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Friday afternoon notes: In search of depth

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The Navy football coach, on why the Midshipmen had two mascots on the sideline at their game against Army: " We're deep at goat."    Sports Illustrated, December 25 1995

Every organization has its strengths and weaknesses, with the oft-cited "Predator Way" relying on a team-wide commitment to fundamental defensive hockey principles, along with strong goaltending, to weather the storms that come along during the long NHL season.

Over the last two weeks, we've seen that foundation help the team work through a particularly rough stretch of injuries, which forced a number of players to step up and assume more prominent roles for a few games, such as Matt Halischuk on a scoring line, or Brian McGrattan playing nearly 10 minutes against Vancouver. While they certainly didn't win every game, and looked "horrible, absolutely horrible" in some of the losses, the Predators did manage to steal some points here and there until things returned back to normal, which they began to do last night with Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn back in the lineup.

While I'd say this team still has holes to fill if it wants to truly compete with the best of the best, and contend for a Central Division championship or a Stanley Cup, it does appear to have some intriguing qualities that should help keep the Preds in the thick of the playoff hunt all season long. They may not be deep at goat, but they've got enough pluggers to play something akin to "Predator Hockey" even if some of the key components go missing for a few games at a time.

When fully healthy, this team probably ranks just behind the main contenders like Chicago, Vancouver, and San Jose in the West's second tier of teams. Take a couple Top 6 forwards out of the equation, however (as seems to happen every few weeks), and they slip, although not completely out of sight. Nashville boasts some depth, but it's more along the lines of "we have guys we can call upon in Milwaukee to round out the 4th line" rather than filling a major role. What will bear watching over the course of the season will be if David Poile is able to make a move to add such support, as has been boasted lately.

Enjoy your afternoon hockey notes...

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Nashville Predators News

Pekka Rinne Signs in Nashville, What Happens to other Goalies in System? - The Hockey Writers
Does the Pekka Rinne contract mean that other goalies are expendable? I could see that with Chet Pickard, perhaps, if someone wants to give him a second chance. But there's no reason Anders Lindback can't continue to be a solid backup here for at least a couple more seasons.

The Second Domino: The Comparables for Suter | The Predatorial
Jeremy brings up a number of examples to point to for guidance on a Ryan Suter contract, but one thing to remember is that the salary level in the summer of 2012 will be significantly higher than 1, 2, or 3 years ago, when many of these guys signed their contracts. 

Smashville 24/7: Smashville On The Glass - Pekka Rinne extension
More podcast reaction from local bloggers to yesterday's deal.

What the Rinne signing means - Predators Insider
Josh Cooper compares Tom Ciggaran's statements yesterday to the words of Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. I think we're still a long way from enjoying that kind of ownership, but boy are things different from 2007.

Predators relish Rinne's impressive glove work -
A heaping helping of glove love for Peks.

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

NHL Power Rankings, Western Conference: Chicago Leads The Way, Columbus Is Still Bad -
The Predators show up just outside the playoff pack in rankings compiled by the SB Nation Western Conference blog editors.

Tired Coyotes Can't Solve Rinne: Lose 3-0 to Nashville - Five For Howling
Here's the Phoenix perspective on last night's game.

The Hockey News: Proteau: Time for Flames to trade Iginla, Kiprusoff
Jarome Iginla for Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen... and what the heck, we'll throw in Chet Pickard, too. Whattaya say, Mr. Feaster? It's worth noting that just hours after this column dogged Iginla for a slow start, he put up 2 goals and an assist in Detroit.

Don Maloney's Fighting an Unwinnable Battle Against Kyle Turris | Puck Drunk Love
I tend to agree with this. If the Phoenix GM's point is that he's not going to let this kid force his hand in a trade, and will move him only once he's signed a contract... well, hasn't Turris achieved his objective? Everybody knows that Turris has no future with the Coyotes.

Friday Hockey Fights: The Anaheim Ducks Had A Lot Of Great Fights This Week -
Brian McGrattan made one Top-5 list...

Ducks want Ryan to be more than a shooter -
Is Bobby Ryan too much of a "pretty goal" scorer?

James van Riemsdyk: Everything is Coming Up Doghouse - Backhand Shelf
He's got a fresh 6-year big-money contract, but JVR hasn't delivered the goods so far in Philadelphia.

Kevin Bieksa: The Man Who Tried To Do Too Much | CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG
Is he a Canucks defenseman, or a James Bond villain?

From Gulutzan to Lehtonen, risks have rewarded Dallas Stars - Puck Daddy
One guy who I am glad to see doing well is Sheldon Souray, whose career could have pretty much ended with that whole mess in Edmonton. Perhaps the most interesting game on tonight's schedule has the Stars hosting Colorado. 

Surprising Senators just wanted to be heard - NHL - Yahoo! Sports
Cory Clouston's tenure ended in horrible fashion last season, and new coach Paul MacLean has gotten them off to a fresh, and surprising start.

Hockey, Credit Cards and Doughnuts... - The Hockey Writers
The NHL continues to strike up corporate sponsorship deals.

Goalie-Gate: Josh Harding to Start Fourth in a Row - Hockey Wilderness
I'm just glad I have both Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom on my main fantasy hockey team.

Shot to the Chart. But Who's to Blame? (You Give Goalies a Bad Name) - Pension Plan Puppets
Very "chicken or the egg"-type material here.

Livin' the High Life: Leafs Atop the NHL - Is it Sustainable? | Puck Drunk Love
Toronto stands alone in 1st place in the overall league standings.

Rec Hockey Lesson: On 3-on-2′s, Mid-Lane Drive is a Must - Backhand Shelf
Solid advice here from Justin - if you can't hustle when you're in an odd-man rush, what the heck are you doing out there?

What do you do with your first NHL check? Buy a truck, says Tampa Bay Lightning's Brett Connolly - Lightning Strikes
Someone needs to ask this question of Craig Smith...