It has to be a little strange when you play against your old team and teammates for the first time. Well, that’s the task at hand for Ryan Suter tonight, as the Minnesota Wild hosts the Nashville Predators at Xcel Energy Center.
Suter, who played the first seven years of his NHL career in Nashville, will be up against guys that he’s known for a majority of his adult life, teammates that he’s gone to battle alongside and friends that he’s shared road trips and team meals with.
Is playing against your former team like running into an ex at the grocery store? “Hey, you’re looking well, how’s it going?” It’s hard to say, but Suter acknowledged that it will be difficult to play them and is glad he’s getting it out of the way early in the season.
“(It will be) tough to play against them, but it’s part of professional sports,” Suter said. He also joked that he’d try not to make a pass to anyone in a Nashville sweater when he saw it.
If there is any awkwardness, it will probably only last through warm ups when he glances at the other side of the red line and sees his longtime defensive partner Shea Weber go back to retrieve a puck. Once the game is going and the adrenaline is pumping, it should be easy to rally against the visitors, especially when they are trying to run Suter into the boards or beat him on a one-on-one.
One advantage that the blueliner may have: Knowing Nashville’s tendencies, especially the forwards. When you practice against someone for a long time, you tend to learn what they like to do with the puck, and he can use that knowledge as an advantage.
Niklas Backstrom will return to the net, as Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said that he’d like to get both goaltenders in a rhythm early on in the season. WildTV will have Yeo’s media scrum up shortly.
Matt Kassian and Matt Dumba are tonight’s healthy scratches.
After the game, “Becoming Wild,” presented by Toyota, returns to FOX Sports North. The episode will visit defenseman Tom Gilbert in Madison, Wis.