Preds top the Capitals in Baltimore, and survive the elements

Ryan Ellis collides with some dude with gold skate laces. (PHOTO- Getty Images, Bruce Bennett)

The Predators made the trek to Baltimore to face the Capitals for their seemingly annual tilt in the preseason in Baltimore. These are two franchises in different stages of success- the Caps will be looking to sharpen their lines and hone their chemistry havng already assembled one nightmare of a team, and the lovable Preds are trying to figure out who will be the 12 forwards on opening night.

I don’t care if this one didn’t count, the Capitals are the favorite to win the Southeast, and maybe even the President’s Trophy. The guys did good. And to make it even better, it was guys like Colin Wilson and Chris Mueller getting it done. It was clear the Caps were trying to win this one, and Jeremy Smith played some solid minutes in the 3rd period. The prospects all looked pretty good for the most part, and even better… no one got hurt. The score was 2-0 (if you care about that kind of thing in preseason), but more importantly, we saw the prospects face some of the best in the NHL, and lived to tell the tale.

A few things to take away from this one:

  • Ryan Ellis was as advertised. Looked good on the power play, played smart hockey, was a bit more physical than we first thought, and wasn’t the defensive liability in the skating department. Far from perfect, but it’s not hard to see the raw skills that will be refined before too long.
  • Colin Wilson means business this preseason. Nothing would make Preds fans happier when it comes to this roster than a pure goal scorer developing from within, and Willy just may finally turning the corner. Some fans have lost their patience with him… but guys, HE’S 22 in OCTOBER. Larger forwards who play a more physical game take longer to develop. And if he does what he did last night and play around the net, look out.
  • Chris Mueller will be yet another forward in the mix if he keeps his play up. His time with Matt Hailschuk last year after being called up was nothing short of surprising, and while he may not be the most talented guy wearing the fangs… he’s got something. He sees the ice very well and seems to blend in with his linemates instantly. He’s bound for Milwaukee, but I wouldn’t bet against seeing him with the big club sometime this year.
  • Speaking of an Admiral, Jeremy Smith made a very strong statement last night. Regardless of the defense in front of him that was playing some spirited hockey, Smith made some key stops after relieving Pekka Rinne in the 2nd. The backup will almost certainly be Anders the Giant, but Smith is on the road to suiting up for the Preds later on down the road.
  • With Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Niklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, and Ryan Suter on the ice last night, fans were looking at seven of the absolute best players in the world. There was NO EXCUSE for the ice to be in the condition it was. Last night was the first hockey game played in the city of Baltimore in 14 years. And it was handled like an arena that hasn’t hosted a hockey game in 14 years. Cracked ice, puddles, and a couple gaps in the glass that a puck could fit through. Scary stuff.
And a nice side note, the Preds have sold out their preseason opener. Sure, lots of free seats were given out. And yes there will be a hoard of folks from Atlanta coming up. But we know what time of year this is. Marc Torrence of OnTheForecheck said it best:
But still, 17,000 people want to go to a preseason hockey game in the middle of football season. Not too shabby.
Good enough for me.

Tags: Chris Mueller Colin Wilson Jeremy Smith Niclas Bergfors Ryan Ellis

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