Friday, February 14, 2014

The Hippodrome: I Heart America

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 1:37 PM

This Week In The 'Drome: USA! USA! USA!

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Opening Face-Off

Leggy vs. His Legacy: It's hard to imagine a Nashville without David Legwand.

Oft-maligned — and unusually unfairly so — The Original Predator is still out there for the only team he's known. He's stuck with it through expansion-team struggles, mustard jerseys, playing in front of a quarter-full arena, relocation rumors, fire sales and playoff disappointments. And every time he scores, he sets a record.

Now, the grumpy-Guses will say Legwand's records are a function of longevity more so than skill or effort; in reality, it's a combination of all three. Yes, Leggy has all the Predators' records because he's been around for so long, but a player doesn't stay around unless he's useful. And Legwand is profoundly useful — a responsible center with speed to burn and the ability to generate offense consistently. He's the perfect third line center who too long has been cast as a top-line pivot.

Barring an extension — which the team has thus far been fairly mum about — Legwand will become a free agent in July. He's exactly the kind of player a team looking for a run at the Stanley Cup will want to acquire at the trade deadline. And the right thing to do for the Preds is to give him that chance.

Now, Nashville is four points back of the playoffs and if Pekka Rinne can return after the Olympic Break, it's not unreasonable to expect the Preds — who have been playing well in the last few weeks — to compete for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Trading Legwand — who leads the team in scoring — would be a little off-piste, but it's the smart move.

A first-round pick or a later pick plus a prospect is the likely return, which sets the Preds up well for the future. Legwand could always re-sign with Nashville in the summer and, further, it's a just reward for the man who has been a good soldier for the team that made him their first-ever player.

No doubt when he was drafted, the Preds planned to build a Stanley Cup contender around him. Legwand, though, was never the centerpiece of the team at Fifth and Broad, though he was always a key contributor. His window is closing quickly and he should get a chance to make a deep run at the Cup. And who the Preds get in a trade for him may well set the team up for a later run of their own.

Legwand's given the Preds a lot. They should return the favor and in doing so, Legwand can add another contribution to his list.

The Week Behind

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Ice Cold: In the week after being feted in the Scene, Kevin Stallings' short-staffed Vanderbilt Commodores have lost twice, once to an Arkansas team that figured out that running and pressing was the way to beat Vandy and then adding an embarrassing road loss at SEC-worst South Carolina in a game delayed by the ice storm.

The Commodores were missing shots like the snow misses Nashville and a once very-hot team is suddenly ice cold.

Local Tie: TSU — one of the NCAA's most woeful teams at 3-21, with one of the three being Fisk — gave Belmont a game last night, eventually a 73-71 Bruin win. TSU was led by the OVC's leading scorer — Patrick Miller, who may be the OVC's leading scorer because everyone else in Tiger blue struggles to put it in — but could never close the gap on the conference-leading Bruins.

Limping In Strongly: The Preds 5-2 loss to Anaheim looked like the kind of blowout someone might expect between one of the league's best teams and the Predators — currently last in the division — but the fact is the Preds were unlucky. They outplayed the Ducks for long stretches Saturday night, but two bad bounces off Preds defensemen led directly to two Anaheim goals and Nashville never recovered.

An Update From Sochi: Shea Weber opened the scoring for Canada in a 3-1 win against Norway. Preds property Simon Moser got a late game winner for Switzerland in that country's 1-0 win against Latvia.

Halftime Entertainment

Speaking of Latvia: One of Latvia's assistant coaches spends his non-Olympic days coaching the kiddos down in Franklin.

Also this here:

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The Week Ahead

What A Bunch of Dirtbags: No. 10 Vandy opens the baseball season tonight — yes, seriously, already — with the first of a three-game set against Long Beach State. Vandy is looking for a big season from its oft-injured second baseman to compliment its excellent pitching staff, which gets a big test this weekend against those Dirtbags.

Newbies: Vandy hosts Texas A&M tomorrow and then travels to Missouri in two SEC basketball games this week, in hopes of returning to their winning ways. The win at Memorial against Mizzou was likely the biggest of the year for the 'Dores. The Tigers will be looking for revenge.

Dawn's Early Light: The U.S. hockey team — which features no Predators — play back-to-back this weekend with two 6:30 AM starts against Russia Saturday and Slovenia Sunday. The Canadians and Shea Weber take on Austria today and close with Finland Sunday. The Swiss — including Moser and Roman Josi — finish up their preliminary schedule tomorrow against the Czech Republic. The medal round begins Tuesday, with the top four teams in the tournament getting a bye to the second round.

Emails to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

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