The Nashville Predators defeated the Washington Capitals by a 4-1 margin at the Bridgestone Arena in a pre-season contest that saw both teams field squads that had a lot of veterans on the ice. Both teams played without some key players, as the Predators did not dress Mike Fisher and the Capitals were without Alexander Ovechkin.
Some thoughts about the Predators after this contest:
The young guys have some talent.
I liked the way that Craig Smith, Gabriel Bourque, and Mattias Ekholm play and the way they skate. These young guys showed they have good compete levels and there is an abundance of raw talent. They will be solid contributors for the Predators. That being said...
The young guys need to season
Running into some top line defensemen showed that the young guys need to continue to develop their game and get a bit more stronger. What worked in juniors or at the collegiate level is not necessarily going to work at the NHL level. The potential is there; the game just has to mature.
This is a squad that can do some damage
The Predators skated well and showed that their team game can dominate another team. The success of the Predators will hinge on two factors: players that are expected to produce HAVE to produce; and they must stay healthy. Production has to come from Colin Wilson, Marty Erat, David Legwand, and the veterans that are expected to produce. Nick Spaling has to step his game to the next level. Niclas Bergfors will hopefully develop into this year's Sergei Kostitsyn. And the aforementioned Kostitsyn has to take the next step in his game. If, and it is a big if, the guys can do this, the Predators will enjoy success.
Pekka Rinne is Pekka Rinne
Rinne will once again be called upon to carry the team on his back. He showed tonight that he can do just that. What will be critical is that Anders Lindback can give the team some quality starts and give Rinne adequate rest. Lindback will need to give the team 10-15 quality games throughout the course of the season to give Rinne a break and keep him fresh.
The young D will be OK
Remember back several years ago when there was concern about the young defense core? An unproven pair of defensemen- Shea Weber and Ryan Suter- were called upon to play some critical minutes and the concern was about their ability to handle the workload. Well, we all know how that turned out, don't we? I think this young D corp will turn out to be just fine for the Predators. Will they make mistakes? Yes. But they will learn. Quickly. And they will be solid contributors.
As the pre-season winds down, it will be interesting to see how the battles for the final roster spots will play out. The competition for those spots will be fierce. And it will benefit the Predators.
Both in the pre-season and in the regular season.