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The Weekender: Rounding Third

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NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The views and opinions expressed in this piece may not reflect those of the rest of the staff at OnTheForecheck.

Truth season is here. March has a way to providing us a little extra drama like a pair of fighters circling the ring during the early rounds. Fans start watching the scoreboards, hoping to draw certain teams and avoid that one team... or two teams... or... “begrudgingly accept the fact that all of the games will be tough”.

That’s an okay opinion to have, but you’d prefer your team to take on a series that doesn’t end up with key pieces missing significant time. That’s happened the last 3 times Nashville has played Anaheim in the postseason.

Sadly, my dream of the the Blues making the playoffs with the #8 slot is looking dimmer by the day. Carter Hutton has picked up a neck injury.

The Anaheim Ducks may be the scariest team in the Pacific, and if I had to place a bet on who is going to represent that division in the Conference Finals, it’s them. They have a plan, and they’re fully committed to it. It’s rare that there’s a team that Nashville has beaten in the playoffs the last two years, swept them in the regular season, and you’d rather see Nashville play someone else in the first round. That’s where I’m at.

Regardless, Ryan Johansen is having a good time with it all.

He may have botched the fight with Kesler, but his play on the ice spoke volumes.

At some point, people need to listen to Ken Dryden regarding hits to the head. This needs to be more than a two-minute penalty.

The sooner the NHL realizes that a cross check in the face doesn’t add anything to the game, the better.

There’s plenty of undue backlash to the inclusive movement in hockey. Hockey teams are trying hard to make people feel comfortable at games, and I take zero issue with this. It’s odd that hockey is in the vanguard for social issue for once compared to the rest of the sporting world, but I’m glad to see it.

That said, if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers and it’s a day after “Hockey Is For Everyone” month, don’t think that gives you the green light to mock rural folks with low incomes.

Everyone means everyone, not just the folks you agree with. The Flyers have went 0-4-1, and have been outscored by 11 goals since this appeared on their scoreboard.

Pekka Rinne has been nothing short of great this year.

Over his last 20 games, he’s 18-1-1, allowing 2.03 goals per game, and posting a save percentage of 93.4%. That’s.... something.

Then you have the crazy stats from the start of the year when Ryan Ellis returned to the lineup:

And that was before the homestand began. I’ll argue the team is better when the offense doesn’t count on the perimeter shots and bombs from the blue line, but the defense still racks up points on assists.

After leaving Nashville in free agency, Dan Hamhuis didn’t make any friends here with his comments upon arrival in Vancouver. Water under the bridge and such, glad to see that the organization recognized his 1000th game.

Ladies and Gents, our first installment of a section documenting the lovable crime-fighting duo we’ve all appreciated:

Watson and Sissons work so well together, and you can tell there’s a trust between the two of them. Adding Hartman to their line allows a similar player with a bit more scoring touch to get involved in their plays. This is a prime example of an aggressive forecheck creating chaos on a defense that’s trying to do too much.

Then you have the penalty kill:

That’s a confident play on the penalty kill. The chemistry Watson and Sissons have is hard to ignore, and it allows them to be more aggressive while short-handed.

He’s now at 25 goals.

Which Predators player would make the best mayor of Nashville?

You can disregard the requirements:

Be at least 30 years of age; and a resident of Davidson County Tennessee for at least 3 years.

Kevin_hairless

I’ll adhere to the requirements and go with Pekka Rinne. I’ll take a charming, respected human that can get people to the table. I trust Rinne to make good decisions, make friends along the way, and earn the respect of people he works with. Vice Mayor would be Anthony Bitetto.

When or Should

The old Predator head the guys skate through be updated or replaced with a better one? It’s starting to look a little dated.

Dennis.K.Morgan

Just some awesome stage lighting and smoke. Have some local kids skate a few laps, and act as sentries when the team enters the ice. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s classic and will look great live.

The Preds are certainly on a roll, lately...

-Best in the Central, the West and the entire League! They’ve won 9 straight (as of 3/8). GMDP is celebrated as the winningest GM in the history of all time, etc…

I know the team has depth, chemistry and is resting key players.

Q: Fancy stats notwithstanding, are the Preds peaking too soon? Barring injuries and the unknown, do they have the wheels to sustain this level of play through June?

IcemanCometh

I’m not accepting the idea that they’re peaking just yet. Laviolette has shown us in the prior two seasons that the postseason has a different level of intensity from this team. It doesn’t feel like they’re dominating teams, but rather they’re relying on more well-rounded tactics. The Preds aren’t depending just on the slapshot from the point, and that’s opened up their offense a bit more. Rinne and Saros have been stellar, and the team is playing some confident hockey even with key pieces taking a night off.

Should the league move the upcoming Lightning-Preds game to the final game of the season

To be a potential “winner takes the Presidents’ trophy” game where it is handed out at the end?

musamonster

I don’t think this trophy matters enough for it, but I like the idea of flexing games for TV provided that the schedule works. The trouble is with the buildings and other events. I like the idea of NBC making games bigger and better for TV purposes, provided it’s not Chicago vs. Buffalo.

a serious one then(since you don’t like my stupid chicken one):

Should the KHL and the NHL have a 7 game series against each other for bragging rights? the Stanley cup winner vs the Gregorian Cup winner (is that their cup?)

i know it wont happen. but how entertaining would it be for many reasons. one game with their refs, one game with ours alternating. one game on big ice, one on small.

Cascapedia

No. Think of this like Apollo Creed vs. Rocky Balboa. Creed was never the same after the first Rocky fight, and it made Rocky’s career. If you’re the NHL, why give the KHL a platform?

Will this preds team go sown as one of the best teams in nhl history if they win it all?

ajs3677

Depends on how they look in the postseason. If they mow through teams in 4 or 5 game series on the way to the final and win it, we can have that talk. Unlike other leagues, the NHL has created artificial eras in its timeline. The Original Six* era, the expansion era, the dead puck era, the post-lockout era, etc... they all have shown different recipes to win. It’s hard to compare eras, so comparing this team (if they win the cup) to the 2010 Blackhawks in my mind is enough. I really don’t care if this team KO’s injury-riddled teams along the way and we’re left wondering “how good this team was”... that bottle of Woodford Reserve Double-Double Oaked we’ve been saving will taste the same IF Nashville wins it all.

That said, this team is entitled to nothing. And if any fanbase/city knows a thing or two about a #1 seed being upset in the first round recently, it’s this one. Nothing is for sure.

Chicago wasn’t that good in the early 2000’s

They had a very loyal following but the attendance numbers were in the gutter from 2000-07. The made great draft selections around the start of the Rocky Wirtz era and hired Q to coach. We’ve all seen how that worked. Lots of success. One thing that has been commented on here is the nature of the hawks fans. They fill up other teams stadiums. Take traditions that were a thing at home on the road and generally are poor representatives for the organization they love so much (they just heard about the hawks last year).

Am I the only one that is noticing similar things happening with our beloved Predators? Is there a way we can avoid the bad rep that Hawks fans when attending road games? Is the bad rep really a thing based on quantitative facts(higher arrest records when the hawks come to town) or is it just the home fans getting frustrated because they were getting beat by the hawks(now the Preds). Then take out that frustration by calling the hawks fans garbage on fan forums, facebook, twitter, okcupid, imgur, reddit, op-ed’s, and peer reviewed scientific journals.

Dennis.K.Morgan

This is a very good thought to have. It’s always good to have the National Park philosophy of leaving a place better than you found it when you travel, but people do like to drink when they’re on vacation. If you live here, you know this.

Here’s a reality most Preds fans have discovered over the last half-decade: we’re spoiled with Downtown Nashville and the gameday atmosphere it creates. There aren’t as many options for pregame and postgame near the buildings in most cities. Therefore, you’re stuck drinking $18 cocktails and $9 beers which put a damper on everything. So I have doubts on Nashville fans being the puke drunks we’ve seen in the MNPD booking lot with Illinois addresses.

When the restrooms in Bridgestone Arena were updated, the sinks that were installed are built to handle vomit. Thanks, flatlanders.

With that said, I have some solid advice: don’t treat every barn as Bridgestone Arena... until the outcome is decided and in your favor. Cheer when your team scores, and don’t be a jerk.

Question:

Where will John Tavares (currently NYI), James Neal (VGK) and Erik Karlsson (OTT) play next season?

CGBrulez

Tavares: New York....

Neal: No idea here. If Vegas makes a run past the first round, he could sign an extension there. I think he would come back to Nashville, but the roster is getting full and extensions for Ellis and Fiala may take precedence.

Karlsson: Ottawa. He may get moved at the deadline, but Ottawa has to give it a go next year with Duchene, Ryan, Hoffman, and Karlsson under contract next year.

Imagine, if you will, that it’s June 26

From what we have seen so far from Hartman, what contract are you offering him if you’re Poile? What do you think is a reasonable offer to settle on?

George Woodard

It’ll either be something short, something like a “prove it here” deal... or something that Hartman will regret that’s too long for too little money... because Poile.

Best animated comedy TV series? Follow up… most quotable?

South Park, Archer, Simpsons, Family Guy, etc are all options.

bfarrish05

King of the Hill. Much like everything Mike Judge does, it’s funnier over time. The Simpsons have the best surrounding characters, but Homer, Bart, Marge, and Lisa aren’t terribly likable. Hank is more likable and easier to relate to than Homer. The show managed to keep Boomhauer’s occupation a secret until the very end, and Bobby Hill finds out his talent in life in the process. I’m biased towards shows that have a strong ending as opposed to shows that wither and die.

Quotable? Archer.

Your educated guess:

Will the Preds be clinching the Presidents’ Trophy this year?

And, if so, would that in itself be a bigger achievement than reaching the SCF last year?

No Ma’am

I like the Preds’ odds of winning the Presidents’ Trophy, largely because Tampa Bay has played Andrei Vasilevskiy much heavier than Pekka Rinne, and the Bolts’ backups aren’t having a great year. But I don’t believe it’s a bigger achievement than making the cup final.

I think we resign Ellis and trade Ekholm for prospects/picks/dman rental before the trade deadline prior to the expansion draft to better control our protection options.

Thoughts?

cisar

It’s possible, but it wouldn’t be anything right before the deadline. Seattle’s strategy may be altered if they see how Vegas fairs after this year. If Ellis is re-signed, chances are David Poile may try harder to protect an asset this time around. Neal was on a contract year, and spending a 1st to protect a player that’s only guaranteed for one more year wasn’t going to happen. If Ellis puts ink on paper, Poile will have to find a way to keep him. Ryan Ellis has proven himself to be incredibly valuable this season.

On LedgerSko’s Fiala article I commented with one of my favorites that Fiala was “hotter than a pistol.”

Dan, do you have a favorite “Southernism”?

I’m Thinking Arvy’s

I make a lot of baseball analogies in common conversation. That’s not true “Southernism”. My ladyfriend makes up for me in this category. She’ll drop a “happier than a bird with a french fry” once in a while. My dad is pretty great in this category as well. I probably should’ve paid more attention when Hee-Haw was on.

  • Eric Staal matching up against the Jets could be some great television.
  • Matt Murray may end up being the better goalie compared to Marc-Andre Fleury, but his durability is becoming a subject.
  • The Panthers look really good. They’re going to be a tough out for a time with small defensemen.
  • Leafs/Bruins and Cats/Bolts... those look like fun, right?
  • They didn’t trade Eeli Tolvanen.
  • Tolvanen is looking good for Jokerit. He got the game-tying and game-winning goals today as Jokerit moves on to face CSKA Moscow.
  • Craig Smith doesn’t have to wear a shirt again.
  • Ryan Hartman has 2 goals and 2 assists in his six games with Nashville.
  • The Jets are going to miss Mark Scheifele, but they still deserve your respect.
  • Ryan Ellis is a +19 since returning. It’s an incomplete stat, but it’s easy to see how much better this team is with him in the lineup.
  • [editor’s note] Also, the Vezina Trophy isn’t a lifetime achievement award. You’d think if you were a writer for Sportsnet, you would know this.

On to the next one.

-Dan