TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
The Predators kick off the home portion of their regular season tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. It is the second time in three seasons Nashville has opened at the Sommet Center with the Avs – it won the 2007-08 home opener by a 4-0 margin behind multi-point efforts by Jason Arnott (2g-1a) and J.P. Dumont (1g-1a). In 2008-09, Colorado took three of four from the Predators, with three contests being decided by one goal. The all-time series between the Preds and Avs has seen some memorable moments, including the first hat trick against Nashville (Joe Sakic on Feb. 19, 1999), the first hat trick at the Sommet Center (Scott Walker on Dec. 26, 2000) and Peter Forsberg breaking the Sommet Center record for points in a game with six (1g-5a) on Jan. 1, 2003.
The Preds are 1-1-0 all-time in games played on October 8, both at home. The Preds won their most recent Oct. 8 game, a 3-2 shootout win in 2005 vs. Anaheim. The Preds dropped a 1-3 decision to Pittsburg on Oct. 8, 2000.
Yanic Perreault scored a pair of goals in regulation and Paul Kariya netted the lone shootout conversion as the Preds posted a 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped 33 shots and all three shootout attempts to pick up the victory.
Dumont has averaged nearly a point per game against Colorado during his career, with 20 points (6g-14a) in 22 games, including 11 points (3g-8a) in 12 contests as a Predator… Steve Sullivan has eight points (4g-4a) in eight games against the Avalanche with the Predators… Tonight’s game is Ben Guite’s first against his former team. Entering 2009-10, he had played all but one of his 169 career NHL contests with the Avalanche… In two career appearances vs. Colorado, Dan Ellis is 1-1-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average and a .983 save percentage.
PREDATORS IN HOME OPENERS
The Predators will be looking to reach the .500 mark in home openers tonight against Colorado – they currently are 4-5-(1)-0 in first games at the Sommet Center. Nashville has claimed victory in the past two home openers, defeating Dallas by a 3-1 margin a season ago behind three-point performances by Jason Arnott (2ppg-1a) and J.P. Dumont (3a). In 2007-08, the Preds blanked tonight’s opponent, 4-0, again receiving a two-goal, one assist outing from Arnott.
PREDS SUIT UP ELEVEN DRAFT PICKS ON OPENING NIGHT
Of the 20 players who dressed for the Predators on opening night in Dallas on Saturday, 11 of them were drafted and developed by the club, a franchise high. The mark broke the previous high of eight draftees set last season. Included in the 11 players were three first-round picks (David Legwand (second overall in 1998), Dan Hamhuis (12th overall in 2001) and Ryan Suter (seventh overall in 2003)), two second rounders (Kevin Klein (37th overall in 2003), Shea Weber (49th overall in 2003)), one third rounder (Teemu Laakso (78th overall in 2005)), one sixth-rounder Mike Santorelli (178th overall in 2004), a pair of seventh rounders (Martin Erat (191st overall in 1999) and Patric Hornqvist (230th overall in 2005)), and an eighth-round pick (Pekka Rinne (258th overall in 2004)).
GOALIES SHINE IN SHOOTOUTS
Dating back to April 4, Nashville has won three straight shootouts – Columbus on April 4, Detroit on April 9 and Dallas last Saturday – due in large part to the play of its two netminders. In those three shootouts, Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne have combined to stop 10-of-12 attempts (.833). In the second longest shootout in franchise history at Dallas on Saturday (five rounds), Ellis stopped four-of-five attempts (.800) – he allowed six goals on 11 shots (.455) a season ago, and four tallies on nine attempts (.556) in 2007-08. As a rookie in 2008-09, Rinne ranked second in the league in shootout save percentage (.792), turning aside 19-of-24 attempts.
PREDATORS MAKE SOMMET CENTER A TOUGH PLACE TO PLAY
Through Wednesday’s games, the Predators rank third in the National Hockey League in home wins since the start of the 2005-06 season. Nashville has averaged 27 wins over the past four seasons and has posted no fewer than 23 home victories in a season during that span – a feat matched only by Detroit, New Jersey and Minnesota.
HOME WINS SINCE 2005-06
05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 TOTAL
Detroit 27 29 29 27 0 112
Calgary 30 30 21 27 2 110
Nashville 32 28 23 24 0 107
New Jersey 27 25 25 28 0 105
San Jose 25 25 22 32 0 104
Carolina 31 21 24 26 1 103
ON THE FARM UPDATE
The Predators American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, also began their 2009-10 campaign in winning fashion on Saturday, claiming a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta) in game one of the “Amtrak Rivalry.” Goaltender Mark Dekanich picked up the victory, while Triston Grant, Mark Santorelli and Ian McKenzie provided the offense. Center Cal O’Reilly, a fifth-round pick of Nashville in 2005, assisted on the game-winning goal, giving him a (AHL) franchise-record 167 assists. O’Reilly also has the second-most points (214) and third-most games played (228) since the team switched from the IHL to the AHL in 2001.
The Admirals play their second of six road games to kick off the 2009-10 season tomorrow at Peoria (St. Louis), the longest road trip to begin a season in franchise history. Milwaukee doesn’t play its home opener until Oct. 24 vs. Manitoba (Vancouver). A season ago, Milwaukee put up a franchise record 23 road wins.
EARLY SEASON PROSPECT REPORT
On North American soil, the only group of prospects yet to start the 2009-10 season are in college hockey, and that season kicks off this weekend. Meanwhile, in the British Columbia Hockey League, 2009 seventh rounder Cam Reid has been on fire, posting 16 points (6g-10a) in eight games. Reid ranks fifth in the BCHL in points, and first on the Westside Warriors in both points and assists. In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, 2009 second rounder Charles-Olivier Roussel has six assists in five games, good for second on the Shawinigan Cataractes, while 2009 fifth-round pick Gabriel Bourque ranks first on Baie-Comeau Drakkar in assist (7), and second in both points (8) and penalty minutes (24). 2009 first rounder Ryan Ellis has picked up where he left off for the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires since returning from Predators Training Camp, posting the third-most assists in the league. Overseas, 2008 second-round pick Roman Josi has 10 points (5g-5a) in 10 games for Bern of the Swiss League – the top point total among league defensemen.