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Preds Pick Up Pace of Practice Heading Into Opening Night

by Jena Smith / Nashville Predators
The Predators were back at Centennial Sportsplex this morning for another demanding training camp practice. A few veteran bodies have returned to team practice after injuries kept them away for a majority of camp, however after a series of transactions the past few days, the roster has been cut to 25.

Wade Belak and Steve Sullivan, held out of this past weekend’s games due to groin injuries, were back on the ice today. The veteran players voiced that it was more important for them to have taken the needed time off and fully heal in order to be healthy and productive for the regular season slate ahead.

Lines from today’s practice were:
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

Sullivan, a regular in practice late last week, joked around about the impact of missing last weekend’s games. “I was out for 22 months, so missing two games? I was only scheduled for one more game after that [the game he left], so I really only missed one preseason game. I’m not too worried about it. I still have a whole week of practice. We will get a good game in on Saturday and then another four days of good practice, so I’m not worried about it at all.”

As for Belak, he feels that being a veteran and being around the game makes it a lot easier to get back into play after missing time. “I feel I’m ready. I was able to play two periods of a hockey game, so I was able to get my feet wet a little there. We have a lot of practice to get into it, but I have been playing the game for a long time. After a period or so you’re right back into the game.”

Francis Bouillon, signed by the Preds to a one-year contract today, missed a great deal of training camp, but got a chance to play in the final preseason game in Columbus on Sunday. Head Coach Barry Trotz, however, has no reservations about Bouillon’s preparations for Opening Night.

“He has to catch kind of a moving train but he is a pro and I think the pros are able to manage the game pretty good. He has almost 500 games under his belt; I’m trusting his instincts will pull him through.”

As for the personnel moves of the last two days, the Preds reassigned six players to Milwaukee including defensemen Cody Franson, Alexander Sulzer and Nolan Yonkman and forwards Triston Grant, Peter Olvecky, and Cal O’Reilly. Trotz commented that all of those guys proved himself capable of playing for the big club, so having that sort of talent at the AHL level only gives Nashville a larger amount of depth within the organization.

Injury Update: Joel Ward and Colin Wilson were both placed on IR today in advance of the Opening Night roster. Ward skated on his own today and the plan is for Wilson to resume skating on his own by the end of the week.

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