The Nashville Predators are going to be in the Tri-State area only twice this season which encompases NY/NJ/PA (of course, depending on who you ask it’s either PA or CT). This week it was to meet the Devils and the newly Brooklyn’d Islanders and in November they’ll be back for a Nov 23 game against the Rangers in Manhattan, the Sabres in Buffalo on the 25, and the Flyers in Philadelphia on Black Friday (at a 2:30 PM CST start).
The Predators spent Monday through Friday in the Manhattan area (since it is between both Newark and Brooklyn and easy to get to either) and on Nov 13 they played the sloppy New Jersey Devils. In the 1st period, Barret Jackman (who dwarfs his teammates so badly that I had flashbacks to Hal Gill) tried to start a fight with former Predator fighter Jordin Tootoo, but he skated away in order to get back to the play on the ice. Because he’s not the same player he was all those years in Nashville (that he talked about so plainly in his book All The Way: My Life On The Ice which I cannot recommend enough) when his nightly fights were one of the highlights of going to a Predators game (I’m half upset/half glad that the Devils haven’t cashed in on the Tootoo Merchandise Train and made a Tootoo whistle like the Preds used to sell, just because of how annoying the whistle would get).*
* I wrote all that and apparently Tootoo was fined for tripping Seth Jones the league maximum of $2,217.74.
Roman Josi scored after Shea Weber faked it while everyone was looking/ducking if his 100 mph slap shot was coming at them, but Weber passed it to Josi to make it 1-0 Predators.
In the 2nd period the Predators only managed four shots on goal (with only seven attempts) through the entire frame. Keith Kinkaid, who was in goal because Cory Schneider and his wife had their first child at 3 AM, didn’t look comfortable in goal all night — including getting hit into his goal by Fisher and Josi and having some equipment problems as well as just generally looking more twitchy in goal than I’ve seen him.
The Devils beat reporter said around this time on twitter:
Most of the problem was that the Mets are in the playoffs for the first time in 9 years and it was an important game that they could’ve won that night and clinched the division series in the hope that they’d be in the World Series for the first time since 2000 (and possibly win it for the first time since 1986). So. Yeah. Even if this was a Devils/Flyers matchup in Newark, there would be a lot of empty seats. A transitional team in the Devils and a Western division team in the Predators? It didn’t bode well for fan interest.
New Captain, Andy Greene was one of the best players for the Devils and was on the ice for the longest of any player on the ice at 27:24 (even Shea Weber, who is constantly one of the Predators on the ice the most was only on for 24:03).
Pekka Rinne’s shutout was broken by Kyle Palmieri at 18:20 in the 3rd period (Greene & Jacob Josefson with the assists). However, Pekka Rinne in his forever attempt at channeling Martin Brodeur had the assist on Roman Josi’s second goal of the game into the empty net in the 3rd at 17:21. And Eric Nystrom, Isles legend Bobby Nystrom’s son, got the unassisted empty netter for the final score of 3-1. This was a great moment for Nystrom (@enystrom23) as he was injured the last time the two teams met in Newark in March of 2015.
This game was Pekka Rinne’s 384th game as Nashville’s goalie, surpassing the franchise record of Tomas Vokoun’s 383. Pekka also surpassed Vokoun for records for wins (207) and shutouts (37).
”It’s a big honor,” Rinne said. ”Tomas Vokoun was a great goaltender and had a long career here. When I first came here, he was someone I looked up to, so it’s fitting that I could pass him. I just hope there’s a lot more games left in me to have here.”
The Predators spent their off-day practicing in Brooklyn and then the rest of the day was left to them. Eric Nystrom and his mom went to the Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan. Josi, James Neal & Colin Wilson were in the Meatpacking District at Solo House New York taking weird photos. And Defensemen Anthony Bitetto who got his start in the EJHL for the New York Apple Core and is from Island Park on Long Island and was excited to be home and also went suit shopping while in NYC.
The Nashville Predators were 3-0-0 going into the Oct 15th game against Islanders. Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) wrote for The Tennessean an article about how ‘weird’ it is for Eric Nystrom, whose father Bobby was so instrumental for the Islanders that his jersey was hung in the rafters of the Coliseum and now is in the Barclays Center. As Pink Puck contributor Marissa Greenberg has written about, Barclays Center is more than just the very diplomatic ‘weird’ for many fans, but unlike the game on Tuesday, even with the Mets going to a do-or-die Game 5 situation, the arena was more than full capacity for a random Thursday night hockey game in Brooklyn which is real exciting for the Isles. There were 10,542, however due to the weird shape of the building it definitely felt more full than the Devils game (where, unlike in Brooklyn, there was a lot more obvious gold jerseys in the seats that were full).
Nashville outshot the Islanders 47-28, however, they lost the game with the Isles winning 4-3. The 1st period saw rookie Austin Watson score (even if that was because former Nashville Predator Marek Zidlicky accidentally hit it into his own net) at 2:14. In the 2nd, Filip Forsberg continued his hot streak with his second goal of the season and then later in the period in the strangest fight/rough up with two teams who have Clutterbuck & Jackson — he and John Tavares each got a roughing penalty. 40 seconds after he scored, Anders Lee scored for the Isles and Kyle Okposo scored 4-on-4 to make it 2-2 going into the 3rd period.
In the 3rd the Isles’ Nikolay Kulemin scored with an assist by Mikhail Grabovski which greatly excited my section of Eastern European hockey fans to make it 3-2. Captain John Tavares scored the game winner to make it 4-2. James Neal scored his first of the season at 14:36 with an assist by Forsberg & Josi for the final score of 4-3. Forsberg was great defensively all game, including being able to skate and prevent Ryan Strome getting an empty net goal in the last minute. Neither team scored on two power play attempts, however, the Predators looked a lot better and a lot more like a cohesive team, even in the loss. Also, Thomas Greiss (who I have a goalie!crush on) played really well for the Islanders, but Halak should be coming back sometime soon as their main goalie and even though the final score was 4-3 that was at no fault of how well he and Pekka Rinne did in goal.
The Predators play in Ottawa against the Senators on Oct 17 to conclude their first trip of the season.