NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a hard-luck loss against one of the worst teams in the league Monday night, the Predators returned to practice Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena ahead of a game against the league-leading Bruins on Thursday.
Nashville sits five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With 31 games left, players are cowing to keep an even keel and believe if they just stick with the process, good things will happen.
“The biggest thing right now is that you can’t get too high or too low on anything,” forward Matt Duchene said Wednesday after practice. “We had a big win in Philly, and we didn’t get too high and came back to work, and now we can’t go the opposite way and get too low. We’ve got a great team coming in here tomorrow. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Predators controlled the game against the Coyotes in just about every area except for the scoreboard. They outshot Arizona 31-19, they had more hits and dominated the faceoff circle, but a couple of key mistakes cost them.
The Coyotes capitalized on a Nashville giveaway for their first goal and then took advantage of a defensive breakdown for the go-ahead goal in the third period. The Preds know they’ll have to clean things up against a Bruins team that’s lost just eight games in regulation all season long.
“We’re playing a team now that, if there are mistakes and you’re not at the top of your game mentally and physically, you’re not going to give yourself the best chance to win,” head coach John Hynes said. “It has to be our urgency level, but I also think it has to be our focus, our attention to detail, and you have to be at an unbelievably high level of effort and compete against this team. And you can’t get away with it if you don’t have that. Some nights you might be able to, [but] against a team like this, you can not.”
The Predators likely will be without leading goal scorer Filip Forsberg for a second consecutive game. The team did not have an update on its star forward Wednesday, so he remains day-to-day after suffering an upper-body injury when he was hit hard during the first period of Saturday’s win over the Flyers in Philadelphia.
With three games in the next four days, it could be a pivotal week in the Predators' playoff push. It all starts with the game against the Bruins and the chance to get back on track at home and measure themselves against the NHL’s best.
“Probably the best team in the league right now coming in,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “And if we can string a really fought game together and dig out a win, that can go a long ways and really bring some juice back into the locker room.”