The Nashville Predators got their second consecutive home preseason win on Tuesday night, this time victimizing the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 2-1 score. However, the Predators lost Viktor Stalberg to an upper-body injury that will keep him out the rest of the preseason. Pekka Rinne made his second consecutive start and goals by Simon Moser and Kevin Klein led the way for the Predators against Anders Lindback and the Lightning.
New Predators forward Matt Hendricks also made his presence known to the team by getting in a fight for the second straight game, this time against B.J. Crombeen. He fought against Matt Carkner of the New York Islanders on Sunday. Hendricks is sending an early message that he’s going to be a physical player for the Predators, even if it is just the preseason.
“I think it’s important,” Hendricks said. “I want to come out and I want the coaches, the organization but more importantly, my teammates to know what I’m here to do. That I’ve got their back. That I’m going to do whatever I can to help win hockey games, and I want to be relied on. That’s kind of what the preseason is all about.”
Hendricks is a new member to a Predators team that is very focused on a return to their identity this season after not having one at all last season. He seems to be the embodiment of the type of style the Predators want to play. He’s a hard player to play against, and he doesn’t take shifts off. Hendricks is using the preseason to try and maximize his role on this year’s team.
“I think I’ve established myself in this league where I’m not necessarily fighting for a roster spot. I’m fighting for ice time. I’m fighting for opportunity. When it comes to a roster spot, I don’t believe I’m fighting for that, but I’m fighting for my teammates and I want them to believe in me and trust me. I think that’s the biggest thing about this time of year,” Hendricks said.
So far, Hendricks has done a good job of fighting for that opportunity. He was signed by the Predators to be that tough, gritty player that opposing teams hate to play against, and he also brings a valuable skill set to the table in the shootout. There’s no question that Hendricks is going to have a role on this Predators team. The only question is how big is that role going to be?
If the last two preseason games at home are any indication, Hendricks is going to bring a lot of energy to the Predators both on the ice and in the locker room. He seems to have a passion for playing for the Predators. After all, Nashville is the team that drafted him 131st overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Even though it was only the preseason, Hendricks was very excited to finally appear in a home sweater in front of the home-town crowd for two games.
“It felt great to put that jersey on,” Hendricks said. “That’s for sure. It’s been a long time, about 13 years since they drafted me, but it felt great. I know my dad can take out all that old gear that he bought back in 2000, so he’s happy too.”