Monday, September 27, 2010
Shea Weber Leads Predators Past Atlanta
Captain Shea Weber led the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers in preseason action at the Bridgestone Arena on Monday night.
Weber scored the game winner on the power play with at 11:02 in the third. He also had the assist on the Preds' first goal at 3:06 in the first period when Sergei Kostitsyn redirected Weber's shot and totally handcuffed Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
Barry Trotz was pleased with the captain's performance, "Shea made a really good pass on the first goal and Kostitsyn had his head up and found him, sort of a high slot, high tip. Then obviously on the power play goal, he gets the puck through and it finds it's way in. Shea stepped up his game."
Trotz continued, "Shea was a force out there. He was physical. He made good decisions all night. He stepped up when we needed something to happen on the power play. He was a difference maker. That's what Shea can be."
The Thrasher's lone goal came at 15:30 in the second stanza when Ben Eager took a feed from Chris Thornburn and pushed it by Rinne from the backside.
Rinne stopped 22 of 23 on the evening to claim the win while Ondrej Pavelec stopped 29 of 31 in the loss..
What We Learned...
The game was the first for many of the veterans to play together and was a confidence builder heading in to the final two games of the preseason. Shea Weber commented, "Obviously, it's the first few games back after five months so I think this game really helped to get a lot of the guys together that will play together this season."
In an odd statistic, Trotz revealed that "We had 13 players that were playing only their second game so we saw a little of the rust come off."
Sergei Kostitsyn's goal was a thing of beauty and could be a sign of things to come. "We've tried it in practice but it just happened," Kostitsyn explained. "The defenseman moved around and Webs shot it and give it to me."
Pekka Rinne is off to one of his hottest starts in Nashville and was positive after the game. "I feel good. Obviously I wasn't tested too much. It was good to play the whole sixty minutes but still it was tight at the end. It's the usual with us. It seams like we always play those one goal games."
Going into the game Trotz was not clear on whether the plan was for Rinne to play the entire game, "Plan B was after two periods to go with Pickard but I looked up and Peks only had 16 shots through two periods and I think he needs a little more work."
On Saturday, after the Washington game, Trotz felt that the veterans were rusty. "This was a much better game. I wasn't real happy the first three games in terms of execution or pace, all of the things we went over in the evaluation phase and this morning I talked about getting into the preparation phase."
The Predators finally scored on the power play after 14 unsuccessful attempts in the preseason. Matthew Lombardi said, "We moved it pretty well on the power play and created some opportunities and Shea got the big goal for us."
Trotz commented on the man advantage, "The power play started to show some signs of doing some of the stuff we've been trying to get them to do."
On the other side of special teams, the Predators took no penalties and never had the opportunity to run the penalty kill. Trotz joked about not getting any PK practice, "If we never have to kill a penalty this year, that's a good thing. The best practice is reps and that will be something we have to work through."
The defense continued to look strong and Trotz was pleased. "Our defense corp as a group played much better with more of a veteran presence in the lineup."
Two players who are fighting to stay with the team were Cal O'Reilly and Jamie Lundmark. O'Reilly was playing on a line with Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist and was given every opportunity to succeed.
Trotz did not seem sold on either player saying, "Lundmark was OK. He's been hampered with a groin injury and didn't play the third period. Cal was a little better than he was the other night. When he plays with pace he is a good intelligent player but when he slows things down and gets too cute and creates turnovers and doesn't manage the puck as firmly as he needs to then I have a little bit of trouble with his game, but I thought he was a little better."
Late in the game, Dustin Byfuglien hit Jerred Smithson on a near blind-side type collision. There was no word on the severity of the injury. With the dressing rooms in disarray, Trotz said, "I don't have an answer right now, because I don't know where to go find him in the dressing room."
The one thing that Trotz was upset about was Joel Ward missing an empty netter in the final minute. "Legwand made a great play to Ward, we had to finish the game off there. We made a mistake like that in Carolina that almost cost us and we all saw what happened in the playoffs. That is the one negative we had better learn from is when you have an opponent down, you had better finish them off."
The Predators will travel to Atlanta for a return engagement with the Thrashers on Wednesday. It is likely that a few more players will be sent to Milwaukee as the week progresses as the Ads get further into their camp and start playing their own games.
Congrats to Jamie Cartwright who won the contest to sing the national anthem. She made her first Bridgestone Arena appearance and absolutely killed it. They should bring her on permanently to sing it every game. She is as good or better than anyone I have seen.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass