Saturday, October 11, 2014

Predators Pound the Stars 4-1


That is probably the best way to describe the Predators and their style of play. That relentless effort paid off in a 4-1 victory over division rival Dallas in front of a sell out crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators are not flashy. But they just keep coming for 60 minutes, and that effort paid off in another win.

Once again, the Predators fell behind 1-0 off a goal from Antoine Roussel, a deflection that got past Pekka Rinne at 7:14 of the first period.

The Predators responded late in the second period as Shea Weber wristed a shot from the blue line that eluded Stars netminder Anders Lindback to tie the game at 19:19 of the second the second period.

As in the first game, the third period belonged to the Predators as they tallied three goals. Paul Gaustad broke  the tie at 8:33 of the third with his first goal of the season off an assist from Taylor Beck. Eric Nystrom stretched the lead to 3-1 on a backhand shot at 9:54 . Roman Josi ended the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:57.

Some observations:

  • Paul Gaustad has been playing lights out. He had a goal, an assist, and fought Vernon Fiddler for a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight. In two games, Gaustad has a goal, 3 assists, was a +3, and has arguably been the Predators best center.

  • Shea Weber recorded his second goal in as many games, had an assist, and was a +4 on the night. Weber delivered a huge hit and was a force all game. I especially like how Weber has joined the rush on occasion and is more active in the offensive zone. Weber has shown leadership and an offensive flair early in this season.

  • Once again, the Predators out shot their opponent by a wide margin. The Predators out shot the Stars 33-18.

  • Rinne was excellent tonight, stopping 17 of 18 Dallas shots. He moved well and did a good job of tracking the puck. He got a lot of help from the Predators defense that limited the scoring chances for the Stars.

  • The fans got on Jason Spezza all night. Spezza turned down a trade to the Predators in the off season, opting for the Stars. Spezza was limited to one shot on the night and was a non-factor.

  • I really like the play of Anton Volchenkov. He delivers big and timely hits, is positionally sound, and is responsible in the defensive zone. Volchenkov may prove to be the best off season signing by the Predators.

  • I am not sold on the line combo of Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, and Gabriel Bourque. This line was a -3 on the night and combined for 7 shot, 4 by Neal. I think that Neal needs a more dynamic center, and although it is only two games from which to draw a conclusion, I am not sure that Ribeiro is the answer.

  • Roman Josi lead the Predators with 23:37 TOI. Shea Weber lead the team with 5 blocked shots.
The Predators are certainly not flashy, but they have shown they can move the puck, gain the zone, and get quality scoring chances. This effort, if consistently applied through the season, will be a formula for success.

It's a long season, but the start has been good.

Now it's time to build on it.

My three stars:

1. Paul Gaustad

2. Shea Weber

3. Eric Nystrom

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