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Sunday, February 11, 2007

hockey updates

For those that haven't heard, the Predators just made two quick trades. The first one had me a bit worried, but the second made perfect sense. I honestly wonder why this wasn't done all at once as a good old-fashioned 3-way trade.

First we traded center Joseph Vasicek (who never performed the way we expected) back to Carolina for center Eric Belanger. This trade just sat for a day. Most Preds fans i know were left scratching their heads. Yes, anything was better than letting Vasicek earn $1.3mil as a healthy scratch game after game, but was this really an upgrade? Most speculation had him centering the 3rd line between Hartnell and Radulov...which didn't make sense to me given Hartnell's recent ability to play as a big center down low (thank you Arnott for teaching him how to park in the blue ice).

Then came the second trade: Belanger for Vishnevski. Now this makes sense! A big physical, hitting defenseman. This finally gives us four "d-men's d-men" (with Hamuis, Weber, and Zanon) to compliment our offensive d-men (Z and Timonen).

We also finally have the roster flexibility we needed. Unloaded a forward, and added a d-man. Zanon and Radulov can both go down without clearing wavers, so i think Poile finally hit the balance he needed.

In other Predators news: We got blown away by the Kings at home in front of a sell-out crowd last night. That puts us at 2-4 in our last 6 games after we had gone 10-1 in our previous 11. The Kings certainly came to play, but we need some sort of shake-up. Hopefully the trades will help get us back on track.

I also have to wonder if being at the top of the standings and the extra media coverage we are finally getting (at home and nationally) is distracting the team somewhat. I hate to think that could be the case, but with some of the younger players, it could be a factor.

I will also go on record as saying that if Vokoun can't stay at home and play goalie, we need to be playing Mason more often. 4 times in the last 3 games Vokoun has cost us goals by being caught yards outside the blue ice. Last night he left Legwand and Suter playing goalie for LA's 3rd goal (video evidence here). If he wants to trade places with them, he needs to discuss that with the coach before the games start. Mason has still been the better goalie lately. We can't afford to slip in the division standings. Trotsy: play your hot hand.

In other hockey news: Toronto's Kris Newbury was taken off the ice on a stretcher last night after a fight with the Pen's Ronald Petrovicky. As many have said before, this is going to be what finally causes the outcry to ban fighting in hockey. If this has been Mats Sundin and he was out for the year (or his career) i think we would be hearing cries for restrictions on fighting already. At the very least, i think the league should force the linesmen to step in when someone's helmet comes off (similar to jersey's coming off now).

I am definitely one of those who loves a good fight in hockey, but i don't really see what it adds to the game that good hitting doesn't provide. As much as i can't stand David Stern, i think Bettman needs to take a cue from the NBA and clean up its act if it wants to appeal to a wider audience (which i think is the right thing for the sport). With the rules as they are now, there isn't an action worth retaliating for that isn't already illegal. Thugs should not be responsible for protecting start players - refs making the right calls should be.

But that's my two cents on that one.

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