After Monday’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette was adamant about his team’s need to improve on rebound chances and screens.
That desire showed up in the form of a few different drills at practice today.
Overseen specifically by Laviolette and Assistant Coach Phil Housley, two Preds defensemen would pass the puck from point to point before firing a shot past a screen and toward the net. Once either goaltenders Pekka Rinne or Carter Hutton made the initial save, a group of two or three forwards would then try to jam the puck home. Through this drill, the team practiced tips and scoring on second, third or fourth chances for a good portion of the practice.
The theme of striving for top-notch conditioning also continued at training camp with the coaching staff sending all the players on laps around the rink at consistent increments throughout the entire practice. Practice wrapped up with skaters participating in rushes from blue line to blue line.
Line rushes in practice were as follows:
Forwards Matt Cullen (upper-body injury), Viktor Stalberg (lower-body injury), Paul Gaustad (upper-body injury) and Taylor Beck (traveling to Canada to work through visa requirements after signing a contract extension yesterday) were all absent from practice.
Stalberg remains on his 2-4 week timeline from when he was initially hurt on September 22. Cullen and Gaustad are day-to-day.
Forward Craig Smith on creating consistent scoring chances in front of the net:
“We need to get a little more structure in front of their net and get more pucks to go on target and have better retrieval after that. That’s one of the keys to scoring and putting up pressure. It’s one of those things where you might be out there for a minute and get a bunch of chances and get a big momentum swing, and then they back off a little bit. Then the next time out they might give you a little more space to make a pass or a nice play and get a goal. So we’re working on that structure and it’s getting better.”
Forward James Neal on working on net battles in practice:
“We’re trying to get our battle level up and get to the net more. With wanting to get second chances, you’ve got to be able to battle one-on-one and work to get to the front. We worked on that today.”
Neal on finding chemistry with his new teammates and new coach:
“It’s always a little tough when you go to a new team and new teammates, but we’re in a good situation here with Lavy coming in. I think everyone is getting a feel for the new system. Since that is new to everyone, that has helped my transition a little. I think we’ve had a good feeling out process here and we're getting ready for game one.”
Laviolette on why practice had drills focused on rebounds and second chances:
“We’re trying to instill a fight for rebound chances. I think we need more hunt around the net, if we’re going to score goals, we can’t just drive by it. We’ve got to stop and stay in the battle. I want us to hunt for pucks and take away the goaltender’s vision. Today was the first step in that. Yesterday we didn’t work on it because we were coming off the four games in five nights. I think today’s work was a good start. You’ve got to work at everything in your game, you can’t just ignore areas. You can’t just focus on offensive stuff or defensive zone exits, you’ve got to work on everything. It’s still training camp and we’re still in the learning process. It does take a little bit of time to work on all this stuff, and we’re trying to get it all in before the next game.”
Shot of the Day:
Photo Credit: John Russell