As the Nashville Predators travel to Florida to face the Panthers for a preseason doubleheader today, there won't be any points at stake, no chances to move up or down in the standings.
However, an exhibition game certainly doesn't lack importance to those directly involved. It means plenty for a player trying to prove his worth to the organization, and just as much to the coach tasked with helping to make that final decision.
When the Preds take the ice at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. (CT) at the BB&T Center - which can be heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network - don't expect the level of urgency to drop considerably from that of a regular-season contest.
Video: Peter Laviolette discusses preseason hockey
"A real exhibition game against another team is going to be a lot of fun," defenseman Matt Irwin said. "The tempo is going to be fast, there's going to be some hard hits and quick puck movements, so I think we're ready in here. Everyone's getting really excited for that."
Players like Irwin and forward Cody Bass can utilize the preseason opportunities to not only show management how they may have improved their game over the summer, but the competition also provides a chance for the individual player to get back in the feel of game action.
Video: Cody Bass talks about returning to the Preds
"I'm just going to play my game, do what I do," Bass said. "I'm here for a certain role. I have to skate, play with speed, play with attitude and do everything the organization wants me to do, and also do what brought me success last year to help me get here and play in the playoffs. I think everybody here has to bring their game and start the exhibition season off on the right note."
That role Bass alludes to requires some grittiness, and for someone who plays the game with a physical edge, the chance to hit someone other than his own teammates is helpful, too.
"I think if you ask a guy like [forward Michael Liambas], who's one of the harder hitting guys I've played against, I think I'd feel the same way, so it's nice to go out there and hit somebody else," Bass said. "Hopefully we can start this camp on a good note here, go down to Florida and two wins would be nice."
Video: Matt Irwin talks about his start in Nashville
Bass and Irwin of course only have to participate in one of the two outings, but the coaching staff will take their spot behind the bench for both games with the chance to see almost every player on the roster in a game situation just a few days into camp. It's a day that can prove to be extremely beneficial when it comes to evaluating each and every player in a setting other than practice.
"I really like the fact that we do these back-to-back games, afternoon game and evening game, because you get the whole organization involved in an exhibition game to see how they're handling real situations," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "Players are in shape now; they come to camp, they're ready to play, they're in shape, and it's about evaluating their game and seeing where they're at, and the best way to do that is inside an actual game… It forces you to play a good amount of your organization, allows you to really see the depth of your organization."
See the Preds rosters for both contests, right here