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Post-Game Musings: vs. Chicago

by Paul Cook / Nashville Predators
There are beautiful dangles and there are lucky bounces, but to the scoresheet they’re all the same. Kevin Klein’s second-period goal serves as a perfect example – it might not have even been intended as a shot on net. As the Predators were looking to make a line change, Klein simply flipped the puck into the Blackhawks’ zone from the red line. His intention was likely to knock a few seconds off the clock and get fresh legs out safely onto the ice. What should have been an easy save for Chicago netminder Corey Crawford turned out instead to be a whiff on an Eephus pitch and a go-ahead goal for Klein.

Putting the puck on net might seem like a basic decision, but in most instances a dump-in like that will be around the boards. As shaky as Crawford’s been this season (sporting a less-than-stellar .904 save percentage entering the night – 35th in the League), getting shots – any shots – on net may have been one of the Nashville coaching staff’s prime directives [Ed. Note: Not The Prime Directive; sorry, Star Trek fans]. Crawford was chased after allowing four goals on 17 shots as the Predators cruised to a 5-2 victory over their division rival.

Klein’s goal earned the Predators a standing ovation during the TV timeout that followed. Did it serve as inspiration for the rest of the team? Nashville would add another two goals in the period, so the scoresheet would suggest ‘Yes,’ and the scoresheet is never wrong. [Ed. Note: In the rare event that the scoresheet is wrong, the NHL has a 24-hour statute of limitations for changes.]

Three Musings
A shifty Belarussian: Sergei Kostitsyn put together a shift in the first period that had to have Head Coach Barry Trotz smiling, even though the winger didn’t earn any points for his efforts. Trotz loves detail, work ethic, and dedication to the defensive aspects of the game from his forwards, and that’s exactly what he got from Kostitsyn for 15 seconds in the middle of the frame. After hopping onto the ice at the 11:39 mark, a backchecking Kostitsyn snuck up on Chicago’s Jonathan Toews for a takeaway. Seconds later, driving down the left side after taking a pass into the offensive zone, Kostitsyn was able to use his speed to great effect and draw an interference penalty on Brent Seabrook. Ask any coach if they’d like a takeaway and a drawn penalty from one of their offensive threats and you’d not get a single ‘No.’ It’s the little things that will earn a player more ice time – No. 74 would later reward fans with two points on the night. As last year’s leading goal-scorer is looked to for offense, his two-way game is sometimes overlooked, but the Belarussian has now earned a +7 rating in ten January games.

Getting off the schneid: Scoring is always nice, but if it breaks a dry spell, that’s even nicer. Colin Wilson scored his first goal in 14 games with a solid offensive effort on Saturday. Wilson hadn’t put one in the back of the net since December 13. NHL freshman Craig Smith also helped out with a power-play goal to open the scoring for the Predators. For the rookie, soon to be headed to Ottawa to participate in the NHL All-Star festivities, it was only his second goal since December 3. Smith’s goal put him into the double digits for the season.

A new case of the Yips: Acquired off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks served as the debut for Brandon Yip. Yip, wearing the No. 18 vacated by Niclas Bergfors, played just over 10 minutes, registering a hit and a blocked shot [Ed. Note: Despite getting in the way of a Chicago attempt, Yip wasn’t officially credited with a blocked shot – I guess we’ll check back in 24 hours].

Three Quotes
D Kevin Klein, Nashville (On his goal from the red line) – “The ice was getting a little rough out there. Legwand gave me a pass and I decided to put a little english on it.” [Ed. Note: “English” is a term typically used in snooker or billiards; it means to put sidespin on the cue ball.]

F Patric Hornqvist, Nashville (On facing the Blackhawks, who played Friday against Florida) – “We got three quick goals and they probably got a little tired after that.”

Head Coach Barry Trotz, Nashville (On the atmosphere in Bridgestone Arena) – “It had a playoff feel. I don’t know if we came out with more intensity, but the building was ramped up from the get-go and that doesn’t hurt the home team.”

Three Stars
F Sergei Kostitsyn, Nashville – Scored a beauty after having an earlier goal waved off by the referees for having made contact with the puck above the crossbar.
F Colin Wilson, Nashville – Snapped a 14-game goalless drought and was a presence in the offensive zone all night long.
D Kevin Klein, Nashville – His soft goal sparked the Predators in the second period. He also picked up the assist on Hornqvist’s third-period tap-in by putting a blast on net.

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