By Jim Diamond
After two long days of on-ice sessions to start training camp, the Nashville Predators held a scrimmage at Centennial Sportsplex Sunday afternoon.
With a new coaching staff in place, some new offensive systems were introduced during the team’s Friday and Saturday practices. A majority of the players who took part in Sunday’s scrimmage were the younger ones in camp, but a few veterans participated as well.
Watching from the sidelines, new head coach Peter Laviolette liked that he saw some of the things they have been working on the last couple of days.
“I did see some of it out on the ice, which was good,” he said. “I thought there were some good things in the neutral zone, some good things in the offensive zone. Guys played hard. They were competitive, they were physical, so it was a good way to evaluate the group.”
When he hired Laviolette, Predators general manager David Poile cited his penchant for coaching offense. Laviolette’s practices have been high-tempo, and Sunday’s scrimmage was no different. The game was wide open, featuring speed at both ends of the ice and some aggressive hitting as well.
“I think we had a few shifts where we had good cycle rotations going which is something that I think is going to be a trademark of our team,” Eric Nystrom said. “There is still a little timing that is off, but I think we executed a lot of the things that we have been working on. It is still new though, so there are going to be a lot of mistakes, but when we executed, it was pretty successful.”
During Friday’s practice sessions, a lot of time was focused on cycling the puck down low.
“It’s kind of new, everything,” Filip Forsberg said. “We just started Friday, but obviously there are a couple of things that we tried to get going here in this game and especially in the exhibition games coming up.”
Named the most valuable player of the recently completed rookie tournament held at the Ford Ice Center, Forsberg will get a long look from the coaching and management staffs as training camp progresses. A highly skilled forward, Forsberg’s skill set would seem to fit well into Laviolette’s system.
One of the messages from the coaching staff to the players has been to look for open spaces in order to give them some room to use their creativity.
“When we are in the offensive zone, there is so much pressure congested on one side where the battle is, (we are) trying to use the other side of the ice as much as possible,” Rich Clune said. “Our line did that well today and a lot of lines did that well today, using the back of the net and bringing it out the weak side.”
The team’s six-game preseason schedule begins Tuesday night in Tampa. The Predators play their first of four home preseason games Thursday night against the Lightning.