Sunday, February 1, 2009

Predators Find Life in Western Canada

The Nashville Predators traveled to Western Canada looking for rejuvenation and showed signs of life as they won two of three games on the trip. The crowning jewel was the 2-1 Predator victory over Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to the trip the Predators were 4-11 against the Northwest division this year and had not defeated Calgary or Vancouver so taking two out of three was a real breakthrough for a team that was on life support before the All-Star break.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators took the lead at 12:04 in the second on a goal by J P Dumont off of an Oiler defensive lapse to the left of goalie Dwayne Roloson. In the third, Marty Erat scored at the 8:35 mark to put the Preds up 2-0. Ales Hemsky followed a minute later with a goal to bring the Oilers back within one. The Predator defense remained solid and the game ended 2-1.

The star of the game was Predator goalkeeper Pekka Rinne, who stood tall in goal stopping 32 of 33 shots including four in an all out barrage in the closing seconds. Barry Trotz appears to have settled on Rinne as the number one goalie as he started all three games on the trip.

On the surface the Predators problem in being unable to score goals still lingers, as three goals in the last two games would indicate. However, the Preds appear to be playing more inspired hockey, especially in power play situations and defensively they have limited the untimely turnovers that have plagued them throughout the year.

The true test of whether the Predators have really turned the corner will begin Tuesday night when the Preds return home to the Sommet Center for a match with the Phoenix Coyotes. The Preds will play 14 of their next 19 games at home and will need to win the vast majority at home and play .500 on the road in order to secure a playoff berth. Stay tuned, it’s not over yet for Barry Trotz’s Predators.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and the Columbia Daily Herald

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