The city of Nashville (and probably D.C., as well) was buzzing about the NHL debut of Filip Forsberg. Thrown into active duty on the top line of an ailing team out of the playoff picture, all eyes were on him. It didn't matter that he hadn't played a game in North America before or only practiced with his club once, mostly because Preds fans haven't had much to get excited about recently. The Prospect has finally arrived, starting the clock on whether the trade was a bust or a masterpiece.
There was also a hockey game going on against a division rival clawing to stay in the playoff picture, which they were able to do. Henrik Zetterberg got himself a notch in the goal column for the first time in probably forever. Then Johan Franzen put the game out of reach late in the 3rd period with a glorious backhand that not even a finely tuned Rinne could stop. But mostly focus on the Forsberg thing.
- Regardless of what you heard on NBCSN, this wasn't the last Central Division game between these two teams, just the last one in Nashville. They meet again in Detroit on the 25th, the second to last game of the season. Cue teary eyed montages and clips of Radulov/Weber murdering Arnott/Zetterberg.
- Hyperboles of either the good or bad nature shouldn't be made yet, but Forsberg did some good things in the game. Namely getting his frame to the front of the net, hovering in the high slot and setting up Beck for a glorious chance on the power play. Forsberg threw two pucks at Jimmy Howard in 18:37 of ice time, not counting several more chances throughout the game. It wasn't a bad debut by any means, even if some people were looking for him to light it up. Nashville should be extremely excited to have him.
- Speaking of a night of firsts, Danny DeKeyser picked up his first NHL point on a crazy bounce off the end boards that Zetterberg was in perfect position to knock home. Nothing Rinne could do except watch. Too bad he didn't cheer for the Predators when he was growing up.
- Of all the things the Predators front office have to take into consideration going into the offseason, Pekka Rinne is not one of them. He kept them in the game and made amazing save after amazing save. Now all he needs is guys to help him out on the other side of the ice.
- Matt Halischuk also had a stellar game, including an awesome shorthanded breakaway chance and setting up Bobby Butler for what turned into a penalty shot. We won't speak of the shot itself. It's too bad Howard was just as dialed in as Rinne, or else the game could have swung another way.
- Taylor Beck is making a strong case to be in the lineup full time next season. He had seven shots on net in the game, five more than anyone else and is starting to look very comfortable on the ice. Recall the scoring chance he had late in the 2nd that would have gone in if not for a quick stick save by Howard. Possibly his best game so far this season.
- That was the third time the Predators have been shutout in their last five games.
Even with Detroit leading 32-22 in shots, this contest was hard fought with great chances by both teams and stellar play by both net minders. A bounce or two the right way would have kept Nashville right in it. It's too bad, as Nashville fans would have taken extreme joy in keeping the Red Wings from a playoff spot. Detroit now knocks Dallas to claim the 8th seed and is tied with Minnesota with 47 points.
As for Forsberg, he doesn't get much time to rest from his long flight and the hockey world doesn't have to wait to get right back to speculating when he'll score his first goal. Predators are back in action against the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night.
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