee Admirals off to a good start... but the finish? Yikes.

Around the NHL

Thomas Tops List of Best NHLers This Season - Versus
Check out which Pred makes Adrian Dater's list of top players so far.

Bouchard knows concussion struggle all too well - The Globe and Mail
Pierre-Marc Bouchard missed over 100 games for the Minnesota Wild due to concussions, and talks about the long road back to action for him. Insightful stuff here relative to Matthew Lombardi's situation.

Gagner struggling on defence like never before (but Zorg and Petry getting it done) - Cult of Hockey
David Staples looks at Sam Gagner as being a defensive liability for the Oilers this season, while former Pred Ryan Jones is faring pretty well.

2011 Edmonton Oilers Scoring Chances - The Copper & Blue
According to another analysis, however, Ryan Jones is bleeding scoring chances against badly for Edmonton.

Kings' GM Dean Lombardi Fined $50K for Questioning Integrity of NHL Official -- NHL FanHouse
This comes as no surprise...

Lawsuit: Thrashers owners have been trying to sell team since 2005  |
Dysfunction Junction... what's your function...

Melnyk has to do something - Toronto Sun
Don Brennan calls upon Ottawa's owner, Eugene Melnyk, to enact sweeping change now, rather than wait for the off-season.

Molson Announces Canadiens Management Restructuring | All Habs
Are the Canadiens following Nashville's lead in creating a COO position to help drive the business side?

"Apathetic" star prospect continues to fall - Litter Box Cats
Erik Gudbranson was the 3rd overall pick by the Florida Panthers last summer, and an incident which has led to his "A" being taken away by his junior team has folks wondering where his career is headed.

99 turns 50 - The Globe and Mail
50 in 50... Wayne Gretzky does it again.