Caught up in a whirlwind 24 hours, Nashville Predators forward Patrick Eaves played his first game with his new club tonight, a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Yesterday afternoon, Eaves was a member of the Detroit Red Wings and in the midst of helping push for the club’s 23rd-consecutive trip to the postseason. Dealt to Nashville on the NHL’s trade deadline day, however, and the forward suddenly had a new team, system and mindset to implement.
“I wasn’t sure to be honest with you. I wasn’t sure what could happen that day,” Eaves said. “I ended up getting the news a little after three and I was pretty excited. I made my way down here last night.”
With his new club trailing for the majority of the contest tonight, Eaves was used sparingly against the Blues. Logging just under 7 minutes of ice time, the forward was given brief shifts on both the penalty kill and power play units.
“I want Eaves to help our penalty kill move up the ladder,” Trotz said. “He’s been in Detroit for a little while now, so maybe he can give us some winning mojo. I know he’s a very detailed guy who has a tremendous work ethic. You’re bringing in a element like that to a very young team and that helps.”
Adjusting to a new locker room, linemates and coach is tough for anyone, but doing so without any practice and less than a day to prepare for your first game is even harder.
“There’s a lot of stuff system-wise that you have to get used to and of course you’re playing with new guys too,” Eaves said. “My linemates made it pretty easy for me switching over.”
While his new coach talked primarily about him assisting Nashville’s penalty kill, Eaves had a different answer for what he thinks his biggest contribution can be to the Predators.
“I want to get a lot of shots. I can shoot the puck pretty well, so hopefully I can start putting more pucks on the net,” Eaves said.
A 20-goal scorer in just 58 games his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators, Eaves has more offensive ability than the prototypical “bottom-six” forward.
With so little time spent with the Predators so far, it’s understandable that parts of Eaves’ game still remain a mystery.
“He did a good job on the penalty kill, I like Patrick,” said Trotz. “I’m sure as we get to know each other, I’ll find out he can do more and more. Admittedly, tonight probably wasn’t a very fair evaluation of what he’s going to contribute to our team.”
The third-straight loss for the Predators was another relatively solid performance for the club, but also another game where the team’s offense only managed one goal. The loss now puts the Predators even further out from the final Wild Card spot, as the Dallas Stars extended their lead to eight points over Nashville with a 6-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks.
After getting a practice under his belt on Friday, Eaves is sure to log more minutes in Nashville’s next contest on Saturday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. And he might just get the chance to show off his shot.
“It’s hard coming in and not knowing the system and trying to adjust right away,” Predators defenseman Shea Weber said. “He played well. We’re happy to have him.”