This is hockey in the greatest city in the world.

Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it and all of its ramifications in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short- and long-term.

Nashville Gm David Poile on signing Shea Weber

Pekka Rinne

As Phoenix holds off a 5-3 lead with 2:00 left in the third, a huge question is emerging; is Pekka Rinne in a slump, or is he undergoing a Luongo moment?
Rinne has given up 9 goals through two games thus far in the series. Yes, the defense is also a big reason why nine have been given up, but Rinne hasn’t helped them out. He has been sloppy with his rebounds, he flops on the ground very early, and he seems to be lost in his crease at times. Even worse, Rinne is giving up goals just when the Predators gain momentum. This will doom the Predators.
Head coach Barry Trotz has said, Nashville will win if they give up two goals or less, but giving up four or five a night does nothing but destroy Nashville’s chances of winning. In short, Nashville can’t play like the Flyers. They’re the antithesis of Philly; they’re defensively minded and they score at most 4 goals a game. Because of this, Rinne’s issue must be addressed.
In my opinion, Rinne has had a couple of bad nights. He had some bad bounces, and some defensive lapses didn’t help him. However, he must break this funk in a must-win Game 3. He will be in front of the faithful Nashville crowd, and his team will be pumped.
I stand by my prediction that Nashville will win this series in seven; Rinne’s play from here on out will either prove me right or wrong.

A Quick Look at the Phoenix-Nashville Series

As the Predators and Coyotes hit the ice, it’s time to look at the two teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

The Predators have one of the most reliable goaltenders in the league, and he is backed up by great scoring by Alexander Radulov, David Legwand, and Marty Erat. Meanwhile, the back end is held up by the two greatest defensemen in the league, Weber and Suter. These are all definite advantages, but there are some cracks in Nashville’s mighty wall. Rinne has had trouble against Phoenix, which is proven by a below-average GAA of 2.72 and an average save percentage of .919. Also, the power play department has had dismal numbers, and that will have to change if they look to beat the Coyotes. Overall though, the Preds remain strong.

The Coyotes have the hottest goaltender in the NHL in Mike Smith, who absolutely shut down the Chicago Blackhawks, which is an obvious advantage. Also, Vermette, Boedker, and Hanzal have been stellar, with the three combining for three OT goals and seven goals overall. Also, their staunch defense has been excellent, and they have had a 94.7% penalty kill percentage. However, this defense also has given up 40 shots per game throughout the playoffs, which is a point of concern, seeing how the Predators have done very well with much less the 40 shots per game. The defense must be more aggressive and keep the puck out of the defensive zone. If they don’t, they will lose the series.

My prediction: Nashville in 7. The goaltending is stellar, they can score at will, and they have the best defensemen in the league. It won’t be easy to beat a similarly minded Coyotes team though.

Into the Second Round: An Important Series

The Blackhawks have been routed by the ‘Yotes. The battle between two hockey philosophies led to a Coyotes victory, and the same occurred with the Predators and Red Wings. Now, the two smart defensive teams, Phoenix and Nashville, will face off tonight to start the NHL Conference Semifinals. This series will be a war of attrition, the polar opposite of the Pennsylvania series that featured scores of 8-5 and 10-3. To say the least, it will be interesting to see.