Mike Ribeiro and James Neal excited to play together again
Two of the newest Predators have played on the same team before, but haven't played together as much as you might think.
Since Mike Ribeiro signed with the Predators in July, much of the media talk has been about how he'll get to reunite with James Neal, and the two will try to rekindle some of the chemistry they might have had in Dallas.
The problem with that logic, is from 2008 (Neal's rookie year) to 2011 (the year he was traded to Pittsburgh) the two only played about 373 5v5 minutes together. Total. About 124 minutes a year. To put that in perspective, Filip Forsberg played 122 5v5 minutes for Nashville, and he only appeared in 13 games. So it's not a lot of time.
They also didn't produce exceptional numbers together, seeing better results away from each other than with each other. They've combined for 5 goals, 8 assists, and 13 5v5 points.
Still, it's not nothing. Especially when you're coming to a brand new city with a team in the thralls of an organizational overhaul, it's nice to actually have a history with someone.
"It's definitely a familiar face and a guy that you know his tendencies and you know what he does and how he plays," Neal said. "That helps a lot. We've had a good chance to get together in the skates and I think we'll be fine come camp.
Ribeiro was on a similar wavelength.
"Well, obviously we'll be a little more comfortable with knowing each other," Ribeiro said. "Even though we didn't play a lot of games we still played together, same team."
Ribeiro also mentioned something many of you might be thinking: Neal isn't a rookie anymore, and has had a chance to work on his game and get better.
"Obviously he's more mature than he was a few years ago. I'm sure he likes different things now, but I'll be able to talk to him and just practice with him will be easier. Now that I've played with him before it will be easier to know what he likes and what he doesn't like"
They've been on the ice a few times already, but the two will really have a chance to get reacquainted this week. They are expected to be on the top line when the season starts, and head coach Peter Laviolette has himself confirmed they will be paired together in camp. However, Laviolette also said things could change on a moments notice.
"I'm going to go into camp and I've got things on my mind and I know some of them aren't going to work out," said Laviolette. "I know that I'll change things for sure, and we'll try different things and those things might not work out. But eventually we'll hope to find the chemistry and who fits with who and where does that piece seem to go."
Hopefully Neal and Ribeiro are some of the pieces that go together. The mentality of knowing who you're going to be skating with could be a good foundation to build off of, even if history and stats aren't necessarily in agreement.