Thursday, December 4, 2014

Predators Spoil Brodeur's Debut, Win Big Divisonal Game Against the Blues

The St. Louis Blues are a very good team.

The Nashville Predators are better.

The Predators defeated the Blues 4-3 at Bridgestone Arena in a battle of two teams tied atop the Central Division with 34 points. With the win, the Predators take over sole possession of first place with 36 points.

Martin Brodeur made his debut this season, getting the start in net for the Blues.

The Predators started slowly and were outskated by the Blues in the first 5 minutes of the game. The Blues opened the scoring as their leading scorer, Vladamir Tarasenko was the beneficiary of a nice give and go and put the puck by Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The slow start and early score by the Blues prompted Predators head Coach Peter Laviolette to call a time out and he used the break to scorch the Predators.

The Predators responded as Filip Forsberg scored to tie the game. Forsberg's goal was his 11th f the season and gives him 25 points (11G-14A) in 25 games.

Eric Nystrom was left alone in the slot, and he whipped a shot past Brodeur to make it 2-1, which is the way the first period ended.

The Predators extended their lead to 3-1 just 1:25 in the second as Mike Ribeiro took a pass from James Neal and had an open net into which to shoot the puck.

The Blues pulled to 3-2 off the second goal of the night from Tarasenko. The Blues won a face off in the Predators zone and Tarasenko scorched a shot past Rinne at 3:51 of the second.

The Predators made it 4-2 at 9:30 of the third period as Colin Wilson was sprung on a breakaway by a nice pass from Roman Josi and he beat Brodeur with a backhand.

That goal proved to be the game winner as once again the Blues pulled to within one off a blast from Jaden Schwartz at 12:32.

The Predators held off the Blues for the remainder of the period with some good saves by Rinne and some good defense to capture a critical 4-3 win against the Blues.

Some observations:

  • Filip Forsberg continues to impress, not only with his physical skills but with his maturity and hockey sense. Forsberg was not intimidated by the physical play of the Blues and handled himself well. His puck handling ability and hockey sense are amazing, and he was rewarded with a goal and an assist tonight. Foesberg comes to play every night, but especially shows up in big games. He now has 7 points (3G-4A) in three games against the Blues.

  • Speaking of Forsberg, Marty Brodeur had been in the NHL for three years when Forsberg was born.

  • Colin Wilson has really elevated his game, using his speed and size to create scoring opportunities. I am really encouraged by his play this season and how he is finding the net. Good to see him get rewarded with a goal tonight, even sweeter that it was the game winner.

  • Goodness... Vladamir Tarasenko is good. Two goals tonight and he was a force all night. Going to be interesting to see what kind of contract he signs after his entry level contract expires.

  • The Predators out shot the Blues 16-12 in the first period. After that, it was all Blues as they out shot the Predators 11-4 in the second and 9-4 in the third. Thank goodness for Pekka Rinne.

  • Rinne had some very good saves, and had no chance on the give and go first goal of the Blues. The second goal was a blast from outside the face off circle that Rinne didn't see and the third goal was a rocket from Schwartz that beat him cleanly.

  • The Predators power play was 0-2. I'm not going to talk about it anymore. It is just bad.

  • On the other hand, the Predators penalty kill unit is rounding into form. They stopped all three Blues power play opportunities, including a bogus too many men on the ice call by the officials.

  • Paul Gaustad was out of the line up with a lower body injury. Gabriel Bourque drew into the line up and was on a line with Olli Jokinen and Matt Cullen.

  • Roman Josi picked up an assist and now has points in four straight games, which ties a career high.

  • Establishing your home ice advantage is critical in this league. Over the past two season, the Predators have failed to do that. They have reversed course this season, going 11-1-1 on home ice this year.

  • The Predators top line of Neal, Ribeiro, and Forsberg combined for 6 points against the Blues. Big time players step up in big games.

  • Pekka Rinne won his league leading 17th game tonight.

  • Shea Weber and Roman Josi were outstanding, shutting down the Blues top line. Weber lead the Predators in TOI with 29:14.
A huge divisional win for the Predators, but it doesn't get any easier as another divisional rival comes to town Saturday.

Time to bring it against the Blackhawks.

My three stars:

1. Mike Ribeiro

2. Vladamir Tarasenko

3. Filip Forsberg

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