Great game tonight from a hockey fan's perspective. Lots of up and down action, hard hitting, great scoring chances, and some huge saves at both ends.
I actually love the lines put together by the coaching staff tonight. I would have never suspected that Tootoo would begin (and stay) on a line with Kariya, but he did his job well and helped create room for Kariya and Sillinger to operate. What I think Jordin did best for that line was get the puck deep and create havoc forechecking the Flames' defensemen leading to some bad passes and turnovers. Kariya is definitely not going to be in there banging and neither is Sillinger really, Tootoo just appeared to be a great fit on that line tonight.
Legwand had a great game potting the two goals, but also was in the box for both of Calgary's goals...not that he took stupid penalties IMO though. I also loved the line of Sullivan-Legwand-Smithson because of the skill and speed of Sully and Leggy and the mixed bag of skills that Jerrod brings every shift. The fact that Smithson is out there also helps on defensive zone draws since faceoffs are not one of David's strengths. A hard working line, this group is great on the cycle and really benefit from Smithson's willingness to go along the boards and take the hit to keep the cycle going.
Johnson with a strong game all around this evening. Great shorthanded blast to beat Kiprusoff off the wing...he really lead by example tonight. Hall and Erat on the wings appeared to have some chemistry at times, but this line really didn't generate too many chances offensively.
The fourth line of Hordichuk-Nichol-Hartnell had some decent chances in the first and second periods, but I think the biggest shocker here was the fact that Hartnell was sent the message that he is in the dog house and needs to work his way out. Nichol gave too much room to Phaneuf to get the shot off on the first Calgary goal, but he made the most of his rink time by working hard and hitting everything in sight all night long. Hordichuk with his typical "in your face" game tonight. Everytime Kiprusoff made a save and held the puck for a whistle...if he was out there...you knew that Hordy would be right on the edge of the crease should Kipper drop the puck.
Losing Timonen was huge. I think that Vokoun really stepped up his game in Kimmo's absence, but also that Hamhuis and Zanon took it upon themselves to assume Timonen's leadership role on the blueline. Suter and Weber had some rookie moments, but overall I thought both played pretty well. Weber was very physical when he had the opportunity to, but a couple of times took himself out of position to make a hit. Zidlicky with a typical Zidlicky game...not too strong in his own end, but made some plays when needed and we got out of there all right.
As I was trying to say prior to the game, I like Zanon. However...he is very small and while he relies on solid positioning, he is very easily picked out of the play and isn't able to control his man 1 on 1. I thought he made a couple of great shot blocks during the game and was pleased overall with his performance tonight, but he showed me tonight what I already knew. He is an OK band-aid, but lord help us if he is a long-term replacement.
I hope that Markov can return Thursday night in Vancouver and I'm very concerned about Kimmo's hand injury. As Handtrick mentioned before, when Kimmo went down tonight, our defense corps had a total of TWO seasons of experience prior to this year (Hamhuis and Zidlicky, 1 each). Everyone talks about Vancouver's defense being primarily that of the Manitoba Moose (their AHL affiliate), I think people better start to look at our roster if this trend continues...we might be known as the Admirals before too long (fingers crossed).
Gotta keep the energy up heading into Vancouver Thursday night, but at the same time we're going to need all the rest we can get to get/stay healthy. We currently stand at Perreault and Eaton (knees - 1 to 3 weeks), Walker (wrist - 1 week (Handtrick???)), Fiddler (concussion), Upshall (hip), Markov (ankle) all day to day, and our rock on defense Timonen (hand) was heading for x-rays tonight...we'll keep our fingers crossed on that one too.
Overall, great game tonight. Great energy shown by the Preds this evening translated into two points at the Saddledome. Although it might be overshadowed by all the talk about penalties last game...we have 3 out of 4 possible points thus far on the road trip. Like Johnson said in the post-game interview, it's not time to scoreboard watch, but rather we must focus on our own game and doing all the little things right. Need to continue to show the passion that we saw tonight in stretches for a full 60 minute game and play Predators' hockey. Let's focus on what we can control and put together a string of great games.
SLake....without saying too much, that sounds about right.
Sure happy to hear no fracture on Kimmo....depends on where the "bruise" is as to how soon he will effectively be able to hold the stick and use it to battle. It lookied like his right hand from what I could tell on the replay.
now that was predator hockey.. and i'm not talking about the score, even if we had given up the lead late last night, that game was the way we need to play hockey... with fire, with passion, with effort.. a few obsevations, some good, some bad;
let me get all the bad observations out of the way at once, in no particular order of suckiness..
1)smithson, the kid is a warrior. guts, effort, desure, forechecking ability, hustle. almost zero offensive skills. had two wide perfect centering passes (both from legwand) that should have at least been put on net
2)the powerplay?? what powerplay? we had 4 powerplay 'chances'. 8 full pp minutes. we got 2 frigging pp shots on net. 2!. we gave up 3 shorthanded shots while we were getting those 2 pp shots. worst looking night we've had this year on the pp. zidlicky was terrible out there on it. three times he couldn't hold the puck at the point and gave them chances the other way. we couldn't get the puck set up. we couldn't do anything.
3)the penalty kill? what penalty kill? give up 3 to the ol last game.. give up 2 to the flames last night... you simply had the feeling the only way they could beat vokoun was on the pp... the bad thing is we played well on the pk, except for the mistakes we made that they scored on. nichol got caught leaving phaneuf in the middle of the slot that first one, and you cann't leave that guy alone to take that point shot. on the second, smithson of course failed to clear, but hamhuis got caught up to high trying to support too. of course, johnson saved us here.
4)###### i wish we had phaneuf.
5) how many times a game do we hear pete say " and hamhuis fails to clear the puck"? god i love the guy, but it's game after game. the only real weak spot in this guy's game right now.
6)zidlicky. weak game in general from him. those costly fail to hold the puck ins on the pp. fanned passes. failed clears.
7) suter and weber each with a couple of god-awful turnovers early in the game. vokoun saved us on those.
8)erat's failure to pass the frigging puck.. three times he held the puck too long in the offensive zone instead of actually making a pass. drives me nuts some nights.
9)timonen getting hurt.
however the good things made up for them all...
1)vokoun. right now, the guy is playing as well as he's ever played. we have no team without vokoun to be honest. amazing again last night.
2)legwand. best game he's played in two years. that's the legwand we could see offensively if he played with that much fire every night. do it already.
3)johnson. he picked phaneuf clean on that one. but it wasn't just the goal, the guy played his heart out last night. all of a sudden looks like he has regained the speed he had lost. finally recovered from the injury? figured out his spot roster spot was in trouble? mad because he was the captain and no one had been listening to him?. have no idea (even though i suspect the injury). great game, but has played well every game since the long break.
4)tootoo. coincidence we started playing with fire and passion? i don't think so either.
5)hitting. wow, was that first period something?. what an entertaining game to watch. everyone finishing checks.
6)the kids on the blueline. suter,weber,zanon, hamhuis. sure they all made mistakes, but they all made some fine plays too. take away our three most experienced d-men (marokov,eaton,timonen) play 5 d-men with less than 2 full years NHL experience for over 20 minutes each. give up no even strength goals.
......just a pleasure to watch that one last night. 79 points with 20 to play. play .500 hockey, and you wind up with 99 points and get a 4th/5th seed most likely. still a mighty good position to be in, despite all the recent woes.
There is absolutely no reason to send Tootoo away for the rest of the season, especially with Stevenson gone now. Surely, last night proved that. For me, get rid of Nichols. What does this guy bring other than an occasional good PK.
I was so Proud tp be a Pred fan for that first half of the game.
and lastly, I dont understand how Kariya has as many points as he does, when he plays as invisible as he does. The only times I noticed him last night were when someone made him into wallpaper. Anyway, great to have those 2 points!