Simmonds settling in with Predators as Hurricanes come to town

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With four days between Nashville’s last game and Saturday’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes, Wayne Simmonds has been able to get to know some of his new Predators teammates.

And some of the better lunch spots in town.

Simmonds, a forward acquired from Philadelphia in a deadline-day deal last week, has already made a positive impression with Nick Bonino and Rocco Grimaldi, his new linemates and lunchmates.

“You’re building camaraderie,” Simmonds told The Tennessean. “It’s loosening things up. Rocco and ‘Bones’ are two guys I’ve leaned on.

“You’re discussing different drills and discussing what you’re going through throughout the day. You’re talking about more than hockey. You make it a point to sit with them at lunchtime to continue to build comfort off the ice.”

Coach Peter Laviolette put the line together during the third period of a March 1 loss against Winnipeg.

They’ve stayed together since, accounting for two goals and allowing one as the Predators posted a pair of shootout victories against Minnesota.

“My eyeballs liked what they saw, and I don’t want to break it up,” Laviolette told The Tennessean. “Rocco brings a lot of tenacity to the line. ‘Bones’ is a pretty good playmaker and ‘Simmer’ brings pucks to the net.”

Grimaldi said camaraderie isn’t essential, but it helps.

“Some guys don’t really need to be buddies with the guy to play with him,” Grimaldi told The Tennessean. “I feel like I’ll play better if I have a good relationship off the ice or someone I can talk to.

“You saw all the people in Philadelphia talking about when (Simmonds) got traded how much it sucked that they were going to have to see him go. … That shows the character of the guy.”

The Predators fell a point behind Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division on Friday night as the Jets won 8-1 in Carolina.

The Hurricanes will have to quickly forget that result in the second of back-to-back games at Nashville.

Carolina fell behind 3-0 in the opening half of the first period and also allowed two goals in the game’s final minute.

“We didn’t have anything going,” Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk told The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. “I don’t think there was one part of our game that was any good. We made it very easy for them.”

It was an especially demoralizing defeat for the Hurricanes, considering they entered the game tied with Montreal for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff berths.

“We need every point we can get,” Faulk said. “We come out like that, we’re not going to get any points.”

The Hurricanes’ top line of Nino Niederreiter, Sebastian Aho and Justin Williams had a combined plus/minus rating of negative 15, with Niederreiter setting a franchise record with a minus-6.

“We haven’t had one of those this year,” Williams told The News & Observer of the blowout. “That was not us.

“We can turn the page quickly. We’ve always answered the bell this year, and it’s time to do it again.”

–Field Level Media

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