The Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers will kick off the NHL Preseason schedule with a game today at 2 p.m. CDT at the Bank Atlantic Center. They will follow it up with the nightcap of the doubleheader at 6:30 in a very unusual split-squad doubleheader that is rarely seen in hockey these days.
On Sunday, Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz discussed the “Ernie Banks, Let’s play two” concept. “I’ve been a part of doubleheaders but have not coached one. This is more of a split-squad situation which you would see more in baseball.”
“When I was in Washington we did a lot of doubleheaders with the Philadelphia Flyers but we did those later in camp and it was more of a Milwaukee-Hershey type of game, which were the farm teams and then the two big teams played.”
The Predators have a lot of hockey crammed into the first week of the preseason. The team will fly to Florida this morning and return after the second game tonight.
Another group of player will practice on Tuesday morning at Centennial and then fly to Baltimore for a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday with Washington at the First Mariner Center and come back to Nashville after the contest.
The week wraps up with a game in Carolina at the RBC Center Friday night and the first home game at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Predators released the two 20-man rosters for the games in Florida late Sunday. Almost all of the healthy players in camp are making the trip. Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Marty Erat, and Pekka Rinne are the only veteran healthy scratches.
Trotz explained, “I have to save some veteran guys because I don’t want them playing back to back this early because a lot of times you have penalties and the pace picks up with a lot of battles.”
“We’re going to have a young line up in both games. The Florida’s lineups will be a lot older than we will be, which is good. We’re OK with that. It will be really good for evaluation purposes.”
The Predators already have a laundry list of injuries. In addition to Mike Fisher (offseason shoulder surgery) and Francis Bouillon (concussion), Nick Spaling (groin) has yet to participate.
Defensive prospect Roman Josi did not practice on Sunday after a collision with Ryan Ellis on Saturday. Ben Ryan and Brodie Dupont remain sidelined with preseason ailments.
Also not making the trip today is Charles Oliver-Roussel, Brent Andrews, David Elsner, Robert Slaney, and Joel Champagne. All are probable on Tuesday.
Trotz is looking forward to today’s action as well as the challenge of the two games. “It’s hard to separate guys in practice. The litmus test is really the games. That’s where you separate the men from the boys.”