After some rest on the final day of 2014, the Nashville Predators rung in the New Year with their first practice of 2015 at Centennial Sportsplex on Thursday afternoon. It was the first of two practices before the club heads west for back-to-back games this weekend against Los Angeles and Anaheim.
The last outing for Nashville, a 3-2 win on Tuesday over the Blues at Bridgestone Arena, gave the Preds three out of a possible four points in back-to-back games against two Central Division foes in St. Louis and Chicago.
“Every game is so important, but especially against our division,” forward Eric Nystrom said “It seems every night, teams in the division are doing well. It’s a really strong division and you have to win those games against each other. We think we could’ve gotten two points against Chicago, but we’ve got to keep winning against our division, get points and see what happens.”
Head Coach Peter Laviolette appreciated the break in the schedule, with the Preds having three full days separating their most recent game and the next contest. The bench boss recognizes it as an opportunity for the players to rest and recharge, especially when the schedule up to this point has predominantly had the Predators playing every other day.
“It’s good for the guys to get a break,” Laviolette said. “You get to take a day off, you get to come in and practice a couple of days, so I think that’s good to get out of the grind a little bit. When you play every other day, you never really get a chance to get away from it.”
Nashville will practice once more on Friday before jetting off to California for the weekend matchups.
Notes, Combos & Pairings:
Forwards Matt Cullen, Taylor Beck and James Neal were all absent from practice on Thursday. Cullen, who is dealing with an upper-body injury, is set to be placed on injured reserve with the ailment. Beck was under the weather on Thursday, and neither he nor Cullen are expected to join the team on their upcoming, two-game road trip. Neal was given a maintenance day.
Here’s how the lines looked during today’s session:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Smith
Wilson – Fisher – Bartley
Nystrom – Jarnkrok – Arcobello
Bourque – Gaustad – Jokinen
Josi – Weber
Ekholm – Ellis
Volchenkov – Jones
Arcobello Dons the Pred Head:
Newly-acquired forward Mark Arcobello participated in his first practice as a member of the Predators on Thursday afternoon. Derek Roy was dealt to Edmonton on Tuesday with Arcobello coming the other way.
The winger skated alongside Eric Nystrom and Calle Jarnkrok during the session, looking to get acclimated to his new club as quickly as possible.
“There were definitely some nerves coming in with a new team and a new practice,” Arcobello said. “I’m trying to get to know everybody, but the guys were really welcoming and made me pretty comfortable.”
Having skated with the Oilers for his entire NHL career up until this point, the trade was a new experience for the 5-foot-8 winger, but he couldn’t be happier to join the club in Nashville.
“It’s been kind of crazy, just trying to get here and try to get acclimated as soon as possible,” Arcobello said. “But I’m joining a pretty good team here, so I’m excited about it.
“Coming to a team high in the standings is definitely a positive thing for me, and I’m excited to get on the ice and start winning.”
Arcobello, who will wear jersey No. 26, also offered up his thoughts on what Nashville fans can expect to see from him on the ice.
“I’m a smaller guy, but I like to play physically as much as possible,” Arcobello said. “I try to work as hard as I can every night and chip in on offense when I can. I played in Nashville a few times with Edmonton, so I’m familiar with a lot of guys in here and how they play. In a nutshell, I’m just a smaller guy, hardworking and I can add some offense.”
Eric Nystrom on what he communicated to Arcobello before and during practice:
“Just showing him the drills and stuff and the things that we do normally in practice, and just saying that we like to shoot the puck. Lavy is big on putting the puck at the net, so just think shot-first and get used to it. We’re very happy to have him.”
Peter Laviolette on turning the calendar on the New Year:
“You can look at the standings and see that we’ve had a good start. You can also look at the amount of games left and know that we have lot of work left to do. There’s things that we’re doing well and there’s things we can do better, and we try to get better at those things. We’re constantly trying to work our game to become a better team. While the calendar flips and you embrace the New Year, you realize that we got here from working hard and that’s how we have to approach 2015.”