Friday, December 31, 2010

Predators end 2010 with a 4-1 victory over the Wild, snapping five-game losing skid

David Legwand returned to the lineup and Marek Svatos debuted in it as the Predators snapped their five-game losing skid against the Wild on Friday night, improving their record to 3-0 for games played on New Year's Eve.

Pekka Rinne was in goal for Nashville making 22 saves on 23 shots, picking up his first win in six starts to improve to 9-10-4 on the season. Rinne's former teammate in Finland, Niklas Backstrom was the losing goaltender for the Wild. Nashville had 34 shots on goal.

The Predators opened scoring at 4:23 into the first period on a delayed penalty call. Shane O'Brien passed the puck to Cody Franson at the blue line, where Franson's wrister beat Backstrom. Nick Spaling provided a screen in front of the net.

Legwand picked up two assists in his first game back from injury. Playing on a newly formed line with Colin Wilson and the newest Predator Marek Svatos, Legwand and his teammates worked well together and generated some offensive spark missing in Nashville's game as of late. Svatos played 9:59 minutes of ice time in his first game since leaving the KHL. Legwand played 15:50 in his first game back. Expect both of those total ice times to increase as each player returns to proper form.

With Nashville up 1-0, the Predators would be called for the first of four penalties. Nashville would not allow a power play goal.

Just over a minute after the Predators scored, Wilson was called for delay of game for putting the puck over the boards with 5:32 off the clock. At first no penalty was called but Wild captain Mikko Koivu convinced the referees that Wilson had earned a two minute break in the sin bin.

The Wild were unable to put any pucks past Rinne in the first but they were not without their chances. At the halfway point of the first, Predators defenseman, Kevin Klein, over skated the puck directly in front of Rinne, leaving Marty Havlat alone in the slot. Minnesota's leading scorer, and habitual Predator killer, Havlat was stopped by Rinne's left pad.

The Wild again almost tied the game with 5:14 left to play in the opening period. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had Rinne beat but was in turn beaten by the post.

The Predators had one power play opportunity in the game and it came with only 4:35 left to play in the first period. Brad Staubitz was called for hooking Patric Hornqvist. Nashville was unable to capitalize on the man advantage.

The second period's highlights included three minor penalties taken by Nashville, as well as Hornqvist scoring his ninth goal of the season.

Marcel Goc was called for tripping Koivu with 15:39 left in the middle frame. Nashville's penalty kill was strong and clearly benefited from the return of Legwand to the lineup, seeing 3:20 of short-handed ice time.

Hornqvist made it a 2-0 game when he deflected a Shea Weber snap shot from the point through Backstrom's 5-hole with just under 10 minutes to go in the second period. JP Dumont and Cal O'Reilly worked the boards to keep the play in the Minnesota zone, getting Weber the puck.

Nashville picked up its third penalty of the game when Nick Spaling was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the boards in the defensive zone with 4:50 left to play in the second period. The Wild had their fourth man advantage of the game in the third when Svatos picked up his first minor penalty as a Predator. He was sent to the box for hooking Chuck Kobasew. Again, Nashville's penalty killers remained strong and proved why the Predators are one of the top ten teams on the penalty kill.

The third period saw a flurry of action in the last two minutes. Havlat maintained possession of the puck behind the Predators net all the way up to the blue line where he found room to shoot around Francis Bouillon. The puck bounced off a player in front and was tipped in by the Wild's Kobasew with 1:54 left to play. The goal was Kobasew's ninth of the year.

With the lead cut in half, the Wild sent Backstrom to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:29 left to play in hopes of finding the equalizer.

Joel Ward and Sergei Kostitsyn had empty net goals to seal the victory for Nashville. Ward's goal was his fourth of the season. Kostitsyn potted his seventh of the campaign to start another points streak, currently at two games.

The Predators end 2010 by ending their five game losing skid and hope to start 2011 by beating division rival Columbus Blue Jackets. The Predators host Columbus Sunday at a special 5 pm start time at Bridgestone Arena.

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Amanda DiPaolo from Predlines for Predsontheglass

Alexander Ovechkin Speaks After Friday's Winter Classic Practice

Q. What's it like to be smack dab in this rivalry, the face of this rivalry where players are even using the word hatred to describe some of this rivalry?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, it's a good moment for us. It's going to be a good moment. Right now we're positive about it and we have great players and every game against Brooks, it's a big challenge for us. But right now it's going to be good.

Q. Mario Lemieux said today that Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world. Do those comparisons drive you at all, motivate you at all?

ALEX OVECHKIN: I think as time goes on, I think they choose the position but it's still top 10.

Q. You seem to be having fun with your friends out there on the ice. What is the atmosphere just in general, from the moment you guys pulled in on the bus, what it's been like for you?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, the atmosphere is great. And it's too bad it was not open practice for fans. But it's good. We have family and friends with us. And we just chill over there before the big game, so it's good.

Q. We know that the league will make a decision most likely to move the game to 8:00 o'clock tomorrow night, and if that happens, what do you think about that? Do you think that's better? Do you think there are certain things that make it more exciting?

ALEX OVECHKIN: I don't know about that, but for me, it's better if it's going to be evening because it's like we have a game almost every time at 7:00. So if it's going to be at 8:00, it's going to be okay, because you can sleep. You can eat normal food like, you know, steaks, spaghetti, and just take a nap before the game. If it's going to be at 8:00, you can celebrate New Years, too.

Q. What are your New Year's plans?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah. (Laughter)

Q. I know some of your teammates were a little concerned about the ice conditions today. We're probably going to have a lot of rain before you get to playing on it tomorrow. Any thoughts on the ice and is it a risk in terms of injury?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, ice was not that good, but we still have 24 hours. And if it's going to be the same, what can we do? We have to play. If it's going to be better, it's going to be better. So we don't have any choices.

Q. Alex, why do you think that you've struggled or not produced as much as you usually do? Do you think you're starting to come out of that now after the last couple of games?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Of course I have an empty net goal, so I feel pretty good.

Q. What were the reasons for that, do you think?

ALEX OVECHKIN: The reason's it's all about me. I have a chance to score goals, I have to score it. If I didn't score it, people are going to say: Okay, he's not scoring. He's not that good anymore. And if I start scoring again like that, I'm going to make a point streak like 10 games, everything's going to be back and I'm not worried about it.

I'm just worried about right now like my conditioning, my ? what's going to happen in the future in a couple of months. It's the most important thing for me right now.

Q. Do you feel like teams are defending you differently? Do you feel like forwards are now applying more back?pressure and that's hurting you a little bit?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Yeah. You can see the game changing down the line. And me, Backi and Knubs and Sasha, when we play against teams, if I have a puck I have two guys around me all the time. And the third guy come behind me and slash me or do something like that. So, again, we just have to find a way what we have to do.

Like we talked to Bruce about it. We talked to Backi, and, again, it's something new for us, because we never had the situation before when our line was struggling a little bit.
But again, time will move forward and we are going to find a way how we have to play against this strategy, I think.

Q. When you're playing these games against the Penguins, we all, know there's a buildup for this, especially for this one, but even for the others, so there's a difference there. But when you're playing these games, does it feel different on the ice? Do you get that sense that the intensity is even higher, that the ice is even harder to come by because of that?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, I think when you have a sold?out crowd, when you have coaches, trainers, all the players concentrate on the game, the media get more attention for this match. And you get more excited and you get more involved with it.

When you compare ? if you play against Pittsburgh and against Atlanta, you know, it's two different teams and different atmosphere.

So it's kind of hard, but it is what it is. So we always want to play against good teams. And when you got a good crowd, it's the most important thing. The crowd gets into the game, you'll get into the game too right away.

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Washington Coach Bruce Boudreau Speaks After Friday's Winter Classic Practice

Q. The players always talk about the quality of the surface not being up to their expectations or standards. What did you think of the surface of today's practice?

COACH BOUDREAU: We caught a lot of the sun. So, I mean, sun melts the ice, so it was obviously softer. I anticipate it being better tomorrow.

Q. Follow up to that, there's going to be a lot of rain on the surface no matter what between now and the time you play. Is there a danger of risk of injury or things like that? Do you worry about that?

COACH BOUDREAU: You know what, they tell me there's a risk, but I don't know of too many hockey guys that have played in the rain before. So I don't really know if there's ? I would assume the ice will bevel and bump up and everything.

But it's the same for both teams, the same risks for both teams. So if it was gravel, it wouldn't matter, you know.

Q. There's so much in this rivalry discussed here about match?ups, but there's one on the coaches, too. And you guys go back a ways. What's it like coaching against Dan?

COACH BOUDREAU: Well, I mean, he's a smart individual, so it's tough to outthink him. But he's also got a tremendous work ethic. And I know that from being in the LA organization with him and coaching him for three games.

It's not easy, because he does his homework, and he's got the respect of all the players. So you know they're going to go full out for him all the time.

So if we get lucky, we get lucky. But it's a challenge.

Q. Ovechkin's had goals now in back?to?back games. To whatever extent his scoring touch has gone away, do you feel like it's back?

COACH BOUDREAU: I don't know. I think his scoring touch will come when our power play starts to click the way it's supposed to. I think at this time last year we probably hit close to 25 goals more in the power play, and he probably had 10 to 12. And right now he has two.

So you just add 10 more on to his 14, and all of a sudden he's not up to the numbers of the other two guys, but at the same time, he's more up to the numbers of what he's used to. So I think once the power play starts going, his points will start getting up there.

Q. What's the atmosphere like for you?

COACH BOUDREAU: It's pretty tremendous today. I mean, I've been pretty calm about the whole thing. And the HBO thing has been really great. But we're getting used to them because they're around all the time, so you take it as a normalcy.

But when you walked in here today and you saw thousands of people in the stands and you look at the enormity of the building and you go: Wow, this is going to be a real cool event.

So it's really ramping up today. We're thinking in the room, you know, when they have the Super Bowl and they've got a week of this before the buildup, I can't imagine. So this is pretty good.

Q. If the game's in prime time, would that make it even bigger than it already is?

COACH BOUDREAU: I don't know if it would be bigger. I'm sure the NHL has done a lot of studies on what the best time of the day would be to have it.

I mean, as far as us, as players and coaches, I don't care if they play at midnight. Let's get it going.

Q. From coach's perspective how hard is it to focus, just a regular season game?

COACH BOUDREAU: In the end it's about two points. But let's not make a mistake. We're all people that want the game of hockey to grow, and this is a big deal. To be part of this is very lucky, and in five years you're going to sit back and whether you're ever in one of these things again, it's going to be a great thing.

If we can help build hockey in the U.S. and in Canada and all over the world by putting on a great show for these people, it's more than two points. It's worth a lot more.

Q. Have you decided on a goaltender yet?

COACH BOUDREAU: Yep. (Laughter).

Q. What memories does this bring back for you growing up and what memories will you take away from this game the most?

COACH BOUDREAU: Well, the one memory that it doesn't bring back is every time I played outdoors ?? and I'm old enough to have started in outdoor rinks all over the place ?? is your feet aren't frozen stiff when you get back in, because it was pretty hot out there. I don't know what the temperature got to today, but it had to be 60 degrees at least at some point.

But you take back all those times when you come in off the rink, when you're growing up, and your cheeks are red, and your dad is rubbing your feet just to get the feeling back in your feet, and you're not worried about your feet freezing. You're wanting them to warm up so you can go back on the ice. The skates are all leather, so they were soaked through and through, but it didn't matter. You just put on a couple other pairs of socks and went out.

And playing in the outdoors, that's what I think of when I'm thinking those things.

Q. Want to play more outdoors more often, then, doing this a couple days this week?

COACH BOUDREAU: You know what, let's start with one and see how we succeed. I'm sort of superstitious in a couple of ways, so we'll see it. I think it's fun.

It will be different getting used to because the crowd's not as close to you, but I'm sure they'll be making lots of noise.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Pittsburgh Coach Dan Bylsma Speaks After Friday's Winter Classic Practice

Q. I know someone else will ask. I wondered if you could talk a bit about where Evgeni Malkin's game is right now and sort of assess what you would like to see from him?

COACH BYLSMA: Whoever's going to ask the Jordan Staal question, whoever that might be, he'll be game time decision. Evgeni Malkin. I think this has been his best probably four or five games away from the puck. I think he's working very hard. He's working hard to find his way. He's playing the game the right way. And the disappointing part is he's created for himself and his line five or six goal?scoring opportunities in the game, the last few games, and hasn't reaped the rewards. A couple of them have been break?aways in the Washington game and in the
Ottawa game, he had a couple of pointblank chances all alone and didn't get the puck get to go in. And I would like to see that happen for them.

But I think he's playing really well away from the puck and it's been contagious for our team and the players out there with him that he's focusing on that part of his game and he's helped us out a lot in that area.

Q. This matchup always seems to have found him Ovechkin at the top of his game. I'm just wondering, as a coaching staff, is there anything you can do to change that dynamic?

COACH BYLSMA: Well, a lot of the success that we've seen Alex have against us is off the rush, coming off the wing, dancing on our defensemen and getting that shot, putting that shot on net. But the best thing we can do, we think having our tracking forwards come back and limiting those rush opportunities, pushing that rush into our defense.

But we keep preaching. It's something we've worked really hard on this year is having a good gap and snuffing that out before it gets to that dangerous position where he can find himself in at the top of the circles or below, and the last game we were fairly successful at that. It's a tall task. It's not something that one guy can do or just a shut?down pair. It's a responsibility of the forwards and the defense together. But something we're definitely trying to do.

And then where he's at on the power play is always an issue. He was at the net before he played us and the last game against us he moved out to more of a one?time position where we've seen them score some goals from him. Something we have to be aware of.

Q. What would go into a game?time decision about Staal? And two, stuff that was said 24/7 about Malkin by their coaching staff, is that something you would think is an accurate statement then about his game, and also would that be something you could look at, when somebody says that about him?

COACH BYLSMA: There were three questions there, correct? I'm not going to tell you on the first. Yes, I think he's going to see that, and that's not the first time that he's been ?? we've talked about that being something that teams have tried to do and then our response to that as well. And I know the Capitals and Bruce paid Sidney a compliment, but we've also said that to Sid at times, especially when Playoffs roll around, that those are areas of the game that teams try to target and go after and we're aware of them.

And I think it's a compliment. I think it's a compliment that they think that's what they have to do to get you off your game. It's something we have to be aware of and in Gino's case, has to get better about the response.

But they don't come after Craig Adams.

Q. There's some uncertainty about how it's going to play out tomorrow, but there's a possibility you guys could be sitting in the dressing room kind of waiting through a rain delay like baseball players do. They're accustomed to that, hockey players are not. What would you say to them to help them prepare for that?

COACH BYLSMA: Hopefully we have a little more information as we get closer to the game on the weather. But hockey players go through a good 35?, 40?minute warm?up to get to the warm?up. And the warm?up is a little anticlimactic. So it is an issue in that scenario you're talking about where you might have to warm up and then might not play and then you gotta cool down and then you gotta warm back up again.

I think that, mentally, that could be an issue if it dragged out for a couple of hours. But we're going to be prepared for that situation and every player, I think, is going to understand that. They're going to have to restart at a certain point if we get into that situation. We're not going to be able to control that.

We are ready for it. We've discussed it. And we've also said our prayers to make sure we get off at the right time tomorrow as well.

Q. I think this rink was built kind of in a record time. You had a hard?hitting alumni game before that. You had some rain, you had some sun. What was the ice like what were the conditions like, and what do you expect tomorrow that way and it might play in how the game's played?

COACH BYLSMA: The ice was, as I think you could see, it was soft. It was surprisingly ?? the puck was surprisingly flat on it. The guys commented that, given the conditions, that it was better than maybe we thought it might be. It was, again, soft, but the puck was flat. They were passing it fine.

The one situation is with the wetness of the ice like that, sliding for the goalies across the crease, that was something where Flower did say it's not the same side. But given the situation we were coming in, the ice was better than ?? it was pretty darned good for the conditions out there.
And the ice is different in every rink, and we're ready to play. And I thought the boards and the conditions were fine to play a game. So it was an exciting day. And I put it up there with a lot of my best experiences in hockey being out there today. I had a great time.

Q. Dan, there's a lot of matchups within this rivalry. One of them is the coaches. I'm curious, what have you taken from all the matchups you've had with Bruce, and do you have a read on maybe what he's going to do, because you've coached against him enough times now?

COACH BYLSMA: Well, I mean, we've gone back for a couple of years in Hershey. I played for Bruce for a couple of games. And he was in the other organization. So we've had conversations in the past.

And we certainly coached a number of games against each other. I think there are teams and the tendencies that they have, I'm not sure there's going to be any surprises between the two of us.
How he likes to get his players out there, you know, I guess the last game we played him, I was maybe a little bit surprised about the lineup that he did go with and some of the switches he did make for the lineup.

But you know where he likes to get ? I can guess when Ovechkin's going to get out there sometimes, given the situation of the game where the faceoff is at. And sometimes he does the double shift on you to get Ovechkin back out there.

So there's some things that are going to happen in the game, but you talk about a talented team with some very good tendencies offensively, and he has seen that in his teams in Hershey as well.

Q. Just explain Letang, why he's made such a leap. Is it just maturity? Is there more opportunity with Gonchar gone or is there more beyond that?

COACH BYLSMA: I think I would say that I was probably a little disappointed with his year last year. I thought you'd see this in greater colors last year.

In the Playoffs, he came on and I believe he got five goals in the Playoffs and had the type of playoff that you're seeing in play right now.

But defense is a hard position. It's a tough one. Sometimes even the second year through is even a little bit more tough than the first year. And the maturity and growth of a player, sometimes defense especially doesn't happen the way you like to or the way they like to.

And you're seeing a guy, he's had the confidence to play this game last year, but you're seeing him, I think, consistently add both offensively and defensively. And two years ago he was a stalwart for us defensively, not so much offensively in the Playoffs. He was shutting down Hossa's line and doing an outstanding job at that. Didn't get a lot of recognition for it, but we knew the job he did on Hossa in the Playoffs in that playoff year. And last year didn't have the numbers that I think he was hoping to have.

And there was a contract in there and some other things that may have affected his year. But you're seeing a confident guy who can skate, can defend. He skates so well both sides of the puck and can really shoot it. And you're seeing that consistently, so we're not surprised to see it. And we hope to continue to see it.

Q. I'm sure Jordan really wants to get back to this game. He's pushing you to play in what could be a once?in?a?lifetime opportunity. How do you balance that with him returning, different conditions, that kind of thing?

COACH BYLSMA: Considering the fact that it's his first game coming up and hasn't had a training camp and has gone through the injuries, it's more difficult versus if he'd been out at training camp and played 20 games and missed 15.

So it's tough to figure out where to put a guy back in who hasn't had the training camp and hasn't played. And the confidence level with the injuries he's had and the one that he's coming off of are issues going in. So that's the answer to Shelly's question, too.

Q. Where does it stand tomorrow and playing with Gino, what is part of your plan?

COACH BYLSMA: That still is the plan. We've had discussions about when he does get back, what kind of role he'll be played in. I don't think we'll put him in a 20?minute, 19?minute role that he's been in the past, but I could see him jumping right into 14 to 16 minutes penalty killing and playing center with Malkin on the wing.


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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Winter Classic Officially Moved to Saturday at 8 P.M. Eastern

Here is the official release from the NHL on the change in starting time for the 2011 Winter Classic...

League changes Winter Classic start time to 8 ET Saturday

PITTSBURGH – The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year's Day to 8 p.m. (ET). The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players' Association, and local officials.

We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front. The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially its fans.

All 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets will continue to be honored and all ticket holder agreement language remains unchanged.

The following is a list of changes for FANS based on the new 8 p.m. (ET) start time:

Gates to Heinz Field will now open at 5:30 p.m. (ET)

Pre-game entertainment now begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Heinz Field Parking Lots will now open at 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Spectator Plaza will now open at 3 p.m. (ET)

The following are the weather-related GAME procedure contingencies for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic:

Once the game has begun, it may be subject to one or more temporary stoppages due to unplayable weather conditions, at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Period and game format may be reconfigured to accommodate temporary stoppages as determined appropriate by the Commissioner.

The clubs will switch ends at the 10:00 minute mark of the third period as signaled by a "hard whistle." The face off will take place where the play was whistled dead. This identical procedure will take place at the 2:30 minute mark of an overtime period, if needed.

In the event of a shootout, each club will determine what end they prefer to defend, which could be the same end.

If the game is started, then stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, it will be deemed "official" once two periods have been played. The team leading at the time play is stopped will be declared the winner and will be awarded two points in the standings.

If the game is tied at the time play is stopped permanently, any time after two periods of play, each team will be awarded one point in the standings, with an opportunity to earn an additional point in a standard shootout format.

If weather conditions permit, the shootout will be conducted at Heinz Field immediately after regulation play has been stopped. If weather conditions make it impossible to conduct a shootout safely at Heinz Field, the shootout will take place at Verizon Center on Sunday, February 6 prior to the regularly scheduled Pittsburgh-Washington game.

If the game is started, and stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, and fewer than two periods of regular time has been played, the game will be officially "postponed" and, if possible, will be played in its entirety at Heinz Field on Sunday, January 2, beginning at 12 p.m. (ET). If the game cannot be replayed at Heinz Field on January 2, it will be rescheduled at CONSOL Energy Center for a date to be determined later in the season.

Ticket holders must retain their tickets to gain re-entry to Heinz Field in the event the game is to be played Sunday, January 2. There will be no refunds for ticket holders unable to attend Sunday's postponement date. If the event is canceled on Sunday, a refund of the ticket's face value will be honored. The refund does not include service fees, and other fees such as delivery or processing fees. Ticket holders should review the back of their ticket for complete refund policy language.

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Sidney Crosby Speaks after Practice at the Winter Classic

Here is what Sidney Crosby had to say after the Friday practice on the rink at Heinz Field.

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Mario Lemieux Speaks After Alumni Game

Mario Lemieux appeared in a hastily called presser after today's Cap-Pens Alumni game and covered a range of topics.

On the ice at Heinz field: "The ice was great. A couple of times in the neutral zone, it puddled but they came out and fixed it."

On Sidney Crosby: "He's been incredible this year. Since he's come into the league, he's gotten better every year. He is an incredible player. What he did this year with 25 games with points is hard to do. in this day and age. It's not the same as it was 20 years ago with good goalies and defensemen. It's impressive what he's been able to do. His work ethic is the best in the world. That's why he is the best in the world."

On Crosby's dominating the game: " I think so. I think it's much tougher now to dominate the way the league is set up and for him to go out there and do the things he does every night, every shift is incredible. His strength, his skating ability, his shooting ability has gotten better in the last couple of years. What he's doing now is much more impressive."

On concerns of getting the game in on Saturday: "It doesn't look good but it can change. Hopefully, we can get it in tomorrow. It would be a shame with all the excitement leading up until tomorrow. The weather has been perfect, up until tomorrow. It's been beautiful the last couple of weeks."

On hosting the Winter Classic: "It's exiting for the franchise, the players and of course for the fans who have been supporting us throughout my career. Anytime you can host a Winter Classic in your own city it's very special. We've come a long way for a team that struggled for many years when we weren't able to compete at the level we wanted to. The new CBA allowed us to put a great product on the ice."

Comparing Crosby and Ovechkin to Lemieux and Gretzky: "I think they have two different styles like Gretzky and myself. Of course Ovechkin is very physical and has a great shot. Sid is more, controlling the play and using his strength. It's a little bit different than Gretzky's finesse, making plays and curling to buy some time. Two different styles and two different eras."

On Promoting the game: Gretz did a lot promoting the game. He was a real ambassador. I think Ovechkin and Sid do everything they can to promote the game."

On Crosby being the focus of other teams: " I don't think he worries too much about the opposition. It's all about his game, his preparation for the game. He thinks about hockey 24 hours a day. His work ethic, preparing himself, doing the same thing every day. I don't think what the opposition does really bothers him. He goes on the ice and knows what he has to do and tries to do it every shift.

On not being surprised that he put the string together: "No, it was just a matter of time. He's always had the ability to do pretty much what ever he wants out there when he put's he mind to it so I'm not surprised that he has had this success."

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Winter Classic Alumni Game Excites Fans In Attendance

In what was a late addition to the original Winter Classic schedule, the Penguins-Capitals Alumni game was fun for the 12,000 fans that were in attendance. There was little drama or suspense but it was the first real test for the Heinz Field rink.

The quality of hockey was about what would be expected in a hastily thrown together game with players who haven't seen competitive ice recently. It didn't matter a bit to the fans in the stands who just wanted to see Mario Lemieux skate in the powder blues and hear his name called on the loudspeaker.

The final score was 5-5 with no overtime or shoot out just like it was back in the day.

The weather for the game was perfect with overcast skies and 42 degrees. The NHL would love to have the same conditions on Saturday when the latest forecast is calling for an 80% chance of rain on Saturday with a high of 54 degrees.

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Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Predators Ready to Face Wild and Friday Findings

Nashville Predators (17-13-6) return to the ice today against the Minnesota Wild (17-14-5) at the Xcel Energy Center at a special 5 p.m. Central New Year’s Eve start time.

This is the second meeting of the year between the two teams. They first met in Minnesota on black Friday when the Predators played a miserable game, losing 5-2.

That game was the final game in a four game losing streak. The next night, the Preds picked up a point against the Rangers in Nashville and then proceeded to tie a franchise record by having a ten game point streak, going 8-0-2.

Since that streak, the Predators have gone 0-5 and are desperately in need of a victory tonight as they have fallen out of the top eight in the Western Conference. They have played well defensively at times during the losing streak but have scored only five goals.

Marty Erat, Steve Sullivan, Jordin Tootoo, and Matthew Lombardi continue to be unavailable for the game tonight. David Legwand is possible but will probably be a game time decision.

Tonight’s game will mark the Predator debut of Marek Svatos who was claimed on waivers on Wednesday. Svatos has played 19 games with Avangard Omsk in the KHL scoring three goals and picking up five assists. He was released by mutual agreement on December 23.

Pekka Rinne (8-10-4, 2.37, .918) is expected to be in net for the Predators while Nicklas Backstrom (13-9-3, 2.60, .911) is probable for the Wild.

The Predators will return home after the game to prepare to play the Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday at the Bridgestone Arena at a special 5 p.m. start time.

Other game previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, the Tennessean and

Previews from the Wild come from the Minnesota Star Tribune and Hockey Wilderness,

In Pred Nation...

Jim Diamond reports on the special service that Marek Svatos received when he got picked up at the airport at midnight on Wednesday.

Josh Cooper has a good piece on Linus Klasen.

Chris Burton has the top ten Predator moments for 2010. I like them but would move the Cogen-Henry signing to close to the top of the list.

The Predators announced the GnashVegas Casino Gala and Auction which is set for February 10th. Sign up now!

Mark Willoughby has his weekly View at The View From 111.

Winter Classic...

Brian Metzer guests at RLD Hockey to explain Pittsburgh's perfect fit.

World Juniors...


Switzerland 6, Slovakia 4
Sweden 6, Czech Republic 3
Team USA 4, Germany 0
Russia 8, Norway 2

Today's Schedule

Finland - Slovakia 11:30
Canada - Sweden 3:00
Russia - Czech Republic 6:00
Team USA - Switzerland 7:00
Around the NHL...

From Phoenix, the NHL will not invoke the potential of relocation of the Coyotes, even though today is the "deadline."

From @reporterchris: Sidney Crosby named The Canadian Press male athlete of the year for the third time.

Ryan Porth has the top five plays of 2010.

Kevin Burgandy looks back at 2010 and the influence of bloggers on the overall hockey conversation in the media.

All Habs has the 12 days of Christmas, Montreal style.

Puck Daddy has the 10 greatest goals of 2010.
Odds and Ends...

Here are the top seven space stories of the year. Are we not alone?

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alumni Rosters Set For Kickoff to Winter Classic

The first official event on the ice at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh will be the Pens-Caps Alumni Game on Friday morning at 9:30 Eastern. You can watch it live on the internet at

The Pens are expected to wear the powder blue jerseys which is allegedly the first time that Mario Lemieux will wear that uniform on the ice.

Here is the official release with details and Rosters from the Penguins...

Mario Lemieux Returns to the Ice

Final rosters have been set for the Penguins-Capitals alumni game Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Heinz Field – featuring the return to the ice of Penguins great Mario Lemieux.

Watch the Alumni Game live online at!

The alumni game will be the first official event on the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field.

In addition to Lemieux, the Penguins’ alumni roster includes Hockey Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Larry Murphy and Bryan Trottier, in addition to Rod Buskas, Gary Roberts, Greg Malone, Bob Errey, Billy Guerin, Jay Caufield, Craig Simpson, Francois Leroux, Gary Rissling, Troy Loney, Kevin Stevens, Gilles Meloche, Phil Bourque, Dave Hannan, Peter Taglianetti, Warren Young, Frank Pietrangelo, Rob Brown and Rick Tocchet. Coaches will be Eddie Johnston, Randy Hillier and Pierre Larouche. Honorary GM is Jack Riley.

500-goal scorer Peter Bondra leads the Caps’ alumni roster, which also includes Dino Ciccarelli, Michal Pivonka, Sylvain Cote, Don Beaupre, Pat Ribble, Ken Sabourin, Yvon Labre, Mark Lofthouse, Nick Kypreos, Alan Hanglesben, Dean Evason, Errol Rausse, Alan May, Craig Laughlin, John Druce, Dennis Maruk, Greg Adams, Blair Stewart, Gord Lane, Robert Picard, Paul Mulvey and J.R. Reich. Coaches will be Granny Grant, Joe Reekie and Bucky Gallagher.

The alumni game is sold out. Fans with tickets may also attend the Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice session Friday at 11:30 a.m.

The 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Penguins and Capitals will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Heading to The Winter Classic and Thursday Thoughts

Later today I am heading to Pittsburgh to take in the Winter Classic. I plan to take in as much of the experience as I can and bring the flavor of the event to our audience.

The expectation of weather problems just adds to the mystique of an outdoor game. It may be that if it the game is delayed, I'll have to leave before the opening puck drop. If so, that's part of it.

The Alumni game on Friday and the outdoor practices should allow the best access to be able to check out the rink and see action up close. There are also plenty of fan areas and activities that I'll also try to see.

Basically, this will be an adventure into the wild of a northern industrial city that has been remade into a fan friendly series of river venues that will be interesting to explore.

Thanks in advance to Amanda DiPaolo who will be providing our Preds-Wild coverage tomorrow night.

In Pred Nation...

There is an interesting post at the Globe and Mail that indicated that Jordin Tootoo's mother gave him a copy of Theo Fleury's autobiography "Playing With Fire" which chronicles his struggle with substances during his career. If indeed this was the trigger that led Jordin to face his own demons, then Fleury's testimony is a powerful thing.

Mark Willoughby has a great post on Jordin Tootoo's battle. This is a must read.

Dirk Hoag researches the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program and explains what he finds.

Jay Levin interviews Preds COO Sean Henry at

Faceoff talks to Colin Wilson about his experiences as a young player.

Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville has ideas about the All-Star game as well as Marek Svatos.

Josh Cooper has a couple of leftover quotes from Tuesday night's post game. He also investigates and reveals the mystery around the Matt Lombardi injury insurance situation. He has new post this morning about Erat's injury slowing down the Predators' offense and what the Preds hope to get from Marek Svatos.

St Louis GM Doug Armstrong did not appear to be upset with the Preds claiming Marek Svatos.

With the Preds picking up Marek Svatos on waivers from the Blues, it is interesting to look at what the Blues thought they were getting in this post from Andy Strickland.

Buoyed by hockey, Garth Brooks and other events, the Bridgestone Arena set an all time attendance record in December.

Ads Roundtable has the story of the Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 victory over Houston last night. Thang, Halischuk, and Geoffrion scored and Mark Dekanich got the win for the Ads.

Winter Classic...

Adam Gretz has a primer on Pittsburgh and Heinz field for those attending the game. Here is more from VisitPittsburgh.

Just in time for the Winter Classic, Sidney Crosby's point streak ended at 25 games at the hands of the New York Islanders and Rick DiPietro.

World Juniors...

Ryan Ellis had two assists in Canada's 10-1 trouncing of Norway and became the all time leader in points for defensemen with 22 (4 goals, 18 assists).


Finland 5, Germany 1
Canada 10, Norway 1

Today's Schedule

Slovakia - Switzerland 2:00
Sweden - Czech Republic 2:00
Team USA - Germany 6:00
Russia - Norway 6:00

Around the NHL...

Media expert Steve Lapore hands out his 2010 media awards in a wide range of categories - great stuff!

Ryan Porth caught up with Jamie Benn on Tuesday and has this interview.

Adrian Dater has a pretty good list for the top ten hockey stories of the year.

Behind the net doe a ton of number crunching to prove what we all know about the shootouts in the NHL... they are a crapshoot.

Jody Shelley came off a two game suspension and two healthy scratches to sucker punch Andrew Alberts Tuesday night in Vancouver. He should get more than the two games he was awarded by the league as a repeat offender and Albert's role as a peacemaker.

Tim Chipp has a few New Years resolutions at View From My Seats.

Odds and Ends...

I usually do not acknowledge that the NBA exists in this column but Shaq's response to a $35,000 fine from the league for criticizing the officiating is interesting.

While we're talking trash, the NFL fined Bret Farve $50,000 for "failing to co-operate" in the Jenn Sterger matter.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Predators Claim Marek Svatos On Waivers From St. Louis

The Nashville Predators claimed Marek Svatos off of waivers from the St. Louis Blues who had signed him to a two-way deal worth $800,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL yesterday.

Svatos had three goals and five assists playing 19 games with Omsk Avangard in the KHL this season. Svatos scored seven goals and four assists in 54 games last year with Colorado in the NHL but missed 18 games with groin and chest injuries.

Svatos is 28 years old, 5'10" and hails from Kosice, Slovakia. He was drafted 227th overall by the Avalanche in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He has played 316 NHL games in his career and has 96 goals and 68 assists.

His best season was in 2005-06 when he had 32 goals and 18 assists in 61 games with Colorado. He fractured his shoulder om March 9, 2006 and was unable to finish the season.

Svatos has missed games each season with various injuries in his five year NHL career.

It is unknown at this time when he will report to the Predators.


Here is the official release from the Predators...


Nashville, Tenn. (December 29, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has claimed forward Marek Svatos (MAIR-ehk SVA-tohs) on waivers from St. Louis.

Svatos, 28 (6/17/82), has played 316 career NHL games – all with the Colorado Avalanche – between 2003-10, amassing 164 points (96g-68a) and 207 penalty minutes. The Kosice, Slovakia native is a two-time 25-goal scorer, amassing career highs in goals (32) and points (50) in 2005-06. The 5-8, 187-pound right wing began the 2010-11 campaign with Avangard Omsk of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, posting eight points (3g-5a) in 19 contests before signing a one-year contract with the Blues on Tuesday. Svatos was originally selected 227th overall (seventh round) by the Avalanche in the 2001 Entry Draft.

The Predators are back in action on New Year’s Eve when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center (5 p.m. CT, FOX Sports Tennessee, 102.9 FM The Buzz). They return to Smashville on Sunday for an intra-divisional bout with the Columbus Blue Jackets (102.9 FM The Buzz). Sunday’s game is a special 5 p.m. early start, making the game perfect for families with young children. Tickets are still available for the Preds first game of 2011 and may be purchased at the Bridgestone Arena box office, by calling (615) 770-PUCK (7825) or online via or

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass

Interesting Statistics About The Winter Classic

The NHL released some interesting figures regarding the Winter Classic this morning. Here is the release in its entirety...


Firmly established as a New Year’s Day tradition among fans, the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the fourth consecutive season the NHL has played a regular-season outdoor game on New Year’s Day. The BuffaloSabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year’s Day 2008, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day 2009 and the Boston Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day 2010.

Two of the NHL’s biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, bring their rivalry to the big stage of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Their rivalry has blossomed into one of the most intriguing individual matchups in all of sports. Both No. 1 overall draft choices (Ovechkin 2004 and Crosby 2005), the superstars have been linked since they entered the League at the same time at the beginning of the 2005-06 NHL season.

Below is a look at the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic “By the Numbers”:

0 Commercial time available on NBC’s NHL Winter Classic broadcast

1 Cable cam will be utilized in NBC’s coverage, a first for an NHL game

3D The NHL Winter Classic will be broadcast in 3D worldwide

4 Webisodes Geico will create from the “Caveman’s” appearance at the
NHL Winter Classic Spectator Plaza fan festival

5 Year extension of its NHL deal signed by Bridgestone, title sponsor
of the Winter Classic

17 Hours of NHL Network live coverage of NHL Winter Classic activities

20 Percentage sponsorship revenue increase over last year’s NHL Winter

22 Million dollars of economic impact to the city of Pittsburgh,
according to VisitPittsburgh

25 Game scoring streak by Sidney Crosby. This is longest streak in the
NHL since Quebec's Mats Sundin had a point in 30 straight games during the
1992-93 season.

31 Percentage increase in traffic to last year over 2009 Classic

37 Commercial spots have been bought by NHL sponsors on NBC’s broadcast,
up from 28 last year

38 The rink build at Heinz Field began Dec. 23, 38 years to the day of
the “Immaculate Reception” by Franco Harris in the 1972 Steelers-Oakland
Raiders AFC Championship Game

53 Length, in feet, of the world’s largest mobile rink refrigeration
unit, specially built for the NHL Winter Classic

66 Number worn by NHL legend Mario Lemieux, playing in the Dec. 31
alumni game at Heinz Field

76 Broadcast cameras (all networks) will capture all the NHL Winter
Classic action at Heinz Field including a cable cam and an airplane cam

300 Ton capacity of refrigeration trailer that will keep the ice cool at
Heinz Field

350 Gallons of paint to make Heinz Field ice white

498 Combined career goals scored by Alex Ovechkin (283) and Sidney Crosby
(215) in 844 career games

571 Points accumulated by both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby
individually in career regular-season NHL games

2003 The Heritage Classic is played in Edmonton between the Oilers and the
Montreal Canadiens, the first NHL outdoor game in history

2008 The first NHL Winter Classic is played in Buffalo between the Sabres
and Pittsburgh Penguins, with Sidney Crosby netting the game-winner in a

3,000 Gallons of coolant used to freeze the Heinz Field rink

5,000 Square foot temporary Winter Classic store created by Dick’s Sporting
Goods in Pittsburgh leading into the event

10,000 Gallons of water needed to create a one-inch deep ice surface
on Heinz Field

30,000 Fans from the Washington D.C. area are scheduled to make the
trip to Pittsburgh for the NHL Winter Classic

38,000 NHL Winter Classic jerseys sold thus far

68,000 Approximate number of fans will attend the NHL Winter Classic
at Heinz Field (subject to change)

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Who Angered the Hockey Gods in Nashville and Wednesday Wrap-Up

I was really surprised that there was no mention of the "hockey gods" by anyone in post game interviews after the Predators' 4-2 loss to Dallas last night at the Bridgestone Arena.

It was a game where Nashville clearly outplayed Dallas, yet had nothing to show for the effort. The Preds could have easily had five or six goals and should have not had defensive lapses that allowed three unanswered goals by Dallas in the third period.

The sold out crowd was as supportive and as loud as it has been in some time and surprisingly did not diminish its intensity when the Predators fell behind in the game.

Patric Hornqvist's record setting fourteen shots on goal truly was astounding. Every shot attempt that he had in the game was on net. He had none that were credited as a "miss" or even blocked.

The Predators remain mired at the 40 point mark in the standings as they fell to tenth place in the Western Conference with Phoenix and Columbus only a point behind them.

Their next game is on Friday in Minnesota where they suffered an ugly loss on Black Friday last month. After a home game against Columbus on Sunday, the Predators play ten of their next twelve games in January on the road so things will not come easy in the new month.

Preds-Stars Round-Up...

Here is our game story from last night with post game video.

Josh Cooper had his game story, notes column, and postgame ponderings.

David Boclair has his story at The City Paper.

From the blog world reports come from Amanda DiPaolo, Mark Willoughby, Dirk Hoag (with his advances stats), Jeremy Gover, Fang Finger Fever, and Hockey Night in Nashville.

The other side of the Star-Preds game previews can be found at The Dallas Morning News, ESPN Dallas, the Star-Telegram, The Dallas Stars Blog, and Defending Big D. has the Belak-Barch fight as well as the O'Brien-Ott tussle from last night's game.

The Predators supplied audio clips from Colin Wilson and Shea Weber. Dallas clips come from Coach Marc Craford, Stephane Robidas, and Part 1 and Part 2 from Andrew Raycroft.

In Pred Nation...

The best story to come out of last nights game was Chris Mueller's NHL debut as told by Jim Diamond who talked to the whole family.

Josh Cooper also caught up with Chris Mueller yesterday and also talked to a couple of players about Jordin Tootoo's absence.

Paul McCann looks at all the Pred's troubles at HockeyBuzz.

Jeremy Gover poses the question as to whether the Predators would benefit from going after Niclas Bergfors if he is available for a draft pick or a prospect.

Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville is ready to give Paul Kariya a call to see if he wants to come play for the Preds again.

The Milwaukee Admirals lost to Rockford 4-1 last night. It was not Mark Dekanich's best game as his record fell to 12-4-0.

Winter Classic...

The Pens' alumni are getting ready to take the ice on Friday as a prelude to the Winter Classic.

Ryan Porth has the weather speculation at the Red Light District.

Matt Reitz has an open letter to Mother Nature on behalf of hockey fans everywhere begging for a window of good weather for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh.

For a good preview of Saturday's Winter Classic, check out RLD Hockey Radio from yesterday where Ryan had USA Today's Kevin Allen and Brian Metzer of From the Point as guests. Click on the following player to listen.

Listen to internet radio with Ryan Porth on Blog Talk Radio

Here's what can happen 24/7 style when two kids fight over one ticket to the Winter Classic.

World Juniors...

Predator prospects Ryan Ellis and Patrick Cehlin continue to lead their respective teams through two games at the World Juniors.

Finland 4, Switzerland 0
Canada 7, Czech Republic 2
Sweden 2, Russia 0
United States 6, Slovakia 1

Today's Schedule

2:30 Germany - Finland
6:30 Canada - Norway

Many Canadians got stuck in a huge traffic jam trying to cross the border you yesterday's Team Canada match with the Czech's.

Around the NHL...

Big news yesterday was the forced resignation of GM Darryl Sutter in Calgary. He was replaced by Jay Feaster who took over immediately as the "interim" GM. It will be interesting to see where the dominoes fall withing the organization going forward.

Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to 25 games with two goals and two assists in the Pens 6-3 win over Atlanta last night. Pittsburgh plays the Islanders tonight in their last game before the Winter Classic.

Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf took a puck to the face in a really scary injury.

Now, Jonathan Toews is out with an injury in Patrick Kane's first game back.

The hapless New York Islanders traded their leading point man, James Wisniewski to Montreal for a pair of draft picks. Go figure. They would now be well under the floor of the salary cap except for contractual obligation to players who no longer are on their roster.

The Canucks beat Philadelphia in Vancouver for the first time in 22 years last night. That has to be one of the longest streaks in hockey to be broken this season.

Ken Campbell has five puzzling thoughts about hockey at The Hockey News.

Odds and Ends...

This is one of the best testimonials for organ donation that I've seen. A young lady was killed in an auto accident in Arizona and gave organs to seven different folks in need.

Here's one person's opinion of the ten best social apps of 2010.

Here is the new "Honeycomb" music player for the Android platform.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stars Rally To Beat Predators 4-2

The Dallas Stars came from behind with three third period goals to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-2 in front of a raucous crowd at a sold out Bridgestone Arena.

Dallas got goals from Steve Ott, Loui Eriksson, Krystofer Barch, and the game winner from Mark Fistric, while all the Predators offense was supplied by Colin Wilson's first two goal effort in his NHL career.

It was a game where the Predators clearly outplayed the Stars in most statistical categories as they tried to snap a four game losing streak but it didn't matter as the only statistic that counted was on the scoreboard. Nashville out shot the Stars 46-25 and threw up an amazing 77 Corsi number at the Stars but still could not break into the win column.

Barry Trotz was obviously frustrated with the result, "To me we were really good the first two periods. According to our count, we had 30 scoring chances to their seven and we're sitting there 1-1. Obviously, you get the goal early and go up 2-1."

"We talk about it all the time, it is all about momentum and that next shift is critical. They made a play through to Eriksson and got it tied up. I thought they were a team hanging on the first two periods and then that second goal gave them a lot of momentum."

"It is obviously very disappointing, but we did so many good things. Other than the response after we got ahead, if we had responded a little better, I think we win the hockey game. To me, that shift turned the game around."

The Predators seemed to remain competitive halfway into the third period until back to back Dallas goals ended the contest for all intents and purposes.

Trotz pointed to the third goal as the difference maker, "The second goal was a little deflating but the third goal was really deflating because we had them on the ropes all game."

Dallas back-up netminder Andrew Raycroft was outstanding in net, stopping 44 of 46 Predator shots, including many where he was on his own. Pekka Rinne, stopped 21 of 25 Stars shots and was clearly frustrated after the game.

The game got off to an exciting start at 2:09 in the first period when Wade Belak was called for interference on Stephane Robidas. Barch took exception and threw a few fisticuffs with Belak, who ended up with his first penalty minutes of the season.

On the resulting Dallas power play, Raycroft was caught out of the goal and the Predators had two shots on Robidas who was scrambling to cover the net. The Stars had an excellent scoring chance at 9:34 when back to back shots on Rinne were stopped by the slimmest of margins.

Both teams played spirited hockey and had several scoring chances for the remainder of the opening period as the Preds out shot the Stars 16-8 and led the Corsi 28-10. The Preds continued with recent issues in the face off circle as they only won four draws out of fifteen.

Dallas was the first to get on the board at 4:39 in the second period when Eriksson skated from left to right in front of the Preds' net and sent a perfect back-handed pass back across to to the left to Ott who had a open net to put the Stars up 1-0. Rinne followed the puck and there was little that he could have done to prevent the goal.

Shane O'Brien and Adam Burish mixed it up in front of the Dallas net at 5:36 and matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to lead to four on four play. Before those penalties expired Trevor Daley was called for interference on Kevin Klein but the Preds were unable to capitalize on the 1:45 of man advantage.

Play continued at a brisk, aggressive pace through the middle of the second period. More brawling occurred at 17:42 when Ott was called for slashing and he and Shane O'Brien squared off behind the Preds' net.

The Predators were able to convert on the resulting power play at 19:00 when Wilson picked up a loose puck in front of the Dallas net and lifted it past Raycroft to tie the game 1-1.

Again, the Predators out shot Dallas 18-7 for the period and dominated the Corsi 27-11. The Preds improved in the faceoff circle winning 12 of 22 chances.

Before fans settled back into their seats, 32 seconds into the third period, Wilson struck again with his second goal of the game on a breakaway that started on a blocked shot by Jerred Smithson at the far end of the ice.

The Preds could not hold the lead as they got caught behind the puck on a Dallas breakaway at 1:44 when Jamie Benn the puck to Eriksson who put it past Rinne from the slot to tie the game 2-2.

The Stars retook the lead at 8:18 on an unassisted goal credited to Fistric that may have been tipped by O'Brien prior to reaching the net. At 10:05, Dallas quickly struck again on when Barch picked up a rebound in front of the net and put it past Rinne to make it 4-2 Stars as things deteriorated quickly for the Predators.

Nashville had several more chances down the stretch but could not convert. The Predators out shot the Stars 12-10 in the final period and continued to pound the puck as they continued with the Corsi advantage 22-15.

Colin Wilson was pleased with his two goal effort but realized that that was not what the team was after, "I was just excited to get those two goals. Obviously, then them getting those quick goals was not what we wanted."

Wilson continued, "It's kind of a cliche, but you have to play the full sixty minutes. We didn't do that tonight. I think we deserved to win those first two periods but just had a couple of lapses in the third."

Chris Mueller played his first NHL game, playing seven shifts and logging 3:17 in ice time. "It was a good experience for me, first NHL game, something special, but obviously not the outcome we wanted."

Somewhat overlooked in the effort was Patric Hornqvist's 14 shots in 19:06 minutes of play which broke Jason Arnott's record of 12 shots in a game against Toronto on December 4, 2007.

"This one's done," stated Trotz. "We've got to go on to the next one and get some wins and get out of this slide because all the good work we did the previous weeks goes down the drain a bit. Our effort was tremendous. We had a lot of detail and it was a hard fought hockey game."

The Predators will practice Wednesday at Centennial and leave on Thursday for Minnesota where they will face the Wild in a 5 p.m. game on New Years Eve. The next home game will be Sunday against Columbus in a special 5 p.m. start at the Bridgestone Arena.

Notes: The second consecutive sellout crowd and sixth of the season was livelier than has been seen in several weeks. This was the fastest time to six sellouts since the 1999-2000 season... Both the University of Tennessee and North Carolina football teams were in attendance as they wait to face off in the Music City Bowl on Thursday night.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Predators Sign Taylor Aronson To A Three Year Entry Level Contract

The Nashville Predators signed Taylor Aronson to a three year entry level contract today.

We first met the young prospect moments after he was taken 78th overall at last June's NHL Entry Draft at the Staples Center. Here's what he had to say...

Here is the full release from the Predators...


Nashville, Tenn. (December 28, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed defenseman Taylor Aronson (TAY-luhr AIHR-uhn-suhn), the club’s second choice (third round, 78th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft, to a three-year entry-level contract.

Aronson, who turns 19 on Thursday (12/30/91), has posted 18 points (3g-15a) and 38 penalty minutes in 37 games during his second Western Hockey League season with the Portland Winterhawks in 2010-11. The Placentia, Calif., native is also tied for fifth among WHL blueliners, and tied for eighth among all skaters in plus/minus rating (+18). In his first junior season in 2009-10, Aronson ranked sixth among WHL rookie defensemen in points (5g-25a) in addition to tying for fourth among first-year blueliners in assists, and fifth in goals. Aronson also amassed nine points (2g-7a) in 11 games during the 2010 WHL Playoffs, good for seventh among League rookies, despite the Hawks being eliminated in the second round.

The 6-1, 197-pound blueliner is characterized as a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who has great vision and is very cool and calm with the puck.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Will This Rock The Bridgestone Arena Tonight?

Update: Per Barry Trotz, David Legwand will not play tonight, so make that 26% of our goal production this season out of the lineup.
The Nashville Predators have scored three goals in their last four games. With three players (Steve Sullivan, Marty Erat, and Jordin Tootoo) that have accounted for 23% of the Predators goals this season out for extended periods, will we hear this tonight?

Ahhhhhhhhhh the memories!

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Crippled Predators Host Dallas and Tuesday Tidbits

The Nashville Predators (17-12-6) will face the Dallas Stars (21-11-4) at Bridgestone Arena tonight at 7 p.m. hoping to end their current four game losing streak against the best team in the Pacific Division.

The Predators head into the game with several key pieces of their opening day line-up unavailable to play or potentially returning from injuries. Matthew Lombardi, who was thought to be their first line center, has not played since the second game of the year.

We learned yesterday that, Marty Erat has been placed on injured reserve and Steve Sullivan will be out from 10-14 days. The Predators are hopeful that David Legwand will be ready to return tonight but even if he does play, he will not be in tested game condition.

The stunner of the day on Monday was the revelation that Jordin Tootoo has entered a joint NHL/NHLPA program to receive treatment for a personal issue. Tootoo is to be commended for making a decision to seek help and may grow into the player everyone has wanted to see him become when he returns.

Predator fans (and even his detractors) everywhere should rally behind Tootoo and support him as he tries to bring his life back to order.

Tonight, the Predators will be dependent on rookies Linus Klasen and Chris Mueller, who was signed yesterday, to step up and play a two way game in the Predator system and fill the holes of key forwards. The Preds have scored three goals in the last four games so offense from anywhere would be welcomed.

The Predators will send Pekka Rinne (8-9-4, 2.29, .921) into the net for the third straight game since his return from injury. Kari Lehtonen (15-8-4, 2.47, .920) is the probable starter for Dallas but the Stars could choose to go with Andrew Raycroft (6-3-0, 2.36, .923) since they play Detroit at home tomorrow night.

Pekka Rinne shut out Dallas in a 1-0 masterpiece on October 23 which was the two teams only prior meeting this year. Cal O'Reilly scored on a rebound off of a Shea Weber shot just 42 seconds into the contest and that held up as the only score in the contest.

After tonight's game, the Predators will travel to Minnesota on Thursday for a New Years Eve contest with the Minnesota Wild and then return home to play Columbus on Sunday.

Other Predator Previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, The Tennessean and

The other side of the Star-Preds game previews can be found at The Dallas Morning News, ESPN Dallas, the Star-Telegram, The Dallas Stars Blog, and Defending Big D.

Programming Note...

I will co-host Ryan Porth's RLD Hockey Radio today at a special time of 1 p.m. Central. Ryan's guest will be USA Today's Kevin Allen who will preview Saturday's Winter Classic in Pittsburgh.

In Pred Nation...

Josh Cooper has a few leftover quotes from Sunday's game with the Blues. He also has stories about Jordin Tootoo and Steve Sullivan missing 10-14 days.

Aaron Sims has a good post on Chris Mueller and Jordin Tootoo and points to a 2003 story about Jordin's brother's untimely death that Tootoo has carried with him ever since.

Bleeding all Blue has a thoughtful piece about Jordin Tootoo's battle that shows the compassion of hockey fans from around the league.

Colin Wilson is looking on the bright side of the Predators' streak at his weekly blog.

Mike Morreale has a feature piece on Ryan Ellis at the World Junior Tournament.

Jeremy Gover wraps up the first day of the World Juniors for the Predator prospects.

Jim Diamond talked to several Predators about the past World Junior experiences.

Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville sums up a busy day in Nashville on Monday.

Winter Classic Update...

Ryan Porth has his top five Ovechkin-Crosby moments.

Puck Daddy takes a look at all the potential issues facing this edition of the Winter Classic.

Dan Rosen's latest blog entry discusses the ice crew getting the night off.

Matt Reitz has handy links to both episodes of 24/7 that have been released so far.

Here is the latest time-lapse of the ice build at Heinz Field.

For a 24/7 live streaming camera view of Heinz Field go below.

World Junior Scoreboard...

Slovakia 2, Germany 1 (OT)
Czech Republic 2, Norway 0

Today's slate of games is highlighted by Czech Republic at Canada at 3 p,m, and Slovakia playing Team USA at 7 p.m.

Around the NHL...

Chris Osgood recorded his 400th win against Colorado last night and becomes one of only teen netminders to reach that plateau.

Mike Chen figures out which division is the best in the NHL.

Adrian Dater has a look around the league at Versus and does mention his favorite storyline that never ends - Peter Forsberg.

Due to Sunday's "snow game" in New Jersey, the Devils are giving everyone who had a ticket a free ticket to one of three future games. Is that like giving a person who had something they didn't like in a restaurant more of the same item to compensate?

Odds and Ends...

Here is a neat video about the fictional town of Elgin Park that is stuck in the 50's to this day.

It appears that Festivus may have become a worldwide holiday this year according to Twitter research.

It sounds like Verizon's iPhone is near but as a new Droid X owner I don't know why anyone would want the iPhone when the Droid does most things much better.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Classic: Sidney Crosby Conference Call Transcript--December 27

As we countdown to Saturday's Winter Classic, Sidney Crosby answered questions about the game and his season so far. Here is the transcript from the NHL...

Sidney Crosby Conference Call Transcript--December 27

DAVID KEON: With us we have Pittsburgh Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby. Thank you, Sidney for taking the time today for joining us and answering questions. Sidney leads the National Hockey League in goals with 30 and points with 61, after stretching his consecutive game scoring streak to 24 in last night's game versus the Ottawa Senators.

The streak is the longest since Mats Sundin of the Quebec Nordiques scored a point in 30 consecutive games back in 1992-93. This coming Saturday, January 1st, Sidney and the Penguins will host the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, a game that will be played at 1:00 Eastern and shown on NBC, CBC, and RDS. It will be the Penguins second Winter Classic appearance having played in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, where Sidney scored the shootout winning goal as Pittsburgh defeated the Sabres 2-1.

Also we're coming up upon a year after the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver where Sidney also scored the overtime gold medal winning goal, so if anybody has questions on that, please ask them today. Thanks to Sidney for joining us. Questions.

Q. With how busy you are and everything that's going on, do you get a chance to talk to your sister much who is here at Minnesota at Shattuck, and what do you think of her playing at Shattuck St. Mary's?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I do get the chance to talk to her a lot. I just saw her a couple days ago at home for Christmas. So she's really enjoying her time there, and I'm happy to hear that.

Obviously, being away from home at a young age, the most important thing is that she's comfortable and having fun there, and she is, so I'm really happy to hear that.

Q. You weren't even born when Wayne Gretzky was chasing Joe Dimaggio's streaks and things like that. I mean it was a long time ago for everybody. But it took the league to a place it seldom gets to, "Sports Illustrated" covers and Johnny Carson and all of that. As you approach, you're on a streak now, and 50 and 50 is was within some distance for you, are you aware of the big picture on this thing, and how a whole world of sports fans might tune into a game when a streak like the kind you're working on can really take hold of a continent of sports fans?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Oh, maybe. I mean -- the streak I think you're talking about, are you talking about 51 games?

Q. That's what I'm talking about. I know it's a long ways away.

SIDNEY CROSBY: That feels like it's a whole other world away, to be honest with you. But I think at this point for me I definitely, especially the last week or two, I feel like there has been a little more attention to it and things like that. So, yeah, I definitely felt it. But to that level, I don't think maybe I realized it, and probably don't feel like it's at that point. But probably getting a little bit of that feeling as far as realizing that people are following a little bit more.

Q. What would it -- can you extrapolate at all? When Gretzky was doing these things, I bet you there were 20 Oilers games that were even on TV a season back then.

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, it's hard for me to even imagine. I was saying yesterday too, it's hard to imagine somebody watching a game, they're watching Wayne Gretzky play every night and kind of expecting that after 40 games, to expect the 41st and 42nd and so on. It's incredible to think that he did that over the course of 51 games. I can't even imagine it, really.

People are in for quite a treat when they witness that. Like I said, the last couple of weeks I probably realized or felt a little bit more attention towards it. But I can't imagine what that was like.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the 24/7 show and if you've had an opportunity to see it, and what your thoughts are?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I have had an opportunity to see it. The full first episode and a bit of the second one, but I think they've done a great job. I think people are getting a look at things they've probably never seen before. The meetings, on the bench, the things going on on the ice, the travel, all that stuff, I mean, you're getting a pretty unique perspective on what it's like with our teams. It's pretty neat, so I think it's been really great. I think people have enjoyed it.

Q. If I may follow-up, in your mind is it something that only enhances hockey's image?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think so. I think that there's probably people who might not follow hockey a ton, but the fact that they're getting the opportunity to see what players go through, probably getting to know players a little better from both teams. I think it's something that's going to help for sure.

Q. There are forecasts of warm temperatures and rain on Saturday. Thinking back to three years ago on Buffalo when the game had to be stopped multiple times for ice repairs, will that experience help you to prepare for this year's game as well as the advice you'll give to your teammates who haven't played in an outdoor game before?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think whether you've played in one before or not, I think that's something that you have to expect to kind of deal with. To be honest, I think both teams will be the first to tell you that no matter what the conditions or the stoppages, that we're both happy to be in that game. It's something that is a possibility, but it's not something that is unusual for a game like that. That's to be expected.

I don't think you're going to hear any complaints. We expect to deal with that. If anything, we just cross our fingers and hope that all conditions are well just more for the crew working on the ice too, because they're not going to have an easy job.

I think whatever happens, whatever the forecast is, whatever the weather is, we just have to be on our game. Everyone will be fine. I don't think you'll hear any complaints.

Q. Talking about the Winter Classic, having played in the one in Buffalo, talk about what the feeling is in your mind having played in one before and now coming up on a second one, is the novelty still there? Is it still a fun experience?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, I don't think the feeling of playing a National Hockey League game against a big rival, I don't think that wears off. I think we all feel pretty lucky to be in the game. For some of us who have played in one already, it's another opportunity to be part of a pretty unique event. The fact that we have it here in Pittsburgh against a rival and that it's become such a big event, I think we all just feel lucky to be a part of it.

Q. Do you feel like you and the guys in the room have gone through it a couple years ago in Buffalo have a little advantage going into the game, at least knowing what the conditions could be?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I don't know. Maybe a bit, but I think, like I said earlier, I think everyone has an idea that there may be stoppages or there may be times when the ice is slower, whatever the case is I think that's to be expected. Whether or not you've played in one before, I don't know if it's an advantage. I think for everything around it, it may be a bit of an advantage just because we've been through it. But as far as dealing with conditions and things like that, I think both teams probably expect the same thing.

Q. I was wondering how has the team prepared for the possible weather situations, and if the game does have to be moved to Sunday?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I'm sure there are plans in place. I think for us that's something luckily for us we don't have to worry about that a whole lot. We'll be told what we have to do and where we have to go. But other than that, we'll prepare as if we're playing at the time and whatever the start time is. That's how we'll prepare.

I don't think anyone wants to get caught up thinking about the different scenarios and situations. If it's the case that has to be pushed or delayed or anything like that, then we'll react and plan accordingly. But that's something that other people will take care of.

Q. Obviously the two teams will play about eight times in the playoffs and once in the same division, do you believe these rivalries continue to linger the present day and how you guys handle it, do you think you play better, does it bring more out of the two teams? Just talk about the rivalry between the teams beyond you and Ovechkin's mutual respect?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I think it's certainly grown. You look at, like you said, the playoffs and you look at the games that we've played against in the last few years, it's pretty easy to build a rivalry that's very intense. They're physical and they've been really close games, so I think that's a pretty natural progression as far as the two teams are concerned. I think that's good for everyone. Like you said, I think both teams bring out the best in one another. That seemed to be common throughout the match-ups in the last few years.

Q. Do you think Thursday was a pretty good preview of what's going to happen this week?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, definitely. It's been a game that we've seen a number of times the last few years, exactly that. Really close, chances at both ends, physical, intense, an emotional game. That's what you get when these two teams play. So I would expect much of the same.

Q. Do you have any thoughts on the alumni game? Are there any thoughts on that?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I think we're planning on going, so it will be pretty neat for us. We have all different alumni events here in Pittsburgh. Usually it's at least one a year. So it's always fun to meet former players, and probably the most fun is seeing them get together. A lot of the guys who played together, to see them interact and hear stories from when they played, it's pretty neat to see. So it's always fun, and I'm happy that we're able to be a part of it.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass