On The Backcheck: Reviewing Nashville vs New York

Shaun was at Bridgestone for Nashville’s loss to the Rangers on Thursday night. Here are his thoughts.

The Setup

Last night, my goal at Bridgestone arena was to pay close attention to the passing game, on-ice intensity over the course of the game, and a suggestion from Blake Sulcer over on Twitter: the Line of the Night. First, I looked carefully at the passing game on Tuesday night when the Nashville Predators played the Los Angeles Kings to see how it had changed from the game Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Intensity was a surprise topic on Tuesday after I noticed hard play throughout the night led to more room opening up on the ice for Predators toward the end of the game. And, with regards to a Line of Night, I think Blake may have wanted it to be more statistical, but that’s something Bryan Bastin can chime in with. I’m gonna go completely subjective and pick a line that stood out to me tonight...I’ll explain why, though.


I’ve had to rethink my opinions on the Predators’ passing game over the course of this game. It started as an initial complaint that the team was using the boards as a way to make billiards-style passes during Saturday’s game against Carolina. It turned into frustration when the team mostly dropped that approach in favor of a more traditional approach to puck movement, but struggled with East-West passing. Last night, however, I was able to identify that it wasn’t specifically East-West passing, because the Predators used quite a bit of creative, crisp passes to get the puck across the ice in tight quarters...and it looked great. The issue seems to be cross-ice passes through traffic with very low speed. Almost like they just wanted to “float” the puck over to their teammate on the other side of the offensive zone. The issue with this style of “lazy” pass is that it is easily deflected at best; at worst, picked off. And it was one of those passes that lacked zip, that was headed to an open shooter on the backdoor of the crease late in the game, that found its way to the stick of a Rangers defender, wasting what was probably the best chance the team had to even the score late in the game.


If you watched the game, then you’ll understand why this is a short section. If you didn’t watch the game, the Predators stepped up their intensive game by not just being hard on the puck, but being hard on the body as well. To be playin against a team that iced Ryan Reaves, they sure didn’t play like they were worried about him. Matt Benning, Yakov Trenin, Tanner Jeannot, and Colton Sissons were just a few of the guys that didn’t shy away from deliver bowel-shaking hits. Multiple scrums broke out around the front of both nets and along the boards all night long. Unfortunately, this style of low-event hockey can sometimes mean that the team comes up short. The Predators spent a fair amount of time playing shorthanded, which forces players to take extra ice time as they play on the penalty kill. It may be true that the penalty kill has looked good, but when playing hardnosed hockey leads to a barrage of penalties, that may be all it takes to offset the advantages gained by trying to wear down the other team.


Philip Tomasino got the opportunity to make his second NHL start last night. The stage was set perfectly as his parents were at Bridgestone Arena and set to enjoy 60 minutes of hockey. And, after they watched the Predators battle off a multitude of penalties while trailing the Rangers by 1 during the second period, it happened—Philip Tomasino scored his first NHL goal. And it was a beauty. Now, it wasn’t a beauty in the traditional sense, as it wasn’t nasty snipe or a wicked wrister. It was a goal scored off of tenacity as Tomasino chased his own deflected shot behind the net and took the opportunity to drive it off of Igor Shesterkins’ back and into the net. It wasn’t the goal you expected from what looks to be a quick forward with an elite shot, but it’s the kind of goal you want out of someone fighting for a roster spot. Of course, the perfect cap to the night would have been a win for the home team, but the Rangers had other plans.

Line of the Night

For me, the line of the night was the youth line, centered by Tommy Novak in his second NHL game with Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino (also in his second NHL game) on his wings. Considering the amount of collective NHL experience between the three of them, I felt like they handled themselves very well. Of course, I would be doing the readers a disservice if I didn’t mention everything I loved about 2nd line Yakov Trenin, but I may want to write more about that later on.