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Predators Practice Report: One Week In

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There’s no such thing as a weekend, and several other observation from my time at Predators Training Camp.

AHL: JAN 04 Milwaukee Admirals at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been...

One week since training camp started, and while it is unlike any camp we’ve seen before—or any that the players and coaches have been a part of before—there’s still a lot of learning taking place, both on and off the ice.

The vast majority of the players have traveled back to Nashville without their families. Of course, there are those that reside in Nashville on a full-time basis whose families are here, but even those with Nashville residences are preparing to be away and “in the bubble” for up to two and a half months. It is definitely not a decision anyone is taking lightly.

A common theme during the media availability (remotely, via Zoom) is how the players are transitioning from having an unprecedented amount of family time to being removed and isolated from their families for what could wind up being more than three months if the Predators make it to the Stanley Cup Final. Dan Hamhuis, father of 3, discussed the difficulty of leaving his children, while being impressed with their support:

Kyle Turris, when asked if he had a special memory from quarantine that he would take with him to Edmonton to get him through the time apart from his family, talked about the joy of getting to experience four months of full-time parenting and the sadness of leaving them behind:

Austin Watson commented that his daughter, Olivia (who turned two during quarantine), is probably going to struggle with the transition from having both parents available all day to suddenly not seeing her father in person for a few months:

On The Ice

Plenty has been going on during practice sessions as well. The team scrimmaged for fifteen minutes at full speed on Sunday. And while the biggest story from those fifteen minutes was a scary sequence that saw Ryan Ellis take a puck below the knee and head to the bench to get checked out by the training staff, there were plenty of other bits and pieces of action that I thought were noteworthy.

Of course Mikael Granlund broke out the slick stick work to get this puck around Viktor Arvidsson:

After the scrimmaging was over, the team worked on one-minute drills in which they started in the faceoff circles on alternating ends of the ice to practice offensive and defensive zone starts. Some of those highlights included goals from Austin Watson and Roman Josi:

However, it wasn’t just big-name players putting forth big effort. I saw some other impressive things as well.

For example, I love his quick-thinking pass block from Korbinian Holzer:

Dante Fabbro also had this tremendous effort after losing control of the puck:

All of these performances came as the Predators are working on speedy transitions through the neutral zone, controlled zone exits and entries, and practicing the timing of line changes—with a special emphasis on avoided the dreaded too many men on the ice penalty.

I’m also glad I got the chance to see the rest of the training camp roster on the ice Sunday. The level of competition among the rest of the roster is intense. Rem Pitlick, Eeli Tolvanen, and Michael McCarron all seem to be playing extra physically around each other and if I get the chance to see them again, I’ll make sure to get some video of how hard they go at each other on the boards.

I expect to see special teams situations, as well as more scrimmaging, when the Predators return to the ice today.

Looking Toward Edmonton

A lot of players are thinking about how to pack for Edmonton and the potential of being in the “bubble” for two and a half months. Coach John Hynes is planning to bring a copy of The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. He’s already read it once and plans to read it again. Colton Sissons purchased an Amazon Kindle, but hadn’t downloaded any books to read and planned to ask Nick Bonino for recommendations. Austin Watson, a big reader, loves the works of Bernard Cornwell (author of The Last Kingdom series, which the Netflix series is base on) and plans to read similarly-themed historical fiction with a few biographies thrown in for good measure. Craig Smith plans to try to sneak his guitar to Edmonton with him. It seems like the majority of the Predators don’t want to spend their down time, however much that may be, staring at a TV screen.

I’ll be at practice today. Holler at me on twitter @SCSOTF if you have anything you’d like me to look out for.