The All-Star break has come and gone and with no meaningful hockey for the Nashville Predators for the next few days, it’s time to rest and recharge for the stretch run.
This past week, we said goodbye to Anthony Bitetto and hello to next year’s Winter Classic. The Preds took down Central Division rival Colorado and won the battle of the last two Western Conference champions after Vegas’ lowkey trolling ended up backfiring.
Monday’s victory also gave Peter Laviolette his 600th career victory as an NHL head coach.
Saturday’s All-Star Game provided plenty of goals and some good saves as well.
Roman Josi had a goal and three assists in the Central’s 10-4 rout of the Pacific in the opener. Pekka Rinne made eight saves on nine Pacific shots in the first 10-minute period.
Then, in the championship round, the Metropolitan Division dominated the first 10 minutes (thanks, Devan Dubnyk). Rinne handled the second 10 minutes and while it appeared the comeback was on for a bit, the Metro rolled them 10-5 to take down the million-dollar prize.
The Fast Money Round
Monday: Predators 4, Colorado Avalanche 1
It wasn’t ideal by any means, but two points is two points. Better that it was a road win over a Central Division opponent. Also, that Viktor Arvidsson goal.
Wednesday: Predators 2, Vegas Golden Knights 1
Juuse Saros was outstanding. NBCSN’s lack of a full-time shot counter on the scorebug is not. Also, Nick Bonino has been on a tear lately. I didn’t expect to type that sentence during the 2018-19 season.
Saturday (All-Star Game): Central Division 10, Pacific Division 4; Metropolitan Division 10, Central Division 5
It was fun to watch John Gibson get lit up like a Christmas tree, but it was not fun seeing Devan Dubnyk basically sink Josi and Rinne’s chances for their share of the million. All told, the Preds’ all-star participants represented Nashville very well.
Players of the Week
I put both Rinne and Saros up here in the same week earlier this season, and I’m going to do it again. They were the biggest reasons the Preds won both games this week, so I have no qualms about letting them share the honors for the second time this season.
Favorite Thing of the Week
I’m basically researching Dallas lodging options as we speak.
2020 HERE WE COME— NHL (@NHL) January 25, 2019
The matchup is set! The @PredsNHL will take on the @DallasStars at the Cotton Bowl in the 2020 @Bridgestone Winter Classic. pic.twitter.com/pOu4tIm1z1
Discussion of the Week
There was some backlash from Preds fans on Twitter following a comment Rinne made during All-Star weekend when he used an expletive in describing why goal scoring has gone up in the league.
I get why people would be upset about the word he used (I won’t repeat it nor will I post it because it’s easily found) — he plays for a franchise in the Bible Belt and that kind of thing is still pretty sensitive among a certain subset of the population.
At the same time, he’s a professional athlete. I’d venture to guess about 99 percent of them have used that type of language at some point during their careers. They’re not all Tim Tebow, okay? It’s not unusual, and acting like it is just makes those fans look excessively naïve.
It wasn’t the best choice of words in an interview, but the fact of the matter is that those words are thrown around more than baseballs during spring training. If you don’t like the language, that’s fine, but come on. Put down the pitchforks and have some common sense. There are far bigger things to gripe about in this world.
(A word of caution: just because I mention the Bible Belt does not mean I will talk about religion. In fact, one of my core beliefs is to not discuss politics or religion because I think those things should be kept private — and that’s all I will say on that.)
This week’s grade
Can’t give this week an A+ because they certainly could have played better in Colorado, regardless of the end result. Other than that, I don’t have a reason to gripe. Two games, two wins against good teams. That still deserves a good grade. This week’s grade: A-