Don’t expect to see Shea Weber tonight for the Predators. The Nashville captain suffered a concussion a week ago against Dallas. Mark Fistric leveled Weber with what the Predators thought was a dirty hit. They sent replays to the league for review, but unlike most times teams have complained this year, discipline czar Brendan Shanahan did not find enough for a suspension on the hit. The league said the replays were not conclusive enough in showing Fistric leaving his feet and hitting Weber in the head. With fellow defenseman Kevin Klein on the injured list, the Predators have three rookies on defense: Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis who made his NHL debut Wednesday. Ryan Suter may play 30 minutes tonight.
The loss of Weber for any amount of time is significant. Without him Wednesday, the Predators were able to eke out a 2-1 shootout win, but it was over the Minnesota Wild, possibly the team struggling the most in the Western Conference right now. Weber leads the Predators in scoring with eight goals and 21 assists. Center Craig Smith is four points behind with four fewer assists. Only David Legwand is in double digits in goal scoring with his 10 on the season. The Predators are good at accumulating those secondary assists. Without scoring a ton of goals, six players have at least 22 points or more on the season.
I think it’s easy to take Nashville for granted. You look at the roster and the number of players with any name recognition is a small one. Most fans know the greasy looking Martin Erat and the shit disturber Jordin Tootoo. Literally half the roster is made up of players I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before. And I write a cover story about these chumps from the Music City three times a year. I don’t blame the Predators for having a boring looking roster. The times they’ve gone out and gotten name players such as Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg, it’s blown up on them. They’re much more content to vie for the playoffs with a coach who looks like Danny Devito, a bunch of guys who can’t score and good goaltending.
Netminder Pekka Rinne is first among NHL goaltenders in games played, second in minutes and consequently third in wins. His save percentage sits at 91.8 percent, 14th in the league, while he’s allowing a less than average 2.64 goals a game, 26th in the league.
Expect Jaroslav Halak in net tonight and Brian Elliott back in the pipes in Detroit on Saturday. The Blues scored two power play goals Tuesday! With results like that, I almost want to do the power play dance. Almost.
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