As training camp trudges on towards Saturday’s sold-out home opener against Columbus, the players have slowly seen pieces of their game become re-integrated into their normal routine. As today’s on-ice sessions progressed forward, the coaching staff tried to increase the level of contact to a game-ready state.
“We talked about trying to get harder, game-hardened if you will. Adding Clune helped that, just in itself. Guys want to get game-hardened,” said Barry Trotz. “So we talked about if there’s a contact situation, let’s make a little contact. We’re not trying to bury someone through the end-boards”
The advantages of the re-integrated contact situations have given the players a better sense of how to approach some of the game situations that may come around come Saturday. Yet mimicking the situations and actually seeing them on the ice against an opponent are two vastly different things.
“We’re just trying to ramp it up as much as we can, obviously not get crazy in practice, but lean on guys and make sure we get moving in as many game-like situations as we can. A lot of us haven’t played, so the physicality of the game is the hardest part. We have to mimic that the best we can.” said Mike Fisher
“I think the last few days it’s got better and better each day, and I think the coaches are stressing that because we are jumping into 48 games here right away with no warm-up,” said Ryan Ellis. “Some guys haven’t been playing for quite a while now. It was good to see all the guys getting in there with the physicality, it’s going to help us down the road.”
Yet, there’s still a level of rust that some of the players are trying to shake off before Saturday’s tilt with Columbus. All 30 teams are in the same situation as training camps prepare for the final day tomorrow, so getting the most out of the final 24 hours is a tall task for individuals and teams both.
“The personal rust, with a good camp and scrimmages, we can kinda limit that. Then there’s team rust too, the systems and the trust of where each other is, it takes time. Every team is in the same situation, so there’s no excuse.” said Fisher, “A lot of that is being mentally prepared to do the right things and not try to do to much, because we’re all going to be excited. There’s going to be emotions, we’re just going to have to try and control those.”
It’s been quite apparent that the on-ice skill level has improved every day of training camp so far, and there’s no telling how tomorrow’s session will finish out for the Predators. However, what’s important now is that the team finishes the best they can.
“Every practice we’re trying to improve and get better. Obviously, coming together as a team is a big thing. The further we go on here, the better we’re going to be.” said Matt Halischuk
Noted line pairings for today’s session:
Rinne, Mason, Hetenyi in net
Other notes on today’s practice:
- Coach Trotz said that Colin Wilson had taken a puck to the foot (lower body) during Wednesday’s session and was ok. So far the plan is for him to be back tomorrow. I wondered if Wilson would be out on the ice today, as he had a noticeable limp in the locker rooms yesterday.
- Trotz also was clear that the roster for the Predators IS SET and that Rich Clune will be on the Predators roster for Saturday night. Currently the Predators are holding 24 players on their roster and have until tomorrow afternoon to finalize their 23-man roster. I’m guessing Hetenyi and Bartley to be sent back to Milwaukee probably within the next 24 hours, getting them back in time for the Admirals game against Abbotsford on Saturday.
- Why Hetenyi and Bartley? The Predators aren’t going to carry 3 goaltenders in the lineup going into a game, for starters. As for Bartley, his time up here in Nashville was to give the coaches 4 sets of defensive line pairings to work with, in my opinion, so I doubt the Predators hold 8 defensemen for the start of the season. Ellis and Blum have both factored heavily into special teams work, as well. While Bartley’s time up in Nashville right now may ultimately be short, I believe he’s definitely made an impression.
- That being said, that leaves some thoughts as to who will be scratched come Saturday night. My initial feeling is that McGrattan and Blum will be the odd men out for that evening. Ryan Ellis has been paired for the entire week with Hal Gill while Blum has been paired with Bartley (for the most part) and only paired with Gill during Penalty Kill drills. McGrattan has been swapping out on the fourth line with Mueller and Clune. Unless Trotz thinks that a heavier presence (other than Clune) will be needed in Game 1, my guess is McGrattan is the healthy scratch.
That’s all I have for you right now folks. I’ll be at camp tomorrow and will be doing my live game feed on Twitter for Game 1 at 7pm inside Bridgestone Arena. Follow me on Twitter and never hesitate to ask a question or comment to me about something I write. There’s never a stupid question, so don’t shy away. (Plus I have a thick skin, so you won’t hurt my feelings either).