Saturday afternoon saw the first game of a double header between the Nashville Predators and the Florida Panthers. Although it was just the third game of the preseason, getting wins at home is a great way to build momentum. The fans at Bridgestone Arena were able to experience their first overtime-shootout win (of the preseason), taking down the Panthers 2-1. While the game didn’t see the same intensity as Thursday night’s against Tampa Bay, it was still a good way to evaluate players as new systems are put into place. One of the new faces trying to find his place in Nashville is Derek Roy.
Roy, who spent last season with the St. Louis Blues, has noted that he spent extra time training in the off season to get ready for the upcoming season. Saturday afternoon was his first game at home in Predators gold.
“Whenever you can play your first game at home and utilize the crowd, get out there and feel the ice is great,” said Roy. “The guys did a good job defensively. We have some minor things to tweak and we’re just trying to get better every day.”
During Saturday afternoon’s game, Roy spent much of his time on the ice with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson. He’s been paired with them for much of camp, and chemistry is beginning to develop with those line-mates.
“We’re getting a lot of chances to know each other,” said Roy. “We like to keep communicating and know where each other is going to be. It’s tough right off the bat to find chemistry, but the more you talk, it gets better.”
While it seems like some of the lines are beginning to come together for Nashville, head coach Peter Laviolette is continuing to evaluate players and how they mesh with their line-mates.
“I thought he had moments where he had the puck and controlled things for us,” said Laviolette on Roy. “It was a tough game to evaluate. It seemed like the pace needed to pushed higher, but I thought he did okay.”
Following Thursday night’s game, Laviolette said that the team has not been able to focus much on special teams. It’s certainly something that will take time to develop, but Roy was able to spend time on the ice during both the power play and the penalty kill.
“We want to make strong plays on the penalty kill and ice the puck,” said Roy. “We had some great goaltending [today] and that’s your best penalty killer. I thought we communicated with getting the puck out of the zone. There are just things we’ll keep working on.”
Roy is one of the many off-season signings that is low risk, high reward. David Poile inked Roy to a one-year, $1.00 million contract over the summer. While with the Buffalo Sabres, Roy tallied 63 or more points in four seasons. It’s yet to be seen how much Roy will contribute to the Predators this season, but pairing the skilled center with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson could prove beneficial for all three players.
Full interview with Derek Roy:
Full presser with Peter Laviolette: