Thursday night’s 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks was the perfect way for the Nashville Predators to begin their stretch of seven of eight games within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena, but now they have to keep it going.
The Preds host the Colorado Avalanche, another Central Division foe, Saturday night in Smashville, and the club is hoping to use the confidence gained on Thursday to continue on a positive track as December rolls along.
As forward Mike Ribeiro explained Friday during the team’s off-ice workouts at Centennial Sportsplex, now it’s all about how the Preds respond after an emotional victory.
“You don’t want to drop too much,” Ribeiro said. “You’re so high yesterday [after the win] that today is really to regroup, get your energy back and really refocus for tomorrow. [Yesterday] is over and your focus has to be on your next opponent.”
The Avalanche currently sit at the bottom of the Central and could be missing their Captain Gabriel Landeskog due to injury tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean they’re to be taken lightly.
“Colorado is dangerous, they have a lot of skill, they play hard and they’re in our division, so right away, everything is more of an emphasis because it’s a division game,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play. We tried to manage the players rest here just coming off of four games in six nights, not going out on the ice today and just having a pregame skate tomorrow and hope that we can take that same type of game [as Thursday] and bring it into tomorrow.”
Visor for Good?
Predators forward Eric Nystrom has been sporting a visor for the past two games and has scored a goal in each of them. Coincidence? Probably. But Nystrom, who is wearing the visor due to a cut suffered Monday night in Boston, said Friday he may choose to keep the extra piece of equipment permanently, even when his stitches go away.
“I’ve played a couple games with it, and it’s really not that much of a [hindrance],” Nystrom said of wearing a visor for the first time in his NHL career. “I didn’t have much of a choice. The doctor told me after I got this cut that I needed to put one on, so I listened and maybe it’s time. Everyone is wearing one now. It’s better to be protected than not. So we’ll see what happens.”
If Nystrom does elect to make the addition, he would leave defenseman Barret Jackman as the only full-time Preds player to not sport a visor. Captain Shea Weber added one permanently two seasons ago after taking a puck near his eye, and the visor-less player is becoming rare throughout the League as more more players weigh the pros and cons of putting one on.
“It’s definitely a different feel, but when you get [an injury] like this, that could have probably been prevented with a visor, it makes you think about it,” Nystrom said.
The Predators elected to cancel the on-ice portion of their practice on Thursday. Forwards Craig Smith, Cody Hodgson and Miikka Salomaki joined d-man Anthony Bitetto and goaltender Carter Hutton on the ice for a brief skate along with Goaltending Coach Ben Vanderklok.
Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body), Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body) and Colin Wilson (lower-body) all missed Thursday’s contest versus the Blackhawks and have not resumed skating with the team yet.