Grebeshkov makes Preds debut vs. old Oilers mates
Tuesday, 03.02.2010 / 7:00 PMOILERS (19-36-6) at PREDATORS (33-23-5)
Edmonton 3-7-0; Nashville 4-4-2
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these teams, with the road team coming out victorious in each of the first three matchups. Patric Hornqvist
leads all scorers with three goals. A different goaltender has recorded the win in each game (Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers for the Oilers; Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne
for the Predators).
Nashville made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four consecutive seasons from 2004-08 before missing out last season. Determined to get back, the Predators made a move to shore up their blue line Monday by acquiring Denis Grebeshkov from -- guess who? -- the same Edmonton squad they will face Tuesday night. Nashville resumes play seventh in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of ninth-place Calgary.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Edmonton swung another deal or two before the 3 p.m. trade deadline on Wednesday -- the Oilers are last overall in the League standings and it's time to start thinking about next season. In return for Grebeshkov, who had six goals and 19 points in 47 games this season, they received a second-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.
"We're wishing Denis well," coach Pat Quinn said after practice Monday. "He was fun to work with, he was open-minded, and certainly a coachable guy. It didn't probably go as well with us as we'd all hoped, but none of us have been that good. So this is a great opportunity for him."
Among the players Nashville welcomes back from the Olympics in Vancouver are two top defensemen who were enemies in Sunday's goal-medal game, Shea Weber
of Canada and Ryan Suter
of the U.S. The Predators stack up well along the blue line, but didn't hesitate when the opportunity to add another good one presented itself.
"I think it stands on its own," assistant GM Paul Fenton told the Tennessean. "We're trying to strengthen our complete team, and to add to the depth of our defense is what our biggest position was. I don't think you can have enough defensemen.
"To get a player like Denis is, he fits right into the kind of guy we're looking for. He transitions the puck, he's a great skater and he's very good defensively. He takes care of all his responsibilities from his own end out. And he adds the dimension of being another really solid top-four defenseman for us. Not a lot of teams can say they have six or seven defensemen that can play in their top four."
Ethan Moreau had two goals and two assists in three games for the Oilers prior to the break. … Jordin Tootoo
has a three-game goal streak for the Predators.
Edmonton forwards Jean-Francois Jacques (back), Sam Gagner
(knee) and Ethan Moreau (neck) are all day-to-day. Defenseman Ladislav Smid
is currently out with a bulging disc in his neck. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
(back), defenseman Sheldon Souray (hand) and forwards Ales Hemsky
(shoulder) and Ryan Stone (knee) are all on injured reserve.
Nashville hopes to have defenseman Cody Franson back in the lineup from a broken rib. Forward Jerred Smithson
(foot) also expects to play Tuesday.
Weber led Canadian defenseman in Vancouver with two goals and tied Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith with six points. He also had a plus-4 rating in seven games. Suter had four assists and led Team USA with a plus-9 rating in six games.
Nashville gets a new D-man and Grebeshkov gains 27 points in the standings by moving from the Oilers to the Predators. But a playoff spot is far from a certainty unless this season's resurgence in the Music City continues.