If the Nashville Predators wanted to look for excuses they could certainly find them.
Pick almost any category from injuries to even airplane schedules and the Predators have had their share of problems.
“We have not wavered,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said Sunday morning as the team completed an optional skate at the Sommet Center. “We’re not going to make excuses.”
The trip to Detroit was less than kind to the Predators’ hopes in the quarterfinals against the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They lost 3-1 and 4-2, which puts an extra emphasis on tonight’s game at 6:30 at the Sommet Center. The Predators and Red Wings will play game four here Wednesday night at 8.
“We are looking for a good hockey game,” said Trotz. “We are a dangerous team in moments like this when our backs are against the wall.
“Our resolve has been tested over and over this season. We are usually at our best in situations like this. That’s one of the reasons we are in the playoffs.”
If the Predators are to turn things around, they are going to need scoring from their top two lines. Only right wing Alexander Radulov has scored from those two lines. Center Jason Arnott and right wing J.P. Dumont have struggled to get shots as they have faced the best that Detroit has to offer in terms of personnel.
“The media is putting pressure on the first two lines to score,” Trotz said. “We are challenging them to score. We have to find ways for our guys to counter a very good Detroit team. Our first line is going against Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom and defensemen Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski. That’s about as good as it gets.
“Our third and fourth lines and our power play are getting a lot of chances. Our second and third lines are not getting many chances.”
Arnott, the team captain, says the team is stressing the positives instead of the negatives as they try to turn around their fortunes.
“We have to keep moving forward and stay on an even level,” Arnott said. “We have had chances to score, but the puck just didn’t go in. We have to correct the little things we are doing wrong.”
Right wing Jordin Tootoo leads the Predators in goals with two. Trotz is quick to point out that playoff series are often won because of unexpected stars.
“We are always looking for new heroes,” said Trotz. “Toots is skating well. He is moving his legs. He is being physical. He has been very composed. He is playing a disciplined game.”
LEGWAND QUESTIONABLE Center David Legwand was not part of the group participating Sunday in the optional skate, but Trotz downplayed the absence. Legwand is sidelined with a badly bruised left foot and has missed 14 games. He has not played since March 7.
“David will be a game time decision,” Trotz said. “We want to make sure he is sound.”
PLAYOFF PLANS: Several events are planned as part of tonight’s game.
A pep rally is scheduled for 5:15 with visits from injured Predators forwards Martin Gelinas and Jed Ortmeyer, GNASH, the Predators dancers and a live band.
At 4 there will be a “Dunk the Red Wings Fan” dunking booth, interactive inflatables and face painting. There will also be a shootout and autograph session with basketball coaches and players from local universities including Lipscomb, Belmont and Tennessee State.
There are less than 1,300 seats still available.