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. - Pinning down a single reason for the Nashville Predators resurgence this season is nearly impossible.Theres a new coach in Peter Laviolette bringing his offensive approach. New scorers in James Neal and Mike Ribeiro. And Pekka Rinne is healthy and back to dominating form as one of the NHLs stingiest goaltenders.Add in the leagues top rookie through the first 20 games, and the combination has the Predators atop the Central Division and third in the Western Conference after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.Its been a good start, but at the same time to stay at the top of the league its probably the hardest thing, and everybody who comes here or any team were going to face they want to get a piece of us, Rinne said. You have to be ready for it. But its been good. All the changes weve made ... obviously you got the record. Its easy to say that its been working.Indeed.The Predators have yet to lose consecutive games yet and have 30 points through 21 games after a 4-3 shootout win Tuesday night over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The Predators now are 8-1-1 at home and 5-1-1 against the Pacific Division.Defence always has been a Nashville hallmark, and the Predators are tied for second in the NHL in goals-against average allowing 2.10 goals per game.Now the Predators are scoring. They are second in the NHL scoring five-on-five and have outscored opponents 47-28 in an area the Predators were minus-21 last season. They also are the leagues least-penalized team averaging only 7 penalty minutes per game.Forward Eric Nystrom credited everyone with being on the same page quickly in the first season with Laviolette, hired in May as only the second coach in this franchises history.That makes such a huge difference when you can rely on your teammate being in the right position so you can go in a certain situation and knowing youre going to go in those situations, Nystrom said.Laviolette was hired to boost the offence for a team that struggled scoring the past two seasons under Barry Trotz. His system has freed up defencemen like captain Shea Weber to jump into the rush with the puck, and Laviolette has put together Neal and Ribeiro with rookie Filip Forsberg giving the Predators possibly their best top line yet.The coach says hes happy with how the Predators are working, and theyve shown plenty of chemistry and confidence no matter the score. The Predators blew a 2-0 lead late in regulation Saturday night against Florida only to win when Forsberg scored the only goal in the shootout.Even if sometimes when were down by two, it doesnt seem to phase our guys that much, Laviolette said.Rinne is off to the best start of his career with his 14 wins tying him for the most in the league, and he ranks second in goals-against average (1.97). Its a big change from a year ago when the Finland native was healing from surgery to clear an infection out of his hip, limiting him to 24 games last season when Nashville missed the post-season by three points.The goaltender isnt thinking about the past two years now.Our team is totally different now, and obviously personally you want to always play as well as you can possibly play, Rinne said.Forsberg has helped the scoring. Acquired from Washington in a trade for Martin Erat in April 2013, the rookie ranks 12th in the NHL with 22 points and also leads the league with a plus-18 rating, meaning hes been on the ice for 18 more even-strength and shorthanded goals his team has scored than allowed.Nystrom said the Predators just need to keep improving and peak in the playoffs. Nashville has plenty of room to do that on special teams ranking 26th on the penalty kill and 24th on the power play — last on home ice scoring only one goal with the man advantage.Its going to be a test to see if we can stay at the top, Nystrom said. Thats not an easy challenge, and were looking forward to that. TreQuan Smith Jersey
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. Those cheers seemed more special this time because the captains run on Broadway could soon be over. The adoration surely sounded much nicer to Callahan than all the recent trade talk.TORONTO - The Raptors organization and its fans can breathe a sigh of relief after receiving positive news regarding the status of injured point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry will wear a splint on his non-shooting hand to protect an injured left ring finger tendon for approximately six weeks, however, he is still expected to participate in practices and play in games once the regular season begins next week, the team announced Thursday evening. The starting point guard sustained the injury during Wednesdays victory over Memphis when his finger popped out while reaching for a loose ball late in the third quarter. Attending a follow-up examination, Lowry was absent from practice Thursday morning and did not accompany the team to Milwaukee. He will miss Torontos final exhibition game against the Bucks on Friday but should be ready to go when the Raptors host Boston in the season opener on Oct. 30. The Raptors catch a lucky break as long as Lowry is active and in the lineup, even if hes playing at less than 100 per cent. Given the uncertainty off the bench at that position - neither D.J. Augustin nor rookie Dwight Buycks has stood out in the preseason - Lowry is expected to get the bulk of the playing time at the point this season. Coach Dwane Casey has hinted at a possible platoon with the back-up point guard role, depending on match-ups and who has the hot hand, alternating between Augustin and Buycks heading into the season. With Lowry sidelined for Fridays preseason finale, Casey should get a good look at his reserves. Julyan Stone, who is still battling for the final roster spot but has been used to spell Lowry at the point during camp, is also nursing an injury after taking a knee to his surgically repaired right hip on Wednesday. Marcus Davenport Saints Jersey
. . He was a non-participant in Thursdays practice and is consider day-to-day. Centre Jonas Valanciunas was limited in practice, able to participate in non-contact drills after taking an elbow to the face a couple minutes after Lowrys injury. Valanciunas needed three stitches to patch up a laceration to his chin and was still sore on Thursday but insisted he was feeling better and will also be good to go next week when the games count. "I feel not bad," he said. " still need a couple days but Im feeling good so Im going to be ready for the first [regular] season game." Tyler Hansbrough, who tweaked his right thumb Wednesday, was a full-participant in practice. Raptors exercise team options on Valanciunas and Ross The Raptors also announced they have picked up third-year options on the rookie contracts of sophomores Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. The team had until Oct. 31 to exercise its option on both players. Valanciunas, 21, was named to the 2012-13 NBA All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in his first season with the Raptors. Ross, 22, averaged 6.4 points and 2.0 rebounds as a rookie last season, winning the 2013 Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend. Both of their contracts are now guaranteed through the 2014-15 season. Wholesale Hoodies NFL Shirts Outlet Jerseys NFL Wholesale Cheap NFL Jerseys Free Shipping Wholesale Jerseys Cheap Cheap NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '