Predators Practice Report: Thursday Scrimmage
Coach Hynes had the Nashville Predators play scrimmages in a back-to-back scenario. Here’s all the details I can give you.
On the Ice
The scrimmage started with the same special officials as Wednesday’s scrimmage. Scott Nichol and David Good, who probably need to keep their day jobs as Milwaukee Admirals GM and Predators Strength and Conditioning Coach (respectively), took some hot laps around the ice in their fancy zebra stripes. The teams made their way to the ice, having come back from the locker room after a standard game-day sixteen-minute warmup. The “Run This Town” intro played and players lined up on the ice for the national anthem. Soon after, the puck was dropped and the game was underway.
Now, before getting into scoring details and other highlights, I want to point out that defense seemed heavily focused on high-danger shot suppression by getting to the zone and making life miserable for anyone trying to get close.
All that being said, scoring opened up when Matt Duchene entered the zone with Viktor Arvidsson for a 2-on-1 against Ben Harpur (with Michael McCarron trailing). Duchene zipped the puck over to Arvidsson, who put the puck past Pekka Rinne, who had no chance of stopping it. McCarron did manage to put his body near the action, but did nothing to help his goaltender. Ben Harpur was also present in body, but was no match for Duchene. This goal put the Gold Team in the lead at 1-0.
Matt Duchene doesn’t quit on this puck and sends a beauty to a waiting Mikael Granlund who buries it and puts the Gold Team up 1-0. #Preds @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/QRNLlFgEx4— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
It wasn’t long after this that I noticed something happening on the ice that I would ask about later. Physical intensity was once again a theme on the ice and while the players had settled into it as more of a natural part of the game (as opposed to Tuesday, when it seemed like a new toy) they also seemed to start having what I would call “in-game” reactions to that physicality. I present the following as evidence:
McCarron dumps Dante Fabbro and gets some pushback about it from Kyle Turris. @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/I1iACh2e0D— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
First, I swear I’m not picking on McCarron any more than McCarron was picking on Dante Fabbro. This kind of thing happened several times during the scrimmage—this just happened to be the one I caught on film.
As evidence that I’m not picking on McCarron, I also happened to get his goal on video! Michael McCarron took advantage of Juuse Saros, who was looking through a lot of traffic, to send a backhander into the net. The goal was assisted by Colin Blackwell and Yakov Trenin. This line had some pretty bright spots during the scrimmage.
Juuse Saros got caught wide open by Michael McCarron. Teams are tied 1. #preds @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/xDRpw5m7T5— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
This goal evened the score up at 1-1. One of my favorite non-scoring moments came shortly after this. Viktor Arvidsson, who looks great on the ice, took a swing at an airborne puck and almost buried it behind Juuse Saros. If you want to see Arvidsson’s overall awareness, speed, coordination, and skill on full display, take a look at this:
Watch Viktor Arvidsson take a swing at this airborn puck in honor of #openingday2020 #preds @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/iPluyTdHSu— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
In what I will describe as my favorite scoring moment of the scrimmage, Rem Pitlick tracked a high pass through the neutral zone and received it as he entered the offensive zone, waited for his linemates to catch up, cross-iced it to defender Jérémy Davies, who sent it directly to the blade of Eeli Tolvanen waiting in the slot, who roofed it past Pekka Rinne. This put the Gold team up 2-1 and displayed the skill and promise of the Predators’ prospect pool.
Rem Pitlick to Jeremy Davies to Eeli Tolvanen to the net. Gold team is up 2-1 as the youth lead the way in the second period. #Preds @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/h3Xluqsu0n— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
With around eight minutes remaining in the second period, Saros and Rinne headed to the bench to give Troy Grosenick and Connor Ingram a chance to mind the nets. For the record, Pekka Rinne allowed 2 goals on 11 shots, while Juuse Saros allowed 1 goal on 22 shots.
With the fresh goalies in their creases, it didn’t take long for the Predators’ top line to take advantage of Connor Ingram, who was being “helped” by the Towers of Terror, Korbinian Holzer and Jarred Tinordi. This beautiful slot feed from Filip Forsberg to Viktor Arvidsson is only overshadowed by Holzer winding up in the net along with the puck. This put the teams back at even with two goals each.
This is just a nasty sequence that ends with a Viktor Arvidsson goal on Connor Ingram that winds up with Korbinian Holzer in the net along with the puck. Tie game. #Preds @OnTheForecheck pic.twitter.com/EXeW2gpZd5— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) July 23, 2020
The second period ended soon after this and this is where things get a little tricky. In order to be at home in time for the Zoom media availability, I had to leave. Now, on Wednesday, the third period was mainly a chance to work on special teams. I stayed for it and wound up missing the majority of the interviews. I took a gamble and left yesterday, but the team came out and played a full third period.
Based on what I can cobble together, Viktor Arvidsson scored again for the White Team, which would have made it 3-2. Then Matt Duchene scored for the Gold Team on a breakaway by cleaning up his own rebound off of Grosenick, which would have made it even again. However, with 90 seconds remaining, the Gold Team, which was down 5-3, pulled Ingram.
The two White Team goals are a mystery. I don’t know who scored them. Pretend it was your favorite player...and they cellied so hard...then they looked up in the stands and shouted “That was for you, (insert your name)!” as they pointed at you. You pointed back and then you shared a smile...and everyone else was soooo jealous.
And then it was over. And I’m guessing the score was 5-3.
Off the Ice
I had the opportunity to ask Head Coach John Hynes about seeing the depth of the Predators’ organizational talent training camp; here’s his response:
Hynes also mentioned that final travel roster decisions would be made after practice concludes on Saturday.
Matt Duchene had a great answer when I asked him about his skill at transitions. I was impressed with his explanation of the maturation of his thought process on the ice. When you think about the amount of time he actually has to make these decisions, it’s incredible.
Finally, I asked Ryan Ellis about the limits of physical play in a training camp/intra-squad scrimmage scenario. I was curious how they, as a team, decided what was off limits and how far they were willing to push those limits. His answer makes a lot of sense.
There is one day of training camp remaining and I plan to be in attendance. If you’d like to follow the action as it unfolds, give me a follow @SCSOTF and I may even tell you about Nick Bonino while you’re there. If there’s anything you want me to look for, let me know on Twitter!