Practice Day: Captain Weber's Presence

Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 3:08 PM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's Playoff Blog
Game One is in the books and I’m still mulling it all over from last night. Just a few seconds into the first shift of the contest, Shea Weber attempted to defenestrate (look it up – it’s a great word) Teemu Selanne and set the tone for what would be come quite a physical battle.

Shea wasn’t done making his impact early however, as just a short time later his bomb from the right point went over the shoulder of Dan Ellis for a power play goal that put the Predators up 1-0 early. As Wade Belak and I discussed at the outset of the opening power play, Barry Trotz has said that the power play may not run at a 30% clip, but what was important was the timeliness of the goals it does score. To that end, clicking to give your team an early lead – on the road – in Game One was a huge plus.

When your captain steps up and sets that type of tone for your team, the message is clear: no passengers, 100% effort. I feel like the Predators did play well against the Ducks, and make no mistake the Ducks has its chances to score and make it a game. But between the goaltending of Pekka Rinne and solid defense to help out when needed, the Preds really did a nice job shutting down a high-flying attack.

That said, don’t expect a sweep or a cakewalk. This Ducks club is tough and has more than enough talent to float itself to a few goal lead at any given moment. I also don’t blame Ellis for the goals that went in. Both of Mike Fisher’s goals were absolute snipes, and Weber’s cannon beats most goalies on their best days. (Remember the exchange between Tim Thomas and Carey Price at the All-Star Game this year?)

Steve Sullivan scored the other Nashville goal in the game, and I liked what I saw from him. He definitely had it in gear and was able to show bursts of speed when needed. His ice time ended at 6:15 for the game, and while you might be temped to say “move him up a line or two” I think where he sits is perfect for the time being. Remember this is only his second game back, so plenty of in-game rest insures he will have lots of gas when needed. Plus timing comes back slowly too, and being able to work back in on what is usually a fourth line versus fourth line situation will be a massive bonus to the Preds. You won’t find a guy with hands like his lurking on the fourth unit too often. Combined with Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk, I like that line’s chance of making an impact in games.

You also can’t get out of Game One without talking about Pekka Rinne’s play. The Ducks drove the net, went after him with late post-whistle slashes and spears in the third, and yet he remained unflappable in the face of it all, allowing only Selanne’s five-on-three power play goal in the third period. The little mini-duel between those two has been especially entertaining. Consider Selanne has four goals against the Preds this year, but three of those are of the five-on-three variety. Plus Rinne has stoned Selanne with several amazing saves, causing the latter to muse before Game One yesterday that when Rinne robbed him during the regular season of what he thought was a sure goal that the Preds goaltender seemed “like an octopus.” This game within the game will take place throughout the series, and is worth watching.

Oh, and one more guy worth watching is Shane O’Brien. He ended up in the box twice during the game, and I’m hoping he was basically seeing where the bar is set for the series. Knowing where the line is now and coming out with a win in Game One, I’ll let those transgressions slide as long as he continues his prickly, annoying play against the opposition. He may have doled out more facewashes yesterday than all of April, and smiling at the frustrated Corey Perry in the closing moments of Game One really spoke volumes for where the Predators were at the end of that game… and where the Ducks wished they were.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

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1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43 is the official Web site of the Nashville Predators and are trademarks of the Nashville Predators.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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