Some news and notes from today's practice session:
- The Preds iced a full five lines of forwards during today's practice. Jordin Tootoo
returned to practice after last Thursday's injury at Colorado, while Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly skated with the full team for the first time since their respective injuries. Today's lines during practice were:
White - Legwand centering Erat & Ward
Gray - Fisher centering Hornqvist and Kostitsyn
Green - Smithson centering Halischuk and Tootoo
Yellow - Geoffrion centering Spaling and Wilson
Lt Blue - O'Reilly centering Dumont and Sullivan
- Today was a heavy skating day; quick, up-tempo drills without much rest from drill-to-drill.
- Coach Trotz talked about what the team can accomplish this week:
"The challenge for us is to finish as high as we can here. We can still get 101 points. That could put us in the four or five seed pretty easily. Sometimes the tendency is to look at where Calgary or Dallas is or Chicago, but let's forget about that and start looking at the teams ahead of us; those teams have to play against each other (later this week). We have to make sure we're on top of our game and collect as many points as we can; that could mean home ice advantage in the first round."
- Coach Trotz talked about last Saturday's game as preview for playoff intensity for the guys who have never played in a NHL playoff game --- and as a reminder of what's to come for the veterans who have been through past playoff series.
"Those are good experiences. It was ramped up a bit. We've had some of those the last few weeks against Anaheim, Dallas, Los Angeles, so they've already had a little taste of it. But it will get ramped up even more (next week when the playoff officially start). It was a good prelude of things to come for the Blums, Geoffrions, Halischucks."
- Steve Sullivan commented on his first practice back with the team:
"As much as you skate by yourself and push yourself and think you're skating hard, until you get with these guys you realize what the pace is really like.But it feels great to be back out there with the guys; a little bit fatigued, but it was the next step in the progression. I was happy with the way things were going on my own and I just wanted to step it up another notch and see how I felt. I didn't know how long I would last and I ended up making it the whole practice, so that's a good sign. We'll see how I feel tomorrow morning."
- Cal O'Reilly talked his first practice back with the full squad:
"It felt good. I felt better than I thought I'd feel, especially with the ice, with all the other guys out there chopping it up more than I do when I skate on my own. I finished the whole practice without any pain. It's not getting sore, it's not hurting me and I'm getting comfortable out there, so I was able to stay out for an extended time after practice ended just trying to get more of my timing back. Even after an hour of practice I could push myself more. "
- O'Reilly said the pace and intensity was the toughest thing to replicate when skating alone.
"It helped a bit to go through the last few weeks with Sully; to have someone to pass to, skate with, push each other -- it was a big help. But it's playoff time and pace is real high. When it was just me and Sully, we didn't get that same pace, that same intensity. So it's a different step to return to the ice with the full team."
- Legwand pointed out with so many younger players on the roster (Blum, Halischuk, Geoffrion, Lindback have never played in an NHL playoff game & Hornqvist only has two games of NHL playoff experience), Saturday's game can end up paying dividends when the playoffs start; it can serve as a little bit of a bridge between regular season pace and playoff pace.
"They've played in big games back in college and juniors, so they have some of that type of experience, but obviously the scale escalates by 10 up here (in the NHL). They've been good, they've been strong in those types of games for us the last few weeks. I think Saturday gave us a look at the playoff pace and intensity. We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but we can learn from that, move on and get these last couple of games."