Some news and notes from today's morning skate practice:
- Busy morning skate for the Preds. Full complement of 21 players on the ice today -- 13 forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies.
- Quick, loose pace to the morning drills.
- With regard to tonight's game, Coach Trotz said very simply, "We have to play our game. We have to play hard. We have to execute."
- Coach Trotz commented on the importance of tonight's game, "We have an opportunity to get points. We need points. We only have nine more opportunities to get as many points as we can. Tonight's one of those opportunities. We're right at the end here, guys should have no trouble realizing the importance of the game. And if we do, I have a real problem."
- Coach Trotz expressed his pleasure at the way rookie Blake Geoffrion is handling his recent success. "I think he learned from the experience. After the first time (he had some success in the NHL), his play fell off, so I had to sit him out and a little talk with him. I think he's got a good handle on it. He understands why he's getting his goals. He understands that he needs to work every shift. And he's going to the hard areas."
- Commenting on the tight nature of the playoff race in the Western Conference Coach Trotz noted that he doesn't usually keep tabs on the other games around the league, except for those involving upcoming opponents: "It can be really draining on you if you worry about what everybody else is doing around you -- the ramifications of the different games -- but if we just take care of our business at hand, everything else takes care of itself, really. So you have to have that mindset. Every game is a playoff mindset; playoff ramifications. And we have to enjoy that."
- With regard to head shots and dangerous hits, Coach Trotz praised the league for their work and deflected a lot of the onus back to the players.
"The players are the ones who want this, who want the head shots out. The players are voicing it to the GMs, the GMs are following that directive to the league, and the league's acting on it. The league has done a really good job. We don't want to get to non-contact, but we have to be smarter in terms of awareness. The league, I thought, has done a really good job of handling all the hits. You can't take hitting out of the game and there's some stuff that is in a gray area, but they've been handling it well. They take a lot of heat for it all the time, but it is a tough job."
At the same time, Coach Trotz was complementary of the way the Penguins handled the situation:
"We always want to defend our own players, but this is a bigger issue in the game that everybody wants out. I commend Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins for standing up."