Preds Talk: Road to the Stanley Cup Finals: Round 1, Game 2: Three Keys To Success

After a beneficial two days off, the Nashville Predators are set to take on the Dallas Stars in Nashville on Saturday, at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is set for 5:00 PM CT, with the game being televised on CNBC. It’s still very early in the series, but this game to be an early match-up that will prove to be pivotal for the Preds going forward.

Game 1 started pretty well for this group all things considered. They dominated the first period of play and held the edge in almost every category: face-offs, shots on goal, and even power plays. After the 1st period came to a close; however, it all came unraveled. They found themselves back on their heels and struggled mightily to find the puck..and the net. Every single power play the Predators had, was killed by the Stars defense. Then when the Stars were attacking, the defense got worked by screens…and BAD.

So what do the Preds need to do ensure they don’t solidify their downward spiral in Game 2? Well, if we’re being honest, it’s really not too different from what they needed to do the last time these two met.

Here are my three keys to getting a Preds win:

1. Power Plays


When I wrote about the first meeting between these two, I mentioned that I’d have a hard time seeing the Preds win if PPG = 0 when time expired. That was the case on Wednesday, and we know how that ended. This team tends to lack speed when attacking, but they also struggle to take advantage of favorable match-ups when they present themselves. All of that culminates and has a consequence of getting less shots on goal — thus, less opportunities to get in the net.

Here’s what Craig Smith had to say after Game 1 regarding the teams Power Play blunders:

Just like on Wednesday, if the Preds don’t take advantage and attack when the chance is there, they won’t win this game. Both teams are great defensively; so whoever wins in this category, wins this game.

2. Attack! Attack! Attack!


The Predators need to be the aggressors in this game. Consistently too. They did well attacking and getting the Stars backed in a corner during the first period of Game 1, but they weren’t able to keep applying the pressure. This team needs to play fast, and play nasty — that’s when this team is at their best. If they can stay aggressive and keep attacking the net, they’ll be able keep the Stars defenders on their heels rather than having it the other way around. They’ve already got the crowd behind them again before traveling to Dallas, which means that they’ll always have an “extra attacker” on the ice, so they really need to keep this crowd juiced up and rowdy. Only way to to do that? Attack! Attack! Attack!

3. Use A Screen, Don’t Get Beat By It


The Dallas Stars did an excellent job creating a screen in from of Pekka Rinne. It is known.. (Game of Thrones reference?) Overall, he played a pretty good game — especially when you consider that he really had zero help from his guys. The Stars were aggressive near the net, and create a ton of traffic in front of Rinne, and it was just too much traffic for him to overcome. He’ll never be the sort of teammate to point fingers though, and he understands it’s more important to move ahead without looking back.

Here’s a look at Rinne discussing what the team needs to do to bounce back:

Now, flip the script — the Predators should really try and take note of how they were victimized last meeting. The Preds need to create a screen in front of Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop and make it as difficult as possible to locate the puck and see shots. Bishop didn’t really have any issues blocking shots taken by the Preds, and why wouldn’t he? He could see the puck coming from a mile away. Create a wall, keep the puck moving, and confuse him.

Prediction


I was right about just about everything but the final score. Only the single most important outcome, right? Well, I’m taking another stab at it. I am saying that the Predators escape with a win, 3-1.

Be sure to tune in this evening to catch all the action, and follow along with @TTalkSports and @TennesseeTTSM for more Preds content!


Intermission Report: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators

Courtesy @PredsNHL

 

Crazy pregame laser show? Check. Deafening Noise in Bridgestone Arena? Check.


The puck has dropped in the match-up between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators and we’ve reach intermission. Let’s have a look at a quick recap of what we saw:


All of the 1st period belonged to the Predators — winning face-offs 7-5, and having an edge of shots on goal. I discussed earlier how goal-tending would be critical in this game and that has proved to be true. Both goaltenders have been solid; however, Pekke Rinne easily had the edge in this period. Roman Josi was able to get the Predators up early with a beautiful backhander.

 
Tweet courtesy of @PredsNHL

The second period belongs to the Stars — the Stars looked to come out much more aggressively in the 2nd period, looking to almost fluster the Preds defense. I also mentioned earlier that the Preds needed to capitalize on any Power Play opportunities they got — they have not been able to do that thus far. The Stars, on the other hand, were able to capitalize on their power play opportunities and score on a PPG.

 

In the final stretch, the Preds need to be the aggressor and take advantage of those power plays if they want to walk away with a W tonight.

 

2019 NFL Preseason Schedule: Tennessee Titans


Courtesy of Todd Fuhrman of Bet the Board Podcast.

As most are already well aware, the NFL on Tuesday released the 2019 NFL Preseason schedule ahead of the upcoming draft activities.

Here’s a look at the preseason slate for the Tennessee Titans:

 

Week 1: Titans @ Eagles (Aug. 8-12; TBD)
Week 2:
Patriots vs. Titans (Aug. 15-19; TBD)
Week 3:
Steelers vs. Titans (Aug. 25 @ 8PM EST)
Week 4:
Titans @ Bears (Aug. 29-30)


The Titans will host the Steelers for their Week 3 match-up and will be nationally televised on NBC @ 8:00PM EST.

I would expect this to be the Titans “dress rehearsal” game, and the national spotlight will be shining bright on Marcus Mariota and the offense for the first time in a critical “do or die” year for the Titans QB.


https://twitter.com/TennesseeTTSM

Road To The NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Nashville Predators – Round 1, Game 1

Courtesy of Brooks Bratten @ NHL.com

Wednesday night at 8:30 PM CST, the puck will hit the ice in Bridgestone Arena for a Round 1, Game 1 match-up between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. Both teams beginning their treacherous journey with hopes to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

So what do the Preds need to do in order to take a 1-0 lead over the Stars? It all starts with how well this team plays defensively. Cue: Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, stage left.

Tweet is courtesy of @AtoZSports Nashville

Goaltending

I cannot stress the importance of bend but don’t break. The Stars are not a group that score a lot of goals, but neither do the Preds. The opportunity will be there for the Stars and Tyler Seguin/Alexander Radulov to get some shots on goal — that’s why it’s so critical to lock down the net. Likewise, the Preds will have ample opportunity themselves and should have more shots on goal than I’d expect out of the Stars — but it all comes down to the aforementioned ability to ‘bend but don’t break’. We’ll see who breaks first.


Power Play

Did you guess this was coming? Yeah, you probably did. This has arguably been the biggest Achilles heel for this Predators team. Well, that and consistency at times…but, that’s for another time and place. Back to the power play… The Predators HAVE to take advantage of their power play opportunities, they have to. If they can’t take advantage of these opportunities and PPG = 0 when the clock hits 00:00 in the 3rd period, I struggle seeing them winning this game…and if they don’t get hot in this area, I don’t see them taking this series.


Prediction

Call me a homer, but I am going to say the Predators get it done tonight in front of a pumped up, and very LOUD Bridgestone Arena crowd. I think the game stays knotted at 1-1 before the Preds break it with a PPG, making it a 2-1 final. Preds take a 1-0 series lead, as well as the momentum going into Game 2.


We reached out to Steve, who is an avid Predators fan and season ticket holder to get his opinion on the series match-up:

“My Opinion is an unpopular one.. I think the series is a toss up, with the Preds winning in 7. Dallas doesn’t score much but neither do we. It’s a defensive series and goaltending is going to be huge. The Preds power play could be a determine factor, and if it doesn’t heat up it could spell disaster for the Preds. However, after the season they’ve had with injuries it’s a dream matchup to play Dallas in the first round with St Louis and WPG bearing each other up in the first round for a potential 2nd round matchup.”


 Steve is leaning towards a drawn out 7 game defensive battle between the two teams. I’m not sure it’ll go a full 7, but I think we can agree the more hockey, the better. He also makes a very valid point — I think most Preds fans are perfectly fine with leting the Blues and Jets beat the hell out of each other before a potential Round 2 clash.

I guess we’ll find out tonight. Be sure to tune in at 8:30 PM CT for puck drop — pregame festivities begin at 5:30 PM CT and doors open at 6:30 PM CT.

Courtesy of The Nash Collection



https://twitter.com/jhiffner12


Three Remaining Free Agent Targets: Tennessee Titans

Courtesy National Football League/Kiplinger Illustration

Free agency is over across the NFL for the most part and focus has shifted towards the upcoming NFL Draft in the coming weeks.

Tennessee Titans General Manager, Jon Robinson, has put together a very solid free agency, upgrading some positions of dire need and adding depth to others. Since then, he has made it pretty clear that the team is shifting their focus towards the draft as well…and rightfully so. But during a recent interview with Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com, he did indicate that they were still having chats with a few guys here and there from the free agency spill-over. That tells me he might not be done.

Let’s take a look at some of the free agents that have spilled over from the main free agency frenzy, and who I believe would help fill some of the remaining holes on the team:

Ndamukong Suh, Defensive Tackle

I think many can agree that Ndamukong Suh joining a defensive front that features Jurrell Casey sounds sexy. But at 32 years old, I think that this is more of a ‘Dad Bod’ type of sexy, rather than a ‘Zac Efron washboard abs’ kind of sexy. Still though, dad bod’s are in, and Suh has shown that he can still be productive when you get him to buy-in and give 100% effort. In 2018 with the Rams, Suh was somewhat quiet next to a superstar in Aaron Donald, but he eventually came to life toward the end of the season and into the postseason, tacking on 19 QB hits, 4.5 sacks and a couple of fumble recoveries. He would certainly add some much needed star power to an otherwise average front.

 


 

Jamie Collins, Outside Linebacker

This was hard for me to commit to. Collins has been more bust than he has been boom. With the Patriots, he was supposed to be groomed into this superstar pass rusher…didn’t happen. Then he goes to the Browns and falls out of favor with Gregg Williams which lead to his eventual departure.  But, and there’s always a but, Collins has shown flashes that he can be a dominant pass rusher in both of the aforementioned stints. In 2018, he still posted 7 QB hits and 4 sacks which easily beats out the production by either Brian Orakpo or Derrick Morgan. Could Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees be the guys who possibly take him in on the cheap and finally get the most out of the player? I wouldn’t count on it, but I do think he could help bolster an almost non-existent pass rush.

 


 

Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver

This is strictly a move for depth and veteran presence in a very young Wide Receivers group. The addition of Adam Humphries obviously also helps tremendously in that area, and while older, I believe that Crabtree would bring a nastiness that the Titans haven’t really had in some time, if ever. Crabtree, unlike Taywan Taylor or Cameron Batson, has a proven track record and has demonstrated the ability to stretch the field. Last season with the Baltimore Ravens, Crabtree tallied 604 yards on 54 catches and had 3 TDs. Albeit, he’s had an increased number of drops in each of his last two seasons. Even so; I would argue that Crabtree would be a more sophisticated route runner and at worst, an equally reliable target for Marcus Mariota.

 


 

With the NFL Draft only a couple of weeks away, the roster will continue to be molded with new pieces. Only after that will we really get a clear picture of any leftover holes in the roster; but right this second, these are my guys.

Which remaining free agents would you like to see in two-tone blue?

 

 

Believeland can believe once again

As everyone knows, Cleveland was the laughing stock in the sports world since 1999 when they returned after moving to Baltimore in 1996, but this city has become a growing sports capital that no one expected.

The Cleveland Browns have made a huge splash in the sports world, recently we have acquired star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr who is arguably a top 5 receiver at the moment with his outstanding years on the New York Giants. Beckham, who is 26 years old, was traded in a package with Kevin Zeitler, a first and third round pick and Jabrill peppers for Olivier Vernon and Odell. The Giants were in desperate need of a right guard and Kevin Zeitler was the man to fill it, in 2018 he allowed 1.7% of rushes on his side making him the 3rd best right guard that year, also for the giants, the release of Landon Collins made a gap in their backfield. Peppers could fill that spot very well, in his 2 years in Cleveland he managed 137 tackles along with 1 sack and 2 interceptions.

Odell provides more depth in the browns more the impressive offense, former Heisman winner Baker Mayfield has put on a show his rookie season throwing for 3,725 and a record-tying 27 touchdowns which meet with Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record. Along with Baker and Odell they have Odell’s former college teammate Jarvis Landry, also they have Antonio Callaway who did have some troubles during training camp but those issues were resolved, other wide receivers include Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, Jaelen Strong (who was given to us by the Houston Texans) Blake Jackson, and Damion Ratley. Combined all the wide receivers had 4,261 yards, 1,000 by Jarvis Landry, this leaves us 109 yards shy of our opponents.

This season for sure will be one to watch out for, in the NFL power rankings the Browns were ranked 11th in the league from their previous 17th last season. Cleveland will hope to regain a championship that we so desperately have hoped for and greatly deserve.

 

Via @ethycal_warrior on Instagram

The Boston Celtics Turn Adversity into NBA Finals Certainty

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
May 23, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) celebrates after a score against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first quarter of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

We’re getting to the finals, no question about it.”

This quote from the Celtics young star, Jaylen Brown, displays the tremendous amount of confidence Celtics players and fans immediately gained after coming 1 game short of reaching the NBA Finals.  The ensuing offseason did nothing but reassure their confidence with Lebron’s reign as “The King” of the East over as he headed to the bright lights of Hollywood.  Not only was their main threat GONE but the Celtics have their two-star players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, returning to the lineup for a full season. Las Vegas Odds forecasted the Celtics as the FAVORITE to win the East along with the 2nd best odds to win the NBA Title.

The obvious assumption was that with the return of their stars they would easily rise to the next level and compete for a championship, and with these odds, the Celtics felt invincible.

Boston Celtics Media Day
CANTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 24: From left Jayson Tatum #0, Jaylen Brown #7, Kyrie Irving #11, Gordon Hayward #20 and Al Horford #42 pose together for a photo during Boston Celtics Media Day in Canton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Not so fast my friends, not so fast.

The Celtics started out the season with a disappointing 10-10 record, sending Celtics fans everywhere whimpering into their closets.  This team was lacking patience, effort, and were getting straight-up outplayed night in and night out. The Celtics were experimenting with many different lineups in an attempt to maximize the immense talent this roster had, but this led to a season full of extreme highs and extreme lows.  Then, the experimenting finally started to yield much-anticipated results with the Celtics winning 9 of their next 11.  Veteran Celtics leader Al Horford said, “I think going through this has made us stronger because if we were winning, all of the underlying issues would still be there, but now they have been addressed thoroughly”.  Little did he know, this was only the beginning of their roller-coaster season.

AAAAAAAACELTICS.jpeg

INCONSISTENCY

This word has been the storm looming behind the hills for the Celtics all season long.  As the calenders turned from 2018 to 2019 the same inconsistencies continued to plague this team.  They go on stretches with beating the leagues best team on great shooting and ball movement to losing to the leagues bottom feeders (sorry Knicks fans) with horrendous defense and no energy.  Not knowing which Celtics team you were going to get on a nightly basis took its toll on the team.

The NBA’s new Television show: Keeping Up With Kyrie Irving

ACAMERA

NBA media sources always look for drama around the league, and with the Celtics struggling, they turned to Kyrie Irving for the answers. 

The only issue?  He didn’t have the answers. 

As NBA fans, we all expect the leader to help get their team through struggles and adversity, so when he blamed their struggles on his young teammates the media had an absolute field day with him.  Kyrie said,”  Playing with the expectation that every day you have to be great.  These are some of the things that some of my teammates haven’t faced.  If they think it’s hard now, what will happen when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”  Although he is looking out for the benefit of his team, the media twisted and turned his words to create false headlines such as “Kyrie Irving Isolates Himself From The Team”.  Turning a group of men into a team is already such a difficult job, and with the media continuing to pile up on their issues the Celtics season looked as if it was spiraling towards the dumpster. 

Anew
Celtics headed into the All-Star Break a disappointing 37-25

For the next month, the Celtics suffered losing streak after losing streak, and things would only take a turn for the worse.  The fact that Kyrie Irving’s name kept surfacing in reports of leaving the Celtics didn’t help their struggles at all.  Not only were they struggling but everyone around the league started to make the consensus that the Celtics were better off without Kyrie on the floor.  All of this drama made the life of the Celtics absolutely miserable.  

AASMART

There are always two sides to every story.

The media will always, ALWAYS post a more controversial, negative story that creates drama than a positive story about team chemistry.  Ever since the rumors about Kyrie leaving the Celtics, the team has made tremendous progress to create a family atmosphere.  The Celtics consistently have enjoyable 3 point shooting competitions at the end of their practices to finish off hours of hard work they put in. 

AAAPLANE
March 4, 2019- The Boston Celtics beat the Golden State Warriors 128-95 on the heels of a 12-hour plane ride.  The plane ride was widely acknowledged to help the team chemistry.

Celtics Hit Their Stride At the Perfect Time

The Celtics traveled to California preparing to take on the NBA’s number one team, the Warriors.  The Celtics would go on that night to demolish the Warriors with a score 128-95, but what will be lost in the sea of NBA news is the plane ride to the Oakland.  Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, and Gordon Hayward all agreed that the plane ride helped the team relax and forget about all of the outside drama.  Little moments like these are the type that has completely changed the mindsets of this youthful team.

This Celtics are regaining their confidence at the perfect time with the playoffs looming.  The Eastern Conference is loaded with talented rosters but this Celtics roster is good enough to defeat any team in this league in a seven-game series.  With all of this said, this seasons success rests on the back of not one sole player, but this team as a whole.

This team has taken baby steps towards achieving their goal of an NBA Title, but it’s time to grow up, put on their big boy pants and eat with the men.  Once they do, good luck stopping them.

Follow my Instagram @alameda_views and twitter @danielalameda11 for more!!!