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Preds Practice Ponderings: January 16

Cody McLeod is "Pumped" to Join Team; Preds Joined by Mario on the Road

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

The way Cody McLeod plays the game - that physical, hard-nosed, in-your-face style - can take its toll on the body. But the 32-year-old, now in his third full day as a member of the Nashville Predators, sure isn't feeling the effects at the moment.

A 10-year NHL veteran, McLeod got into a fight and scored a goal in his Predators debut on Saturday, which just so happened to come against his former team in Colorado. All things considered, it couldn't have gone much better.

"It was kind of a crazy couple days there, and all the guys in here were great when I got to meet them before the game," McLeod said. "The icing on the cake was getting that win, especially in Denver. The guys have been great and made it an easy transition."

McLeod reiterated after Monday's practice in Vancouver that he's "pumped" to be a member of the Preds, and he's not the only one.

"He's good at what he does," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of McLeod. "He's a big body that goes up and down the ice, he hits everything that he sees, he goes to the front of the net; the snapshot of what he did the other night is exactly what we thought he might be able to bring to the team. He's happy to be here, we're happy to have him here."

Laviolette gave McLeod more than 10 minutes of ice time on Saturday - a season-high for the winger - including time on the power play as a net-front presence. Going from being a healthy scratch in Colorado as of late to seeing plenty of responsibility with his new club has been a welcome change.

"They're giving me some trust and it's awesome," McLeod said. "I'm re-energized, and I'm pumped to be here. I've just got to make the most of my opportunity. I have nothing but good things to say about Colorado, but it's time for the next chapter."

Not only will McLeod be relied upon for his physicality over the coming weeks and months, but there's another element he brings that some have already noticed in the locker room.

"We're really happy to have his veteran presence in this room and on our club," forward Ryan Johansen said. "It's kind of something that we've been missing since the past summer and moving on from a few of our leaders, so I think he's a great addition for our club."

For McLeod, the game he's played has kept him in the League for 10 years, so why change now?

"I couldn't have come to a better place," McLeod said. "It's a good change of scenery, and I'm pumped to be here and help Nashville try to get in the playoffs."

It's-a-Me, Mario!

When life gave the Nashville Predators lemons, they went out and made a new friend.

The Preds were set to head from Nashville to Colorado on Friday afternoon to begin a five-game road trip, but mechanical problems with the team plane threw a wrench into that itinerary. So what's the best way to kill a couple of hours? Skee-ball and arcade games, obviously.

A number of the Preds made a trip to Dave & Buster's, and 15,000 tickets later, they had an oversized, plush Mario from the classic Super Mario Brothers video games.

"Mario's been very good," defenseman Anthony Bitetto laughed. "Mario's with the boys."

And in the short time he's been an honorary member of the club, he's had no shortage of excitement.

First, he made it to the team plane for the trip - safety first, of course.

Tweet from @PredsNHL: Oil slicks, turtle shells and banana peels can't stop the #Preds from getting to Denver. Picked up a new teammate on the way. #mariopower pic.twitter.com/9F0a46qkgw

Then, after arriving in Denver at 9 a.m. MT for Nashville's 1 p.m. game that afternoon against the Avalanche, Mario had to find his way to Pepsi Center, which he did with flying colors.

Tweet from @PredsNHL: When you fall asleep on the plane and have to Uber to the Arena. Never fear, #mario is here! #NSHvsCOL #Preds #roadtripmascot #loveyouGNASH pic.twitter.com/ka6MxELa2c

"He took an Uber from the plane," Bitetto explained. "He stayed there and we were like, 'we need him.'"

Finally, the good-luck charm hung out in the locker room after the team's 3-2 comeback victory over the Avs…

Tweet from @brooksbratten: Two points. #Preds pic.twitter.com/Sc2LDg1JHF

…and was quickly on his way to Vancouver, his first trip north of the border.

Tweet from @PredsNHL: When you grab bae for a weekend getaway. Vancouver, here we come!#Preds #roadtripmascot pic.twitter.com/hX80nfYI8c

It's only been a couple of days, but he does have an undefeated record so far. How long he'll be around remains to be seen, but for the time being, he's found a home alongside those who couldn't be happier to have him.

"Right now, we've obviously got a good thing going, and more importantly, just have to make sure we keep winning games," forward Harry Zolnierczyk said. "Whether Mario is around for it all, we'll have to wait and see."

Notes:

Preds defenseman P.K. Subban (IR) participated in full during the team's practice on Monday. Coach Laviolette did not have an update on Subban's status, but is encouraged by seeing him on the ice.

"I always say it's good to get guys back out on the ice," Laviolette said. "We just haven't had a lot of practice opportunity in general as a team, so we actually got to go out there and move around, and I think anytime somebody hasn't been with you and they're with you, that's a good thing."

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