The Nashville Predators emerged victorious from their battle against the Lightning down on 501 Broadway last night- and there was much rejoicing.
Finally, the Predators were able to pull together a complete game and play at a level to which their fans have grown accustomed.
- With apologies to Pekka Rinne, the big story last night was Nashville’s offensive spurt. Right now, that starts with the Craig Smith, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn line. As Cellblock303 tweeted last night, Trotz gave this statement regarding Craig Smith: “He’s driving those lines. You could say he’s been our best forward.” It’s a statement I certainly can’t argue with either. Fisher’s return and insertion between Smith and Kostitsyn has produced a line that can counterattack with speed or play a solid possession game. The fact that both Fisher and Smith both have noses for the net and Kostitsyn can find either just makes for a great combination for now.
- Pekka Rinne played his normal outstanding game highlighted by his diving, cross-ice glove save against Lecavalier. Rinne is so good, I worry that he can sometimes be taken for granted.
- The second line really picked up the pace as well, particularly after Halischuk moved down to the fourth line and replaced by Patric Hornqvist mostly and Niclas Bergfors a couple of times. Both Hornqvist and Bergfors added something to Legwand and Wilson. They were able to contribute mightily to Nashville’s possession time in the third and presented Legwand with a great scoring chance. Bergfors looked really good in his 8:00 of ice time, particularly on the third period power play opportunity. They didn’t score (Hornqvist’s goal came when he was on the fourth line), but they played well and tilted the ice in Nashville’s favor.
- While both played well at times, Matt Halischuk and Jon Blum did have some key mistakes that ended up in the back of the net. Halischuk’s inability to corral the puck and get it cleared, contributed to him turning the puck over led to Stamkos’ first goal. Blum had two bad clearing attempts in a row that contributed to the Purcell power play goal.
- Jack Hillen played the best I’ve seen him play last night. For most of the night, he was paired with Jon Blum who had been moved down to the third pairing. Hillen played an aggressive and physical game.
- Blum’s demotion resulted in a promotion for Francis Bouillon and he responded with an excellent game. At some point, Nashville will need Jon Blum to rediscover his game and confidence and move back into the top four. That said, it has to be a great comfort to the coaching staff to know that there is an option, at least on occasion, when the defense needs adjusting.
- Great night for Nashville in the face-off circle. Only Mike Fisher won less than half of his draws, and eight of those losses were against Lecavalier (who won 70% of his draws).
- Shots at even strength: 26-24 in favor of Tampa. That’s much better.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter (@SingletonPreds). For game recaps of all Predators games as well as great insights on the Predators and the NHL, check out my HockeyIndependent colleague, Mark Willoughby (@TheViewFrom111).
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.