The Nashville Predators hit the ice this morning in preparation for tonight’s match up against the Dallas Stars. This will be the Preds and the Stars third match up of the month, with the teams splitting a pair of games in Dallas.
The Predators head into tonight’s game with a two game winning streak. After the win over division rival Chicago at home on Thursday, the mood in the locker room is much more up beat and confident then pervious weeks.
“It helps a lot. You can tell when you look around, everyone is smiling a little bit more, everyone is a little happier,” rookie Collin Wilson said in referring to the change in frame of mind. “I think it helps, everyone gets a little more confidence in their play.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz also sees the confidence in his players increasing. “We went through a four/five game stretch where we didn’t play very well. We were indecisive, we were making mistakes, pucks were finding their way in and we lost our confidence. It takes awhile sometimes to get that trust and confidence back. And we are slowly everyday knocking off one of those blocks.”
“The guys are finding out the way we have to play. We are getting closer. You look at the last four or five games we’re playing closer to the way we need to play and therefore getting some results,” Trotz went on to add before stating that the team still has a way to go.
Despite all the struggles and injuries, the Preds enter tonight’s game with a chance to finish the opening month at .500.
“Hockey, it is what it is, you’re going to have injuries,” Coach Trotz said. “But when you have injuries and people go cold at the same time, that’s when it makes life miserable. But we are finding ways to redefine our game a little bit and get closer to what I believe we should be.”
Coach voiced that he is looking for more from his players. “If you’re not scoring you have to find other ways to contribute; be it blocking shots or being really good defensively. What you don’t want to be is a negative. You don’t want to be a ‘-2’ and produce nothing offensively.”
Guys like Jerred Smithson have stepped up to the challenge in recent games. Smithson has scored a shorthanded goal in each of the Preds last two games, including the game-winning goal on Wednesday night at Minnesota. Nonetheless, he knows that as nice as it is to score that is not his only responsibility while on the ice.
“I’m just doing my part. It’s nice to contribute when I can -- it doesn’t happen very often -- but I know my role and what I need to do; that’s to try to keep the puck out of our net and to be a good defensive player and finish my checks when I get a chance. Anytime you get a good scoring opportunity you like to capitalize and it makes the game that much more fun.”Roster Report:
Peter Olvecky was recalled from Milwaukee and is expected to make his Preds debut tonight. Olvecky replaces Cal O'Reilly on the roster. O'Reilly was re-assigned to Milwaukee yesterday. Coach Trotz explained that is was a matter of positional need -- the Preds needed more depth on the wing; Olvecky is a natural winger and O'Reilly is a natural center. Injury Update:
The Preds will be without the services of Jason Arnott (arm/shoulder), Martin Erat
(lower body), and Jordin Tootoo
(quadriceps). The news on all three continues to be promising though. Erat is day-to-day, while Arnott and Tootoo are skating with the team in practice and are both targeting the team’s upcoming West Coast Road Trip for returns to the line-up.