Deadline Pieces Fitting In Preds Lineup
Monday, 03.05.2012 / 12:03 PM
Nashville put one back in the win column after downing the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Saturday night with the new parts fitting in nicely. In fact, the “Deadline” appeared on the score sheet for the game’s first goal when Andrei Kostitsyn scored from Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad. Sure that’s not a likely combo since Gaustad was out to take a defensive zone draw and Gill fed Kostitsyn off that faceoff, sending the latter careening down the ice to rifle one in off the goal post for his first in a Predators uniform.
But seeing those names together on the sheet underscored exactly what each was brought in to do. Guastad wins a defensive zone draw. Gill moves the puck safely and effectively and was out in a big defensive situation. Kostitsyn skates and snipes. I had to smile when the call came down and those three were linked together. I would venture a guess that David Poile did as well!
Kostitsyn in particular I thought picked it up from his first to his second game. Against Carolina he seemed like a player tossed into a new system who might not quite have a grasp of things or expectations. I wondered, like many of you, where his compete level might be and how his buy-in would manifest itself. I can honestly say after watching things unfold against the Panthers I feel much better about what he will bring to the table and his level of commitment to this franchise on the ice.
Gaustad played very well and was Nashville’s leading faceoff man in the Florida game. He proved his value there above and beyond his ability to be a big body, play physical, and stick up for his teammates. I’m looking forward to seeing what contributions he’ll make as he becomes more familiar with his role as well.
Gill was one of three players (Roman Josi and Gaustad were the other two) who were stuck out on a second period penalty kill for the entire shift! They managed to help kill the penalty off despite playing two very difficult minutes straight, and really kept the Panthers from getting a toehold in the contest. At that point it became clear that Florida was going to need something major to beat the Predators that night, and they weren’t able to find it.
A few notes from the Florida game:
- By keeping the Panthers from scoring a power play goal, Nashville has now prevented a power play goal against for seven straight against Florida dating back to 2008.
- Florida was the best team in the East on Saturdays, going 10-2-0 before running into the Nashville juggernaut.
- Gabriel Bourque’s assist streak stopped at three games but once again he played well and shows that whether moved up or down the lineup he fits well on just about any line.
- Andrei Kostitsyn collected a goal on a great shot from the right wing and also sent David Legwand in alone for a breakaway goal with a nifty heads-up pass. Kostitsyn hit Legwand in full stride on the tape with a quick look. Here’s to hoping these guys (along with Patric Hornqvist) continue to grown together and compliment each other’s games. Legwand now has goals in his last four games against Florida.
- The Preds now play three in a row at home before a stretch that sees them finish the regular season with nine out of 14 on theroad. Only Pittsburgh and Winnipeg remain as Eastern Conference opponents in the last 17 games, and as of today’s writing eight of the 15 conference games are against opponents currently in a playoff spot, while two each remain against LA and Colorado which are sitting just one point out of the final playoff spot.