The views and opinions expressed in this piece may not reflect those of the rest of the staff at OnTheForecheck.
I could likely spend this entire space on the Ryan Hartman trade, or Tuesday’s game in Winnipeg.
The Predators may not have the most intimidating offense when it comes to star power, but the depth is becoming a strength. Adding a player like Ryan Hartman allows for that depth to be flexed during a playoff series. Coach Peter Laviolette likes to have at least one player on each line to play in front of the net, and that’s exactly where Hartman’s strength lies. A prime example was the game against the Jets. The Jets tried using their bigger defensemen to play tighter to their goal, and Nashville’s active defense picked apart seams and passing lanes rather than rely on their point shot during even strength play.
When is the last time the Predators scored five goals during 5 on 5 play and all five were in from the face-off dots?
Big teams that guard the net have frustrated Nashville in the past. With a deep roster that’s willing play in front of the net, teams like St. Louis and Anaheim will have to do more than just block shots to get past Nashville.
Playing in front of the net is contagious, and the line with Sissons and Watson were lifted by Hartman’s first night.
This trend carried into Edmonton:
I was a bit higher on the Hartman acquisition than most, but that’s based out of hope that he can become the pest that hangs around the crease and bang in 20 a year. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, and he’s shown the right amount of effort and skill to do that. Nashville hasn’t had that since Patric Hornqvist left.
The Central Division definitely cannibalized itself at the trade deadline. The Blues shipped off their 1C (or whatever you consider Paul Stastny) to Winnipeg. The Blackhawks sent off a young player with plenty of inexpensive years left to Nashville. Minnesota and Dallas didn’t do much, which may prove to be wise given how top-heavy the west is becoming.
As the intensity ramps up in the Pacific, it’s quite possible that Vegas gets a bit reeled in by the rest of their division. San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim are all fighting for positioning, and as more teams start playing with more intensity Vegas might drop a game here and there more often in March. That doesn’t make them a bad team, and they’ll still win their division, but they may give up some points to the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks.
All of that to say: I’m predicting Nashville and Winnipeg will be fighting for the #1 seed in the West. Not exactly a hot take, but there it is.
That would likely mean Nashville will be playing a wild card team. And as great of a feeling as ending Anaheim’s season is, I’d prefer to see Nashville play someone else.
It’s kinda hard to cheer for any of these teams to make the playoffs, but a team like St. Louis would be a preferred match in the first round, just based on their style of play and now the lack of a true #1 center. Also consider this: if the Blues make it to the dance, it could be due the work of future free agent Carter Hutton. Hutton has usurped Jake Allen from the starter’s net, and Allen has a contract worth $4.35 million over the next three seasons. The Blues do have some cap space this summer, but a nice Carter Hutton contract would limit the Blues’ ability to acquire a piece they truly need.
So that’s where I’m at: I’m pulling for the Blues to make it into the playoffs. It feels dirty.
The Nashville Predators still have yet to play a game at full strength. Vancouver was an exercise in depth.
Let’s all give a round of applause for Craig Smith. Smith has made the most of his second line role with Kyle Turris, and his confidence is back to where it needs to be. His 20th goal was one Nashville needed in a game that we’ll remember for a while.
The way Nashville answered the bell in Winnipeg was inspiring. Peter Laviolette doesn’t put as big of an emphasis on the regular season compared to the playoffs (examples: the previous two years), but this year feels a bit different. They chose to win on Wednesday. They chose to answer back once the Jets went up 5-3. With 20 games left and playing against a heavy team, that’s a win that feels like more than two points.
But when you look back, giving up a two goal lead on the road three games in a row and still winning is both concerning and impressive.
The press conference on deadline day was superb. How good does David Poile feel about this roster and the near future of this team? He gave us something he only gives us when he’s feeling great (or that one time when a bratty Ivy League student made a foolish decision): details. He gave us details regarding Eeli Tolvanen, and he gave us all some of his mindset regarding where the team is now: it’s time to win, and reload in the background.
Also David Poile:
In a perfect world, Tolvanen is the weapon Nashville doesn’t feel like they have to use this year. But this world isn’t perfect, and he’ll likely see some action this year.
Last week I mentioned some radio programming, and I feel bad for leaving out one of the best spots of the week. Poile joins the Midday 180 weekly, and he’s never sounded more comfortable with his job. Granted, things are going pretty good for him... but the crew gets a good reaction from Poile.
I’m not sure how I feel about some of the team’s best players all getting a night off in Vancouver, but that arrogance didn’t get punished by a Canucks team with a capable power play. Fisher looked good after the first period, and the team liked having him back out there. I’m still not sure he’s an everyday player just yet, but he could work his way back in.
This will be your home for all things Viktor Arvidsson as he chases that marker for the second year in a row.
Our hero had himself a game in Edmonton.
He now has 24 goals with 18 games left.
What are your thoughts on the Titans’ jersey reveal extravaganza?
And, as a follow-up: if you were the owner of a Big 4 franchise and could grab any living artist to perform a free concert (the Titans clearly had some limitations) wearing the jerseys at the reveal, who would you choose?
I’ll start this by saying I’m a supporter of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The choices for popular musical acts from that area aren’t great. Somehow, the team managed to pull off a Fulham F.C. game and a Carrie Underwood for a concert on the day the new stadium renovations opened.
The Titans chose Florida-Georgia Line for their rebranding party. That’s.... that’s a choice. The Predators had Taylor Swift wear their excellent navy blue/white third jersey on stage at her concert, and that went over well across the board.
If I’m the owner of a big four team, I’d definitely want someone who was a legitimate supporter of the team on stage. Someone like a Carrie Underwood or Brad Paisley is a safe bet, but Kings Of Leon or Paramore could be fun. I’d likely want to own a baseball franchise, for the record. The revenue is too strong to ignore, and it would give me something to do daily.
I’m playing Out of the Park Baseball 17 still, and in the year 2047 the Royals moved to Nashville and are now known as the Astronauts. No joke.
Was Tuesday an anomaly, or is Josi taking a step up to be the offensive machine we know he can be?
Josi was taking advantage of Winnipeg’s defense trying too hard to stop Nashville’s active defensemen. Roman Josi is a lot of things; handsome, fast, and wise are chief among them. Nashville’s forwards were able to cut to the net, and the Jets were too busy puck watching for much of the third period. Smith’s second goal and Hartman’s winner are prime examples. A player scoring 5 assists in a night isn’t something to count on, but his job gets easier when the other team forgets about your forwards.
As maple syrup season is fast approaching, what is the best way to enjoy maple syrup/products? (syrup, maple butter, toffee, candies, etc.)
bonus point multiplier: best pancake recipe?
Maple syrup is great, especially on waffles made with love and care, but maple frosting on doughnuts has to be my favorite. Maple and coffee do work well together.
I’m not a big pancake person. Usually my recipe involves gasoline, a Honda, and a parking space at Cracker Barrel.
Why does Turris keep getting tossed at face-offs?
The NHL made faceoffs a priority this year, and some feel that it had to do with Turris’s battle with the Penguins last year. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s being watched more closely.
I’ll give you a fun one
21st birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks… any drink suggestions from the “adults”?
First off, be careful. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Also, once you start enjoying liquor... you’ll notice your taste buds will change. Sugar won’t satisfy you the same way, and you may want less of it in your coffee going forward.
Make a trip to a local winery. Most of the southern wineries will have more sweet wines, which are good for figuring out your tastes. If I could do it all over again, that’s what I would do.
If there is one liquor I would advise to start with, it would be Bulleit Bourbon. Is it the best? No, but it’s great. Is it the most flavorful? No, but it packs plenty. Eventually, you’ll grow into wanting to try Woodford Reserve, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Willett, etc. If you’re not doing a flight of bourbons, a small bottle of Bulleit would be a good launching pad. Once you get used to drinking a whiskey or bourbon neat, it makes those $9 sugary cocktails with colors and syrups seem less appetizing.
I don’t know your social situation, and chances are you won’t meet the love of your life at a bar, but you can tell a lot about somebody by what’s in their hand in a public setting. You can always put a ton of sugars and flavors in your glass to mask the fact that you’re having a drink, or you could just have a drink.
Regardless... take advantage of this newfound freedom by having the best dessert that most restaurants offer: coffee. Coffee after dinner is entirely underrated in the states.
Since the current team was ranked a couple weeks ago, what is your all time top 10 Preds H/60?
- Pekka Rinne. He’s given us young handsome, prime handsome, and now he’s giving us all mature handsome. Cherish him.
- Roman Josi. He is Roman Josi.
- Mike Fisher. Once he ditched the Canada-hair, his game went to a new level.
- P.K. Subban. The smile, demeanor, and figure of Subban is striking.
- Shea Weber. Shea never got the respect he deserved in this category. Power is sexy.
- Craig Smith. Once he cut his hair, his smile took off.
- Paul Kariya. Also had a great smile, and looks like the trustworthy youth group leader.
- Kevin Fiala. Rising star, looks like he models watches and colognes.
- Scottie Upshall. Yes, there was a time.
- Seth Jones. We didn’t see Seth grow up in Nashville, but he wore his youth well when he was here.
- I’m a bit surprised Dallas or Minnesota didn’t do more at the deadline. The Wild likely have two years including this one to make a run with the services of Eric Staal & Devan Dubnyk. Staal has given the Wild some great play as of late, and he’s the closest thing the Wild have had to a #1 center that any of us can remember.
- At some point the Carolina Hurricanes have to take the next step, but the Panthers and Blue Jackets are fighting with them over the #8 spot.
- I’m pulling for the Florida Panthers to get in. They have three games in hand over the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets. A first round matchup with Tampa Bay would be great for both teams.
- I said this last week:
Since his suspension, Filip Forsberg looks a little more timid on the ice. It’s understandable, and it’s temporary. Once he hits someone and doesn’t get reprimanded, he’ll be back to normal.
He’s looked better this week, but that suspension really seemed to affect him. He’s still involved in the play, but he’s not being as aggressive on the ice while carrying the puck.
- They didn’t trade Eeli Tolvanen.
- David The Builder was the name given to David IV of Georgia. He is referred to as David The Builder by Georgian historians who credit him for architecting Georgia’s Golden Age. He defeated the Turks, capturing Tbilisi as a result of the Battle of Didgori.
- Colorado is looking pretty sharp these days. There may be questions about their depth, their defense, etc. But as long as Nathan MacKinnon can keep up his current pace, they could sneak into the first round.
- If you haven’t had a chance to read this piece on David Poile, please do so. I’m a sucker for seeing folks being good parents and grandparents, and the pictures in it are spectacular. It’s a great read, and leaves you wanting to see this team hand the cup over to their general manager.
On to the next one.