Offense notably absent through first half of Predators' preseason

Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 11:51pm

 If the Nashville Predators added offense during the offseason, it certainly hasn’t shown through the first half of the preseason schedule.

Matt Halischuk became the first newcomer to score when he delivered at 7:25 of the second period Saturday, in the Predators’ third preseason contest. Before that the only goals had come from returning veterans J.P. Dumont, David Legwand and Jordin Tootoo.

Haslichuk’s goal was all Nashville got, though, in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals before 15,218 at Bridgestone Arena, and the team reached the halfway point of the preseason (three games) with a total of just four goals scored. Afterward, 12 players were reassigned or released as the training camp roster was reduced to 38.

Four goals scored is an all-time franchise low for the first three exhibition contests and the first time since 2003 that it has been held to two or fewer goals in three straight of a single preseason.

The next chance to get the offense going is Monday against Atlanta (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena).

“I think, obviously, we want to be hitting full stride when the season gets going,” captain Shea Weber said. “There’s definitely a lack of execution out there, but the good thing is that we still have a little bit of time before the regular season.”

A year ago, the Predators scored four or more in four of their six preseason efforts, and in each of the past four seasons they had at least twice as many goals at this point than they do right now.

Halischuk, 22, came to Nashville in the trade that sent former captain Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils. He also had an assist in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Carolina.

With two points, he currently is the Predators’ top preseason scorer.

“Everybody’s obviously working hard for the same goal,” he said. “Obviously, the guys are working at it, and I’m sure it’s going to come.

“… It’s always nice when you can put one in. Fortunately, it was a great play by (Steve Sullivan) and (Colin Wilson) behind the net.”

Matthew Lombardi, the top free agent acquisition who was signed with money freed up in the Arnott trade, made his preseason debut missed an opportunity to give Nashville the lead later in the second period. It was 48 seconds into a power play when he took a pass through the slot and fired well wide of an open net.

He missed twice on the night and got just one on net.

“Obviously, I would have liked to have had that one,” Lombardi said. “That’s just the way it was going (Saturday) night. We had a couple of bad bounces. We did create some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on.”

Other notable additions such as forwards Sergei Kostitysn and Jonas Andersson have played two games each without a point. The same is true of defenseman Ryan Parent.

Coach Barry Trotz attributed the slow start offensively to the fact that he and his staff have used the first three games more to evaluate players for the bottom part of the roster than to try and settle on their lineup and allow players to get comfortable with one another.

“There wasn’t a lot of coaching in terms of matchups and things like that, and everybody played against everybody,” Trotz said. “… We’re sort of done experimenting and now we have to go from there.

“I’m not that worried (about the offense). On the other side, we’ve been pretty decent defensively. You want to always look at the positive. … The offense is a little bit of a work in progress still.”