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The Week That Was: Chapter 13

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The moms tag along on New Year’s Eve, players remember where high-danger areas are and health continues to improve, but one “soft” effort keeps the week from being perfect. Also, let’s talk Winter Classic for a minute.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Turning the calendar to 2019 seemed to flip a switch for the Nashville Predators, didn’t it? The Preds went all “new year, new me” this past week, beginning in the nation’s capital with their moms tagging along for the final game of December.

Okay, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the two back-to-backs with a two-day break sandwiched in. But, for the most part, this past week was a reminder that the Preds can still play good hockey even if they’re not at 100 percent. Oh, and they’re getting closer to it with the return of Colton Sissons and the imminent return of Filip Forsberg as well.

Another new face came in the lineup (welcome, Philip Di Giuseppe!) and Rocco Grimaldi’s stock continues to rise along with his rock star presence (short guys represent!) in the lineup.

Yes, I changed it from “Week 13” to “Chapter 13.” This whole season reads more like a book anyway.

On with it:

The Fast Money Round

Monday: Predators 6, Washington Capitals 3

This game already seems like a long time ago, but it was a lot of fun after a not-so-great first period. It got to 3-1, but the Preds handled business the rest of the way. The moms’ mojo certainly didn’t hurt.

Tuesday: Predators 4, Philadelphia Flyers 0

This one had its moments (wyd with that open net, Kevin Fiala?) but Juuse Saros was outstanding and the top line was cooking. Also, more Rocco.

Friday: Detroit Red Wings 4, Predators 3 (OT)

Just no reason to lose this game. It’s not 1998, you shouldn’t be losing to Detroit. But, when you leave Dylan Larkin alone to cruise right down Broadway, not even All-Universe Pekka Rinne is going to be able to keep him from scoring in overtime. Peter Laviolette, in one of the most candid post-game comments he’s made, probably ever, said: “Awful... It’s very, very, very disappointing how soft we were.”

Saturday: Predators 4, Montreal Canadiens 1

Let’s just say challenge accepted. Lavi had called out the fellas the night before and they responded with a very good effort less than 24 hours later. Craig Smith is starting to heat up and Mattias Ekholm is quietly putting together his best season. Also, another W for Saros.

Player of the Week

Speaking of Craig Smith, he’s the player of the week as he’s finding the net with regularity lately.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

(Actually, this was harder than most weeks because there were good candidates from all over the place. Saros, Grimaldi, Ekholm...)

Favorite Thing of the Week

Going back to Tuesday’s victory, this played on the jumbotron during a break and, since I’m a fan of “Rocky,” this was well done. Admit it, you laughed when Chris Mason said “you’re gonna have to go through heck...”

Discussion of the Week

Instead of a question or a concern this week, let’s go a different route. With the announcement of the Winter Classic going to Dallas next year, the speculation is already running rampant of who might be the Stars’ opponent at the Cotton Bowl.

The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers have been thrown out in various forums. Minnesota certainly makes sense, as would Nashville. It’s also sparked discussion on when, not if, the Predators would host an outdoor game.

With Nashville possibly earmarked for European games next season, their spot in the Winter Classic might not be in the cards this time around. The Stadium Series game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Air Force Academy is more likely.

A Winter Classic game could certainly happen at Nissan Stadium, so long as the Tennessee Titans could play their next-to-last regular season game at home, then go on the road in Week 17. Any more than that and it would be a concession the Titans might not be willing to make.

But it’d still be the best venue for it. No way should the game be at Vanderbilt, because that’d be a massive slap in the face to Preds fans due to the stadium’s size and subpar facilities. And the new MLS stadium slated for the fairgrounds is an absolute non-starter. One of the goals for the Winter Classic is a massive attendance figure. You could get 69,000 in Nissan Stadium. You could also get 102,000-plus in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. With this year’s game at Notre Dame (about two hours from Chicago), it opens up Knoxville as a possibility, and make the Carolina Hurricanes an ideal opponent for attendance.

Discuss: Should the Predators get a Stadium Series game first, then a Winter Classic, or do you shoot for the Winter Classic regardless? Also, which venue/opponent would you ideally like to see?

This week’s grade

Fans can feel better about this team right now. They’re getting healthier and staying within earshot of the Central Division lead. That was the plan all along, and it’s working. Fine-tuning things and improving the power play are the goals now (though I’m not holding my breath on the second one). Losing to Detroit keeps this from being an A+ week, though seven of eight points is still a very good week. This week’s grade: A

Poll

Who’s your Player of the Week for Week 13?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Craig Smith
    (21 votes)
  • 32%
    Rocco Grimaldi
    (15 votes)
  • 15%
    Juuse Saros
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    Mattias Ekholm
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
46 votes total Vote Now