Note:POTG Radio is on hiatus so there will be no show tonight.
The Nashville Predators are at the mid point of the 82 game season and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with 50 points which is exactly half of their total at year's end last season. While that is impressive, you have to also note that they are only four points ahead of the twelfth place St. Louis Blues.
This year's Preds have been one of the streakiest teams in franchise history with two five game losing streaks and a four gamer. In the last ten games they are 5-5, which includes a five game winning streak and a losing streak of the same number of games.
Injuries have run rampant amongst the best Pred players. Only six players have played every game, Colin Wilson, J P Dumont, Jerred Smithson, Shea Weber, Joel Ward and Shane O'Brien.
Currently, they are without top scorers Steve Sullivan, Cal O'Reilly, and Marty Erat, their best defensive forward Nick Spaling, and Matthew Lombardi has been gone so long folks have quit asking about a return date. New guy, Marek Svatos, went down Saturday and may be out for a while too.
Primary agitator, Jordin Tootoo, is also gone for a couple of months, giving Wade Belak a chance for a goal before season's end.
The Preds are 25th in the league in goals per game while they are 3rd in goals allowed. They are 25th on the power play but fifth in killing penalties. Basically, when you watch the Preds, you aren't likely to see many goals on either side, or many man advantage points either.
With all the absences, in true Predator fashion, others have carried the load. Colin Wilson is starting to show signs of being the player the Preds have wanted to see. Sergei Kostitsyn is making David Poile look like a genius, as has Anders Lindback. On any given night, an unexpected hero has popped up and carried the load.
So heading into the second half, you have to wonder if the Preds are at a high water mark and ready for another losing streak or if the team will start to heal and be even better.
The competition will get tougher down the stretch and teams will load up with trade deadline deals that will change the current landscape. There's no way of knowing at this point how active the Preds will be in the market place. With attendance up and finances looking better, you have to think they will be willing to make the right move if it is out there.
So here we go! The second half begins tomorrow at the Bridgestone Arena against the surprising Minnesota Wild. Tickets are still available, so plan on attending.
Here is our game story from Saturday night.
Josh Cooper had his game story, notes, quotes, and postgame ponderings.
From the blog world reports come from Amanda DiPaolo, Mark Willoughby, Dirk Hoag (with his advances stats), and Hockey Night in Nashville.
The Bay Area wrap-ups come from The Mercury News, Inside Bay Area, SF Gate, Working the Corners, Fear the Fin, Battle of California, Blades of Teal, SharksPage, and Couch Tarts.
In Pred Nation...
Josh Cooper spoke with David Poile and the upside to all the injuries is players stepping up in new roles.
NHL.com's list of hot players includes Sergei Kostitsyn who may be up for Star of the Week honors later today. It also lists Jose Theodore who the Preds will face tomorrow night.
Dirk Hoag starts his mid year reviews with the goaltenders and also looks at the latest mysterious suspension from the NHL.
Hockey's Future highlights Ryan Ellis as a standout performer at the World Juniors.
From @NHLPredsInsider: Last night's win was the #Preds 250th since the start of 2005-06 – only Detroit (284), San Jose (268) and Vancouver (251) have more.
Section 303 has a new episode of the 303:30 with Ryan Porth and Patten Fuqua.
In a surprise move, Jamie Lundmark was given an unconditional release and appears headed for Europe. Here is a Twitter explanation from Lundmark's wife that Seth Lake found @EricaLundmark: I need to clarify for some. Nashville agreed to let us look over seas. We signed with Timra in the Swedish Elite League.
The Milwaukee Admirals are riding a four game winning streak including yesterday's 3-2 matinee win against Hamilton. See Admirals Roundtable for all three weekend wrap-ups.
Examiner.com looks at the Predators at the 40 game mark.
The Preds arrived in San Jose on Friday just in time for a 4.1 magnitude earthquake. I am jealous since that would be a good one to feel that wouldn't produce damage.
Former Predator Jason Arnott expects to be traded to a potential playoff team.
Around the NHL...
Cameron Walsh goes in to a lot of detail about Sidney Crosby's concussion and the injury in general at From the Point. This is a must read piece.
The first round of HBO's 24/7 was such a success, the NHL is not ruling out something similar during the playoffs. James O'Brien at PHT looks at some possibilities.
Seventeen players made The Hockey News' People of Power list. Gary Bettman was replaced at number one by Donald Fehr.
Ryan Porth has the top five first half disappointments. It's a solid list.
The Goalie Guild has their January update of all goalie prospects. This stuff is incredible.
Jason LaBarbara (5-5-2) of the Coyotes set an NHL record by having his first twelve starts of the year being on the road.
Ben Eager received a four game suspension from the NHL after punching Colby Armstrong.
Matt Reitz has his weekly Hockey Fan in California post with a bunch of good stuff.
Jamie Langenbrunner appears to be the big winner in his trade to the Stars. Here is a post discussing the low value of veterans on the trade market this season.
Mandi Schwartz has stopped her chemotherapy treatment and things do not look good.
The mysterious death of former San Jose prospect Tom Cavanagh raises more questions than was answered. Fans often forget that even though players are top athletes, they face daily pressures and demons just like everyone else.
Odds and Ends...
The Motorola Xoom won the best of show at CES in Las Vegas. I want one.
It is amazing that Opportunity, one of the twin Mars rovers, is still rolling along after seven years on the red planet. We saw the launch of the other rover, Spirit, when we were in Florida when my boys were just kids.
Here is a video from Ross Rylance, a guy I haven't seen in years. His wife is a stroke victim and this is an appeal to the Ellen Show to help with her treatment. Clicking on the link will help in getting chosen by Ellen.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass