The Nashville Predators accomplished exactly what they wanted over their first two games of the season at Bridgestone Arena – collect four points.
Now the Preds will head out on the road for the first time in 2015-16, beginning Tuesday night in New Jersey. Jetting away from home is inevitable at some point, but the team is looking forward to the excursion as a chance to not only perform on the ice in a visiting building, but also an opportunity to grow as a team away from the rink.
“It’s a good chance to bond as a team,” forward Eric Nystrom said. “To get away for an extended period of time and just focus on hockey, being around the team, getting better and winning some road games, it’s a great opportunity early in the season.”
After starting 2-0 with victories against Carolina and Edmonton, there’s plenty of reasons for the Preds to feel confident, but they’re also aware that it’s still early. Getting out of Nashville could allow for added concentration on multiple facets of the game, something that can only help at this juncture.
“We know we have parts of our game we have get better at and sometimes playing on the road will help some of those little parts of our game,” forward Mike Fisher said. “Sometimes on the road, you’ve just got to play simple and not be too cute, play hard and keep pucks in front of you. There are parts of our game offensively that can be better and sometimes, if we can simplify, I think we’ll get better results.”
The Predators were excellent when playing in Nashville last season, but they weren’t too shabby away from Music City either, going 19-16-6 away from the friendly confines of their home arena. The club is hoping that experience with relatively the same group intact from last season, will aid in the success of the road trip.
“I think our guys will be ready for it,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’ve had a pretty decent road group, these guys have proven that they’re good road players, but this group has to go out and make their own way with that as well. The guys are excited to get out on the road as a group and win some hockey games.”
Combos and Pairings:
After seeing some time up with the first line on Saturday against the Oilers, Calle Jarnkrok slotted back in with the third line during Monday’s practice, with James Neal skating alongside Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg once more. The forward lines and defensive pairings looked like this.
| ||Forwards || |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||james neal |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Fisher ||Craig Smith |
|Gabriel bourque ||Cody Hodgson ||calle jarnkrok |
|Eric Nystrom ||Paul Gaustad ||A. watson/v. arvidsson |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Barret Jackman ||Seth Jones |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Ryan Ellis |
|Victor Bartley ||Anthony Bitetto |
Most Beautiful Blueliner:
At some point during his hockey playing days, the word “beautiful” has likely been used to describe a goal, assist or stick check, courtesy of Seth Jones. That adjective has now been utilized as a descriptor for Jones the person as well.
The Preds defenseman was named one of “Nashville’s 25 Most Beautiful People for 2015” by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. He was the only athlete to receive a nod on the list this year. While the honor is certainly nice, it also comes with a healthy dose of playful ribbing from the guys in the locker room.
“Maybe it’s my hair, that’s why they didn’t pick me,” Nystrom joked. “But it’s all in good fun, we give him a hard time and I think there are some guys that are actually jealous it wasn’t them. I saw some guys’ faces pouting when they saw that it wasn’t them, but we definitely gave him a hard time. It’s good for him; he’s a single guy, maybe he’ll get some more girls.”
Photo courtesy of Nashville Lifestyles Magazine
Shot of the Day: