The NHL did a great thing by putting a large chunk of divisional games so early in the season this year. It really gets the rivalries going and gives each team a great opportunity to see what they are competing against in their division. For a long time I was wondering why they NHL didn’t do more of this...to me it seemed so easy a solution to add meaning to these early season contests.
Luckily, for the Preds, they seemed to get out of their early season funk just in time to start this eight game stint against Central foes. In the first three games the Preds have recorded five of a possible six points with the only loss coming in OT in Detroit.
It seems the Preds aren't the only team in the Central firing on all cylinders right now though. The Red Wings just had a nine game win streak snapped by the Chicago Blackhawks who themselves have won three in a row and five of their last six (their only loss being to the Preds). The rest of the NHL needs to be put on notice...there is some good hockey being played in the Central. No longer can the Preds, or any team for that matter, look at the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Blues as an easy two points. All these teams have made big time improvements and are all boasting some of the best young talent in the NHL.
While part of me loved being able to rack up the points on lesser team in division I think there is something to be said for playing against tough competition. The old saying 'iron sharpens iron' comes to mind.
Game Two of a home and home against the Blue Jackets as the Preds travel to Columbus for a 6 pm central face off (coverage on FSN and 104.5 The Zone). The games between the Preds and Jackets are always physical and I expect to see the Jackets want to drop the gloves early to get their crowd into it. The Preds need to stay patient and dictate the play early. I am really looking forward to this one! (another note to NHL schedulers...let's play a few more home and homes)
Nice article in the Tennessean today about Tootoo...nice to see him get some recognition for his offensive play (I talked about this in yesterdays column).
Who Gets The Start? Mason has been playing some great hockey but Trotz has got to be concerned with getting Ellis some playing time. We don't want him getting too rusty on the bench. The Preds don't play back to back games until December 18-19. Tonight might be the perfect time to get Ellis a spot start.