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Smashville Scope: February 23-28

Tolvanen's Expanding Opportunities, Preds Growing Mustaches, Pitlick Named AHL Player of the Month and More in This Week's Smashville Scope, Presented by Jockey

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

The Smashville Scope presented by JOCKEY prepares fans for the week ahead with news, videos and clips from the past week, plus, game and event info for the next seven days. Use promo code "GOAL" to save 25% on your next JOCKEY purchase


Filip Forsberg isn't the only mustachioed man on the Predators roster.

Eeli Tolvanen, who was seen yesterday smiling with his stache after scoring his second power-play goal in his last four games, explained following Nashville's 3-1 win over Columbus he has a wager going with Preds goaltender Juuse Saros, who is also sporting a lip sweater.

"It was kind of a joke on the road, we both had a terrible mustache, and we kind of made a bet on whoever can rock it longer," Tolvanen explained. "Now, [mine is] getting greasier and greasier, but you guys should see Juice's too, it's pretty bad too."

As a netminder, Saros has a mask to hide behind most of the time, leaving Tolvanen's "greasy" muzzy to get the bulk of the attention as of late.

Neither of theirs look as good as Forsberg's entry - he's been seemingly perfecting his since at least last summer when the Predators returned to the ice - but their play over the past 48 hours more than made up for their lack of follicle fortitude.

Saros started both games of Nashville's back-to-back sweep against the Blue Jackets over the weekend, stopping a total of 57 shots in two days and only allowing one goal in each outing. The performance in net from the young Finn was impressive, but Saros's fellow countryman has been receiving most of the accolades as of late, and rightfully so.

Not only has Tolvanen tallied twice on the man advantage in five days, he's also seemingly becoming more confident each time he steps on the ice. Tolvanen hasn't passed up many opportunities for a shot over the past few contests - he's got at least one shot on goal in all but one of his 12 games this season - and his play away from the puck has been noticeably improved as well.

Essentially, Tolvanen may lack substantial growth on his face, but there's plenty to like on the ice.

"The reason why he got in the lineup originally was because of his play without the puck and his competitiveness," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said of Tolvanen. "And then he gets in, and he starts to find his way, but he continues to get opportunities to play because he's responsible without the puck. He knows how to play; he knows where to be and we've talked with him about the competitive level you need to be at here in the NHL to be able to play. He's been physical, he's been good on his puck battles, and now he gets another game, gets more ice time, gets more opportunities.

"Now, you're starting to see a young player grow, and that's how you grow young players. They get opportunities, they earn more, but to his credit, he's done the work and he's the guy that has given us reasons to play him in the situations that he's earning to play him."

Video: CBJ@NSH: Tolvanen snaps fast PPG home from circle

Tolvanen's teammates have noticed too, including one of his new linemates in Forsberg. The two are also skating together on Nashville's top power-play unit, and on both of Tolvanen's goals in those situations, Forsberg has been the one to get the puck to the 21-year-old.

"He gets more and more comfortable every game," Forsberg said of Tolvanen. "He's holding onto the puck more, he's stronger on it, and I think whatever he did in the offseason is definitely paying off. He looks strong, he's banging bodies and I think that's something that as a skill guy like he is, you have to be able to protect the puck and play against some other big boys on the other team, and I think he's doing that really well. And obviously his shot, he's got to keep using that, keep shooting the puck. I'm going to just try to get him the puck as much as I can."

Scoring goals and winning games are paramount in this League, but having a little fun during the stresses of the season won't hurt Nashville's cause either, even if it comes in the form of a mustache.

Most hockey players are creatures of habit and superstition, so if Tolvanen continues to perform on both sides of the puck, the razor may be ignored a bit longer. If so, bring on the grease.

"[All of this is] a good thing on Tolvy, and now we've given him a little bit more ice time, gave him a different role 5-on-5, a little bit different look on the power play, and he continues to make progress," Hynes said. "That's a good thing for him and for us."

Forsberg's Instagram Comedy:

Speaking of mustaches, the aforementioned Forsberg had some fun on his Instagram page earlier in the week.

Nashville's leading scorer posted a photo after a game in Detroit with an entraining expression made in the midst of a shift, not a hair out of place, and the perfect caption to go along with the shot.

Tweet from @PredsOnFSTN: 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐂𝐇𝐄𝐕𝐈𝐋𝐋𝐄 𝐈𝐒 𝐓𝐀𝐊𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐎𝐕𝐄𝐑@KaraHammer with the incredible reporting.

SEC Men's Basketball Tournament Suite Auction:

The Predators will hit the road beginning next week, and the Bridgestone Arena ice will be replaced with some hardwood.

The 2021 Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament is back in Nashville from March 10 to 14, and the Preds and Bridgestone Arena are giving fans the chance to be there in person with a one-of-a-kind experience.

Fans may attend the event in style by purchasing a private suite for either Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The suite includes eight (8) tickets and two (2) parking passes to a specific day's games. Limited light snacks will be included and additional food and beverage options available for purchase. For more information or to bid on a suite text "predssec" to 76278. The auction ends on March 5, 2021, at 7 p.m.

Chicago Wolves Update:

With the Milwaukee Admirals electing to sit out the 2020-21 season in the AHL, the Predators are utilizing an agreement with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Chicago Wolves to serve as Nashville's AHL affiliate this season.

Predators prospects Anthony Richard, Sean Malone, Cole Smith, Rem Pitlick, Tommy Novak, Tyler Lewington, Jeremy Davies, Lukas Craggs, Patrick Harper, Frederic Allard and Philip Tomasino are currently on the Chicago roster, and many are making impacts as the season continues.

The Wolves suffered their first loss of the season on Friday when they fell to Grand Rapids by a 4-1 count, but Chicago responded on Sunday with an 8-4 victory over the same team to push their record to 8-1-0-0.

Tweet from @Chicago_Wolves: In 2006, the Haydar-Krog-Sterling Wolves delivered two games of 8-plus goals in an 11-day stretch. Your current Wolves just produced two games of 8-plus goals in a nine-day stretch.ICYMI, enjoy our 8 goals (and more) from Sunday in this @Hefty Highlight Reel.#WeAreTheWolves

Malone, Pitlick and Tomasino all tallied in Sunday's victory, while Richard and Davies each recorded two assists on the day. Pitlick (8g-2a) and Novak (2g-8a) are tied for second on the team in scoring with 10 points each, while Davies (9a) has nine points and Tomasino (4g-3a) has seven. Pitlick's eight goals also lead the entire AHL.

Additionally, Pitlick has been selected as the CCM/American Hockey League's Player of the Month for February.

From the Wolves: "Pitlick scored a league-leading eight goals in eight games during the month, which helped the Wolves set a franchise record for fastest start (7-0-0-0) and deliver the franchise's best record in February (8-1-0-0).

"The second-year pro recorded two goals against Rockford on Feb. 9 and two against Iowa on Feb. 20 and currently owns a four-game goal streak. In addition to leading the AHL in goals, Pitlick shares second place in points with 10 and ranks among the top 10 in plus/minus rating at +8."

Tweet from @Chicago_Wolves: Who better to earn the @CCMHockey / @TheAHL Player of the Month honor than the young man who leads the league in goals?The story:

Tanner Jeannot, who had three goals and eight points in six games with the Wolves, was recalled to Nashville's taxi squad last week.

Chicago hosts a pair of games against the Cleveland Monsters next weekend; the Wolves are tied with the Henderson Silver Knights as the AHL's top team with 16 points each.

Goal of the Week:

Video: CBJ@NSH: Haula beats Korpisalo five-hole for late SHG

Assist of the Week:

Video: NSH@DET: Tolvanen buries one-timer for PPG

Save of the Week:

Video: NSH@DET: Rinne makes 24 saves in shutout victory

Quote of the Week:

Erik Haula on his team winning four of their last five games:

"I feel like we're realizing what makes us successful and what makes us a team that's tough to beat. I feel like we're trending toward the right direction. Our game is more consistent, and we're finding some good combinations, and with that, we've had some success lately. Hopefully, we can keep that going on."

Shot of the Week:

…and there's more where that came from.

Predators at Red Wings Feb. 23 Photo Gallery

Predators at Red Wings Feb. 25 Photo Gallery

Predators vs. Blue Jackets Feb. 27 Photo Gallery

Predators vs. Blue Jackets Feb. 27 Photo Gallery

The Week Ahead:

Tuesday vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. CT

TV: Fox Sports Tennessee Radio: 102.5 The Game

Thursday vs. Florida Panthers, 7 p.m. CT

TV: Fox Sports Tennessee Radio: 102.5 The Game

Saturday vs. Florida Panthers, 1 p.m. CT

TV: Fox Sports Tennessee Radio: 102.5 The Game

Sunday at Dallas Stars, 7 p.m. CT

TV: Fox Sports Tennessee Radio: 102.5 The Game

Predators Official Podcast:

After years of discussion, Predators forward Eeli Tolvanen joins the podcast himself to talk about his journey to Nashville, how he's grown and what's still to come. Brooks Bratten and Thomas Willis look at a week that began with promise but ended with disappointment for the Preds, outline the 2020-21 schedule changes and recap the Predators Cup.

Week in Review:

Tolvanen's Power-Play Tally Helps Preds to Weekend Sweep of Columbus

Ekholm Tallies Twice in Return as Preds Beat Blue Jackets

Preds Influence Plentiful as Predators Cup Champion Crowned

Preds Conclude Road Trip with Loss in Detroit

Predators Prospect Report: February 25

Confidence Growing Between Preds, Tolvanen as Season Continues

Power-Play Goals, Rinne's Shutout Lead Preds to Win Over Wings

NHL Announces Preds Regular-Season Schedule Updates

Preds Arcade Launches in Preds App; Fans Can Win Prizes

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