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Posted On Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 2:20 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Fisher, Bouillon make season debuts for Preds

NASHVILLE -- Center Mike Fisher and defenseman Francis Bouillon will make their season debuts on Tuesday for the struggling Nashville Predators when they host the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena.

Both players have missed the first seven games of the season, as the Preds have gone 1-2-1 since winning their first two games. Nashville is coming off a three-game Western Canadian road trip in which it scored four goals.

Fisher, who was acquired in February from Ottawa for a couple of high-round draft picks, underwent a procedure on his shoulder during the offseason. He had 3 goals and 4 assists in 12 playoff games and 5 goals and 12 assists in 27 games during the regular season after coming over the from the Senators, as Nashville's management credited his performance with helping to get the team into the postseason.

He has been skating since August but was only recently cleared for contact. Nashville coach Barry Trotz said that Fisher would skate on a line with rookie Craig Smith, who also plays center, and that Smith would take some of the faceoffs to take pressure off Fisher.

"I'm feeling good and cleared to play, pretty excited," Fisher said. "It's been a long time. Yeah, it's good to be back …
I feel, conditioning-wise, ready and strong and should be good to go."

Bouillon has been sidelined much longer with a concussion. He last played on Jan. 16 at Chicago, missing the final 44 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. He is likely to start out on Nashville's third defense pair with either Jack Hillen or Teemu Laakso.

"I don't want to start talking today about what's going to happen if I get hit and stuff like that, I just got to put them (negative thoughts) aside and to play my game," Bouillon said.

Trotz said the players should give Nashville, one of the League's youngest teams, a "comfort feeling" in the locker room.

"We could use their experience because we are young and a little bit fragile right now, so hopefully they'll be stabilizing factors," Trotz said.

San Jose coach Todd McLellan did not disclose any lineup changes prior to the game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 2:16 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Sharks, Predators

Here are the projected lines for tonight's game between the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Benn Ferriero
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Andrew Murray
 
Douglas Murray - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Jim Vandermeer - Justin Braun
 
Antti Niemi is expected to get the start in goal with Thomas Greiss serving as his backup.

PREDATORS

Sergei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Colin Wilson
Mike Fisher - Craig Smith - Patric Hornqvist
Jordin Tootoo - Jerred Smithson - Nick Spaling
Brian McGrattan - Blake Geoffrion - Matt Halischuk
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Kevin Klein - Jonathon Blum
Francis Bouillon - Teemu Laakso / Jack Hillen
 
Pekka Rinne is expected to get the start in goal with Anders Lindback serving as his backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:54 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Erat, Hornqvist to miss Nashville's home opener

The Predators placed veteran forward Martin Erat on injured reserve Thursday retroactive to Oct. 8. In addition, right wing Patric Hornqvist also will be out for Nashville's home opener Thursday with Phoenix, meaning Niclas Bergfors and Brian McGrattan will make their debuts for the organization.

Erat has an upper-body injury, while Hornqvist, a 30-goal scorer in 2009-10, has a lower-body injury.

A member of the NHL All-Rookie team in 2009-10, the Preds are Bergfors' fourth team since February 2010. He was a healthy scratch for Nashville's first two games -- both wins on the road, against Columbus and St. Louis -- but is a former 20-goal scorer.

"Bergfors is coming into the lineup and he'll probably play with Sergei Kostitsyn," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the line centered by Nick Spaling. "… I think he's a little bit like Sergei (in 2010-11), I think he had an OK camp, but it's just like last year, Sergei took a while to get used to how we play and I think Bergie had to catch up a little bit there.

"But he's really a pretty good detail guy, he's pretty competitive. What you notice about him, he's quick, but not fast. Sergei's more … he can get from goal line to goal line a little quicker, but Bergie really darts in the short areas and he's got a really good release and that's sort of his game. With the way the game's played now, he should be pretty effective if we can get him into the offensive zone and get cycling around and making those short plays. He'll probably do a really good job there."

McGrattan, claimed Tuesday on waivers from Anaheim, brings a physical element. He has 395 penalty minutes in 182 NHL games. The Preds made room for him earlier in the week when they sent Zack Stortini to Milwaukee of the AHL.

Trotz said in terms of Nashville's defense that rookie Mattias Ekholm will be a game-time decision. Jack Hillen and Teemu Laakso, both of whom are minus-1, have formed Nashville's third pair. Ekholm was sick for the Preds' first two games last week.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett did not announce any lineup changes after his morning skate.

So here's how the lineups for the two teams could look tonight:
 
PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Sergei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Niclas Bergfors
Jordin Tootoo - Cal O'Reilly - Matt Halischuk
Blake Geoffrion - Jerred Smithson - Brian McGrattan
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Jonathon Blum - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Teemu Laakso
 
Pekka Rinne will start in goal, with Anders Lindback the backup
 
COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Patrick O'Sullivan - Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon
Raffi Torres - Petteri Nokelainen - Mikkel Boedker
 
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Rostislav Klesla
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
 
Mike Smith will start in goal, with Jason LaBarbera the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 05.09.2011 / 3:09 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Edler coping with rough moments

Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler had the look of a downtrodden man on Monday after his team's morning skate. While Edler is minus-2 overall in the playoffs, he is even in the five games in this series with Nashville but has had some rough moments.

During the Canucks' morning skate on Monday, he had a new defense partner -- the defensively sound veteran Sami Salo. Edler had a turnover in Game 5 that led to one of the goals by the Preds' Joel Ward and also, bizarrely, batted a puck into his own net after Nashville's David Legwand, who was behind the goal, flipped it over the net in Edler's direction.

Also, in Game 3, Legwand stripped Edler of the puck behind the net and then Legwand scored a shorthanded goal. After that game, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said it was an "easy call" to remove Edler from the power play and put Mikael Samuelsson back out there because Edler allowed himself to be stripped of the puck.

Samuelsson is injured and did not travel to Nashville for Game 6 so it will be interesting to see how much power play time, if any at all, Edler gets. Vancouver has allowed two shorthanded goals in this series.

Faced with the change, Edler said the right things but being taken off a pair with his usual partner Christian Ehrhoff, who is tied for the lead in scoring among all NHL defensemen in the playoffs with nine points, he acted more as if he were being punishment.

"Well, he's been out a lot this year, but I played with him a lot last year and I think we played very good last year, so it's nothing really new," Edler said of Salo. "We've been playing on the same team for a long time, so…"

Edler was asked how good Nashville has been on the forecheck.

"They're coming hard, but, I mean," he sighed audibly, "they're coming hard one, two, three guys, so it's so important that we go back hard and a lot of communication."

Then he was asked whether he is comfortable moving the puck against such pressure.

"Yeah, I mean, it's not easy every time but sometimes you got to eat it," he said. "Sometimes when you feel like you move it, you got to move it."

Vigneault did not confirm that the pairing would be changed, saying not to put too much in what reporters saw on the ice. However, Edler did say, "yeah, it looks like it, play with Sami."
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Posted On Monday, 05.09.2011 / 2:30 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Ice conditions could play a role in Game 6

After defeating Anaheim in six games in the first round, the Predators organization took steps to prepare for the possibility that the local weather might turn hot for the Western Conference Semifinals.

It happened. By 1 p.m. Central time on Monday, the temperature had reached 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Some local forecasts have the temperature getting as high 90.

As recently as last week in Nashville for Games 3 and 4, the overnight lows dipped into the 30s.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was hopeful that dehumidifiers that the organization installed on top of Bridgestone Arena would help the conditions, but he wasn't 100 percent sure.

"This morning, good," Trotz said of the ice conditions after his team's morning skate, "because it's still not 89, which it's going to get up to today, and you don't have 17,000 people coming into the building and heating it up, so right now the ice conditions are good. I think it was a much needed move by the organization that we have the dehumidifiers on top of the building. We probably didn't need it the first couple of games, but it's been traditionally cold here in Nashville so far through the playoffs but today's it's a regular Nashville day -- actually, a little hotter -- usually it's about 75 or 76 this time of year and it's going to be 89, so I think we're going to do everything possible to keep the ice as good as we can.

"But 17,000 people and 89 or 90 degrees outside, that's going to be hard to keep it perfect."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 3:20 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Salo close to return

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo has not played since April 24, injured in Game 6 against Chicago in the first round, but on Monday he practiced with his team at Bridgestone Arena.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault pronounced the 36-year-old Finn "day to day." Long after the Canucks had finished speaking to the media and after Vigneault also had done so, a throng of reporters waited to speak to Salo, fifth among the team's defensemen in time-on-ice per game during the regular season at 20:20.

But he didn't say much.

"I feel pretty good and I've been improving the last few days, which is a good sign," Salo said.

Asked if he could play on Tuesday, Salo said, "We'll decided tomorrow but day-to-day is a good assessment."

Salo would not parse his "day-to-day" statement, saying "it's not 51 or 49 percent."

However, as to whether he would play in one of the two games in Nashville, Salo said, "probably at some point" but that "it's tough to pinpoint when."

When Vigneault was asked to assess his third defense pair of Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts, he did not give them roaring approval.

"I thought they had their moments where they looked all right," he said. "Some of their decisions put them in a little bit trouble."

Rome was on ice with Keith Ballard when Vancouver allowed the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 2.

Assistant coach Rick Bowness said following the team's optional skate that Salo would be a "game-time decision" and would not elaborate beyond that.
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Posted On Monday, 05.02.2011 / 6:02 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Salo practices, remains 'day-to-day'

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo has not played since getting injured April 24 in Game 6 against Chicago in the first round, but on Monday he practiced with his team at Bridgestone Arena.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault pronounced the 36-year-old Finn as "day-to-day."

Long after Vigneault and the Canucks had finished speaking to the media, a throng of reporters waited to speak to Salo, fifth among the team's defensemen in average ice time during the regular season at 20:20. But he didn't say much.

"I feel pretty good and I've been improving the last few days, which is a good sign," Salo said.

Asked if he could play on Tuesday, Salo said, "We'll decide tomorrow, but day-to-day is a good assessment."

Salo would not parse his "day-to-day" statement, saying "it's not 51 or 49 percent."

However, as to whether he would play in one of the two games in Nashville, Salo said, "probably at some point" but that "it's tough to pinpoint when."

When Vigneault was asked to assess his third defense pair of Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts, he did not give them roaring approval.

"I thought they had their moments where they looked all right," he said. "Some of their decisions put them in a little bit trouble."

Rome was on ice with Keith Ballard when Vancouver allowed the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 2.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 5:47 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Anaheim-Nashville Live Blog

Preds preparing for potential franchise first

Before Game 6, Trotz was asked how to prepare his players to clinch the franchise's first ever trip to the second round. (This is the first time the Preds have had an opponent in an elimination game.)

"We've never been here," said Trotz, Nashville's only coach since it arrived in the League in 1998. "You have to live in the moment. This is a new situation…. Every group is a new canvas and you start over again.

"There are good and bad experiences you have to go through. The bad ones make you more resilient, the positive ones you draw from."

Nashville has been resilient in this series, helping to establish a series of franchise firsts. The Predators rallied from a goal down in the final minute of regulation in Game 5, pulled their goalie and tied the score and then won in overtime. In Game 3, they earned a power play in the final minutes of regulation to help them protect a one-goal lead, as they won 4-3. Last year, they lost a game to Chicago in the first-round in a similar situation.

Friday represented numerous organizational firsts for Nashville: The first time it won a Game 5, won an overtime playoff game and recorded two road playoff wins in the same series (or season). In fact, Game 1's victory was only Nashville's second road playoff victory in six trips to the postseason.

Asked how the mood in the room was on Sunday afternoon, Trotz said he had yet to check. After completing his talk, he popped in and then came back out to indicate that the mood was light.

Earlier, he said his message to the players was simple.

"Play to win," he said. "Don't sit back. This is a great opportunity. Shifty by shift. Get the job done."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 5:30 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Anaheim-Nashville Live Blog

Ryan still getting accolades for goal

After setting the Twittersphere ablaze around midnight on Friday night in Game 5 with his goal for the ages, Ducks forward Bobby Ryan was still reveling in the attention he was receiving when he spoke to reporters on Saturday.

To recap: Ryan blocked a shot by Nashville's David Legwand in the third period, earned possession of the puck in the neutral zone, faked around Legwand once, causing Legwand to lose his stick, then stickhandled again around Legwand, as Legwand missed with a body check.; with Nashville's All-Star defenseman Shea Weber in pursuit from behind, Ryan went from forehand to backhand, roofing a shot over Preds goalie Pekka Rinne's blocker.

Some called it Mario Lemieux circa the '80s. Some called it the best goal they have ever seen.

"It has been pretty cool," Ryan said. "I didn't talk to too many people last night, but getting off the plane today I had about 40 text messages. It's a cool feeling. Obviously, when I look back on all of them, it's a moot point when you go on to lose the game, but I'll remember it, that's for sure."

Ryan was asked if the goal made the clips that Ducks coach Randy Carlyle showed the team in preparation for Game 6.

"We haven't seen anything yet," he said. "It won't make the cut, there will be a lot of different clips in there, but I don't think that will be one of them."
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic