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2009-10 Season: A Look From the Quarter Pole

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators passed the quarter mark of the 2009-10 season this week. takes a look back at the first 21 games of the campaign, including insight from the Preds broadcasters.

Record Through 21 Games:
12-8-1, 25 points (+3 points ahead of '08-09 pace)
High: 4 Games over .500 (12-8-1)
Low: 3 Games under .500 (3-6-1 & 2-5-1)

Team Leaders Through 21 Games
Points: Dumont (15), Weber (12)
Goals: Arnott (6), 3 Tied (5)
Assists: Dumont (12), Suter (8)
Time on Ice: Suter (24:20), Weber (23:46)
Goaltending: Rinne (9-4-0, 2.38 GAA, .914 SV%)

Views From the Broadcast Booth
Pete Weber's Take Tom Callahan's Take Terry Crisp's Take
Your quick reaction on the first quarter of the Preds season? An incredible roller-coaster. Starting with two wins (one over one of the surprise teams of the season), then managing only two goals over the next four games, coming back from being down 2-0 in Washington, only to lose in a shoot-out; 2-5-1 heading into Ottawa, then an offensive explosion of 6 goals (5 from the D) and things began to change. Then 10-3 after that; at the crux of that was the California trip – going 1-2 but only playing one bad period (the third in Anaheim), finishing up the “CMA Sojourn” with a solid win in St. Louis appeared to change the club’s attitude about itself. I would say by turns disappointing and now exciting. Since the slow start it seems like the team has come through that -- and obviously getting healthy helps -- but this team has played very well. And when special teams are going well, they're able to win some games. Goaltending is back where I think a lot of people expected it to be. But overall this is around where I expected the team to be a quarter of the way through the season -- right in the middle of
the pack.
A tale of two teams to be truthful; rough start, things weren’t clicking. We came out of training camp with high hopes. Didn’t start to gel early, then the second half things started to go. First the goaltending started to pick up and then the system got put back together. The players related to it and started playing like they’re supposed to.
What is the biggest Preds surprise so far? Patric Hornqvist for turning around his game and taking advantage of the opportunity provided by J.P. Dumont’s injury. Honorable mention goes to shootout specialist Mike Santorelli. Probably for me it's Patric Hornqvist this year. Francis Bouillon is a surprise just because I didn't know him before this year. But Hornqvist in terms of improvement from last year to this year; what he's done and how he's improved his game, he's the biggest surprise to me. Probably, from my point of view has been the youngsters or the new players we’ve brought in from Milwaukee or other places. They’ve given us a boost. You figured your leadership would come from Sullivan, Arnott, Dumont, Legwand, etc. But to me the most pleasant surprise has been the newcomers; they’ve added some pizzazz, some jump, some energy to the lineup.
Complete the sentence: The Preds need _____ to make the playoffs this season. The Preds need good health and continued defensive zone coverage to make the playoffs this season The Preds need to have three 30-goal scorers to make the playoffs this season. The Preds need to stay healthy to make the playoffs this season. If they stay healthy, we can make an honest run at the playoffs.
Biggest surprise around the league this season? The first must be the play of the Colorado Avalanche and goaltender Craig (“Waived Around the League by Chicago, Boston, and St. Louis and reclaimed by Chicago in 2006) Anderson. They were almost a consensus pick for last place in the West, so they obviously have exceeded expectations. Phoenix is also a surprise, after all the turmoil surrounding the franchise – first of all Ulf Samuelsson has to get a great deal of credit for running a strong training camp before coaches Dave Tippett and Dave King joined on. Goaltending obviously has helped there too, as Ilya Bryzgalov has played extremely well. I thought LA would be improved – and they are – but I hadn’t anticipated Anze Kopitar would emerge to the head of the class as he has. The Stanley Cup champion Penguins are amazing they way they have coped with injuries, as have the Red Wings, who have had to overcome losses to free agency and injury which adds up to over 140 goals lost from last season’s team. Colorado is the biggest upward surprise. Coming in to the season, from all the predictions, they weren't supposed to be very good. Craig Anderson leading that; good for him taking the bull by the horns. I'm also really surprised in a negative way by Boston. Coming off of their success last year, I thought they would be better and they haven't shown much in this first quarter. And the other good surprise is probably Buffalo; Buffalo has been quietly just running near the top of the East getting great goaltending from (US Olympic Candidate) Ryan Miller. And they were a team nobody expected to really do anything. A couple of teams that weren’t supposed to be in the running, a la Phoenix and Colorado, who weren’t supposed to be at the bottom, but have been competitive; a pleasant surprise. On the other end of the coin would be St. Louis. I thought they’d be tougher, stronger, higher than they are right now – but they’re starting to play a little better of late, too, so…. And as of late, our club, the Predators. We were picked for last or second to last – out in oblivion somewhere – and we’ve been a pleasant one. On the other end of the coin would be St. Louis. I thought they’d be tougher, stronger, higher than they are in the standings right now.
Storyline to watch as the rest of the season unfolds. The leadership of the NHLPA and how it is sorted out will be very important, as will how the league and players ultimately decide to deal with shots to the head. I am also interested in whether Atlanta can re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, because if he moves, it could alter the overall picture in the league. Hits to the head. When I watch highlights, it seems like I see at least one or two hits to the head each night. It sounded like it was a big topic at the GM Meetings a few weeks ago. It drew attention from the IIHF for the Olympics. I think it will continue to be a big part of the conversation this season. I’m probably going to go with goaltending throughout the league. The teams this year are so evenly matched from top to bottom – it’s tough to pick and choose from night to night. I’m going to be watching the goaltenders to see who stays hot, who stays healthy. That one position can really make or break a team’s season – we saw it here with Ellis down the stretch two years ago, Rinne the second half last year. So goaltending, that’s what I’m going to watch for the rest of this season.

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