Preseason Doubleheader vs. Panthers: What To Watch For
It's preseason hockey. It's like hockey, but preseason. So expect to have fun, enjoy the talents of some players trying like hell to make the team, and some vets just out there having fun. It's preseason.
The roster for the first game is very forward heavy, so expect to see some goals. Seriously... the Preds are playing Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala, Austin Watson, Pontus Aberg, Vladislav Kamenev, Colton Sissons, and Miikka Salomaki in the first game. Oh, and Paul Gaustad. Watson, Kamenev, and Sissons will be looking to show what they can do centering a talented line, or be stuck beside Jamie Devane and Gaustad.
Adding to that: Florida is playing mostly prospects on defense in game 1. And their goaltenders are Mike McKenna and Colin Stevens. Expect goals.
Chances are that this team will be on offense for most of the game, so let's pay attention to how Jonathan-Ismael Diaby plays with the puck, and he and Anthony Bitetto will have a chance to show what they can do when not chasing the opposition. Same with Trevor Murphy, provided he doesn't get pulled into Diaby's orbit.
It's Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec. The Panthers will test these two with a lineup that looked great in 2011: David Booth, Jussi Jokinen, Martin Havlat, Dave Bolland, and some very good prospects.
Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque, and Calle Jarnkrok lead a brigade that's mostly made up of new faces, players destined for Milwaukee, and prospects... and Eric Nystrom. And they'll be doing so against against a few very good defensemen in Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson, and some bigger forwards. Steve Moses, Viktor Arvidsson and Yakov Trenin will be tested, and Max Gortz will look to justify a move across the Atlantic. The good news is that Sam Brittain and Al Montoya will be in the net, assuming you care about the final score.
Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm will likely be paired with new friends, as we'll get a chance to see Conor Allen, Kristian Nakyva, and Garrett Noonan. Again, the Panthers are bringing more of an A team for the second game.
Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are in the cage for this one, so the defense might allow us to see what these Finnish netminders can handle in September. Again, it's preseason.
I'm curious about the lighting upgrade, seating upgrade, and concession upgrade. You?
That's about it. Preseason hockey is supposed to be fun, and get us out away from our TV's fixed on RedZone, as well as helping us remember that condiment stain on our jersey from last spring.