Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Opening Night of the 2011 Preseason

Welcome back to the NHL preseason! Now, being shut out of watching any of the action on Monday night is not going to stop me from starting my preseason recaps, like I've been doing over the last few years. I like to go have a look at each of the games and find some of the impact players in each game, now that we're in some game action.

It is important to note that this is only the preseason and every team is not going to be dressing some of their regular players, but there should still be enough to look at who rises to the top and make some appropriate notes, possibly adjusting some of the projections we have going into the draft.

The preseason opened with the first half of a same day doubleheader between the Predators and the Panthers in Florida. In the first half of the double bill, it was the Predators that stormed the scoresheet with a big 2nd period, led by Sergei Kostitsyn, who had 3 assists, leading the team to a 5-3 victory. Up and coming defenseman Jonathon Blum had a goal and an assist in the game as well, raising his stock just a little bit.

The Sabres opened up their preseason campaign with a 3-1 win over the Hurricanes, thanks to one unit, led by Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta, each of them picking up a goal and 2 assists.  Also having a multiple-point night was Paul Gaustad (goal and assist).  The Sabres will be looking for a lot more offense out of their club this season, trying to ease the burden on Ryan Miller, so this is a pretty good start.

The Maple Leafs got the better start in the beginning of the Battle of Ontario this season, taking the preseason opener 4-2 over the Senators on Monday night. Tyler Bozak led all Leafs scorers with 2 goals and an assist, while Colby Armstrong had a goal and an assist and Jake Gardiner had a couple of assists.  The Leafs have slowly been transforming themselves over the last few seasons and I think we'll finally see a more competitive team this year.

The Senators, in the loss, had one bright spot, as Jared Cowen, one of their top defensive prospects, shone with a couple of goals and a fight, showing his commitment to making the team this season.  A couple more games like that and I would be prepared to lift his projections up.  Also making an impact on Monday, Columbus castaway Nikita Filatov, who assisted on both of Cowen's goals.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Panthers got a little bit of redemption with a 4-3 win over the Predators. The scoring was well spread out, but it was led by 2011 1st round pick Jonathan Huberdeau, who had a goal and an assist in the contest.  A strong showing from the rookie can go a long ways to making this Panthers club, which isn't exactly filled with superstars, so adding one would be a big plus.

The Predators also had a couple more bright spots in the late game, as Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk each had a couple of points each in the loss. Geoffrion scored a pair of goals, while Halischuk had a goal and a helper. Both youngsters are in to boost this Nashville team, which saw some successes in the 2011 season, only to get better in 2012.

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