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Stacking the Pads: Oct. 16

– Paul Gaustad has been so good in the faceoff circle this season that he won 61 percent of his draws on Tuesday and it lowered his percentage to 66.9% through six games. And he still leads the NHL by more than three percent in faceoff winning percentage.

Among other factors, winning important faceoffs is a main reason why the Predators signed Gaustad to a four-year contract in the summer of 2012. In each of the Preds’ three wins, Gaustad has been on the ice for the final faceoff while protecting a one-goal lead.

“Starting with the puck can get you out of a lot of difficult situations,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “One thing that you’ll find with ‘Goose’ is that he recognizes he can be a key contributor in a number of areas, one obviously being his ability to win the faceoff. … He’s worked at it, he’s turned it into an art, he studies everything, very detailed – he’s a self-made player.”

Gaustad, who works on his faceoff craft every day at practice, had his best statistical faceoff season in 2010-11 when he finished third in the NHL with a 59.8 winning percentage. He also finished third last season with a 59.7 percentage.

Although he deflects some of the credit to his teammates for helping win those 50-50 battles for the puck, winning faceoffs is something Gaustad takes a lot of pride in.

“It’s something I need to do, it’s a part of my job and it’s something that has been a strength for me,” said Gaustad, who has one point through six games. Trotz could care less about his offensive numbers.

“He gets some important minutes for us,” said Trotz. “You can’t look at the stat sheet and say he has 10 goals or five goals for the year – his contributions come in a lot of different areas when you’re down a man or in your own zone. His Corsi stat probably isn’t so great because he starts in our end all the time, but he’s a real important part of our success.”

 

– Our own Robby Stanley wrote following Saturday’s game that three goals is the magic number for the Predators. That was once again the case Tuesday night when they defeated Florida, 4-3.

Teams are obviously going to win more games than not when scoring three-or-more. For the Preds and their defense-first ways, though, reaching the three-goal plateau has always been an ingredient for success. Take a look at these records from the last four seasons (especially 2010-11) when they do and don’t score three-plus goals:

3 goals or more 2 goals or less
2013-14 3-0-0 0-3-0
2012-13 12-7-1 4-16-8
2011-12 39-7-4 9-19-4
2010-11 41-3-3 3-24-8
2009-10 38-6-2 9-23-4

 

– Tuesday night was David Legwand’s 900th career game. His first game came back on April 17, 1999, and in an interview with 102.5 The Game following Tuesday’s game Legwand rehashed a memory he has from that night.

“I was the first one out of the door and the only one out of the door,” he said, referring to his teammates staying behind as he had the ice to himself for warm-ups for a brief amount of time. “I kind of did a lap by myself there and realized [I was the only one] when I came around the ice and saw no one else out there but me.”

If it weren’t for the lockout last season, Legwand would be on track to play his 1,000th career NHL game in Nashville this season. The question is, will he play No. 1,000 in a Predators uniform? It’s a question that may not be answered until next summer, as this is the final season of Legwand’s contract.

 

– This Sunday the Predators will play their first-ever regular season game in Winnipeg. Radio color analyst Stu Grimson played many games in Winnipeg during his days as a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Detroit Red Wings. He recently recalled some of his memories from those times of traveling to Winnipeg:

“Playing there was a lot of fun. We (Detroit) had a great playoff series there in 1994-95 when we played the Jets in the first round. It was an exciting place to play since they were the originator of the White Out. You walk into the building and there is 15-16,000 fans and everybody’s wearing white – it was pretty impressive. It was like a storm inside the building. It was a great atmosphere. Back then, Chicago Stadium was as electric as a crowd will ever be in my estimation, but Winnipeg was in the mix without question.

“For us it was interesting traveling there because we were often going there on a western swing and it was always a difficult trip to pack for. I always felt 50 percent of my luggage and/or outerwear was dedicated to playing just one game on the trip; everything else on the trip was a modest climate. You didn’t want to be underdressed in Winnipeg, that’s for sure, because the wind always blew right through you.

“I remember in our first trip to Winnipeg in our playoff series, we were getting a lot of prank calls from local fans trying to disrupt sleep patterns and things like that. Second time in there we were a little more cautious and went in as an assumed name at the hotel. I think I was Tony Montana on that trip. But even if it’s hostile on the road, it’s a fun setting to be in. Winnipeg was like that.”

 

– Grimson was a part of the festivities in Anaheim this past weekend as the Ducks commemorated their inaugural team as a part of Throwback Night. The Ducks turned back the clock on the ice on Sunday as they wore their ever-popular green and purple (or eggplant, to be exact) Mighty Ducks jerseys in a win against Ottawa. It’s a popular look that former Mighty Duck and current Predator Matt Cullen wishes they would use more often.

“I have a couple of those at home,” Cullen said. “It’s cool, especially if you’ve been a part of it. … When I got drafted out of college by them I loved the jerseys. Now looking back they may be a little bit funny, but at that time the Mighty Ducks movie was popular and Disney still owned the team, so that was kind of their thing.”

 

– If you have some time, check out this blog called “The Beat” from Adrian Dater of The Denver Post. It gives a great perspective on what it’s like to be a beat writer in the NHL (or any sport, for that matter).

 

– Another story you should check out is this story from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet on Barry Trotz’s longevity in Nashville.

 

– Isn’t it fitting that Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon both scored their first NHL goal on Saturday night? Especially with those two in the same division, their careers will forever be linked as the debate heading into the 2013 draft was “Jones or MacKinnon?” They aren’t the only rookies excelling early on, however.

Fellow 2013 draftees Aleksander Barkov and Sean Monahan haven’t looked out of place in Florida and Calgary, respectively. San Jose’s Tomas Hertl has seven goals in six games. Like Jones for Nashville, Jacob Trouba is playing a key defensive role for Winnipeg. Jones (23:02 average ice time) and MacKinnon (7 points in 6 games) will be in the mix until the end.

The Calder Trophy race should be fun to keep track of all season long.

 

– On Monday afternoon, Jones joined 102.5 The Game’s Sports Night to discuss his first NHL goal and his first handful of games with the Predators:

 

– Predators COO Sean Henry joined 102.5 The Game on Tuesday to discuss many things, including the Predators and the latest happenings at the arena:

 
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