Playing in pain not necessary for one of the newest Predators

Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 11:45pm

There is any number of adjustments Paul Guastad must make now that he’s a member of the Nashville Predators.

One of the first involves dealing with pain.

Gaustad was held out of a 4-3 loss at Carolina on Tuesday, one day after the Predators traded a first-round draft pick to Buffalo in order to get him. The veteran center said it was “a little bit of a nagging thing” that led the team’s medical staff to sit him even though he had played three times in four days a week earlier for the Sabres.

“In Buffalo, we were trying to get every point that was possible, so I had to play through some things,” he said. “Here they gave me the opportunity to rest a little bit and I think it will help me in the long run.”

He added that he expects to be in the lineup Saturday when Nashville plays at Florida (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). If he does, it will be his first game action in a week.

“I think he’s ready to go,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I talked to him [Thursday] morning and he said he felt pretty good. Unless something changes between now and then I expect him to be in there on Saturday.”

The Predators expect Gaustad to be a force on faceoffs and to be a key defensive performer over the final 18 games of the regular season and however long a playoff run they can muster.

That’s really nothing different than he did in nearly seven full seasons with the Sabres. The adjustment comes in that he is not as familiar with many of the opposing centers or teams in the Western Conference given that — up until now — he has played his entire NHL career with Buffalo, which currently is 12th in the Eastern Conference standings and looks unlikely to make the playoffs.

“It’s going to be a little more studying on my behalf to watch the centermen, to watch the systems and as quickly and as well as possible acclimate to it,” he said. “I’m going to try to acclimate myself to the system and work hard at that. I know it’s going to take a little patience and time, but hopefully I fit in.”

Already he knows that if he is not at his best physically, he can expect to sit out.

“It was tough. I wanted to play [Tuesday],” Gaustad said. “I definitely did, and I told them that. But we also discussed trying to be smart and the long-term of it. They were really good about it.

“So I think it was the smart thing to do to sit that game out just to let my injuries rest a little bit.”