IT’S SEASON HOME OPENER DAY!
Eh, but that’s not what the post is about… for the most part.We need to discuss the first two games of the season before pondering this third one against the Minnesota Wild.
GAME 1: ST. LOUIS BLUES
The Blues have always been a tough contender with the Preds and last Thursday may have been the season opener for both teams, but the Blues had the upper hand from the very start. Here’s an overview of the scores and highlights of each period:
St. Louis had no problem taking the first strike with a wrister from David Backes on the power play at 2:05.The Blues would continue with two more goals, with backhanders from Vladimir Sobotka at 5:43 and T.J. Oshie at 9:45.
Pekka was promptly pulled after Oshie’s goal, replacing him with rookie Carter Hutton. His second time on NHL ice, Hutton also faced the Blues his first time.
Mike Fisher would ease the pain for the Predators at with a snap shot at 10:42. Nick Spaling and Eric Nystrom picked up the assists on Fisher’s goal.
Though Fisher’s goal helped slightly, the first period was a much needed wake up call for the Predators defense line.
David Legwand put the Preds within one at 5:09 with a tip-in goal assisted by new Assistant Captain, Patric Hornqvist.
St. Louis would snag another goal on their power play at 11:16 with a slapshot from Alexander Steen.
The second period looked much better for Nashville, but three power play opportunities and no shots on goal, the Predators have found yet another weak spot in their game.
No goals by either team in the third period, but the Predators were given two more power play chances. The power play has always been a weak factor for Nashville, but it was rough seeing just how difficult it is for them to produce in just the first game of the season.
The first game of the season is always a little rough. You might say preseason is for getting all the jitters knocked out and for finding who connects wear, but for some teams (including the Predators), it takes a few regular season games to find the right pairings and for finding your “ice” legs again.
With that said, how did the Game 2 go?
GAME 2: COLORADO AVALANCHE
The Avalanche gained the first overall pick of the 2013 Draft, calling upon Nathan MacKinnon, though the Preds’ pick, Seth Jones, was expected to be the first draftee overall. MacKinnon made his NHL debut this season, making him the youngest player in history to begin his NHL career. Back-to-back games are never really good for any team, especially at the very beginning of the season (and away games). So, did Nashville gain any wisdom from the night before to take to Denver?
Pekka Rinne, though being pulled so quickly in the first game, made the start again in Colorado.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau lead the Avalanche to their first goal of the night with a wrister at 18:50, which would also be the only goal of the first period.
After a relatively quiet first period, the second proved a little bit more penalty-filled due to a one Steve Downie, who has now made a few Predators fans’ “lists”.
Nashville was given several power play chances in the second period, but like the game against St. Louis, the Predators failed to capitalize on any of them.
Patrick Bordeleau put the Avs up 2-0 at 7:54 with a tip-in past Pekka.
Paul Gaustad would respond with a wrister at 14:10, assisted by Mike Fisher and Craig Smith for the Preds’ first goal of the game.
And here’s where Steve Downie would become a tick on the Predators’ back: After launching himself into Roman Josi, the Avalanche enforcer would continue getting up under the Predators’ skin through the second and third periods, giving both teams plenty of power play chances.
Roman Josi left the game after Downie’s hit, which ultimately resulted in a concussion that has left Shea Weber’s partner out indefinitely.
THIRD PERIOD:The Predators were unable to gain momentum after Gaustad’s goal, but that did not stop Parenteau from hitting the empty net to win the game at 18:48.
It seemed that Downie did exactly what he wanted to do that night; get under Nashville’s skin. The NHL reviewed Downie’s hit on Josi, but no repercussions have come from said hit.
Overall, besides the lack of connection on power play opportunities, Nashville fared much better in Game 2 than their sleepy performance in Game 1.
So, that leads us to tonight; the Home Opener.
Against all the teams in the world, but none other than Mr. Ryan Suter’s Minnesota Wild (oh yea, and Jonathon Blum… who is currently with Minnesota’s farm team, we believe).
The Predators do seem to have better chances against opponents at home, but honestly, what team doesn’t? Confidence is almost too easy to catch with an arena packed with 13,000+ hollering for you in particular.
From this morning’s practice, it looks like Mr. Seth Jones (who has seen plenty of ice time so far) will be paired with Shea Weber in Roman Josi’s injured absence. Along with that pairing, Forsberg has been lined up with Eric Nystrom and David Legwand. Filip Forsberg is in the lineup tonight after missing the first two games due to an upper-body injury.
The Predators begin a 5-game home stance tonight, hopefully that will exude enough confidence to propel them into away games of the future.
Tickets for tonight’s game are still available via the Nashville Predators and the ever-popular Stubhub.com.