The NHL regular season opened with four games around the league last night and the anticipation to lace up the skates and play as a complete team could be seen today at Preds practice. The Predators gathered at Centennial Sportsplex for one last practice before leaving this afternoon for Saturday night's season opener at the Dallas Stars.
The coaches, searching for consistency during the opening stretch of the season, have kept lines the same at practice this week guys skating:
White: Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont, Steve Sullivan
Gray: Martin Erat
, David Legwand
, Mike Santorelli
Red: Marcel Goc, Partric Hornqvist, Ryan Jones
Yellow: Wade Belak, Ben Guite, Jerred Smithson
Not skating with the team again today was Jordin Tootoo
, Joel Ward, and Colin Wilson
. Ward, however, has been skating everyday on his own and is getting close to returning to practice with the full squad. Tootoo, despite not skating today, will be making the trip to Dallas; based on the combinations in practice he appears unlikely to play in tomorrow night's game, but may well be back in the lineup for next Thursday’s home opener against Colorado.
Coach Trotz ducked questions about the starting goaltender for the season opener. Dan Ellis says it’s all about the suspense. “He [Coach Trotz] told us that he wants to tell us on the plane. So you have to keep the drama going; suspense is a good thing. I think it holds back a little bit with what the other team can do in terms in figuring out a scouting report.”
Coach Trotz feels having two goaltenders who each have experience being the top man in the past is not just a luxury, but a weapon that can help the team through the rigors of the full season. “They are both good goalies, so I don’t think we can make a wrong choice. It’s a really good situation to be in. Some teams are looking to ride their number one for 70 games, I think we have the luxury that both guys can play and can play at a high level.”
Trotz went on to add, “Ultimately it’s just about winning games, that’s all it is. It’s not personal. Whoever is the hottest goalie and whoever is on at that time, that's who we'll play.”
When talking to Trotz about the importance of two points tomorrow night he voiced that a win tomorrow is the ultimate goal, but regardless of the outcome the team has to return to practice and make improvements for the next game. “We have to take it one game at a time and build on positives and wipe out any negatives you have in a game. It’s about being good at getting better from Game 1 to Game 82.”
Preds forward Steve Sullivan echoed Trotz's sentiments, “I think two points October 3rd is just as important as two points April 3rd. We have to look at that and every time we put the jersey on we have to try to get points. That’s our objective every time we are one the ice we have to try and win a hockey game and that starts tomorrow night.”