Friday, October 17, 2014

Predators Pass Their First Road Test, Ground the Jets 2-0

The Nashville Predators ventured to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in the Predators first road game of the season. This first road test for the Predators would come against a divisional foe in front of their rabid fans, and it would be a good indication of how this team is going to perform in a hostile environment.

They passed this test with flying colors.

Pekka Rinne picked up his first shut out of the season with a 31 save effort, and the Predators got goals from Mike Ribeiro, his second of the season, and James Neal, his first, to seal the win.

Ribeiro re-directed a slap shot from Seth Jones past Ondrej Pavelec at 16:20 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators added to their lead as Filip Forsberg controlled the puck in the corner in traffic and found James Neal in the slot. Neal's quick wrist shot bounced over the shoulder of Pavelec to make it 2-0 at 7:31 of the third period.

Rinne had a strong game and thwarted some very good scoring chances by the Jets to maintain the shutout. This was Rinne's this win in four outings this season.

Some observations:

  • Viktor Stalberg saw his first action of the season after being injured during training camp. he played on a line with Derek Roy and Craig Smith and moved well and had some scoring chances.

  • I continue to like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He is a fierce hitter, plays a sound positional game, and showed some good wheels to speed down the ice and negate an icing in the second period.

  • Pekka Rinne had to make some exceptional saves when the Predators were on the power play. the Predators gave up some short handed chances- okay, way too many short handed chances- and Rinne had to come up with some big stops.

  • Filip Forsberg has shown me that he belongs on the top line. He is strong on the puck, sees the ice well, and has great hockey sense. He is fast becoming a very good playmaker, and in the third period almost single handedly created a great scoring chance. He later gathered an assist on James Neal's goal with strong work in the corner.

  • Ryan Ellis took a vicious hit from Bryan Little that was borderline boarding midway of the third period. Although he remained on the bench, he did not return to the game.
The first road test was passed, but now it gets tougher as the Predators travel to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks Saturday night.

Continue to bring this kind of effort and this will be a test they can pass.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. James Neal

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