Thought I would go old school style and post my in-game observations, since I had quite a few tonight. So here we go:
Cal O'Reilly is finally starting to make me take some notice of him. Could this be his year? Only Section 303's Jeremy will be able to tell us for sure.
Players I don't really miss at all, although I totally thought I would: Dan Hamhuis. I honestly figured without Hammer in the line up, the Predators defense would be lacking. However, it is quite possible the defense is stronger than it has ever been. I will say though, if anything were to happen to either Weber or Suter, this team could be in big trouble.
While plenty of things change from season to season, some things never change. Case in point: Steve Sullivan missed a fantastic breakaway opportunity tonight; something I saw many times last season.
On the other hand, Steve Sullivan knew exactly how to throw a bomb in the back of the net during the power play to put the team up by one in the second. Coach Trotz said he has been studying the power play and working on ways to improve it. From what I saw tonight, there was far less fancy and much more smarts factored into the man advantage. A couple of passes to set up and then you fire away. That's how you get it done and that's when the power play pays off.
11 SOGs were given up during the prolonged 5-on-4, then 5-on-3, then 5-on-4 penalty kill in the second period. The penalty killers (that weren't serving time in the box) were on top of their game tonight. Jerred Smithson and Ryan Suter were an integral part of this kill, on the ice for 2:22 and 2:15, respectively, of the 3:15 Anaheim man advantage. These are definitely the types of things I want to see continue.
JP Dumont looked like a different player out there tonight. He didn't make a lot of passes and took more shots on the net than I ever remembered seeing from him last season. Could it be that Arnott's absence is exactly what he needed to step up his game?
Patric Hornqvist's goal celebration after his goal late in the second period made me laugh. It was almost as if you could see him breathing a sigh of relief, thinking "whew, thank goodness I've got that first goal pressure off my back!".
Things you really don't ever want to see happen during the first game of the season: the starting goaltender going out with an apparent injury. Pekka Rinne left in the third and did not return. Coach Trotz's post-game locker room update: Pekka has a lower body injury and will be listed as day-to-day. Lower body injuries could be anything but Rinne was favoring his right leg before he left the ice so my guess is he tweaked something in the scuffle at net with Bodie and Bouillon early in the period. However, I do so love being able to see an NHL rookie make his debut, as was the case for Anders Lindback, coming in for Pekka to play out the last 17 minutes of the third period. If Rinne's injury still nags him next week, Lindback might find that he'll get more NHL experience in net sooner than he thought.
New Predator Matthew Lombardi was shot down from every angle tonight. This was certainly not from lack of trying though. I could almost sense his frustration. I can't wait to actually see him score a goal now, so he can get that monkey off his back too.
Final Predators shot count: 49. Yes, you read that right. FORTY NINE. Who says this team doesn't have enough offensive power?
Also, this picture:
Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
I initially cracked up at this because of Pekka's stance, which is obviously a protective sprawl to cover the net, but comes off almost like a lazy, hang out, hey how's it going, guys? stance. However, looking at the picture again, Teemu Selanne's face is quite hilarious too. His eyes are very deer-in-the-headlights and I laugh every time I look at them.
And there you have it. Hockey's back and all feels right in the world again. The Predators won't see any on-ice action again until Wednesday night as they face off against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the Windy City. The boys will, however, be out and about in Nashville as they participate in their 5th Annual Predators in the Community Day. Check the link for details to see where your favorite Predators players might show up around the city on Monday.