The Nashville Predators are undefeated in their first three pre-season games. Jack Adams Award for Peter Laviolette! (Photo Credit: Jim Diamond // Rinkside Report)
There were two pre-season games between the Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Both featured different rosters. Both featured Predators victories.
In the first contest held on Saturday – the Predators and Panthers pushed all the way into a shootout that finished 2-1 favoring Nashville. Craig Smith scored off of a rebounder early in the first period. And it wasn’t until midway through the third frame before the Panthers equalized off of a goal from a name we’ve all heard around these parts in Milwaukee, ex-IceHog Brandon Pirri.
The real story of the opening fixture on Saturday’s slate was Carter Hutton. He played the entire game, stopped 23/24 shots on goal, and denied the Panthers on all of their chances in the shootout. He’s played well so far in the pre-season for Nashville. It may have been nice to see Rob Madore get off the bench in that contest but, just as well, it’s real encouraging to see Hutton continues to mature as the back-up to Pekka Rinne.
Did I mention some Finnish goaltender just now? Of course I did. And game two had Rinne logging the full game just as Hutton did before him. The Predators won the second half of their pre-season double-header against the Panthers by a much more comfy 4-1. Rinne stopped 22/23 shots he faced.
Meanwhile, it was Pontus Aberg getting in the Nashville spotlight – twice as a matter of fact. Aberg recorded two goals in the second contest and was joined by Kevin Fiala and Austin Watson on the scoresheet for the Predators.
Nashville Predators Reduce Roster to 28 Players
As you might expect, two games played in one day, the roster was held to a maximum to get through the day. Shortly following the completion of the second game the team announced a large amount of roster cuts.
Press Release via Nashville Predators:
Nashville, Tenn. (September 27, 2014) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has assigned forwards Pontus Aberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Zach Budish, Patrick Cehlin, Felix Girard, Brendan Leipsic, Miikka Salomaki, Josh Shalla, Colton Sissons, Mark Van Guilder and Austin Watson; defensemen Taylor Aronson, Anthony Bitetto, Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Garrett Noonan, Jaynen Rissling, Mikko Vainonen; and goaltenders Magnus Hellberg and Marek Mazanec to the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. The team released forwards Triston Grant, Frederick Gaudreau, Michael Liambas and Joe Pendenza; defensemen Mike Little, Jimmy Oligny and Brian Lee; and goaltender Rob Madore from tryout agreements. Nashville also assigned forward Kevin Henderson to Texas (AHL).
The majority of these players will join the Admirals for the start of their training camp at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tennessee, tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. They’ll also skate Tuesday (11 a.m.) and conduct an off-ice workout on Wednesday before departing for Milwaukee.
Nashville’s roster is now at 28 players – 17 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders.
Forwards (17): Taylor Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Rich Clune, Matt Cullen (currently injured), Kevin Fiala, Mike Fisher (currently injured), Filip Forsberg, Paul Gaustad, Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Craig Smith, Viktor Stalberg (currently injured) and Colin Wilson.
Defensemen (9): Johan Alm, Victor Bartley, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Joe Piskula, Anton Volchenkov and Shea Weber.
Goaltenders (2): Carter Hutton and Pekka Rinne.
When they say that they have released players such as Mike Liambas from try-out agreements – keep in mind most of those names are under contract to the Milwaukee Admirals and not the Nashville Predators. It’s not so much a matter of them being released from our hands as well. The Predators and Admirals work quite tightly together so much of the talent, AHL or NHL, were all up there getting a look. Though, just a helpful reminder per Aaron Sims, Mark Van Guilder and Joe Piskula will need to clear waivers before making it back to the Admirals. I do suspect that will happen.
The three most fascinating names still around in camp are Taylor Beck, Filip Forsberg, and Kevin Fiala. When it comes to the Beck situation, effectively in on a try-out as an un-signed restricted free agent, I feel he’s battling for an roster spot on the Nashville wing that doesn’t exist. If it did, Forsberg has taken it from him this pre-season. As for Fiala, his talent is really quite outstanding but I’m anticipating him going back to Europe for the season before getting his first full North American playing season under him.
Who wins out of the three? Forsberg. And I’m thinking his line combination this pre-season with Mike Ribeiro and James Neal, which has performed nicely, could be where he starts out on top of it. It finally positions Forsberg in an attacking and creative offensive role that he hasn’t quite been afforded the chance to play in so far at the NHL level – and would work him in with arguably the team’s best line.
Milwaukee Admirals Pre-Season Training Camp
Today also marks the first day of Milwaukee Admirals training camp. It will actually take place in Nashville until October 1st before the team shifts home to Milwaukee:
Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, Nashville
Oct. 2nd, Kern Center
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Oct. 3, Kern Center
10:00am – 11:00am Pre Game Skate
7:00pm: Exhibition Game vs. Rockford
10:00am – 11:00am Pre Game Skate @ Kern Center
7:00pm: Exhibition Game @ Chicago
Oct. 6, Kern Center
10:00am – 12:00pm
Oct. 7, BMO Harris Bradley Center
10:00am – 12:00pm
Oct. 8, BMO Harris Bradley Center
10:00am – 12:00pm
Oct. 9, Media Day @ BMO Harris Bradley Center
10:00am – 12:00pm
All practices held at the MSOE Kern Center are open to the public. I strongly encourage you folks to get out to the rink for some of these pre-season practices. As for those that are held at the BMO Harris Bradley Center… those are not open to the public. Plus to that though. When they are practicing on home ice it means a game is afoot without scheduling conflict to allow them to practice in house. The home opener is so very nearly upon us. So celebrate today as the last weekend without Admirals hockey in your life. The 2014-15 season is here.