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5 things learned from Sept. 27 preseason games

Faulk feels 'pretty good' in Blues debut; Schneider spry for Devils

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Now that the 16-day, 107-game NHL preseason schedule has begun, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 2.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Friday:

Faulk efficient in first game with Blues

Justin Faulk made his debut for the St. Louis Blues in a 4-3 preseason win against the Washington Capitals at Enterprise Center. 

"Lot of stuff going on and figuring my way around," the defenseman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "But … it's still hockey and you're just kind of playing. It'll probably be maybe the easiest part of the transition so far, just getting in games and getting settled in that way."

Faulk, acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, played the right side on a pair with Alex Pietrangelo and was plus-1 with four hits and one blocked shot in 22:10 of ice time.

"If it felt pretty good for the first time on the ice together. That's a good sign, right?" Pietrangelo said. "I think we both felt pretty good."


Schneider looking sharp for Devils

Cory Schneider concluded a solid training camp with 32 saves for the New Jersey Devils in a 2-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

"It was great, I wanted to keep improving as the preseason went on and keep improving my game," Schneider said. "It was probably my most complete and cleanest game so far, I'd say."

Schneider had a 1.80 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in four preseason games for the Devils, who finished the preseason 5-2-0.

The 33-year-old had hip surgery in May 2018 and started last season 0-7-2 but went 6-6-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in his final 14 games. He also had a 2.49 GAA and .920 save percentage in six games for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

Schneider is expected to start in the Devils regular-season opener against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center on Oct. 4. 

Video: 31 in 31: New Jersey Devils 2019-20 season preview


Bjornfot impressing Doughty, Kings

Tobias Bjornfot, the No. 22 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has a good chance at beginning the season alongside five-time All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty for the Los Angeles Kings.

It might come as a surprise to some but not Doughty, who's entering his 12th season with the Kings.

"He just keeps getting better and better," Doughty told The Athletic. "He's so young, so there is a chance he'll go back [to Sweden], obviously. But it's not because of how he's played if he doesn't make the team."

The 18-year-old had one assist and six shots on goal in five preseason games. He had three hits in 15:52 during a 3-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.

Bjornfot got his first taste of the Swedish Hockey League with Djurgardens last season and was the captain for Sweden at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, when he had one assist in seven games to help his country finish first. 

The Kings could keep Bjornfot for at least nine NHL games before his entry-level contract begins.


Sandin continues to sparkle for Maple Leafs

Rasmus Sandin may have worked his way onto the Toronto Maple Leafs' opening-night roster.

The No. 29 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old had three hits, two blocked shots and one shot on goal in 30:35 of ice time in a 4-3 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Friday.

He has been paired with Martin Marincin this preseason and has two assists and nine shots in four games.

"The Sandman was really solid [on Friday]," coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Sun. "It was a good opportunity for him to be important tonight."

Sandin earned top-pair minutes with Toronto during the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Playoffs, when he had 10 assists in 13 games to cap his first professional season. With defenseman Travis Dermott expected to miss at least the first month of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, there's a good chance Sandin could open with the Maple Leafs.

Babcock was asked if remaining with the team and playing limited minutes would benefit Sandin's development.

"We've been talking about that all through camp and that doesn't appear to be a problem," Babcock said.


Tight roster battles highlight Predators preseason

The Nashville Predators enter the weekend with six players, including three forwards and three defensemen, competing for three spots.

"There are a lot of conversations that will go on between (general manager) David Poile and myself and the coaches and David's staff," Predators coach Peter Laviolette told The Athletic. "We've got guys that have played really well to this point, and that's a positive. We've got guys that played really well that we sent to Milwaukee (of the American Hockey League), and that's a positive as well. We'll work through it and try to find the right mix."

Forwards Daniel Carr and Miikka Salomaki and defenseman Steven Santini are expected to make the cut, according to The Athletic.

Carr, who had 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists) in 52 games with Chicago of the AHL last season, is scoreless in four preseason games but has 10 shots on goal. Salomaki, who had seven points (three goals, four assists) in 37 games with Nashville last season, has two assists, a plus-2 rating and three shots on goal in three preseason games. 

Santini, acquired by the Predators as part of the P.K. Subban trade with the New Jersey Devils on June 22, could be the seventh defenseman. He has one assist and four shots on goal in four preseason games. 

The 24-year-old had three hits, one blocked shot and two shots on goal in 21:10 of ice time in a 2-1 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Friday.

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