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"My Take On The Preds"
TN • United States • 40 Years Old • Male
Well...after a short stint as a vodka vendor in Russia and getting caught up in a immigration for what seemed like a life time I am back. Now that I'm back the question I'm asking myself is, what is the state of the Preds?

My fellow Pred fans I am here to tell you that the state of the Predators is good. Not great...good.

Over the next few of days I will be breaking down the Preds and giving you a preview of what I see for the coming year.

Let's start with the positive stuff -

Defense: I think people will be hard pressed to find a better group of young, dynamic d-men on one team. With Shea Weber and Ryan Suter both wrapped up until 2011 and 2012 respectively the Preds have some stability on the blueline. When I think of championship teams they are all marked by great play from the point and these guys give that to us. Both these guys are so good and so young and I am confident we have yet to see the best from them.

Both of these youngsters have much to prove but I think it's Shea Weber who, perhaps, feels it more than Ryan. He has been talked about in the same breath as Calgary's Dion Phaneuf and wants to break out of the shadows to being not only a team leader but a top D-man in the NHL.

Suter has played his entire life trying to live up to the name on the back of his sweater. Last year he went a long way towards doing that. His solid, dritty play during the playoffs last year changed my opinion of him. I think I used to think of him as begin too soft but we saw some fire from Suter. This year we will see more. I don't think we will see an offensive explosion from him but solid play.

There is more to our D than these two young stars. Veterans Greg De Vries and Greg Zanon provide some stability for the defesive corps. I, like many Pred fans, would not mind seeing De Vries leave via trade (I think it might be possible that he could before the year is out...regardless of the Preds position) and think that trial by fire for some of our younger defensemen might not be a bad idea. Zanon doesn't dazzle you with finesse but he is a picture of team and sacrifice. He knows his role and throws his body out all the time for the sake of the team. He is a bargain!

We have seen flashes of brilliance from Kevin Klein and Ville Koistinen but they need some more ice time for us to get a clear idea of what we can expect from them each night. They both have offensive gifting and this year we may need that creativity more than their defensive play. I'll never forget Klien taking the puck in his first game and going coast to coast to put a great shot on net.

Last but not least is Dan Hamhuis. When I think of Dan I think of one word and that is solid. He has a great all around game and continues to play whatever role is asked of him. Whether on the PK, PP or 5 on 5 Dan has the game to fit. He is a physical presence out there who does a good job of getting under the skin of the opponent. I just love watching him when he is out there.

Overall the Preds D is in very good shape. There will be a few games this year that they alone win it for us. Not only by playing solid D but by chipping in a goal or two in those 2-1, 1-0 games that we may see more of this year. With our offense struggling this year our D may be more important than ever.
Filed Under:   predators preview   predjoe   suter   weber   hamhuis  
October 6, 2008 4:05 PM ET | Delete
Suter has looked very good this preseason. I sense that he is going to have an outstanding year.
October 6, 2008 4:31 PM ET | Delete
Good analysis, predjoe. The D has looked sloppy in some of these preseason games but that is clearly no indication of what is to come. The combination of the loss of Zidlicky's turnovers and getting caught deep in the offensive zone with the maturing of our young defense core could very well be of great benefit to the team this year.
October 6, 2008 5:47 PM ET | Delete
i think our d will be better as well. i believe that along, with how ellis handles being #1. if he plays like last year and our d should be a year more experienced we hopefully can cut as many goals against as we are short on goals scored. that puts us in the hunt in march and that gives us a chance
October 6, 2008 5:50 PM ET | Delete
man... thats what i get for listening to the wife while i type. hopefully you get the idea
October 7, 2008 11:06 AM ET | Delete
Interesting take. Personally, I still view our defense as our main weakness. Zidlicky got blamed for a lot of the defensive woes last year, but there was plenty of blame to go around. Weber allowing the puck to be taken right off his stick at critical moments, Suter $ucking so bad he had to be benched for a time, Zanon hitting the ice too soon in an attempt to block a shot while the opposing player just casually skated around his prone body, the inability to clear the guys parked in front of the crease, forwards that aren't defensively responsible etc. Our defense will be great in a few years, but they're not there yet. That was painfully evident during the preseason. I also think you can trace our goalie issues back to the lack of defense. I think we'll manage to score more than others seem to think. In spite of appearances, scoring was not our problem last year. It will be more challenging this year because we lost a lot of offensive talent and haven't replaced it. If the Preds are going to have any chance of staying out of the 4th or 5th spot in the division it's going to have to be because our defense has notched it up. If they play like they did last year, we're doomed.
October 7, 2008 4:12 PM ET | Delete
I would like to see Shea Weber add strength and weight so that he can handle big, skilled forwards like Jordan Staal with disdain. So far that is not happening.I am more optimistic about Hamhuis and Suter and would like to see more of Klein and less deVries.
October 7, 2008 5:00 PM ET | Delete
Predaceous - yes there are some that will fake a shot to get the shot blocker to bite but the fact remains that Zanon blocked 176 shots last year. 176 shots that could have ended up on net. I'll take play like that all day long from Zanon.
October 7, 2008 10:19 PM ET | Delete
The problem with Zanon is that most of those blocked shots happened earlier in the year. Towards the end of the season other players started figuring him out. They adjusted, but he didn't. I still think our defense is a weakness at this point, not a strength.
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