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Practice Day Report: April 2

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators’ day got started with the annual team photo Monday morning on Bridgestone Arena ice. Predators and Bridgestone Arena employees also joined the team for a group picture before the photo shoot concluded and practice got under way. Once it did, the team was focused on the final week of the regular season.

“Obviously there are three big games that are going to determine where we finish here,” team captain Shea Weber said. “And tomorrow, Minnesota’s playing well so we’ve got to be ready for them.”

Practice consisted of drills with five offensive lines, followed by special teams work. Head coach Barry Trotz said he wants to use the last three games to sharpen up the details, especially on defense. Puck management continues to be a big focus as well. But he told gathered media that his primary focus is on goaltender Pekka Rinne. Even playoff seeding takes a backseat to Rinne’s preparedness, according to Trotz.

“If I had to prioritize anything, No. 1 is making sure that Pekka is ready and gets enough rest,” Trotz said. “We’ve been cutting him down in terms of number of shots and cutting him down in game day skates and all that. We’ve been trying to manage that the last little while. Hopefully, he’ll be fully recharged so he can play the games. He’s actually, in the last couple of games, had lots of jump in the games. Where we have to be very careful is the day after or the practice days, to manage that a little better. And we’re very cognizant of that.”

Pekka himself said after practice that he personally feels good at this point in the season. Like the rest of his teammates, he wants to see the team get on a bit of a roll to close out the last three regular season games.

“I think you always want to finish with your game feeling confident and your game in order,” Rinne said. “I think that’s our goal, to finish strong and just get physically and mentally prepared for the playoffs. I think that’s the biggest thing, just to be ready to go right away when the playoffs start.”

Monday’s lines:
Mike Fisher with Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat
David Legwand with Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov
Nick Spaling with Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist
Paul Gaustad with Brandon Yip and Matt Halischuk
Craig Smith with Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo
Extra skaters: Brian McGrattan, Jack Maclellan

Defense pairings:
Ryan Suter and Shea Weber
Hal Gill and Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon and Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis

Power play units:
Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber
David Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexander Radulov and Roman Josi

Penalty killing units:
Nick Spaling, Paul Gaustad, Francis Bouillon and Jack Hillen
Jordin Tootoo, Gabriel Bourque, Hal Gill and Kevin Klein
**Note: forwards Erat, Fisher, Legwand, and Sergei Kostitsyn are also regular PK contributors in games, but were working the PP units during today's drills

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