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Thoughts From Practice: Feb. 22

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Thoughts from Monday's Practice

Instant Analysis: Tuesday's Roster Moves
 Tom Callahan's Game Day Update: Tue at CBJ
A couple notes from today's practice:

- Jon Blum and Mark Dekanich arrived from Milwaukee today. Both players participated in Morning Skate with the team.

- Sergei Kostitsyn will miss tonight's game, but is expected back for Thursday night's game vs. Chicago.

- Based on practice yesterday, it looks like Colin Wilson will begin tonight's game as a center. Most of the season he's been playing wing. I talked to Wilson about the switch, "On the wing I'm playing more along the boards, especially in the offensive end. But I think I'm more of a natural centerman. That's where I've played since I was four years old, so it should come back to me pretty quickly when I play there tonight. The biggest adjustment is really just more responsibilities defensively as a center. You have to pick up guys in your own zone when they're wheeling around. As a center you have to move more and keep in communication with your defensemen. As a winger you're usually responsible for the defenseman on the point, and many defensemen don't move around that much in the offensive zone, so you can usually just eye them and help out down low. You need more communication and detail in your game as a center."

- I spoke with Preds Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton to get the lastest updates on Milwaukee's play. He started by noting the quality play from the goaltending performances for the Admirals. With Dekanich recalled today, I asked Fenton about Jeremy Smith. After spending most of last season in the ECHL, Smith has established himself in the AHL this year with a 10-4-1 record, 2.27 goals against average, and .923 save percentage...
"Jeremy played very well the year before in Cincinnati, winning a championship. There have been so many guys who have played at the ECHL level and come up and been successful as NHL goalies. And this year I think it’s just a progressive step. He’s been much better. He’s adapted to the pro level a lot more. He’s been able to get up to the speed of the American league and as a result has been able to earn the confidence of his teammates. A lot of times that’s one of the most important things. When your team plays with confidence in front of you it just gives you a different look or feel as a player. Sometimes it takes guys just a little more time to get comfortable in their environment, get comfortable as a pro. He’s helped his own career by sticking with the program and developing his game."

- On the subject of goaltenders, I caught up with Preds Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn to talk about the progress of Jeremy Smith. Smith went 2-0-0 last weekend with a 2-1 shootout win on Friday night and a 3-0 shutout win on Saturday...
"He had a great weekend. I’m thrilled for death for Jeremy. He has come so far in terms of his training, in terms of his demeanor, and in terms of his performance. Let’s not forget he did win an ECHL Championship last year. He had quite a good first pro year at the Coast level. So it’s great to see it translate to success in the American league."

- Assistant GM Paul Fenton also commented on the recent play of Milwaukee rookie forward Gabriel Bourque. Bourque scored the game-winning shootout tally in Friday night's Admirals win and backed it up with a key goal in Saturday's win. He has seven points and the shootout conversion in eight games during the month of February to raise his season totals to nine goals and 21 points with a +9 plus/minus rating in 54 games this season...
"He's probably flown under the radar for the people who don’t know the energy that Gabriel brings every night, but he’s been one of our most consistent players in Milwaukee the entire year. Whenever we have internal scouting discussions about guys who can help us here (in Nashville) and be energy type of guys, his name is one of the tops on the list because of his tenacity, his ability to contribute every night on both ends of the ice. When you watch their games, he’s a guy who cuts no corners; he’s the hardest working guy, just relentless in everything he does. From his approach to the game. And that’s what makes him so difficult to play against. And that’s why he’ll be a very good player for us here in the near future in Nashville."

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