Legwand centering Bourque and Radulov
Fisher centering Erat and S. Kostitsyn
Spaling centering Hornqvist and A. Kostitsyn
Gaustad centering Smith and Yip
Suter and Weber
Josi and Klein
Bouillon and Gill
Bad Start -- Nashville was very sloppy on its first shifts, ultimately culminating in a bad turnover by Kevin Klein and an early Phoenix power-play. Barry Trotz talks about the Preds being "engaged in the game" ... Nashville wasn't at the outset. Phoenix cashed in on the opening power-play for the first goal of the series. The passing wasn't crisp, the forecheck angles weren't sharp, the physicality was missing. It wasn't until the third or fourth shifts that the Preds lines and defensive pairings started to look like they were "game ready."
First Goal Similarities -- The Preds goal came on a hard shoot-in by Craig Smith that hit off a stantion in the glass and popped out in front of the crease with goaltender Mike Smith cutting behind the net to try to play what appeared to be a routine dump-in. While a different play, it was a similar bit of fortune to Nashville's first goal of the WCQF series vs. Detroit -- Paul Gaustad's wraparound that bounced in off the Red Wings defender in front.
Goalie Play -- Mike Smith is one of --- if not the --- best puck-moving goaltenders in the league. Surprisingly he made three puckhandling errors in the first period, including two in the final minute or so. Something to keep an eye on throughout the game. If Smith struggles with his puckhandling, that makes a HUGE difference in how the Coyotes configure their breakout plays and their defensive zone coverages.
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
Oddly, the atmosphere in the arena during pre-game warmups is rather low-key. Not sure if the early start time (6pm local time in Phoenix) is playing a role in that, but it is a little unusual for this rink to be this quiet for a big game. Coyotes fans pride themselves on their White Out tradition (the white t-shirts on the seats did create a cool visual during the morning skate earlier today).
A relatively low-key morning skate today in Glendale. The Coyotes took their morning skate out at their practice facility around 30 minutes away from Jobing.com Arena, so the Preds had the main rink to themselves this morning.
In general it was a very business-like approach by the Preds today. The players all commented on focusing on the task at hand; getting off to a better start in Round 2 this year than they did last year. Judging from practice sessions this week back in Nashville, the Preds do look noticeably sharper in practices this year than they did last year. Last season the coaches expressed concern over the way the team was practicing ... and it proved prophetic as the Preds were not at their sharpest in Game 1 at Vancouver. This year the coaches are much more comfortable with the pace and execution level the team has displayed in practices.
Hal Gill took the optional skate and will get the go tonight. Other than that, Coach Trotz was coy about his roster for tonight. Brandon Yip, Craig Smith, and Matt Halischuk appear to be the top options as wingers on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad. Smith was the first of the three off the ice tonight, which usually signifies that he's in the lineup; Smith tends to be one of the last guys off the ice when he's a scratch.