Greeting from high above the rink in Nashville. The players are circling for warm ups.
I could be a tough night for Atlanta. They left most of their big scorers at home and Predators gave away free tickets to produce a good pre-season crowd.
The Thrashers don't have that many spots up for grabs during the pre-season, but we will see almost all of the candidates to for the 13th forward and 7th defense slot. The 4th line from last season Slater-Boulton-Thorburn are playing and so are all the people trying to take away their jobs. Tonight's line up is seems like a head-to-head competition. Who will distinguish themself?
Best offensive players for tonight's Thrashers are probably Brett Sterling, Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton. Spencer Machacek has some offensive ability as well.
Well Slater is not playing tonight, he just walked by in street clothes.
OK here comes the official announcement:
Scratches: Slater, LaVallee Kevin Doell Bogosian, Postma
Starters: Oystrick Salmela, Sterling, Stewart, Krog, MacIntyre (Predators chanted "suck" after each name and when they said Coach Anderson "he sucks too")
I'm in the top row of the media section and I'm just below the in-house TV production booth. I can hear the producer say "que the 2001 Space Odessy music" (real title is: Thus Spake Zararthustra--I knew that college class in classical music would pay off one day.) Giant inflatable Predator has been lowered to the ice, we await the emergence of the players on to the ice.
Holy Cow is loud in here! Looks like the arena is half full and we haven't even hit the National Anthem yet.
Tommy Townsend from Waylon Jennings band does the honors (sorry if I mis spelled it country music fans).
Puck Drop after a long hockey less summer is here at last!
1st Period Action
Korog wins faceoff to Oystrick who retreats, stumples and falls down and turns over the puck in the slot, great save by MacIntyre in first 30 seconds. Oystrick always looks nervous to me in every pre-season game I've seen him play.
Valabik has trouble making a lateral pass to Popovic--I wonder if the ice is bad down there? Popovic gets the clear.
Power Play ATL: Sterling K rog and Stapleton sent out with Oystrick and Popovic. Can't establish puck control in the O Zone so far.Espo, Spencer and Kulda and Salmela and Kane 2nd PP unit. Espo makes nice pass to Spencer who has bad angle and can't get shot away. Valabik with hold in at blueline and shot. A little pressure right there at the end of the PP.
Krog settles down puck in D zone slot and cleans up mess.
Boulton drives net and tries fancybehind the back pass, does not work. OZ pressure now.
Tipped shot, Mac with save. Antoher save by Drew with a Pred landing on top of him--good focus. Kulda puts a man to the ice--Power play to Nashville coming up.
Shots are 6-4 Preds at 13:29 mark.
ATL PK: Crabb, Salmela, Krog and Oystrick sent out ot kill.Mac nearly clears zone himself, but not quite. Two point blank saves by Mac--one he saw the other just hit him on the rebound chan=-ce. ATL takes 2nd penalty, going to down 2 Oystrick to the box.
5 on 3: Popovic and Valabik out there. Arnott just missed top L coner, Antoher predator his ATL D with shot. Save and cover on point shot allows fresh troops from bench. 8 seconds left on 2 man situation.
Predator shot misses and clears the zone, 5 on 4 now. Crabb dumped to ice in O Zone while killing clock.
Another point black shot on goal allowed, save MacIntyre. He has answered the bell. Can't say the same for the Thrashers D unfortunately.
It kills me that someone is wearing 48, keep thinking it is Valabik.
Salmela's man beat him on 2 on 2--lucky that the pass was just off the mark.
Shots are 13-4 Nashvill at 8 minute mark. That means 0 ATL SOG during the last 5+ minutes while they were killing and then 2 minutes of ES ice.
From above me "Que birthdays"
Kulda takes hit to make play. Salmela looses handle on puck in D zone, leads to 20 seconds of running around.
Valabik breaks up pass from behind net, puck quirts to right side of the circle where Predator scores. On replay shot appears to be on ice, may have been tipped by Predator in front. If it did change direction, MacIntyre would have had no time to adjust.
1-0 NSH shots are 15-4 now.
Fat old man dancing in crowd on jumbotron. NSH ice girls work the shavings. 5 minutes to go.
Kane-Espo-Spencer line working hard in their own end to get a clear.
4 on 4: Kulda to the box for 2nd time, took someone with him. Guy walks in shot, rebound right to crease, someone pokes in under Drew MacIntyre for score. Salmela's man, he was late tying him up. Oystrick didn't look so how on the replay either twisted himself into a pretzel tying to block initial show screening his own goalie while standing no more than 4 feet in front of the net. Nathan has to step up on that guy and let the goal block the pucks.
2-0 NSH shots are 17-5.
Playing some rap music called "Swing" while showing old lady in the stands. I don't get it.
End of 1st, 2-0 NSH 17-7 shots NSH.
Thoughts: Well I figured they would struggle to score but forwards need to chip it in deep and go to work on forecheck. Nobody is going to steal a 4th line job based on what I saw in the 1st period. Very concerned that our Oystrick and Salmela can't seem to defend without taking penalties. Hopefuly, they settle down. Drew MacIntyre easily best Thrashers in 1st.
Intermission: 3 piece live band playing onver Zamboni entrance. Always one unique thing about Predator games.
Talked to Jim Slater in the hallway. The 5 scratches tonight will all play tomorrow. It's a shame I can't see Paul Postma in NHL pre-season action. Slater is concerned about his Spartans taking on Notre Dame in football.
Oystrick had his pocket picked deep in D zone. They get the clear though.
Ostyrick with a good SOG from middle blueline after Thrashers pounce on turnover in NSH end.
2 on 1 NSH, they miss the net. otherwise probably 3-0 game.
PP ATL: Out comes Sterling, Krog, Popovic, Oystrick and Stapleton. Point shot, easy save. NSH clear. Krog from behind the net centers to Popovic who is in slot, probably best looking ATL chance. Oystrick point shot, Stapleton retrieves rebound and tries wrap backhand wrap around shot. Popovic trying hard to go end to end, but they stop him shot of a shot on goal. Espo to Spencer who has a man on top of him, turnover clear. PP over.
Espo centers to slot Spencer with shot, rebound shot from other side of the ice (Kane or Espo not sure which) A couple of cahnces for ATL. Whatever Anderson said seems to have helped.
Crabb and Stapleton working the puck down low but chemistry is not quite there yet.
Oystrick snuffs out NSH rush with good one on one play. Salmela is clipped by NSH on the way to the bench.
I'm shocked at how little hitting there is so far. Does anyone want an NHL job?
Kulda just got away one I think.
Thrashers leave goalie totally out to dry 3-0 NSH. turnover up high, both D (Valabik and 48 Vernance) play the same man in high slot, Predators make easy cross crease pass to wide open man who fires roof shot over helpless MacIntyre. Shots are now 22-13 NSH, Thrashers doing better in that area this period.
Chanting "MacIntyre" by fans now. NSH hit post on a long shot, not really a scoring chance, but got oh from crowd.
Stapleton working hard down low, Kulda with a hold in.
"Cotton Eyed Joe" Playing complete with cartoon "joe" on jumbotron. Discovered that I was tapping my toe to the music, hopefully nobody saw that! The shovels used to clean ice shaving had ads placed on them up here. Smart idea.
Bad D zone coverage, both Boris and his partner get sucked to the same side leaving crease wide open, Predators fail to make ATL pay though. Espo rotated back when he saw the error.
Boulton's line works puck down ice for simple shot and save. Good possesion play that sets up O Zone faceoff. Win faceoff for point shot, save and clear by NSH.
Sterling goes to net and gets pushed, makes sure to fall on Predators goalie, goes the box. A little too obvious.
ATL PK: Boris and Oystrick out on PK D. Failed clear by Oystrick along wall. Thorburn and Stapleton up top. Evander Kane getting some PK time, He hit someone, they didn't go down.
Thorburn with chance right after PK ends.
Predators selling new 3rds as "Original Six style, but all Predators hockey!!"
good ATL pressure , Popovic high slot shot, worked it down low then out to the point for a Kulda point shot. Clear NSH.
Some more sustained pressure by Kane-Stapleton-Machacek line. Kane positions himself at net. Kane pounces on loose puck and gets interfed with putting ATL on PP, best shift for him all night, pretty quite so far.
ATL PP will carry over into 3rd period: work cross zone pass to Popovic, he gets too really hard shots on net. 1st one I thought might be a goal, best scoring chacne for ATL this period IMO.
2nd of 2nd period 3-0 NSH, shots 27-15 NSH
A better period. Tim Stapleton stood out for good reasons, same with Popovic. Oystrick was a bit hot and cold. Krog is just a ultimate pro, reads the play, in the right place. Perfect depth guy for 13th forwards spot?
Stats Update: Popovic and "Slava Kozlov" your ice time leaders LOL. Looks like they have Kozlov entered as number 3 instead of #13.
3rd Period ACtion
ATL PP continued: passing between points. backdoor cross crease pass, Stapleton misses half empty net. Oystrick point shot, save. Stapleton makes a pass to a vacant spot on the blueline, PK ends.
MacIntyre makes save with stick butt end, but Predators get it back and score 4-0. It was a long point shot that went top shelf. Not sure if Drew saw, he looked pretty surprised that it went in.
5-0 now. Mike Vernace watches as Colin Wilson blows past him and does a roof shot. Vernance is clearly not ready for NHL action.
Popovic with shot on goal
Boris giving the stank eye star after a hit on a Thrasher player along hte boards. Boris goes to the box, not sure why, I only saw him jawing. 10 minute misconduct. hmmm.
Kane carries up RW, puts puck on net, NSH clears. Sterling gets loose puck but his lack of speed really hurts him, NSH defenders close on him easily.
I was about to type Oystrick and Salmela showing some chemistry and then Salmela looses the puck in his feet on a short D to D pass behind the Thrashers net.
ATL PK: Boutlon to the box. Kane and Spencer killing.
Kulda with great sand up hit on a guy in neutral zone with his head down. NSH challenges Kulda and drops his gloves. Kudla takes two pucnhes and then gets some in on his own. NSH guy lands more punches but he goes down and Kulda is left standing. On replay NSH lands hard hit but looks like he got mostly helmet to me.
Kulda leaves box for dressing room. Only got 5 minutes so maybe he needs stitches. Surprised it took this long to get feisty.
Linesmen falls down, crowd loves it of course.
ATL PP: Machacek with shot near slot. Save and clear NSH.
Spencer with D zone steal and break out.
Bouton with opportunity buut NSH D blocks it.
Stapletone curls and stickhandles along wall dishes to point for long shot on goal.
Popovic with hard point shot that NSH goalie juggles but ultimately covers up.
Down to under 4 minutes. I have to scoot soon to get a few quotes from the players. Shots are 33-22, score 5-0 now.
If you're still reading--thanks :)