Nashville, TN -- Hockey is back in the Music City. The Predators and Florida Panthers hosted their annual doubleheader of preseason hockey on Sunday as their respective split squads split the contests with a 5-2 Nashville decision in the first tilt and a 3-2 overtime win for the Panthers in the second.
Not so spectacular performance from some names that you'd expect to play well
It may only be the first pair of preseason games for the Predators, but there are some players you would expect to be performing better than others. Especially those fighting for a spot on the roster come Nashville's October 8th opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Kevin Fiala finished his first outing with four penalty minutes in 15 minutes on the ice while Steve Moses didn't do much to surprise with a -1 on 18 minutes of ice time. As both are attempting to crack the roster, their performances were a bit surprising to see.
However, when asked about Fiala specifically, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette was pleased with his performance.
"I thought Kevin had a good game," said Laviolette. "He did some good things out there. He certainly has a skill set that he's able to use and get some opportunities for us, offensively. It's just one game, though."
Yes, Fiala definitely has the means to gift Nashville with offensive opportunities, but I didn't see much of that tonight. As Laviolette said, though, it's just one game.
Filip Forsberg is still very good at hockey
For a player like Filip Forsberg who led the Predators in scoring last season and surprisingly found his name off the Calder Trophy finalists list at the end of the year, after a team-wide fall off in Nashville's last 20 or so games, there hasn't been any foreseeable decline in his play.
In fact, Forsberg seems to be starting right where he left off: scoring goals and just being an all-around great hockey player.
Notching two goals and a helper during Nashville's first tilt versus the Panthers on Sunday afternoon, Forsberg's three points were just a reminder of what the Swedish phenom can and will do on the ice.
Does the new LED lighting system help or hamper the players?
I tweeted early in the week a short demonstration of Nashville's new LED light setup that replaced their previous bulb-style lighting system. Tonight's double-header gave Predators players and prospects alike their first on-ice experience at Bridgestone Arena with the new system.
The big question is whether or not it improved the quality of the game or not? Granted, some of the veteran players have played under an LED system before, however never on home ice.
The answer? Nobody noticed. At least the Predators players I asked didn't.
"I feel bad saying it, but I didn't even really notice," laughed Predators forward Mike Fisher. "I'll have to look next time. I wasn't even paying attention."
When I asked Colin Wilson about it, he replied simply with "I didn't know anything about that."
From the press box, the ice is much brighter than it ever has been before and fading the lights on and off in-between periods and prior to the game are near-instantaneous.
Plus, the game operations staff can throw out any color they want. That's a definite plus.
THREE STARS (Game 1)
Filip Forsberg -- As mentioned earlier, Forsberg lit up the opening game with two goals and an assist. Most noticeably, his second goal came off a lightning-quick wrister. It's plays like those that activate the imagination for Predators fans of what this team can do with him.
Ryan Ellis -- Not only does his beard resonate with near-magical properties, but Ellis still brings back the same qualities that he ended the season with last year. A beauty of a hip check and fantastic pass to feed Vladislav Kamenev's first goal of the preseason.
Roman Josi -- Usually ending up somewhere on this list most nights during the regular season, Josi grabbed a goal and an assist for a two point night to start his preseason campaign.
THREE STARS (Game 2)
Mike Fisher -- Fisher is always going to be a dynamic forechecking forward who uses his body to muscle the puck out of any type of meeting along the boards. Fisher's goal in the first period along with his play throughout the remainder of the game garnered his star status.
Aleksander Barkov -- When Barkov wants to put the puck in the net, he's going to and there may not be much you can do about it. Just ask Pekka Rinne who was deked cleanly out of his own goal and Barkov just lifted it in. Preseason highlight reel play already.
Yakov Trenin -- There haven't been many real standouts over the course of both games at Bridgestone Arena, but Trenin played above and beyond anywhere I expected him to be at. He may not have ended up on the stat sheet, but the young Russian forward has playmaking abilities.