As the Nashville Predators are preparing for the finale of their three-game set in California, a contest that will all but single handedly determine the overall success of the trip, they're dealing with an unfortunate byproduct of the game.
With Vernon Fiddler suffering an upper-body injury, Ryan Ellis reaggravating his lower-body injury and Mattias Ekholm absent from Friday's practice as well, the Preds lineup for Saturday afternoon is in flux.
"It's always challenging with the lineup moving around a little bit," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said at Solar4America Ice at San Jose on Friday. "But it's nothing too out of the ordinary, just because it doesn't happen on a daily basis. Just with the level of physicality of the game, things are happening all the time."
On Friday, Fiddler joined the Preds on the ice for the first time since leaving Tuesday's contest early. The veteran forward joined Colton Sissons at center between Cody McLeod and Austin Watson.
In addition to the possible return of Fiddler, Nashville could see the debut of a piece on offense they've been waiting to utilize since March 1. P.A. Parenteau, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils at the NHL Trade Deadline, has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since the start of the month. But after skating with the team again at the Sharks' practice rink, Parenteau didn't rule out a possible debut on Saturday.
"It's tough. Usually you want to show what you can do right away, but I haven't been able to do that," Parenteau said of being forced to wait on playing for the Preds. "Maybe tomorrow, we'll see. We're talking about that today."
Acclimation to Nashville hasn't been ordinary for Parenteau - even as player who is on his sixth team (Avalanche, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Islanders, Devils and Preds) in four years. If there's a positive to the nomad lifestyle he's adopted, it's that he was greeted by a few familiar faces when he first joined the Preds in Montreal on March 2.
"It definitely helps," Parenteau, who's previously played with Fiddler (2016-17), McLeod (2012-14) and P.K. Subban (2014-15), said. "With all the new teammates and faces it's good to know a few guys that can help you the first few days here. They have a good group of guys here, so I'm looking forward to my first game with them."
"He's a good player." Subban said of Parenteau. "He's able to contribute in big games, and he has great offensive instincts. He's gifted offensively. He's always been a guy that can put up numbers in his career. I expect nothing less. I've seen him excel when he's put with the right players. We're definitely going to need him down the stretch."
If Parenteau suits up for the Preds on Saturday afternoon, he'll be slotting into a lineup that despite not trailing on their current road trip, has settled for a single point in a shootout loss in Anaheim and an overtime defeat in Los Angeles. Two points in San Jose would alter the entire narrative of the trip, however.
"I'm looking forward to playoffs; we still have a long ways to go," Parenteau said. "We have to start winning games again. I'm looking forward to helping them do that.
"[This team has] a lot of talent. A great D corps. I haven't had a chance in my career to play with that good of a D corps, so I'm looking forward to getting on the ice with them."
"The guys know that, they know how important the points are," Laviolette said. "We leave a road trip, playing tough teams and at this time of year, to get four out of six points would be huge."