The Nashville Predators were back to work at Bridgestone Arena on Monday morning in preparation for their trip to eastern Canada this week. Toronto and Ottawa sit on the schedule for the Preds, with the Maple Leafs ahead on Tuesday and the Senators on Thursday.
Nashville will face clubs from the Eastern Conference on the road for the first time this season, and Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette didn’t put much stock into a difference in on-ice play between the two conferences when asked after practice on Monday. He does believe, however, that his club has performed admirably away from Music City.
“I think our guys have played well on the road,” Laviolette said. “I think it’s always harder to play in other teams’ buildings, but I think [our players have] handled that well. Even the last game we lost [against St. Louis], I think our guys competed really hard against a good team, and it just didn’t happen for us that night. I don’t think we’re intimidated going into other teams’ rinks. I don’t think it changes the way we play. We seem to be consistent at home and on the road.”
The Preds continued to work on special teams during the latter portions of practice, with focus on different avenues of puck movement during the power play. Nashville will be facing a Toronto penalty kill that is currently ranked 10th in the League, clicking at 84.1 percent.
Viktor Stalberg, currently out 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury, was the only player absent from Monday’s session. The Predators lines looked like this during the day:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal
Cullen – Jokinen – Roy
Wilson – Jarnkrok – Smith
Nystrom – Gaustad – Beck
Extra: Bourque, Fisher
Josi – Weber
Volchenkov – Jones
Ekholm – Ellis
Fil the Thrill:
Preds forward Filip Forsberg was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week this morning by the League. The rookie received a nice round of stick taps at the beginning of the practice in recognition of the honor.
“He deserves it,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “He’s played really well; just lights out. I’m happy for him.”
Forsberg tallied five points (2g-3a) during the week, and although he saw his six-game goal streak [tying a franchise record] and seven-game point streak [setting a franchise record for rookies] come to an end on Saturday, the Swede still leads all NHL rookies in points with 20, eight more than his closest challenger. Forsberg also leads the entire League in plus-minus (+19).
Filip Forsberg on facing the Maple Leafs:
“Well it’s going to be tough. Coming to Toronto, it’s going to be a great atmosphere playing there, and they have a good team with a lot of skilled players. We have to watch out and we have to bring our best game to beat them.”
Pekka Rinne on whether there’s a difference between facing a team from the Eastern or Western Conference:
“Obviously you hear people talk about more offensive hockey in the East, but I feel like it’s the same way in the West. There are so many good teams… I mean, I feel like it’s the same, we still play the same game, and when we play Eastern teams, I don’t think we change any systems or the way we play. In that way, nothing changes, but we don’t know those teams that well. That’s a difference, and we don’t get to face them too many times in the season, so it’s a different animal.”
Olli Jokinen on skating on a line with two other veteran players in Matt Cullen and Derek Roy:
“We’re probably pretty close to being the oldest line in the league. We’ve got close to 105 years of experience there. We played a little the last game, both players are smart players, they’ve been around a long time and hopefully we can help the team tomorrow to a win. We’re a good team when we’ve got all four lines going, and that’s what we need every night.”
Shot of the Day: