Tonight the Preds go head-to-head against the Colorado Avalanche for the 2009-2010 home opener. While the players physically feel prepared, they are looking to the people of Smashville to get them through the game.
“It is so exciting to see all the fans when we enter and then yelling for us when we are playing,” forward Patric Hornqvist
starts to explain. “It is like an extra player out there.”
Much of the team voiced similar thoughts today when asked about the excitement and the effect of the crowd in the home opener.
“We have some great fans here. I remember Home Openers in the past and just how loud it was; deafening at times, it’s just a lot of fun to play,” Jerred Smithson added. “It’s been a long summer and to come home and get back playing in front of our fans and just how passionate and loud they are gives us so much energy. It’s tough not to get excited for these games.”
Starting man in goal for tonight’s game, Dan Ellis, is also very excited to be in front of a home crowd. “This is the first chance to play in front of the fans, the first chance to try to impress them, the first chance to show them what our new team is all about. Tonight will be a great game for us.”
However he does not want to come into this game underestimating Colorado, “They are an under rated team. They are a team much like us; they have brought a lot of youth in and that gives a little more spunk. They are off to a great start, they have great goaltending and their top line is kicking real well right now. So we have to come in playing Predators hockey right from the start.”
Tonight holds even more meaning for Ben Guite. Not only is this his first chance to wear a Preds jersey on home ice, but it's Guite's first chance to face his old mates. Prior to this season Guite had been a part of the Avalanche organization. He was signed as a free agent this summer by Nashville, a move Head Coach Barry Trotz is very excited about.
“He is a heart and soul (player)," Trotz said. "He gives you everything he’s got every moment he is at the rink. He’s been a really good add for us. He works at his game; he’s hard to play against. He is a guy that doesn’t quit on anything.”
Due to injuries the Preds will be skating without a few of their key players in tonight’s home opener. J.P. Dumont will not dress tonight after a hard hit into the boards that occurred during Saturday’s game in Dallas. Jordin Tootoo
has also not resumed skating after suffering a hip flexor injury leading into regular season. Colin Wilson
has just returned to skating but is not ready to return to game action.
Joel Ward did skate with the full squad again today, but will likely be a game time decision for tonight. Coach Trotz stressed the long-term benefits of making sure Ward is 100% over the short-term benefits of rushing him back into the lineup.