February 7, 2013 11:36 am

February 7 morning skate quotes: Barry Trotz

Bridgestone Arena will be home to its first NHL game since January 21, the Predators’ second game of the season. Since then, Nashville embarked on a seven-game, 16-day road trip that equaled the longest trip in franchise history. The Predators improved as the trip progressed and will carry a three-game winning streak into tonight’s game after Tuesday’s 6-1 demolition of the St. Louis Blues.

On whether he’s emphasizing more shots on goal to his players:
“No, not necessarily. I think there are important parts of the game that you need to execute. Everybody’s in playoff mode, and I’m not concerned about the shots. I’m more concerned about what we give up. Our shots against are way down. Our chances against are way down…If you don’t get as many shots, that’s the way it goes. They don’t count the shots, they count the scoreboard. It’s not a concern, as long as you’re winning hockey games. Our game has gone a little bit linear. It’s gone from working on the defensive end, to now through the neutral zone a little bit better. Now, we’re working on the offensive part of our game. It’s been stretching out linear. The only way that you can be successful in this league, is that you’ve got to be able to defend well. You look at a team like St. Louis – they get a lot of shots because they defend very well, and they defend over the 200 feet. So I’m not concerned.”

On the first game after a long trip, and the comforts of home:
“Yeah, it’s nice to be home. You’re in your own bed for the first time in a while. But I just said to our guys, ‘don’t fall in the trap.’ The trap – everybody in the coaching staff, you’re concerned that your players lose a little focus, because on the road, you’re just playing hockey. You don’t have family. You don’t have paying bills – all the things that players have to do. Meals are set up by the hotel, and all that type of thing. You really don’t have any obligation other than playing hockey, and your focus is on that. When you get home, with families and stuff, you sometimes have some more obligations. It is a concern that guys lose a little bit of focus, but at the same time, it’s not an excuse. That’s a concern, because you’re worried about it, but it’s not an excuse. I made it very clear that it’s not an excuse, to [not] use it as an excuse today.”

On beating strong teams as the road trip progressed:
“Our game got better. I think for a lack of a better explanation, I just think we caught up to our game. We had a lot of guys that came back from last year. We didn’t have a lot of guys playing during the lockout…There are certain parts of our game, our defensive part of our game, was pretty good in our own defensive zone. The rest of our game wasn’t really great. Hopefully it was the process of improvement. We’ve got six, seven games under our belt. Every part of our game is getting better and better. We’re to the point where when you’re good enough, you will have some success. We’ve been in a lot of games and lost a couple shootouts. The real turning point was obviously winning a shootout in L.A. You lose that fourth straight shootout, you’ve lost your fourth potential point, and then that starts playing on your mind a little bit. But we got it, and it just gave us a boost of confidence. Obviously, our game, our last couple games have been pretty solid games. Hopefully we can continue that. That’s the thing about – you’re going to have to manage the times when you’re not playing really well, and find ways to get points. I think we’ve been there. And then you’re going to have to manage times when you’re getting points and playing well, and hopefully collecting points. Where we are tonight, we’ll see.”

On using seven defensemen:
“I just look at it real simply. We’re managing assets. We’ve got seven defensemen that can play. A good example, we’ve got Ryan Ellis, and we injected Jon Blum into the fold. His strengths are [in the] power play. His strength is his hockey sense, and he’s able to transition, getting up in the play, and that part of the game. Hal Gill, for instance, that’s not his strength – the big transition, getting up in the play. His strength is [being] one of the best penalty killers. He’s a big, weighty guy. So penalty killing, and some of those real tough situations…and veteran situations, you can use Hal. So we’re just managing assets. It’s no different than having a portfolio and moving your assets around and using them in the right areas. That’s what we’ve done, and it allows us to be a little flexible with our forwards, who get a little more ice time…it’s worked for us the last couple games. We’ll probably use it a little bit more from now on.”

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