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Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 3:10 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Predators also expect Spaling back vs. Penguins

NASHVILLE -- In addition to franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne, center Nick Spaling was expected to return to the Nashville Predators lineup on Tuesday for the first time since Jan. 31, after suffering a lower-body injury.

When he was injured, Spaling had had three goals and three assists in his past seven games. Spaling's nine goals last season were tied for fourth on the team.

"Nick brings a pretty complete game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "[Spaling] was having a pretty solid offensive and defensive year. Obviously, he got hurt right before the Olympics. He was playing with a lot of confidence. He's a guy that has good instincts. He doesn't cheat on the ice. He plays the game 200 feet. … He will help the penalty kill, he'll help our depth, all those things."

Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 2:03 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning's Filppula close, but still out vs. Predators

NASHVILLE -- Some of the Tampa Bay Lightning's best players are traveling with the team during this four-game road trip and are close to returning from injury, but remain out.

Forwards Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula each participated in the Lightning's morning skate Thursday for their game against the Nashville Predators, but coach Jon Cooper said Filppula (ankle), the closer of the two to returning, would not dress.

"Val's out," Cooper said. "This is probably a day-to-day thing."

Posted On Saturday, 02.08.2014 / 2:50 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Predators' Cullen questionable against Ducks

NASHVILLE – Depending on the condition of forward Matt Cullen, the Nashville Predators are mulling using 11 forwards and seven defensemen Saturday as they take on the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena.

Cullen was a late participant to the Predators' morning skate on Saturday and then left early. In the event that Cullen can't play, coach Barry Trotz also said the franchise had some players with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League "on alert" for a possible last-minute call-up.

Cullen sat out four straight games with an upper-body injury between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1 then returned Thursday against the Minnesota Wild but logged only 7:36 of time on ice. The Predators only have 12 forwards on the active roster with Nick Spaling on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury.

For Anaheim, the Ducks will play without left wing Teemu Selanne and his 682 career goals. The Ducks did not take the Finn on the trip so that he could rest for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Posted On Friday, 01.31.2014 / 2:02 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils go back to Schneider, send Gelinas to AHL

NASHVILLE -- The New Jersey Devils' lineup will have a somewhat unexpected look Friday as goalie Cory Schneider will start for a second straight game and Eric Gelinas, who ranks second among NHL rookie defensemen in points with 22, has been assigned to Albany of the American Hockey League.

In addition, forward Dainius Zubrus will be a game-time decision after blocking a shot with his left leg Thursday. Zubrus said he sustained a bruise.

The Devils recalled right wing Mike Sislo, who has played seven games this season with the Devils, failing to record a point or log more than 8:49 of ice time in a game. General manager Lou Lamoriello said Sislo's recall was a "safety precaution" in case Zubrus could not play. The Devils played with 11 forwards Thursday.

Schneider had a light load Thursday, facing 16 shots in a 3-2 overtime win at the Dallas Stars. Among those on the ice for the game-winning goal was Gelinas, who logged 2:50 of ice time as one of seven defensemen the Devils dressed.

Posted On Friday, 01.31.2014 / 12:42 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Predators' Weber says he's game-time decision

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber said he would be a game-time decision Friday against the New Jersey Devils at Bridgestone Arena, although Predators coach Barry Trotz sounded a more hopeful tone.

"I think he feels pretty good, so unless there's a setback he's ready to go," Trotz said.

Weber sustained an upper-body injury in the Predators' 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday and sat out the final 16-plus minutes of the third period. He did not practice Thursday but did participate in the Predators' morning skate Friday.

Of his status, Weber was tight-lipped on the issue, saying, "We'll see. I'll take the warm-ups [Friday]. We'll see."

Posted On Monday, 01.20.2014 / 2:19 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars' Nichushkin scratched for second straight game

NASHVILLE – Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff will hold rookie right wing Valeri Nichushkin out for a second straight game Monday when the team visits the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Nichushkin, the 10th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, will return to the lineup Tuesday when the Stars host the Minnesota Wild, Ruff said.

With nine goals and 13 assists, Nichushkin is 10th among NHL rookies in points and sixth on the Stars. He has averaged 15:11 of time on ice per game in 46 games, but Ruff cut back on that when Nichushkin expressed to the coach that he had become fatigued.

"I think because of where his energy level has been I'm not going to play him in back-to-back games," Ruff said. "He'll go back in tomorrow."

Nichushkin went without a point in his five previous games before he was scratched Saturday at Minnesota. In the past four, he has not played more than 12:48 and logged only 9:56 on Jan. 12 against the New York Islanders.

Posted On Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 1:55 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Goaltender Dubnyk ready for first start with Predators

NASHVILLE -- Four days after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers, goaltender Devan Dubnyk is set to make his first start with the Nashville Predators on Saturday as they host the Colorado Avalanche.

With the trade, which sent forward Matt Hendricks to the Oilers, Dubnyk will go from playing behind one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL to one that traditionally plays with much more of a defensive emphasis. Nashville entered play Saturday ranked 20th in the League in goals-against per game at 2.88 but has had one of the worst team save percentages in the League. That issue and the hip infection that has kept top goaltender Pekka Rinne out of the lineup for much of the season is what compelled the Predators to trade for Dubnyk.

"They're real structured," said Dubnyk, who backed up Carter Hutton in a 4-3 shootout win against thePhiladelphia Flyers on Thursday. "It was fun to sit and just kind of be a part of it in Philly. I thought we played a great game there. Just the energy level and the way guys work here is contagious and is fun to be a part of."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 1:37 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hutton back in net for Predators

NASHVILLE -- Carter Hutton will get his first start in goal in nine days for the Nashville Predators on Tuesday when they host the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena.

Hutton's previous start before a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 5 came Dec. 27. Rookie Marek Mazanec primarily has handled the Predators' goaltending duties in the absence of injured starter Pekka Rinne. Mazanec played four games in the past week, including back-to-back home starts Saturday and Sunday.

It also is Hutton's first start since he allowed a late, game-winning goal to the Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner after which coach Barry Trotz said of Hutton's performance: "That's not good enough for this League. He wasn't strong at all."

Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 1:46 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hornqvist back in Predators lineup

NASHVILLE – Nashville Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist will return to the lineup Sunday against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

Hornqvist ranks fourth on the Predators in goals with nine in 41 games. As a net-front presence, he's also an integral part of the Predators' power play. Without Hornqvist, Nashville has not scored on its past five chances with the man advantage.

Overall, the Predators' power play, ranked seventh in the NHL, has struggled of late. Over the past six games, the unit has connected just once on 11 chances.

In a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Predators had a power play over the final 1:36 of overtime but could not convert. Predators coach Barry Trotz said at that late juncture in the game the ice was very choppy. As a result, the players had trouble controlling the puck, which allowed Senators' penalty killers to pressure the Predators and prevent them from getting off too many good chances.

Posted On Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 12:14 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Predators happy for Rinne, focused on Senators

NASHVILLE – While the Nashville Predators celebrated good news on Friday in the form of an update on the health of franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne, there still is no timetable for his return as the team readies for three home games in four days, starting Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

Barry Trotz said rookie Marek Mazanec, who has started six of the past seven games, would start against the Senators but the Nashville coach said after that he would take a day-to-day approach.

Rinne's season was derailed by an E. Coli infection in the hip that he had surgically repaired in the offseason. There is virtually no precedent for a player to return from such an injury so the Predators are taking a cautious approach. The news on Friday was that Rinne, who has not played since Oct. 22, could begin "weight-bearing exercises" but that does not appear to include skating for the moment.

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