Canadiens Get Nashville Fiddled With, But Emerge Unbonked


Robert L Note And Content Warning : Every now and again, a post emerges from me that seems quite inspired by the Four Habs Fans blog site. I won't apologize for what follows. I've had posts such as this one in me long before HF29 and crew came along. It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and being that I read them on a daily basis, it is easy for me to be influenced by their take on things. Another reason I read them daily, is actually so that I don't duplicate them. Today, like them, I had nothing much to go on for Nashville. I'm not terribly familiar with the team the Canadiens rarely play, other than some general surface knowledge. I had two threads in which to pursue for this post game blog. One had to do with the term "Nashville Cats", which referenced some great country music sessionmen that played on more country hits than anyone cares to remember. From there, another Nashville music reference came to me, which had to do with a band who got their name from a Ted Nugent song introduction. A live version of "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" from the Nuge's 1978 "Double Live Gonzo" recorded partly in Nashville back in 1978 gave this band the name they took to noteriety. Having pounced on that thought, I went straight to FHF to see if they hadn't thought of such a thing themselves. Ha! I should have known better!

I never could take the concept of the Nashville Predators seriously. A bunch of reasons for this, starting with the insanity of dropping a hockey club in the heartland of country music. The idea of hockey there just doesn't resonate in that atmosphere. Ice and banjos go together like garlic cheese on ice cream. Slapshots and twang just don't go hand in hand. Not even on Carey Price's mask.

Another thing that always irked me - the team nickname. I understand that the word "pred-a-tor" alludes to the wild animal portrayed in the logo, but it sounds like the club should be coached by Graham James and run by David Frost.

(Disclaimer of sorts: Using the word p-r-e-d-a-t-o-r-s on this blog in the past has often resulted in an anaccounted for spike of Google traffic hits based on simple word searches that I refuse to endure a second time around. Please refer to the team in comments in the abbreviated "Preds" form that I will employ from this point on. TY.)Players on the Preds have also seemed to have a collection of funny sounding names over the years.

David Legwand was the first, and when I first heard it, the name reminded me of a porn star name. Peter North. Dick South. Randy Peters. David Legwand. It just sounds kind of like a bad pickup line.

"Hey, honey, wanna see my magic leg wand?"

Then there's the guy with e-mail rodent virus sounding name - Martin Erat. "What's wrong with your computer, did you get an E - rat?"

"Yeah, I think a Florida Panthers fan sent it to me!"

Dan Hamhuis, which is pronounced "ham house", always got a giggle out of me.

Jordan Tootoo, who wears number 22, is the best jersey joke since Steve Heinze wore 57 for the Blue Jackets. They are still playing ketchup hockey, from what I heat. Wonder if former Kings goalie Jamie Storr ever tried to fit 7-11 on his back!

Marek Zidlicky just sounds downright naughty to me. Just nasty!


Antti Pihlstrom. Google it and you'll find something under Swedish detoxification cures.

Nothing much ever came of Ryan Thang, a Nashville draft pick that didn't pan out.

So much for doing that Zidlicky thang! Might as well bonk!

I guess with all that its' only fitting that Nashville should add wayward Hab Radek Bonk.

The cerise on the creme de la creme would be Nashville having a player whose name had pred - a - tor connotations, tied into all this subtle nastiness, with a country ring to it.

Something like Vernon Fiddler!

(This Fiddler did score...ouch...just to make this one tight at the end!)

When all this is added up, and topped off by a coach in Nashville that looks like a pissed off Humpty Dumpty, and you get why I have such a hard time being serious about the Nashville Preds!

And Trotz, just sounds so stalker!


And so.... I settled in for last night's game hoping a story from the game would emerge to keep me from posting what you've just read above. It just didn't happen for me.

All I got are these random electrolyte imbalances from the as - yet to be damaged by Molsons neurons still firing on my brain after three days of Lecavalier extacy.

All joking about the Nashville franchise aside, on the ice and inside the organization, I consider the Preds to have been the model expansion franchise, at least until finances and ownership fiascos came into conflict with their progression.

They've done a whole whack of things correctly, starting with hiring an experienced GM to run the show. David Poile might once have been termed by none other than Brian Burke as a lamb in lamb's clothing, but he has done excellent work in assembling a cast that has kept the team progressing and competitive since it's inception.

Nashville has built smartly, scouted with purpose, and patiently never lost sight of it's original ideals. Still in place are Polie and Humpty, which testifies to the consistency of the club.

The one muck up they committed, was loading off to acquire Peter Forsberg a few seasons ago, and getting double ransomed by the Philadelphia Flyers in the process. Other than that, it has all been smooth.

The Preds have assembled a gritty team, and have an identity that fits them somewhere between Buffalo and New Jersey in talent and execution. They have favored solid, if not unspectacular, defenseman who understand the transition game, and forwards who are relentless in puck pursuit. All this makes them an opponant never to be taken lightly. Teams who take a night off against Nashville, will wake up in morning after embarrassment.

Honestly, I feared the Canadiens blowing this one big time!

History will show a 3-2 Canadiens win on January 15, 2009, and the story attached could say the Habs did enough good things to earn the victory. The truth is not quite that squeaky clean.

Nashville outshot the Canadiens in this one, and at great lengths of time outplayed them as well. Luck factored in at both ends. The Habs grabbed a lead they never relinquished, and defended desperately in moments when the Preds controlled play. Montreal registered a mere 8 shots over the final 40 minutes. Stats tallied for the game state that the Canadiens fired 14 shots wide, and I swear I saw double that total zing into thin air.

Habs forward Alex Kovalev was a game time decision, as it was reported that he had come down with a flu. At times he looked sick out there in a good way, and at times he looked sick out there in a bad way. He both dazzled and razzed, but he showed up to give whatever gas was in his tank. Two seasons ago, he might have invoked vertigo, double vision, an earache in his elbow or a toothache in his heel to explain his absense.

Patrice Brisebois, Roman Hamrlik, and Matt D' Agostini all had nights they might wish to forget.

The shots leader was Andrei Kostitsyn with 4. Kovalev had 6 shots blocked on the night. The biggest hitters were Komisarek (4), Bouillon (4) and Begin (5). The remaining 14 players totalled 9 hits. The things that make you go "Hmmm!"

Komisarek blocked 6 shots, Hamrlik 4 and Georges 3. Brisebois was in position to be hit by three himself.


Plekanec won a whopping 63% of his faceoffs. I'm not sure who he was lined up against, but I noticed an awful lot of Preds being booted from the faceoff circle all night. Nashville's Bonk has won close to 62% of his faceoffs this season, but likely because Jason Arnott wasn't around to face off against the Habs top line, Bonk's draw skill were only 43% in this one.

The line of Kyle Chipchura, Steve Begin and D' Agnostini, has no synch. I'll be kind and brief, merely suggesting that it looked there was only one NHL'er on the trio.

Despite looking stymied by an unfamiliar Nashville in this contest, there were several Canadiens of note who I thought stood out amongst the bewildered.

Andrei Markov, offensively at least, was one the mark at the right time. The guy's eyeballs must have an above average peripheral vision scan width, because he sees the ice like a wide eyes camera lens. His passes are consistently fluid and swift, and Kovalev could actually learn a thing or ten about such a thing.

Markov was drafted on rejean Houle's GM watch - a luck accident of course.

Guillaume Latendresse continues to be unrecognizable in all kinds of good ways. You may or may not have noticed this of late, but a bundlefull of former Gui bungles have disappeared from his game. Could having had regular linemates for an elongated stretch have lots to do with it - of course it has. A similar curse used to inhibit former Hab Chad Kilger, a player whom I never felt had the opportunity to be properly employed. Latendresse no longer seems a confused talent on the ice, and it testifies to the credo that certain players need to be given a precise environment in which to succeed based on the terms of their talents. Mark my words - from this point in his NHL progression, Latendresse will never look back. The kid everyone used to complain about incessantly, is no longer.

Andrei Kostitsyn is on a six game point scoring streak. I love the guy. In Habs lore, it has yet to be decided if the sniper is the next Stephane Richer or not. I say he has a 50 goal season in him somewhere down the line. It may take the stars aligning to get there, but it is evident AK46 has it in him. The more he hits, the more he pursues the play, the better his chances. He has Bossy like game- breaker written all over him. Someone ought to tell him, "Andrei, bring out those big balls of yours on a nightly basis, shift by shift, and one day some team will pay you close to eight million dollars a year for what you bring. In twenty four months, you could buy Belarus, and provide every male in your homeland with a free Hair Fax makeover."

Next up, the Canadiens play Ottawa on Saturday.

The Habs ought to eat them alive!

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