Not that nice to see you, Canada

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- No offence, Canada, but Nashville doesn't seem to care for you that much. At least their hockey fans don't.

With the Preds adding Peter Forsberg at the trade deadline and challenging for first place, Nashville Arena has been packed lately - except when Canadian teams visit.

The Oilers appearance last night was just the fourth time in the last 11 home games that the Preds didn't sell out (it fell about a thousand short of 17,113). The last non-sellout before Edmonton was Calgary. Before that? Montreal.

"People in Nashville don't really care about Edmonton, Calgary or Vancouver," said head coach Barry Trotz. "Nothing against those cities, they're just too far away. So when the Canadian markets come here, they say Nashville isn't drawing. We're drawing fine, it's just when you guys come in that we don't."

Divisional rivals, and other cities in the southern U.S., like Atlanta and Anaheim, are big sellers. "If it's a Tuesday night and we're playing Calgary or Vancouver, two very good teams, there won't be a particularly big crowd," said Trotz. "But the same night, against Chicago, St. Louis or Columbus, teams that we have a little bit more of a rivalry with, and an understanding of who they are, and it'll be a full house."

MIND THE KEVLAR

Nashville Predators defenceman Greg Zanon is sporting a pair of Kevlar guards on his skate boots, a necessity, he says, when you block as many shots as he does.

"Almost every one in the league now can shoot 100 miles an hour, so you might as well protect yourself," said Zanon, adding today's lightweight skates offer zero protection on their own.

"It's definitely come in handy more than once. You get hit there and you don't even think about it. The first time I played against L.A., Rob Blake was ripping shots and I got one on the foot; you're expecting to feel pain and there was nothing."

MOVING TARGETS

Preds coach Barry Trotz doesn't mind that the Nashville Predators are playing with a bull's-eye on their backs this season. In fact, he kind of likes it. "It makes you mentally tougher, it makes you a better hockey team to be playing for something right till the end," he said. "It's going to help the organization for the next five years that we're one of the teams that's fighting for first place.

"It puts a target on your back and you get everybody's 'A' game. When you get everybody's 'A' game you become better because of it.

"It's probably caused a few injuries because all of our games end up being so intense, but at the same time we're better prepared to play playoff style games, not only physically but mentally."


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