It would appear that Denis Grebeshkov has no qualms with scoring on ex-teammates. Tonight, the freshly acquired defenseman put on a great 1st period show and helped start a Preds 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. 15,682 were in attendance tonight for the first game in the newly named Bridgestone Arena.
Felder’s FANTASTIC Five:
1. Immediate Impact - While I still can't fully evaluate the trade the Predators made with the Oilers yesterday (A 2nd Round pick to Edmonton for Grebeshkov if you somehow hadn't heard), I can say that seeing an immediate impact from the traded player is always a welcome thing. Grebs (I'm going with that as a nickname for now until I hear what his new teammates really call him) switched locker rooms the night before this game and seemed to have no problems putting the puck past his former goalie. It will be very interesting to see if he can continue to put in such a solid effort on both sides of the ice with Francis Bouillon as his current defensive partner. This month will certainly decide if the Preds pick up his RFA contract at the end of the season.
2. Those Olympians Are Pretty Good - How nice was it to see Suter and Weber on the SAME TEAM? Didn't take them long to get back in the groove despite going to war against each other just two days ago. Suter led the team in TOI with 22:24 while Webs was right behind putting up 21:21 of TOI. Although they finished a -1 (due to the Weber defensive gaffe that led to the Oilers first goal), the man advantage tally by this pair showed they were back to normal. As a good friend may say, "Beauty and the Beast led the way again."
3. The 3rd Line Finds Their Game - I was very impressed with the 3rd line effort today. Colin Wilson really had a strong effort, Cal O'Reilly had a quiet game but did win 7 of his 10 faceoffs taken, and then Jordin Tootoo looked like he hadn't played for a year with all the energy he was expelling the first two periods. All in all I thought it was a really good night for this line. They had energy, scoring chances, and a goal to top it off. Combined this line provided 6 shots on goal, 3 hits, 3 takeaways, 1 blocked shot, and 7 faceoffs won out of 10 taken. That's the kind of effort you need from a 3rd line to make them dangerous.
4. Special Teams Performing Well - Credit where it is due, the special teams performed well tonight. The PK was perfect in killing off two penalties. They actually did not even allow an Oiler PP shot on goal. The man advantage did their part with Suter setting up the Cannon shot we've all come to know and love. So, for once, no complaints from me on special teams this evening.
5. Getting Bodies In Front - What was maybe THE key to this win? Screening the goaltender. Look at the goal recaps in the Other Notes section and you'll see just how many goals were scored with bodies in front. 5 of the 7 combined goals had a man in the crease to help their teams cause. That type of willingness to go to the net is crucial in a month like this one. Essentially, taking care of these types of details make or break your season. To me, March IS the season this year. It's make or break in regards to playoffs and the Preds got off on the right foot tonight with their win.
* Tonight’s scratches were Wade Belak, Alex Sulzer, and Ryan Jones who was placed on waivers earlier in the day.
* 1ST PERIOD
* GOAL for EDMONTON - 13:23 to go. Mike Comrie chips in an easy rebound goal to give the Oilers an early lead. Edmonton caught the Preds Olympian Shea Weber pinching in way too deep. The Beast got caught in the middle of the slot trying to fight for the puck in an almost forechecking type manner and the puck was sent up off the boards for a nice pass to Tom Gilbert from Jason Strudwick. This gave the Oilers a 3 on 1 chance. Gilbert slid the puck over to Shawn Horcoff driving the stick side. Horcoff let off a wrister that Peks was able to stop, but he was handcuffed and dropped a rebound low stick side that Comrie was able to quickly swipe into the net. It was odd to see Webs so far out of position on that play. I had to laugh and wonder if he thought Team Canada was behind him to recover quickly for the odd man rush. Comrie (7) from Horcoff (15) and Gilbert (10). Edmonton has the 1-0 lead.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 7:46 to go. Colin Wilson wires a wrist shot high glove on Jeff Deslauriers as Jordin Tootoo is screening in front. Based on the fact that Deslauriers never even dropped down towards a butterfly position indicates to me he never saw the shot coming. Very patient play by Colin to make sure he held onto the puck high in the zone while Toots got into position for the screen job. Grebeshkov got an assist, but if you watch the replay it was really his skate that got the puck to Colin Wilson as opposed to his stick. Either way it has to be nice to score in your first game with your new team and, cherry on top, against the team that traded you. Wilson (3) from the newly acquire Denis Grebeshkov (14). We are now tied at 1.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 5:05 to go. Joel Ward right in front is screening Deslauriers. The puck soars in low glove side after a blistering slap shot from Grebeshkov gets through traffic. That may be the reason the Preds acquired him. Adding some more offensive pop to the blueline. Pretty good start to his time in Nashville for Grebeshkov and against his former team no less. Grebeshkov (7) from Legwand (23) and Ward (17). Preds now hold a 2-1 lead.
* END OF THE 1ST PERIOD – NSH: 2 EDM: 1 Positives - Preds with the 8-6 shots on goal advantage. Used screens in front very well that period to comeback from 1-0 deficit. Won 63% of the faceoffs. Negatives - Bad defensive pinching cost Preds 1st goal with a 3v1 odd man rush. Sluggish start to this one with not quite the pace I was hoping for.
* 2ND PERIOD
* GOAL for EDMONTON - 8:07 to go. It's a game of shots from the point. This time we have Theo Peckham (who is playing in just his fifth game this season) with a windup wrister that gets deflected in front by Gilbert Brule. The puck then skips in stick side on Pekka Rinne who had correctly played the angle for the shot from the blueline, but was unable to react to the deflection in time. Brule (13) from Peckham (1) and Marc Pouliot (3). That was Peckham's first NHL point ever by the way. Edmonton has tied the game at 2.
* POWER PLAY GOAL for NASHVILLE - The Cannon didn't get left in Canada ladies and gentlemen. The Beast lets one go that didn't go through the net, but definitely found the back of it. That is the Shea Weber shot Nashville fans have come to know and love. A glove side tally with Patric Hornqvist screening in front which let Webs blister one past Deslauriers. Weber (12) from Suter (25) and Erat (18). Preds take advantage on the man advantage and regain the lead, now 3-2.
* 3:53 to go and we have a Cogliano "goal" under review. The replay clearly shows the puck went under the side of the net and not past Rinne. Easy call and no goal. Odd play but it happens.
* END OF THE 2ND PERIOD – NSH: 3 EDM: 2 Positives - A man advantage goal. Leading shots on goal 20-13. Winning 62% of faceoffs. Negatives - Haven't fully put away the Oilers just yet. The few shots that they are allowing seem to be quality scoring chances thus far.
* 3RD PERIOD
* GOAL for EDMONTON - 17:06 to go. Brule starts the puck up ice towards Cogliano. Cogs is then pestered along the boards, but makes a diving push of the puck to get it into the neutral zone where Marc Pouliot takes it with speed across the blueline. Pouliot wastes little time as he lets off a slap shot that soars into the net high stick side past Rinne. Soft goal to give up in the 3rd period. Pouliot (3) from Cogliano (9) and Brule (15). The Oilers tie this game up again, now at 3 all.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 14:58 to go. The SAD line finds the twine but you can blame a bounce off of Strudwick in the crease for the goal. Jason Arnott was in the corner to Deslauriers stick side and just threw the puck towards the crease. The puck hit Strudwick, fell to the goal line, and it appeared that Deslauriers leg kick may have helped propel the puck that extra inch and in. Timely response to the Oilers tying the game. Arnott (15) from Sullivan (25) and Hamhuis (13). Preds regain their one goal lead and the score is now 4-3.
* 1:59 to go and Ethan Moreau gets tabbed for an obvious interference call in which he tripped up Shea Weber at his own blueline. That should seal the deal on this one.
2. Wilson - 1 goal, 3 SOG, 1 takeaway, and 1 blocked shot.
3. Pouliot - 1 goal, 1 assist, +1, 4 SOG, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, and won 4 of 12 faceoffs.
Goalie Grade:B – The starting goaltender tonight was Pekka Rinne. The 3rd goal against was a real soft one. The 1st and 2nd goals against I can't put much fault on Peks. Rebound and deflections are very tough to stop in close so you can't give Rinne too much grief on those, but you could certainly say a few things about the last one he whiffed at. At the end of the night, Rinne made 22 saves on 25 shots against. It will be interesting to see which game he starts in later this week. Will it be at home versus L.A. or on the road in Detroit on Friday night? Trotzy will decide that one.
Brandon Felder - "Talk about the development with your line mates. Even though your line may be considered a crashing line of sorts with a guy like Jordin Tootoo out there, you guys are finding the spots to take your chances."
Colin Wilson - "Yeah. I think it's more of an energy line. Having Cal out there, he's got a great head for the game, and he can make great plays. I think having a shooter like Tootoo out there and he can crash hard too, it's a good combination."
Felder - "In watching the Olympics and your teammate Ryan Suter, did you find any inspiration considering he did the college hockey route as well?"
Wilson - "Yeah. It was awesome to watch Sutes. Me and him have kind of been through the same things. He played for the U.S. national, obviously we were drafted by the same team. You know obviously it's very far down the road but any kid growing up always wants to be in the Olympics."
Felder - "Is there any kind of switch you have to make to go from the Olympic style of play to the NHL style in just a couple of nights?"
Shea Weber - "No, I don't think so. I think if there is anything you can use, the groove we're in playing every two nights, and hopefully we can transfer some of that energy into playing well here."
Felder - "Considering it's March and the playoffs are just around the corner, is the pressure not quite as intense as the Olympics put you can still feel the pressure?"
Weber - "I don't know if you want to call it pressure. Obviously there are expectations and you want to make the playoffs. If you don't win games you're not going to. So I think the expectation in here is high, we expect to make the playoffs, but on that note we have to play as good as we can because there are some good teams right behind us and it's going to be a tight race."
Felder - "Any kind of switch you have to make in your mind to go from Olympic hockey to the NHL hockey or is kind of easier since it's only a couple of nights later?"
Ryan Suter - "Well number one that was the most intense two weeks I've ever been in. The pace was so high. It's nice to come back to your team, where you feel comfortable again, and to just go out there and just play. It's a lot easier coming here than it was going to the Olympics."
Felder - "The expectations and pressure are really high in the Olympics but here you guys have a push for the playoffs going on and that pressure. Is there a switch there as well?"
Suter - "Yeah. You go from playing the biggest game of my career, where the emotions are so high, to playing a big game here, but also knowing that there's 21 big games. So you kind of have to get that in your head."
Felder - "Talk about Colin Wilson's play. He seems to have picked up right where he left off just before the break."
Barry Trotz - "I really liked Colin's game today. He was really strong on the walls, made plays, he kept possession of the puck, tried to shoot it, and he obviously got the goal. I liked his game and I liked that line. For the most part they were a real good line. Third period they turned the puck over a few times in the neutral zone. That wasn't really characteristic of them compared to the first two periods so they just have to get that out of the their system and go from there."
Was there some rust from the break? Sure there was. That said, in the end the Predators took care of business and will need to build off of this win. The competition the rest of the week is against playoff teams and using this game as a springboard to a higher level of play must be the goal. I'm sure a few of the Olympians will get some rest tomorrow before the back to back later this week. Hopefully the rest of the team now has the rust off and is ready to start the real grind that is the month of March.
The Predators next game is Thursday night right back here in the Bridgestone Arena. Another 7 pm faceoff as this time the L.A. Kings pay a visit to strengthen their standing in the Western Conference. Enjoy the Trade Deadline Day tomorrow. Be sure to check in here at Hockeybuzz for all the latest, and follow my Twitter feed (@brandon_felder) for all the Pred specific things I am hearing.
Till tomorrow, take care friends.
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