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Practice Day Report: Mar. 23

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
A noticeable buzz at Preds practice today as a fans packed the stands at Centennial Sportsplex to get their first in-person look at Alexander Radulov during today's open practice session.

The Preds seemed to feed off that energy as the pace of drills was very uptempo. The first 30 minutes was spent on line rushes and shooting drills. The last half of practice was spent with more specialized skill work. The power-play unit worked in one zone, while the other offensive zone worked on two-on-one drills, one-timers, and other pass-shoot drills. A third group, primarily led by Hal Gill, spread out around the center ice faceoff circle and worked on giving and receiving crisp passes.

The mood both on and off the ice was upbeat and uptempo. The guys were not pleased with the results from the last two games, especially, but were in pretty good spirits. Any concerns with Radulov's ability to fit in to the locker room should be immediately quelled. He was joking around on the ice and off the ice with the guys. Gill and Kevin Klein, the two guys with lockers just to the left of Radulov, joked about the extra media attention in their corner of the room.

Lines for Today's Practice:
    Fisher centering Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn
    Legwand centering Hornqvist and Radulov
    Spaling centering Bourque and Andrei Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Halischuk and Yip
    Smith centering Maclellan and Tootoo

Injury Update:
 - Paul Gaustad practiced the full session with the team. After practice Coach Trotz said it looks promising for Gaustad to return to the lineup tomorrow night vs. Winnipeg.
 - Roman Josi and Colin Wilson both skated prior to the full team practice. Josi participated in some of the early drills with the full team. The coaches indicated that both would remain out for tomorrow night's game.

The Pittsburgh Approach:
The coaching staff -- from Trotz through the assistants -- all mentioned the Penguins as a blueprint for the Preds line-up plans. The Pens play three scoring lines and one high energy line. Coach Trotz and staff are trying to establish a similar set up with the Fisher, Legwand, and Spaling lines providing offense and the Gaustad line giving a physical defensive match-up element.

Line Stability:
When asked if he would re-shuffle lines, Trotz said the staff is exploring all options, but he's leaning more towards letting the current lines settle in, noting that the recent additions (Gaustad and Kostitsyn at the Trade Deadline, Radulov this week) along with injuries have forced him to juggle things quite a bit recently. Trotz reiterated his appreciation for the way the Fisher line has carried the offense for the past few months and felt there were enough positives from the Legwand-Hornqvist-Radulov trio out of last night's game. But the line Trotz was most complementary of was the Bourque-Andrei Kostitsyn-Spaling unit, noting they generated a couple of great scoring chances with the puck and were hard & detailed in their play without the puck.

Tomorrow Night's Roster:
Coach Trotz said their would be changes to the active roster for tomorrow night's game against Winnipeg. "We had a game earlier in the season against Colorado where the stretch prior our work ethic wasn't where it needed to be, so we just put who we thought were our workers into the lineup. We won." Strong hint being a similar move might be in order to re-set the team's attention to detail. Trotz clearly was not pleased with the performance from some of the players last night, particularly at the bottom of the lineup. Gaustad's return to the line-up will result in at least one change to the forward crew, the bigger question is who will dress on his two wings.

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