One point won’t be good enough tonight.
That’s from the mouths of Nashville’s players.
The Predators wrap up their five-game home stand at Bridgestone Arena against Edmonton, and while this has been a successful stretch, Nashville wants to end it with a win.
“Every point is huge,” Preds forward Nick Spaling
said. “But we want to take advantage of being at home and collect our points while we’re here. Tonight would be a big two points for us before we head out on the road. We’re really focusing in on this last home game.”
Edmonton (10-8-2) may pose a stiff test for Nashville (10-5-4). The Oilers were one of the NHL’s worst teams last season, but with plenty of young scoring threats who are gaining more experience, Edmonton could be a playoff contender this year.
“They have a lot of skill,” Spaling said. “They have a mix of younger players and older guys and they’re all able to make plays. It’s a dangerous team, especially offensively. We have to be careful and be aware of that. We need to play our game here and try to control the puck on their end.”
Despite Edmonton losing 4-1 at Dallas on Monday, Nashville Coach Barry Trotz is quick to point out Edmonton’s dominating 9-2 win against Chicago on Saturday. In that game, the Oilers scored four power play goals and Taylor Hall had a hat trick. The line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Smyth and Jordan Eberle combined for 10 points, which included Nugent-Hopkins’ five assists.
“They have lots of speed,” Trotz said. “That’s one thing that jumps out. They have skill and speed up front and they’re getting good goaltending. They’re getting real good defensively, but they’re a little bit banged up on the blue line. (Against Chicago), it didn’t matter. They didn’t have to be too good defensively. They scored nine goals.”Managing Rinne:
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne
is tied for the NHL lead in games played (18), games started (18), and leads the league in shots faced (572). The Nashville coaching staff, including goaltending coach Mitch Korn, is well aware of Rinne’s ice time and is finding ways to limit his workload.
“Mitch usually has a real good rapport with Pekka, and I allow Mitch to manage that,” Trotz said. “We discuss scheduling his games and talking about practice. It’s more about the everyday routine and managing that.”
Rinne has learned to pick his spots in practice and at morning skates.
“In the past, if he was the goalie going out there to start, he used to skate every game day,” Trotz said. “He’s not doing that anymore. Our morning skates and generally optional. We’ve sort of convinced him to take the optional a little more. That’s his maturity coming through. Young guys never take the optional. They say, ‘I’m supposed to skate. That’s what I’ve always done.’ But at the same time, when you’re an elite player and you know you’re going to be on the ice for large minutes, you have to take it.”