|The Oilers take on the Predators tonight in Nashville. (QMI Agency/Amber Bracken)
NASHVILLE -- If pre-game meetings count for anything, hold on to your hats.
Both the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators gathered their troops together for last-minute battle cries in advance of their Monday night showdown at Bridgestone Arena.
Shawn Horcoff chaired the players-only meeting on the ice after the morning skate and Preds coach Barry Trotz addressed his guys an hour earlier.
Seems both sides are drawing a line in the ice, delivering similar, simple theme in both sessions -- Go get 'em.
“I want them to respect what Edmonton does,” said Trotz. “They have extremely dynamic forwards, they’re way faster up front than we are. We have to play a Predator game. We can’t adjust the game to our opponent; we have to play our game tonight. That was my message.”
The Predators have been slipping in the West, with just one win in their last five games. They’re coming off a 3-0 win over Detroit and don’t want to waste that effort by looking past the last place Oilers.
As for the Oilers, well, you know.
“Basically that it’s time to turn it around,” said Sam Gagner, when asked about Edmonton’s crease-side chat. “We’ve been playing well at times, but at then end of the day it’s about finding ways to get wins. We can’t hide behind the fact that we played well. We have to find a way to accomplish our goals.”
Tom Renney, who’s levelled the same instructions many times this year, is hoping that a different perspective might help.
“That’s good leadership, continuing to stay the course,” said the Oilers coach. “Our goals are a little different than a lot of teams in this league. We’re going to be a spoiler, we’re going to upset people. We’re going to see if we can make a mess of things out there and feel good about our game at the same time.
“(The meeting) was just making sure that everybody feels the same way.”
Of course, Nashville isn’t the ideal place for the Oilers to decide to turn their fortunes around. The Predators have won four straight against the Oilers, and have gone 15-2-0 since 2006-07.
“Every building is tough for us right now,” said Gagner. “I don’t think we can worry about that too much. If we can do our job and everybody is buying in to what we need to do, hopefully we can have a successful day.”
Healthy scratches Ryan Jones, Colin Fraser and Kurtis Foster are expected back in in place of Steve MacIntyre, JF Jacques and Jason Strudwick or Jeff Petry.