Nashville finally has a top line and they’ve got Music City rocking

The Hockey News
Predators forwards Filip Forsberg (Left), James Neal (Middle), and Mike Ribeiro celebrate.

By Namish Modi

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators appear to have a bona fide top line.

The newly constructed unit consisting of Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, and Filip Forsberg, along with new bench boss Peter Laviolette, has the Predators (12-5-2) playing a much different style of hockey than years past.

“It’s a big difference from the past couple of years from how Nashville has been playing,” Forsberg said. “It’s all good, Peter coming here with a more attacking and offensive type of game, I think we’ve been adjusting to that really good so far, and we have to keep doing that and keep working hard.” Read more

Predators blowout of Maple Leafs makes for night of firsts

Taylor Beck (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Craig Hagerman

The 9-2 shelling of the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Nashville Predators Tuesday night crushed fans of the blue and white, shocked hockey fans around the league, and provided a lot of firsts in the process.

For the Leafs, Tuesday’s embarrassing loss on home ice was the first time in the team’s history that they had allowed more than eight goals against at the Air Canada Centre. The game was also the first time since 1991 that the Buds have allowed nine goals in a single game. Read more

Are Leafs fans crazy? Sure – and they have every reason to be

Adam Proteau
Maple Leafs fan Kyle Larkin watches Toronto lose to Nashville 9-2 Tuesday. (Steve Russell, Toronto Star )

On the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, cast member Leslie Jones was on the Weekend Update segment of the show essentially arguing that women are crazy because they have to be in order to deal with crazy men. And I couldn’t stop thinking of that dynamic Tuesday night as I watched the outpouring of anger, frustration, confusion, and resentment from Toronto Maple Leafs fans during and after their team put in a thoroughly embarrassing effort in a 9-2 drubbing by Nashville at Air Canada Centre.

People outside of Toronto can make jokes about Leafs fans all they want – and believe you me, they want – but the truth is, if you’d lived in this city (as I have) for the past four-plus decades (as I mostly have), you’d understand why they’re beside themselves on a far-too-regular basis. If Leafs fans are crazy to keep subjecting themselves to this show of gongs – and to offer unrelenting support for a perennial disappointment year-in and year-out as they have is at the very least 1% crazy – they’ve got damned good reason to be. If you grew up having either had a small taste of the Leafs’ last Stanley Cup – or, like a growing number of Buds fans, were born after 1967 and thus had never seen a Toronto team win an NHL championship – you’d be a little sensitive to begin with. But it’s not just the volume of losing that’s made Leafs fans so tender to the touch. It’s the way the franchise has lost over the years that’s so maddening.
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Preds’ Taylor Beck scores from between his legs – and with his back to the net

Adam Proteau
Taylor Beck (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

As a winger for the Nashville Predators, Taylor Beck doesn’t get to play close to his hometown of St. Catherines, Ont., all that often. So it must have been a thrill and then some for him to score twice and add an assist in Nashville’s 9-2 thumping of the host Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night. And it may have been an even bigger thrill for Beck to have scored one of those goals the way he did – with his back to the Leafs net and from between his legs.

With the Preds already up 2-0 late in the first period, Beck went to the front of the Leafs net and turned his back to goalie Jonathan Bernier to screen him; Nashville teammate Filip Forsberg‘s shot hit him in the mid-section, and the puck had barely fallen to the ice when Beck batted it through Bernier to score his second of the night: Read more

Hockey’s 10 richest contracts, in honor of Giancarlo Stanton’s monster MLB deal

Shea Weber

On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest contract in North American sports history. At 13-years and $325 million, the Miami Marlins outfielder stands to make more money than the average Canadian or American could earn in one hundred lifetimes.

In fact, here’s how it breaks down. Those earning the average 2014 income in Canada (USD$42,719) and USA ($51,371) would have to spend 7,608 and 6,327 years in the workforce, respectively, in order to match Stanton’s monster deal. Something tells me that might be unattainable.

There was a time – around the formation of the World Hockey Association – when Bobby Hull and the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets made waves with a $1 million dollar signing bonus. And in 1998-99, Sergei Fedorov made $14.5 million, the most ever at the time, which was more than the entire Nashville Predators roster made – combined. The days of both these contracts are long gone. These are the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NHL, all coming during the salary cap era. Read more

Playing past their prime didn’t hurt Forsberg, Modano & Hasek – & it won’t hurt Brodeur’s legacy either

Martin Brodeur (Getty Images)

When I look at the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014, the first thing I think of is the eye-popping talent and character of the players and people. The second thing that comes to mind, oddly enough, is Martin Brodeur.

Because as the former Devils goalie floats in limbo these days, not employed by any team but not ready to say he’s retired, I hear some say he’s doing himself a disservice by not realizing what the lack of job offers is telling him, and suggest Brodeur should call a press conference as soon as possible to put his 21-season career to bed. But when you look at the careers of this year’s HHOF inductees, it becomes clear even the best of the best can’t help but play past their best due date. Guys like Red Wings icon (and 2015 lock Hall-of-Famer) Nicklas Lidstrom or Canadiens great Ken Dryden, who retire before a precipitous decline in effectiveness sets in, are the exception. The majority of the elite – including 2014 honorees Peter Forsberg and Mike Modano, and to a lesser degree, Dominik Hasek and Rob Blake – did not leave the sport at their peak. Read more

Mike Ribeiro finding his groove again with the Nashville Predators

Josh Elliott
Nashville Predators' Mike Ribeiro

Nashville Predators centerman Mike Ribeiro is hardly the center of attention on his team, and that seems to suit him just fine. The 34-year-old is quietly but consistently contributing on a line with prized Preds off-season pickup James Neal, and young team scoring leader Filip Forsberg.

For Ribeiro, the key word in that sentence is “quietly.”

He certainly wasn’t getting all the attention in the Predators’ 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, but he was instrumental in helping Neal score Nashville’s first goal, and nearly had one of his own.
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