The Predators, who started last season 0-4-1-2, are off to the second-best start in the team’s six-year history. They won three of their first four games in 2000-01.
The Blue Jackets have won three of their first four games. It took them twice as many games to reach that victory total last season, and that had been the quickest Columbus achieved three wins since entering the league in 2000.
Nashville’s rookies were the stars in Thursday’s 4-1 win over St. Louis. Marek Zidlicky, who came over from the Finnish league this season, had a goal and an assist. So did 20-year-old defenseman Dan Hamhuis, the team’s first-round pick in the 2001 entry draft.
“He has a heavy shot. When a goalie stops it, it hurts,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
“Hamhuis can play in more situations and contribute offensively more than some of our past defensemen. He can play a lot of minutes in a lot of different situations. That’s why we drafted him with our first pick.”
Another 20-year-old rookie who made an impact in Thursday’s win was Jordin Totoo, the first person of Inuit descent to play in the league. He assisted on Hamhuis’ power-play goal in the second period for his first NHL point.
“So far, he has had a very mature approach to the game,” Trotz said. “My main advice to him has been to not change his game. I don’t want him to lose his focus. It’s harder to stay in the NHL than it is to make it.”
Rick Nash is clearly making it for Columbus. The 19-year-old winger tops the team with three goals and is tied for the team lead with four points.
Nash, a Calder Trophy finalist last season, had a goal and an assist in Thursday’s 2-1 win over Chicago.
“He’s going to the right place—he’s going to the front of the net. That’s where he’s going to be successful and that’s where he’s going to score goals,” veteran Todd Marchant said of Nash, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2002.