Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hal Gill was key to Predators' penalty kill unit in 3-2 win over Detroit

While all the post game attention was focused on the Kostitsyn brothers, with Sergei making two perfect passes to Andrei that resulted in a pair of power play goals, the one player that may have had more to do with the 3-2 Predator win over Detroit was defenseman, Hal Gill.

Playing in his tenth game with Nashville, since coming over from Montreal, Gill is playing the role that he is known for, exactly as expected.

Barry Trotz explained, "Hal Gill did exactly what David went out and got Gill for. He's that big body, penalty killer, defends well, type of veteran player and he was huge today."

The Predators were short-handed four times for a total of six minutes of play and Gill was on the ice for 3:30 on the penalty kill. He really dominated play near the end of the second period when the Preds had back to back infractions that included ten seconds of five on three play by Detroit.

Gill was out for three separate shifts during the consecutive kills and dominated play, standing tall in front of the net, tying up the puck in the corner, and generally disrupting everything the Wings were trying to accomplish.

Trotz was pleased with the two power play goals by Andrei Kostitsyn but was even more complementary of the short-handed play. "We were four for four on the penalty kill. We had a real big kill there, with a little five on three there in those back to back penalties so it was really huge there."

Gill discussed the penalty kill, "We got a couple of big kills for us and Pekka made some big saves. We have to battle for wins sometimes and that's what we did.

Gill shares the credit with goalie, Pekka Rinne. "If he can see the puck, he can stop it, so we try to make it as easy on him as possible and let him do his job."

Rinne also enjoys having Gill on the ice with him. "He does everything. He's boxing out guys in front of me, he's blocking shots, using his reach, blocking passing lanes, and just a big guy, and a strong presence. He's an intimidating guy and when he gets to the pucks, he usually gets them out so he has been really valuable for us in this little stretch."

One of the reasons Gill is excellent in short-handed situations is because he really likes the penalty kill minutes. "It's just something that I've always enjoyed so it's a challenge and something that I can use my size and try to be in the way as much as I can. You try and read the play and you are playing against great players so I find it enjoyable."

After playing his entire career in the Eastern Conference, Gill is learning how the West is to be won. "There's a lot of rivalries here and a lot of teams that we have big games against."

As the season winds down Gill explains the importance of every point. "We are getting close to that time where everything is important and every two points are important. Tonight was a good battle for us and they had a little beat up team and they played hard and we matched it until we got the win."

On a lighter note, there were two Octopuses and a single catfish thrown onto the Bridgestone Arena ice and Gill was surprised to see the aquatic creatures on the playing surface and was shown with a look of confusion at one point on the Jumbotron.

After understanding the sentiment of dead creatures on the ice, Gill exclaimed, "That's nice! It's good to see some animals out there but I like the catfish better."

The Predators ended the evening with 87 points, four behind Detroit, with a game in hand. They remain eight points behind the division and conference leading St. Louis Blues.

Nashville will fly to Phoenix on Sunday and face the Coyotes on Monday at 9 p.m. CDT.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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