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Preds Shine, deep in the heart of Texas

No Shea Weber, no Ryan Suter, and no David Legwand was supposed to mean that the Predators pretty much had no shot last night in Dallas, facing one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Heck, during the first half of the telecast Dallas color man Darryl Reaugh must have mentioned Nashville's offseason personnel purge a dozen times or more, portraying the Preds as a hapless bunch who had only shown up to help the Stars get their New Year's Eve party off to a rollicking start.

Instead, the team put together a classic road-team effort en route to a 1-0 victory that really wasn't that close. Nashville was the quicker team all night long and got a multitude of good chances, but Marty Turco was excellent in goal for Dallas, otherwise it would have been 3-0 or 4-0 easily.

A few things in particular stood out; the penalty killing was simply outstanding, with the forwards staying up high to choke off the Dallas point men, where Sergei Zubov twice got caught flat-footed by Scott Nichol, who took the puck the other way for breakaways. While he got a penalty shot out of the first and failed to score on either chance, the bottom line is that out of six Dallas power plays, the Stars managed only 1 Shot On Goal, while the shorthanded Predators threw 6 at Turco. Granted, the Dallas power play had a poor night, but the Nashville penalty killers jumped on their opportunity.

Secondly I have to point out the continued fine play of rookie defenseman Ville Koistinen, who is looking more and more comfortable with each passing game. He put a point shot off the goalpost on the power play, and continually got the offense moving out of the Nashville end with his skating and crisp passing. At one point in the third, Reaugh commented, "I know why they let Timonen go, if Koistinen can play like this every night."

Thursday night the Predators host Edmonton, and the team is having a promotion where the donation of a non-perishable food item can get a child a $1 ticket to the game. With the kids still out of school for winter break, this sounds like the perfect opportunity for us to take all the Little Forecheckers to a game together, rather than taking one at a time. So if you happen to see a 4 year-old climb over the glass and streak the crowd Thursday night, well, that one's probably mine...

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