The southern hockey classic continued tonight as the Preds met up with their annual pre-season dance partner the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers used some early goals from the blueline to capture the 4-2 win at the Sommet Center in the Preds 1st pre-season game.
Felder’s Five (There’s no reason to be frustrated in pre-season)
1. Grant Stevenson – A strong performance that had to have turned some heads on the Thrashers coaching staff. Stevenson ended the night with 2 goals, 1 assist, and a +1 rating. He tied for his teams lead in shots with 4 and also added one takeaway.
2. Kevin Klein – Klein was all over the ice tonight. He figured into both Predator goals. Klein finished the night with 1 goal, 1 assist, led the team in TOI with 25:21. Also he finished with 3 shots on goal.
3. Ryan Jones – Considering this was Jones 1st pre-season game ever I had to give the guy some love. Jones played his game and shook off the 1st period jitters by adding a goal in the 2nd period. He finished the night +1, had 3 shots on goal, and 3 hits.
4. Rich Peverley – Although he did not figure into the scoring Peverley led the team with 7 shots on goal. He is developing a pretty nice chemistry with Dumont and his line had quite a few scoring chances. Rich also added 2 takeaways, 2 blocked shots and won 12 of his 22 faceoffs taken.
5. Mark Dekanich – Although he only played in the 3rd period I was impressed by Dekanich’s poise in his 1st pre-season action. This game must be quite a bit faster then what he is used to at Colgate but he handled himself well and only got beaten by an unlucky bounce for the one goal against.
• 1ST PERIOD
• Starting line consisted of Dumont, Peverley, and Hornqvist.
• The other 3 forward lines in the 1st period were as follows: Fiddler, Bonk, and Ryan.
Jones, Santorelli, and Thuresson. Ward, Spaling, and Wilson.
• D-pairings in the 1st period: Hamhuis with DeVries, Blum with Sulzer, and Klein with Laakso.
• Atlanta starts the scoring off with 15:28 to go in the 1st. Garnet Exelby lets off a shot from the blueline that beats Rinne low stick side. Rinne was being screened and didn’t see the shot in time. Assists go to Chris Thorburn and Brett Sterling.
• 6:38 into the 1st and the Thrash strike again this time on the PP and just 17 seconds into the PP time. Grant Lewis let off a shot from the blueline and Grant Stevenson deflected the puck home while screening Rinne in his crease. Goal goes to Stevenson with Lewis and Hainsey picking up the assists.
• 7:28 to go and just as another Thrasher PP expires out of the box comes Kelsey Wilson. He finds Mike Santorelli trailing in the slot. Santorelli quickly lets off a high glove shot but Pavelec is equal to the task and makes the flashy glove save.
• The penalty parade continues as J.P. gets tabbed for high sticking. It was incidental and being the gentleman he is Dumont promptly apologized to Jamie Rivers after the whistle. 3rd Atlanta PP of the night with 6 minutes to go in the 1st.
• Some real sloppy play in this 1st period but that’s to be expected. They are making it easy of the refs to blow the whistle and call penalties. So far each penalty was obvious.
• With 1:27 to go in the period the Preds tally on the PP. This time they score off their own blueline shot. Kevin Klein let off a blast that found its way through traffic and past Pavelec. Assists go to Hamhuis and Fiddler. Thrashers now up just 2-1.
• 37 seconds to go in the 1st and Slater gets tabbed for interference. On the ensuing PP Dumont’s line gets multiple scoring chances down low (like 3 in a row) but can’t convert before the horn sounds. End of 1, Atlanta 2 and the Predators 1. The Preds will start the 2nd period with 1:23 left on their PP.
• 2nd PERIOD
• 17:57 to go and Jones misfires on a beautiful back door set up. I thought for sure he would score there but he didn’t get his stick on the pass enough to fire off a real scoring chance.
• Thrashers tally to extend their lead to 2. On the PP with 14:06 to go in the period. The puck went in off of Kevin Klein’s leg while he was down to block a cross ice pass down low. Just an unfortunate bounce that gives Klein a goal for both teams. Official scoring read Junior Lessard with the goal Stevenson and Lewis with the assists. 3-1 Atlanta leads.
• I have to wonder if the Dumont line is a tryout to see who gels best with #71. I would think they get rewarded with 1st line time….
• 5:10 to go in the 2nd and Klein figures into the scoring again. Another shot, this time a wrister, from the blueline finds it way in the Atlanta net. Ryan Jones was screening Pavelec and tipped the Klein wrister home. Santorelli picked up the 2nd assist. Atlanta’s lead is cut down to 3-2.
• 3RD PERIOD
• To start the 3rd period Mark Dekanich was put in goal.
• 17:03 and the gloves come off between Hoffman and Wilson (as predicted by me in my pre-game blog comments no less…!) and Hoffman dominates the action. Wilson didn’t show up very well in this one. To be fair you did have Wilson at 6-1 218 lbs. vs Hoffman weighing in at 6-5 240 lbs. Advantage Hoffman and he used it.
• 13:09 to go and a scrum behind the boards erupts as Boris Valabik (all 6-7 of him) just clubs Dumont in the scrum and takes him to the ice. I’m not quite sure what caused Valabik to just go off like that but he was rewarded for his efforts with a roughing and 10 minute misconduct penalty. As a result of the penalties the Thrashers penalty box is mighty crowded with 4 players.
• 12:35 to go and the Preds hit back as Dan Hamhuis picks his man at the blueline and flips the Thrasher with his patented hip check. The crowd erupts to its’ loudest point of the night.
• Exelby responds by blowing up Fiddler at the blueline. Looked like a classic knock down where a moving object meets a steel pole and loses. Tough play and Fids responded by taking an emotional penalty with a kneeing call.
• Just 30 seconds after the Fiddler penalty Sulzer gets tabbed for tripping giving the Thrashers 1:29 of 5v3 advantage.
• The Preds successfully killed off the penalty and took some momentum.
• 4:08 to go and Peverley hits the post on the powerplay. (Alliteration is fun…)
• 3:06 to go and Hornqvist misses the wide open net on the back door. 2 great scoring chances on that PP shift that the hockey gods did not allow to be converted.
• 1:42 to go and the Thrashers get one past Dekanich. A weird play where the rebound from Slater’s backhand bounced of the chest of Stevenson and went it. Thrashers lead 4-2. Slater and Esposito on the assists of Stevenson’s 2nd goal of the night.
• 1:14 to go and Dekanich is pulled from the net.
• Thrashers win 4-2.
My Three Stars:
1. Grant Stevenson
2. Kevin Klein
3. Ryan Jones
– The starting goaltender tonight was Pekka Rinne. Although he let in 3 goals Pekka was the victim of bad luck. 2 goals were screened while another came off Klein’s leg. Rinne stopped 16 out of 19 shots faced. Dekanich got in a period of work and did well. The lone goal against him was yet another bad luck play where the puck went in off a Thrashers chest. Dekanich stopped 9 of the 10 shots he faced.
– The crew tonight was Mike Hassenfratz, Dan O’Rourke, Scott Driscoll, and Tony Sericolo. No complaints from me. The sloppy play led to a lot of penalties, all of which I felt were valid. All in all a combined 24 penalties called.
Jonathon Blum on his 1st pre-season experience: “It was a good experience. Playing on NHL ice with NHL people was a great experience and one that I’ll never forget. I just had a lot of fun out there.”
Blum on the differences he saw from the WHL and this game: “Obviously the speed and the physicalness. The way guys are so smart out there and they are a step ahead of the game and you really have to think to keep up with them. It’s great to learn from guys like DeVries and Hamhuis and I just try to learn from them and just do that on the ice.”
Ryan Jones on his 1st pre-season experience: “The game was a lot faster than even the games a couple days ago so it took me a few minutes to realize that guys would be on you that much quicker. I was a little nervous.”
Jones on his deflection goal: “It was a great play. Mikey won the draw and Kleiner did a good job of getting the shot through. All I had to do was go to the net, which basically what I try to do all the time, and put a stick on all the pucks that come through and it went in.”
Rich Peverley on the power plays scoring chances: “I think for the 1st time playing power play together we had a lot of chances. I think maybe we were gripping the sticks a little too hard. When you’re in this position like I am you really want to pot one or two on the power play when you get that chance.”
Barry Trotz on whether or not Hitch possibly playing his NHL lines tomorrow night surprises him: “Not at all. It’s their 3rd pre-season game, at home, and on the weekend so they are trying to create a buzz. He’s trying to get his team in order, they have a lot of new bodies, so I think he is trying to get them to have a little chemistry right off the bat. So no it doesn’t surprise me at all. We’ll probably field a similar lineup tomorrow and go from there.”
: After the game Barry Trotz informed us that Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard are being reassigned to their junior squads. UPDATE - It was announced today that Brandon Buck was released and sent back to his junior team. Also you can expect around 1/3rd of the roster from tonight to play again tomorrow at Columbus.
I got a chance to meet 3 of you tonight and that was fun. Thanks for stopping by to those of you who did. All in all it was definitely a pre-season game evidenced by the sloppiness throughout the contest.
The Predators next pre-season game will be tomorrow night at Columbus. From what I read over at Eric Smith’s blog it sounds as though the Blue Jackets will field a team consisting mostly of NHL’ers so it should be a fun one. Game time is at 6 pm CST.
Till next time, take care my friends.
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