They may just pull this off.
Hockey took its next step this week with games that were certainly beyond what a “normal” exhibition game would look like. More intensity, more caring, more pace… much more like an early season game in November vs. a September preseason game.
The news of zero coronavirus tests in their latest round of testing is also great news for the NHL. Getting into the “bubble” safely was critical to success in this endeavor and it appears that the league accomplished this very difficult goal.
As we draw closer to the Predators exhibition game vs. Dallas today at 3pm, the trepidation is turning to excitement. I have to admit, I watched parts of every exhibition game. I can’t think of the last time I had this much excitement for games that don’t count.
Or do they… the teams that have looked good in their games so far have to take great confidence heading into the weekend where the ones that didn’t has very little time to fix what didn’t go well.
So that turns our attention to today’s exhibition matchup with Dallas. A budding rivalry with a team that knocked the Preds out of the playoffs last season and embarrassed the team in the Winter Classic this season. But since then, the Preds completely shut down the Stars with back-to-back shutouts authored by Juuse Saros in early March, right before the pause.
This rivalry is growing, and a familiar name helped up the intensity in the Winter Classic when Stars forward Corey Perry cheap shotted Ryan Ellis, injuring the Preds star defenseman and earning a suspension for it.
There are questions to be answered in today’s game that is for sure… but there are three main ones that Pred Nation is asking…
• Defensive questions
- It is ironic that a team with such a history of excellent blueliners has this question in front of them. Obviously the top pair of Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis are above question, but after that, the pairings get… shall we say… interesting. Mattias Ekholm has had an excellent season, but Dante Fabbro has shown his inexperience… the talent is most definitely there and last season’s playoff experience should help tremendously for this young defenseman. The third pairing? Pick between Dan Hamhuis, Yannick Weber, Korbinian Holzer, Jarred Tinordi, or Alexandre Carrier… The pairing of Holzer and Tinordi seemed to be cementing a place as the third pairing in late February, but now… who knows?
• Reunited and it feels so good
– Head Coach John Hynes put the JoFA line back together in camp and frankly… I have identified this line as a real key to the Predators playoff success. Prede Nation has seen this line be absolutely dominant at times… and now, this team needs Ryan Johansen to be the pot stirrer, Filip Forsberg to be the physical sniper and Viktor Arvidsson to be the epitome of Arvy Hustle… that happens… and this team goes deep.
• Between the pipes
- This is where heart and head get into serious conflict, and today’s performance may determine who gets the start come Sunday, that being said… Juuse Saros did have a slightly better camp than Pekka Rinne… Rinne has the experience, but Saros may get the nod. The changing of the guard is afoot in Smashville… but I believe both of these players will be needed if Nashville makes a run.
Game time is 3pm CDT, coverage is on Fox Sport Tennessee and 102.5 the Game.
Random Notes – Presented by
- The Stars will head into round robin play after today’s game and the Predators will head into the qualifying round.
- Join us on Predators Social Media at Noon for a special preview party, live from Bridgestone Arena… Kara Hammer and I will be your hosts with special guest, Preds alumni J.P. Dumont.
- I have been impressed for the most part with the level of play in the exhibition games so far.
- The St. Louis Blues should be thankful they have three more games to get it together… they did not look good yesterday.
- The Preds are planning on dressing 13 forwards and 7 defenseman today
SlapShot Radio is back for our summer season as Zack, Brent and I are on Monday night’s at 7pm. The best hour of hockey talk on the longest running hockey show in the southeast … Join us Mondays at 7pm on 102.5 the Game.
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