Professional hockey players don't forget how to skate over the summer, but when you haven't played in a game setting in four-plus months, a quick scrimmage is a welcome addition to the itinerary.
The Predators hosted a Blue & Gold Scrimmage on Sunday afternoon at Ford Ice Center Antioch, a contest that ended in a 2-2 tie. While no one could claim victory, it was the perfect opportunity to get back into the game.
"It's the first time a lot of guys have seen that situation," Preds forward Colin Blackwell said. "You get the fundamentals down, all the systems as we get into this exhibition and preseason coming up this week. It's definitely important, and it was good to get the cobwebs out."
Defenseman Frederic Allard and forward Eeli Tolvanen tallied for Team Blue, while forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Adam Smith were responsible for Team Gold's markers. Tolvanen and Grimaldi scored on breakaways, and Juuse Saros was perfect in his half of the scrimmage for Team Blue.
Saros, Connor Ingram, Troy Grosenick and Ken Appleby each had solid showings in net for the Preds; each of them took one of the two 25-minute halves for their respective sides.
Video: Irwin, Blackwell prepare for preseason
"It's important in the process during training camp to get used to the speed, handing pucks under pressure, finding guys that are open and making good decisions," Preds defenseman Matt Irwin said. "It all translates into when we play another team tomorrow."
As Irwin alluded to, Sunday's scrimmage was an ideal tune-up for Monday's preseason doubleheader at Bridgestone Arena when the Preds host the Florida Panthers at 3:30 and 7 p.m. CT, the first action for either club on the preseason slate.
So, what does a player look for in his first preseason action - both from an individual standpoint, and then from a team perspective?
"For myself, it's just keep getting better," Irwin said. "Executing plays while you're moving, realizing your first option is usually the good option, things like that, just getting back into game speed, game pace, be physical when it's important to and necessary.
"As a team, I think it's just important to work as a team, work as a group and execute our systems that we've been taught. I think communication will go a long way. We can improve on our communication as a group of five, and it just makes it a lot easier when the game is going fast and we're all playing our first and second games of the season right now."