Central Division: A Needed Day Off For The Nashville Predators

The Central Division is now officially crowded at the bottom, so it’s a very good thing that the Nashville Predators have the day off. Another 60 minutes of hockey to watch from the bench with a break and Barry Trotz’s head would’ve exploded faster than you can say “1-2-3”…

Around The Central Division: January 29, 2013

Central Division goalie Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators

Pekka is a nice guy. Why won’t anyone help Pekka out? (PHOTO: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

YESTERDAY

Phoenix Coyotes 4, Nashville Predators 0

The Preds have looked pretty awful in the early going this season, but never worse than they did last night. Yes, they were missing Patric Hornqvist, and yes, they were playing game four out of seven in a row on the road. But Hornqvist is only one player and every team has to play a road trip at some point. There’s just no other way to put it: they’re a bad hockey team at this particular moment in time. They can’t even do the simple things right now, like clear the zone:

Had this performance come in the opener, I could’ve shaken off as “rust.” As it is I have to wonder what kind of lessons this team is learning right now. They’ve lost every game where they’ve taken the lead this season, and their other gear seems to be to just not score at all. After all, if you never take the lead you can’t give it away…right? Whether it’s just effort level and “detail” or personnel or what, I don’t know, but something needs to change soon.

Central Division rebuilding squad, the Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus is no longer in sole possession of last place in the Central Division. (PHOTO: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Dallas Stars 1

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 of 27 shots and Vinny Prospal scored his second goal of the year at 1:22 of the third period to lift Columbus to the win. Dallas took six penalties before Jamie Benn’s boarding and roughing calls at 19:55 of the third (welcome back, Jamie!). While the Jackets couldn’t score on the power play, the Stars’ time on the PK put a crimp in their offense. Giving up these kinds of goals doesn’t help your cause, either:

Last season it took 12 games for the Blue Jackets to pick up their second win. This year they’ve done it in six, which has to be heartening for fans of these perpetual cellar-dwellers. They’re nobody’s idea of a great team but they’re a lot better than they have been in the past.

Transactions

This transaction list is so bare
No team has a player to spare
If Poile doesn’t move soon
To get rid of Rich Clune
I might start pulling out my hair

Standings

Central Division standings

Leaders

Points: Patrick Kane (CHI) – 9
Goals: Marian Hossa (CHI) – 5
Assists: Kevin Shattenkirk (STL) – 8
PIM: Derek Dorsett (CBJ) – 21
Wins: Corey Crawford5
GAA: Chris Mason (NSH) – 1.00
SV%: Chris Mason (NSH) – .967

TODAY

The NHL is back in full swing tonight with 10 games, but just two of them involve Central Division teams.

Ex-Central Division powerhouses, the Detroit Red Wings

Dallas visits Detroit tonight. (PHOTO: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Dallas Stars (2-3-1) at Detroit Red Wings (2-2-1)
6:30 p.m. CST

Jamie Benn’s return from a holdout was spoiled by Columbus last night, so the Stars will give another Central Division team a shot tonight. The Red Wings are 1-1-0 at home, while the Stars are 1-2-0 on the road, and both teams have given up more goals than they’ve scored. Looks like this one is anybody’s game.

Northwest Division visits Central Division

Columbus is looking for it second straight win tonight. (PHOTO: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Blue Jackets (2-3-1) at Minnesota Wild (2-2-1)
7:00 p.m. CST

The Blue Jackets have a chance to win two in a row for the first time since March 30th and 31st of last year when they take on the Minnesota Wild this evening. The Wild, meanwhile, are still reeling, having lost three straight after a 2-0 start.

Topics: Central Division, Nashville Predators

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  • http://beautypersoni.livejournal.com Christopher-J Carlson

    Since I haven’t seen anyone else do so yet, I’m going to some to Rich Clune’s defense here. I didn’t think much at all of his acquisition or his (limited) play in his first couple of games. I would have been a “nay-sayer”, if not for the fact that the Predators track record with regards to finding untapped potential in castaways. And in Clune’s third game I finally saw what the Preds saw in him. Another player who puts 100% effort in every stride and tries to push beyond the limitations others have heaped upon him. He hustles like many other past and present Preds do, and not just in delivering check after check like a pinball (which he does VERY well), or in fighting opponents (which he’s not the greatest at, but he hasn’t taken extra penalties to go with those majors). He also *goes to the net*. Now, if the rest of the team just started taking more shots (as Gretzky says), then maybe his presence in front of the goalie would lead to some goals, by the usual suspects or even himself via deflection. Anyhoo…

    • http://predlines.com/ Jason Kirk

      I’ve seen some of what you’re talking about with Clune. In fact, the last two games or so there have been long stretches where the best performances on the team are coming from his line. I think that’s much more an indictment of the top lines that a testament to his contributions, but the guy definitely works hard. I think the rest of the team could take a cue from him in that regard.

      In your defense of him you say that he doesn’t take other penalties, and in absolute terms two in five games isn’t much. But look at the plays they came from. The boarding call in the first St. Louis game when he ran Scotty Nichol, where he was lucky not to get whistled for a major and possibly a game misconduct – Clune could have seriously injured someone (a former Pred, no less) and left his team in a very tough situation. The other was a late-game penalty in the shutout loss to St. Louis where he tried to run Tarasenko, botched that, got tangled up with him, and kept messing with the kid for about 15 seconds until a referee finally saw Clune slapping him in the head and whistled him for roughing. It was a completely unnecessary play that offered no benefit to the team and actually left them worse off than they were before he initiated it.

      He isn’t the worst hockey player I’ve ever seen. I just don’t think what he brings to the table is worth spending a roster spot on.

      • http://beautypersoni.livejournal.com Christopher-J Carlson

        Yes, those *were* bad penalties. I had forgotten what his two minors were like. But what I was actually trying to say was that when he gets into fights he doesn’t get himself tagged with any extra minors. They were either 1-for-1 trade-offs with the other team, or he got the other guy to take an extra minor. But yes, those two minors weren’t too swift.

        Of course, based on what I’ve seen so far, I expect to see a lot of other players get twisted into penalties by Tarasenko. It’s early, but based on his play and, more importantly, his demeanor on the ice (save that goal celebration *shakeshead* ), I expect Tarasenko will bring home the Calder Trophy. Which really hurts a lot to say, with him playing for the Blues. (Hurts even more considering St. Louis was already a strong team to begin with.)

        Anyhoo…

        • http://predlines.com/ Jason Kirk

          I think Tarasenko probably runs away with the Calder if somebody doesn’t take him out with a dirty hit first. Between him and Yakupov, there are a couple of high-profile targets for the Russia-haters right now. Not saying I *expect* it, just that it wouldn’t surprise me.

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