Five players made their Nashville Predators debut in Thursday’s season-opening 4-2 loss to the Blues at St. Louis – and none of them eased into it.
All played significant roles, which – in most cases – was to be expected. More than in most years, changes to the roster are considered paramount to the team’s success this season.
Yet this was the first time in five years the Predators failed to get at least a point out of their first game.
A look at how Nashville’s new players fared:
• Carter Hutton, goalie: The most unlikely of the newcomers to have any impact on the game might have had the largest of the bunch. He was inserted after Pekka Rinne allowed three goals on six shots in the first 9:45.
In just his second NHL appearance, Hutton made 21 saves on 22 shots and settled things to the point that the Predators actually got within a goal when David Legwand scored at 5:09 of the second period.
• Seth Jones, defense: He and defense partner Mattias Ekholm led Nashville with plus-2 ratings. The first-round draft pick was third among defensemen in ice time (18:35), logged almost as much power play time as Shea Weber and had three shots on goal, tied for second on the team behind Roman Josi and Patric Hornqvist.
His ability to read the play was apparent throughout the contest, and as time ran short he showed more willingness to join the rush in an effort to create offense.
• Matt Hendricks, left wing: He played on a line with center Paul Gaustad and right wing Rich Clune that might have been Nashville’s best. The three maintained a lot of offensive zone time and each had at least one hit and one shot on goal.
For all of its activity, though, that line, which was designed for defense, did not score.
• Eric Nystrom, left wing: He missed the first half of the third period because he was assessed a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the second. When he was on the ice, however, he was plenty active. He had three shots to go along with a team-high three hits and had an assist on the Predators’ first goal.
• Matt Cullen, center: He got things off on the wrong foot when he committed the game’s first penalty, a trip 2:02 into the contest. Three seconds later, the Blues led 1-0. He was on the ice a little more than three minutes later when St. Louis scored its first even-strength goal and went ahead 2-0.
He lost six of nine faceoffs and led all Nashville forwards in power play time. The power play, though, was 0-4.
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