(File photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Rookie defenceman Seth Jones will get a taste of the loud Bell Centre Saturday night as the Nashville Predators face off against the Canadiens.
“It’s going to be very exciting. Fans are awesome here,” Jones said after the Predators’ morning skate at the Bell Centre.
“Hockey is obviously everything here, not like the U.S.”
Jones also noted he’ll get to play against Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, with whom he’s played in the past. (And both were invited to USA Hockey’s pre-Olympic orientation camp in August.)
With seven games under his belt, the Predators’ first-round draft pick last June has averaged nearly 24 minutes of ice time and a high of 28:14 on Thursday in the Predators’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
In addition to playing big minutes, Jones, a right-handed shot, is playing on the left side with Shea Weber.
Predators’ coach Barry Trotz asked Jones and Ryan Ellis to practice playing on the left side during the summer.
“I knew that coming into training camp we had a lot of right-hand shots, ” Trotz said. “Sometimes with players who have played on the right side for a long time, they’re not going to change or have difficulty changing. So I thought with the two skill guys, like Ellis and Jones, that they might have a better chance to adapt early before they get too set in their ways. Both of them have done that for us and been very, very effective that way.”
“It changes the way you see the ice. It changes your angles. You have to make quicker decisions, especially playing your off hand, especially teams that close on you really quickly…You have to decide if you’re going to move the puck really quickly or if you’re going to move it over to your partner because you lose a third of the ice sometimes.”
“They’ve done a great job, the young guys,” Trotz added. “And I think it actually helps their development. You don’t get stuck on that one side. It helps learn the game, see the game in different ways.
“If (Jones) can play the left side at 19 and play the minutes that he’s playing I know I can put him on the right side and he can play the minutes he’s playing and maybe more,” Trotz said.
Three Canadiens’ players –Brian Gionta, David Desharnais, and Francis Bouillon–skipped the Habs’ optional morning skate in Brossard. The team will go with the same lineup as it did against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night with Carey Price getting the start in net.