Rejuvenated Preds' successful trip stops in Vancouver
Predators coach John Hynes said the team's season-long six-game road trip, which continues Monday when Nashville visits the Vancouver Canucks, couldn't have come at a better time for his revamped team.
"It's been a hectic week, obviously, with all the trades and guys in and out," Hynes said after a 3-1 victory at Chicago on Saturday. "Now to be able to go on the road with a lot of new guys -- and it's a nice trip, too -- where we have a lot of games but there are some days off where guys can spend more time together, which I think can be good, and getting out of Nashville for a little bit and being together on the road and keep pushing forward."
Nashville started the marathon trip Thursday with a 2-1 victory in Sunrise, Fla., over the Florida Panthers and followed that up with the win over the Blackhawks in Chicago, their fourth straight road win and fifth in six games overall.
After Monday night's contest with the Canucks, it's back to the United States for a Thursday game at Arizona. The trip concludes with a back-to-back in Southern California against Los Angeles and Anaheim.
The Predators entered Sunday's action just five points behind Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference and six points behind third-place Winnipeg, which has played three more games, in the tightly-packed Central Division.
Nashville was one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline, sending forward Tanner Jeannot to Tampa Bay, defenseman Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton, forward Nino Niederreiter to Winnipeg and center Mikael Granlund to Pittsburgh. David Poile, the only general manager in team history, also announced his retirement and that Barry Trotz, who coached the Washington Capitals to the 2018 Stanley Cup, would be his replacement.
Poile went out with a bang in his final trade deadline, picking up nine draft picks in addition to a handful of roster players and prospects. Nashville will have 13 picks in the loaded 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28-29.
"It's a deep draft," Poile said. "It was the right thing to do. And it's in Nashville. I think that's kind of important."
Poile made it clear that he wasn't throwing in the towel on the 2022-23 season. One of the players he obtained from Edmonton, defenseman Tyson Barrie, scored the game-winner at Chicago.
Vancouver is in rebuild mode under Rick Tocchet, who took over coaching duties on Jan. 22. The Canucks, playing the third game of a six-game homestand that began with a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Thursday, played arguably their finest game of the season Saturday and won an intense, physical game against Toronto, 4-1.
Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller scored short-handed goals just 44 seconds apart and Thatcher Demko, playing for the third straight game after missing three months with a groin injury, finished with 36 saves to lead the Canucks who are 4-2-1 in their last seven games.
It was the 25th time in franchise history that Vancouver scored two short-handed goals in a game. The Canucks enter Monday's contest last in the NHL in penalty killing at just 67.7 percent.
Tocchet said it's important for his team to finish strong in its final 20 games.
"I'm proud of them," he said. "It's not just play out 20 games and let's wait 'til next year. These are important games. Every day we come in we're trying to become the team that we want to be. We can't waste practices and we can't waste games."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 5, 2023