Posts tagged Cal O’Reilly
A couple of young players provided the offense in the Nashville Predators 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to open the 2011-12 season at Nationwide Arena Friday night.
With five rookies in the lineup, only Craig Smith had never played a regular season NHL game before the contest. It took Smith 15:56 into the second period to score his first career goal.
“We were forechecking pretty good. We were creating turnovers. We were cycling pretty good. I found myself in front of the net. I saw the puck trickle through from the backside of Mason. I went out put my stick on it and put it home,” Smith said about his first career goal.
The goal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead. Nashville opened scoring 5:10 into the second period on a power play goal by Ryan Suter. Derek Dorsett was serving a penalty for closing his hand over the puck in the defensive zone during the dying seconds of a penalty kill.
Columbus tied the game at 14:19 of the middle frame on a goal by Vinny Prospal, but the Blue Jackets were unable to hang onto the lead as Smith scored less than two minutes later.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said Smith improved as the game went on. “As a young guy, you want to score your first goal in the League so you feel like you belong here a bit. As the game went on he was much better. By the third period, he was using his assets and was playing much better,” Trotz said.
Matt Halischuk also found the scoresheet Friday night, but gave credit to his teammates. “Cal [O’Reilly] made a great play. I just tried to get to the front of the net. He put it right on my stick,” Halischuk said.
The forward took note of Smith’s goal but said it wouldn’t be the younger players leading the squad all season. “It is going to be different guys every night who score goals. Smith did a great job getting his first goal there on a real hard play. We score by committee and it is the way we need to keep going,” Halischuk said.
Trotz also gave credit to Halischuk’s line. Centered by O’Reilly, the Toronto, Ontario native also played with Jordin Tootoo. “They did a really good job. They scored a big goal at the start of the third period. They played a lot against [Jeff] Carter and [Rick] Nash towards the end of the game. That’s a tough job,” Trotz said.
Halischuk scored just 39 seconds into the third period. The Blue Jackets made it a close game when they pulled within one at 10:19 into the final frame on a goal by Nash.
Nashville now travels to St. Louis to play the second game in their first back-to-back games of the year Saturday night. Saturday night’s game will be the Blues season opener.
Photo credit: Getty Images
During training camp, some members of the Nashville Predators wore shirts that said ‘Your future is now — Make it happen.” Never before has there been such opportunity to crack the opening night roster for rookies.
At the start of camp, 50 of the 55 players invited were under the age of 30. Francis Bouillon and Mike Fisher are two players over 30 at 36 and 31 respectably, but both are still out of the lineup due to recovering from injury. Both Bouillon and Fisher look like they will be unable to start the season on October 7th in Columbus.
The Predators are going to have a young team — one of the youngest teams in the League. Some of Nashville’s more veteran players look at the youthfulness of the roster as an exciting time for the team.
Ryan Suter, a veteran at the age of 26, says the younger players need to prove the time is now for them. “There are a lot of unknowns. A lot of opportunities. We are excited for guys to step up and show they belong here,” he said.
The older forward on the team, and oldest Predator with Bouillon out of the lineup, Jerred Smithson says he likes what he has seen.
“At times it is nice to have that experience, but to have that youthful energy, that excitement every day when they come to the rink — they have that jump. As one of the older guys on the team, it is good to see. I feed off it too, seeing them here early and working hard and going 100 miles and hour all the time. It’s great to see and I’m excited for the season,” Smithson said.
The Nashville Predators avoided potentially losing four of their restricted free agents to unrestricted free agency by signing them to a contract before July 8th.
On Friday, the Predators have a hearing scheduled to determine if their qualifying offers were delivered in a timely manner to their restricted free agents. If an independent arbitrator rules in favor of the RFAs, they would become unrestricted free agents, free to sign with whatever team they want with no compensation awarded to Nashville.
Predators forward Sergei Kostitsyn has filed for salary arbitration. Kostitsyn led Nashville in goal scoring with 23 tallies while earning only $550 000.
In total, 23 players filed for arbitration. A player can still sign a new deal with his team before the arbitration hearing takes place. One of the 23 players filing for arbitration has already signed a new contract. Columbus signed Marc Methot for another 4-years. The contract is worth $12 Million.
Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20th and August 4th.
Of course, it is still possible that Kostitsyn is declared an unrestricted free agent. A hearing has been set for Friday, July 8th to determine whether or not the Predators met all the appropriate deadlines in filing their qualifying orders to the Predators group of restricted free agents. There is a dispute as to whether or not the RFAs received the offers in time to be valid.
Other Nashville restricted free agents of note include Cal O’Reilly, Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk.
It is no secret that the Nashville Predators have been hurting at the position of center this season. Thursday morning, the Predators announced that they had traded picks for Mike Fisher of the Ottawa Senators.
Bad luck had hit Nashville pretty hard this season at center. The off season move of signing unrestricted free agent Matthew Lombardi has yet to pan out. Lombardi suffered a concussion and has not played a game since their second of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks. Cal O’Reilly is out with a broken leg. David Legwand missed time this season and last night in Detroit Marcel Goc left the game with an upper body injury. Goc also missed time earlier in the season with a separated shoulder.
At the start of each hockey season, the Nashville Predators organization adopts a motto that best exemplifies the team. This year, the Predators motto is the word together. As the puck officially drops tonight at Bridgestone Arena, Predlines talked to some of the Predators about what together means for them.
Colin Wilson is about to start his second NHL season, and expectations are high. Drafted 7th overall in 2008, Wilson is only 20 years old. Last season, as a highly touted prospect, Wilson had a roster spot penciled in despite the typical road to Nashville traveling through Milwaukee. But a nagging groin injury forced Wilson out of the lineup and down to the American Hockey League.
For Wilson, together as a motto means forgetting about individual goals in favor of team ones. “If we all have individual goals we aren’t going to be able to accomplish much,” Wilson said, adding “if we all go out there with the same goals, together that’s what will help us go further and win the Stanley Cup.”
Predators leading scorer from last season, Patric Hornqvist, like Wilson, believes the Predators success is found and depends on the team’s ability to stick together. “We always play like a group of five. It doesn’t matter if you are in the neutral zone, your own zone or the offensive zone. Nobody can do it by themselves,” Hornqvist said, adding “We are a team out there and in the locker room and we stick together. If we do that we’ll be a hard team to beat.”