The long wait is finally over. The sour taste of a first-round playoff exit washed away, and speculation of line combinations, performances, and expectations finally laid to rest.
The Nashville Predators opened their arena to the Carolina Hurricanes to start the 2015 NHL season. Nashville should be a contender in the Central division, while Carolina is going to spend the year giving their young blue line experience and retooling to be competitive in the future. But none of that applied for the 60 minutes the two teams went toe to toe.
Both teams looked as expected, with the Predators dictating the pace early and the Hurricanes trying desperately to hang on. That script flipped about halfway through the game, but Nashville was powered by goals from Smith and Arvidsson to hang on for their first win of the season.
82-0-0 is still alive, baby.
- Remember how last year all anyone could talk about was how terrible the Preds' power play was? Even when the team was awesome? Nashville put on a man advantage clinic throughout the preseason, and it continued early. Craig Smith cashed in on a Jordan Staal high-stick penalty early in the first period, to score the first goal of the season. Here's to many more.
- It had some more chances the rest of the game, but didn't convert. Oh well, the fact that they entered the zone and sustained pressure there is an improvement.
- The third line may actually do some damage this year. Near the end of the period, Seth Jones fired a shot from the point into traffic. Calle Jarnkrok looked like he got a stick on it, but the puck ricocheted off Viktor Arvidson and into the net. It would be the rookie's first NHL goal. (He also had 3 shots in the first frame alone.) Cody Hodgson picked up his first point with his new club, thanks to a great feed from the corner. So far, so good.
- Filip Forsberg had about a million dangerous chances in the first period.
- Notice how much the puck gets fed to the point, shot, collected, cycled, then fed to the point again. A perfect example on how active the defense is going to be all year. That's going to be very, very successful if it keeps up.
- I did not notice Barret Jackman out there at all, which is perfect.
- The Preds stayed away from their patented Second Period Nap tonight, but it wasn't all sunshine and roses. After blowing the Hurricanes out of the water in the first period, (shot attempts were 24-10) they let them storm back. From the 30 minute mark of the game until about the 53 minute mark, Nashville had eight shot attempts. Carolina had 28. Ouch.
- You'd hope the team wouldn't lean on Pekka Rinne like that until later in the season, but there are still some kinks to work out. Thanks to the big guy, no real damage was done.
- As far as the play by play went, I didn't love or hate it. Willy Daunic called the game well, though not spectacularly. He and Stu Grimson have to develop some chemistry, but that will come with time. How did the radio sound, those who were lucky enough to listen?
Victor RaskEric Staal spoiled Rinne's shutout (and my perfect headline) when the Canes pulled Cam Ward for an extra attacker.
OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Viktor Arvidsson - The newest member of #TennesSweden notched his first goal.
- Seth Jones - Dude looked like a stud out there all night, and led some credence to those predicting a breakout season.
- Pekka Rinne - Lost his shutout big in the waning minutes of the game, but kept his team alive. Just like old times, eh?
Was the Smashville App Correct?
If you missed it last year, Tom Willis earned his own Nashville lore by channeling his clairvoyance through the Predators' mobile app. He'd stick a player on the home page, that player would score. It was the stuff of legends. We'll be tracking it this year. No pressure, Tom.
Tweets of the Game
Going to say that Arvidsson pots his first tonight. Bonus points if he lays out Skinner.— On The Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck) October 8, 2015
Roll the video highlights...