Coming off a 4-3 win in Minnesota last night the Nashville Predators are prepared to hit the ice tonight to battle the Chicago Blackhawks, the third meeting between the Preds and Hawks in the last 15 days.
After last night’s game Head Coach Barry Trotz feels his team is changing for the better, which will be key heading into tonight’s division rival game.
“We didn’t panic and that tells me we are really coming around,” Trotz stated in reference to the quick three goal spurt by the Wild in the second period last night. “We are not being as fragile as we were earlier (in the season). We found ways to win rather than to play to not lose. That’s the mind set we are trying to create; we are making strides at it.”
However Coach Trotz voiced that he is not going to let the team get to high on this one win. “Right now it is more that we are building on (last night’s win).”
The Preds will need to carry that momentum in to tonight’s match-up. The Blackhawks have taken both games from the Preds this season; 3-1 in Nashville on October 15 and 2-0 in Chicago this past weekend. Coach Trotz notes that there are some things that will help the Preds by playing the same team again in a short amount of time.
“It helps us in the sense that there are no secrets between us and them.” However Coach noted, “The bad thing is we have lost two games against them. We have played them very, very tough in those games, but they have just scored goals and we haven’t.”
Coach also noted how important this win is for the long run, “(Tonight) is a division game. We can’t let them dictate a division game all the time. We have to respond and get a win here. We want to get some back-to-back wins here as well. Win one, lose one isn’t going to get us into the playoffs.”
One man the team has looked to for production on both ends of this ice for a win has been defensemen Shea Weber
. Weber posted another goal and assist last night to give him four goals and four assists on the season. He leads the Preds in goals, ranking 11th among all league defensemen.
“I thought the last couple of games he has looked like the Shea Weber
that I know,” Trotz said. “He has sort of taken the team on his back. He does it quietly; he just plays. He has been dominating defensively and has scored a few goals for us. Everything that you look for in a lead defenseman, he has been doing.”
Fellow d-man Dan Hamhuis also re-joined the roster for the Minnesota game, his first game since October 15. Coach Trotz expressed that he was very happy with Hamhuis’s play last night and having him back on the ice with the team is going to be a big help.
“Getting Hamhuis back really solidifies your defense. He is a veteran guy. Last night I really felt he played the way he should play. He played very confident and moved the puck, didn’t try to lead the rush a whole lots, he joined the rush a few times, and he was just very efficient coming out of his own end.”
For the injury report, forwards Jason Arnott and Jordin Tootoo
will remain on the IR for tonight’s game.