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Smashville Scope: January 10

Sticking Together, Mac Attack, Road Warriors and More in This Week's Smashville Scope, Presented by JOCKEY

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Content Manager & Beat Reporter

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

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Midway through the third period of Saturday night's game in Arizona between two newly minted Central Division rivals, a disagreement of sorts broke out between the benches.

The Predators and Coyotes, who ended up combining for a total of 86 penalty minutes before the evening was complete, had already gone back and forth on a number of occasions via verbal and physical sparring - Nashville clamoring to find a spot atop the Western Conference, Arizona hoping to play the role of spoiler.

The cameras didn't catch exactly how the insult hurling began, but most of the language - not suitable for reprint in this medium - wasn't exactly lighthearted. And it was just defenseman Mark Borowiecki and forward Tanner Jeannot - Nashville's top two penalty-minute leaders - leading the charge.

Centerman Ryan Johansen, known more for his dishing of assists than words, was also right at the forefront, and he had an entire bench full of teammates ready to back him up. The same was evident earlier this season in New Jersey - another skirmish breaking out between the Preds and Devils benches at the end of the first period with much of the disdain aimed at Devils star Jack Hughes.

Again, this wasn't just one Predators player interested in settling a score, but rather a slew of skaters who weren't about to let a teammate fight his own battle alone.

Yes, sometimes fisticuffs are utilized when deemed necessary - the Preds lead the NHL in major penalties with 23, most of them for fighting - but even when the gloves aren't dropped, this Predators team isn't afraid to stick up for one another.

In fact, they seem to enjoy doing so, almost making the intimidation factor part of their game plan. And a total of 23 wins and 48 points in just 36 games say the tactics are working.

"It's a very big aspect of our game, and it's not only our line, it's everybody hitting," Preds forward Yakov Trenin said. "Everybody is finishing checks, playing hard, playing for each other."

"It's great, and it's not just that one guy either, it's 20 guys out there that are battling hard and finishing at the net and finishing all their checks," Preds forward Michael McCarron said. "That mentality that we have, it wears teams down. They see us coming over their shoulder, and it's great to have guys step up and drop the gloves. It's huge for the team, and there's a time and a place for it, obviously, and I think we've handled ourselves pretty well here. And like I said, the best part is that it's not just one guy. It's definitely a team mentality that we have, and it's been great so far."

Players like McCarron and Trenin, as well as Borowiecki and Jeannot, are at the top of the list when it comes to those who impose their will physically, but team toughness doesn't have to end with someone in the penalty box. It can also come in the form of the Preds rallying around something that doesn't go their way over the course of a game, like a call for a goal in Arizona that occurred during the same stoppage that saw Jeannot and Coyotes forward Liam O'Brien given 10-minute misconducts for their verbal altercation.

No matter the occasion, however, this Predators team has a sense of toughness and togetherness not seen in Nashville in recent memory. Each hit, fight and win brings this group closer to one another, and 10 days into the new year, the willingness to do whatever it takes for each other might just lead the Preds exactly where they want to go.

"That's kind of been the mentality all year," Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "I feel like whatever situation we get into - it doesn't matter if we're on the kill or if we're on the power play, or fights, maybe we get an extra two out of a five, whatever - we just kill it for each other and we stand up for each other, and I think it's a great way to play. That builds team toughness, and we know that whatever really happens out there, we know our teammates are going to have our back. So, I think that's a great job by everyone in the room and everyone is pretty happy with that."

McCarron Impressing Preds with Opportunities:

Just over two years ago, the Predators and Canadiens completed a deal that saw 6-foot-6, 232-pound forward Michael McCarron dealt from Montreal's system to Nashville.

When he hasn't been serving in a leadership role with Nashville's AHL affiliate in Milwaukee, the 26-year-old has been carving out a stable role in the bottom-six forward group for the Preds, especially in recent weeks as the team continues to find ways to win more often than not.

McCarron was an extra forward with the Preds during their stay in the Edmonton Bubble two summers ago during the NHL's Return to Play postseason, and he resided on Nashville's taxi squad for most of the 2020-21 campaign, ultimately appearing in six contests with the Preds.

This season, McCarron has dressed in 13 games, and he tallied his first goal as a member of the Predators last month in Columbus while skating a season-high 13:50 of ice time in that outing - and he's earning every chance he gets.

Video: Michael McCarron previews Preds vs. Coyotes

"He made some big improvements this summer," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said of McCarron. "He's faster, his pace of play is at the level that we need it to be, and he needs it to be to be an effective factor, and he's a big, strong, physical guy… He's a guy that's got a lot of energy. He's got a great, positive attitude, and the thing we really liked most about him is just the passion and hunger that he's bringing every day, whether it's in practice or in games. He wants to be here, he wants to make an impact in the games, he brings great energy to our room and we just like the identity that he's playing with. He's a big guy that's playing fast, quick, he's got some good hands, good in the face-off circle, and he's got a special teams element to his game. So, he's bringing quite a bit to our group."

McCarron is also willing to stick up for teammates - one of those players at the forefront of the mentality mentioned above - and he's pleased to be finding his niche with the Preds, something he was hoping to do from the moment he received that trade call two years earlier.

"I've been feeling good, and it helps when you win," McCarron said. "Everybody's on the same page as a team, and our line has been going good. We've had a lot of o-zone time and we start with the puck a lot, so that's good and I feel good. My cardio and my speed is up to where it needs to be to play in this League at a high pace, so it's good so far and it's want to keep the gas pedal down here."

Video: Predators score three in 1st in 4-2 win against Yotes

Preds One of League's Top Road Teams:

The Predators are known for having success at home inside Bridgestone Arena, but this season, they've been one of the best teams away from the friendly confines, too.

In fact, their 13 wins on the road are tied for tops in the NHL, and their 13-6-2 mark away from home is certainly impressive considering the simple fact of teams having tougher times in an opposing building.

So, why the success away from Tennessee?

"It's a good question," Hynes said last week. "We don't have a different game plan at home or on the road or talk to our team differently or have a different mindset. The one thing is when you can win on the road, I think it speaks to your players. It's the togetherness that they play with. You're going into adverse environments, lots of times you have to create your own energy because you don't get it from the home crowd and you don't have the matchups sometimes that you may want to be able to have when you can get it at home. So, I think when your team has the ability to win on the road… it speaks to the toughness, mentally and physically, of your players."

"When we get on the road, I think we're really focused to get the job done," Preds defenseman Alexandre Carrier said. "It's never easy to play in other teams' buildings, but I think we take pride in how we play, and guys are just happy to get on the road together and have good times and get wins. When you're on the road and you get wins the atmosphere is always easier and lighter and more fun. So, we made sure to get the job done while we're on the road."

Milwaukee Admirals Update:

The Admirals split a pair of games as last weekend began with a 4-3 overtime victory against Cleveland on Friday followed by a 6-2 loss to Rockford on Saturday.

Anthony Richard scored the OT winner against the Monsters; Graham Knott, Tommy Novak and Rocco Grimaldi all tallied in regulation while Connor Ingram earned the win in net. Richard recorded his second goal in as many nights in Saturday's loss, and Egor Afanasyev also found twine against the Ice Hogs.

Tweet from @mkeadmirals: Anthony Richard is v fast. 🏃🏽���������💨#MILhockey | @tonyrick9 pic.twitter.com/PAiJVCWjeK

Cole Schneider continues to lead the Ads in scoring with 12 goals and 28 points, followed by Cody Glass (5g-17a) with 22 points and Grimaldi with 11 goals and 18 points in 20 games. The Admirals will face Manitoba on Wednesday before traveling to Colorado for a two-game set against the Eagles on Friday and Saturday.

Goal of the Week:

Video: NSH@LAK: Duchene makes a move to the net and scores

Assist of the Week:

Video: NSH@ARI: Duchene, Jeannot team up to extend lead

Predators Official Podcast:

The new year has arrived, and 2022 is off to an excellent start for the Predators. Filip Forsberg joins the show to discuss his team's success, his offseason engagement and so much more. Plus, Brooks Bratten and Kara Hammer look back at recent wins and start the campaign - Tanner Jeannot for Calder as the NHL's top rookie. Also, your Twitter questions are answered on this first episode of 2022.

Upcoming Bridgestone Arena Events:

In addition to Predators hockey, there are plenty of other exciting events coming to Bridgestone Arena. Make plans to attend your next concert or show today.

Coming Soon:

Jan. 14: RnB Rewind 2, featuring artists like Charlie Wilson, Boyz II Men, Monica, Ginuwine, Jagged Edge, Soul For Real, Ruff Endz & Rome. Click here for tickets.

Jan. 15: MLK Freedom Fest, featuring Moneybagg Yo, Lil Durk, Rod Wave, Latto and more. Click here for tickets.

Jan. 21: WWE Smackdown. Click here for tickets.

Week In Review:

Saros Named NHL's Second Star of the Week

Preds Complete Perfect Road Trip with Victory in Arizona

Amy Grant Looks Back on First Bridgestone Arena Concert 25 Years Later

Saros Makes Season-High 46 Saves, Leads Preds to Victory Over Kings

Predators Prospect Report: January 6

Preds Foundation Accepting Applications for 2022 Diller Education Award

Preds Foundation to Host Annual Wine Festival and Tasting on March 11

Forsberg Tallies Twice as Preds Start Trip with Victory in Vegas

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