The Nashville Predators are on the road for the next three games and that’s fine with coach Barry Trotz.
“I am looking forward to going on the road,” said Trotz. “We have been at home for a long time. We have gotten into the mindset that we’re at home and it should come easy, but it doesn’t come easy.
“When you get out on the road, you know how hard it is going to be. I think the change is going to be good for us.”
The first stop for the Predators is tonight at 6 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Sunday afternoon at 2 the Predators visit Joe Louis Arena to face the Detroit Red Wings. They close out the trip Tuesday night at 7:30 against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center.
The Predators played the Blue Jackets Tuesday night, shutting them down 3-0. The final period was filled with fighting with Predators forward Jordin Tootoo handling the bulk of the fisticuffs. Trotz doesn’t know if tonight’s game might become a revenge-filled evening on the part of the Blue Jackets, who have not won against the Predators in their last 15 meetings.
“Columbus will be a great challenge,” Trotz said. “They came in here and for half of the game they really dominated. We were good in the first part of the game, but we got the lead and backed off.
“We have to get in there and establish our game early. And then we have to maintain it. If it is a physical game, it is not going to bother us and if it is not it is not, going to bother us. We have a good rivalry. There is nothing wrong with that.”
Tootoo is expecting the Blue Jackets to roll out the “not welcome” mat for him. Tootoo, who was in two fights against Columbus, doesn’t mind being the center of the opposition’s attention. Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock verbally attacked him and questioned his abilities as a hockey player.
“That’s a positive for our team,” Tootoo said. “We have to use every advantage that we have to get them off of their game. They are thinking about what is going to happen. I’m not worried about it. I have 20 guys backing me up from the start. We are going to do whatever it takes.
“A rivalry like this brings fans to their feet. The guys are geared up for it. We have to bring our own emotions on the road. We are going to battle hard and play our game.”
Center Jason Arnott, the Predators team captain, expects both Columbus and Detroit to be major tests this weekend.
“Had it not been for Dan Ellis in goal, Columbus might have tied the game up and made it close. Columbus took it over in the second period and outworked us. We don’t need to be back on our heels in the third period scrounging for a win.
“Detroit wants to clinch first. They always play us tough. It will be another huge game for us that we need to win.”
HLAVAC FITS IN: Left wing Jan Hlavac has been slotted on the top line with Arnott and right wing J.P. Dumont. He has fit in quickly with his new linemates.
“Jan has adjusted really well,” Arnott said. “He is a very gifted offensive player. He sees the ice real well. He plays at a high level. It helps on offense that he can see and read off of us so quickly.”
He had a goal and an assist against Columbus the last time out.
“Jan has been a good addition to that line,” said Trotz. “That line has some good elements to it. You have three very smart players who can make things happen.
“Sometimes lines don’t work for different reasons, but that line has some good balance and some offensive capabilities. They are pretty good defensively when their minds are there to work on both sides of the puck. It has the right elements to be a real solid line for us.”
WINGS ON HD: Sunday’s game in Detroit will be shown in high definition on Sunday. In the Nashville area the game will be seen on Comcast Cable, channel 247.