After collecting eight of a possible 12 points on their six-game, 12-day, CMA Awards road trip, the Nashville Predators returned to practice on Monday, skating in the state of Tennessee for the first time since Oct. 28. Coming off of wins over Dallas and St. Louis to close out the trip, the group was excited to be back within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.
“That road trip, I think we left saying ‘Yeah, it’s great to get on the road,’ and then it got to be the 10th day and that was enough,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said with a grin. “I think it was good for everybody to get home. We got the day off [Sunday] and got to stay away from it for a day and not have to think about it. But it was back to work today and we tried to ratchet [the tempo] back up and get the battle level as high as we could to get ready for tomorrow.”
The Edmonton Oilers are already in town ahead of Tuesday night’s contest, and as Preds forward Eric Nystrom stated, that game may hold more importance within the room that an outsider may think.
“It was a good road trip overall, but the only thing that’s going to make that road trip memorable is coming back home and winning this game [against Edmonton],” Nystrom said. “This is an important one for us to make sure we’re ready to go and prepared to play that same style and be ready to battle. It’s a huge game for us.”
Preds forwards Colin Wilson and Viktor Stalberg did not participate in Monday’s practice. Recalled on Saturday, Stalberg was injured in the final game of his conditioning stint in Milwaukee and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury. Wilson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The line combinations during the session were as follows:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal
Cullen – Roy – Smith
Jokinen – Jarnkrok – Bourque
Nystrom – Gaustad – Beck
Josi – Weber
Volchenkov – Jones
Ekholm – Ellis
Fil-ing the Net:
Rookie forward Filip Forsberg came back from the CMA trip with a few more points to his name than when he and his teammates departed town. The Swede continues to lead his club, as well as all NHL rookies, in points with 15 (6g-9a). Forsberg is also tied for first in the League in rookie assists with nine and leads the entire NHL in plus/minus (+15).
“Our line has been working really hard with [Neal] and [Ribeiro] making some great plays for me and I’ve just been able to put the puck into their net,” Forsberg said. “I was struggling with that early in the season but it was a good road trip, especially for the team and for me too.”
Thanks to the success on the trip, Forsberg is currently riding a goal-scoring streak of four games and a point-scoring streak of five straight contests.
“I think both [Forsberg] and [Neal] are finding the back of the net, so for me, it’s just trying to find those guys,” Mike Ribeiro said of his line mates. “So far it’s been pretty easy to find them. Filip is a guy that’s playing well with a lot of confidence right now, a guy that can shoot the puck and pass the puck too. He’s a great player.”
Mike Ribeiro on having success during the road trip:
“We feel like we won big games on the road against good teams. It’s good to be back; it felt like a month, but it’s good to be back. We won four out of six, so that’s pretty good on a road trip… We’re just confident when we get into games and we believe that we can win against anyone.”
Peter Laviolette on not dwelling on past success against opponents heading into the next game:
“We’re doing our best here to prepare our guys about [the Oilers]. A lot of times, one game doesn’t determine another game. You see a stat and you beat them two in a row or three in a row; I just don’t buy into that a lot of times. We beat [Edmonton in our last meeting], but that means nothing. Every game, a team finds its way or it doesn’t find its way. I can’t figure out the method to what makes it work and what doesn’t, but I know that they’re a good hockey team and I think our players know that they’re a real good hockey team. They’re young and dynamic offensively which makes them dangerous. If you’re not ready to compete and battle, you probably won’t like the result. I think we know what we’re up against and I think we know how hard we have to play and that’s what we need to do tomorrow.”
Shot of the Day: