Monkey Off Their Backs: Predators vs Kings Recap

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Finally. Finally the Nashville Predators came away with a win in a shootout. Finally goalie, Pekka Rinne, gets his first win of the season. Finally Nashville played Predator-like hockey. Sure there are still issues to be resolved in the Predators game play, but their showing late in the 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings has to be a breath of fresh air for Nashville.

The Predators jumped on the defending cup champs early. With just 0:58 seconds off the clock, Brandon Yip took a feed from Gabriel Bourque and snapped it right into the net. Nashville would hold on to the lead until the 13:08 mark when a fluke of a goal would cost them. After a shot went high and banked off the glass behind the net, the Kings’ Dustin Brown was able to find the rebound and score the goal while everyone else was still looking for the puck. The next two periods, and overtime, would go scoreless, but not for lack of effort. It seemed that especially in the third period, both teams picked up the intensity and started playing desperate hockey. Well, if you can call three shots on goal in the third period desperate for the Predators. Neither team could break through, so it was no surprise that the ensuing shootout would go eight rounds.

In the shootout, David Legwand started Nashville out on the right foot by sinking his shot and giving the Predators the 1-0 lead. Shots were then traded between the Kings’ Mike Richards and Dustin Brown and Predators’ Craig Smith, making the shootout 2-2 after three rounds. The tie would keep going in the sixth round when both LA’s Anze Kopitar and Nashville’s Gabriel Bourque would score on their respective tries. Then, in the eighth round, after a miss by the Kings’ Simon Gagne, the Predators’ Sergei Kosititsyn would seal the deal and give Nashville their first shootout win of the season.

Here are my thoughts after the game:

1. Think Outside the Box
I’m not talking figuratively. I’m literally talking about the penalty box. At one point in the first period, the Predators had as many penalty minutes as they did shots. That is unacceptable! Nobody can expect to consistently win games, if someone is always taking a penalty. And I’m not talking about “good” penalties here. I know that sometimes a player has to take a penalty to prevent a sure goal, but the penalties committed in the first period last night by the Predators were not smart. The fact that defenseman, Scott Hannan, was in the box three times during the course of the first period should tell you something. The LA Kings’ twitter account made a joke about there being free pizza in the penalty box. I don’t care if there is a free car; the Predators have got to stay out of there!

2. Skate and Stop
If you know me at all, then you’re not surprised when I say that I am a huge Patric Hornqvist fan. I love how he plays the game. He is someone who is not afraid at all to skate to the front of the net, stay there, and do what he can to score a goal. The Predators need more Patric Hornqvists, especially considering his absence right now. I did see a slight improvement last night on traffic to the net. What I didn’t see, however, was anyone willing to stay there. Several times I would see a Predator player skate down to the front of the net, stay there for a couple of seconds, and then skate to somewhere else on the ice. I don’t know if they got bored, or scared, or what, but when there is nobody there to pick up rebounds, you are missing prime scoring opportunities. It’s also not just about depositing the rebounds, but when you have someone standing there, screening the goalie, it allow shots from the point to get though.

The biggest victory to come out of last night’s game was not the two points the Predators received for the win, it was the fact that the Predators’ Pekka Rinne finally got the monkey off his back. I know that wins are important, but I think the way that Rinne played with last night will not only pay dividends to his own confidence but will also pay off for the team. How Pekka plays is part of the backbone of Predator hockey. Maybe now Nashville can find their identity again as the scrappy team who plays for a solid sixty minutes. If, and notice I did say if, the Predators can use this momentum and focus on fixing the lingering problems (like passing and shooting in the offensive zone), they may be able to rid themselves of the slump they fell into.

Nashville has one more game out on the west coast during this road trip. They will move on to San Jose to take on the Sharks Saturday night. I’m more interested in how they play in this game, having now found a bit of their groove. Can they continue to improve? That will be the true test.

Interview With Jon Matsumoto!

jonWe have a new interview to present to you guys! We’d like to welcome Jon Matsumoto. Jon was drafted in the 3rd round (79th overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He has played for the Flyers, Panthers, and Sharks organizations. You can follow him on Twitter: @Matsy11. You can follow me @hkyblogger and you can “like” us on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog . Without further to do here is our interview!

 
We are in bold.
 
So first off, how has your day been?
My day has been great, first day back at practice, getting ready for the sprint to the finish here. Went for a walk through the woods with Rooney(my dog) and just ate some pesto chicken. I’d say that’s a pretty solid day. 
 
What’s a day in the life of Jon Matsumoto?
To be perfectly honest, like I say on my twitter profile (shameless self promotion @matsy11) I am relatively boring human being. I go to the rink in the morning, grab some lunch on the way home and then either run errands or just relax. If we don’t have a game the following day I like to get in a mini workout after dinner. 
 
So some of our readers might not know too much about you, so maybe a little bio or a cool fact or something?
Grew up in Orleans, Ontario. Got to play close to home for the Cumberland Grads of the CJHL, off to school at Bowling Green and then started my pro career. 
 
Your last name is very unique. What ethnicity are your parents?
My father is of Japanese descent and my mother is of German descent. Both born in Canada.
 
Is there anyone you like to model your game around? (Past or present)
Always trying to learn new aspects to my game, certain things are easier to pick up such as a shootout move or a deke. While other intangible things such as competition level and positioning are tougher to emulate. Pavel Datsyuk I believe is one of the most complete players and obviously has enviable qualities.
 
Who’s your roomie on the road?
Currently it is Travis Oleksuk (Give him a shout out as well @toleksuk11)
 
What kind of player do you consider yourself? (Enforcer, scorer, dangler, etc.)
I consider myself a scorer, but I am always trying to improve.
 
What do you miss about home during the season?
Probably Tim Horton’s and all sorts of other delicious Canadian treats. (All Dressed Ruffles, Crispy Crunch, Bit’s and Bites, Sesame Snacks)
 
During off-season, how do you spend your time?
Working out a ton. My fiancee and I are kind of nomads at this point, so it is related to our location. But beaches and baseball games are usually common activities. 
 
Off to more random and personal questions. This is where many readers get to REALLY learn about you.
So you say your dog is extremely smart. What breed is it, and how is it smart?
We are not sure, he was part of a group of strays that a few members of my San Antonio Rampage adopted last year. He was house broken in less than a day. 
 
What’s on your iPod right now?
Currently I am into a lot of country and house music. As a side note I have a thing for Canadian artists not matter how much bad press they receive, like Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion etc. Call it misplaced national pride perhaps?
 
Who on the team has a horrible taste in music?
I give James Livingston (@jameslivy)  a hard time about his music but I can’t really complain about it.
 
Last movie you saw?
This is 40.
 
Worst subject in school?
Statistics.
 
Favourite pre-game meal?
Al dente penne, with chicken in a 3:1 blend of alfredo to tomato sauce. 
 
Snack you shouldn’t really eat but end up eating a lot of anyways?
Ice Cream, but they give it to us at our pre-game meals on the road. So that doesn’t count right?
 
iPhone, Blackberry, or Android?
I have an iPhone. Had the original iPhone and have tried to stay loyal to Apple.
 
Every team does pranks. Best one you’ve done or seen? 
Wacey Rabbit (@waceyrabbit20) got me last year by texting me from a random number and telling me that the GM wanted to talk to me at the front of the bus. Other good ones are the shaving cream in a towel, taking the deodorant label and putting it on the hairspray can, taping guys clothes in a ball and a cup of water/Gatorade under the helmet.  
 
What has been your highest point of your career?
NHL: Scoring my first goal.
AHL: Winning the longest playoff game ever, defeating the Chicago Wolves in double overtime last year.
 
Lowest point?
I had Mark Grady as a coach in Juniors and he told me: “Don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.” I try and live by that and not let myself get too low.” 
 
How did you persevere from that?
Using his advice.
 
Advice for aspiring hockey players?
“Don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.” I try and live by that and not let myself get too low.” – Mark Grady
 
Anyone suggest I interview?
Anybody I gave a shout out to.
 
Thank you for your time.
Photocreds: AHL.com