Paul McCann: Sunday Shots – Preds Dim Stars 4-1

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SlapShot Radio’s photographer was out and about last night, snapping pictures of the color and the action from around Bridgestone Arena. Here are today’s Sunday Shots… Courtesy DLM/SlapShot Radio

Pred Nation saw a couple of familiar scenarios last night – “13 feet of goaltender” but with a twist. The former tandem of Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback were on opposite ends of the ice as starters last night at Bridgestone Arena as the Nashville Predators lifted their record to 2-0 and kept the Dallas Stars winless early in this NHL campaign with a 4-1 victory.

The other familiar scenario? Giving up the first goal, getting an incendiary event late in the second period and exploding in the third.

For the second time in as many games, the Predators had to come from behind. Ordinarily this might be cause for concern, but a comment made in the on-ice interview with Predators forward (and first star of the game) Paul Gaustad may give a peek into the strategy, he indicated that working their (the Preds) plan was simply wearing down the opposition. This may have been confirmed by a quote from Lindback on NHL.com where the former Pred said “”They forechecked hard with two guys, and they wore us out there I thought.”

On Thursday the Preds fell behind in the second period, got a power play right at the end of the second and used the ensuing power play to tie the game and hit the accelerator in the third… last night it was a twisted wrister from the Captain Shea Weber that found its way through the five hole and tied the game with a classic “back breaker” goal. The Predators built off that and had a feeding frenzy that led to a sequence mid way through the third period that saw two goals in 1:21 seconds that really salted the game away.

You have to give full marks to Anders Lindback, he was not the reason for the Dallas loss… if anything, Lindy kept them in the game as the Predators buzzed the Stars offensive zone throughout the second and third periods. The top players for the Stars simply weren’t getting it done last night.

The other fun part of last night was that nastiness factor. That increased as the night went on, from Paul Gaustad and Vernon Fiddler dancing in the first and culminating in Shea Weber’s mammoth hit on Antoine Roussel that brought the teams together and saw Roussel get a two and ten giving the Predators a power play. This rivalry is just starting to build.

Head coach Lindy Ruff is trying to maintain balance with his team… after all, an 0-1-1 start is not the end of the world. But the winner of offseason free agency has some issues… late game defensive breakdowns and top line production being two of them that need to be addressed. Dallas has a tough week ahead of them as Columbus and Pittsburgh wait to welcome them before they return home to play the hapless Flyers. It’s a tough road to get well against.

A 2-0 start with a team that is being led in scoring by Eric Nystrom and Paul Gaustad? OK… I’ll take it. This start gives the top six a little more time to develop the chemistry… and this is coming. There were solid scoring chances and plenty of shots coming from James Neal, Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith. Filip Forsberg continues to set up chances, the explosion from this group is coming and when the damn breaks… watch out.

The Predators take today off before getting back to practice tomorrow. This week sees the conclusion of the season opening homestand as Calgary comes to town on Tuesday then the first road trip as Nashville heads to Winnipeg on Friday and Chicago on Saturday for a Central Division back-to-back.

Here’s the highlights from last night…

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Random Notes

– Fun fact of the day – Both Shea Weber and Eric Nystom are on pace to score 82 goals this year. Unfortunately, MTL’s Tomas Plekanec and PHI’s Wayne Simmonds are on pace to deliver 164. Don’t you just love early season stats?

– Interesting comment from HC Peter Laviolette’s post game presser, talking about how having two extra players (and two on IR) means that guys have to earn their ice time. He’s presenting it well, earn it or sit.

– One key to the Predators success thus far has to be in the face off dot. Gaustad has won almost 76% of his draws and leads the league in FO%. The good part about having an ace faceoff man is that it makes the other centers even better as they have to battle Goose in practice.

– I had the chance to sample some great food in the Lexus Lounge last night! The only word I have is WOW! Chef Wade Gnann has a playground with the offerings in this unique venue at Bridgestone Arena and he has taken full advantage of it. Chef Gnann is doing freshly prepared food tables where the food is readily available, but freshly cooked at the chef’s table itself. Not only are the offerings tasty, but haven’t been sitting in a chaffing dish for hours. Congrats Chef! If you can wrangle it… try and get to the Lexus Lounge…

– All 30 teams in action last night… I almost felt sorry for the NHL Tonight guys on NHL Network… packing all of those highlights into 60 minutes was not easy.

– Well… so much for goaltending issues in Minnesota. Two wins without giving up a goal yet… Darcy Kuemper has fixed all of their issues… unless the issue is Colorado not being able to hit the broad side of a barn with a shot.

– The Av’s are the only team in the league that haven’t found the back of the net yet and are the only Western Conference team without a point. They are one of nine winless teams and one of four teams that are 0-2.

– Wow… the San Jose Sharks do have a chip on their shoulder and have started the season better than anyone expected, but should we have expected better? After all… regular season play has never been this team’s issue.

– With some of the screeching going on about Chris Pronger being named to the Department of Player Safety you might think that Chris Pronger doesn’t deserve to do anything in hockey… grow up boys… this stuff has been part of the game and having someone that has actually played the game on the edge is good for the decisions that will come out of this department.

– Two games tonight – Toronto @ NYR at 6pm CT and Winnipeg visits LA at 9pm CT

– Completely off topic – just saw a tweet regarding Glen Campbell’s last song and last video. The song is called “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” Now I admit… I was a closet Glen Campbell fan in his “Rhinestone Cowboy” days and “Wichita Lineman” is still one of my all-time favorite songs, but I really haven’t followed him since the late 70’s until I heard of his last tour and his battle with Alzheimers. Anyone who has had a family member suffer with this knows what this disease does to a person and their family… The song is simple, Campbell’s voice world-weary but strong. The lyrics cut right to the bone and is a fitting, incredibly touching swan song for the country legend. Here’s where you can find the video

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This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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