Fans had their last home preseason look at the Predators on Monday night and while they are still a bit rusty, it did look like Predator hockey with strong defense, good goaltending, and just enough offense to squeeze out a win.
The Predators made massive cuts to their roster yesterday to get the total in camp down to 27.
At this time, I will look into my crystal ball and try to consider some ideas of what the 23 man opening night roster may eventually look like. This is simply a guess and will go totally out the window if the Preds make a trade or pick up any free agents or go fishing in the the waiver wire pool.
At forward, Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, J.P. Dumont, Marty Erat, Marcel Goc, David Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn, Jordin Tootoo, Joel Ward, and Jerred Smithson are virtual locks. Wade Belak is a special case and probably is assured a spot unless the Predators decide they don't need an enforcer, which is unlikely.
That leaves one or two open positions for Cal O'Reilly, Jamie Lundmark, and Jonas Andersson. Lundmark is currently slowed with a slight groin pull.
On defense, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Francis Bouillon, Cody Franson, Kevin Klein and Ryan Parent appear to be the top six. Alexander Sulzer and Aaron Johnson are hanging around trying to be a number seven if the Preds do indeed carry an extra D-man which they have not always done with Belak being able to fill in in an emergency.
In Goal, Pekka Rinne is the only certainty. As it stands right now, in the race for back-up, I would give Anders Lindback an edge over Mark Dekanich based on his looking more comfortable in net and slightly better performance in the preseason.
The bottom line is that the Predators have the best group of players that they have ever had at any time in the franchise's history. Tough choices will have to be made and a few of the above listed players could either be traded or lost to the waiver wire in the next week.
I think the Preds will open with 13 forwards and seven defensemen. I think that based on talent Andersson would get the nod at number 13. However, O'Reilly and Lundmark require waivers which may play in to the decision.
On defense, both Sulzer and Johnson have to pass through waivers so it may come down to who will go through more easily. Based on experience alone, I think Johnson would get the seventh slot.
It is such a close race, my opinion could change after tonight's game in Atlanta. If Lindback and Dekanich play and get lit up, an increased effort could be made to go fishing for a goalie on the waiver wire or package a player or two in a trade for the back-up.
A week from now, the decisions will have been made and the guesswork and analysis will cease.
Predators at Atlanta...
While tonight's game in Atlanta may seem like a replay of Monday's effort, it will be a critical game for those Preds mentioned above that are fighting for the final slots.
In goal I would not be surprised to see Anders Lindback and Mark Dekanich each play half the game as the final audition. Trotz has indicated that Pekka Rinne would play two whole games which leave him doing that on Sunday in Washington.
On defense, you could see Alexander Sulzer and Aaron Johnson on the same line fighting for the last D-man opening and/or the first call-up slot.
Cal O'Reilly and Jonas Andersson will continue to try to impress at forward. Jamie Lundmark has been slowed with an injury that may end up earning him a trip to Milwaukee.
The game will be on 102.9 so folks in Middle Tennessee will be able to hear it.
In Pred Nation...
Jim Diamond spoke with Ryan Ellis and Barry Trotz about the young D-man's departure. Jim also discusses three Predators that appear on a Sports Illustrated list of best players at 101 different sweater numbers. This does not appear to be one of SI's best efforts.
Josh Cooper frames Ryan Ellis's departure in a sad way. He also talks to Mark Dekanich about his Twitter account.
Dirk Hoag presents his first all inclusive, detailed numbers data of the season for the Predators-Thrashers game on Monday and is taking requests for what to add.
David Boclair looks at Barry Trotz's discussion after Monday's game about putting teams away when they have the opportunity.
Predators.com has a piece with David Poile where he gives his thoughts midway through the preseason.
Mark Willoughby has a few first impressions from the Preds preseason. He and I disagree on the back-up goalie.
Amanda at Predlines has here weekly Central Division round-up and also discusses the Preds' roster cuts.
Paul McCann shares his thoughts after Monday's game.
Sam at PredsBlog looks at possible line combinations for the Predators.
At the game on Monday, the Sports Authority presented a commendation to the Preds and Bridgestone Arena for getting the building back in shape for a concert quickly. Now if they could only get the locker rooms open.
The Cincinatti Cyclones signed an agreement with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL to share players as needed.
Around the NHL...
It was announced that Flyers' goalie, Michael Leighton will be out for a month with a bulging disc in his back. Paul Holmgren indicated that they would not seek to add another goalie during Leighton's absence.
Things continue to deteriorate on the Island as it is reported that Kyle Okposo is now headed for surgery. They did sign D-man Mike Mottau who is no replacement for Mark Streit.
Larry Brooks makes valid points that Wade Redden would not have made the team even without his his bloated contract.
Tim Wharnsby has the latest on Dan Hamhuis from Vancouver.
It's hard to believe that tonight's Hurricanes-Panthers game has be canceled by a tropical storm.
Copper and Blue looks at what the Oilers may want to do with Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi. It's tough having skilled young offensive players.
Ryan Porth has his top five Calder Trophy candidates.
Michelle Kenneth writes about the Sestito brothers at Inside Hockey. Tom was one-half the subject of a video that I put on YouTube that is now over 113,000 hits.
Jeremy Roenick didn't think much of the Thrashers moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense. I don't think he'll be working for the Thrasher's PR department anytime soon.
Over the summer, we had Michael Langlois on POTG Radio and one of the topics was comparing the game today to the game of the 60's and now he has a post on the topic.
The odd story of former agent/coach David Frost continues as he is running a hockey school under an alias in California.
With a running argument about folks Tweeting games, Tom Gulitti has a great compromise. He has set up a separate Twitterfeed for Devils in game Tweets at @fireandicegame. This is a great idea so that those who want a play by play can have one while others who don't won't have to complain.
Down goes Brown has a look at the Eastern Conference while Intent to Blow looks at the Pacific Division.
Odds and Ends...
Something to look forward to this Christmas... True Grit from the Coen Brothers featuring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. Here is the first trailer.
It's corn maze season again and here is a top ten lists of mazes throughout the US. These pictures are pretty a-maze-ing.
What about the Blackberry Playbook? I don't get it. It's too big to be a phone and too small to be a useful computer.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass