The Nashville Predators overwhelmed an out manned squad of Atlanta Thrashers by a 5-0 score Thursday night at the Sommet Center. A crowd of over 14,000 attended the Preds first preseason game of the year.
Rookie Colin Wilson made a strong bid for a roster spot in his first game as a Predator. Wilson led all scorers with three points, including a goal and two assists. Jason Arnott (1g, 1a), Steve Sullivan (2a) and Patric Hornqvist (2a) all had two point nights. Shea Weber, J P Dumont and rookie defenseman Teemu Laakso scored the other goals.
Goaltenders Dan Ellis and Rookie Mark Dekanich stopped all of Atlanta’s 22 shots to preserve the shut out.
The Thrashers did not bring many of their best players as Ilya Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov, Bryan Little, Rich Peverly and Pavel Kubina all stayed home.
Barry Trotz commented on the level of competition: “They really brought their third and fourth lines, leaving their two big lines at home. We had five guys that will carry us and they had maybe one or two.”
Trotz also commented on Wilson’s play, “His game hasn’t changed, it’s not changing with the younger kids and it’s not changing with the more veteran guys. That’s what I like, some guys can’t adjust their game or their game doesn’t adjust to the next level. He’s got power, he’s got smarts, he’s a really good talent and I’m glad we got him.”
Here are some other noted and observations from the game.
Rookie Ryan Ellis is fearless as a 5’9″ 18 year old playing with a group of players much bigger and older than he is. He was not at all intimidated and played well on the break out and being paired with Shea Weber. Pairing with Weber, Ryan Ellis said, “made his job a lot easier and we had a lot of fun out there.”
The Predators penalty kill was a perfect 6-0 including a couple of 5 on 3 kills. Several young players were given time on the PK. 10 of the Thrashers 22 shots were taken on their PP.
The power play was also a perfect 0-5, picking up where they left off last year. On one extended 5-on-3 opportunity the Preds were unable to get the puck in the net to everyone’s disappointment.
After playing well and adding an assist on Teemu Laakso’s first period goal, Ben Eaves had to leave the game with a groin injury that will set him back for several days. Wade Belak also suffered a slight groin pull and will be out for a day or two.
Patric Hornqvist played one of his better games as a Predator. He lead all players with seven shots on goal and played several penalty kill shifts, finishing the game with a +3 rating.
A scrap in the third period was cut short with Boris Valabik getting a game misconduct after Captain Jason Arnott jumped in to keep Shea Weber out of a fight. Arnott explained, “Webby ran over somebody and he went after him. It’s the preseason and if he was going to fight somebody, he could have fought me. We don’t need Weber getting hurt. We don’t have a whole lot of D as it is.”
The Preds did well in the face-off circle winning 38 of 62 draws for a 61% clip. Colin Wilson was a solid 13 of 19 while Cal O’Reilly made up for some uneven preseason play going 10 of 12 in the circle.
The Preds top of Arnott, Sully and Dumont line looked like they were in mid-season, as they combined for a total of two goals and three assists.
Cody Franson impressed Barry Trotz with a bit of a scrap with Arturs Kulda in the third period where he was sticking up for his team mates. Barry was pleased with the way Franson “got involved.”
Ryan Jones played very aggressively and as a second year player, made an Atlanta rookie look foolish on a couple of occasions.
Andres Thuresson led the team in hits with five while Laakso added four.
Shot blocking was down with the departure of bloc specialist Greg Zanon. Alexander Sulzer led the team with three in a solid defensive effort.
Finally, the crowd was treated to Frostys from Wendy’s for the five goal effort by the Predators. We didn’t get many Frostys last year so this is a good start.
Tonight, the Predators travel to Carolina for a 6 p.m. Central match with the Hurricanes at the RBC Arena. They return home quickly for a match with Columbus Saturday night at the Sommet Center that starts at 7 p.m.
Post Game interviews are available at PredsOnTheGlass.com