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2008 Training Camp: What to Look For This Week

Tuesday, 09.30.2008 / 11:23 AM CT / Training Camp Central
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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2008 Training Camp: What to Look For This Week
Heading into the final three games of the preseason, the Preds roster has been reduced to numbers not far off from the Regular Season roster size. Despite the reduced number of players, there are still several interesting storylines setting up for the week ahead.

1) Who wins the final roster spots
With nine regulars returning at the forward position from last season’s team, it left anywhere between three and five forward slots open for competition this Training Camp. It’s a safe bet that Nick Tarnasky was acquired to play at the NHL level, and through the first three preseason games, Patric Hornqvist and Rich Peverley appear to have the inside track on an additional two of those spots, likely leaving Triston Grant, Josh Gratton, Ryan Jones, Cal O’Reilly, Antti Pihlstrom, Michael Ryan, and Joel Ward battling for the final spot(s).


2) How do the lines shape up
Jason Arnott, JP Dumont, and Patric Hornqvist have been a consistent trio throughout camp, so at this point it appears likely that they will see time together. Martin Erat and David Legwand have been a consistent pairing, and should open the season matched up together, though their other wing has rotated throughout camp. Beyond that the lines are very much up in the air. Now that the roster is reduced, look for the coaches to concentrate more heavily on potential line groupings over the final three preseason games. Defensively, the coaches have been very pleased with a Weber-Suter pairing, but will likely tinker with the other two combinations over the final three preseason games.


3) Ordering
Coach Trotz has spoken frequently about the importance of prospects using Training Camp to set their “order” on the organization’s depth chart. Even if it doesn’t result in making the NHL squad out of camp, a player who improves his “ordering” increases his chances of earning a recall if the need arises at some point during the regular season. Alex Sulzer has done a good job of improving his “ordering” among the defensemen, regardless of whether he’s able to earn a spot on Opening Night. If he finishes the preseason strong, he can make the decision more difficult on the coaches.

The forwards battling for the final roster spots are in a similar situation. The NHL-ready forward depth has been greatly upgraded this season. The Preds only used three AHL call-up forwards all of last season – Rich Peverley for 33 games, Josh Langfeld for two games, Antti Pihlstrom for one game – and the team went outside the organization to bring in Brandon Bochenski and Jan Hlavac for depth late in the season. This year, it appears at least five forwards who will open the season in Milwaukee would be under consideration for NHL recall should the need arise … and that doesn’t include injured forwards Jed Ortmeyer or Steve Sullivan. That added depth increases the need to establish a high order out of camp.


4) Setting up the Special Teams
The coaches have spoken at length at the importance of solid special teams play. The penalty kill combos have been pretty strong through the first three weeks of the season (and the Preds are lucky enough to have several quality PK forwards on the their roster), but with just three remaining preseason games, look for the coaches to put a premium on setting the power-play units.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
8 NSH 55 25 21 9 142 148 59
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
11 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 55 11 29 -2 40
F. Forsberg 55 18 18 -7 36
S. Weber 55 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 55 6 28 3 34
J. Neal 55 20 13 18 33
M. Ekholm 55 6 19 3 25
R. Ellis 54 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 55 11 7 -1 18
C. Jarnkrok 54 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 38 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 8 .902 2.57
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36