Preds’ Erat on Game 3 win: “[We] finally showed some balls”

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There was no shortage of descriptors coming from the Preds dressing room following last night’s 2-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Head coach Barry Trotz praised the team for playing “Nashville Predators hockey.” David Legwand said the Preds were “doing things the right way.”

Then there was Martin Erat.

“Tonight we played hard for 60 minutes,” he told John Glennon of The Tennessean. “And finally showed some balls.”

More, from The Tennessean:

Erat was arguably the best player on the ice in Game 3, setting an early tone with forechecking and physical play. His strong puck-possession skills also led to a handful of Predators scoring chances.

The soft-spoken Czech forward sounded just as energized after the game as he was during the game.

“We just showed to our teammates that we are still in the series,” Erat said. “It is going to be hard. (The Coyotes) are not going to come here and just roll over for us.”

Don’t discount the size of Erat’s actions and words (also, balls.) He’s been the team’s leading scorer in each of the last two seasons, but consistently failed to raise his game come playoff time. Erat had just a single goal in the Preds’ 10-game run last postseason and his career totals (8G-15A-23PTS in 44 games with a minus-7 rating) leave plenty to be desired.

But this year, Erat’s different. The 30-year-old veteran of 10 NHL seasons sounds like a player that understands the effort required for a deep playoff run.

And more importantly, he sounds prepared to make it.

“We went to Phoenix and felt it was going to be easy, like they were going to give it to us,” Erat said. “They played hard and have an unbelievable system.

“We have to play harder than them, forecheck hard and create chances.”

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier
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Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.

Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games


One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.