Blackhawks future on display in IIHF World Junior Championships

Chicago, IL — Ok Blackhawks fans it is getting to be that time of the year again, when the NHL’s future is on display in an international competition. This year the Chicago Blackhawks have four prospects that will be honored enough to wear the Team USA jersey. The roster was announced for Team USA back on December 12th.

schmaltz getting to bench


All four of the Blackhawks prospects are from the college ranks. This year also there will be no Blackhawks prospects on Team Canada or Finland. There is also two Hawks prospects on that will be manning Team Sweden’s blue line.

Team USA Hawks prospects are all forwards and one most Hawks fans are familiar with if you attended the Hawks prospect camps or watched the Team USA evaluation camp during the summer that was held in Lake Placid, NY.

The additional bonus this  year for those of us who follow the IIHF WJC is that the time zone will be palatable as the games will be held in either Toronto or Quebec which is a heck of a lot better than having to watch hockey games at 4 or 6 AM.

If you are interested at all about the future talents of the NHL and Blackhawks I would strongly suggest tuning in, besides who is not interested in healthy international competition and feeling a healthy dose of some national pride.

So representing the Hawks will be Nick Schmaltz, Anthony Louis, Tyler Motte and John Hayden for team USA. For Team Sweden both Hawks representatives will be defensemen Carl Dahlstrom and Robin Norell.


For those that did not see the evaluation camp games Tyler Motte was the overall points leader having been put on the top line with Alan Tuck ( MN Wild prospect) and the highly touted 2015 draft pick Jack Eichel.

John Hayden also had a very good showing and ended up with five points in six games. He established a physical net front presence that the Hawks will be thrilled to have.

Nick Schmaltz and Anthony Louis were paired together and have great chemistry together. So far this year their college records as of a week ago are as follows:


** Player                                 College/University         Games         Points


Nick Schmaltz                      Univ of N. Dakota          13                  14 (2/12)

Anthony Louis                      Miami University            16                  14 (3/11)

Tyler Motte                           Univ of Michigan            14                  14 (5/9)

John Hayden                        Yale University              10                  10 (3/7)


Below is the tournament schedule for Team USA


*2015 U.S. Game Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time (ET)
Fri., Dec. 26 Finland Bell Centre, Montreal 3:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 28 Germany Bell Centre, Montreal 8:00 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 29 Slovakia Bell Centre, Montreal 4:00 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 31 Canada Bell Centre, Montreal 4:00 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 2 Quarterfinals (TBD) Montreal or Toronto TBD
Sun., Jan. 4 Semifinals (TBD) Air Canada Centre, Toronto TBD
Mon., Jan. 5 Finals (TBD) Air Canada Centre, Toronto TBD


It is very hard to get information on the Swedish players but having seen them in prospect camp don’t forget to check out both Robin Norell and Carl Dahlstorm on Team Sweden. They are both solid defenseman.

Camps and pretournament games are getting set to take place. Camps open from 12/16-19 and there will be some pre-tournament games. Tuesday the 16th Team USA will take on Team Canada. If you want to watch the games check out Fast Hockey***. Fast Hockey carries Team USA and Team Canada. The games are online in standard definition but you do get to watch and check out the boys.

Good Luck to all the Blackhawks prospects may you each have the tournaments of your life. Sorry Team Sweden I must cheer overall as team for Team USA so let the games begin and GO USA!!


*taken from web site.

** taken from web site


Leave a comment

Filed under sports, Hockey

Chicago Blackhawks – recall Phillip Danault and add passion ardente

Chicago, IL — The Hawks recalled Phillip Danault from the Rockford IceHogs late this week with Andrew Shaw being injured and Patrick Sharp finally put on LTIR there was a spot that opened up for a forward and Phillip Danault got the call.

I have to admit I am a little partial to Danault. The first time I saw Danault on the ice was back in July of 2012 at the Blackhawks prospect camp. From the moment Danault skated onto the ice the kid had a smile on his face that just would not leave. Immediately you could sense his amour de la vie (love of life) and his passion pour le jeu as the French would say or his love of the game. His enthusiasm and passion made those watching put a smile on their face just witnessing his pure joy of playing the game. That was my first and constant impression of Phillip Danault.


To hear him describe himself to reporters and BHTV as being able to bring his energy and passion pretty much sums up the intangibles of Danault’s game and what separates him from other hockey players. This fire and hunger to play maybe the missing ingredient the Blackhawks have been lacking.

Don’t get me wrong I love all the Hawks but this year they have looked a little stale and bored with playing in some of the games which is only natural when you have 82 games and some not so thrilling opponents to get through. We all know the regular season is a grind but you have to get through this to make the playoffs. Danault brings life, energy, fire, that je ne sais quoi   the Hawks have been missing.



There is a relentlessness to Danault’s game and intensity that is unyielding and a passion that is contagious which, maybe just what the Blackhawks need right now. It’s perfect that he is joining the team on the circus trip with more time to bond with the boys and hopefully they will catch some of Danault’s fire.

The tangibles and hockey skills that Danault will bring are also what the Hawks have failed to demonstrate on a consistent basis. He brings a commitment to the small details of the game and a responsible two way game. Let’s face it other than Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger at the center position the Hawks could use this at the center position.

Danault when he was with the Hawks in preseason this year I believe consistently was over the 70% mark in face offs won. For a team that likes and wants the puck this alone makes Danault a valuable addition. Even if Danault is put on the wing he can always come in to take face offs when/where need be and isn’t that nice to know as a coaching staff you have someone to relay on who more times than not will get you the puck.


Danault is also an excellent skater with great balance and we all know how much the Hawks love their fast skaters so there should be no problem with Danault fitting in and keeping up with any line he is on. His fore-check skills and patience with the puck is also top notch. His intensity along the boards is something you notice right away. Phillip Danault, never repeat never, gives up on a play or the puck in any of the zones. If in the rare instance he loses the puck he battles to get it back- ala Marian Hossa.


Danault is getting the opportunity because he has played well for the Rockford IceHogs this year. In 14 games he has 10 points (3G/7A) but more importantly he is a +6. Yes he is an excellent penalty killer which would be nice if the Hawks could rotate him in with Kruger, Smith, Toews & Hossa to give them a rest especially Hossa. The Hawks need to keep him as fresh as they can for a long run into the playoffs and Danault would be a perfect reliever on the PK.

Even though Danault is primarily known for his defensive skills and work ethic he is also an excellent passer and puck distributor. Late last year in Rockford he and Ryan Hartman were burning up the opposition. This year, his line with Mark McNeill and Garrett Ross has been doing the same thing with the IceHogs. Danault is not afraid to go to the net which is definitely something most teams can use and especially the Hawks.


Danault will make his debut with the Hawks tonight against a young, skilled Edmonton Oilers team that should make for an interesting game with all the speed and youthful energy and skill out on the ice. I can’t think of a better team for Danault to be making his NHL debut against.

Show them what you got kid, play your game with that Phillip Danault flare and everything will be fine. Go live your dream kid.

Oh and Allons-y Hawks!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under AHL, Hockey, NHL

One Goal – More goals

Chicago, Il – As improbable as it may seem the Blackhawks problems this year can be boiled down to a lack of goal scoring production. Yes there have been too many mistakes and giveaways in their own zone but all of that is rectified if more goals are scored. You can recover from mistakes if you can score.

The Hawks or any team can not be expected to never make mistakes or give us scoring chances so the only way to overcome those mistakes because there will be some is to be able to score yourself and cash in on the other teams mistakes. So far this year that is not happening particularly in the middle period.

It is no surprise that the players with the best shooting percentage on this team are Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Shaw. What do all three of these players have in common?  They park themselves around and in front of the net which is how you have to score now a days. You have to get in front of goalies to either screen or deflect shots once the Hawks do this consistently everything else will open up.

Also be less predictable. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and others are having problems scoring because the opposition knows what your going to do before you do it. So you need to do something else. For example not to pick on Brandon Saad but every time he has the puck and powers up the boards with speed even I know he will go behind the net and swing out the other side. Try changing that and cutting to the slot or go right to the goalie.

The Hawks are not scoring because teams are not giving them any room, they need to gain separation and move more without the puck to open up lanes. Try shooting quicker before defense can get set and the passing needs to be crisper.

The Hawks are not a big team so to gain separation you can’t muscle your way there you will have to either use your speed or find open areas of the ice which will mean the attackers need to go up in unison, one is bound to find soft ice spots.

Try chipping and chasing but in mass you’re bound to come out sometimes with control of the puck. Once that happens it gives you scoring chances and an opportunity for everyone to crash the net. Don’t always only send one to the net send all your forwards that’s the only way there is going to be confusion and someone maybe open.

The Hawks also need to clean up that second period they are the worse in the league in scoring. It is the period of the long ice change so shorten your shifts and focus on playing an entire sixty minutes. There are no periods or shifts off I’m afraid this year not if you want to win games. With the lack of goals if you get down after two periods it is becoming almost impossible to make up the goal differential.

The second unit power play has to change. The Hawks also lead the league in short handed give away goals. Brad Richards and Brent Seabrook should not be on the point together. I think both of them would admit foot speed is not their forte so they should never be the last line of defense together. When Patrick Sharp gets back Sharp should be with Seabrook and Richards with Keith. That’s my take on fixing that fiasco.

The good news is the Hawks are doing very well with the penalty kill, face-offs and goals against which is important to the overall team defense. Technically just tie down consistently getting net front presence, improve on second period scoring and staying focused for the entire game and everything should improve.

Mentally though the Hawks have looked like they lack fire and hunger or maybe they are pressing too much. Have fun remember you do know how to do this, just last year the Hawks were one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. Just get to the net and play for each other things will start bouncing your way.


Leave a comment

Filed under Hockey, NHL

Chicago Blackhawks – The Adventure begins

Chicago, IL – So we start anew, fresh and with a clean slate as does twenty nine other teams what this is an opportunity to once again show what you’re made of and who really is the best.  Before a prize can be claimed or bragging rights earned the regular season road begins the journey and for the Chicago Blackhawks the road starts in Dallas, TX against a much improved opponent and one that is typical of the loaded Western Conference.

The boys have all been here before and they and the coaches all know what they need to do and ride they will embark on. As for fans we’re there along for the ride as well.

The Hawks have changed a bit themselves with the departure of Nick Leddy on the blue line and the addition of Brad Richards up front.  There are also some new fresh young faces along with some very familiar ones.

Being Forward

I can’t think of any other team that is better than this one as far as the top six forwards. What wins championships however, is the bottom six forwards and how much better they are than the other teams in the league especially in the playoffs. The Hawks are pretty good there too. On paper their forwards should be able to keep up with anyone.

With the addition of Richards it has allow coach Quenneville the luxury of putting in the lines in the blender even more and that is always a good thing. There already has been a change to start one out of coach Q tinkering and one out of necessity.

Andrew Shaw is re-united with his playoff buddies, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane and will be centering these beauties. That line was every bit the answer to the LA Kings that 70’s line of Pearson- Carter and Tofoli.  Brad Richards is now centering Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith who is filling in for an injured Kris Versteeg. Whether it is Smith or Versteeg, Richards on this line provides the play making set up man and balances the play making. We all know who on the second line will be play making.

The first line needs no introduction, but for those that don’t know it will Sharp – Toews and Hossa, need I say any more.

The fourth line will be interesting with Kruger centering what looks to be a rotation on Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith, Daniel Carcillo and possible another winger. The Hawks will only be as strong as this line is. They don’t necessarily need to score just eat minutes and don’t make huge mistakes, if you score that is great but really not needed.

There is distributed scoring but there are a couple of things to note. The face off of this team needs to improve outside of Toews who was the only natural center with over a 50% FOW. There is no question in the playoffs against the Kings this hurt the Hawks. Practice now boys you got plenty of time to get this down.

The two way play of the forwards could improve. This is a long season help out your defenseman and your goalie there are more of you then them and if you need to see how it is done just look for that first line especially young forwards like Jeremy Morin or if any forwards are brought up either before the end of the year or before the playoffs. Speaking of which do not be surprised if we eventually see Teuvo Teravainen or possibly Phillip Danault or Dennis Rasmussen filter in the Hawks line-ups. Teravainen and Danault were pretty good at face-offs so for that reason alone, you never know. The stay maybe permanent or temporary, whatever it is take advantage boys.

I would hope the Hawks would utilize the youth both on the team and in Rockford. What helped the Kings was the addition of the youngsters Tanner Pearson and Tyler Tofoli. The key is they need regular season action to get them ready. Remember to the hockey played in the regular season is not what it is in the playoffs good time to learn and make mistakes and in the process it keeps veterans legs fresh.

Be Defensive

The defense last year had problems especially down the stretch hopefully with the arrival of fresh legs with David Rundblad, Kyle Cumisky and the real surprise the youngster Trevor Van Riemsdyk.  There will be a rotation of the defenseman again regular season is the time to get the pairs comfortable with each other and will keep the top four fresh.

Last year in the playoffs the defense could not clear out the front of their net and just flat out looked tired hopefully with more legs this should address this problem early. Get those sticks activated and those bodies ready for blocks and hits in the corners.

The offence of the Hawks blue liners is not a concern Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have numbers that some forwards would desire.


Last year the penalty kill never really got established until the playoffs and could struggle this year as well with all the increased firepower and snipers in the west. Right off the bat it will be good to establish a stingy PK.

The power play you never know what your going to get except the zone entries still need work and don’t over think shoot and get to the net and move and the pp should be ok with the addition on Brad Richards the Hawks now have two solid units. Personally I’m partial to the second unit or as I call it the beefed up power play.

In practice unit 1 has been Toews, Kane, Shaw with Sharp and Keith on the points. Unit 2 has Bickell, Saad, Hossa with Richards and Seabrook on the points like I said that’s a lot of beefcake on the second unit which is a much different look that the light, speedy first one just think of the different rides you get between a 1967 Pontiac GTA and a  2012 Lamborghini Adventador, love the different looks. And these will be tweeked if the power play hits a dry patch.

A couple of lessons learned from last year

Do better against your own division, you don’t need to necessarily win the division but you certainly don’t want to be scratching and clawing for a playoff spot at the end of the year.

Don’t give up last minute in the period or game goals they are back breakers and demoralize the team and take the wind out of the crowd as well.

Become closers. Part of the problem last year was that the Hawks got leads and could not close out the competition. Do this in the regular season and it will be second nature in the playoffs.

Be fluid. The team the Kings were in the playoffs was nothing like how they were in the regular season.

The Hawks have said they are angry that they let that game get away from them last year and let the Kings take away their chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions and are using it as motivation. Well you have the opportunity now to return the favor.

This one Patrick Sharp can appreciate, “The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself.” – Eddie Vedder

To that I’ll add –  now go and reclaim what is yours.


Video taken from youtube created by 12CMags on 8/2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Hockey, NHL

Chicago Blackhawks – Central Opponents: The St. Louis Blues

Chicago, IL — The last opponent in the Central Division that  this blog looks at that the Blackhawks will face is the most puzzling one. On paper, and that includes you analytics freaks, this team should be in the Western Conference Final and should have had a couple of Stanley Cups by now. There are two significant problems with this and they are the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Since 2011 the Blues inexplicably can’t seem to push through to the next level. In 2011 they were ousted in the playoff conference semi-finals by the Kings. Then they were booted in both 2012 & 21013 quarterfinal conference rounds by the Kings and the Hawks respectively.

This is the conundrum that faces this franchise. You’re a really good solid team with all the numbers to back this up but can’t get past championship caliber hockey teams. It’s a familiar problem and the Blues are not alone in the west with this problem, the San Jose Sharks can certainly empathize with the Blues they are in the same boat.

The Blues had a significant off season move and that was to bring in center Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche to strengthen them down or up the middle if you will. Great pick up especially in the stacked west, but is Stastny enough?

The problem too for the Blues is they had a lot of people going out the door most notably the very talented Vladimir Sobotka who elected to go to the KHL for a big money deal. They also parted ways with Derek Roy C, Roman Polok D & winger Brendan Morrow.

The Blues also signed Jori Lehtera from the KHL. Lehtera is a Finnish center man who was originally drafted by the Blues in 2006. Lehtera has been playing in the KHL so we really are not sure how he will adapt and his skills will translate to the high flying NHL. Lehtera should be a 20-30 goal scorer but this is North American hockey not European and there may be a significant learning curve the Blues will have to wait and see.

The Blues also did not resign goalie Ryan Miller and have elected to go in house with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen in nets. Not sure that is a bad move. Miller honestly did not really fit in St. Louis and was not the answer they were looking for. To be fair though I’m not sure anyone is the answer they are looking for including the players on the current roster.

Vladimir Tarasenko is a young stud and will be a beast. In the playoffs last year against the Hawks he & Alex Steen were really the only forwards that struck fear in Blackhawks fans hearts when you see them with the puck. If Tarasenko takes more strides he can become Stamkos like. He could be the key to the Blues offensively.

The Defense of the Blues is solid with Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Shattenkirk , Leopold and the pick up of Carl Gunnerson. The Blues are always solid defensively and will be again. No their problem is when they get to the most important parts of the year they seem to buckle down the stretch and until they figure that out they will suffer the same fates.

The San Jose Sharks have a very similar problem only they have decided to address it with a change of leadership on the team. They took the captaincy away from Joe Thornton and he and Patrick Marleau are no longer the leaders of the Sharks. The Blues so far have not taken that approach and really they are the only ones who can know what the right thing to do is.

On the outside however, in three years you folded in critical points of your season that doesn’t give the current leadership on this team my vote of confidence. The Blues also caved in the regular season as well. They were all lined up to be Central Division leaders but blew their games down the stretch and ended up behind the Colorado Avalanche.

Captain David Backes runs this ship sort of speak on the ice but should he? Maybe the mix of players does not have leaders who when the going gets really really tough know how to kick it up another notch. That is what it will take if you want to survive in the west. The Blues always seem to implode with silly untimely penalties or they try to bully their way through and it just doesn’t work when facing highly talented teams with championship pedigrees.

Their lack of discipline seems to always be an issue and that the coaching staff needs to be blamed for. Speaking of which it’s possible head coach Ken Hitchcock works the team too hard during the regular season so they have nothing left down the stretch. If the Blues fail to go far in the playoffs again will this be Hitch’s last year in St. Louis? He has been with the team since 2011 and for whatever reason has yet to deliver a champion.

While the Blues on paper are solid and picking up Paul Stastny was a good move, let us remember Stastny has never won a Stanley Cup.  So again you have no one on this team that really knows what it takes to win a Cup, that’s not to say they can’t figure it out this year. Blues fans are sure hoping they do. In the meantime besides the Blackhawks and Kings, the Ducks, Stars and the newly led Sharks all improved as well.

It would be easier for the Blues if they were bad on either defense or offense you could just get better players but when your problem is intangibles like fire, leadership and finish you have major problems that are not so easy for the front office to fix.

This will be an interesting year for the Blues and the organization as a whole. If they fall short again looking in the mirror is never fun especially, when you don’t like the reflection you see and changes are necessary.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hockey, NHL, sports

Chicago Blackhawks – Central Opponents: The Dallas Stars

Chicago, IL — The Dallas Stars is really a changed team from a couple of years ago. They more than any team in the Central is making a concerted push for not only the playoffs but to adapt to the Western Conference style of play.

Last year the Stars made the playoffs but were defeated in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks but it is a first step in a process of trying to get to the Stanley Cup Final.  This past offseason more changes were made to help the organization in that direction.

The Stars picked up Center Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators as a UFA and RW Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers.  These additions along with the July, 2013 trade for Tyler Seguin should really bolster the offense on this team to make them a contender in the west.

To show you how much the Stars have improved up front what was their second line last year is now dropped to their third line with the additions of Hemsky and Spezza.

The combination on the first line of Tyler Seguin and Jaime Benn as we saw last year really clicked and there is no reason to think they will slow down any time soon. Seguin led the team overall in points but both Seguin and Benn could easily be 90-100 point players. The Dallas Stars have a skilled dynamic forward troop and strong up the middle which is what is now needed to be considered a contender in the west.  This team could also very well be the fastest in the west or at least they are one of them.

The area where the Stars could have problems is on the back end. The defense on this team is somewhat suspect and it remains to be seen if they can actually stop any of the powerhouses in the west. The team was ranked 17th overall on defense and really did nothing in the off season to improve this.

For this reason it is highly unlikely that the Dallas Stars can make the western conference final but they are solid in goal with Kari Lehtonen so one never knows. They also managed to pick up another steady Finnish goalie Anders Lindback from the Tampa Bay Lightning which is a solid addition that should keep the Dallas nets secured.

Dallas special teams were not so special which also could pose a problem for the team ,especially come playoff time. Spezza and Hemsky should help bolster their paltry power play which finished last year in the 23rd spot in the league. The PK was not much better coming in at 21st overall in the regular season.

The Blackhawks last year handled the Stars pretty well and actually had a winning record with winning 4 out of the 5 games they faced them.

The one thing about the Stars that is scary is they have plenty of cap room. They currently are under the cap to the tune of 5 mil +  to make any moves necessary come trade right before the playoffs. If I recall, this worked out pretty good for the Kings when they picked up Marian Gaborik right before the playoffs.

The Dallas Stars had solid Corsi/Fenwick numbers last year but it remains to be seen how much they have improved and will their defense be good enough in a stacked west and that is the question. Can the Stars contend with the powerhouses like Chicago, LA, Anaheim & St. Louis? Still there is a powerful intangible for several members of the Stars.

For Jason Spezza, winning a Stanley Cup he has never won the Cup in his twelve year NHL career. He is on a 1 year contract with the Stars and will be a UFA after this season so he will be motivated to win now.  Nor has Ales Hemsky in his twelfth seasons won a Cup. It has to be bittersweet for Hemsky reaching all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 only to lose to eventual champion Carolina Hurricanes. Hemsky would love nothing better than to finally be able to hoist that Cup.

But maybe the player most motivated is one who has lifted Lord Stanley’s goblet and one who is still very young with tons to prove- Tyler Seguin. Being traded due to off- ice immaturity from the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins had to have left a mighty sting but it also probably left a deep burning to prove not only did Boston make a huge mistake but everyone deserves a chance to change and change Seguin has.

Personally I would have never traded as talented a center as Seguin, who was only 21 years old at the time but everything works out for a reason. Maybe it is destiny for Seguin to lift that Cup again but this time wearing Green instead of Black and Gold. Having won it as a rookie and part of a loaded Bruins team may not have the same profound meaning as it would if Seguin were to win with a young team like the Dallas Stars.

Who knows with a matured Tyler Seguin and the always wiser beyond his 25 years captain Jaime Benn, coupled with veteran leadership from Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza could be enough to push this team to the top. It certainly makes them a very scary team and one who could easily represent the stacked Western Conference.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Chicago Blackhawks – Central Opponents: The Nashville Predators

Chicago, IL  —  If there is any team in the central division that is hard to project what they will look like and where they will be it is this one.  This team has gone through a complete make over from the players on the ice to their bench boss and team philosophy.

Gone are the days of departed former head coach Barry Trotz stifling defense first and neutral zone traps. After 15 years under coach Trotz the organization decided to go in a completely different direction which is probably the right approach with the top end offensive talents and skills in the western conference.

Enter new head coach Peter Laviolette who Hawks fans should remember was head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers when we beat his team to take home that chalice in 2010. Laviolette is more of a offensive minded coach and the Predators are looking for him to impart his wisdoms in that area to the team. How Laviolette will relate to this new group of players and how a completely different philosophy will translate remains to be seen.

The changes don’t stop there either. In the offseason there were plenty of changes to roster as well. Gone are Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling and Patrick Eaves from the forward slots and Michael Del Zotto from the defense.  While none of these forwards were flashy offensive talents they were solid two way players which could explain their departures.

Coming in the forward position is significantly more offensive talents Wingers James Neal from the Penguins and Derek Roy from the St. Louis Blues. The center position also got a overhaul with Ollie Jokinen coming from Winnipeg & Mike Ribeiro from the Coyotes.

With so many changes up front it is very hard to tell if line combinations will click or not or if this personnel gels at all. The Predators own Mike Fisher will be out for a significant amount of time due to injury which will not help with line combos and overall team chemistry.

The Predators do have a very talented prospect at wing in Filip Forsberg that was acquired from the Washington Capitals in the Martin Erat trade. This trade both then and now looks like a complete and utter hijack that the Preds were able to pull off. The upside for Forsberg who is only 20 years old and 6’1” RW is tremendous. If he develops as he is projected to what larceny for Nashville and Washington what were you thinking? Forsberg is currently in the AHL but could make the jump to the big club this year.

The Predators also have another Swedish prospect Kevin Fiala who is also a left winger that is in their system and is said to be very creative and a real offensive threat. So the Predators do have some significant offensive talents waiting to make the big club. The Predators do love their European forwards that’s for sure.

It is unfortunate for the Predators that their top center is injured which is why I don’t see this team making the playoffs even though they are improved at least not this year. There are too many changes and things that need to be worked through.

The defense is solid with Shea Weber, Seth Jones & the newly acquired Anton Volchenkov from the NJ Devils however last year they finished 23rd in the league and very pedestrian on the penalty kill for such a vaunted defense but some of that was due to their star goalie Pekke Rinne being out with injury.

If there is anywhere the Predators are consistent and steady as a rock it is net with Finnish netminder Pekke Rinne. Rinne can cover up a lot of gaps and can make an average team a contender with his stingy net minding. Behind Rinne, Rockford IceHogs fans will remember is their once netminder Carter Hutton who is solid as a #2.

The Blackhawks last year did not do very well against this team as they dropped 4 of their 5 games but the Hawks did not do good against their own division at all which explains why they did not win the division last year. This probably has more to do with the Hawks than the Predators and with this being a new team you can throw out the past records anyway.

The Predators are a comer and their future looks bright with some really talented prospects waiting in the wings. This year however, there are just too many changes to really see them positioning themselves as a serious threat. It doesn’t help that seemingly every other team in the western conference got better as well but one day they could be a force. That day is not yet though. Patience Nashville your time is coming.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized