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At the Rink: Flyers at Predators

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette will coach against his former team Saturday as the Philadelphia Flyers come to Bridgestone Arena for the fourth game of an eight-game road trip.

Laviolette coached in Philadelphia from 2009 until he was fired three games into the 2013-14 season. He led Philadelphia to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2010, and will coach against his former team Saturday for the first time since being fired.

“I think you always recognize where your old stomping grounds are, but I don’t think that matters as much as our team and being ready to play coming off the break, and how we execute and the energy we play with,” Laviolette said. “All of that will factor into the game, not my previous locations that I’ve stopped at.”

Nashville’s players think the game Saturday will be a special one for Laviolette, even if it’s a subject he doesn’t want to talk about.

“I think it’s always special if you’ve been with a team for a while and probably have some good memories with that team,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “I think it’s always special for a coach or a player to play against their old team.”

The Predators have gotten off to a strong start under Laviolette, posting a 22-9-2 record and are in second place in the Central Division heading into the game Saturday.

“From day one, this group has really worked hard,” Laviolette said. “Every day they work hard, the play hard, they practice hard, and it’s led to success.”

Philadelphia has won three games in a row and has scored 16 goals in that span. That offensive outburst has been important with Philadelphia being without the services of goaltender Steve Mason due to injury.

“I think we’re just shooting the puck a little bit better,” Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn said. “We’re really making it a priority to shoot the puck and get to the net, so I think that’s been a key for us. Sometimes guys get hot and they put the puck in the net.”

The eight-game road trip for the Flyers is their longest of the season. The Flyers had three days off due to the Christmas break and will try to keep building on the momentum it built in the previous three games.

“It’s kind of a weird road trip just because Christmas was smashed in the middle there,” Coburn said. “For the first game back against Nashville, it’s just getting going and trying to get ourselves back on track again.”

Nashville has not lost two games in a row this season and is 12-2-1 at home.

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS

Michael RafflClaude GirouxJakub Voracek

Brayden SchennScott LaughtonWayne Simmonds

R.J. UmbergerSean CouturierMatt Read

Chris VandeVeldePierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier

Nicklas GrossmannMark Streit

Nick SchultzBraydon Coburn

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Rob Zepp

Scratched: Michael Del Zotto, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Steve Mason (back), Zac Rinaldo (upper body) Kimmo Timonen (blood clot), Chris Pronger (upper body)

PREDATORS

Filip ForsbergColin WilsonCraig Smith

Matt CullenMike FisherJames Neal

Gabriel BourqueCalle JarnkrokOlli Jokinen

Eric NystromPaul GaustadTaylor Beck

Roman JosiShea Weber

Mattias EkholmRyan Ellis

Victor BartleySeth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Viktor Stalberg, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro

Injured: Anton Volchenkov (lower body)

Status report: Mason skated toward the end of morning skate for the Flyers. … Ribeiro missed the morning skate with the Predators but hasn’t been ruled out of the lineup Saturday. … Gaustad was back on the fourth line for the Predators in the morning skate after missing six games with a lower body injury.

Who’s hot: Voracek has nine points in his past four games and leads the League in points. … Smith has three goals and one assist in the past three games after being placed on the first line.

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