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Post-Game Analysis: Preds at Washington Capitals (Preseason Game)

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Well, make it three-for-three in second half of the preseason. The Preds coaches and hockey ops stated going in to camp that the three intra-squad scrimmages and first three preseason games would be heavily focused on individual performances and setting up the organizational depth chart; the final three preseason games would be more focused on winning and getting the Opening Night roster ready to go for the start of the regular season.

Forward Combinations Today
  Lombardi centering Erat, Wilson
  Legwand centering Dumont, Ward
  O'Reilly centering Hornqvist, Sullivan
  Goc centering Smithson, Tootoo

Defensive Pairings Today
  Suter - Weber
  Bouillon - Klein
  Franson - Parent
By all accounts training camp went according to plan. The Preds saw plenty from the intra-squads (guys like Taylor Beck and Ryan Flynn used the opportunity to earn preseason game appearances) and early preseason games (Matt Halischuk, just to name one, looks like a guy who can step in and help this season, if the need arises; Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis got key experience going head-to-head with NHL veterans; Anders Lindback nailed down the No. 2 goaltending job).

And then the Preds got down to business, winning their final three preseason games, including the last two on the road (4-3 at Atlanta on Wednesday night and 3-0 at Washington today).

Individually not a ton to talk about after today's game; the lineup was pretty much a cast of "regulars" for the Preds. Pekka Rinne went the distance in net (with a six day layoff until the Season Opener, the coaches wanted to get him a full 60:00 of action). Three of the forward lines were exactly the same as the coaches used in Wednesday night's game -- safe to say that's a strong leaning toward potential Opening Night combos. Martin Erat, Matt Lombardi, and Colin Wilson (they took the opening shift of all three periods in today's game) have been paired together in practice for much of the last 10 days and have been a regular trio in the preseason games; J-P Dumont, David Legwand, and Joel Ward were a line during the back stretch of last season and were effective during the playoff series vs. Chicago; Patric Hornqivst and Steve Sullivan were also effective linemates down the stretch run last season and have played the last two preseason games with Cal O'Reilly at center.

Heading into the final days before the Preds have to announce their Opening Night roster it appears as if the competition is down to a battle between six players for three spots. Aaron Johnson and Alex Sulzer appear to be competing for a final spot on defense (though the Preds could opt to send both to the AHL and open the season with just six defensemen) and forwards Jonas Andersson, Sergei Kostitsyn, Jamie Lundmark, and O’Reilly appear to be in competition for the final two slots up front (possibly three forward slots if Nashville opens with six defensemen). Of those six, only O’Reilly was in the lineup for Sunday’s preseason finale. O’Reilly made the most of his opportunity, though, figuring in the scoring of both of Nashville’s even strength goals, including netting the game-winner.

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