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Post-Game Musings: vs. Philadelphia

Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 11:47 PM / Features
By Paul Cook  - Nashville Predators
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Post-Game Musings: vs. Philadelphia
It was a great hockey game on Saturday night as the Predators bested the powerhouse Philadelphia Flyers with a 4-2 victory, but it was also somewhat bittersweet as a perfectly good catfish toss was wasted.

Likely already disappointed with the omission of Pekka Rinne on the final All-Star roster on the part of the NHL’s Hockey Operations department, the Preds faithful had to be feeling incredulous over the reversal of what looked to be an early first-period goal for Nick Spaling. The League’s official situation room report indicated that Spaling hadn’t actually gotten his stick on the puck, and the last contact had been made by Gabriel Bourque’s skate in the ever-confusing “distinct kicking motion.” By the time the goal was finally overturned, Nashville fans had already graced the ice with a local specimen of the order Siluriformes (that’s the aforementioned catfish for you, dear reader).

Karma would make things right in the third period however, granting Spaling a goal on a Jordin Tootoo pass into the slot. Spaling didn’t have to do much to get credit for putting the puck in the net, just be in the right place at the right time – replays showed the black disc bouncing off of Number 13’s midsection.

The Spaling goal meant that fans could breathe easier – Nashville has yet to lose in regulation when the former Kitchener Ranger scores, a lucky streak now extending to 13 regular-season games.


Three Musings
No Rookie Showdown: With Craig Smith out of the lineup due to illness, it was a missed opportunity to see two of the league’s best rookies this season face off against each other. At the midway point of 2011-12, you’ve got to figure that Edmonton wunderkind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and New Jersey’s Adam Henrique both have Schlage-quality locks on Calder Trophy nominations; the battle for the last spot on the ballot might come down to Smith and the Flyers’ Matt Read, a 25-year-old who cut his teeth with the Bemidji State University Beavers. Entering the game, Smith and Read were tied for third in rookie scoring behind Henrique and Nugent-Hopkins with 26 points apiece.

David Takes Down Goliath: The knock on Ryan Ellis has been his size, but that hasn’t stopped him from being able to play physically against some of the League’s bigger men. Minutes into the second period, Ellis leveled Wayne Simmonds, a 6’2” power forward, with a Hamhuisian hip-check that will likely make its way into end-of-season highlight montages just as Jordin Tootoo’s Fresh-Princing of Florida’s Michal Frolik did last year (Frolik’s life got ‘flipped, turned upside down’ on that December night back in 2010). Ellis’ play thus far has been stellar, and with each passing week, he looks more and more comfortable at the NHL level.

A Reliable Power Supply: How surprising does this Nashville power play continue to be? Despite going 0-for-6 in Thursday’s win over Colorado, the Predators have still managed to score 6 times in their last 17 opportunities with the man advantage. Martin Erat opened the scoring for Nashville at 5-on-4 with less than a minute to play in the first period on Saturday, netting his tenth goal of the season. Last season the team failed to crack 16%; in 2011-12 they’re second in the League, dominating opponents by converting on 21.6% of their chances.


Three Quotes
D Ryan Ellis, Nashville (on his hit on Simmonds): “I’m just a small guy, so he went over top of me. […] I think he said ‘good hit;’ nothing out of the ordinary. He’s a nice guy; we played against each other in the OHL.”

D Ryan Suter, Nashville (on allowing 38 shots to Philadelphia): “We were wondering if maybe the shot-keeper had a happy finger there for them.”

G Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia (on the Predators scoring off deflections): “What can I do? Nothing.”


Three Stars
F Nick Spaling, Nashville – Scored the game-winning goal after having an earlier marker taken away.
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville – Made 36 saves, the tenth time this season he’s turned away at least 35 shots (the Predators are 9-0-1 in those games).
F Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia – Gave the Predators’ defensive crew all they could handle, registering four shots on goal and picking up a pair of points (1G, 1A).


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