Preparing to face an opponent on the road for the first time in 12 days, the Nashville Predators took a skate at Bridgestone Arena on Monday morning. As a team that has won four straight and sits atop the NHL points tally, Head Coach Peter Laviolette believed it would’ve been easy for his hockey club to take things easy during practice. Not for these Preds.
“That’s about as hard working and spirited of a practice as you can get,” Laviolette said of Monday’s session. “It was crazy how hard they worked and how fiery they were in the drills and competing against each other. That carries into the game. The players have worked hard from day one, they continue to work hard, and for me, that is the reason why we’ve found success.”
If Monday’s practice was any indication, the success should continue tomorrow as Nashville meets the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Laviolette won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, and while he admitted that there are plenty of memories, he prefers not to get nostalgic when he returns. What the bench boss does know, however, is that despite their 7-13-3 record, the Canes are a worthy test.
“I watched [Carolina] play Pittsburgh, and we realized if Carolina works hard and they execute, then they can beat anybody, including the Penguins,” Laviolette said. “[This game will be] a good check for us right there. We’ve got to be ready to play.”
Combos & Pairings
Derek Roy, who missed Saturday’s game against Columbus with an upper-body injury, was on the ice for today’s practice, but did not take any formal line rushes.
Today’s combinations looked like this:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal
Wilson – Jarnkrok – Smith
Cullen – Fisher – Jokinen
Nystrom – Gaustad – Beck
Bourque – Roy*
Josi – Weber
Ekholm – Ellis
Volchenkov – Jones
Josi for the Win:
From time to time during practice, the team will partake in an intrasquad shootout, with the players dividing into two sides in neutral ice. The opposing group then hand selects who they’d like to see take a shot from the other side. Defenseman Roman Josi played the role of hero today, beating Carter Hutton after a number of skaters had already failed to do so.
Upon the conclusion of his successful attempt, Josi celebrated in front of the empty arena, complete with a leap into the glass and bit of a hybrid-windmill, one-knee display for his teammates. Impressive to say the least.
“It was just spontaneous I guess,” Josi said of his exuberance. “It was a long shootout, like six or seven guys…it’s a huge deal for everyone and we were happy we won it.”
The victory for Josi’s group meant one less conditioning drill at the end of practice; undoubtedly cause for celebration.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially if you play for something,” Josi said. “Guys are cheering and it’s intense. Everybody wants to win. We celebrate and it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
Pekka Rinne on the logjam at the top of the NHL standings:
“It’s hard to get separation in the standings, and you don’t want to look back in these games and you just have to live in the present and try to put together as many wins as you can. But it’s crazy how all the top teams seem to be winning every night, it makes it really exciting. It makes it really tough and that’s the way it is in the [Western Conference]. There are so many good teams that it’s hard to get separation.”
Calle Jarnkrok on how he feels his game is improving:
“It’s getting better, not for each game, but it’s getting better and better. I’m trying to work every day to get better with face-offs and all of that, so I feel like it’s getting there.”
Shot of the Day: