Four games and just six teams taking part in action today as the NHL preseason began including a split-squad doubleheader between Nashville and Florida. What do they think this is, spring training for baseball? Here’s some stuff we’re taking away from today’s games. Don’t worry, we’ll officially fire up the hype machine on any of the rookies that shine next week.
Game 1: Nashville 5 – Florida 3
Game 2: Florida 4 – Nashville 3
Pluses: 2011 first round pick Jonathan Huberdeau shined in Game 2 scoring a goal and adding an assist. The Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov is already calling out for Huberdeau to make life hard on the Panthers should they want to send him back to juniors.
Panthers coach Kevin Dineen has the team working with a lot more jump and aggressiveness in camp. If he can liven things up with the Panthers, they could be entertaining to watch for the first time in a while.
The Predators defense competition got it’s first salvo fired with Teemu Laakso scoring for the Preds.
Minuses: Relying on tweets and recaps for a preseason game is a bit of an inconvenience so we’ll hold off on being too critical of anyone just yet.
Pluses: Seeing Nathan Gerbe do his thing once again to start off the preseason is great for Buffalo. Being a pest, tipping shots, and buzzing the net are what makes him so good for the Sabres.
Paul Gaustad doing some work offensively is nice to see for Buffalo as well. Should Tyler Ennis or Ville Leino not work out well at center on the Sabres second line, Gaustad could get slotted in there to stabilize things. He’s not offensive in nature, but doing dirty work around the net is his thing. Getting a goal and an assist helps show off a little something extra.
Brandon Sutter scoring for Carolina is what they’ll hope to see a lot more of in the regular season from him as he should set up as the Hurricanes’ second line center.
Minuses: It’s not a minus so much as it’s a sign of it being a preseason game. Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta’s scoring line on the night: A goal and two assists. If this were a regular season game, we’d have to set off some alarms.
Pluses: Leafs center Tyler Bozak scoring two goals is great to see for the Leafs. It’s a bit unsure what Bozak will be doing this year or what line he could end up on, but a couple of goals helps make a good starting argument that he should get more time on a scoring line. To do that, however, he’d likely have to switch to wing and really impress coach Ron Wilson. Bozak’s work with Colby Armstrong and Nazem Kadri has the Leafs faithful impressed.
Senators rookie defenseman Jared Cowen looked more like a man than a kid tonight. Cowen scored both Sens goals, played a physical game, and even fought Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. Not a bad way to show the team you can hang at the NHL level.
Leafs rookie Jake Gardiner played a strong game and looked fast. He could make things uncomfortable for Wilson in making choices on the blue line.
Guy who secretly played really well for Ottawa in the loss? Former Blue Jackets first round pick Nikita Filatov. We’ll see if he keeps it up all camp and into the season.
Minuses: Judging by one preseason game that didn’t feature many of the regulars is bad to do, but boy is Ottawa going to be bad this year. Their top line tonight with Peter Regin centering Filatov and Bobby Butler could be their starting second line this year. Yikes.
Milan Michalek went down after appearing to be hit by a puck. He left the ice holding his knee however. After all the time he’s missed with a myriad of injuries, another one would be a miserable and foreboding start to the Sens season.
Cowen played solid tonight for Ottawa, but him jumping Dion Phaneuf after Phaneuf laid a clean hit on Sens player Tim Conboy was just dumb. No need for a fight there and Cowen was rightfully assessed an instigator penalty for doing so. Hopefully the handing out of the instigator in situations like that will happen every time fights like these break out.