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  • MONTREAL - After two years out of the NHL playoffs, there is new optimism among the Nashville Predators. James Rodriguez Jersey .A stunning turnaround aided by a coaching change, the addition of veteran forwards James Neal and Mike Ribeiro and the emergence of 20-year-old forward Filip Forsberg have put Nashville in first place in the Central Division going into the all-star break.Now they believe theyve got enough pieces to keep up their strong play through the second half of the regular season and do some damage in the playoffs.Absolutely, veteran centre Mike Fisher said Tuesday. We really believe in this group.We believe were a top team in this league and we are. Weve shown it thus far. Were really confident in the group we have, that we can win any night against other top teams.The Predators had not lost twice in a row this season going into a game Tuesday night against the Canadiens in Montreal, where they were without star goalie Pekka Rinne for a third game due to an injury expected to last three weeks.Backed by Rinne and an impressive defence group led by Shea Weber, the Predators are the NHLs stingiest team, allowing only 2.25 goals per game. But Nashville has been known as a tight defensive side in recent years.The surprise is that they are tied for fifth in goals scored per game at 3.0.Part of that stems from the decision last summer to let the conservative Barry Trotz go after coaching the team through its first 15 NHL campaigns and bring in a more attack-minded Peter Laviolette.Trotz is now performing wonders in making the Washington Capitals a winning, two-way club, while Laviolette will also be a coach of the year candidate for doing much the same in Nashville.Its good for both sides, said Weber. You see the success theyre having (in Washington) and that were having.There was a different feel coming into training camp this year with a new face and I think the guys have responded very well.The second part of the season will determine if the Predators are for real, but it looks like it so far.They certainly have the goaltending with Rinne, considered one of the best in the world.With Weber, they have the big No. 1 blue-liner every team wishes it had, and he is backed by a group that can defend and move the puck. Among them is emerging talent Seth Jones, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft.Only a few months ago, they didnt appear to have much up front, but then Forsberg turned into a nearly point-per-game player and a strong two-way player on the top line with veteran Mike Ribeiro, who so far has shown a new commitment to discipline after being bought out by Arizona due to behavioural problems.Hes been an excellent addition to our team, Laviolette said of Ribeiro, who is on pace for his first 70-point campaign since 2010-11. Terrific in the room, terrific teammate, terrific on-ice play.Forsberg, playing his first full NHL campaign, was acquired from Washington in March 2013 for Martin Erat and Michael Latta in what is looking to be a spectacular steal for Nashville.Fisher centres James Neal, a one-time 40-goal scorer picked up in a trade with Pittsburgh in June, and Colin Wilson, who is having a breakout season and will soon top his career high of 35 points.Veteran Olli Jokinen, signed from Winnipeg, is playing on the fourth line. Another reclamation project, defenceman Anton Volchenkov, brings his stay at home style to the third defence pair and being dumped by New Jersey.Fisher likes the teams chances.With the goaltending we have, and look at our back end: everyone can handle the puck and skate, he said. And you look at the mix, the young guys, the leadership, energy, the way we play.Were all excited about what we can do. Its a tough league and the playoffs are tough, but we feel weve got a lot of pieces and character and we can be successful.The Predators have won only two playoff series in their history, the last against Detroit in 2012.The optimism now stems from adding some offence to a team known for tight defence. That comes from Laviolette.Id say were more aggressive, said Fisher. We want to be hungry for pucks, to forecheck really hard.The way our defence can move the puck helps us offensively. And defensively, we want to be hard to play against. He wants us to play both ends. He wants us to make plays and be creative, but be responsible.It has worked so far, but Weber, the captain, knows there is a lot of hockey still be played.I was on this team a while back when we were in first place for a while too, he said. Weve had good teams since Ive been in Nashville.Its just been tough the last couple of years. Theres still a lot of season left and we have to keep it up. Juan Bernat Jersey . Ferrer will play Mikhail Youzhny on Sunday after he defeated Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-4 in an all-Russian semifinal. "Youzhny is a good player," Ferrer said. Manuel Wintzheimer Jersey . Linemates Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner each had a goal and an assist in the first period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves to lead the Blue Jackets past the Florida Panthers 4-1 on Saturday night.Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Terry Rozier matched a career high with 26 points and 10th-ranked Louisville got its offense back on track in an 80-68 win over Pittsburgh at Petersen Events Center. After shooting just 29.5 percent that included a dreadful 4-of-25 rate from 3-point range in their last game, a 63-52 home loss to Duke eight days ago, the Cardinals hit on 65.2 percent of their field goal attempts in a strong bounce-back effort. Montrezl Harrell, playing for the first time since being stripped of his captains role by head coach Rick Pitino in a well-publicized move during the week, went 8-of-12 from the floor in an 18-point effort for Louisville (16-3, 4-2 ACC). Chris Jones buried 3-of-4 tries from beyond the arc en route to 17 points. Jamel Artis posted 18 points and eight rebounds for Pittsburgh (13-7, 3-4), with James Robinson recording 16 points and six assists in the loss and Michael Young finishing with 14 points and nine boards. The Cardinals came out on fire following their eight-day layoff, making good on a scorching 70.8 percent of their field goal tries in the first half while building a 40-30 lead at the break. Rozier led the way with 18 points on 8- of-11 shooting. Louisville didnt pull away until the latter stages of the opening frame, however. The Cardinals were up by only two with under 4 1/2 minutes to go before embarking on a 12-2 run to claim a 40-28 advantage. Rozier recorded five points during the tearr, which ended with Jones getting fouled while converting a layup off a steal and sinking the ensuing bonus shot with 1:58 left in the half. Bayern Munich Jerseys. The Panthers scored the first five points of the second half to pull within five, but Louisville countered with an 8-0 spurt and remained ahead by double digits over most of the duration. Harrell began the flurry with an emphatic dunk and Jones followed with a triple in front of Mangok Mathiangs 3-point play that extended the margin to 48-35 with under 13 minutes left. It was an 18-point spread after another Jones trey preceded Harrells inside bucket that put the Cardinals up 62-44 with 6:59 to play. The Panthers did make a late bid to get back in it, putting together an 8-2 flurry capped by an Artis jumper that cut the deficit to 66-58 with 4:05 remaining. Pitt didnt make another basket over the next 2 1/2 minutes, however, as the Cardinals put the game away with an 8-2 run. Game Notes Harrell reached the 1,000-point milestone with his first basket of the game, a layup less than four minutes in ... The Cardinals outscored Pittsburgh by a 40-18 margin in the paint and went 6-of-12 on 3-point attempts ... The Panthers shot just 37.3 percent overall and were 6-of-23 from beyond the arc ... The game marked the first meeting between the former Big East rivals in ACC play. Louisville won seven of its 12 matchups against Pitt in the Big East. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From ChinaCheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '