Feb 5, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Predators: Feel The Love On Valentine’s Day


Jan 19, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators fans gather in front of Bridgestone Arena before a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

There are all sorts of reasons to love this year’s Nashville Predators. Just the fact that they’re here is a good place to start – given how entrenched the two sides were during the lockout, it’s a minor miracle that the Preds are playing at all this season. Fans greeted them with open arms for the home opener, standing outside Bridgestone Arena to welcome their team back.

Jan 21, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Colin Wilson (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

 
Since then the team has had its ups and downs, with more of the former than the latter. Colin Wilson (4G-4A), for instance, has been having a great season so far. He adds size, strength, a keen eye for the pass, and youthful vigor to Nashville’s top lines.

 

 

Jan 21, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist (27) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

 

Patric Hornqvist (1G-3A) was also having a great season before being injured against the Anaheim Ducks. Thankfully the injury wasn’t extremely serious. He’s resumed skating as is expected to return to the lineup in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Jan 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Nashville Predators celebrate a goal with seconds left in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Predators defeated the Wild 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Shea Weber (0G-1A) has struggled offensively but his defensive prowess is as sharp as ever. Without him on the top pair, the Preds’ game plan wouldn’t work nearly as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville Predators

Jan 26, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; The Nashville Predators celebrate after a goal by Nashville Predators right wing Brandon Yip (18) during the game against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at the Home Depot Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Klein (1G-4A) has looked better than ever this year: still a solid defensive presence, but with some added offensive punch. He eats up big minutes and factors heavily on the penalty kill, giving Preds fans lots of reasons to show him love.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Nashville Predators celebrate their 2-1 shootout victory at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This month the team has really rallied around Pekka Rinne (5-3-3, 1.75 GAA, .934 SV%), who’s being talked about as a serious contender for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

 

 

 

 

Nashville Predators

February 2, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Nashville Predators celebrate after defeating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Pekka has been nearly unbeatable at even strength in February, and even on the penalty kill he’s one of the toughest in the league to beat. When the team works as hard as he does, they’ve very tough to beat.

 

 

 


 
Ryan Ellis (2G-3A) continues to develop this season. It’s not uncommon to see him take charge and direct his more senior teammates on the ice during a play, making him a valuable presence in just his second NHL season.
 
 
 

Feb 7, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators team members celebrate after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports


 
There’s been plenty of adversity this season, with the offense and power play struggling and injuries striking key players. The tough times bring the team closer together, which makes the good times even better when they arrive.

 
 
 

Feb 5, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) is congratulated after defeating the St. Louis Blues 6-1 at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports


 
Paul Gaustad (1G-2A) has been critical to Nashville’s successes this season. He’s second in the league in faceoff winning percentage (62.4 percent) and plays a critical role on the top penalty killing unit.

 
 
 

Feb 10, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Andrew Shaw (65) and Nashville Predators left wing Rich Clune (16) fall to the ice during a fight in the second period at Bridgestone Arena. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 3-0. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)


 
Even Rich Clune (1G-0A) has begun to feel some of the love after taking on anyone and everyone in an attempt to win a spot in Coach Barry Trotz’s lineup.

Feb 12, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal against the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators beat the Sharks 1-0 in overtime. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)


 
 
 
 
A win over the Phoenix Coyotes tonight would be even more reason to shower the Preds with affection. Whatever happens, though, one thing is for sure: it’s been great to have the team back on the ice playing hockey.

Tags: Nashville Predators