Following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday, a blunt Nashville Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette fielded questions on what had gone wrong. At the time, the bench boss seemed almost surprised by the effort his opponent had put forth: a driving road game that pushed back the Preds in a few different areas.
Wednesday at practice, the Preds were back on the ice working on specific areas they faltered in during yesterday’s contest. The two-part, 90-minute session at Centennial Sportsplex featured extensive time on the power play and several offensive zone drills focused on acquiring and quickly rotating the puck.
Following the practice, Laviolette commented on how areas in the team’s performance on Tuesday had impacted the workout.
“I think there’s always some influence,” Laviolette said. “I don’t think that we were quick on pucks last night and on the numbers game it seemed like their jerseys were inside of ours, so we tried to get back to our harder style of play. We had a game similar to last night’s, an exhibition game against Columbus where I didn’t think we were very good, and we tried to twist it the next day in practice and just get the guys back to working and skating. I think it did well back then because we came back and in that next game in Columbus and I really liked the way we played.”
Forward lines get a facelift:
During Tuesday’s contest, Laviolette made a few minor adjustments to the Preds forward lines that had previously remained constant the past few weeks. Forwards Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque swapped places with Wilson skating on the first line and Bourque taking a few shifts on the third line. Those relatively minor changes during the game didn’t stick for today’s practice, but they were an initial indication of the larger changes on the horizon.
Today’s lines looked as follows:
Laviolette said he wanted to revert back to putting Forsberg on the first line (like he was for most of the preseason) to reward the young forward’s strong play and to try and boost his top line’s scoring numbers. The promotion is another feather in the cap of the 20-year-old Forsberg who has has a very productive two months, beginning at the Predators Rookie Tournament and leading up until now.
“I’m just trying to play as hard as I can every night; that’s something I learned last year when I was starting out,” Forsberg said. “I’ve been really trying to earn my ice time, and it feels good to get this chance. Hopefully I can continue to keeping playing good here.”
Derek Roy left today’s practice early for precautionary reasons. Matt Cullen skated with the Rich Clune and Taylor Beck during the session and is currently listed as “day-to-day.” Viktor Stalberg's injury status also remains at "day-to-day."
Stalberg on returning from injury:
“To be honest I’ve felt pretty good in practice the last few days. I feel like I came into camp in good shape and it was unfortunate what happened [with the injury]. But I’ve been able to keep working out, so I don’t think the adjustment will be that bad. At the same time though, I haven’t played a game in six months, so it certainly will be harder than maybe it seems right now. But there’s only one way to get the rust out of your system, and that’s to play games.”
Filip Forsberg on what helped him progress the most last season:
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. There was a lot of new things for me last year. Not only the smaller ice surface but even living on your own pretty far from home is tough. So even though last year might not have been the greatest hockey year, it was a really good year because of all I ended up learning from it. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable this season.”
Laviolette on putting Filip Forsberg on a line with Mike Ribeiro and James Neal:
“They were together earlier [in the preseason], it’s a change, but it’s kind of going back to where we started. Again, we’re in a feeling out process, and I think we’ll continue to try and find the chemistry. There was a couple games where their line was terrific - they had so many opportunities at the net - they did a lot of good things, so it’s something that we’re looking at."
Shot of the Day:
Photo credit: John Russell