“Defense is what wins you championships,” Nashville forward Ryan Johansen said (h/t NHL.com).
“You look at every team that’s ever been successful in any sport, it hasn’t just been offense. Defense needs to step up. It showed in Game 4 and Game 6. When we played great defense, we were very successful. We need to defend really hard, and then when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
Nashville knows the strategy can work as they won Game 4 and Game 6 with stellar defense. But now, the Preds have to keep things in check as they take the ice for a crucial game in front of what should be an electric home crowd.
“I think it’s a different mindset,” Johansen said. “I think as a Predator and playing at Bridgestone, you come to the arena and the atmosphere and the energy is remarkable. It’s hard to stay level and keep your emotions in check because you’ve got some famous singer doing the anthem and you’ve got all this hype and you want to go out there and score a goal and you want to play offense.
“But you’ve got to make sure you’re doing all the right things away from the puck and on the defensive side as well. I think that might be a reason we haven’t played as strongly at home or whatever, but we just need to focus on our game [Thursday] and not worry about all the distractions from all those things.”
“It’s a defense-first mentality,” Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “I think if you look at the wins we’ve had, it’s about the team playing really solid [defense]. It’s not about run-and-gun with them. I think it’s a dangerous game when you get to play run-and-gun with that team. For us, it’s about being great defensively.”
Nashville has a knack of performing well for big games.
“I think it’s partly experience, what we went through last year, what we’ve been really going through in the last couple years of playoffs and fighting for our lives at times,” Ellis explained.
“I think it comes back to the experience that we’ve gained over those last couple years just allowing us to be comfortable in those settings.”
Predators’ Pekka Rinne Activated From Injured Reserve
The Nashville Predators have activated veteran franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne, has been out for around 10 days following a collision with teammate Kevin Fiala, from the injured reserve list, the team officially announced on Wednesday.
In a corresponding move, Nashville assigned Troy Grosenich to the minors.
Rinne, 35, and the team continue to negotiate a contract extension but there isn’t anything imminent regarding those talks, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.
Predators Acquire Nick Baptiste from Sabres for Jack Dougherty
Baptiste appeared in 33 games for the Sabres last season, scoring 4 goals and notching 2 assists. Baptiste was Buffalo’s 2013 third-round draft pick.
Dougherty has played the past 2 seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s AHL affiliate team, where he registered 1 goal and picked up 11 assists over 63 games with the team last season.
Scott Hartnell Announces Retirement
After 17 seasons in the NHL, Scott Hartnell is calling it a career.
Hartnell announced his retirement on Monday by posting the following on his official Twitter page:
Every young kid from a small town across Canada dreams of playing a game in the NHL … I was fortunate enough to play 1,249 of them.
A huge thank you to the Nashville Predators (twice), the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. You are all world class organizations and it was an honor playing for your cities! (Seventeen) years in the NHL was the best job anyone could ever ask for. The games, the fans, the travel, the hotels, the food, the pregame soccer games, are just some of the things that I will always remember and miss. …
Thanks again to my family, friends & all of the fans that cheered for me (and against) along the way. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife Katie and son Wesley. Cheers to the NHL, and the next phase of life!
Hartnell accumulated 327 goals and 380 assists in 1,249 games throughout his career and spent his final season with the Nashville Predators last year.
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