Mully's Musings: Oct. 1 vs. Carolina

Saturday, 10.1.2011 / 11:14 PM CT / Training Camp Central
By Bryan Mullen
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Mully\'s Musings: Oct. 1 vs. Carolina
The exhibition season is finally over.

Now the Nashville Predators will see if they can carry over the success they had into the regular season. Nashville concluded the preseason by going 7-1-0 overall and winning its final six games. On Saturday night, the Predators beat Carolina 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena when Craig Smith scored the game-winner with just 10.3 remaining in overtime.

The Predators exit the preseason without any major injuries and are poised to start strong. Let’s start the musings …

This is becoming repetitive: Craig Smith is not intimidated and could be a force for the Predators this season. Sound familiar? It seems every time the talented young forward steps on the ice for Nashville, good things happen. His overtime game-winning goal drew raves from the coaching staff, and not just because it obviously won the game. It was because he made a smart and controlled play even though it was a desperation moment. Another big plus deals with the dressing room. Smith is not a brash hotspot with entitlement issues. He’s a perfect fit for the Predators for multiple reasons.

Rinne is ready: No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne is ready for the regular season and said he wants to improve on 2010-11 when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist. He didn’t face too many shots and stopped 20 of 21. The lone goal he allowed was fluky. It came from the stick of Carolina’s Bryan Allen in the first period. It was a soft shot from a long distance soft shot, but Rinne thought it was tipped and was going high over the net. At the last moment, he saw it and said he tried to block with his head, but it was too late. It was one of those rare moments for Rinne, and nothing should be read into it. He is poised once again to be one of the NHL’s top goaltenders.

Ellis makes a case: Ryan Ellis played arguably his best game of the exhibition season and is forcing the coaching staff and management to make a tough decision. As of Saturday night, a decision had not been made if he will remain in Nashville or will be sent to Milwaukee. He set up Patric Hornqvist’s goal in the third by blasting a shot on the power play and was solid on defense. Even if Ellis does start the season in Milwaukee, expect him to be back in Nashville at some point this season.

Three Quotes
G Pekka Rinne: “Going 7-1, with players battling for all the open spots on the roster, I think that’s a great thing. It adds confidence to the whole team, and not just the players but for the coaches and management.”

Coach Barry Trotz: “Our strength is our numbers. We’re like a pack of wolves. We’re going to come after you.”

F Craig Smith on the overtime goal: “I used (Colin) Wilson as a screen. When he came across he actually screened the goalie for about half a second there and I shot it off his backside. It was a great play by Wilson and I just got it on net.”

Three Stars
1. F Craig Smith: Game-winning goal as he confidence continues to soar

2. G Pekka Rinne: Stopped 20 of 21 shots and is itching to start the regular season

3. D Ryan Ellis: Had an assist, five shots and made a case to start the season in Nashville 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 © 1999-2015 Nashville Predators and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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