Paul McCann: Not The Return Hoped For

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Well, that wasn’t the kind of return Pred Nation expected. Bridgestone Arena was amped up and ready to rumble as the arena erupted when Pekka Rinne was introduced. That energy was sucked out of the building pretty quickly as the Nashville Predators ran into a perfect storm, a flat opening, a goaltender trying to get his legs back under him and an opponent that was ready to pounce… the predictable result? A 5-2 loss that snapped the Preds 9 game home win streak that stretched over 61 days.

That’s OK… streaks are made to be broken, and a three week layoff, while good for the mind, wasn’t that good for the reflexes and that showed in Pekka Rinne’s first 30 minutes back. Slight indecisions and hesitations were paid for and before you knew it, the Preds were in an 0-4 hole. Then, Peter Laviolette made a move that was understated but brilliant. He called a timeout.

Not to rip his team… not to scream and yell and show that famous intensity… nope… he called the timeout for one reason… to check in with his goaltender. As he put it post-game, he “just wanted to make sure he was OK.” They talked a little about Rinne remaining in the game, an option that Rinne took. Rinne shut the door after that… turning away the next 10 shots and not allowing another goal.

Then his teammates took over… pounding the puck at the net repeatedly, piling up shot after shot until finally… Colin Wilson broke through with a greasy goal, picking up the garbage in pounding home a rebound to get the Preds on the board. That goal just amped up the effort from Nashville and it took nine minutes for James Neal to pot the second one and give the sold out Bridgestone Arena crowd a reason to cheer and hope… but Frederik Andersen had other plans, the Ducks netminder deserves a ton of credit for preserving the win as Nashville poured shot after shot on net, ending up with 24 shots in the third period with Andersen turning back 22 of them.

You knew it was only a matter of time before a slow, uninspired start would bite this team. Now that it has, I would expect a better start on Saturday against the Rangers. It will be a tough test at the Bridge… 2pm start time.

Here are the highlights from nhl.com

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I’d like you to know about the Peterson for Parkinson’s fundraiser happening on February 16th at the Franklin Theatre. It’s called “Songwriters and Storytellers” and will feature performances from some of Nashville’s premier songwriters. Writers of hits for artists like Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean… just to name a few. For more information, including how to purchase tickets Click here. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm… it should be an awesome show for a great cause.

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Random Notes

– Standings update after play on 2/5 – The Predators remain first in the division, even after last night’s loss and St. Louis’ win due to the Preds superior ROW. The Ducks have taken over the conference and league with a two point advantage. The Predators still maintain a game in hand over Anaheim. Chicago, who was idle last night, trails the Predators and Blues by eight points. The Blues and Blackhawks play Sunday in what should be a good one.

– The Western Wild Card race saw little change with last night’s results. San Jose regained second in the Pacific, Calgary drops back to third and Vancouver remains in the second wild card slot in the west. This situation will be very fluid given the three games in hand that Vancouver holds over both Calgary and San Jose.

– Gotta be spinning the NHL Home Ice satellite tonight as both St. Louis and Chicago are in action before their Sunday Showdown at Scottrade Center.

– Colin Wilson potted his 17th of the season last night, a personal best for him with plenty of hockey left.

– When everything goes as haywire as it did last night… it is a little easier to put it behind you.

– Saturday’s game will feature Cam Talbot in net for the Rangers. Talbot played his college hockey at for UAH and has played in Bridgestone Arena before when the Chargers came up for a regular season game a few years back.

– So, the Evander Kane / Winnipeg Jets soap continues with Kane being placed on IR retroactive to Monday. We may have seen the last of Evander Kane in a Winnipeg jersey.

– Nice to see former Predator Kimmo Timonen be cleared to begin skating again. Reports out of Philly indicate his return may be within a two week timeframe… in other words… a good chance he returns on 3/21… against the Preds.

– Five games on the NHL schedule tonight, three of them with direct impact on the Western Conference race – Maple Leafs @ Devils, Ducks @ Capitals, Blues @ Blue Jackets, Blackhawks @ Jets, Penguins @ Flames

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You are invited to follow me on Twitter. Search for @PredPAPaul… Not only will I be updating when I get news or updates, but we are having a bit of fun by getting your input on Gnash introductions, weigh in on Twitter and who knows, we may use your introduction for the best mascot in the NHL at the next Preds game! You can also keep up with all the goings on with SlapShot Radio by following the show on Twitter @SlapShotRadio1

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SlapShot Radio will be back on Wednesday, February 18th at 7pm on 102.5 the Game and the SlapShot Radio Network… Our premier, day one sponsor is Dr. Jane Bacon at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry … make your appointment at 615-872-7762. Also The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills and Burger Republic!

We’ve got room for your business to be part of the SlapShot Radio family with effective and affordable advertising packages for every budget. Be part of the excitement of Nashville hockey… Advertisers… reach out to me to access our activated listener base via email at paul(@)slapshotradio(dot)com

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