The Predators were split into two practice groups at Training Camp today; the first group took morning skate at Sommet Center and will play in tonight's preseason opener vs. Atlanta, while the second group -- comprised of the players not participating in tonight's game -- went through drills at Centennial Sportsplex. Many of the players in the second group are likely to play in tomorrow night's preseason game at Carolina.
After spending much of the week running drills, the players are excited to see a different color jersey on the other end of the ice. Defensemen Shea Weber
is eager to face an opponent that isn’t wearing a Predators’ jersey. ”It will be nice, it’s just not quite the same playing your team. You don’t want to beat up on your teammates to much, so it will be good to get out their and get that competitive edge back and try to get into season form.”
Dan Ellis, who will be starting in goal for tonight’s game is also ready to add that “competitive edge” back in to the game. He stated that there was competition in yesterday’s intra-squad scrimmage but once you start to play against players from another team it ramps up the competition along with the intensity.
After a few days at camp and two rookie games against the Atlanta Thrahers, seven of the rookies have now joined the main camp. Of these players Ryan Ellis
, Nick Spaling
, and Colin Wilson
will see time on the ice tonight. Spaling and Wilson each had three points in the two rookie games earlier this week against Atlanta.
Wilson, the first round pick for Nashville in the 2008 draft, acknowledged that at this point any nerves heading into tonight’s game would only make him over think things. Having played in both rookie games has given Wilson a confidence boost. The experience also helped to prepare him for tonight’s game.
”Normally I would be very nervous coming into this game but having played there, those two games, and then the scrimmage yesterday, it really helped build up the confidence and let me know I can play,” Wilson admitted.
Wilson knows the coaches are planning on skating him on a skilled line tonight, but also recognizes that he is still battling for the position. “I’m playing with two really skilled guys right now, (Patric) Hornqvist and (Ben) Eaves, and I think they are trying to find where I fit in and if I will fit in on the team so it’s a great test right now.”
The puck will drop at 7 pm at the Sommet Center as the Predators face the Thrashers in the first of six preseason games.
Dan Ellis is confident in the team the Preds are icing in front of him tonight, “Our team looks great tonight. We are putting out a good squad for our first exhibition. We have our top line out there; those guys have been really been clicking during training camp. And we have our top D paring (Ryan Suter
and Shea Weber
). So I think we are coming out there with a good group.”