Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Blum Shines, Preds Don’t in Vancouver
On a day that started with Nashville Predator defensive prospect Jonathon Blum of the Vancouver Giants being named the Player of the Month in the Western Hockey league, it ended with another dismal road performance by the Preds at G M Place in Vancouver. My favorite young player to watch in the Predators preseason camp was Jonathon Blum and he continued to impress with the Vancouver Giants in the month of October. A So Cal native, Blum was an amazing plus 20 during the month of October while scoring 4 goals and adding 10 assists. He scored points in 9 of the 10 games he played after rejoining the Junior team where he serves as captain after playing well enough to make several less talented NHL teams in camp.
The Predators themselves did not fare as well in the meeting with the Vancouver Canucks. Few scoring chances and inconsistent puck handling contributed to the Preds 4-0 demise in a game that was to be celebrated as Coach Barry Trotz’s 750th game as the Predator coach. The Preds played well enough to be competitive thorough the first two periods trailing only 1-0 after two. Two quick goals early in the third put the dagger in the Predators meager effort. For the first time this year the Predators were significantly out shot by a 39-24 margin. The defense and puck handling was again spotty at times leaving goalie Dan Ellis fearing for his own safety. Ellis again had a few problems with rebounds giving up too many second chances to the Nooks.
The Preds entered the game as the leagues third best in the face off circle and lost that battle also by a 32-29 margin. In summary, the Predators looked like a team still looking to hit their stride. I still believe this is a playoff bound team but the time is here on this road trip to spend the bonding time working out the kinks and coming together as a more cohesive unit. There is no one thing to put your finger on which is frustrating for the team, but things you may get away with at home don’t seem to work as well on the road.
Don’t be surprised to see Pekka Rinne in goal on Thursday when the Preds road show hits Calgary. This is a similar situation to the last couple of years where there is nothing seriously wrong with the number one goalie but the team seems to play better in front of the backup. It’s a long season and both goalies will get plenty of chances, but if the team is playing better in front of Rinne right now, then that’s the man that needs to be in net. Points in November are just as important as those down the stretch and the Preds need at least six on this road trip.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass