The Preds came home for a Thursday/Saturday weekend feature at the Bridge, playing to a full-capacity barn for the home openers. The Preds played spoiler for Columbus and St Louis the week before, and the Coyotes and the Devils came into Smashville, and, well, Smashed the Predators opener.
Thursday versus the Yotes was a dismal affair, featuring breakdowns all over the ice. The Preds left Pekka Rinne out to dry all night, literally leaving him helpless on each of the goals scored against. The Preds were down 4-0 in the second frame when they started to make an attempt to get things going. Ryan Suter scored a shortie and Colin Wilson ripped one in shortly after, but that was it for the Preds on the Home Opener: too little too late.
Saturday brought another challenge in a front-loaded New Jersey Devils team. The Preds turned their momentum around and responded in a perfect way after their Yotes debacle. They came out flying against the Devils, and took a 2-0 lead into the third period. Then, the Devils began chipping away, with Ilya Kovalchuk emerging as the leader they purchased not too long ago. Eventually the Devils tied the game and it went into OT, and then a shootout. The Devils first two shooters, Kovy and Parise (front loaded, yes?) put on beautiful dekes on Rinne, and the first two Preds shooters, Cal O’Reilly and Matt Halishuk failed to test the twine.
The Preds came out much better on Saturday, even Barry Trotz agreed, and even seemed happy with the performance. And, if a team is going to play to a 3-point game, best to do it to a non-conference team. But, the concern lies most definitely in the Preds “kill” ability, as well as the shootout choices (on a team with guys like Kostitsyn, Wilson). Now, Trotz has been known to let the “hot hand” take the shootout. Most practices end with a shootout drill/game, and the winners of the game get the go in the following real situations.
So, after a great start, and a lackluster followthrough, where do the Preds look to here? It seems apparent that the team is lacking a bit of “pro” follow-through, but, it must be remembered that this is only 4 games into the season, and the Preds stand at a positive 2-1-1. But, who steps up?
I think with guys like Mike Fisher and Frankie Bouillon getting healthy and skating with the club, the adjustments made at that point will reap dividends for the team. I am, still, Optimistically Realistic.
Until next time, GO PREDS!!!