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Preds Practice Ponderings: Dec. 8

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

After some rest on Sunday, the Nashville Predators held an up-tempo, approximately 90-minute practice at Centennial Sportsplex on Monday before jetting off to Colorado to begin a three-game roadtrip. The Preds fell 3-1 to Chicago on Saturday night, but Nashville is yet to lose back-to-back games in the current season. Monday’s session showed that the club is eager for the opportunity to get back into the win column.

“These guys have been competitive from day one,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said after practice. “Today was spirited, competitive, and it’s almost like when you lose a game, nobody’s got a good taste in their mouth about it. They do their best to fix it, and they’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

Tuesday’s contest against the Avalanche starts the longest trip since Nashville’s six-game excursion (their longest trip of 2014-15) that began at the end of October and ran through early November. After leaving Colorado on Tuesday night, the Predators face Arizona on Thursday before closing the trip out on Saturday evening in San Jose.


Injuries, Combos & Pairings:

Forward Paul Gaustad and defenseman Anton Volchenkov, both of whom were absent against the Blackhawks on Saturday night with injuries, participated in practice on Monday. Both Gaustad and Volchenkov remain listed as day-to-day.

Forward Taylor Beck did not participate in Monday’s skate. Beck has been diagnosed with a concussion and is not making the trip with the club, therefore ruling him out of Nashville’s next three games.

Today’s lines presented a different look and were as follows:

Forwards:

Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal

Cullen – Fisher – Smith

Wilson – Jarnkrok – Jokinen

Nystrom – Gaustad – Roy/Bourque

Defensemen:

Josi – Weber

Ekholm – Ellis

Bartley – Jones

(Volchenkov rotated in and out)


“Every Game is Tough”

The Predators have played 26 games thus far in 2014-15. Of those 26, 18 have been decided by just one goal. And the parity has only become more evident recently. Since Nov. 6, a span of 14 games, 12 have been one-goal contests. The two that weren’t? Nashville’s 9-2 shellacking of Toronto on Nov. 18 and Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks. And with Chicago’s empty net tally for their third marker, that meeting could have easily fallen into the “slimmest of margins” category as well.

“I think that’s been a trend over the last two to three years around the League,” forward Olli Jokinen said. “Generally speaking, not just us, but most of the games, you look at the scoreboard and it’s a one-goal game. It shows that every game is tough, it shows that every team is good, and I think that’s the way it’s going to be. It’s nothing new, especially in the Western Conference…it hasn’t surprised me at all.”

So what’s the key to being on the right side of so many of those hotly-contested affairs?

“I think our confidence is pretty good,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “We know we can win those tight games and we know how to play in those tight games… We’re never out of a game and we work hard all game. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win.

“Every team in this League can beat everyone and that’s how the games are. They’re always that close and there are no easy nights in this League. Every team you play, it’s a tough game… you’ve just got to play hard every night. If you don’t, you’re not going to like the result.”


Quoteables:

Olli Jokinen on playing well at home before heading out on the road:

“Every night you want to play well, but every team is playing good at home. Our home record has been good and I think the last five games, [Coach Laviolette] was saying we’re 2-3 on the road. We want to improve our road record and keep doing things the way we do at home; the rest of the year we’ll be OK. It was a good home stand, obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted [against Chicago], but it’s a big matchup tomorrow [against Colorado]. It’s a big divisional game, so we should be ready.”

Gabriel Bourque on positive competition within the team:

“I try to go hard every game I get the chance, because it’s a tough lineup to be in. It’s good, everybody’s going hard, everyone is nervous to get scratched, so I think it’s good for the team; lots of competition through the whole team.”

Peter Laviolette on Colin Wilson’s recent point-production:

“I think his production was something that was bound to come. His game has been really consistent from the start of the year. It seems like whatever line he’s on, that line has been going pretty good, he’s consistently in the mix offensively and in the last couple of weeks, he’s starting to see the results. From his point of view he’s starting to chip in with goals and assists which is helping our club win hockey games, but his performance has been pretty good from the start of the year.”


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