The Nashville Predators had a rare 9:30 a.m. practice today—earlier than usual as a result of anticipated inclement weather this afternoon. Take-off time for the team’s afternoon charter flight to south Florida was bumped up to try to beat the weather, forcing the staff to reschedule a practice originally planned for 10:30 a.m. at Centennial Sportsplex.
“For me, it doesn’t bother me because [the coaches] are here so early,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “But for the players it’s an hour earlier, so their body clocks might not be ready to go. At the same time, it actually works out fine because we’re going east. You lose an hour.”
The Predators forwards skated as two sets of three (white jerseys - Erat, Fisher and S. Kostitsyn; gray - Hornqvist, Legwand and A. Kostitsyn) and two sets of four (green - Wilson, Halischuk, Tootoo and Spaling; gold - Gaustad, Yip, Bourque and Smith). That arrangement was necessitated by a defense depleted on Friday by an injury to Kevin Klein
, a Ryan Ellis
illness, and the absence of defenseman Hal Gill
. (Gill, who was acquired by the Predators from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 17 and joined his Nashville teammates straight from a Canadiens road trip, spent the past couple of days back in Montreal gathering some personal belongings and seeing his family.)
Gill had been expected to return in time for Friday’s practice, but travel delays got him to Nashville later Friday morning. In fact, he skated after the main group with stragglers from practice. In a pinch for blueliners, the Predators dressed forward Brian McGrattan
in a blue defense jersey and had him play some defense. McGrattan, who hadn’t been practicing with the full team of late because of an upper-body injury, was just happy to be out there. “No matter what position you’re in, it’s good to be on the ice,” McGrattan said, seated in his locker room stall. He then joked to goaltender Pekka Rinne
that his presence on the back end made practice easier than usual for the team’s netminder.