The Nashville Predators held off-ice workouts and a team meeting on Friday in preparation for their contest against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have two games remaining in their current four-game stretch at home and are searching for their first victory, having fallen 1-0 to St. Louis on Tuesday and then 6-3 to the Flyers on Thursday.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette spoke to the importance of coming away with some points at home, while the club has the opportunity to do so, as they look to solidify their positioning in the standings with 30 games to go in the regular season.
“Last night… there’s a bunch of things I don’t like about it,” Laviolette said. “We’ll work to be better tomorrow and try to fix some of those things that we don’t like, and we know we can do better. I think we’ve been a pretty good home team for a year and a half, but right now we need to make sure that we’re taking care of business at home.”
The Preds won four straight before the All-Star Break – all on the road – and Laviolette believes the team can do that once more, but starting with one victory and building from there.
“Momentum, if you can find a win at home and get on a roll, yes it can snowball,” Laviolette said. “It can build confidence in a team and get you going in the right direction, and let’s be honest, winning solves a lot of problems and puts you in the right frame of mind. There’s no question that we can use some of that.”
Fisher Takes in Storyteller’s Opening Act:
This past Saturday while thousands of Preds fans were collectively holding their breath as Shea Weber was defending his Hardest Shot title, Mike Fisher was anxious for a very different reason.
“I was so nervous that first show,” Fisher said.
On Jan. 30, the Preds forward was in Jacksonville, Florida, using the short All-Star Break to take in the opening show of Carrie Underwood’s international Storyteller tour. Fisher doesn’t often get to see one of the concerts from his wife, a country music superstar, but when he does, the NHL veteran said he likes to sit high in the stands and take it all in.
“It was the first time I’d seen the show. It has a new stage and it’s centered, so it’s pretty cool,” Fisher said Friday at the Preds practice facility. “I actually got to watch it in [mid-level] seats and that’s good so you can see it all. It’s the most amazing show I’ve seen, and it just keeps getting better every tour. It’s definitely something you have to see.”
A little different than Underwood cheering for him after laying a hit or scoring a goal, Fisher said he likes to show his support by taking in the show as a fan. Yes, that means singing along on occasion as well.
“I’ll sing along a little bit. Not the whole time, but I like to get into it,” Fisher said with a smile. “There’s a lot of things, moving parts and the stage and everything, and I was actually pretty nervous the first part of the show, but once it got going I was fine.
“This tour is unbelievable. It’s been great, the crowds have been huge. I was just happy to be able to be there for the first one. It ended up being good timing that weekend. I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch another one, but the tour is amazing.”
When Ryan Johansen beat Flyers goaltender Steve Mason during the second period of Thursday night’s contest for his first goal in front of the home fans at Bridgestone Arena, the centerman’s celebration was just as impressive.
Johansen grabbed the Preds crest on the front of his jersey and showed it off for all to see for just a moment, but enough time to make a statement on how he feels about his new surroundings.
“I won’t lie, I was thinking about that for a few days; too bad it took me four games,” Johansen laughed. “I just thought it’d be something cool to show the fans that I’m proud to be a Predator and I’m happy to be here.”
Much like most of the country, many of the Preds will be glued to their televisions on Sunday evening when the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers get together in Super Bowl 50. An informal poll was taken around the Preds dressing room, revealing that while many believe it’ll be Cam Newton and the Panthers who will ultimately hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night, the hope is that one of the top quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning will walk away a champion.
“I want Denver to win,” forward Mike Fisher said. “It’d be nice to see Peyton, if it’s his last year, go out on top. But if I was a betting man, probably Carolina.”
“Broncos,” Johansen said. “I’d just love to see Peyton Manning. I think it’d be cool and great for the game to see him walk away with a championship.”
Shea Weber, Barret Jackman and Austin Watson are also pulling for Manning and the Broncos, although Watson and Jackman both admitted they’re not sure Denver can top Carolina in the end.
Paul Gaustad would agree.
“I got Arizona,” Gaustad laughed. “No, I think Carolina is going to win it.”
Shot of the Day: