Friday, October 17, 2008

Predators Gear up for Home and Away Games with Rival Blue Jackets

Melee Between Dallas and the Preds in the Home Opener

After a two win, two loss start that may be better than the record would indicate, the Predators return to action this weekend with an old school NHL home and away series with division foe Columbus. The Pred’s 16 game point streak against the Jackets is on the line with the Preds sporting a 15-0-1 record over the last two seasons. On paper Columbus should have a better team on the ice this year so the streak will probably end this year.

Predator – Blue Jacket games are always spicy affairs with an abundance of bad blood and the resultant fights. This weekend’s set should be no different. It is disappointing that the Preds don’t have a true enforcer to dress in the series opener tonight. Nick Tarnasky who has been sidelined with a hand injury since his arrival in Nashville will not play tonight but may be cleared by the doctors for tomorrow’s rematch. The Preds PIM leader so far is the unlikely Dan Hamhuis, wit all of his 17 minutes stemming from his response to being mugged by Dean Avery last week. I feel sure Jordan Tootoo will receive the brunt of the Jacket’s ire before the weekend is out.

The goaltending duties will be split with Pekka Rinne going tonight and Dan Ellis in the net for the home crowd on Saturday night. Jason Arnott will not play this weekend but hopefully will return by next Thursday’s game with Calgary. Ryan Jones will get a couple more starts in the lineup due to Arnott’s absence. After a very nervous appearance last Friday and taking the pine on Saturday, he returned for much better games against Chicago and Dallas. While taking the loss against Dallas on Wednesday night, the play of Jones and Patric Hornquist was encouraging with both scoring their first NHL goals and both looking more comfortable on the ice.

With Arnott out, Trotz has been going with a first line with Radek Bonk at center and Dumont and Hornquist on the wings. Erat, Legwand and Tootoo; Fiddler, Nichol and Smithson: and Peverly, Ward and Jones have made up the other line combinations. It is unclear who will be the odd man out on defense tonight but I anticipate that Kevin Klein will return tonight with Koistenen sitting.

In summary, it’s great that hockey is back in season and that we have a full slate of games to look forward to on a Friday afternoon. Let’s go Preds and bring in four points this weekend.

Notes: New rumor from Canada – a friend and business partner od David Freeman from Calgary may be interested in Boots DelBiaggio’s share of the Preds… This will be the fourth home opener that the Predators have participated in this year. Aside from their own, they have opened with division members St. Louis, Chicago and now Columbus… Prayers go out to ex-Pred Chris Mason for a quick recovery from his emergency appendectomy performed last night… Dallas rookie Fabian Brunnstrom’s hat trick came as a surprise to the Preds Wednesday night as he didn’t even play at home against the Preds in last Saturday’s opener

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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