For the fifth time in the past 10 days the Nashville Predators spent their morning at the Sommet Center for morning skate; tonight’s match up will be against division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. This is the first of six times these teams will go head-to-head this season.
Head Coach Barry Trotz feels his team is prepared to go to battle tonight with the Wings and credits the recent success of the team to finally playing “Predators hockey.”
“I think we are starting to play more to our identity. Every year there is a new group of players and sometimes it takes a little while to get your identity and found out with this group is all about. I think we are playing more ‘Predators style’ hockey. I think we’re skating better, we are on the puck a little more persistently – that type of game which is more our style.”
The result has come in the form of nine wins in the last eleven games, but Coach Trotz does not feel it was an X’s & O’s change, but rather one within the team’s mind set and chemistry. “It wasn’t anything technical; it was more of a mind set. Guys started accepting; rather than playing the way they want to play, they’ve started playing the way they need to play.”
One of the biggest areas of improvement has come in special teams play. The power play has scored at least one goal in nine of the last 13 games, including six power-play goals in the first four games of this current homestand. As for the PK, the Preds have allowed just one opponent power-play goal over the past six games, killing 12 of the 13 opportunities over that span.
Coach Trotz feels that special teams play a major role in the outcome of a game. “The difference can be your special teams. I look at special teams are probably 30% of the game as far as outcome. Special teams are huge for any team if you are getting a goal from your special team every night that is a big advantage. Detroit has done that for years. They are a goal a game team on the power play and that’s such a huge advantage for a team offensively.”
Defenseman Shea Weber
also has sees the importance of special teams on the ice and in Predators victories. “It goes to show; every time we have scored on the power play we have got a win. In the NHL special teams is such a huge part of the game and both ends has to be doing their job.”