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Flames Up Next; Bitetto on the Wing

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators took to the ice at Centennial Sportsplex on Monday afternoon, two days removed from a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. The one-goal defeat was one more outing in a stretch for the Preds where the team has been disapointed with the lack of harmony in their game.

“When we’re establishing our identity, it’s clear cut,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “You can see it. That’s led to good offense and good defense, and when we’re on our heels a little bit or we don’t execute quite as well as we should, that’s when we find ourselves in a little bit of trouble. The one thing that stands out for me most, if you’re weighing the last three or four games, is just try to be consistent with what we’re doing. We’ve lost that consistency along the way at times.”

Nashville is 3-3-1 in their last seven contests, and they’ll welcome a Calgary team to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday that has won five straight. As the Preds search for more consistency, they know they’ll have to start strong in order to have a chance at their opponent.

“Their team has changed a little bit, but not too much,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “They’re a really skilled team with a lot of speed, so we’ll have to watch for that.”

“I remember the games from last year; they were wide open and they play a game that’s more run and gun,” Laviolette said. “We have to make sure to pay attention to their offense as they have some dangerous players.”

Anthony Bitetto...Right Wing:

Defenseman Anthony Bitetto will probably never score 20 goals playing wing, but he still managed to pot a couple at practice on Monday from the right side. Bitetto filled in for James Neal, who was given a maintenance day, and skated alongside Mike Ribeiro and Viktor Arvidsson on Nashville’s line rushes.

“He might have to cool down a little bit so I can stay in the lineup,” forward Colton Sissons joked after practice.

Bitetto, who said he filled in as a winger on a few occasions during his first season in the American Hockey League with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2012-13, didn’t mind skating up front today, and didn’t look out of place doing so.

“It was good, wherever you need to fill in when the time comes to get in there, you’ve just got to make the most of it,” Bitetto said. “With Neal not practicing today, it was good to just skate in there.”

While Bitetto may not be interested in taking Sissons’ job, or any of the other forwards for that matter, he didn’t mind scoring a couple of goals either.

“Yeah I was pretty hot,” Bitetto said of his offensive prowess. “It was a good practice, and it’ll be good for everybody to have an up-tempo skate today going into tomorrow’s game.”

Lineup and Injury Notes:

Forwards Mike Fisher (Injured Reserve; lower-body), Gabriel Bourque (Injured Reserve; lower-body) and Colin Wilson (lower-body) were all absent from the Predators Monday practice. Joining the trio of forwards in missing the skate was winger James Neal, who was given a maintenance day.

As a result of Neal not skating at practice, the Preds forward lines look as such with d-man Anthony Bitetto filling in at forward:

Filip Forsberg Calle Jarnkrok Craig Smith
Viktor Arvidsson Mike Ribeiro Anthony Bitetto
Cody Hodgson Colton Sissons Austin Watson
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Miikka Salomaki


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