In the short term, last night's craptacular ending still looms large ... But in the grand scheme of things, OT losses are islands in the stream of a long season. Just flow past that and move on. You can't let that distract you and cost you more points in the games ahead. Like... this one for instance.
The Nashville Predators got off to a mediocre start, and have just been dealt a major blow when it was announced Thursday that goaltender Pekka Rinne would miss at least 4 weeks with an infection in his hip. This is the same hip that had surgery this past offseason, and he'll be going under the knife again to get that cleared up. To fill the gap, in steps one Carter Hutton. His NHL debut was last year, for the Chicago organization, when the Hawks came to St Louis late in the season for, essentially, a Rockford Ice Hogs game versus the Blues. He got the start there, and took the loss. Since then, he's joined the Perds and is now thrust into the starting position.
Carter Hutton is not a horrible goalie, just inexperienced. He has two wins on the year (Grain of Salt: they were both against the Winnipeg Jets), and we've already seen him play well against the Blues this year. You may recall the home opener, when the Blues chased Rinne out of the net with 3 goals in the opening 10 minutes. Hutton stepped in and did a decent job for the rest of the game, allowing only a power play goal on 22 shots. For the year, Hutton is sporting a 1.37 GAA and .959 save percentage, and is 2-0-0. Backing Hutton up will be AHL call-up Magnus Hellberg. Only 22 years old, last year was his first pro season in the AHL, and so far this year has a 1-2-0 record (2.23 / .913) playing for the Milwaukee Admirals.
Hutton will have to play well, as the Nashville squad is (surprise!) a low-scoring team. While it is still early in the season, the Preds are averaging only 1.97 goals a game. If that keeps up, then the goaltending becomes all the more important. The scoring leaders on the team are mostly the ones you'd expect: young center Craig Smith is off to a good start with 2 Goals / 5 Assists, and David Legwand is right there with him with 1 Goal / 6 Assists. Patric Hornqvist leads the team with 4 goals (6 points overall). Perhaps the most entertaining thing about this team is the up and coming youngsters: keep an eye out for Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg. Roman Josi is out with a concussion. And of course, that Shea Weber guy is pretty good too. While the Blues are pretty clearly a better team, the gambler in me knows better than to call this a sure thing. All bets are off, once the skates hit the ice.
One more interesting stat: The Blues are 3rd in the league and tops in the West with 28.6 power play percentage. The Predators have killed off 22 straight penalties, and are ranked 3rd in the West with a 84.6 penalty kill percentage. Something's gotta give.
Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast will be on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KYKY 98 FM. The Game Day Thread will drop shortly ahead of that. Until then, gather here, and get ready to wear out your "last channel" button on your remote. It's going to be a crazy night for St Louis sports fans. If you need to kill time until then, you can do the usual... bowl... Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.
The Big Lebowski - Gutterballs Scene (via Aaron Eagle)