The Nashville Predators open their 2008 Preseason schedule with a home game at Sommet Center on Thursday (Sept. 25) against the Atlanta Thrashers. ( Morning Skate player reaction) Game time is set for 7 pm start and will be broadcast over the radio on 104.5 The Zone.
Broadcasting Note: Predators Snapshot Preseason Special will debut on FSN South at 6 pm CT on Oct. 1. The program will also be re-broadcast on Oct. 3 (6:30 pm), Oct. 7 (6 pm), Oct. 8 (9 pm), Oct. 9 (6:30 pm), and Oct. 10 (7 pm).
Thursday night will be the first of three games in three nights for the Preds, followed by games Friday night at Columbus and a rematch with the Blue Jackets on Saturday back at Sommet Center (7 pm start).
The Preds posted a 3-2-1 record in preseason last year, including a 1-0-1 mark against Atlanta. The teams also met once during the '07-08 regular season with Nashville skating to a 3-0 win on home ice. Scott Nichol, Jerred Smithson, and Jordin Tootoo all scored in the regular season win. Dan Ellis turned aside 20 shots for the shutout win in net.
Projected Thrashers Roster Goaltenders: Johan Hedberg, Ondrej Pavelec Defensemen: Garnet Exelby, Ron Hainsey, Ken Klee, Grant Lewis, Nathan Oystrick, Jamie Rivers, Jim Slater, Boris Valabik Forwards: Colby Armstrong, Eric Boulton, Joey Crabb, Angelo Esposito, Mike Hoffman, Riley Holzapfel, Jordan LaVallee, Junior Lessard, Bryan Little, Spencer Machacek, Marty Reasoner, Brett Sterling, Grant Stevenson, Colin Stuart, Chris Thorburn, Todd White
What to Look For?
• Defensemen ... with all the organizational depth on defense, the coaches have stressed the importance of "ordering" in training camp -- setting the stage for playing time whenever it may arise. Klein, Laakso, and Sulzer will get a first opportunity to make a statement to the coaches. Klein is trying to crack the Preds top-six on defense and earn a regular spot in the lineup, while Laakso and Sulzer are trying to unseat any of the seven returning defensemen and earn a NHL roster spot. It's a long preseason, but a strong first game could go a long way for any of those three.
• Forwards ... Hornqvist, Jones, Peverley, Ryan, Ward and Wilson are all in the thick of battles for NHL ice time. Hornqvist, Jones, Peverley, and Ryan will each likely get strong looks on scoring lines at some point during the exhibition schedule. Ward and Wilson are in the mix for checking line time (Wilson has pushed into the mix with Gratton and Grant for the "tough guy" role). With several forwards in the mix for only a couple of roster spots, one bad game could eliminate a candidate from serious consideration.
• A case for another look ... at the beginning of camp, Blum, Santorelli, Spaling, and Thuresson didn't figure to get many preseason games, if any. Each has had a solid first week and earned the opportunity to see preseason game action. It's likely tonight is one and only planned game for each, but a solid showing tonight could force the coaching staff to change its mind and give them another look. Jones, Santorelli, and Thuresson were a dominant pairing in the Rookie Games; it will be interesting to see if they are paired together tonight -- and how much momentum they're able to carry over against the big boys. Santorelli might be the most interesting of the four; he's still a long-shot to make the Opening Night roster, but his Rookie Game showings turned heads among the coaching staff and at the very least has improved his "ordering" among potential call-ups.