Preds 3, Panthers 6
Nashville Goals: Henderson (0:44 of the first period) Assists: Gaustad
Forsberg (7:39 of the first period) Assists: Ford, Wilson
Weber (PPG, 19:27 of the first period) Assists: Cullen, Wilson
Nashville opened up its preseason slate on Monday afternoon with the first of two tilts against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.
The Predators were able to jump out to an early lead with goals from Kevin Henderson and Filip Forsberg, but penalties and fatigue caught up with the Preds as they fell to the Panthers, 6-3. Captain Shea Weber added a power-play goal late in the first, but former Pred Scottie Upshall tallied two goals, while young defenseman Erik Gudbranson also notched a pair to up end Nashville.
While this will show up as a loss in the preseason standings, it gave the Predators coaching staff a much needed look at their roster heading into season. Monday afternoon’s roster, much like the roster for the nightcap, was made up of players who will make the NHL roster out of camp and younger players in the Predators’ system.
Three Big Things
Getting off to a good start: Throughout the season, it will pivotal for the Preds to get off to good starts, and that is what they were able to do on Monday afternoon. Kevin Henderson started things off for Nashville just 44 seconds into the game as he buried a feed from Paul Gaustad. The Preds kept the heat on early, even after a Scottie Upshall goal, as Filip Forsberg tallied his first goal of the preseason less than seven minutes later. Shea Weber closed out a strong first period with a power-play goal with just 33 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Power play looks good: Just two seasons removed from leading the League in power-play efficiency, the Predators look for marked improvement on special teams. Nashville held four man-advantages in the game, converting the second chance late in the first. Even though the Preds only tallied once on the PP, they were able to move the puck around and generate a couple of good scoring chances. Assistant Coach Phil Housley has been charged with turning the power play around and there was a notable difference in the way the Preds cycled the puck with the advantage.
Playing through the pain: During my postgame interview with Head Coach Barry Trotz, he commented that the guys have been going hard at practice the past couple of days and that hard work may have caught up with them a little bit this afternoon. Nashville also traveled Monday morning – an instance that does not happen during the regular season. Look for the Preds to be well-rested for Thursday’s tilt in Tampa.
Shea Weber on frustrations of playing with unfamiliar teammates: “We can’t make excuses. We weren’t good enough today – we didn’t win battles. They play a very structured and we weren’t able to generate anything after the first period.”
Brendan Leipsic on playing his first game against NHL-caliber players: “I thought it went alright. It was hard at first adjusting to the speed of the game, but as the game went on it got a little better. We need to get more pucks to the net, but overall, it was a good first experience.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz on this afternoon’s game: “I think we got away from our game and we turned too many pucks over. When you turn too many pucks over, you end up spending too much time in your own end. We also took too many penalties and that was really taxing. We hit a wall in the second period because we’ve had a real hard camp and we’ve pushed these guys to extremes. We just didn’t have any legs in the third period and it showed.”