The Predators open a stretch of three games in four nights with a home game at Sommet Center on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, the team's final three games of the preseason. The Preds travel to Atlanta on Friday night and then rematch the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon in Carolina. Player Morning Skate Comments
Broadcasting Note: Predators Snapshot Preseason Special debuted Oct. 1 on Fox Sports South. 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).
The Predators and Hurricanes will meet once during the regular season, Sunday, Nov. 23 in Carolina.
PRESEASON QUICK HITS
Halfway through the 2008 preseason, defenseman Kevin Klein is the only player to have appeared in all three games, while center Jason Arnott and Ville Koistinen are the lone players who have yet to dress for a game (not including the injured Jed Ortmeyer and Steve Sullivan)… Nashville’s power play this preseason is clicking at 16.7% (4-for-24), slightly above last season’s rate of 14.8%. The Predators have scored three of their four man-advantage markers in the first period. The NHL average last season was just under 18%... Defenseman Shea Weber, who has spent most of his time at the point while up a man, has two of the four goals… The penalty kill has picked up where it left off last season, extinguishing opponent’s opportunities at an 87% clip, up slightly from the 85.4% that ranked the unit third in the league last season.
Since the start of training camp on Sept. 19, 22 players have been either reassigned to their junior teams, reassigned to Milwaukee, or released from tryouts. Here is a breakdown of the 22 players, and where they are now.
FIRST-YEAR NORTH AMERICANS
The Predators have three players in the organization making their North American debuts in 2008-09 – Patric Hornqvist, Robert Dietrich and Teemu Laakso. Hornqvist, the lone player of the trio left in Nashville’s camp, was the final player selected (seventh round, 230th overall) in the 2005 Entry Draft and racked up 41 goals the past two seasons in the Swedish Elite League for Djurgarden. He first made headlines in 2006-07 when he was named Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League after leading junior players with 23 goals. The goal total broke a record previous held by Peter Forsberg for most goals by a junior player in the Swedish Elite League. The Sollentuna, Sweden native also stood out for his nation at the 2008 World Championships in Quebec City/Halifax, leading the Tre Kroner and tying for second overall in goals (6) for the tournament.
Laakso, selected in the third round (78th overall) of the 2005 Draft, comes from HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League where he anchored the blue line with his stay-at-home style. Dietrich, a sixth-round pick (174th overall), is a German import who missed the majority of the 2007-08 season with a leg injury, but has spent the past two seasons in Germany’s highest league.
A season ago, forwards Antti Pihlstrom (Finland) and Andreas Thuresson (Sweden), as well as defenseman Alexander Sulzer (Germany) played their first seasons in Milwaukee/North America, and two of the three are still vying for positions with the big squad in 2008-09.
Nashville has five players who have graduated from the major junior hockey/collegiate ranks and are playing their first professional seasons in 2008-09. Ryan Jones (Miami, CCHA) and Mark Dekanich (Colgate, ECAC) both played four years of college hockey, while Ian Mckenzie (Seattle, WHL), Mark Santorelli (Chilliwack, WHL) and Nick Spaling (Kitchener, OHL) have completed their junior careers.