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Santini, Olivier Excited for Opportunity, Hope to Make Impact with Preds

Defenseman, Forward Ready to Help Predators Snap Losing Skid

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

The Predators are looking for changes in their on-ice results, and over the past 48 hours, they've made some moves with that mind.

After forward Miikka Salomaki was reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday, the Preds recalled forward Mathieu Olivier and defenseman Steven Santini on Monday as Nashville tries to end a four-game losing skid when they host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Santini is a veteran of 114 NHL games - all with New Jersey - and it's the first time he's joined the Predators in the regular season since he was acquired by the team last June from the Devils. Never drafted, Olivier's recall is the first of his career, and the Preds are hoping both players can make an impact as they look to change their fortunes.

"Both guys got recalled because they're playing extremely well [in Milwaukee]," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said following Monday's practice. "We're just looking to make a change in the direction that this team is moving, so you get a couple guys that are on top of their game inside of their roles and we're going…to move players in and out.

"Both guys are playing a physical game right now, but Olivier also was on a checking line playing against other teams' top players. He also was first up on the penalty kill, and Santini the same thing. They're filling a lot of roles for their team down there, and they're playing extremely well, so we'll get a chance to take a look at them."

Video: Coach Laviolette talks recalls of Santini, Olivier

Santini is second overall in the entire AHL with a +11 rating and has five assists in 17 games with Milwaukee. Olivier has two goals, seven points and 37 penalty minutes in 17 outings with the Admirals, and as Laviolette mentioned, both players have the capability to add a physical element to the Nashville lineup, among other intangibles.

In the case of Santini, whose wife and young son have been residing in Nashville during the season, he's excited to be back with his family, first and foremost. But the 24-year-old blueliner has also impressed with the Ads playing a shutdown defensive role while helping Milwaukee to a seven-game win streak.

"For me, it's playing my game and playing within myself, finding ways to help the team win games," Santini said. "Maybe at first [playing within the on-ice system] was a little bit of an adjustment for me, but [Admirals Head] Coach [Karl] Taylor, [Assistant] Coach [Scott] Ford, and [Assistant] Coach [Greg] Rallo all did a really good job, and [Admirals General Manager] Scott Nichol helped me get acclimated to that team and being away from my family for a little bit. They just helped me find my game, helped me be consistent and play hard. They just helped me get back to playing my game and just playing within myself."

Video: Steven Santini excited to be back in Nashville.

Olivier was in Chicago with the Admirals as they were headed to Iowa for a game when Nichol called him and told him the good news. As soon as he hung up, he phoned his parents, sister and girlfriend to spread the word, and the 22-year-old forward was beaming from ear to ear following Monday's practice in Nashville.

"It's probably the best feeling I've ever had," Olivier said. "It's been a long road coming, and I'm just happy that everything worked out. Now, I get the opportunity, so I'm going to make the most of it."

Olivier didn't arrive in Nashville until Monday morning shortly before he practiced with the Preds, so he hadn't had much time to sit down with Laviolette or the rest of the coaching staff to discuss what they might be looking for from him, but he has a hunch.

"From what I can tell, it's just going to be to take the game that I was playing down there and translate it here," Olivier said. "Our line down there, me, Tanner Jeannot and Josh Wilkins, we were doing a really good job on keeping the pucks down low and cycling, grinding teams down and wearing teams down. And after that, [we were scoring] goals [in front of the net] and I think that was our M.O. So, if they call me up here, that's what they want from me, and I'm not going to change that."

Video: Mathieu Olivier excited to join Preds for first time.

The team Santini and Olivier are coming from in Milwaukee has won seven-straight contests. It's a different story in Nashville where the Preds have just one victory in their last seven outings. While they've never experienced something like this with the Predators before, Santini and Olivier have certainly been through it over the course of their respective careers, and the new guys know what it takes to snap out of a slump such as this.

Now, they're hoping to be part of the solution.

"When you get into a situation like that, you just have to go back to the basics and play a simple game, play a type of game that I play," Olivier said. "I'm just going to try to bring that to the team and hope for a win in tomorrow's game against Winnipeg."

"Throughout an 82-game season you're going to have ups and downs," Santini said. "It's part of it. But you've just got to get back to the basics, the foundation of what makes us a good team here. We've got a lot of good players here. We got the message today, and guys will be ready to go tomorrow."

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