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10-10-2008, 10:42 PM
Seth Lake
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St. Louis outsmarted us tonight. They simplified the game down further than we did. Bad ice at the ScottTrade Center made for some real funny bounces and knowing this the Blues made sure to get the puck in deep behind the Predators, hustled hard after it, and finished their checks to get their crowd into it and gain control of the flow.

The Predators on the other hand tried too hard to break out the puck and fell victim to trying to make plays against intense forechecking pressure and through 3-4 Blues players always back to breakup the flow.

Nice goal by Suter to start the game. He saw the lane open up as he entered the play coming late, got the pass, and buried the opportunity to start the game off on the right foot.

But after that things started falling apart as Nichol crashes into Legace going after the rebound of a shot, the puck goes in - but is immediately waved off, Nichol heads to the box and STL starts lighting the lamp on the PP.

Bottom line is that you have to take the positives out of this night. They are few and far between. First, we outscored STL by a 2-1 margin at even strength...that's about it...

So let's look at what we can learn from our is still early in the season and our PK has not hit their stride - therefore, we cannot take ticky-tac penalties 200' away from our cage and expect our PK to pick us up. Wingers must get better on the wall chipping the puck past a pinching defenseman. Gotta do a better job of taking what the defense gives you through the neutral zone and especially at our offensive blueline where if the defense stands firm, we have to chip it in behind them and use our speed coming through the neutral zone to get to the puck first. We must play better in our own end - too often our players tried to reach around their opponent to make a play on the puck only to lose goal-side positioning and allow their check to skate by them - creating a 2 on 1.

Didn't like the original lineup. The players didn't appear matched well in terms of skill. Peverley started playing very tenative and rushed, but settled down for a while by his third shift. By the time we got down a couple though, the physical play nullified any value Richie brought to the lineup. Hornqvist on the wing with Erat and Legwand was too soft and our fourth line of Smithson between Ward and Jones was very dysfuntuctional. The only line that worked early was that Fiddler-Nichol-Tootoo line because their mentality is - take the open space, put the puck on net, and if nothing else works...chip the puck in and bang bodies.

Liked not the second set of lines, but rather the third...they seemed to mesh better, but it was too late to try to create any real offense. I believe it was Dumont - Arnott - Hornqvist, Erat - Legwand - Jones, Fiddler - Nichol - Tootoo, Ward - Smithson - Peverley. Personally, while I defended him earlier today...scratch Peverley tomorrow. Put Bonk into the lineup. Tell him to move his feet and keep his game simple.

As for my first regular season impressions:
Hornqvist - Great hands, not afraid to bang bodies, but that is clearly not his game at this level. I think once he gets that first goal he will score in bunches. You could see his confidence level jump everytime he was able to steal and puck and get a shot off. He will be a fan favorite.

Jones - Seriously, why is he here??? Looked totally lost in D-zone coverage early and never made an impact. He is a step slow to make a play and finishes his checks late and still doesn't even make an impact with his body. Had a few BRIEF moments where you saw some talent, but they were lost in the plethora of moments that had me buying him a ticket to Milwaukee.

Ward - Still want him to work on his skating. At his age, it is unlikely that he will ever get too much better in that department - guy is old...played juniors, then in the CIS (Canada's collegiate hockey league), before starting in the minors and working his way into a tryout with us. Great hustle to create the turnover that lead immediately to his first NHL goal. Smart play to realize that we had full control of the puck at that point and back away into a quiet area to get the pass and launch that rocket that beat Legace to bring us back within a goal. As long as he never loses his hustle, I can see Ward here all year long.

Koistinen - Could you tell that he missed a significant portion of the preseason and is playing catch up? This is not the time to do that. Created nothing on the PP, created nothing at all at the other end, did create some hairy moments though getting burned due to his lack of foot speed. Give me Klein...the guy skated hard in EVERY optional skate last season. Got spot duty and contributed when he was in there and had a great preseason. Ville needs to take the Klein route and bust his butt in practice to get into shape and force his way back into the lineup.

That's it for now. Didn't have a good feeling today about this game. Worried about our lack of a tough guy in the lineup. Knew STL would dress Janssen and Tootoo would have to leave the gloves on. When the momentum started swinging the other way, the Preds needed a fight to ebb the flow. Don't have Hordy this year for that, so we must figure out a way internally to change the momentum in our favor when it appears that everything around us is going to pieces.

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