Sunday, October 19, 2008
Shea Weber Night vs. the Blue Jackets
After a slow start in Columbus on Friday night, the Nashville Predators came ready to play on Saturday with a 6-3 victory over Columbus. The game was a great hockey night in Nashville game for the Preds and the sparse crows of 13,000 that was there to see it. There was plenty of scoring (including a third period with a combined 30 shots), Much better defense on the Preds part, and a couple of fights as you would expect in any Blue Jackets game.
The night was also a coming out party for the new look Shea Weber. Shea scored a goal and had three assists and end up with a plus 5 for the night. He also had five shots and three hits for good measure. After an injury plagued season last year, Weber played to the high expectations that folks have had for him the last couple of years. He was the first star of the game and I don’t see how the didn’t make the NHL top three. The one’s picking the NHL stars obviously forgot to watch the tape of the game.
Several others had big nights including Marty Erat who had two goals and flirted wit h a hat trick several times the second half of the game. His first goal was one of the most incredible plays I have ever witnessed in person. Rookie Ryan Jones was taking the puck down ice and faked a slap shot as he crossed the blue line and left Erat with a drop pass. Jones then skated directly at goalie Fredrik Norrena’s mask completely screening him from the puck that Erat sent through Jones’ five hole as well as Norrena’s five hole for the goal making it 2-0 Preds. Jones was interviewed on the post game show and verified that it was a planned move on his part. Erat made it more interesting by sending it through Jones legs. That part wasn’t planned.
Dan Ellis continued to play well in goal in spite of letting three shots into his net. The Predators defense looked much better than in Friday’s game as did the penalty kill which allowed no goals.
One positive thing that can be said for this season’s Columbus team is that this is the most competitive team they have ever put on the ice. The Nash, Umberger, Huselius line is the best line they have skated in their history. With the goalie tandem they sport and the youngsters they are bringing through the system they should be a force to be reckoned with over the next few years.
After the Predators big night, they will get a few days without any games. They played six games in nine nights compiling a 3-3 start and will now get a few days to go back to the basics to prepare for home games Thursday and Saturday against the Flames and Kings. Hopefully Jason Arnott and Nick Tarnasky will be ready to return after the days off. The Preds play 13 of their first 20 games on the road up until American Thanksgiving week. If they can play a few games over .500 until the end of that stretch, they should be poised for another playoff run.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass