The Nashville Predators would like to close out this homestand with a victory, but the Colorado Avalanche are rolling into town on a goal-scoring binge.
Center Joe Sakic will not play for the Avalanche tonight at 7 at the Sommet Center. He did not make the trip as he recovers from a groin injury.
But center Paul Stastny is healthy and that could be a major problem for the Predators. He leads the high-scoring Avalanche in points with 39 (13 goals, 26 assists) heading into Wednesday night’s game at Columbus.
“Stastny is a tremendous player,” said Predators defenseman Greg de Vries, a former Avalanche player. “He is a great passer. He plays hard at both ends of the ice.
“He is creating a lot this year. Watching the highlights he is turning plays into goals. Offensively, he makes them go. In talking with Joe Sakic, he says that Stastny is one of the smartest players has ever played with. When you look at all the players Sakic has played with, that is a great compliment.”
Trotz agreed that Stastny, 21, is a smart player and also agreed with de Vries that to have Sakic rank the youngster so high is also a tremendous testament to his skills.
“He plays with skill and power,” Trotz said. “He is one of those guys who is every efficient in his game on both sides of the puck. He is very strong on draws.
“He is going to put up very good numbers because he is very intelligent. Joe Sakic is one of the smartest guys in the league. If he says Stastny is smart that is high praise.”
MASON BETTER: Predators goaltender Chris Mason was back on the ice Wednesday after missing the last couple of days with a flu-like virus.
“I didn’t skate Tuesday, but I came in and rode the bike a little,” Mason said. “I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t fun. I couldn’t eat anything for a couple of days. I lost around 10 pounds. It was tough to have any energy.”
Trotz stayed true to form in not announcing a starter in goal before game day.
ERAT OUT: Left wing Martin Erat missed Wednesday’s workout and is not expected to play tonight against Colorado.
Left wing Darcy Hordichuk, scratched Monday night for a flu-like virus, could be back on the ice against Colorado.
GOING WITH SEVEN: Trotz has decided he will use seven defensemen against Colorado with Ville Koistinen in line to get more playing time.
“We will have to go with seven defensemen, which is something we are getting pretty used to doing,” Trotz said. “It won’t matter if Erat is ready or not. We are going with seven ‘D.’
“A guy like Ville Koistinen has shown enough over in Europe, Milwaukee and with us on a daily basis that maybe he is a guy who will get more power play time. We are 29th in the league on the power play. And that is something that Ville is really good at doing. That is something he has been very good at in the past.”
Trotz suggest there will probably be some new pairings, especially on the power play as he attempts to shake things up.
“We are going to have to make some personnel changes,” Trotz said. “We are doing some good things on the power play, but the pucks are not going in. We will have to keep trying to tweak it.
“Just like anything I think that if you keep doing the right thing long enough the positive always comes out. Sometimes it is a little frustrating, but the foundation of your power play has to be getting pucks in the net and having traffic in front of the net. There needs to be a hunger if you will.”
Trotz wants to see more of a sense of anticipation on the power play.
“We need to know who is going to shoot it and where we are going to attack,” Trotz said. “If you are not in that assertive, attacking mode on the power play you are probably not going to be very successful.
“This is one area where you can create a lot of two-on-ones on the ice. And when you do you have to take the puck to the net and force their penalty killers to adjust and manage the situation. If they don’t then you have to capitalize on it.”