The Nashville Predators logged a quick practice session at Centennial Sportsplex on Friday afternoon, a day ahead of their matchup with the Central Division-rival Winnipeg Jets.
After scoring seven against Ottawa on Tuesday, the Preds only tallied once on Thursday against a Toronto team that held Nashville to 22 shots on the night. Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette remarked Thursday night and again Friday on the lack of space to maneuver with Toronto’s tight-checking style. Laviolette and the Preds know games are going to play out like that during the course of the season, and there could be more of the same on Saturday.
“Last night the game was tight and we had to play it tight,” Laviolette said. “I think we’re comfortable in those situations from having to play St. Louis and having to play Winnipeg and having to play L.A. and teams like that who play heavy games… you have to battle hard and compete hard in those battles, so I think we’re comfortable in those games.”
“Winnipeg is a big team, a heavy team and a pretty good team,” forward Mike Ribeiro said. “Managing the puck and maybe creating more speed in our game will help.”
Every point is important, including the one earned in the shootout loss to Toronto, but when a Central Division foe comes to town, the significance of said points becomes magnified. With the parity in the division, a win or loss either way could mean gaining or dropping multiple spots within a few hours.
“This year it’s probably even tighter, which is hard to believe,” forward Mike Fisher said. “We have to find ways to win these games and get points and make a move on these teams. In our division, you lose one or two and a couple teams will pass you.”
Forward Eric Nystrom, who is on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury, participated in the team’s full practice on Friday while wearing a non-contact jersey. Goaltender Carter Hutton (Injured Reserve, lower-body) also skated in the session. Forward Paul Gaustad (day-to-day, lower-body) did not participate.
Friday’s line rushes were as follows:
| ||Forwards || |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Fisher ||James Neal |
|Filip FOrsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Craig Smith |
|Miikka Salomaki ||Calle Jarnkrok ||Cody Hodgson |
|Gabriel Bourque ||Colton Sissons ||Austin Watson |
Growing the Game:
The game of hockey has seen tremendous growth throughout Middle Tennessee over time, and thanks to some news on Friday, that growth will continue even further in the coming years.
The Predators, in cooperation with the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association, will invest over $4 million into the development of youth hockey in Middle Tennessee over the next three years as part of the League’s Industry Growth Fund (IGF). In total, $4,005,000 has been allocated to include growth for ball and street hockey programs, rink development and diversity.
“From day one when I came to Nashville up until now, I’ve seen a huge improvement in not only fans coming to the game, but just support in the community. I think a lot of that stems from the work we do in the community,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “I’ve seen a huge stride forward in what has happened here over the last couple years and now these funds, that’s great to see. A lot of people don’t have the resources to get into hockey, so to make that allocation is a very big step.”
The six programs that will receive funding under the ball and street hockey umbrella and diversity include: Preds Fitness Challenge, Go Skate!, Preds Rookie Program, grants and scholarships, high school skills development series and a coaching development initiative.
2015 Draftees Under Contract:
Both of Nashville’s 2015 fourth-round draft picks, taken just 15 selections apart back in June, have now inked their entry-level deals on consecutive days.
Defenseman Alexandre Carrier, taken 115th overall at the 2015 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday, followed by forward Anthony Richard, selected 100th overall, who signed a three-year, entry level contract on Friday morning with the Preds. Both players participated in Nashville’s Development Camp this past July, as well as Predators Rookie Camp and Tournament last September.
Carrier is currently tied for 14th among QMJHL defensemen in points (3g-12a-15pts), and 11th in assists, through 17 games for the Gatineau Olympiques in 2015-16. Richard is ranked among the Top 10 QMJHL skaters in goals (sixth, 16), points (eighth, 34) and assists (10th, 18) through 22 games in 2015-16, while also leading the league in game-winning goals (5) and shots on goal (103) in his fourth season with the Val-d'Or Foreurs.
World Cup Representation:
The Preds will have one more representative when the 2016 World Cup of Hockey gets underway next September in Toronto as Nashville Pro Scout Vaclav Nedomansky was named to Team Europe’s scouting staff for the event.
Nedomansky, who has scouted for the Predators since 2011 played in 421 career NHL games for three clubs, scoring 278 points over seven seasons. The Hodonin, Czech Republic, native represented his country in 10 World Championship tournaments – winning the gold medal in 1972 – and he was named top forward in 1974. Nedomansky also skated in the 1968 and 1974 Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in 1968 and a bronze medal in 1974.
Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton was named a director of player personnel for Team North America back in October.