The Nashville Predators returned to the ice on Monday for the first time since their 3-2 loss on Saturday in Columbus, despite flinging 47 shots toward the Blue Jackets net.
“There were some good things that we did on the ice [against Columbus] and still some things we can do better,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re moving towards a direction where we’re trying to make sure we have a good understanding of what it is we’re trying to do and the identity in which we’re trying to play.”
Laviolette spent upwards of 90 minutes on the ice Monday, continuing to build that identity through a practice that consisted of a mix of full and half-ice drills, finishing up with special teams work.
Forward Viktor Stalberg, who continues to recover from a lower-body injury, participated in most of the on-ice sessions today, taking an occasional rush up the ice with a forward group.
Today’s line combos looked like this:
Bourque – Ribeiro – Neal
Forsberg – Roy – Smith
Wilson – Jarnkrok – Jokinen
Clune – Gaustad – Nystrom
*Beck and Stalberg rotated in and out
Josi – Weber
Volchenkov – Jones
Ekholm – Ellis
James Neal potted Nashville’s first and only power play tally of the preseason on Saturday night, converting on a 5-on-3 opportunity, made into a 6-on-3 with Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker late in the game. While fans may prefer to have seen more than one marker on 25 opportunities with an additional skater on the ice over the course of six exhibition meetings, [and Laviolette would likely agree], the bench boss and his staff aren’t necessarily panicking over the lack of production in that category just yet.
“When you have new pieces on a power play, you’re trying to get the pieces comfortable on the ice on their positioning and where they’ll be,” Laviolette said. “Certainly you don’t want to take away their creativity, but still it needs some structure and, probably more than anything, it needs time spent working together. I think through the course of the games there have been some really good things that we’ve done. I don’t think the goal-scoring is a true reflection of really the way the puck has moved on the power play; there’s been so many good things that have happened out there, so many chances and scoring opportunities, it’s led us to be positive about it.
“That being said, it’s continued to be a priority at practice this week, to make sure that our power play and penalty kill is in a position where they’re comfortable and they can help contribute to a team win.”
Filip Forsberg on the plan at practice leading up to opening night:
“Just keep the tempo going pretty hard. It’s going to be a tough game on Thursday, so the tempo and then just try to get our system, all the pieces together. We still have a little work to do and it’s getting better and better every day here.”
Eric Nystrom on Opening Night providing a gauge of the team’s progress through training camp:
“Opening Night is the first test really, so basically it’s been getting prepared for that. That’s the first mark of the calendar that you look forward to and the questions will be answered. We’ve been working on a lot of things and practicing hard, so this is going to be a good sign of where we are as a team.”
Laviolette on the promise of opening night:
“There’s always an excitement. Especially in this circumstance where there’s a lot of new players, a new coach, it’s always exciting to have an opening night. Even if your team remained the same with the same coach, it’s the start of somebody’s journey into a season. It brings a lot more excitement in Game One than sometimes it does in Game 63, so I think everybody will be fired up and ready to play.”
Shot of the Day: