The Nashville Predators were practicing at home on Monday after an eight-day road trip. And there were some reasons to be happy.
One of them?
“Sleeping in your own bed,” Captain Shea Weber
said with a laugh.
“Being able to stay put for awhile, and having our crowd really help us get that momentum we want,” Weber added.
The Predators will hear the home crowd all week as Nashville begins a three-game homestand on Tuesday against San Jose (7 p.m.) at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville (3-3-1) lost its first two games of the road trip last week, but bounced back at Calgary on Saturday with a 2-0 victory. The club is hoping the win will serve as springboard for as it attempts to win its first home game of the season.
“We managed to salvage a bit of the trip there,” Predators forward Jerred Smithson said. “It was pretty frustrating, the first two games. But once we kind of established our forecheck in the Calgary game, things started going our way a little bit. We want to keep the snowball rolling a bit, bring it home here and put together a good performance tomorrow night.”
The Predators spent Monday’s practice at Centennial Sportsplex working on several parts of their game, including improving on breakouts and getting more shots on net.
“It’s getting closer,” Weber said. “Even in the last part of the week, we did improve as a team. We are continuing to work hard and focusing on those things at practice. We’re going to get better and better as the season goes on.”
The Predators have also been working on taking some of the pressure off goaltender Pekka Rinne
, who has been facing too many shots for Nashville’s liking. Rinne is tied for second in the NHL in shots against (211). The only goaltender who has faced more is Columbus’ Steve Mason (221), but Mason has played one more game than Rinne.
San Jose (3-3-0) will prove to be a good test considering it has won two games in a row and has scored 18 goals thus far, three more than Nashville.
“They’re always good,” Smithson said. “They have a lot of skill and are a big team. They play physical if they want, but can also play the skill game. For us, we have to get our skating legs under us early, establish our forecheck, play tight defensively, and maybe not rely on Pekka so much. We know he can make the save back there, but we can’t let them throw 40 shots on net every night.”
The Predators could receive some good news for Tuesday’s game. Nashville Coach Barry Trotz said “there’s a chance” that forward Mike Fisher
(upper-body) and defenseman Francis Bouillon
(upper-body) could play against San Jose. Both practiced the entire time with the team on Monday.
“We can be a lot of better and we will be,” Trotz said. “We’ve been in this position a few times in the past where we’ve had lots of change. We are really young up front. We were the youngest team in the league when we had Bouillon, Fisher and (Marty) Erat in our lineup. They weren’t in our lineup (last week) so we’re even younger. Some of that poise and trust isn’t quite there, but that will come.”Forward Line Combos at today's practice:
White - Hornqvist, Legwand, Wilson
Gray - Fisher, Kostitsyn, Smith
Yellow - Smithson, Spaling, Tootoo
Green - Geoffrion, Halischuk, McGrattan
Lt Blue - Bergfors, O'Reilly