POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 8:55 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
    Spaling centering Wilson and Yip
    Legwand centering Bourque and Hornqvist
    Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Halischuk and Tootoo

Defense pairings:
    Bouillon and Klein
    Josi and Gill
    Suter and Weber


THREE MUSINGS:
Good Energy -- The Preds opened the game with more energy than either of the first two games of the series. Spaling, Wilson and Yip set the tone from the first shift, throwing their bodies around on the forecheck. The crowd was into the game as the two teams played with pace and physicality.

Wall Battles -- Both Nashville goals in the first period came off of board battles won by the Preds. The first after Hornqvist won a battle high in the defensive zone to chip the puck past the Phoenix defender and then continued hard after the loose puck to force Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith to play the play the puck into a turnover for Legwand's goal. The second came after Erat won the puck back on the halfboards in the offensive zone and fed a two-on-one down low between Fisher and Kostitsyn. Those are two examples of the type of "detail plays" the coaching staff stressed the last two days as "returning to Predators hockey."

The Glove Hand -- Rinne was gloving all the shots early in the game preveting the rebound attempts that got the Preds in trouble in Games 1 and 2. When Rinne is at his best, he's gloving everything; we saw it during the Detroit series and saw it again during the first period tonight. Rinne faced 10 shots in the first period, but the Coyotes never had a flurry of multiple shots in short succession.


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 7:42 PM
Preds have 20 skaters out for pregame warmups (in numerical order)
  Forwards (13): Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Smith, Yip, Tootoo, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Gaustad, Wilson, Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn
  Defensemen (7): Weber, Klein, Suter, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi, Gill

Based on practice yesterday --- and backed up by comments after morning skate earlier today --- look for defense pairings to potentially jump around during the game. Weber/Suter will likely remain paired, but look for Bouillon, Gill, Josi and Klein (the presumptive other four defensemen) to rotate pairings with Josi/Klein - Bouillon/Gill and Josi/Gill - Bouillon/Klein likely to both get looks depending on the flow of the game.

Still no hints on the forwards in the lineup tonight, but look for Fisher-Erat-S. Kostitsyn and Legwand-Bourque-Hornqvist at the top of the rotation. The wingers for the Spaling and Gaustad lines will likely be determined by which four of the other five forwards end up in the lineup tonight.


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 2:16 PM


At his Wednesday morning press conference, Predators head coach Barry Trotz was still mum as to whom he would insert into the lineup in place of Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostistyn tonight in Game 3, but Trotz expressed confidence in his team’s depth.

“The guys that are out tonight—Andrei and Rad—they weren’t with us for 65 games or so, so the guys that are going in have been together,” Trotz said. “Guys have been—be it a Craig Smith, has been on a power play. We’ve had different people do that. Be it a Wilson, a Smith, a Yip, all those guys. So they’re going to be put in roles. They did it for 65 games. They’ll be fine tonight.”

The Predators’ power play has found a spark this series, scoring three times in the first two games of the series vs. Phoenix. Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn are typically members of the second unit; their absence will require some changes for Game 3. However, it has been the other power-play unit -- with Mike Fisher, Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist -- that has scored two of the team's three power-play goals this series.

“Our one unit’s going to be the same and the other one might have a couple new guys but our depth is incredible up front,” Mike Fisher said after Tuesday practice. “We’ve got some great players that aren’t playing right now and they’re going to step in and do a good job for us and be ready.”

Playing a better overall defensive game has been the mantra over the past couple of days around the Predators locker room. That sentiment was echoed Wednesday by veteran defenseman Hal Gill, a voice of experience who has won a Stanley Cup before.

“We have to play better as a team,” Gill said. “Focus on our defense. Focus on the little things that have made us successful in the past. And it’s not a big secret. We have to go out there and do it whoever’s in the lineup.”

The team is looking forward to using the home crowd to propel it to a fast start, especially in a series where the Preds have yet to hold a lead.

“We have a good opportunity at home and we know we are hard to beat here,” Patric Hornqvist said.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 1:48 PM
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 1:37 PM
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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 8:53 PM
THREE MUSINGS:
Self-Inflicted Showing -- Phoenix's three goals in Period 2 were all the result of bad Nashville mistakes. The Preds turned the puck over in the neutral zone and then didn't pick up the trailing Coyotes players leading to an easy goal for Hanzal to make the score 2-1 and then Legwand caught the puck behind the Nashville net and threw it out in front -- instead of back into the corner -- to give the Coyotes another easy scoring chance. Then right after Nashville got back into the game, Klein lost his man on a simple transition rush, allowed himself to be walled out of position and then after Josi made the correct switch, never picked up the trailing forward to allow Phoenix another easy rebound goal. All four Coyotes goals today have greatly aided by Nashville mis-plays.

Power-Play Steps Up -- Nashville's power-play was very effective. The Preds held zone possession the entire time, put pucks toward the front of the net and ultimately cashed in when Hornqvist re-directed Suter's shot from the point, momentarilly bringing the Preds back into the game.

Frustration -- Nashville started to display some uncharicteristic signs of frustration late in the second period. Weber took a boarding penalty with 2:53 left in the period. And then with 9.8 seconds left in the period, Nashville was going to get a power-play on a slash, but Fisher gave it back with an unncessary roughing call. Look for Coach Trotz to calm the guys down during the second intermission and get them re-focused. The Preds made a living out of third period comebacks during the regular season. The opportunities were there for more production in the second period, so don't count out another comeback bid this evening.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 7:55 PM
The Preds lines at the start of the game (in order of first shift)
    Legwand centering Bourque and Radulov
    Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
    Spaling centering Hornqvist and A. Kostitsyn
    Gaustad centering Wilson and Yip

Defense pairings:
    Suter and Weber
    Josi and Klein
    Bouillon and Gill


THREE MUSINGS:
1) Battle of Depth -- Phoenix's defense took a potentially major loss when Rostislav Klesla took a puck to the face 33 seconds into the game. Klesla had a goal and an assist in Game 1 on Friday night , along with a +2 plus/minus rating and is a big part of the Coyotes PK -- skating 5:09 shorthanded ice time in Game 1. Klesla did not return during the remainder of the first period. If he can't return, it would pose a major stress to the other five Coyotes defensemen, perhaps something the Preds can take advantage of as the game wears on.

2) Details -- Coach Trotz talked about the Preds needing to play a more detailed game today than the team played in Game 1, but Nashville's first period play was not very "detail oriented."  Klein and Weber both made poor decisions leading to Phoenix's easy tap-in goal to open the game's scoring; Klein's a puck decision, Weber's a defensive zone coverage read. Later in the period, Yip took an offensive zone roughing after the whistle during a scrum around the Phoenix net. Further, the Preds were not good on one-on-one battles in the period; on the flipside, it was one of the few one-on-one "wins" of the period that led to Nashville's goal --- Spaling won the puck along the boards in the defensive zone, chipped it out to Klein to lead the break resulting in Andrei Kostitsyn's goal.

3) Legg's Line -- Nashville's line of Legwand centering Bourque and Radulov was consistently good for the Preds during the first period. They only combined for one shot, but had a handful of shifts with good zone time. Bourque was especially effective racing in on the forecheck. That line was good during overtime in Game 1. The signs are there that they seem to be heating up; don't be surprised if the production starts to come from those three real soon.




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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.29.2012 / 6:34 PM
Same 20 skaters out on the ice for pregame warmups tonight as Game 1 (in numerical order)
  Forwards (13): Erat, Legwand, Fisher, Spaling, Smith, Yip, Hornqvist, Gaustad, Wilson, Anderi Kostitsyn, Radulov, Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn
  Defensemen (7): Weber, Klein, Suter, Ellis, Bouillon, Josi, Gill

During his pregame media session a few moments ago, Coach Trotz again strongly hinted at lineup changes for tonight with Colin Wilson and Ryan Ellis both being strong candidates to see action tonight.


KEEP AN EYE ON:
1) Defensive Execution -- The Preds were not pleased with their defensive coverage decisions and execution in Game 1. Nashville prides itself on winning games when its scores 3-goals or more; the coaches and players both felt the offense --- especially later in the game --- was good enough to get the win. Look for the team to play more conservative with its defensive zone decision making, though.

2) Faceoffs -- Phoenix's faceoff domination in Game 1 has been the buzz of the series the last day and a half. Look for Nashville to be much more competitive in the faceoff circle tonight. Pay less attention to the faceoff percentage and more at the execution. More dissapointing to the coaches than the percentage (Nashville won only 41% of draws) was the number of times the Preds lost a draw clean; clean losses allow the Coyotes to get right into their set plays, which is harder to defend -- either on a set offensive piece for a draw deep in the Nashville end or on the breakout for draw deep in the Phoenix end.

3) Energy in the Arena -- There is a little more vibrancy around Jobing.com Arena today than there was on Friday night. Look for the crowd to be louder at the outset tonight than it was in Game 1; the first goal will be key for both teams to either -- in Nashville's case -- quiet the crowd, or -- in Phoenix's case -- get the crowd more involved. Friday's 6pm local time start, combined with normal rush hour traffic in the greater Phoenix area, made start of game a tough make for many fans after work. Today, a weekend day with great weather, reduces travel difficulities on the local fans here.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.28.2012 / 5:30 PM
The Preds took their practice day skate at Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix on Saturday afternoon. Full team hit the ice today. Line combinations appeared the same today as last night's game with the following jersey colors in skate today:
   White - Fisher, Erat, S. Kostitsyn and Legwand, Bourque, Radulov
   Grey - Spaling, Hornqvist, A. Kostitsyn and Gaustad, Smith, Yip
   Yellow - Halischuk, Maclellan, McGrattan, Tootoo, Wilson

All eight defensemen wore blue jerseys today.

Practice opened with a quick warmup session, followed by a team pep-talk/huddle at center ice and then informal drills --- the majority of the forwards were on one end of the ice running through shooting drills and one-on-one battles along the wall; all eight defensemen were on one end of the ice with a couple forwards. Coach Trotz worked on faceoffs with the centers.

Coach Trotz praised the energy level from his team today and felt they showed pace in practice --- as well as late in Game 1 last night --- noting the team tends to play sharper when playing on a more normal routine (game every one or two days).

Coach Trotz stated that he was contemplating lineup changes for Game 2, but wouldn't tip his hand to what those might be, however he did state that Colin Wilson has shown himself well and is likely the next forward in the lineup, should he opt to make a change up front, which was one of the reasons he wanted Wilson to take pre-game skate with the team last night.

With the earlier start time tomorrow --- 7pm CT, but 5pm here in Phoenix --- neither team will take a morning skate tomorrow, so information on potential changes will likely be scarce until pre-game warm-ups.

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POSTED ON Friday, 04.27.2012 / 9:47 PM
The game opened up in the second period with the teams both skating a lot better in Period 2 than they did in Period 1, combining for three goals in the frame. The Coyotes closed the frame with a 3-2 lead, but Nashville will open Period 3 with a full 2:00 power-play, the result of a holding call on Phoenix as time expired.

THREE MUSINGS:
Erat -- Martin Erat has been Nashville's best skater through the first two frames. He's been crafty with the puck on his stick and strong on the forecheck without the puck. Erat has brought a ton of energy to the Preds lineup tonight.

Time-Outs -- Both teams used its timeout during the second period after icings on extended shifts. Phoenix used its TO 4:59 into the period; Nashville used its with 5:26 left in the frame.

Klein/Josi Struggles -- The Preds defensive pairing of Kevin Klein and Roman Josi were on the ice for both Phoenix goals in the period and were the defensive pairing that took the penalty leading to Phoenix's first power-play (which was converted for the game's opening goal). Klein/Josi were very good during the Detroit series. Nashville needs them to re-gain that chemistry again tonight and through the remainder of the series. Through the first two periods tonight that pairing has struggled with its communication and made some poor decisions (either bad puck decisions or unwise decisions to pinch in the offensive end).


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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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