The Nashville Predators travel to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning tonight in the third of six preseason games for the club. Familiar faces like Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg will be in the lineup, as will those trying to solidify their place on the Nashville roster, including Steve Moses, Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson.
Regardless of NHL experience, these games hold a high level of importance for all participants.
“There are lots of young players in the lineup tonight, and like I said, the best way to evaluate is during the game,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’ve got a lot of numbers at camp and opportunities are going to be fewer and fewer because in the last two games [of the preseason], we’ve got to make sure our guys are ready to go. [Tonight] is an important game for a lot of players.”
Tonight’s contest begins at 6:30 p.m. CT and can be heard on 102.5 The Game, with Pete Weber and Chris Mason calling the action. The Predators roster against the Lightning can be found here.
The same two clubs will get together on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena for a 7 p.m. CT start.
Familiarity Expedites Success?
There was plenty of educating to go around during last season’s training camp for the Predators. Laviolette was entering his first season in Nashville, and with that came new systems and styles of play to study and put in place.
That’s not to say things are “easy” now with Laviolette entering his second year at the helm, but there’s certainly a level of familiarity for players and coaches alike. When it comes to the Preds playing the brand of hockey that brought success last season, some fresh elements being added along the way will only aid in the effectiveness.
“We’re putting a lot of things on the table, a lot of it is review for some of the guys and we’re bringing some new things in on the ice as well,” Laviolette said of implementing systems in training camp. “Players are trying to understand that as well, but the majority of the guys that are coming back for our team, they’ve got a year under their belt, and I think [they] understand what’s expected of our team from a coaching standpoint, from a playing standpoint and organizationally [as well].”
Forward Colin Wilson, who stated last season how much he enjoyed playing in Laviolette’s offensively driven system, believes that having at least a general idea of how things should be executed on the ice can only help as camp continues.
“Last year we were all learning the system, so for the guys that played it last year, we can be a little more comfortable in that sense,” Wilson said. “We were reviewing a lot of it throughout training camp, but it’s good to be used to a system already.”
That knowledge can also allow veteran players to be another source to go to for the younger skaters who may have questions along the way. The learning never ceases, but that’s not a bad thing.
“The guys who were here last year know a lot of the drills we’re doing in practice, so we can go to the front and show the guys how to do it and teach the young guys who don’t know what’s going on how to work the systems and the routes you’re supposed to be skating,” forward Eric Nystrom said. “Last year was basically a brand new system, but now we have time in camp to work on something that we’re familiar with. That’s only going to make us execute it better and be a better team.”
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