The Predators continued to exorcise their demons of playing in the American Airlines Arena by besting the Dallas Stars 3-2 in a shoot out for a victory in the season opener for both teams. Great recaps of the game can be found at www.predsontheglass.com , www.ontheforecheck.com and www.section303.com. The AAA has historically been a house of horrors for the Preds, with the good guys winning only 4 times in their last 20 appearances. In the win last night, this team showed great resiliency, dealing with an injury to a top line forward (J. P. Dumont) and a horrific turnover that led to the tying goal. The game was eventually won in the shoot out with rookie Mike Santorelli firing a puck five hole on Marty Turco for the deciding goal.
At the Predators luncheon earlier in the week, captain Jason Arnott said something that came back to me as the game was unfolding. He mentioned that the young guys on the team have kept the veterans fresh and have made it fun to come to the rink. As this game hung in the balance and the Predators appeared to be giving the game away, the young guys continued the intensity and refused to wilt under the pressure of the moment or the weight of the history of this team in this arena. Patric Hornqvist moved up to the top line after the Dumont injury and picked up an assist on the night and played a solid game. And the aforementioned Santorelli netted the shoot out winner in an obvious pressure packed situation. The young guys didn't give a rat's rear end about the past failures. They didn't care that it was a hostile environment. They just played solid hockey and came through when it mattered.
Every team needs veteran leadership, guys that have been through the wars and can impart wisdom and share experience. Every team needs youthful enthusiasm as well. Enthusiasm and energy that doesn't know better, doesn't respect the negatives of the past, and embraces the challenge of the future. Look for the young pups to continue to play a prominent role for this team. And look for them to make their own history.