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Post-Game Analysis: Preds vs. Atlanta Thrashers (Preseason Game)

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 12:01 AM CT / Training Camp Central
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Post-Game Analysis: Preds vs. Atlanta Thrashers (Preseason Game)
The Preds dressed a strong roster for tonight’s game against Atlanta. Early on, the team was rolling. Nashville netted an early goal and created numerous high quality scoring chances. Atlanta settled in during the second period, but Nashville regrouped and put together a strong third period to claim the win.

On an individual level, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were paired together for the first time during this preseason and looked dominant. They were in control in all three zones of the ice, with Weber finishing the game with a goal and an assist. They looked every bit like a world class defensive pairing. And Francis Bouillon also continued his solid play this camp. Bouillon isn’t flashy, so he’s often overlooked when he’s on his game, but he’s just been a very solid veteran presence with whichever d-man the coaches rolled out along side him. With his current play he is giving the Preds a strong anchor to a reliable second unit behind Suter-Weber.

Up front, Matthew Lombardi continued to look impressive and his line with Martin Erat and Colin Wilson seemed to be the barometer for the Preds tonight; when they were clicking in the first and third periods the team got in rhythm and put Atlanta on its heels. Remember, Erat and Wilson were a good duo down the stretch run last season with Jason Arnott as their center; they looked every bit as comfortable playing on a line together tonight. Individually, Lombardi’s speed created mismatches against any of Atlanta’s defensemen. Seven minutes into the game he took a feed from Erat high in the offensive zone and beat the defenseman wide with such ease that Lombardi was one-on-one with the goaltender by the time he curled across the top of the goal crease. Pavelec made a big time save, but Lombardi’s ability to create a dangerous chance in that situation was a testament to his tremendous speed.

Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist also put some dangerous combinations together. Those were another pair of wingers who spent time together at the end of last season. If they continue to play like they did tonight, they will likely spend a good deal of time on a line together at the start of this season. Sullivan was dangerous with the puck, using his speed and shiftiness to create offensive chances. And Hornqvist was himself driving to the net and getting to the tough areas in the offensive zone. For the night they combined for 12 shots, six of which found their way on goal.

The pieces are there for the Preds to ice three skilled offensive units. If Erat-Lombardi-Wilson continue to mesh well and Sullivan-Hornqvist form the wings for a unit, that still leaves J-P Dumont, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Joel Ward as potential offensive minded wingers for third offensive unit

Jordin Tootoo and Jerred Smithson showed signs of becoming a difficult line to play against. They were solid in their defensive reads and played the body when they had their chances. Tootoo has been playing at a higher tempo this year than he seemed to play at last season; he’s skating fast and using his speed to create opportunities – both with the puck and on the forecheck. Smithson, meanwhile, is quietly playing his game; he’s always been a reliable defensive forward, but he’s using his size and experience to be a pest on the forecheck as well. Early in the third period they took some shifts with Lombardi at center --- wow did that mixture fly up and down the ice; could be a very useful late game checking unit when the Preds are looking to close out a lead. This is the second time in three games they’ve been impressive playing on a line together; Friday night at Carolina they were joined by Matt Halischuk to form Nashville’s best forward group.




1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 50 25 18 7 111 115 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47


R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36