The "Five Tough Questions" segment is one of the highlights of my week. Over the last 4 years, the other guys have not seen these or heard these questions before being asked them while they're being recorded. So there's usually a good pause from folks on the other end. In a day and age when it's not cool or wise to give strong opinions [HOT TAEKS], the other folks on the show have been doing so for years now. And after working with Chris Link for years now, you learn that your answered need to have some form of substance behind them.
But why should we have all the fun?
Marya, Kris, Alex, and Bryant all answered the bell. And feel free to have your say below. These are always a ton of fun.
1. What prospect are you currently more excited for: Kevin Fiala or Vladislav Kamenev?
Marya: Still Fiala. Despite organizational need and his various discipline issues, he has the potential to be so dynamic offensively, and I love his firecracker attitude. If he can just learn to pick his spots and use it to draw more penalties than he takes, he's going to be amazing.
Bryant: I’m more excited for Kamenev right now due to his great attitude, willingness to learn, current success, and importance to the Preds as a potential top six center. While Fiala should return to his normal play given time and is still the better prospect, his difficulty in handling being sent down to the minors represents something in his mindset that needs to change. He had trouble last season when he was sent back to Sweden, as well, and was sat a game by his head coach. In order to be a successful NHL player he needs to quit getting so high and low.
Kris: Kamenev. I'm still excited about Fiala, however he seems way more rough around the edges then how Kamenev is, with the latter of the two being much more prepared for a call-up to the NHL level.
Alex: I'm still excited about Fiala. His skills are still there and his ceiling is still high. Yeah, it's not nice to see him going wayward while simultaneously being unproductive at the moment, but in a way it's great that he is getting all this messy immaturity out of the way while in Milwaukee.
2. Calle Jarnkrok has been moved back to C, and now has 4 goals on the year. Will he make the move into the top six this year? Maybe some power play time?
Marya: Probably only if there's an injury necessitating a move up. I think he'll deserve it over Ribeiro, but the only way he'll skate with top 6 talent is if Laviolette decides to "redistribute" the talent over the top three lines. (And with the Prince on the PK.) I don't see him on the PP at all.
Bryant: If Jarnkrok can sustain success and Mike Fisher keeps doing what he’s doing... I think that’s in order. I’m leaning towards the idea, however, that Fisher is going to get back to his normal play but there is still obviously the chance that age has finally caught up to him.
Kris: Power play time, yes. Top six? I don't think he'll earn consistent time there, no. Maybe some relief time on certain occasions, but he won't stay there very long.
Alex: I don't think Jarnkrok moves into the top 6 and I don't want him to. I would love for him to continue churning out scoring production on that 3rd line. Power-play time would be nice though, especially if certain forwards (WILSON) continue to struggle there.
3. Will Paul Maurice make it to December as the coach of the Jets?
Marya: I believe so. Cheveldayoff doesn't seem to want to do much of anything, and I don't think a coach is going to fix what's wrong with the team (goaltending, defense, scoring).
Bryant: I think he will. I don’t see him getting fired mid-season after a playoff season with the Jets and they aren’t too far out of a playoff spot right now despite a 5 game losing streak. He’s earned at least another season barring complete catastrophe.
Kris: Yeah, I believe so. Winnipeg is only 8-9-2 as of Wednesday morning, so I don't think it's time to jump the gun just yet on Maurice.
Alex: Definitely, in fact I think Maurice remains the coach the entire year. I don't think he's the issue. They just aren't built to succeed in the Central division. Average firepower, weakened defense, shaky goaltending, and Dustin Byfuglien being a neanderthal... not Maurice's fault.
4. The Blues and Blackhawks played on Saturday, featuring a Toews v. Backes fight. In your opinion, what is the nastiest rivalry in the Western Conference?
Marya: Honorable mention to the Battle of California, but I'll give it to Colorado/Minnesota. As adorable as Toews and Backes "fighting" is, Colorado and Minnesota want to murder each other. Annually attempting to concuss Backes or Seabrook is minor league when I'm pretty sure Landeskog hides a shiv in his lovely golden locks during those games. And no one cares about Alberta.
Bryant: LA-San Jose is one of my favorites. That playoff series when LA won the cup was nuts. Neither team making the playoffs last season was very surprising and maybe knocks the rivalry down a bit but it’s still a great rivalry.
Kris: St. Louis and Chicago, hands down. San Jose and Los Angeles is always fun, however it's better when both teams are favorites to travel deep in the playoffs. Both the Blues and Blackhawks attempt to eradicate each other on the ice, and that makes for some good hockey.
5. On last Sunday, the Bears played the Rams in St. Louis (which also featured a horde of Chicagoans). Other than Preds' games, what's the most obnoxious visiting fan story you have?
Marya: I went to a game at the SAP Center versus the Hawks, and it turns out they don't need Broadway to be disgustingly overserved. I've mostly repressed the particulars, but we actually had to get security involved, which I've managed to avoid at Bridgestone. Here in Nashville, I had to explain to Blues fans how crosswalks work.
Bryant: Two years ago during the Iron Bowl I was standing in line at a fraternity bathroom in Auburn and tried to strike up a friendly conversation with an Alabama fan who was roughly in her mid-thirties. I was being extremely polite which made her reaction even more asinine. She proceeded to cuss me out and call me a "Barner" with quite the drunken redneck draw. Very pissed off and keeping in mind that the shear mass of bandwagon Chicago fans is only bested by those of the University of Alabama, I asked her if she ever attended her beloved team’s school. There were two victories that day…
Kris: The only time I've ever felt truly disgruntled as a visitor to an opposing stadium or arena is when I've been to St. Louis to watch the Predators take on the Blues. The fans that I've had the unfortunate luxury of sitting near were just ugly in their overall demeanor. I know this doesn't speak for the entire fan base, however the handful of times I've been as a visiting fan have never truly been great experiences. The staff, though? Fantastic. I've never had an ounce of trouble with the team itself.
Alex: At the Vandy-Arkansas football game a few years ago, there was a particularly devastating hit on a Vandy punt returner which resulted in a lengthy injury delay. One Razorbacks fan in our section exclaimed his displeasure loudly, using very colorful and homophobic remarks. The entire section revolted and implored the security staff to escort the fan out, which they did. My favorite part? The leader of the revolt was none other than Vandy baseball coach and local superhero Tim Corbin.