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Preds Practice Ponderings: Oct. 3

Nashville Sets Opening Night Roster; Watson and Teammates Donate Suits for Good Cause

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

It wasn't perfect, but nothing at this time of the year ever really is.

Of course, the Predators would have preferred a different outcome as they concluded their preseason schedule with losses to Columbus (4-3, SO) and Tampa Bay (3-2, OT), but there was still plenty that was learned about the group and each other.

So, when the 2017-18 regular season begins for the Preds on Thursday night in Boston, they'll put their newly acquired knowledge to the test in the form of power plays and penalty kills, forechecks and zone coverages, all with the goal of starting out with a single victory.

"[We just want to make] sure that we're ready," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "Wanting to make sure that specialty teams are dialed in, that we're comfortable going into Boston with our systems, and from there, you want to get off to a good start and a good October."

Two days of practice before the opener - one completed Tuesday, the other scheduled for Wednesday before the flight to Massachusetts - are utilized to make those final preparations in the areas that need work while also fine tuning those that are all but set.

What exactly is top of mind before Thursday evening rolls around? For one, rest was a leading topic, recharging after the grueling training camp schedule necessary to get back into game shape. There's also chemistry - new linemates or defensive partners for some, completely new teammates for others.

And as blueliner Mattias Ekholm admitted, everyone has had Oct. 5 circled for quite some time now.

"At this point, your focus is on opening night," Ekholm said. "Everything that happens [in training camp and preseason] is just a process. I'm not saying we don't take it seriously, because we do, but I think everyone's mindset is set on when it actually matters, when points are going to be at stake. Everyone has done their fair work of skating and then getting in shape here in camp, and we're just looking forward to going to Boston."

Rosters Set:

As is mandated by the NHL, the Predators had to arrive at their opening night roster by 4 p.m. CT on Tuesday, and the final decisions have been made.

Most notable is 19-year-old defenseman Samuel Girard, who made the team after making quite an impression on the Nashville coaching staff over the past few weeks.

Forwards Vladislav Kamenev and Frederick Gaudreau were assigned to Milwaukee of the AHL on Tuesday, while defenseman Ryan Ellis and center Nick Bonino were designated to the non-roster list, leaving Nashville's current roster at 22 players overall (12 forwards, eight defensemen, two goaltenders).

Making A Difference:

As players entered Centennial Sportsplex ahead of Tuesday's practice, many came with suits, shirts and ties in tow - not for their own purposes, but to make a difference in their community.

Led by the charge of forward Austin Watson, Preds players and hockey operations staff donated a total of 39 suits, 24 dress shirts and 46 ties - plus shoes and other items - all for donation to local organizations who help those in need. Predators staff also pitched in by making donations during the work day at Bridgestone Arena.

The clothing will go to organizers at Room In The Inn, Monroe Harding, Dismas House, Oasis Center, Project Return and the Nashville Rescue Mission, who will then distribute to those who can't afford to buy a suit and tie for a job interview.

"For the guys to jump on board and gather their stuff up, it's pretty awesome for us to be able to do that," Watson said. "There's a lot of bad things going on in the world, and we, as an organization, have always tried to do a good job with just being a positive influence in the community. Just continuing to do that every year is what we want to do."

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