Preds defeat Jackets in Season Opener

Youth is going to be key this season for the Nashville Predators if they are going to have any sort of success.  Boasting the youngest listed roster in the NHL at 25.8, the Predators are in the midst of a youth movement, but they are still expected to compete this season.

They got off to a good start on opening night, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in a hard fought game that came down to the wire. With goals from Halischuk, Suter and Smith, the Preds were able to overcome Columbus in the first time these two teams had ever played each other in a season opener.

While the Predators did start slow with constant pressure by the Jackets, they were able to get out of the first without allowing a goal, thanks to Pekka Rinne, who was amazing all game.

In the second period, the Predators capitalized on the powerplay, with a nice play form Kostitsyn to open up Suter for their first goal. Columbus would answer with about five minutes left in the frame to tie the game, only to give up a goal a minute later when rookie Craig Smith banged home a loose puck in the crease, to put the Preds up going into the third.

Finally, in the third period, the Preds would add the game winner when Halischuk would knock in a centering pass from O’Reilly. Nash would score later in the third but that would be all as the Preds win 3-2.

The new look Predators certainly showed their youth tonight, both positively and negatively. They were good in the offensive zone, pressuring with their speed and getting more creative than they were in the past. While there isn’t a pure scorer on the team, don’t be surprised if the Preds jump up in scoring this year, as this team can fly. On the negative side, there were some sloppy turnovers that didn’t need to happen, and the defensive coverage was a little off at times, allowing the Jackets extended zone time.

Among the players that really stood out for the Preds were Rinne, Smith, Wilson, and O’Reilly. What more is there to say about Rinne other than he can carry the Preds as far as he wants to this season? Smith had a good first game in the NHL after deciding to turn pro early, scoring a goal and with some nice shots set up by Wilson, who seemed to have good chemistry with him. As for Wilson, he looked very determined this year and is really becoming a complete player in the NHL, and hopefully an offensive force. Finally, O’Reilly had some good jump and really showed his vision on the ice, making some nice passes.

All in all it was a good first game for the Preds, as the develop chemistry between the new players and as everyone adjusts to the system.

Their next game is Saturday against the Blues.

Greg Duley