After a 2-1 Opening Night victory on Thursday over Carolina, the Nashville Predators held a short practice on Friday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena in preparation for their Saturday night contest against the Edmonton Oilers.
The arrival of the Oilers also means facing the top selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid, the most highly touted prospect to enter the League in the last decade.
While the Preds certainly aren’t basing tomorrow’s game plan around No. 97 for the Oilers, they’re still well aware of McDavid and the potential he brings to the lineup.
“You watch a pre-scout of Edmonton, and you can see what he’s capable of,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of McDavid. “You get a firsthand look at them tomorrow night, so it’s a good challenge for our club. He’s a good player. He’s young, but he’s a good player and you have to pay attention to what he’s doing.”
Laviolette is also on top of his own team’s performance, especially early on in the season. The bench boss didn’t feel the Preds played well in the second period on Thursday against the Hurricanes, and its instances such as that which give Laviolette specific items to identify and correct, as well as prepare for the opposition.
“We ran through some stuff this morning and a lot of it did focus on us, but then we switched in practice and we started talking about Edmonton and what we need to do,” Laviolette said. “It’s early on and we want to make sure our set breakouts are running the right routes, or our set forecheck, whatever it might be, but still we’ve got to pay attention to the opponent. If you’re not prepared for who you’re playing, you probably won’t like the results.”
All 23 players were on the ice for practice on Friday, with a slight switch-up in the forward line rushes. James Neal moved from his usual spot on the right wing with Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro, instead skating alongside Cody Hodgson and Viktor Arvidsson, while Calle Jarnkrok saw time on the right side with Ribeiro and Forsberg.
“We’re just looking at things and moving around,” Laviolette said of the switch. “5-on-5, we’ve got to be better. We’re not producing as much as we’d like.”
| ||Forwards || |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Calle jarnkrok |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Fisher ||Craig Smith |
|Viktor Arvidsson ||Cody Hodgson ||James neal |
|Eric Nystrom ||Paul Gaustad ||Bourque / Watson |
Just How They Drew It Up:
Good things tend to happen when the puck gets to the net. That held true on Thursday night when Seth Jones’ wrist shot from the point found its way through a crowd, grazing Jarnkrok before deflecting off of Arvidsson’s pants and into the net.
It was the rookie’s first career tally, and one that Forsberg says is indicative of what the Preds have been placing emphasis on to start the season.
“It just basically proves what we’ve been working a lot on, just getting guys in front and the defensemen shooting the puck,” Forsberg said of Arvidsson’s goal. “That’s how you score these days. It’s not the prettiest one, but it was the game winner and a really big goal for us.”
Laviolette continues to be impressed with Arvidsson’s play, and the hope is that the marker will provide even more confidence for the Swede, even if it didn’t make the cross-continent highlight reels.
“He’ll tell the story someday about how he roofed it bar down,” Laviolette quipped. “[The goal] is well deserved. He had to work to get here, he had a great year in the minors, and he’s not a big guy, so he’s got to overcome some issues out there. He’s quick and he’s powerful, he gets his shot off all the time and he earned the right to be here in training camp. It’s a pretty good thing when you can score a goal in your first NHL game of the year.”
Shot of the Day: