The weekend ahead in Smashville: Time to drop the puck
For citizens of Smashville just waiting around for the summer to draw to a close in order to welcome back hockey season, the time is now. The Predators play their fourth and fifth games of the pre-season Friday and Saturday nights.
Friday night’s game is against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina. But the Predators travel home to play their first pre-season game at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night when the Winnipeg Jets come to town.
Roster spots are open this season and Nashville will be fielding a younger team than usual. With Francis Bouillon still out with a concussion suffered last season, Shane O’Brien signing in Colorado and Cody Franson traded to Toronto, the Predators will be looking for up to three defensemen. Tyler Sloan and Jack Hillen both provide an older presence to the blue line and will be looking to crack opening night roster, but some up and coming rookies are hoping to spoil the party, in particular Teemu Laakso, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.
Roman Josi was also considered a contender for a roster spot on opening night but has yet to play in a preseason game after colliding during a training camp practice with Ellis.
While the battle for the blue line heats up, so does the battle up front. On defense, players are trying to prove they deserve a roster spot, but up front they are trying to prove they deserve to keep their spot. Colin Wilson, benched during the playoffs, has two goals and two assists in two games for the Predators this preseason. After leading the Predators in goal scoring a year ago, Sergei Kostitsyn recorded three assists in his first game of the preseason. All eyes will be on Kostitsyn to see if he can deliver the same performance he did last year. Finally, Niclas Bergfors set up but Nashville goals on Tuesday night. The right wing had a solid rookie campaign with the Devils but then had a rough sophomore slump and is looking for a comeback season.
Game time Saturday night is 7 pm, however festivities get under way at 4:30 with food vendors and merchandise kiosks on the plaza.
If you are looking for Predators gear to wear to the game, the new jerseys are now being sold at Sports Seasons as well as the Predators pro shop at the Arena. Fans who bought a jersey at Sports Seasons this week were treated to two free tickets to an upcoming home game.
When you arrive at 501 Broadway on Saturday, don’t forget that from 4-8 pm, you can give blood for the American Red Cross. If you want to make an appointment before arriving at the game, visit www.givelife.org. An appointment is not necessary, however, to give blood and walk-ins are welcome. All those who donate blood will receive a Donate Blood, Play Hockey t-shirt.
Staff will also be collecting donations for the Alex and Andie Scholarship foundation. If you can’t make it to the game but want to send in a donation you can send all donations here: c/o Avenue Bank, 2930 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203.
The Wade Belak Memorial Charity Drive has slowed down as of late. PuckScene.com‘s Patten Fuqua wrote on his Facebook page that in the last seven days there has only been one donation and that they are still $1,000 away from the goal of donating $3,333 to the Tourette Syndrome Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital.
From the Predators — PARKING NOTES:
Fans who typically take advantage of LP Field’s Lot R should take note that the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge will be closed on Saturday from 3-7 p.m. for Wine on the River. Shuttles will still run roundtrip from Lot R to Bridgestone Arena for $3, but foot traffic across the bridge will be prohibited.