Quite the busy day at Centennial Sportsplex where lineups are formed for the upcoming pre-season games and decisions are made that will either land some of the on-ice talent a spot on an NHL roster or have them packing for more conditioning in either Milwaukee or elsewhere.
The Lineups were as follows:
Geoffrion was having no trouble shooting wrist-shots and slap-shots and playing aggressive hockey. His injury must be pretty close to healed. Hornqvist showed great patience and his uncanny knack for shadowing the goaltender led to some nifty PP goals in practice. Tootoo is showing more and more patience by not unloading with a slap-shot as soon as he gets the puck. This kind of heads-up play is what the Predators will need from him this year to add some more offensive contributions to the lineup.
The praises of the day go to Craig Smith and Zack Stortini.
Craig Smith is playing to not get sent down to Milwaukee. With Fisher possibly being out of the line-up to start the season (not at practice today) it may provide the slot that Craig Smith can readily fill for Nashville. Smith is amazing at the against-the-grain shot; his ability to go to the opposite side of the goaltender is amazing and he potted more goals in practice than any of the other forwards. Hopefully this nose for putting the puck in net will serve him well over the next 3 pre-season games and Smith will earn a permanent residence on the Predators starting line-up.
Zack Stortini is considered by many to be the “hero” of the last pre-season game by keeping his emotion in check and drawing the four-minute minor penalty on Troy Bodie that turned out to be the game changer for the Nashville Predators against the Winnipeg Jets. Stortini in the PK drills was vicious on the puck, wrestling it away from the would-be PP squads. He hung in and took the abuse and came away with a few decent clears out of the zone. Very Goc-like with an obvious height and weight advantage. For a bigger athlete, Stortini appears faster than most and he employs a deceptively fast wrist shot. His faults lie in his puck-handling and he spent considerable time (one of the last to leave the ice) with the coaching staff to get better at breaking out of the zone and corralling the puck in the corner on the dump-and-chase.
Today, Friday, and Saturday will ultimately tell who is staying or going for the regular season roster. Out of the prospects and waiver-eligible players that could make the opening night roster, it looks like Laakso, Halischuk, Mueller, and Smith might have the slightest of advantages. These next few pre-season games are going to be key for these young players.