POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.17.2012 / 11:26 AM
Routine game day morning skate today at Joe Louis Arena. Not too much to glean about lines; Preds coaches and players were coy about any potential lineup and line changes. Based on conversation it sounds like Jordin Tootoo is likely out of the lineup tonight, probably with Matt Halischuk back in, but that appears to be a game time decision. As for line combinations, Coach Trotz said he might use the pairings from practice yesterday or might start with the same lines as Games 1 and 2 with option to switch later in the game if necessary, but he did mention that the potential reconfigured lines gives the team a little more balance through all four forward combinations.

Defensively, Hal Gill skated with the team again. Coach Trotz termed it a very good, very positive showing by Gill, but said he will not be in the lineup tonight. Coach would not tip his hand to whether Ryan Ellis or Jack Hillen would be in the lineup as the sixth defenseman.

The theme of the media sessions was desperation level and emotion. The expectation is Detroit will play a very desperate game tonight and try to set the tone early with a quick start. Nashville's players and coaches recognize the importance of weathering the opening salvo by the Wings and staying within the team system. Players talked about learning from the experiences the last two years --- in '10 vs Chicago when Nashville held a two games to one lead and again last year vs. Anaheim when the Preds again held the 2-1 series lead --- as to how high Nashville needs to bring its game tonight.

Check back for video interviews from this morning...
POSTED ON Monday, 04.16.2012 / 4:31 PM
POSTED ON Monday, 04.16.2012 / 1:35 PM
Lines from today's practice:
  White - Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
  Gray - Spaling centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
  Yellow - Gaustad centering Bourque and Hornqvist
  Green - Legwand centering Halischuk and Yip
  Burgundy - Smith centering Tootoo and Wilson

- For the first time this series, Hal Gill practiced with the full group. Coach Trotz mentioned that Gill skated longer than the coaches had anticipated he'd be able to today. He'll be a game day decision tomorrow, but seems to be getting close to returning to game action.
- Gaustad was complementary of his two new linemates, Bourque and Hornqvist, commenting on how hard they play and their ability to retrieve pucks, especially on the forecheck.

More locker room reaction, including Coach Trotz press conference, coming soon.

POSTED ON Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 1:01 PM
Both teams scored once in the second period and both teams had near-misses on power-play opportunites for what could have been a second goal in the period for each squad. At the end of the period, Nashville heads into the locker room with the same one-goal lead it held after the first period.

Momentum Shifts –
The momentum swung wildly throughout the second period. Detroit came out fast. Nashville grabbed the momentum back and had a great chance to stamp the game with consecutive power-plays, but Detroit killed off both penalties which brought the crowd back into the game. Nashville re-settled things when Datsyuk stole the puck off Josi’s stick behind the net and tucked the puck nearside late in the period to bring the momentum back in Detroit’s favor. The final TV timeout of the period – at 4:07 of the frame – settled the buzz in the building, but Detroit again surged when the Wings were able to draw four-on-four action late in the period.

Erat’s Defense – Martin Erat made two tremendous defensive plays on backchecks to negate what could have been a pair of high-level scoring chances for the Wings, the first around six minutes into the period and the second on a Detroit shorthanded rush late in Nashville’s second power-play of the period. Erat also assisted on Klein’s goal, moving the

No Goal -- The Preds escaped the end of the period when Detroit's power-play shot crossed the line after time expired in the second period.
POSTED ON Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 12:06 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
   Legwand centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
   Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostistyn
   Gaustad centering Tootoo and Yip
   Spaling centering Bourque and Hornqvist

Defense pairings:
   Suter and Weber
   Bouillon and Klein
   Ellis and Josi

Heating Up -- Good start by the Legwand line. Andrei Kostitsyn and Radulov created a turnover behind the net on the game’s opening shift to set –up Legwand for a point-black chance. On Nashville’s first power-play the trio combined to create the game’s opening goal with Legwand and Radulov making crafty passes to find Kostitsyn alone at the top of the crease; Kostitsyn’s chance was stopped, but Weber netted the rebound. The line created Nashville’s second power-play with a good work in transition and finished the first period with four of Nashville's nine shots on goal.

Controlling the Circle – Nashville was dominant in the faceoff circle early in the game, winning 14 of the first 23 draws in the opening period, several clean wins. Even the three lost draws were well contested. The faceoff wins were key to the special teams success In the period with the win on the second faceoff of the first power-play leading to the possession that resulted in Nashville’s goal. Paul Gaustad clean won a pair of faceoffs on the Nashville penalty kill, which allowed the Preds additional clearing opportunities.

Clearing the Zone – Nashville got into trouble on a couple of occasions after failed clearing attempts. Detroit was able to make plays high in the zone and re-establish its puck control/half-wall cycle leading to some the Wings best chances in the period. Nashville got away with it in the first period, but will need to clean things up, especially for the second period with the long line change.

POSTED ON Sunday, 04.15.2012 / 11:02 AM
A quiet crowd here for pre-game warm-ups; kind of a late arriving crowd into the building for the early start (filling up more as warm-ups move through). But a pretty good showing by Preds fans – a couple pockets of Gold and Blue jerseys in the arena. Reminder: 11 am start time on NBC National Broadcast, with puck drop closer to 11:20 am CT

Nashville sent 20 skaters out for pre-game warm-ups, 13 forwards and seven defensemen:
  Forwards: Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Yip, Tootoo, Halischuk, Honrqvist, Gaustad, A. Kostitsyn, Radulov, Bourque, S. Kostitsyn
  Defensemen: Weber, Klein, Suter, Hillen, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi

Takeaways from pre-game chatter:
 - Look for the Preds to ramp up the intensity early in the game; there's been talk in the Preds camp about wanting to hit more and try to initiate the physical contact.
 - Fans were given red light sticks on entrance; a pretty cool scene when they dimmed the lights at the end of pregame skate -- check out @predsradio twitter for some pics.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 8:21 PM
There was a lot of action in the second period, but entering the intermission the game remains in essentially the same postion as Detroit retains a two-goal lead.

1) Special Teams – Detroit’s penalty kill dominated Nashville’s power-play early in the period. The Preds had three chances early in the period with the man advantage – including 30 seconds of 5-on-3 play – and were unable to convert. With the score 3-1, Bourque drew another Preds power-play, but Nashville was unable to get any momentum from the 2:00 advantage.

2) Hit The Net – Nashville had a ton of looks, especially in the first half of the period, but still were credited with only 10 shots on net for period despite attempting 21 shots. Through two periods of play, fewer than 50% of Nashville’s shot attempts found the net with just 15 shots on goal on 36 attempted shots. It was especially noticeable on the power-play where Nashville’s five opportunities have resulted in only seven shots on goal.

3) Momentum Changer –
The Preds had everything rolling back in their favor when Kostitsyn scored, but less than a minute later Nashville misplayed a routine zone entry by the Wings and Detroit converted to re-gain a two-goal cushion.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 7:22 PM
The Preds lines to open the game (in order of first shift) were:
   Legwand centering A. Kostitsyn and Radulov
   Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
   Spaling centering Bourque and Hornqvist
   Gaustad centering Halischuk and Yip

   Josi and Klein
   Suter and Weber
   Bouillon and Hillen

Despite the scoreboard reading 2-0 Detroit, Nashville didn't play a bad first period. The Preds out-chanced the Wings in the period and --- if not for some unfortunate bounces --- could easily have been up by two or three goals midway through the period. Still, Detroit capitalized on its chances and takes the lead into the first intermission.

1) Physical First -- It was a much more physical tone to the first period. Mike Fisher and Johan Franzen sparred behind the play on their first shifts (around 1:20 into the game). Shea Weber and Todd Bertuzzi dropped the gloves 1:36 in (Bertuzzi sought out Weber after the whistle). Beyond that, the hitting was more pronounced and the pace much quicker.

2) Missed Opportunities -- The Preds generated a ton of quality scoring opportunities in the first period, but were just unable to convert. The Fisher and Legwand lines were much more noticeable, with Erat creating the play that led to Nashville's first power-play with a strong move down the right wing before taking the puck back in front of the net. The Nashville power-play had four or five dangerous opportunities that misfired for one reason or another. The Spaling line created good chances on two shifts during the second half of the period.

3) Mental Mistakes -- The Preds made two mental mistakes in the first period and Detroit made them pay both times. One of the Preds defensemen cheated too far down low in the zone and then Brandon Yip peeled away from the point for the hit along the boards high in the defensive zone and the combination of the two decisions left Ian White all alone at the right point --- White took his time and slowly skated in before picking his corner for the first goal. Kevin Klein made a poor puck decision with Nashville buzzing in the Detroit end, leading to an easy shot-block and two-on-one for the Wings in the other direction; Klein then took an awkward angle getting back on defense allowing a more pronounced odd-man opportunity which Emmerton converted for the 2-0 lead.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 2:31 PM

The big news from the Predators’ morning skate on Friday was that defenseman Hal Gill is once again a no-go for Nashville. The 6-foot-7 penalty-killing specialist missed Game 1 with a lower body injury. Game 2 between the Predators and Red Wings is 6:30pm CT tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The game will be televised locally on SportSouth—Comcast ch 1676 (HD) and 26 (SD)—and broadcast via radio on 102.5 The Game. Nashville holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

In his morning press conference, Predators head coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t say which defenseman would fill Gill’s spot. Jack Hillen was tapped for the role in Game 1, finishing a +1 in 8:20 of ice time in his NHL playoff debut. Trotz could opt for Ryan Ellis if he is looking for a bit more offense from the back end.

The Predators will aim to make fewer trips to the penalty box in Game 2, and will try to improve their special teams’ performance. The league’s most disciplined team during the regular season, Nashville was whistled for 10 penalties in Game 1 and gave up two power play goals while going scoreless in six chances with a manpower advantage.

The Predators are already quite familiar with their Central Division rival, but goaltender Pekka Rinne said Friday that a team learns a lot about an opponent over the course of a series. His takeaway from Game 1?

“They are never out of the game,” Rinne said. “You have to respect that team but not too much. You have to be aware of the situation at all times. Really strong team in the beginning of periods, at the end of the periods. Lot of experience. All those things. You can’t let down at any time, at any point of the game. You have to be aware when their top guys are on the ice because they are obviously really strong individuals who can change the momentum of the game in seconds.”

Immediately following Game 1 and again Friday morning, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock claimed that his team let Rinne off the hook Wednesday by not crashing the net enough. Trotz, on the other hand, felt the Wings interfered too much in the goal crease—enough to disallow any potential goals that might have been scored as a result. For his part, Rinne knows he’ll see more of the same in Game 2.

“You expect you’re going to have bodies in front of you and you’re going to have people kind of interfering with you a little bit,” Rinne said. “I think you try to mentally prepare for it. Don’t get rattled by it. Just do your best finding the puck in whatever situation it is. That’s the biggest thing: Just try to find a hole where you can see the puck and be able to do your job.”

Red Wings center Darren Helm, who suffered a forearm laceration in Wednesday’s game and had surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is out for the remainder of the playoffs. Babcock said Wednesday morning that he didn’t like the way his third and fourth lines matched up against Nashville’s with Helm out of the lineup. Nashville’s third and fourth lines proved to be the stars in Game 1, producing all three Predators goals.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 1:30 PM
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1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
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