The Nashville Predators are prepared to for the first of three games in four days on the road. The Preds will go head-to-head with the Boston Burins tonight followed by the Senators on Thursday and the Blackhawks on Saturday.
Heading into the road trip the Preds have shaken up the roster. Since last week the Predators have been busy calling their AHL team in Milwaukee. Cal O’Reily and Cody Franson were called up from Milwaukee, while Ben Guite and Mike Santorelli were assigned back to Milwaukee. On Tuesday, defenseman Alexander Sulzer and forward Dave Scatchard were recalled from the Admirals as Teemu Laakso
The number of calls up and down from the AHL is due to recent injuries to Preds. Captain Jason Arnott joined Jordin Tootoo
on Injured Reserved; Arnott suffered an upper body injury in Saturday’s game at Washington. Also out is defenseman Dan Hamhius.
Head Coach Barry Trotz is eager to see how the younger players respond to there chance to play in the big league. He recognizes the time in Milwaukee is very important to the individual player development, but also would like to see a number them perform in the absence of the veterans.
Trotz went on to talk about his young defensemen -- Laakso and Sulzer in particular. “One of the things we preach is development through Milwaukee, and that is why Laakso got sent back down. It isn't because we aren't happy with his play, we are actually encouraged, but it is just another step in the process. Now Sulzer gets a chance.”
Veteran forward David Legwand
had encouraging things to say about recent call ups, Scatchard and Sulzer. “Obviously Scatchard has played a little bit in the league and he is a solid hard working kind of guy, a penalty killer, and that’s kind of what we need right now. And Sulzer is a solid stay at home D-man and we need everyone to contribute right now and get back on track.”
For recent call up Franson, he had the chance experienced his first NHL game during the shootout loss to Washington on Saturday. The defenseman was called up last Friday and took Hamhuis’s spot in the lineup. As an injury recall Franson knows this first chance in Nashville might limited, but wants to take full advantage of it.
“I am just trying to get in as many games as I can. With (Dan) Hamhuis injured no one really knows what’s going on. I am just enjoying it while it lasts.” He went on to add, “I want to play solid and give the coaches a little more confidence in me out there. And if I do get sent down (when Hamhuis returns), leave them with a good impression of me in their minds.”
While the bench may look different, Coach Trotz is not letting his team forget what is ahead in the next few days.
“Coming off four games in six days last week, which was a tough week, we play three elite teams in four days again this week. Boston was a top-three team last year and would be considered a top team again this year. Ottawa looks to have put their game back together after an off year last season. Chicago is a contender in the west.”
However Trotz sees this as an opportunity to toughen up his team and prepare them for the rest of a long season. “These early season trips help a team get hardened.”
Legwand agrees with coach and says the most important part of this trip, after performing so poorly in the last few games, is to get off to a good start. “We need to get off to a good start. A win in Boston would be big and then we have Ottawa and Chicago; three good hockey teams. That’s something we have to work towards and win the first one.”