“USA Line” Demonstrates Fast Chemistry in Win

On a night when the Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Nationwide Arena to win their third consecutive season opener, it was a line of three Americans that stole the show.

Veteran David Legwand centered a new forward line featuring Colin Wilson and rookie Craig Smith. (Sarah Fuqua)

On a night when the Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Nationwide Arena to win their third consecutive season opener, it was a line of three Americans that stole the show.

The “USA Line” of David Legwand, Craig Smith and Colin Wilson managed to generate multiple scoring chances, culminating with Smith’s first career goal at 15:56 of the second period.

“Smith is new to the league and I think he did a great job,” Legwand said. “He’s a shooter and he hits his areas well. (Wilson)’s going to work low and get pucks to the net. If we get pucks to the net, we’re going to have success.”

Legwand, the longest serving Predator, was in a unique role as he centered Smith, a rookie playing in his first game, and Wilson, a second year player looking to bounce back from a 2010-11 campaign that saw him benched for the first round of the playoffs.

“You’ve got to be responsible,” Legwand said. “It’s going to be a lot of them asking questions, learning on the fly and learning game-to-game, which is going to be good. If they keep learning quick and doing the right things, it’s going to be huge for our team.”

“It’s been a privilege to play with him so far,” Smith said. “I’m lucky enough that they trust me enough to play with the guy. It’s been great so far. You can tell he’s been here a long time and he’s really relaxed and confident on the ice and I think that helps me out. It helps me feel comfortable playing with him.”

While the line officially recorded 6 of Nashville’s 31 shots, there were other near-miss scoring chances when the puck was shot wide, a pass was barely missed or, most notably, when Smith rang a shot off the crossbar late in the third period.

“We had fun tonight,” Legwand said. “Obviously the two points is the most important thing. This one’s over and you’ve got to get them focused on tomorrow and the St. Louis Blues. We’re going into another lions’ den and we’re going to try to get two points there, too.”

Smith, playing in his first career game, was able to find virtually instant chemistry with Wilson and Legwand while playing at wing.

“They’re two good players,” Smith said. “They’re very good at protecting the puck. When it’s time to make a play, they can make it. They’ve been finding me out front numerous times. It’s been really fun and they make it really easy to play with them.”

Coach Barry Trotz agreed that the line managed to work very well together right off the bat.

“They’re going to be a good line,” Trotz said. “They have some size and some skill. They have a little bit of speed They have little bit of experience with (Legwand) there and (Wilson) got some experience last year. I think they are really going to be a good young line.”

Official Three Stars

1. Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
2. Jeff Carter – Columbus Blue Jackets
3. Rick Nash – Columbus Blue Jackets

Tags: , , , ,

A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.