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Predators 2, Flames 0: Back on Track

The Nashville Predators got back in the win column this afternoon against the Calgary Flames, winning 2-0 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. There were more than a few rough patches, such as posting a donut on the power play, or only registering 14 shots to the Flames' 33, but Pekka Rinne earned the shutout, and Niclas Bergfors' first goal with the team was also the winner. 

More thoughts after the jump. 

Ten thoughts on this afternoon's game: 

  • For all the talk about improved play after Edmonton and Vancouver, the Predators came out of the gate sluggishly. They finished the first period with more icings than shots (3), found themselves trapped in their own zone for extended periods, and showed no life whatsoever on their lone power play opportunity in the first frame. 
  • Despite Brian McGrattan registering an assist, I'm still at a loss regarding his presence on the team. He took a horrible penalty deep in Calgary's end early on, and shows little to no offensive or defensive acumen. Furthermore, his supposed "physicality" has yet to be seen, and there are multiple players in the system who can provide a better all around game. 
  • On the other hand, it was encouraging to see Niclas Bergfors get his first goal as a Predator, despite Jack Hillen banking the puck in off Bergfors' chest. It may not rescue him from the 4th line, but sometimes it only takes one to get the momentum going, perhaps similar to Sergei Kostitsyn's renaissance early last year. 
  • Back to the power play - through two games, Nashville was 3/7 (not to mention a phenomenal showing during the preseason), and there was hope that change had finally arrived. Certainly, missing Mike Fisher, Martin Erat, and Cal O`Reilly doesn't help, but it appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 
  • On a more positive note, the Preds had far fewer defensive gaffes this afternoon than Thursday night in Vancouver. Jonathon Blum and Kevin Klein were much improved, while Jack Hillen provided a significant upgrade over Mattias Ekholm in Nashville's end. 
  • We wondered last season if there were any more superlatives available with which to describe Pekka Rinne, and it appears that quest will continue. Shaky at times against the Canucks, Rinne returned to his steady demeanor, and the Flames never truly had an excellent scoring chance, in part due to the improved defense, but so too because Rinne controlled the game extremely well.
  • Not only was today's victory Rinne's first ever against the Flames, but his 21st career shutout tied him with Tomas Vokoun for the franchise record. 
  • Jordin Tootoo delivered a fantastic performance during the 2010-11 playoffs, but there was question as to whether or not he could carry it over into the following year. So far, so good, as Tootoo is all over the ice impacting play with physicality and energy, while at the same time managing to stay disciplined. 
  • It isn't often that a Nashville odd man rush ends in a goal. Early in the first, Matt Halischuk opted for a drop pass instead of a shot, and the puck went wide. In the third, however, Craig Smith and Sergei Kostitsyn broke in on goal. I'm not entirely sure what happened next, because it appeared that Smith was shot out of a cannon. Smith blew past Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester, and fired a last second pass for Kostitsyn to tap in. In a season that has started inconsistently, it's refreshing to see Nashville's top forward prospect live up to his hype early on. 
  • Yes, the performance was inconsistent, and there were still too few shots, but this one goes in the win column just like any other. Tuesday against San Jose will be a good measuring stick for whether or not the Preds can keep the momentum going.