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Morning Skate Report: March 24 vs Winnipeg

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

It was a mostly optional morning skate today at Bridgestone Arena before tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. The numbers of Anders Lindback, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jordin Tootoo , Roman Josi, Jack Maclellan and Brian McGrattan were the only ones listed on the dry erase board in the locker room as required to participate. During his media availability, head coach Barry Trotz confirmed Wilson and Josi would not be in tonight’s lineup and that Pekka Rinne would be starting. So a betting man would wager that the rest of those listed on the dry erase board will be scratches tonight as well.

Trotz told gathered media that he feels his first two lines (Mike Fisher with Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat; David Legwand with Alexander Radulov and Patric Hornqvist) are set. It’s a matter of figuring out who steps up and helps define the other two lines in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Better Starts: The Predators are focusing on being better out of the gate for each period after giving up goals 1:23 into the first period, 1:58 into the second and 2:03 into the third during Thursday night’s 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh. Some of the goals have come from bad bounces, but that’s little consolation to defenseman Hal Gill.

“It doesn’t matter how they go in, you’re giving up goals at bad times,” Gill said Friday. “You want to come out and set the tone for the period. I think that’s something about just having that focus that as soon as that puck drops, everyone is on the same page and everyone is going. I think we have to be a little sharper with that.”

“We know how important this game is [tonight],” Mike Fisher said Friday, on the heels of back-to-back regulation losses for the Preds—the first since Dec. 23 and 26 against Dallas and Detroit, respectively. “We’ve got to make sure we’re playing on top of our game. It’s gonna be huge. We’re going to be back home and energized again. We can’t let it happen again for sure.”

Early Start Time in Smashville: Tonight’s game against Winnipeg is starting at 6 p.m. CT, an hour earlier than usual for Predators home games. The reason: The game will be televised regionally in Canada as one of the early games on the famed “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast—a veritable Canadian pastime. “Obviously those are big games, and lots of people watching,” center Mike Fisher said Friday. As a result of tonight’s earlier start, the Predators’ morning skate began today at 9:30 a.m., instead of the typical 10:15 start time.

No Place Like Home for the Jets: If one looks to recent history as a predictor of the future, the Predators stand a good chance to gain at least a point from tonight’s game. Winnipeg hasn’t won a road game in regulation since January 16, a span of 15 road games. By contrast, over that same time period the Jets are 9-3-2 at their home rink, MTS Centre. Facing the Capitals in Washington last night, the Jets rallied from an 0-3 deficit to score the game’s final four goals in a 4-3 overtime win. For the season, Winnipeg is 12-20-4 away from MTS Centre.

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