Cannon Conversations: Mark Harris of on the Nashville Predators


The Columbus Blue Jackets have done the near impossible and have turned their season around in a matter of a month, thanks to an 8-0-1 December and the resilient, “Little Turd,” play we grew to love last year. Also playing really good hockey are the Nashville Predators, who had a rough go at it last year, but ever since the puck dropped on this season, they’ve been running over the competition, jumping out to the league’s best record and have been playing well ever since.

In preparation for tonight’s matchup between the Jackets and Predators, Union & Blue got together with Predlines, FanSided’s Nasvhille Predators site, and their editor Mark Harris, who talked the season-to-season turn around, a new head coach and Pekka Rinne. Oh, and some wishful thinking with a prediction.

Union and Blue: The Predators were the story of the early season, having the leagues best record out of the gates. How have things been going since? I know the Preds are still in single-digit loss land, but other than that, I honestly don’t know much.
Mark Harris: Well, simply put, awesome. The Predators have been fantastic to watch. From Pekka Rinne dominating in net to Filip Forsberg dominating on the ice. It’s just been great. It’s a feeling and sight Predators fans haven’t seen in quite some time, maybe even ever.

U&B: In the questions you sent me, you asked about the in-season turn around Columbus has had thanks to their play in December. Tell us about the Preds turnaround from last season to this.
MH: Peter Laviolette. Can I just say that? No, seriously how he’s changed the culture in Nashville in such a short time is unbelievable. A healthy Pekka Rinne has arguably been the biggest difference as well. He’s been phenomenal in all phases.

U&B: Is it still weird for Barry Trotz not to be on the Preds bench? How much are Nashville fans liking Peter Laviolette?
MH: At 21-8-2 fans are certainly loving Laviolette. Yeah, it was certainly weird with Trotz not behind the bench to start the season but the smooth transition and winning ways has helped burden that. If the team was hovering around .500 though things could be different. Laviolette has done an absolute perfect job so far this season in Nashville.

U&B: Also, is this matchup no longer being a division game still weird for Preds fans?
MH: Absolutely. Jokes are always tossed around between fans and media and such. Tonight should be a  great matchup regardless.

U&B: Pekka Rinne has been one of the league’s premier goalies this year, but let up 5 goals last game against the Wild. Was that game just an outlier as to how well he, and the Preds, have been playing?
MH: I think it was. It could also be him coming back down to earth as well. He’s been dominant in all phases. I would honestly say 3 of the 5 goals let up the other night weren’t totally his fault. Tonight will be a good test. He’s set to start in net and certainly will want a different result than the other night, even despite the win.

U&B: What are three keys, in your mind, for a Predators win?
MH: Continuing decent special teams play. The Preds power play has been atrocious this season but is coming alive as of late. Mike Fisher has lit the lamp on the PP along with Roman Josi over the course of the last few games. If given the man advantage, the Preds need to tally. Also of course killing penalties on the other end will be a large factor as well for Nashville success.

 U&B: What will Columbus have to do to win?
MH: Score more goals than Nashville. I kid. They will need to score early, possibly ‘flustering’ the Preds. Pekka Rinne is coming off a win but a performance where he let in 5 goals. He’ll be looking to gain some confidence so sneaking one past him early will be big.

U&B: And finally, give us a prediction. Will the Preds be the ones who end this awesome run?
MH: I think they will simply because Pekka Rinne. He will be determined to have a stellar performance tonight. Hate to break the CBJ streak (wait, no i don’t) but i honestly could see a Rinne shutout tonight.

Thanks to Mark for answering our questions and we’ll be here to console him after the Jackets prove his prediction to be wrong. Mwahaha. For the Preds point of view tonight, and for the rest of the year (they do a great job), be sure to make a frequent stop!

Next: If You Haven't, Be Sure To Check Out U&B's Preview For Tonight