The Wings hosted the Predators tonight coming off two very different wins in Ottawa and New York but wins nonetheless. The team was looking to further distance themselves from the disappointing start to the season down in Florida by taking on their former Central division rivals. The Predators came in off two days rest at 1-2-0 on the season after splitting back to backs with Chicago followed by a loss to Dallas. Coming in the obvious player to look out for was PK Subban, who came in with 1 goal and 1 assist. Another name to keep an eye on is Calle Jarnkrok, the former Wings prospect given up in the Legwand deal, who now finds himself on the Preds top line. The Wings came in led by the Vanek, Helm, and Nyquist line and Mike Green at the back end, while the rest of the offense continued to search for chemistry. Steve Ott drew back into the lineup at the expense of Andreas Athanasiou. On the rear end Ryan Sproul made his season debut in place of Xavier Ouellet. Another move to keep an eye on was Dylan Larkin moving back to the wing to try to spark his offensive output.
The game tunes in for the puck drop and I am immediately blinded by those yellow Preds uniforms. I am reminded these could be the ugliest uniforms in sports. To the game action, Helm chases Subban hard behind the net forcing a turnover that winds up in a shot from Brendan Smith, but no traffic at the net to cause any real chance. After a decent chance for the Preds after a Sproul turnover, the Wings manage a couple shots, one of which was from Zetterberg. This got me to thinking, I don’t know if I’ve seen Zetterberg get too many clean shots like that yet this season. The Wings generally carried the play early outshooting the Preds 7-2 in the first five minutes, a nice change from what we’ve seen thus far this season.
The Wings followed the good early start up with a chain of icings that luckily didn’t lead to much for the Predators. Frans Nielsen skates one in over the line and drops for Larkin who gets a good shot off from the high slot between a couple defenders. Following the commercial break, Nyquist forces a turnover in the corner by Josi and quickly finds Helm out front who gets a good chance but nothing going. The puck finds it’s way back to Sproul off the chance who unloads one but again nothing going.
The flurry leads to a Wings powerplay on a hook by Colin Wilson on Tatar. A few decent shots generated but nothing all that dangerous outside of a Rinne turnover to Helm that the goaltender scrambled back to the net in time for. The 2nd unit definitely was looking to get Sproul some shots which was nice to see. It appears the game plan for the Wings early has been to get shots from the point.
Nielsen appears to be making a habit of the drop pass coming across the blue line and dropping for Abdelkader this time on one he maybe should’ve kept for himself. The Preds have closed the shot gap at about the midway point here, but on nothing too dangerous mind you. They follow that up with a sneakily dangerous Smith chance that catches the inside of Mrazek’s skate as he slides across the slot. Larkin takes it the other way and hits a streaking Sproul crashing to the net but doesn’t manage to get enough on it.
An icing leads to the Miller-Glendening-Ott line getting stuck on the ice. Nashville manages a couple shots from the opportunity, one of which is a Subban shot that Mrazek doesn’t see but goes wide. Off a solid rush Tatar finds Sheahan on a spinning backhand pass to the slot but he can’t find the back of the net.
An awkward turnover in the corner leads to a Ryan Johansen chance from the slot and the Wings get hemmed in for a bit but the puck stays out. The period comes to a close with the shots at 15-15. This would usually indicate a high action period but there wasn’t anything incredibly dangerous other than a couple of shots from the slot for each team; neither goalie had to make any big time saves as of yet. There wasn’t a whole to get excited about either way.
- Smith seemed to have the puck on his stick a lot in this period and made some good passes.
- Helm continues his strong start with some good forechecking early on and getting a handful of shots.
- The offense continues to be primarily generated by the Vanek-Helm-Nyquist line.
- Sproul hasn’t been very noticeable through the first outside of a few shots on the powerplay. But for a guy who has been accused of lacking defensively, that might be a good thing.
- Same goes for Ericsson who continues his surprisingly decent start to the season.
Early on, Helm taps a puck from the slot back to Smith who steps into one and fires it wide. Next, a flurry generated by the OMG line, and how do I say this; they generated two of the better chances of the game so far in a single sequence. A delay while the refs make some fixes to the net and Jimmy Howard looks thoroughly entertained by whatever Steve Ott has to say. Blashill sends the pairing of Sproul-Smith out together and I’m a little excited to see what happens here. The shift leads to some good chances in front of Rinne and ultimately a powerplay for the Wings.
Right off the faceoff, Sproul unloads one from the point that hits one or many things and trickles across the line! The replay shows the puck ricochets off Rinne, off an unaware Abdelkader and back through Rinne. Laviolette challenges the play for goaltender interference because he hates fun. The result is a good goal as there wasn’t really much of anything to review other than some contact after the puck has already passed by.
The crew makes reference to advanced analytics positively and I let out a slight giggle picturing what Mickey’s face looks like right now. The Predators with a great chance to put one past an outstretched Mrazek but Sproul gets the leg out and deflects it away at the top of the crease. If he doesn’t block that, it’s definitely in. On that note, can they really start talking about the “Big Boy” play of the game in the middle of the second period?
Another powerplay follows to the Wings, they will need to be careful as they’re likely to get called for one soon. Sproul comes out for the powerplay and immediately creates an opportunity off the rush with a give and go with Abdelkader on which he’s hooked with no call. But with the penalties where they’re at right now, it’s going to take something big to put the Preds two men down. Tatar sets up Vanek for a blast that Rinne handles before the powerplay comes to an end.
A Weber causing problems in a scrum with Glendening and I have to do a double take, but realize it can’t be Shea as he didn’t turnbuckle Luke off the dasher. A cute play between Nyquist and Tatar with one too many passes, one of them needs to shoot there. Immediately following that, Tatar takes a penalty you knew was coming. Glendening with a burst of speed shorthanded and can’t quite hang on long enough to tuck it past Rinne. During the kill, DeKeyser fires one cross ice to clear the zone but puts it just over the glass by the penalty box leading to a 5 on 3 for 1:10. Subban oddly playing the right side for the first part, then switches to the left side and immediately does what Subban does and blasts it home with the Wings down two men and Ericsson short a broken stick. There is still some time left on the second penalty and......the Preds bury on the chance on a Ribeiro rebound goal with no Wing around to stop him. The Wings have played strong to this point but they have to hold on better during the PK.
Late in the period, the Wings get a powerplay off an inadvertent Forsberg trip on Green. A nice zone entry by Nielsen leads to a nice feed from Green to Vanek for a decent opportunity. One thing I’ve noted with Sproul on the powerplay is he tends to sit way back inside the zone, with his feet outside the zone and just his stick inside. I would like to see him be more aggressive in these situations, but understandable for his first game that he may be a bit tentative as the last man back. The powerplay goes without.
Glendening take it in on a good rush and goes backhand, his more lethal hand. He puts it towards the net and the puck finds it’s way back to Green who blasts it, the shot deflects wide to the corner. The puck rebounds off the boards to Miller who from a tight angle, spins and one times it over Rinne’s shoulder to the far corner! Miller ties it with 30 seconds left. It’s big for the Wings to go the break tied here after playing well thus far other than a 20 second powerplay burst by Nashville. The Wings finish the period with a flurry trying to squeak one more in, but no go.
- Abdelkader had a good period, scoring the goal with his elbow? But he also worked the puck to the point off the faceoff to generate the opportunity.
- Sproul became very noticeable this period and for all the good reasons, making a couple big plays in both ends.
- Both goalies have been strong to this point making some good chances look fairly routine to stop.
- The Wings penalty kill continues it’s inefficiency giving up 2 on 2 chances thus far tonight.
- Outside of one chance early on, Zetterberg has been largely ineffective and I’m afraid of the trend it’s starting to become, hopefully he shakes out of it soon.
- I don’t recall seeing much, if any of Ott during that period even when Miller and Glendening were on. A quick look at the stats tell me that’s true as he’s played a total of 4:43 so far. Probably a good play by Blashill, probably means AA draws back in tomorrow. Mike Green has racked up 16 minutes already.
- Oddly enough Glendening leading the team with 6 shots, he’s having a good night.
- During the period, there was a flashback to the first game the Preds played at the Joe, and the crew referenced Doug Brown refusing to go to Nashville in the expansion draft? I’m assuming a player won’t be able to do this for the Las Vegas team but it would be pretty funny to see a bunch of players get picked and just go “Nah, I’m good here”.
- Wings outshooting the Preds 35-25 so far, which is just lovely.
The Wings come out guns blazing to start the third. Just over a minute in, we have a great feed from Marchenko to a streaking Tatar who makes one good move around a defender and quickly fires it blocker side and beats Rinne! 3-2 Wings! I need to see more of this from Tatar, one move and shoot. The Predators follow this up with a good chance where Ericsson gets absolutely walked and just kind of stares it down as the player drives the net. To be fair that’s the first time Ericsson has made a terrible play tonight, he’s been solid.
Larkin goes into the corner with Weber and takes a stick up high with no call. He’s not happy about it and he.....he’s dropping the gloves! I’m holding my breath here, but he’s actually holding his own and throws a few uppercuts and lands the takedown. Well done kid. Shortly after, Ericsson, who I just mentioned is having a decent night takes a penalty for interference. The Wings manage to kill this one off and the crowd gets loud.
We hear the Preds have lost Johansen and Smith tonight and I wonder how I missed this. We’re told it’s an issue with a flu bug which is good news for Nashville that it’s nothing lasting. Nyquist skates one across the line and it goes high off the glass, but it bounces back across the top of the net and trickles down over the cross bar almost catching Rinne off guard but nobody around to clean it up. The action has picked up here a bit with some end to end action. Following the commercial break we hear another Preds player has gone down the tunnel, not sure if it’s flu related.
A turnover to Zetterberg but he holds on a little too long and misses the window for the cross ice pass. Larkin emerges for his first shift following his fight and is coming out like a cannon, he plays better when he’s a little irked. Ericsson makes a strong defensive play on a charge to the net forcing the play the other way to Helm who streaks in and fans on it, some things are like clock work. But he follows that up by forcing a turnover by Forsberg at the Nashville blue line that is picked up by Nyquist. He streaks in and makes no mistake beating Rinne with a quick shot low to the blocker side to make it 4-2 on the Wings 40th shot of the game.
Nashville responds with a great chance by Neal with 7:30 to play on a cross crease play that Mrazek makes a stellar save on. A minute later Subban and Abdelkader get into it and get offsetting penalties, which in a game where the Wings are 4-2, I will take that cancellation. Sproul comes out for the 4 on 4 which is one of the few times I’ve seen him in the third. Smith gets held on what seemed like a fairly obvious call but ends up being the one taking the penalty on a fairly questionable call. The Preds score on the resulting 4 on 3. A tip by Fisher on a Josi shot. The Wings probably should’ve drawn one during the kill but they’ve received the benefits of the officiating most of the night. The Preds are slaughtering the Wings on the powerplay tonight and as mentioned that’s how they’ve scored almost all of their goals this year.
The Preds generating a lot of pressure with less than 3 minutes to go naturally down by a goal, but Helm draws a high stick. And oh my lord Neal does a very Neal thing and during the same stoppage cross checks Marchenko right in front of the ref to put the Preds down two men with 2 minutes to play.
The Wings making a 5 on 3 look difficult to maintain possession for some reason and actually put a scare in the fan base briefly. Nashville pulls Rinne and Glendening and Helm move in on a 2 on 1 empty net and eventually Glendening finds Helm from behind the net who puts it in to put the Wings up 5-3 with 22 seconds to play essentially icing it. Ribeiro takes a unsportsmanlike penalty in likely fashion and the game ends, Wings win!
- I’m not necessarily a fan of this early fighting trend but good money says this will fade as the season progresses.
- Ericsson with a tough period early but recovered late with a few plays, he’s looked good.
- Wings are going to have to take a good look at their PK troubles.
- Larkin is going to erupt out of this early season slump based on the way he’s playing
- The Wings won!!! Even better, they deserved to win! That’s nice to say isn’t it
- I think Sproul looked good in his debut, and based on ice time there’s a chance Smith could be the scratch tomorrow night as he had less time than Sproul. You have to think someone’s coming out on back to backs.
- Ott ended up playing 6:30, have to believe he’s coming right back out of the lineup tomorrow.
- Marchenko and Dekeyser played the majority of the penalty kill all night, Blashill may try a different combination due to the results, but could’ve been an off night.
- Wings outshot the Predators 43-33 and Nyquist, Larkin, and Glendening all had 5+ shots tonight.
- Nyquist, Tatar, Abdelkader, Helm and Miller each with goals tonight; hopefully that means scoring across all the lines is coming for this team
- The Wings controlled the puck well most of the night and outside of the penalty kill were able to keep the chances limited from the Predators, hoping this is a sign of things to come.