The Nashville Predators seemed relaxed and upbeat on the ice at Centennial Sportplex Sunday morning as they completed their final practice before heading to the desert for Monday’s Game 5 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Nashville trails the best-of-seven series three games to one. Despite the fact that their backs are against the wall—a loss in any of the next three games will end their season—the Preds appeared loose and confident. During the session there were lots of smiles, playful shoves and stick taps of applause for teammates.
“The perception is that we’re not going to be able to dig ourselves out,” head coach Barry Trotz said after Sunday’s practice. “Well, perception doesn’t really matter to us. We just know we’ve got to go to Phoenix and win a hockey game and go from there. It’ll be baby steps and our first step is Phoenix.”
“We know the situation and you just have to do your best and believe in yourself,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “We all know that we can do it. It’s just a matter of putting everything together, being on the same page and moving forward.”
Trotz juggled the lines considerably for Sunday. Colin Wilson took Sergei Kostitsyn’s place on the first line with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat. Kostitsyn, meanwhile, was on a line with Paul Gaustad and Brandon Yip.
“Colin’s played real well the couple games he’s been in and [he’s] made some good plays and been solid,” Fisher said. “I think he’s going to help us with a big body especially down low, and hang onto pucks. We’ve been getting some chances but just haven’t buried enough, and hopefully this will help us.”
“He’s seems to be going and I want to move people up who are going,” Trotz said of his promotion of Wilson, who has played well in two appearances this series.
Trotz confirmed that he is planning to reinsert Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn back into the lineup for Game 5. On Sunday the two flanked center Nick Spaling. “If [Radulov and Kostitsyn] want to be good players, they’re good players, and they can help us,” he said. “I look at them as, they’re going to help us.”
Practice lines on Sunday:
Mike Fisher centering Colin Wilson and Martin Erat
David Legwand centering Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist
Nick Spaling centering Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov
Paul Gaustad centering Sergei Kostitsyn and Brandon Yip
Craig Smith centering Matt Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo and Chris Mueller
Power play units:
Unit 1: Fisher, Erat, Hornqvist, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber
Unit 2: A. Kostitsyn, Legwand/Wilson, Radulov, S. Kostitsyn, Roman Josi