Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Nashville Predators

Preds Practice Ponderings: Oct. 11

One Day Later, Samuel Girard Reflects on his NHL Debut

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Typically, the Predators starting goaltender - either Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros - will lead the team onto the ice for warm-ups.

Neither of the puck stoppers assumed that role on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Rather, the honor was reserved for a soft-spoken, 19-year-old from Quebec, about to make his NHL debut.

Indeed, Samuel Girard leapt from the entryway to the frozen sheet and took a couple solo laps, much to the enjoyment of his teammates, before they joined the rookie defenseman.

From there, it was business as usual, almost as if he had done it more than a few times in the top League in the world. But Girard, Nashville's second-round pick in 2016, already has that much skill, that much poise, that much confidence in his abilities.

Sure, mistakes were made and there are lessons to learn - but one assist in 18:52 of ice time in a 6-5 win over Philadelphia is a fine place to start.

"I grew up watching the NHL games and I was there yesterday, so it was kind of weird to be there and to play against those guys," Girard said the day after. "But when I'm on the ice, I think about nothing, I only think about hockey. It was a great feeling to be there on ice with those guys and to perform with them and have the two points. I feel great."

Mattias Ekholm, who was paired up alongside Girard on the blue line, was impressed with the rookie's efforts throughout the evening. Ekholm, who has a younger brother just a year older than Girard, said it was hard to fathom Girard is only 19. He sure didn't play like it.

"I thought the main key with him was that he actually talks out there," Ekholm said. "For a young guy, he's very mature. I think a good defenseman shows what he's capable of when you see that he talks. Usually when they talk, they understand the system and they know what to do, and he can even tell me where to go. I thought we had a good partnership and he had a really good game."

Girard had seven family members in town for his debut, and after not seeing them over the past month, the reason that brought them back together couldn't have been better.

"They were very happy to be here with me, to live this moment with me," Girard said of his family. "To be there and to see me after the game… it was a great moment for me and my family yesterday."

Video: Predators rally to beat Flyers in home opener

Clear as Mud:

Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said after Tuesday's dramatic, back-and-forth, 6-5 win he was a bit confused.

From being up 3-0, then down 5-3 and ultimately walking away with two points, it wasn't exactly how he and his staff had drawn it up.

So, were the ins-and-outs of the game any clearer 12 hours later? Well, not necessarily. There was the good, the bad and the ugly from throughout the evening to dissect, but one thing Laviolette is certain of after his club's first win of the season is that it can only help leading into Thursday's outing against Dallas.

"There was a different range of emotions that went through the game, but in the end, it was a good come-from-behind win for us," Laviolette said. "Our guys didn't stop competing and didn't stop working and we found a way to win a game… I don't know if what we watched today was exactly good from start to finish, but if you left the building last night, you probably felt pretty good."

View More