By Amanda DiPaolo
Two weeks before the trade deadline, the Nashville Predators acquired Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators for their 2011 first round draft pick as well as a conditional pick in 2012. Nashville then traded defenseman Alexander Sulzer to Florida for a conditional draft pick, leaving the Predators down to five healthy defensemen with Francis Bouillon out with a concussion.
In the meantime, it was announced that Marcel Goc was out for the season with his shoulder injury and Marek Svatos was waived and picked up by Ottawa. Just a day after losing Svatos, however, Steve Sullivan was put on injured reserve. These roster transactions left the Predators shy a healthy defensemen and a forward to complete their roster.
The trade deadline came and went with the Predators standing pat. On February 22, four games before the trade deadline, Jonathon Blum got called up from Milwaukee. Two games later, and still two to go before the deadline, Blake Geoffrion joined Blum in Nashville.
The two highly touted Predators prospects are considered to be key parts of the organization’s future, but are now a part of its present, both playing in the NHL for the first time.
Blum has played in 9 games for Nashville and has averaged over 17 minutes of ice time per game. It only took Blum four games to score his first goal, and he did it on home ice. “That was unbelievable, especially at home. I’ll never forget that, hearing the sound of the buzzer. The crowd exploded. I think I had the biggest smile. Four games in and I got my first goal. I thought it would take a lot longer. It was nice to get that out of the way,” Blum said.
Nashville’s man advantage has looked alive and exciting since Blum and CodyFranson were paired together for some power play time. Head Coach Barry Trotz likes what he has seen.
“They move the puck really well,” Trotz said. “Jon is really intelligent. He doesn’t have the biggest shot but he gets shots through.”
Trotz also compared and contrasted Blum’s bullet with Weber’s cannon. “Sometimes his shot is more effective than a Shea Weber shot because a) you can see it and b) he places it a little bit more. Shea will wind up. You can’t see it. It is hard to tip, hard to deflect, it’s hard to track. Sometimes his type of shot works effectively,” Trotz said.
Trotz also says that the Predators 2007 first round pick has been a “pleasant surprise back there” on the blueline. “Blum is just a smart player. He has real good poise. He has good hockey sense. He connects the dots to what is going to happen when you move the puck to certain parts of the ice.”
Blum is excited for his opportunity after playing for the Admirals the last year and a half. “I think I spent enough time in Milwaukee to learn everything. I played well, I put up good numbers. It is pretty cool that they have the confidence to bring me up with 20 games left and to play in these types of situations every night.”
Blum thought this year he would get a call up at least once, but didn’t know how long this particular call-up was going to last. “They told me Suter was out. He had a slight concussion. It could be one game, it could be ten games. After that first game he came back. I was thinking I would get sent back to Milwaukee. I played well in my first game and my second game. They made a trade, stuff like that, and I was in. I had to play myself on to the team. I thought it was a cool experience. I thought I was going to play one game and go back down to Milwaukee.”
Brentwood native Blake Geoffrion is also enjoying his time in Nashville. The first fourth-generation player in NHL history, Geoffrion admits putting that trust in the youth of the organization adds a little bit of pressure, with what is on the line for the Predators. But Geoffrion can look past the pressure and see the bigger picture.
“Most of us haven’t played a lot of NHL games. But we can‘t really look at it that way, we have to go out there and try to help this team win. We have to play the best we can every single night. We can’t let that affect our play,” Geoffrion said. he also explained the adjustment a player goes through when first getting called up to the NHL.
“The guys are a little bigger, stronger, faster. But the biggest thing is guys are just smarter with the puck on both sides of the puck. That’s one of the biggest adjustments for sure,” Geoffrion said.
Geoffrion has played in 6 games for the Predators, and was a healthy scratch against San Jose on Tuesday. But of the six games, all but two have been on the road. In San Jose, Geoffrion said he was looking forward to getting back to Bridgestone Arena.
“Definitely. I’ve had a couple good games, a couple bad games. Still trying to find that medium and consistency in our games. I’m excited to go home and get a couple games in. “
Geoffrion was a healthy scratch in the Predators 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose on Tuesday in California, but was back in the lineup Thursday night against the Wild.
“He did really well,” Trotz said of Geoffrion’s Thursday night performance, “He took the one penalty at the end of the second period and that’s a little bit momentum wise. The one thing that Boomer will have to adjust to is that things happen a little quicker. He was in position and he hesitated just a second. The guy jumped in the slot area and he just sort of watched instead of moving his feet.”
Trotz said Geoffrion did play better on Thursday than he did his last game in Calgary. “He had some really good shifts, especially in the second period. His line with Halischuk and Tootoo were a really good line,” Trotz said.
Tonight, you can catch Blum and Geoffrion in action at Bridgestone Arena as the Predators take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have struggled since the All-Star Break and are not in playoff contention. The Predators are looking to get back into the top eight in the Western Conference standings. A win tonight would go a long way in helping their cause.
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