Following a much needed day off, the Nashville Predators took the ice for an hour-long, up-tempo practice on Wednesday at the Coyotes Ice Den in Scottsdale, Arizona, before jetting off to San Jose in anticipation of tomorrow’s contest with the Sharks.
The Preds had plenty of jump as they ran through drills on Wednesday, working on all aspects of their game, including systems and special teams’ elements.
“It was good, we were excited to be out there,” defenseman Roman Josi said of the session. “There was a lot of speed and good energy. It wasn’t our best on Monday [against the Coyotes], but still it was important to get a win and hopefully we get better from now on.”
“Generally speaking, just going out and working on a bunch of things in practice [was good],” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We worked on a lot of systems stuff, we worked on the power play for the first time in I don’t know how long, so we pushed the pace a little bit; all good stuff.”
The practice was, in a way, a continuation of the strong finish that Nashville put forth to conclude Monday’s game in Arizona, eventually ending in a 2-1 overtime victory courtesy of James Neal’s tally. The club feels that they’re getting back to doing the things that are necessary to win with regularity, and Monday’s result was a reassuring outing.
“When you’re in a rut like that, it’s tough,” Captain Shea Weber said. “You start to doubt things, and I think at that point, we just kept pushing forward. We said, ‘we’re not going to let this go by and we’re going to get this win’ and we got it out of the way.”
Combos & Pairings:
All healthy bodies were present on the ice on Wednesday, with a slight adjustment to the forward lines. Neal and Craig Smith swapped spots, with Neal moving up with Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro and Smith slotting in alongside Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson.
Wednesday’s lines were as follows:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal
Wilson – Fisher – Smith
Stalberg – Cullen – Santorelli
Bourque – Gaustad – Beck
Josi – Weber
Jones – Franson
Ekholm – Ellis
Bartley – Volchenkov
Eager to Continue:
The sentiment from the Preds locker room after Monday’s victory was a sense of relief that their six-game losing streak had come to an end, but also an eagerness to get back on the ice and continue to build on the positives.
That attitude was present once again after Wednesday’s practice, with a tough matchup with San Jose looming.
“Definitely it’s nice to have that one out of the way, but we’ve got a really good team that’s going to be playing desperate [in San Jose],” Weber said. “We’re excited to start tomorrow, but we’ve got to make sure we’re ready. The last time we came in their building, they were all over us in the first, so we’ve got to have a good start.”
For forward Taylor Beck, you only need one. If a player is going through a cold streak, one goal can change everything. For a team, one “W” can get things right back on track.
“We know we can win again,” Beck said. “We just need to keep building on that.”
Swing, Batter Batter:
With a day off on Tuesday, and the Preds in the heart of Major League Baseball’s Cactus League for Spring Training sites, it was only natural that a number of the players took in some action on the diamond to pass the time.
In fact, Weber threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday’s Oakland Athletics vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game. Unfortunately for his teammates, they didn’t quite make it in time to see the captain toss the leather.
“Our bus was a little bit late, so we didn’t even get to see Webs throw out the first pitch,” Beck said with a laugh, “but we had fun.”
“It was fun, it was a good time,” Josi said. “I don’t go to a lot of baseball games, so it was definitely enjoyable. There was great weather too, so we had a good time.”
Photo courtesy of the Oakland Athletics/Adam Loberstein
Peter Laviolette on Ryan Ellis continuing to progress on his return from injury:
“He was playing really good for us before the injury, and I think just coming back...him feeling confident with his game, we figured we’d give him some more practices and start to feel more confident. He came back in, took 12 minutes, then 14 minutes, then 14 minutes with some special teams in there. He looks a lot more comfortable, feels a lot more comfortable.”
Taylor Beck on the Preds playing well after Arizona tied the game on Monday night:
“We knew we could play better when they tied it up, and we realized how we needed to pick it up again and we did. We took it to them for the rest of the game. I don’t know what the chances were, but heavily in our favor. We could’ve [won] before overtime, but that was a big goal to break the streak for us.”