By Amanda DiPaolo
The Washington Capitals edged the Nashville Predators 2-1 Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. After the loss, the Predators cut the roster down to 38 players, with 3 preseason games left to play before opening night on October 9th.
Of note, defenseman Jonathon Blum was sent to Milwaukee, while Ryan Ellis remains at camp. Ellis played Saturday night. While his shots from the point will score the Predators some offense in the future, on more than one occasion was Ellis knocked off the puck or unable to keep it in the zone alone. Ellis either needs to make the team out of training camp or be sent to Windsor. The AHL is not an option because he won’t be 20 until next year.
Predators fans will also be disappointed to see that Taylor Beck has been sent back to the Guelph Storm. Everyone from coaching staff to fans alike have been impressed with Beck. However, the Predators are in a position where they don’t have to throw unseasoned rookie 18 and 19 year olds out onto the ice and hope for the best. Next season, Beck will be back.
During the game, defenceman Mike Green opened the scoring with a power play goal at 3:21 of the first period. Shea Weber was in the box for cross checking. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne described the goal as a good shot by Green. “I was right there but he made a good shot. You know they are going to try those backdoor plays. They try nice passing plays. When those guys are on the ice you are kind of extra focused,” Rinne said.
Nashville’s Matt Halischuk evened things up for Nashville in the second period. Sullivan was tied up on the boards but able to kick the puck to Colin Wilson who then saw Halischuk open in front of the net.
Halischuk was sent to the Predators from New Jersey as part of the Jason Arnott deal so he is new to the Predators system and the coaching staff. Additionally, the Predators have a full roster, with several players competing for the same spots. After Saturday’s morning skate, however, Coach Barry Trotz suggested that some players on the team last year have not been living up to expectation, while others, including Halischuk have left a good impression.
The right winger has been playing his way onto the already full roster with hard work and determination. “I want to come in and try to get better every day. Work hard and try to learn everything I can and do my best,” Halischuk said of his time so far in Nashville.
Halischuk was predominately on a line with Wilson and Sullivan, but also was on a line with J.P. Dumont and Marcel Goc, and even acted as a fourth line right wing with Blake Geoffrion and Wade Belak. Is the coaching staff trying to see where he best fits?
In the middle of the third period, Jay Beagle scored the game winning goal for the Capitals to make it 2-1.
Next Predators’ game is Monday night versus the Atlanta Thrashers. Because of the cuts, we will finally see some lines and defense pairings start to shape up.