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Back where it all started

Shea Weber set to play first game in Nashville since June 29 trade on Tuesday

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD -- Shea Weber played 383 home games in Nashville since 2006, but on Tuesday, he'll play his first as a visitor.

Still, after spending 11 seasons with the Predators, there aren't many corners of Bridgestone Arena the 31-year-old has yet to explore.

"In training camp, we've had video sessions or whatever in the visitor's dressing room, so I've actually been in there before, but it will be weird to get ready for a game on that side of the arena, for sure," admitted Weber following Monday's practice in Brossard. "It'll be a lot easier for me to describe [the experience] after we go through it, though. It's tough to say what I'm going to feel because I really don't know right now."

Indeed, the 12-year NHL veteran has racked up a ton of experience since first being drafted by Nashville 49th overall in 2003 -- except in the trades department.

"I've never been traded during the season, so I can't compare [what it's like to being traded during the summer]," pointed out the five-time NHL All-Star, two-time NHL Hardest Shot winner, and two-time Olympic gold medallist, who prior to June 29 had spent his entire pro career with the Preds. "I'm just adjusting as quickly as I can to my new team and teammates."

And while that adjustment period has gone smoothly in Montreal -- Weber leads the Habs in power play goals with eight, and is averaging a team best 26:02 of ice time per night -- the 6-foot-4 rearguard has not exactly been forgotten in Nashville just yet, either.

Video: MTL@TBL: Weber buries one-timer for pretty PPG

In fact, the texts from excited former teammates have been lighting up his cell phone for about a week now.

"I've had a lot of good times there, for sure," acknowledged Weber, who suited up for 59 playoff games with the Predators. "I made a lot of friends there. I played there for a long time, and those friendships endure even now -- we still stay in touch. But at the same time, we'll have no friends out there tomorrow. We want to win the game, hopefully more than they do."

And not just for personal redemption.

Heading into the final leg of a seven-game stretch on the road, Tuesday's first tilt of 2017 will also be a good test for a team which has resolved to play better away from the Bell Centre.

Through 37 games this season, the Habs are 15-3-2 at home -- second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins in that category -- but just 7-6-4 on the road.

"It's a big trip for us. Just like our last three outings, we're trying to improve our road game," underlined Weber, who has a goal and an assist in the three games since Christmas. "I thought we did some really good things on our last trip, and we'll try to expand on that on this one."

If fans, however, were instead looking forward to a first meeting between the Sicamous, BC native and former Hab P.K. Subban, for whom he was dealt, Weber insists his game hasn't -- and won't -- change, regardless of his Nashville counterpart's status.

"Tomorrow's a game against the Nashville Predators -- it doesn't matter who's playing. They're a very good team, and when they're playing the way they can, they're hard to beat," concluded the 232-pound D-man. "So we've got to make sure that we're on our game and get the two points."

"In the end, it's another game, just like any other night in that sense. We want to win."

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