The Nashville Predators returned to the rink Thursday after a day off, splitting a practice session between the two rinks at Centennial Sportsplex. In a positive sign, defenseman Hal Gill—who has yet to play a game in the playoffs due to a lower body injury—participated for the entire session.
Neither Predators head coach Barry Trotz nor Gill were ready to commit to a Game 5 return for the 6-foot-7 blueliner, however.
“He skated the whole practice and he felt pretty good,” Trotz said. “We will see where he is tomorrow. That’s really his call.”
Given the Predators’ three games to one lead in their best-of-seven series against the Detroit Red Wings, much of the media conversation centered on the difficulty of tomorrow night’s task—trying to eliminate a veteran Red Wings team. Trotz said he has been trying to impress upon his players just how challenging it can be to win that fourth game in a series. Especially against Detroit.
“We recognize Detroit has a lot of experience,” Trotz said. “They were down 3-0 last year to San Jose and they took it to Game 7. We just know that tomorrow is the biggest game of the year.”Lines in practice on Thursday looked like this:
White jerseys: Mike Fisher
centering Sergei Kostitsyn
and Martin Erat
Gold jerseys: David Legwand
centering Gabriel Bourque
and Alexander Radulov
Silver jerseys: Nick Spaling
centering Andrei Kostitsyn
and Patric Hornqvist
Green jerseys: Paul Gaustad
centering Brandon Yip
and Craig Smith
Light blue jerseys: Colin Wilson
centering Matt Halischuk
and Jordin Tootoo
Trotz offered some insight into the mixing-and-matching of forwards that he’s been orchestrating lately.
“As I was telling the guys today, I said, ‘What we go out there with for lines, that doesn’t really mean a whole heck of a lot.’ ” Trotz said. “You saw last game, the lines kept changing by the minute. … It’s based on how you’re going and maybe situational. Maybe you need a little bit of a push offensively and might switch lines around. [I] also try to keep [Detroit head coach] Mike [Babcock] off in terms of his straight matchups. It also allows me to keep certain [opposing] players on the ice a little bit more too. As the series goes on, that wears them down a little bit too.”