As Peter Laviolette alluded to in his postgame press conference after his Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night, the time for celebration was minimal.
The Preds hit the ice on Friday morning at Centennial Sportsplex, preparing for their Saturday night matchup against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Saturday won’t be the first time that the two clubs have had interaction with one another since the 2013-14 season, however. It’s no secret that James Neal was acquired via trade from Pittsburgh at the NHL Draft this past June, sending Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling the other way.
The upcoming meeting will mark the first time that all parties have played against their former clubs since the trade, and it’s a get together in which the Preds leading goal-getter will look to continue his scoring streak.
“Playing against your old team, playing against the guys you played with for so many years, it’s going to be different,” Neal said. “It’s going to be weird at the start, but after the first few shifts, it’s another hockey game. We’re out to do a job and just keep what we’ve built going in here. We know [Pittsburgh is] going to come out hard after losing their last two games, so it’ll be a good test for both teams.”
Line rushes during Friday’s session looked like this:
*On injured reserve
Eric Nystrom on facing former teammates Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling:
“They’re going to be excited. They have some great memories here, and they’re very well liked guys by the guys on our team. I’m sure they’re going to want to beat us. I know [Neal] is fired up to play against [Pittsburgh], so it’s going to be a great matchup. It should be a great atmosphere again and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
James Neal on living in Nashville:
“I always loved coming into this city, but now to make it a home and live here…it’s been fun. I love everything about it. The fans are great. When you hear Nashville, you don’t think it’s a hockey town but we’re trying to change that…I think the fans have been great so far.”
Peter Laviolette on the Forsberg-Ribeiro-Neal line:
“With [Ribeiro], I think you’ve got a guy who looks to get people the puck so they can be offensive and score goals. [Neal] fits that bill so there seems to be a match there right away. I think [Forsberg] brings an element that complements really anything. I think he’s as good of a shooter as he is a passer, I think he’s smart, defensively as much as he is offensively, so you get a player that really adds to that line in a bunch of different dimensions. You never know if something’s going to work and it clicked early on. They had great possession numbers from the start and still do.”
Shot of the Day: