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Fenton Talks Ads, AHL Playoffs

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators sat down with Preds Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton, who doubles as the GM of the Milwaukee Admirals, to discuss the start of the American Hockey League playoffs and who has stood out on the Admirals roster. Milwaukee came up with an impressive Game 1 win in their First Round series. What stood out to you about that game?
Paul Fenton: Well I watched the first period and a half; we came out with a very good work ethic. The line of Bourque-Mueller and Thang were excellent. Bourque had five points, Mueller had four. They really came out with a purpose, scored some timely goals and got some good goaltending. Jeremy Smith made a terrific save on a five-on-three that probably changed the complexion of the game. We just took advantage of our opportunities. Speaking of Jeremy Smith, is he starting to show what you expected out of him in his draft year?
Fenton: He’s battled through a lot of things; especially just maturing; maturing as a person and maturing as a hockey player. Give him a lot of credit. He’s found a way to succeed right now and he’s given Milwaukee a chance with Mark Dekanich being injured, to hopefully advance in the playoffs. Gabriel Bourque has scored 10 goals and 18 points in his last 22 games over the past month and a half. Has he started to find his rhythm in the pro game?
Fenton: Bourque has played great the whole year; I don’t want to just limit it to a month and a half. He’s just one of these players who is tenacious. His attention to detail is tremendous. Like I was telling Barry (Trotz) on Thursday, he’s going to love Bourque here (in Nashville). It’s just a matter of time before he’s up here. Certainly, getting the five points in Game 1 – and finishing the season with 18 goals – his offense is clicking. But he seems to be a guy who no matter where you put him in your lineup he’s going to spark something to happen. Offensively and defensively he’s very reliable. We use him in every situation that we can (in Milwaukee). Give it some time and he’ll be a Predator. With the way Jonathon Blum has played since his recall and the attention given to Ryan Ellis, we haven’t heard much about Roman Josi. How has his season gone?
Fenton: Very well, very well. It’s taken him an adjustment period to start out. North American hockey is a lot different than he’s used to, especially the amount of games that we play with the travel; it’s a very tough travel schedule in the American Hockey League. Fatigue, I think, is one of the things we were watching with him. Certainly he’s played at a high level – he won the Elite League in Switzerland – but I think it’s just the everyday travel that kind of catches up to kids. He had a strong first playoff game here. Preds 2010 first round pick Austin Watson made his pro debut with the Admirals two weeks ago. How has he looked in his first few games as a pro?
Fenton: I saw him play last weekend and he looked very comfortable as a pro. He’s banged up right now, so he wasn’t in the lineup for the start of the playoff series, but he looked like he has matured. The nice thing is he has another year of Junior hockey to continue to evolve. He started off slow this season; we attribute a lot of that to what he went through last summer between the draft, running around, his mom having the 10th child in the family, he being responsible. I think that had a lot to do with it, but I think this summer he’s going to have a great development training. We have him hooked up with Marty Gelinas.

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