Sergei Kostitsyn became the the Nashville Predators first 20-goal scorer this season when he scored during Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 overtime defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.
Last off-season, Kostitsyn was traded to Nashville from Montreal for the negotiating rights of two players the Predators organization had no intention of resigning, Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd. Kostitsyn, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year deal with the Predators worth $550 000.
The Canadiens had no room for Kostitsyn on their roster and suspended the forward twice for refusing to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. When Kostitsyn wouldn’t report to Hamilton, he stated that he knew how well he could play and didn’t belong in the AHL. Last season, during the Eastern Conference finals the Habs also told Kostitsyn he was not welcome at morning skate because of his lack of work habits.
The Nashville Predators put their six-game winning streak on the line tonight when they host Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville’s recent success seems to fall on the number three, three goals for the Predators. Nashville’s 4-2 win against Dallas on Saturday was the 17th consecutive time Nashville won when scoring three or more goals. The Predator’s season record for scoring three or more goals in a game is 38-4-1.
While the numbers are pretty clear, Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz says contributions from all four lines have been key. “I give a lot of credit right through out lineup,” Trotz said, adding “Go back through the six games — every line has contributed over this stretch.”
Forward Jordin Tootoo agrees, “We got dynamic players in this dressing room that can change the pace of the game and can change things around. We count on each other to get the job done, night in and night out.”
At the start of each hockey season, the Nashville Predators organization adopts a motto that best exemplifies the team. This year, the Predators motto is the word together. As the puck officially drops tonight at Bridgestone Arena, Predlines talked to some of the Predators about what together means for them.
Colin Wilson is about to start his second NHL season, and expectations are high. Drafted 7th overall in 2008, Wilson is only 20 years old. Last season, as a highly touted prospect, Wilson had a roster spot penciled in despite the typical road to Nashville traveling through Milwaukee. But a nagging groin injury forced Wilson out of the lineup and down to the American Hockey League.
For Wilson, together as a motto means forgetting about individual goals in favor of team ones. “If we all have individual goals we aren’t going to be able to accomplish much,” Wilson said, adding “if we all go out there with the same goals, together that’s what will help us go further and win the Stanley Cup.”
Predators leading scorer from last season, Patric Hornqvist, like Wilson, believes the Predators success is found and depends on the team’s ability to stick together. “We always play like a group of five. It doesn’t matter if you are in the neutral zone, your own zone or the offensive zone. Nobody can do it by themselves,” Hornqvist said, adding “We are a team out there and in the locker room and we stick together. If we do that we’ll be a hard team to beat.”
The first day of the Nashville Predators training camp is in the books. The players were split into three groups, each with an hour and a half of ice time and practice drills to show the coaching staff what they bring to the team.
Head coach Barry Trotz admits that he has some tough decisions to make, and it isn’t just deciding who will be Pekka Rinne’s backup goalie. As a result, the team is moving to a scrimmage-based training camp rather than one dominated by practices. “Everybody is working really hard,” Trotz said, adding that difficult decisions will have to be made at all three positions.
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Ranking the top defensive players will be tough for the coaching staff as Trotz believes the ranking is wide open after the first several slots suggesting “it is everybody probably from number 6 to probably number 10. And they are all pretty good.” Trotz cited players such as veteran skater Aaron Johnson and the young prospects at camp including Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, as players trying to force the organization into making those tough decisions.