Preds Practice Update From Arizona
Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 6:01 PM
After a day away from the ice the Predators returned to the sheet today to work on special teams in a spirited one-hour practice in Scottdale. Things were up-tempo and the players looked determined and competitive.
Lines looked the same as they had in the last game against the Coyotes with Tootoo, Spaling and Wilson staying together plus Bourque, Gaustad and Smith working alongside one another. Erat-Fisher-SK and AK-Legwand-Hornqvist round out the lines.
Kevin Klein took place in all drills and a chance for him to return appears to be nearing.
I know the Phoenix game wasn't the best effort for the Predators and talk to needing to tighten things up -- especially on the defensive end -- abounds in the locker room. Even after the game the feeling was more one of relief, and perhaps a held breath exhaled, after Nashville earned the second point in the shootout. Of course it helps when your goaltender is a Vezina caliber guy – he really does erase a lot of mistakes. The team knows they can't toss out many more like that – unless you agree with Brent Peterson's joking assurances that the Preds "are going to win 'em all 9-8 now". I don't think my voice (or my poor heart) could take that! Getting Klein and Josi back will help tremendously.
Also after the Phoenix game there were some compliments for the play of Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis. For two players who have had to be patient and stay ready, they both have looked good when called upon. Hillen plays very solidly, bodying up on opposing forwards and using his head to help steer clear of trouble. Ellis has a dynamic offensive element to his game and really provides a big weapon to the power-play. It's nice to have depth, indeed.
After today's practice the team will head off to the airport to fly into San Jose this afternoon. The Predators will take on the Sharks Thursday night before heading to the LA area for bouts with the Kings and Ducks to round out the last big western swing for the Preds this season.