TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ANAHEIM
The Nashville Predators kick off the 2010-11 season by hosting the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Bridgestone Arena. It marks the second time in 12 seasons that the Predators have kicked off a campaign with the Ducks – in 2003, the Predators received a goal and an assist from David Legwand, and a 28-save effort from Tomas Vokoun in a 3-1 victory in Nashville. Legwand and Jordin Tootoo – who claimed North American headlines by becoming the first became the first player of Inuit descent to appear in a National Hockey League game when he stepped on to the ice that night – are the only two active Predators who played in that game.
A season ago, the Predators and Ducks split their four games against one another, with each picking up victories both at home and on the road. In Nashville’s first game of 2010 (Jan. 2), it received a goal and an assist from Shea Weber, and third-period markers by Jason Arnott and Legwand to take a 3-1 victory. Then on March 12, Weber provided the lone offense of the game and Pekka Rinne stopped all 31 shots he faced for his first of four shutouts in a two-week period in a 1-0 win at the Honda Center. A win tonight in the first of four matchups between the clubs in 2010-11 would improve the Predators to 6-2-1 in their last nine home games against Anaheim.
Rinne posted a 2-2-0 record with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage against Anaheim last season, and is 3-2-2 with a 2.15 GAA and a .921 SV% against the Ducks for his career… While Weber’s three points (2g-1a) led all current Predators in points vs. Anaheim in 2009-10, newcomer Matthew Lombardi notched seven points (1g-6a) in six games against Anaheim as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes… Steve Sullivan leads all Nashville skaters with 31 points (15g-16a) in 39 career games against Anaheim… Newest Predator Shane O’Brien was drafted in the eighth round, 250th overall, by the Ducks in 2003. He spent three seasons with Anaheim’s AHL affiliates in Cincinnati and Portland before making his NHL debut with the club on Oct. 6, 2006 at Los Angeles. He posted 14 points (2g-12a) and 140 penalty minutes in 62 games with the club before being traded to Tampa Bay on Feb. 24, 2007.
All-time series highlight: Five years ago today (Oct. 9, 2005), Predators fans got their first taste of the newly implemented shootout in the team’s second game of the 2005-06 season, and the scene was a dramatic one. Nashville’s newest superstar Paul Kariya, who joined the Predators as a free agent during the summer of 2005, scored the game-deciding shootout goal against the Anaheim Ducks, the team he starred on for nine seasons. Yanic Perreault provided both of Nashville’s regulation goals, setting the stage for Kariya’s heroics. Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne, Sergei Fedorov and Andy McDonald were all stymied by Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun in their breakaway attempts, while Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere stopped Steve Sullivan and Marek Zidlicky before Kariya lit the lamp. The 3-2 victory was the second win in a stretch of eight consecutive victories to start the season for the Predators.
NASHVILLE IN SEASON OPENERS
The Preds are 5-6-0 all-time in Game No. 1 of the season, but faired quite well in season openers the past half-dozen years, taking four-of-six. A season ago, Nashville edged Dallas 3-2 in a shootout after dropping a 5-2 decision at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis to open the 2008-09 campaign. Nashville blanked Colorado in 2007 (4-0), fell to Chicago in the highest-scoring game in franchise history in 2006 (8-6), edged San Jose in 2005 (3-2) and dropped Anaheim in 2003 (3-1).
PREDATORS IN SEASON/HOME OPENERS
The Predators have several players that have been quite effective in home and season openers over the course of their careers. J.P. Dumont has played in 10 season openers, posting a point-per-game (5g-5a), but has been even better in home openers, notching 12 points (6g-6a) in nine contests. David Legwand is the franchise’s all-time leader in points among the franchise’s first 12 games of the season, dressing for 10 of them and posting nine points (4g-5a); he also has 10 points (5g-5a) in 10 home openers. Ryan Suter paces club d-men and is tied for second on the franchise’s points in season openers list with Dumont – they each have five points (Dumont, 4gp, 2g-3a; Suter, 5gp, 1g-4a). Suter also has six assists in five career home openers.
THIRTEEN PREDATOR DRAFTEES ON OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
When the Predators set their 23-man Opening Night roster on Wednesday afternoon, it included 13 players that were drafted and developed by the club. First-rounders include David Legwand (2nd overall, 1998), Ryan Suter (7th overall, 2003) and Colin Wilson (7th overall, 2008); second-rounders include Kevin Klein (37th overall in 2003) and Shea Weber (49th overall in 2003); Cody Franson (79th overall in 2005) and Alexander Sulzer (92nd overall in 2003) were taken in the third round; Jordin Tootoo was picked in the fourth round (98th overall in 2001); Cal O’Reilly (150th overall in 2005) was tabbed in the fifth round; Martin Erat (191st overall in 1999), Patric Hornqvist (230th overall in 2005) and Anders Lindback (207th overall in 2008) were selected in the seventh round and goalie Pekka Rinne was an eighth-round pick (258th overall in 2004).
23-Man Roster Breakdown
Average Age: 26 years, 5 months Average Height/Weight: 6-0 / 204 pounds
By Draft Position
British Columbia: 3
Saskatchewan & Manitoba: 1
United States: 4
Mich., N.Y, Conn. & Wis.: 1
Sweden & Germany: 2
Belarus, Finland & Czech Republic: 1
After posting a 1-2-0 record in their first three preseason tilts of 2010, the Predators finished strong, notched three straight wins over Atlanta (twice) and Washington. The 3-0 victory over the defending President’s Trophy-winning Capitals on Sunday was especially of note as both teams fielded rosters that will look similar to their regular-season units. In addition to a perfect 22-for-22 performance from Pekka Rinne, Nashville received a pair of goals from Joel Ward – one of them of the shorthanded variety – and a goal and an assist from Cal O’Reilly in the victory.
Rinne was outstanding in his four preseason appearances going 2-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. Rookie Anders Lindback, who won the back-up position, posted a 2-1-0 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in three appearances.
SEVERAL PREDS FEATURED IN PRESEASON PLAYER RANKINGS
Led by Captain Shea Weber, four Nashville Predators were featured in various “Top NHL Players” and “Top Players by Position” rankings by national publications in their 2010-11 season previews. Weber was ranked the 19th-best NHLer by TSN.ca, while coming in at No. 35 in The Hockey News Yearbook and No. 36 in Sun Media’s preseason outlook. In positional rankings, Weber (No. 7 among defensemen), Ryan Suter (No. 12 among defensemen), Pekka Rinne (No. 12 among goalies) and Patric Hornqvist (No. 15 among right wingers) made The Hockey News’ lists, while Sportsnet.ca put Weber and Rinne at No. 12 among players at their positions and Hornqvist at No. 16. The National Post rated Weber the sixth-best blueliner.
The Predators open the 2010-11 regular season on Saturday, October 9 against the Anaheim Ducks. Opening Night at Bridgestone Arena will feature several fan friendly events, including a pre-game plaza party. Tickets may be purchased by clicking here, at the Bridgestone Arena box office or by calling 615-770-PUCK (7825). 102.9 FM The Buzz will broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena all day!
3:45-4:45pm – Preds Red Carpet Entrance
Fans are encouraged to arrive early and officially welcome the 2010-11 Nashville Predators team as they walk the red carpet alongside lucky season ticketholders on the Bridgestone Arena plaza. Preds PA announcer Paul McCann will serve as Master of Ceremonies and will be joined by personalities from the club’s new radio flagship partner, 102.9 FM The Buzz. Be sure to bring those cameras!
5:00-7:00pm – Party on Bridgestone Arena Plaza
Live concert from Small Time Rock Stars
Duck Hunt tournament (in honor of that evening’s opponent, the Anaheim Ducks)
Free ice cream provided by Purity
5:15pm – A very special grand entrance by mascot GNASH!
5:30pm – Doors open
All fans in attendance will receive an Opening Night t-shirt courtesy of Bridgestone!