David Poile

Predators GM staying patient despite offensive concerns

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Nashville hasn’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back campaigns since 2003, but that trend is in danger of ending. The Predators are eight games out of a playoff spot with a 15-14-3 record.

Although they’ve been without goaltender Pekka Rinne for nearly two months, their bigger problem has actually been their offense, which ranks 23rd in the league with an average of 2.31 goals per game.

Nashville Predators GM David Poile views that as a key area of concern, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that significant changes are on the way.

“If we could improve the team by trade, I would be happy to do that. On the flip side of that, there are some guys who have not quite performed to how I think they can perform,” Poile told the Tennessean. “I think we’re exercising patience on that and hope and believe that they can help us win some more games.”

Poile’s patience also extends to coach Barry Trotz.

“We’ve been together for 15 years. We’ve been through situations like this,” Poile said.

When it comes to forwards that haven’t lived up to expectations, Viktor Stalberg sticks out. He’s in the first season of a four-year, $12 million contract, but he has just eight points in 26 games.

All the same, Poile suggested that there are a lot of forwards that have underperformed this season. Unless that changes, Nashville will have a very tough time making the playoffs.

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)