While many were out searching for deals at local shopping meccas, the Nashville Predators were preparing for a meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Preds held a 50-minute practice on Friday, and the up-tempo session featured breakout and battle drills, as well as special teams work.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his team weren’t pleased with their effort through the opening portions of their 1-0 overtime victory against Edmonton on Thanksgiving, a contest in which they were outshot 37-25. Prior to the meeting with the Oilers, the Preds bench boss mentioned that facing a team like Edmonton that has struggled of late provides some different challenges.
“Hopefully lesson learned for our guys,” Laviolette said regarding Thursday’s game. “We‘ve got to be ready to play our game from the start and to the finish. Like I said last night, I think it was real important for our team to battle the way we did in the third period and the overtime and walk away with the win. In the end, that’s the name of the game. The fact that we were able to find ourselves and get going in the right direction, that was a real positive for me as well.”
Similar to Edmonton, the Blue Jackets are a team that has struggled as of late, but Laviolette knows that doesn’t mean much on the ice.
“There’s definitely room for improvement with regard to our start [against Edmonton] and making sure we respect any opponent that we play,” Laviolette said. “Anybody’s capable of beating anybody.”
Combos & Pairings:
Gabriel Bourque skated on the wing today with Mike Fisher and Olli Jokinen. Derek Roy, who was slotted alongside Fisher and Jokinen on Thursday night, took rushes with Matt Cullen, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Coach Laviolette said that today was an opportunity for Bourque to rotate through the rushes and that more decisions would be made prior to Saturday’s contest against Columbus.
Today’s lines were as follows:
Forsberg – Ribeiro – Neal
Wilson – Jarnkrok – Smith
Bourque – Fisher – Jokinen
Nystrom – Gaustad – Beck
Cullen* – Roy
*Day-to-day, upper-body injury
Josi – Weber
Ekholm – Ellis
Volchenkov – Jones
With the Thanksgiving holiday having just passed, the lack of school for some affords an opportunity to accompany dad to the rink. Today, Wyatt Cullen, son of Matt, was in attendance. Between some playful interaction with Eric Nystrom, to Roman Josi sending Wyatt on a “secret mission” to throw ice shavings at Calle Jarnkrok [although Olli Jokinen was the ultimate recipient], the younger Cullen had quite an outing.
“It’s always fun around the holidays,” Matt Cullen said of getting the family involved. “I grew up around the rink; my dad was a high school coach for 20-some years, so I always just love having the kids at the rink. They get so much out of it and the guys are always so good to them. It makes for a fun atmosphere, especially around the holidays.”
“He’ll grow up in 11 or 12 years and maybe be on an NHL team,” Preds defenseman Anton Volchenkov said of the young visitor. “We’ll see.”
Matt Cullen on facing a team with a lesser record:
“I think it’s always good as a player to know where the other team is as far as [their record], so you take note of that, but I think ultimately it comes down to…playing our game. You can’t really control [the opponent’s record], you’re aware of it for sure, but bottom line is we’ve just got to play how we can play. Maybe it wasn’t our very best game [against Edmonton], but we found a way to win and played well enough to win.”
Anton Volchenkov on finding ways to win close games:
“I’ll take two points, but in the same situation, the last three games have been one-goal games. We took two points last night, two points against LA and Florida, so it’s just looking forward. We worked today in the practice and we’ll be ready for tomorrow. There are no easy games.”
Peter Laviolette on easing Mike Fisher back into the lineup:
“We got him right about where we wanted him last night. We wanted to keep him out of special teams and play him five-on-five, with his minutes anywhere between 11 and 15… From there, another practice and he gets another game and then a day off to rest. I talked to him today, he feels good, no issues whatsoever, so we’ll take a step forward during the next game.”
Shot of the Day: