Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three Thoughts About the Predators on A Sunday Morning

In reflecting back on last night's Predators-Blackhawks game, three things come to mind that were not covered in our game story from last night.

Before the game when I arrived about 5:30, the crowd of folks outside the Bridgestone Arena was mostly made up of folks looking for tickets as opposed to selling. Based on the limited number of tickets available on the street, this was easily the hardest sell out of the season.

Secondly, there was a play at the end of the second period that may have been the turning point in the game that received little press after the game. With the Hawks up 2-0 and on the power play at the end of the second period, the Predators were at their lowest point of the game, Patrick Sharp got the puck to the right of the Preds' net and had an open shot at the net but passed instead.

I asked Pekka Rinne what happened and he said, "I don't know, you'll have to ask him. I thought so too. He has the empty net and I was just preparing to try to dive there and get something in front. Then he passed and I didn't even have to make the save."

Had the taken the clear shot and scored, it would have been 3-0 and probably "game, set, match" as Barry Trotz likes to say.

A final thought was about a play that may have been Cody Franson's coming of age moment in his career. At 7:43 in the third period when the Predators were gaining momentum, Franson was stick handling the puck through the Chicago zone and being hounded by Jordan Hendry.

Franson finally had enough and with a quick shove sent Hendry flying and out of the play. There was a TV time out after it but it was the first sign of life from the crowd since the first period. This was a building block that made the crowd take notice and really start to come alive with Jerred Smithson's goal a couple of minutes later.

For Franson, it was unusual physicality and a sign of the potential that is there when he decides to take the next step and use his size to become more Weber-like in his game.

The Predators play Chicago again tonight at the United Center at 6 p.m. Central. Yesterday's game preview would be valid again today. There is no word as to who will be in goal for each team, but it should be a level playing field with both teams being equally tired from last nights action.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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