There's little time to work out the bugs for NHL teams as the season gets underway, so at least the Nashville Predators can take comfort in the single point earned last night.
There was some good, some bad, and some ugly to talk about after Nashville's 3-2 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets.
Craig Smith's Ice Time Drop
As many of you noticed, Craig Smith's ice time plummeted in the 3rd period, and in the post-game press conference, Barry Trotz specifically pointed out his turnovers as the reason for that. He also mentioned that due to the lack of a preseason and the urgency of a 48-game season, the coaches have to take an approach that rewards those guys who are going well "right now", and that the opportunity is there for players to turn things around immediately and be their best player the next night.
Ryan Ellis Goes Adventuring
It was interesting to me how aggressive Ryan Ellis was in the offensive end, and he talked post-game about having the green light from the coaching staff to go deep into the zone for potential chances, as long as the situation is right. On his first period goal, "Fisher made a great pass, and I missed the net, but as we worked the puck back to the point I was able to hang out down there and the play came back to me." In the overtime session, he had another extended foray down near the Columbus net. "In 4-on-4 there's more room out there, and in that situation I saw we had numbers, and I knew with a dependable veteran like Scott Hannan back there that he would play it safe and take care of things."
I was very encouraged with how the defense worked out in this game. Ellis is still young, so it's important that the Preds manage his ice time and situational usage to get the most out of him, and last night, that seemed to pay off.
Video highlights are finally available:
Other reaction, via quotes provided by the Preds' PR staff:
Barry Trotz on the top d-pair of Shea Weber & Roman Josi:
They were really good. Really, really good. It's going to take some time to get that chemistry. It's game one and we had no preseason. It's the same for everybody. I wish we would have gotten those two points for our fans. You want to get a home victory. We went to a shootout, and that's what happens sometimes.
Trotz, on Shea Weber's fight in the second period:
I thought Shea Weber, our captain, was doing the right thing. Going against Jared Boll for an excessive hit against Smith then he stepped right in and that's what your captain does - he leads by example. Not a great trade‐off for us but at the same time, he did what you want your captain to do, step right in there.
Over in the Columbus locker room, Derick Brassard said that for the Blue Jackets, that fight proved to be a pivotal moment in the game:
We had a rough start. In the first period the guys were kind of anxious out there and kind of nervous a little bit. They stepped up their game in the second period and took the intensity to them. It was kind of a game changer there when Jared Boll and Shea Weber fought. That is a key defenseman for them that was gone for ten minutes and we could go after their defensemen and we did a good job and we stuck to the game plan and kept it simple. For a lot of guys here, it is their first game of the season. That was the game plan just to keep it simple and work for 60 minutes and trust our work ethic and that's what we did.
Kevin Klein, on the first game with his new D-pair Hannan:
It was good. Lots of talk. He is very vocal. Makes it easy. He is very steady back there. I thought we gelled pretty easily but there are still some things we need to work on.
Klein on what it was like to play against a Columbus team which rolls all four lines (no more Rick Nash):
I think they are very similar to us. I think they do a good job getting the puck in behind you, starting their forecheck. They are a very disciplined forechecking team and they play a lot like us. We knew they were going to come hard and we knew they were going to dump it in and unfortunately we came up on the wrong side today.
Pekka Rinne, on the compensation of at least getting one point in the standings:
You can't deny that. Not too many guys are smiling after the game when you lose. I think right nowwhen the puck is on the ice and you are playing and we still got a big point. You have to remember that.I think that still brings a smile on my face. Even though it's disappointing to lose in the shootout, I takethose losses more personally than those in overtime or anything like that but I will get over it and getback on it Monday.
Shea Weber on how the team played early on, and the prospects for improvement:
A little unsystematic at times. There were a lot of turnovers, but it was kind of expected, and like I said before, there was a lot of room for improvement. We have got to get going here, especially if we've got a game every other night.
We're working on things during practice, but it's not the same as a game. I think as the season goes on,you get better period‐by‐period and game‐by‐game.
We'll leave the last word to Coach Trotz, who summed the feelings of many:
Hockey is back. We have such a great sport. We see the energy in the building. Wecould see that people were excited being back.