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Morning Skate Report: Dec. 2

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are set to play the Minnesota Wild tonight as the start of a two game road trip. Nashville has played eight of their last nine games at home and is looking to the road to get back to “Predators hockey.”

“We kind of took a step back (Monday) night and didn’t really play a great game. We have to just go out on the road; it will be good for us to get away and get back to playing simple hockey and working hard,” forward Jerred Smithson stated. “Nothing beats playing home games but it’s nice to get out on the road and just worry about hockey, no distractions.”

Coach Trotz also feels that a short road trip may be needed for the team. “We have been at home quite a bit here, sometimes you can go a little bit stale too and I think going on the road might be good for us right now.”

It also helps that the Preds have already picked up wins against both opponents this season – at 4-3 win at Minnesota on October 28 and a 2-0 home win over Chicago on October 29, the most-recent of the three contests between the Preds and Hawks this season.

Head Coach Barry Trotz feels the contest between Nashville and Minnesota will be of similar style games, both relying on team structure. However when the team heads to Chicago for play on Friday coach feels his they will be up against a team with offensive fire power and an active defense.

“It will be varying degrees of styles we will have to play. In this League, every night there is a different animal you have to try to slay; you have to make your adjustments. You still want to play within your foundation of your own game and try to overwhelm them with your game, but you still have to adjust a little bit to take away some of their strengths and exploit some their weakness.”

Familiar Face
While tonight’s match up with the Wild is just the second of four series meetings between the teams this season, however goalies Pekka Rinne and Niklas Backstrom (not to be confused with Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom) are quite familiar with each other. Both netminders were teammates back in Finland with Karpat (click here for more on their time in Finland), and both are strong candidates for the 2010 Finnish Olympic team.

“I think it is pretty special coming from the same team in Finland,” Rinne stated speaking of his relationship with Backstrom. “Actually from that team we have four or five players in the NHL right now, so we had a really good team back home; I’m pretty fortunate to have played with those guys.”

While Rinne knows Backstrom’s style of play, he doesn’t feel he will be able to give his current teammates many inside hints. “He’s a good goalie. I think at this level you can’t just point out one thing, so it’s really hard because he is such a good goalie.”

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