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Resilient Preds Focus On Saturday's Game

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
Craig Smith sat in his bed on Thursday night. His mind was racing.

The Predators rookie forward had just experienced his first NHL loss. The Phoenix Coyotes had come into Bridgestone Arena and won 5-2 in Nashville’s home opener.

“I went home and was sitting in bed thinking, ‘I wish I could change what happened,’ ” Smith said. “I want to play as soon as possible. If we had a game (Friday) morning, I would have been really happy.”

That reaction is exactly what the more experienced Predators players like to see.

Nashville has long been known as a team that bounces back quickly, a club with the ability to shelf a bad performance and perform at a high level in the next game. The Predators will have the chance on Saturday when they host New Jersey at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena.

“Ever since I’ve been here, the Predators organization has been a resilient group,” Captain Shea Weber said. “We have to get back to playing the way that we play. We have to make it harder for other teams to come into our building.”

While the more experienced Predators know how to make quick fixes and look forward, it can be a tougher proposition for the players with little NHL experience.

“I think in general, for a young guy, it’s tough,” Weber said. “I remember my first couple of years, I was really hard on myself and it was tough. It wasn’t until that next game and you started doing some things well that you got your confidence back. I think we have enough guys in here with experience that can help those guys move past it.”

Smith isn’t one of them. He admitted to stewing over the loss for a few hours, then was excited to get back to practice on Friday.

That resiliency is seemingly always a part of a Predators player’s DNA, regardless of experience. Last regular season, Nashville won 17 games coming off a loss.

They will have their first chance to do it this season on Saturday against the Devils. And unlike a five-day layoff like they had between the St. Louis win and the Phoenix loss, this time there is a quick turnaround, something the players embrace.

“We can get a chance right away to bounce back, get back on track and get back to the way we want to be playing,” Predators forward Nick Spaling said.

Injury update: Coach Barry Trotz said forward Martin Erat (upper-body) is out for Saturday. Forward Patric Hornqvist (lower-body) will test out his injury on Saturday morning and a decision will be made from there, Trotz said. Defenseman Francis Bouillon (upper-body) is getting closer, Trotz said, and forward Mike Fisher (upper-body) is day-to-day, according to Trotz.

Plaza Party: The Preds will be hosting a Plaza Party prior to tomorrow's game against the New Jersey Devils; festivities start at 4:30 on the Bridgestone Arena Plaza, featuring live music, street hockey games, face painting, and more. As of Lunch time on Friday, less than 1000 tickets remained for Saturday night's game (click here to buy tickets now); reminder that all fans in attendance at Saturday's game will receive a 2011-12 season schedule magnet  courtesy of O'Charley's.

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