The Nashville Predators took a day off on Saturday after being the first team to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. on Sunday, the Predators were back on the ice for practice at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville works on remaining focused until the second round starts
“We haven’t accomplished anything, yet. We have a lot of work left to do. We have to make sure we stay focused. Last year, we sat back and went into Vancouver and they took it to us in Game 1. We know we need to learn from that experience and be ready for whoever we have coming up,” Predators Captain Shea Weber said.
A season ago, the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in six games on April 24th. The Western Conference semi-finals against the Vancouver Canucks started four days later on April 28th.
This year, the break between the first and second round will be significantly longer for the Predators. There is already one Game 7 slated for Wednesday and other series could potentially end on Thursday night. Having been the first team to advance to the second round, Nashville is looking at an entire week off between contests.
“One thing that we learned last year is that we didn’t reengage until the next series. We waited and waited for it to come. Then we had a couple substandard practices and it showed in Game 1 in Vancouver,” Head Coach Barry Trotz explained.
Nashville lost the opening contest against the Canucks by a 1-0 score, but were outplayed most of the game. The Predators were kept in the contest by a stellar performance from Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne who made 29 saves on the night. Vancouver won the series in six games.
The Predators need to remain focused while they wait not only for the second round to begin, but also to find out which team will be their next opponent.
“We were going to go quick and not too long, but have some good pace,” Trotz said about Sunday’s practice. “I think we accomplished that. You are not competing and preparing for an opponent, and going through that grind. It was more like let’s get our focus on. Let’s make sure we are prepared mentally and physically. We talked about having focus, and then leave and have a good day.”
Many of the players echoed Trotz’ comments after practice. The message was consistent. The Predators need to focus on their own play and not worry about who their opponent will be for the second round.
“You have to have the right mindset going into the second round. It is going to be harder than the first round. Every round is going to be tougher and tougher. You just have to be ready to go,” rookie Gabriel Bourque said.
“It was a good practice today,” Ryan Suter added. “Part of that is you need your time away and that was yesterday. It was good to recharge the battery, but now that we are here, we need to focus on just staying ready for who we have to play. It doesn’t matter who we play or when we play. We have to be ready to go.”
Nashville will play the winner of the series between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks. Phoenix holds a 3-2 series lead against the Blackhawks with Game 6 scheduled for Monday night at the United Center in Chicago.
“I honestly don’t care,” Alexander Radulov said about which team he would rather face in the second round. “We just have to worry about our game and what is inside this locker room. Who we are going to get and how we get them, it doesn’t matter. There are no easy teams. You have to be ready for everybody.”
The other Western Conference semi-final will see the St. Louis Blues play the Los Angeles Kings. On Sunday, the Kings defeated the Canucks by a 2-1 score in overtime, eliminating the reigning Western Conference champions from the postseason in five games.