Paragraph summary of the game.
Only two good things can be said about the tonights's Nashville Predators performance. The first is that Trotz won't need to be creative in upcoming practices; there is a near endless list of areas for improvement in the early season for this team. The team struggles to break out cleanly, to set up in the opponents zone, to get clean shots off or to win almost any offensive battles.The other positive of the game is the defense surprisingly out-performing expectations. Weber seems un-phased by his partner change, Josi, Ellis and Gill are all playing much better than many were expecting. Hannan is actually looking really good bringing a very physical defensive game to the ice. Heck, even Klein looks more defensively responsible than usual.
Despite defensive efforts, the Preds managed to not pick up a point for the first time this season, and did they ever look uninspiring doing so as they went Goaless in St. Louis
The first period saw Nashville get called for two very weak Hooking minors, one on Fisher and one on Halischuk. Much more blatant hooks have gone uncalled. None-the-less, the Blues were able to capitalize on the first power play to make it 1-0 early. Nashville managed only two shots in the entire period, neither of which went in. They could just not set up in the O-zone and seemed constantly on their heels.
In the Second we were graced by another Richard Clune fighting attempt. He did fair a bit better this time around, but fans were still left googling "busses from St. Louis to Milwaukee". To be fair, the fight was also a bit more warranted this time around as Halischuk had taken a big hit that seemed a little bit on the unclean side. The blues scored again in the second after the defense were caught in no-man's land and a stretch pass lead to a breakaway for Berglund. Fisher's' legs couldn't get him back in time and he took a hooking penalty (this time merited) that lead to a Penalty shot. Berglund snuck the Penalty shot passed Rinne who played okay, but was no where near Rinne-esque.
The Third Period saw some crazy line-juggling by the Trotzonator. As a time Smith, who is still in the dog house, was promoted to the "1st" line with Kostitsyn and Wilson. It seem like every threesome and even defensive duo to hit the ice was a new combo for the Preds. It lead to nothing though as the Blues scored another goal, this time by young star Vladimir Tarasenko - who is going to be a huge threat all season. The Preds were held off the board again, and the game ended in a shutout for Halak.
Line Up Report
Nashville Scratches: McGratten, Gaustad (upper body), Blum
St. Louis: Cole, Langenbrunner, D'agostini
Preds Offense just not kicking:
Despite the third Period line-juggling Nashville just could not find a trio that could out play the St. Louis defense. The Preds did the usual dump, chase and forecheck, but they struggled to recover the puck and if they did could not set anything up south of the opponents blue line. They had a night-marish 13 shots, giving Halak the easiest shutout he will ever have. The St. Louis offense can take some credit, but I think it's Nashville that needs to work some things out as they haven't looked like a threatening offense yet the season - including their win over Minnesota.
Richard Clune ... Why?
I can't stand this guy and I just don't understand why he is still playing. He is such a one dimensional player and brings so little to the team. Tootoo had some flair and grit on him and Clune has neither of those things. He plays less than five minutes a game and usually spends at least the same amount of time in the box. I don't think I am alone in hoping that McGratten gets the start very very soon.
Defense is Stepping up
As I eluded to earlier, we are getting some big performances out of our defensive line... and we need them. Rinne seems to still be a bit hungover from Russia and we can't rely on out-scoring the opposition. Josi is settling into the top line pairing quite well and his game is really starting to complement Weber's. It looks like Ellis is finally turning into the full time NHL'er we've wanted him to be as well. Gill is still not the speediest, but he looks to be in as good or better shape than last year. We also have Jon Blum on the bench who I think will end up taking some minutes as this long road trip continues.
Goals and Assists
T.J. Oshie (3) (Power Play)
Assists: Patrik Berglund, David Backes
Patrik Berglund (2) (Penalty Shot)
Vladimir Tarasenko (4)
Assists: Alexander Steen, Vladimir Sobotka
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Vladimir Tarasenko - I picked him in the late rounds of my fantasy team and am really happy with the kids performance
2. Wade Redden - Congrats on being back in the NHL Buddy. You didn't look too bad out there either
3. Scott Hannan - Big Physical game for Scott. I was weary of his acquisition but he is really showing up in the early season.