The Predators took their morning skate practice this morning to prepare for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils at home. While winning seven of their last nine games, including a 4-3 victory over San Jose on Tuesday, one new addition to the locker room could be seen; confidence.
As goaltender Pekka Rinne
put it everyone is just a little happier and there are more smiles to be seen in the locker room. However, as head coach Barry Trotz put it, this stretch is less about smiles and more about gaining confidence.
“I think any time you do have success it does breed confidence. You can see it in the way we pass the puck, you can see it in how we execute through the neutral zone,” Trotz stated. “When you don’t have that confidence you are riming pucks, pucks are jumping off your stick. When you don’t have confidence you don’t have really good energy and it shows in your legs, your hands, your head; it just really affects your whole game and throws everything else off.”
Trotz mentioned after the last few games that he feels the team is starting to find their identity and is starting to work -- and look -- like a team. After morning skate he also added that the work ethic and desire have contributed to the success.
“It all starts with the work ethic. We got our work ethic going and our skating game going. That’s where it ultimately starts.”
With the work ethic, skating and scoring picking up for the Preds, it has also made the job of goaltender a little easier. Rinne voiced that he can see the difference in the guy in front of him ever night. He is able to see the confidence in their play and as a result the team has been more consistent. “It’s different now, we have come together. We talk on the ice more. Our special teams are playing better, our power play and penalty kill are better.”
Coach Trotz also talked about the importance of the team playing better in order to help Rinne out and give him that added confidence as well. “It is a result of better team play that he does not have to be the difference in the game. As a goaltender when you know you have to be the difference in the game that a hard job. Right now he knows if he just makes the saves that’s he is suppose to make, we have a good chance to win a hockey game.”Coach Trotz's Keys to the Game:
After morning skate Coach outlined three keys to success in tonight's game:
Managing the puck through the neutral zoneInjury report: Colin Wilson
Stopping the Parise line
Playing with patience in order to make good decisions
had another exam yesterday and the team is expecting results later today. Trotz did state that watching him skate he looks “right there.” Trotz reiterated the plan is still to send Wilson to Milwaukee to allow the rookie to get his in-game timing and conditioning.
Wade Belak skated today with the team during morning skate. Trotz said he could be ready to go as early as tonight if needed, but more likely will be held out of the lineup until this weekend.