Shea Weber

Video: Oshie finishes off pretty passing play with Backes

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It was an opportunity that was late to develop, but the finish was worth it at the time for the St. Louis Blues.

T.J. Oshie finished off a pretty give-and-go passing play with David Backes late in the second period of Tuesday’s game. That goal gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead, however the Blues ended up losing to the Nashville Predators by a final score of 3-2.

Shea Weber, with a short-handed goal in the third period, scored the winner for Nashville.

PHT’s top 14 of ’14: Canada dominates en route to Olympic gold

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The numbers alone explain how well Canada played at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi:

Six games, six wins, 17 goals for, three allowed.

But to get a better sense of how truly dominant the team was, consider what the guy that built it said.

“Since I’ve been around, it’s the most impressive, the greatest display of defensive hockey,” Canadian GM Steve Yzerman said after a 3-0 win over Sweden in the gold medal game. “They were committed to this, and I think that’s ultimately why we won is because our leaders, our best players, said, ‘Guys we’re going to win; we don’t care about individual statistics.’

“We’re going to play the right way.”

And play the right way they did. The Canadians re-wrote the history books in Sochi, never trailing for a single second of the tournament while setting an Olympic record for fewest goals allowed. They also became the first back-to-back gold medalists since the Soviet Union turned the trick in 1984 and ’88, and were the first Canadian team to go undefeated at the Olympics since the Conn Smythe-led 1928 team ran the table at St. Moritz.

In Sochi, Canada’s opponents acknowledged just how talented a squad they were up against.

“They played unbelievable defense,” said Sweden’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, per the National Post. “One of the best teams I’ve ever played against, for sure.”

Of course, there were individual standouts. Carey Price finished the tournament with an 164-minute shutout streak and was named top goalie. Drew Doughty led the team with six points in six games en route to best defenseman honors. Shea Weber got one past the seemingly unbeatable Kristers Gudlevskis in the quarterfinal win over Latvia, and Jamie Benn scored the all-important goal in the 1-0 semifinal win over the U.S.

But in the end, it was Canada’s team game that stood out. A collection of individual stars buying in and accepting their roles — P.K. Subban, a Norris Trophy winner, played 11 minutes the entire tournament — while understanding that, for six games, they were all combining for something historic.

“It’s a great team that we had in this tournament,” Jonathan Toews said, per the Globe. “You can see it developing, the chemistry in the locker room, the guys start to understand their roles. It’s not easy for some guys. You look at guys like Roberto Luongo or Marty St. Louis, or even Sharpie (Patrick Sharp) tonight, guys that have made sacrifices to win the gold medal. You ask them, I don’t think they care.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small … we’re just an amazing team to watch, the way we work together.”

Shea Weber shakes off skate blade cut to arm

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Put this one in that bulging “hockey players are tough” folder: Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber didn’t miss much time despite having his arm cut by San Jose Sharks forward Tye McGinn:

Here’s video of the moment from CSNBayArea.com:

Pat Iverson shared a photo of Weber’s bloody arm on Twitter:

We’ll pass along updates if he has any setbacks.

How strong are the Predators, really?

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After eking out a 1-0 overtime win against the ailing Edmonton Oilers, the Nashville Predators wake up on Black Friday atop the Central Division and among the NHL’s top teams.

That’s quite the feat considering the mixed predictions this team brought into 2014-15, not to mention two straight seasons outside of the playoffs. So how seriously should this team be taken?

Let’s look at some key numbers to ponder that question.

1. They’re strong in possession, but have also been a little lucky – The Oilers carried a notable shot advantage last night, but Nashville won. The Predators have been a quality possession team, yet they’ve also been a little lucky this season.

Nashville’s PDO is 103.3, indicating that the Predators are enjoying more “puck luck” than any team in the NHL.

2. Pekka Rinne has been outstanding – Critics wondering if Rinne is worth $7 million per year are probably a little quieter today, as he’s been fantastic; in a way, his play last night symbolized the starkest difference between Edmonton and Nashville.

Rinne’s on a five-game winning streak and has won nine of his last 10 games. With a sparkling .932 save percentage, he’d be the easy choice if the Vezina was determined today.

3. The best against the West – Another glaring contrast between Edmonton and Nashville: records against the West. Plenty has been said about the Oilers’ inability to beat West teams, but it’s worth mentioning that Nashville has the best record against the best conference.

They are 12-3-2 against the West. Only one other team (Vancouver at 10-5-1) is in double-digits in victories versus West opponents so far in 2014-15.

That’s a fabulous head start, if nothing else.

4. Filip Forsberg could maintain some of his ridiculous momentum – Look, it’s probably unrealistic to expect the 20-year-old to maintain a point-per-game pace all season long.

Still, while his shooting percentage is high (15.4 percent), it’s not so over-the-top that he can’t keep up a nice scoring rate over the next five months. He’s averaging almost three shots per game (65 in 22) and has quality linemates in James Neal and Mike Ribeiro, so the Calder frontrunner has a chance to remain productive.

5. Nashville’s power play has been awful – While a lot of numbers scream “regression” for the Predators, their power play is almost bound to improve.

They’ve only converted on 12.9 percent of their power-play opportunities, which ranks 24th in the NHL. If they can merely bump that number up to “middle of the pack” – certainly not an outrageous thought with Peter Laviolette behind the bench and Shea Weber leading a slew of talented offensive defensemen – they could deal with some of the likely drop-offs they might face.

***

Overall, it’s tough to imagine Nashville being the cream of the crop in the brutal Central Division by the end of the season, as even today they’re only two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues. They’re stocking up on enough standings points that they could be a playoff team, however … and possibly a dangerous one, in that.

Predators keep Oilers winless against the west

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The Edmonton Oilers’ stretch of games without a win against the Western Conference was extended to 13 games (0-11-2) Thursday night following a 1-0 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators.

Preds rookie Filip Forsberg scored the overtime winner at 3:55 of the extra period.

Edmonton certainly had their chance to win this one.

Thirteen seconds into overtime Predators captain Shea Weber closed his hand on the puck in the crease. The Oilers were awarded a penalty shot, but Jordan Eberle could not solve Pekka Rinne.

Rinne improved to 15-3-1 on the season with a 37 save performance. Rinne has now won nine of 10 appearances (9-1-0) for the first time since he won 11 straight games from Jan. 12 to Feb. 7, 2012.

Thursday night marked the regular season debut of Predators center Mike Fisher, who ruptured his achilles tendon during an off-season workout. Fisher logged 12:44 in ice time while delivering three hits.

Viktor Fasth made 24 saves for the Oilers, who have now gone eight straight without a win. During the 13 game losing streak against the Western Conference, the Oilers have a goal differential of minus-28.

Edmonton, who is 6-3-1 against the Eastern Conference this season, played much of the game with just 11 forwards. Winger Matt Hendricks left the game early in the first period after blocking a Weber shot off his knee.

Post-game coach Dallas Eakins said Hendricks had X-Rays done on his knee cap, which came back negative, but that he was having trouble bending his leg.