The Nashville Predators have played three of their scheduled six preseason games. Here are some thoughts about their preseason so far:
The Predators have won points in all three games with a 5-2 win over Florida followed by an overtime loss to the Panthers and an overtime win against the Lighting. That would translate to five of a possible six points in the standings. Of course, none of these games count, but you sure would rather win than lose.
Defense and goaltending are looking good only giving up exactly 2 goals in regulation in each game. Pekka Rinne was a perfect 12 saves in 12 shots in his stint. Carter Hutton has played twice and gone an impressive 34 of 36 for a .944 save pctg. Juuse Saros has been impressive all camp and went 12 of 14 in his playing time. Rinne and Saros are expected to share the net tonight.
We have yet to see Shea Weber, Cody Hodgson, and Barret Jackman. Weber is being eased back into the lineup after his knee and is supposed to play limited minutes tonight against the Lightning. Hodgson and Jackman are both nursing upper body injuries that don’t seem to be serious. It would be nice to get them both into the lineup to build chemistry with their teammates.
Filip Forsberg looks to be in mid-season form with his two goals and two assists and shots from everywhere. Ryan Ellis chipped three assists as well. Ellis has also become “almost famous” for his summer long beard growth that he has been sporting throughout the preseason.
Nashville Predators defensemanRyan Ellis
(4) during the third period in Tampa. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With the youngsters hoping to make the team there have been varying levels of success. KHL star, Steve Moses who most believe will start the season with the Preds and his one-way contract has been noticeably quick and around the puck but hasn’t hit the scoresheet. David Poile in an interview with 102.5 the game described him as the fastest and also the smallest player in the Predators lineup.
There seems to be an ongoing battle between Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson in trying to stand out in an effort to start the season in Nashville. Both have been impressive. Fiala has one assist but has repeatedly set up players for opportunities with his speed and nifty passes. He also took a couple of penalties that he probably shouldn’t have.
Arvidsson in both the Rookie Tournament where he led all scorers and in the games he has played so far has looked like he belongs here. He has a goal and an assist and has just missed other opportunities.
Both of the Russian players, Vladislav Kamenev and Yakov Trenin have shown flashes of brilliance. They both will start the season elsewhere but are young players with very bright futures. Trenin in particular, is big and goes to the net with nice hands and looks sneaky fast. Neither player looks far off but will benefit from playing on North American ice and getting accustomed to the American game.
The Predators have played two sessions of 3-on-3 overtime so far and will play another tonight after the game regardless of the score at games end. Both of their other sessions, although scheduled, happened to be at the end of actual ties. It looks like the new overtime will be wild and entertaining. There is lots of open ice and plenty of offensive opportunities with breakaways being common.
The Preds have ended up on each side of the win column in overtime, losing to Florida but beating Tampa Bay when Mattias Ekholm put in a power play goal after grabbing Anthony Bitetto‘s stick from the bench when his was broken. Coach Peter Laviolette has experimented with several different threesomes but generally has two forwards and a defenseman and uses quick line changes.
There are still three preseason games to go, but so far the Predators have looked fast and skilled while playing tight defense with good goaltending. That sure sounds like a recipe for success if they can continue that into the regular season.
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