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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:24 PM

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

Rinne likely to return to Predators net against Stars

NASHVILLE -- After not dressing for the Predators' game on Tuesday because of an illness, No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne practiced Wednesday and participated in the team’s morning skate for its regular season home finale on Thursday against Dallas.
 
Coach Barry Trotz said that "he's probably in, yeah," in reference to a question as to whether Rinne would start on Thursday. Rinne said on Wednesday that he had an IV to help him rehydrate.
 
Here's tonight's projected lineup for the Predators:
 
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Peters expected back in Wild lineup

NASHVILLE -- Warren Peters was expected to return to the Wild lineup on Tuesday against the Predators after missing one game with an upper-body injury.
 
The Wild had recalled Cody Almond from Houston (AHL) to fill in for Peters, and then sent him down on Tuesday. Almond, 22, who has played in 10 games this season, totaling 1 goal and a minus-5 rating, only played 7:37 in a 5-4 overtime win over Chicago on Sunday, but was even and had two shots. Wild coach Mike Yeo said he liked what he saw.
 
"I really liked what Cody did last game," Yeo said. "I thought that that was a real good game for him but, obviously, Petey coming in now and we're off emergency, but that was a really good performance by Cody, I thought."
 
Projected lineups:
 
Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck
Jason Zucker - Erik Christensen - Nick Johnson
Stephane Veilleux - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer
 
Clayton Stoner - Tom Gilbert
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella - Kurtis Foster
 
Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 2:12 PM

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

Lindback starts as Predators give Rinne a break

NASHVILLE -- Goalie Anders Lindback will play on Tuesday for the first time in two weeks for the Predators, which, by Lindback's standards, is not so long.
 
Nashville is gearing up for the playoffs and intends to get some rest for No. 1 Pekka Rinne. With three games remaining, Rinne, the League's leader in wins, has played in 71 games. Lindback, by contrast, has made 14 appearances.
 
The last time Lindack played was in relief of Rinne, giving him playing time in two straight games (March 18 and 20). Not bad, considering that Lindback played in only one game between Jan. 19 and Feb. 27.
 
That was not the plan for Rinne coming into the season, Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
 
"No, I think going into it, I looked at it as more of a 65, probably, as a number going into the season," Trotz said. "He's probably best around that number. So it's a little higher…. I think we went into a little bit of a roll right before the All-Star break. We knew the teams in the West are so close and we wanted to get some separation. We rode him hard into the All-Star break."
 
Trotz said that the Preds have been careful of Rinne's rest and recovery time since the All-Star break. To that end, on Tuesday Nashville recalled goalie Chet Pickard, a first-round pick in 2008, from Cincinnati (ECHL), whose season has ended.
 
Trotz said that in trying to take some shots off of Rinne, at times they will shorten his practices and will need Pickard for practice. Rinne did not participate in the team's morning skate and Trotz said that if he did not back up on Tuesday, then Pickard would.
 
For his part, Lindback, 23, was looking forward to the start. He said watching has been helpful in his development process.
 
"You pick up a lot of things, too, watching Pekka play," he said. "Tendencies every team's got. You try to pick it up and put it all together."
 
He was asked what in particular he has learned from watching Rinne.
 
"Just the way he handles the puck around the net and uses his glove," he said. "He prevents so many rebounds. He saves us a lot of shots. Really helps out for the (defensemen)…. It's fun to watch him play and really educational."
 
Projected lineup:
 
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Brandon Yip
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
 
Anders Lindback
Chet Pickard/Pekka Rinne
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:43 PM

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

Toews could return next week for Hawks

NASHVILLE – Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said captain Jonathan Toews skated again Saturday and he might be able to return to action in the next week.
 
Toews skated at home in Chicago on Saturday, as he did not make the team’s trip for the game with the Predators.
 
“We’re hopeful that maybe we can get him in before the end of the season,” Quenneville said.
 
Asked if Toews had been cleared for contact, Quenneville at first responded in the affirmative but then said he was “not positive.”
 
Here is Chicago's projected lineup:
 
Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Viktor Stalberg
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik
 
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Nick Leddy
Sean O’Donnell - Dylan Olsen
 
Corey Crawford
Ray Emery
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:15 PM

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

Trotz reflects, deflects after 500th victory

NASHVILLE – Earlier this season, Barry Trotz coached his 1,000th game behind the bench – all with the Predators.
 
On Friday, he earned his 500th win with a 4-1 victory at Detroit. Talking about the feat Saturday morning, Trotz preferred to point credit in a different direction, saying he hadn’t thought about it much.
 
“Last night the players were coming off [the ice] and going, ‘Hey, congratulations,’” he said. “And David Legwand [a member of the Predators since their inaugural season] hands me a puck and I say, ‘What the [heck] is this for?’
 
“I was oblivious to it, so from that standpoint, after the game, really to me, it was good for the franchise and I thought it was real, real great for me that [general manager David Poile] was able to get 500 with two franchises -- which is the only guy in the history of this game, which is over a hundred years old -- to do that. I’m more proud of that for David than anything.”
 
Poile also guided Washington 500 wins from 1982 to 1997. The Predators are the fastest to win 500 of any expansion team after 1990, needing 1,062 games.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:08 PM

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

Trotz coy on goaltender choice for Predators

NASHVILLE – Coming off a huge win on the road Friday in Detroit that helped the Predators vault past the Red Wings into fourth place in the Western Conference, it was hard to tell if Nashville coach Barry Trotz was going to go for broke and start goalie Pekka Rinne again Saturday against Central Division rival Chicago.
 
Trotz said that backup Anders Lindback, who has only played in 14 games, would probably start a game or two in Nashville’s four remaining contests, but he would not say which goalie was going to start Saturday.
 
All Central Division teams have four games remaining entering Saturday and Nashville leads fifth-place Detroit by one point and the fourth-place Blackhawks by three. It’s possible that Trotz could start Rinne again Saturday and then rest him for one or two of the non-divisional games which don’t have as many playoff implications. One of those teams (Minnesota) is eliminated and another (Colorado) could be by the time Nashville plays the Avs in the season finale.
 
“We’re going to play sort of game-by-game,” Trotz said of the goalie decisions.
 
Rinne earned his 42nd win of the season Friday in the 4-1 win against Detroit by making 31 saves, including a sprawling, highlight-reel glove stop on Henrik Zetterberg from point-blank range in the second period. Without revealing anything, Rinne sounded as if he could play if called upon.

Lindback spent plenty of time on the ice during the morning skate; only the players who did not play on Friday participated in it. Rinne also said winning the first end of a back-to-back can be energizing.
 
“Yeah, for sure I think it’s a help,” he said. “We were talking about that after the game last night. Even though you feel, obviously, sometimes a little tired, but when you win, it gets easier and you feel like you have more energy. That kind of gives a boost for the whole team. Beating Detroit gives confidence to the whole team, so that’s a good thing.”
 
Rinne was asked if he would rate the win as one of his best performances of the season.
 
“I don’t know, for sure against a good team like that play a solid game at this point in the season,” he said. “It was a good game. It’s hard for me to rate it. … For sure, good to have a good game like that at the later stage of the season like it is.”
 
Trotz also said the lineup will not change much from now until the playoffs. Forwards Brandon Yip, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Brian McGrattan were all scratches last night, as were defensemen Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis with Roman Josi returning to the lineup after missing nine games because of injury.
 
“We’re not going to try to tinker with it too much,” Trotz said.
 
Here is the Predators' projected lineup:
 
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alex Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Noel mum on choice in net against Predators

NASHVILLE – The day after a big comeback against Southeast Division rival Washington, Winnipeg coach Claude Noel was mum on who would start Saturday against the Predators.
 
Down 3-0 on Friday against the Capitals, the Jets rallied to win 4-3 in overtime to move within four points of the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with eight games to play as goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 20 saves and did not allow a goal after the 5:47 mark of the second period. The Jets hold a game in hand on Washington, which has 82 points.
 
Pavelec is 28-25-7 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Backup Chris Mason, a former Predator who played in the playoffs for Nashville, is 7-6-1 with a 2.40 GAA and .903 save percentage.
 
“We’ll see at game time,” was all Noel would say. Noel did say right wing Eric Fehr (shoulder) would miss the Saturday night contest.
 
Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:
 
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alex Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Spencer Machacek - Ben Maxwell - Tim Stapleton
 
Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
 
Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:38 PM

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

Radulov still adjusting, set for home debut

NASHVILLE – Alex Radulov will make his home debut Saturday when the Predators play host to Winnipeg – his first game at Bridgestone Arena in four years.

Radulov, who had a goal in his debut Thursday in 15:54 of ice time while going minus-two at Pittsburgh, said he is still adjusting to being back in the NHL after playing four seasons in Russia’s KHL with its larger ice surface. Jet lag from the time change, in particular, will take a little while. Moscow is nine hours earlier than the Central time zone, where Nashville sits.

The two-time KHL MVP said after the 5-1 loss he was mentally tired.

“Well, first period was a little bit hard because you get into the game and small ice and game was a little bit different,” Radulov said, “But when you get on, the game feel much better. Still, you know, need some time to adjust. Like I said before -- times change. It’s almost 10 hours difference, so it’s a little bit hard. Not looking for any excuses. I just need to get on top of my game and help my teammates.”

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was asked if he would try to calm the excitable Radulov at all going into the game.

“He’s like (Patric) Hornqvist and that’s the espresso line, those two guys,” Trotz said of the wings who are centered by David Legwand. “There’s a lot of energy in those two guys. You don’t really temper it. What makes Rads special is, obviously, he’s got good skills, but his willingness to compete and so he’s sort of like a rink rat. He wants to be there all the time, just like Hornqvist. They both have a lot of joy in their game. They want to be on the ice, they want to be in the important situations so from that standpoint I don’t think I’d want to temper him at all.”

Nashville has lost two straight by a combined 11-4 margin, so the Preds will be looking to get their game back on track Saturday against the Jets.

“It’s a big game for us,” Radulov said of his home opener. “We lost the last game. Everybody understand how important this is for us. … I’m happy to be back. Excited to play first game home. Will be fun, I think."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 4:15 PM

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

Depleted Detroit happy to have Abdelkader back

NASHVILLE – After missing a 4-3 win Friday against Los Angeles with an illness, Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader was expected back in the lineup Saturday for a metting with Central Division rival Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that forward Joakim Andersson, who played in five games without any producing any points, was sent back to the minors.

The Red Wings have been depleted by injuries and it has started to catch up with them so even getting back a fourth-line forward like Abdelkader, who has seven goals and 13 assists, is a help.

While the Red Wings are starting to get healthy – center Pavel Datsyuk skated on Friday in Detroit – they will miss plenty of players Saturday. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will miss his sixth straight game, Datsyuk his ninth straight, forward Todd Bertuzzi his third straight, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson his sixth straight and goalie Jimmy Howard his third straight.

Babcock said the results have dropped off, but the team is doing the best it can.

“I mean our record’s not even close, so reality is we haven’t been good enough,” he said. “But we’ve battled hard. We’ve lost two of our last three games and we’ve given up 18 and 23 and 24 shots. So we’re not an offensive machine, but we’re hanging in there and we’re battling hard to try and help our goaltender out. I think we’ve done a pretty good job in that area.”

Babcock said the critical thing is not to lose ground in the standings. With Datsyuk out, Detroit is 3-4-1 and St. Louis has overtaken the Red Wings for the division lead.

Nashville could move within four points of Detroit for second in the division and fourth in the Western Conference with a regulation win.

Projected lines:

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Gustav Nyqust - Cory Emmerton - Danny Cleary
Tomas Holmstrom - Justin Abdelkader - Jan Mursak

Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Doug Janik - Brendan Smith

Joey McDonald
Jordan Pearce

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Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 1:42 PM

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

Agressive-minded Josi still adjusting for Predators

NASHVILLE – For the second time this season, Predators rookie defenseman Roman Josi took an aggressive approach in an even-numbered situation on Thursday and for the second time it ended up in the back of his net.

Earlier this season when Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro did it to him on Jan. 5, and Predators coach Barry Trotz said that Josi, an excellent skater with an offensive upside who has four goals and 11 assists in 46 games, needed time to learn the League’s personnel.

Trotz sounded that theme again Saturday after Colorado’s David Jones beat him Thursday night along the boards, creating a 2-on-1 that led to Jamie McGinn’s goal. (Nashville also had a blown coverage on the back end of the play, further complicating the situation.)

“What happened was he got bent over reaching,” Trotz said. “If you’re going to expose yourself to try to stand up a guy, you really can’t do that because you get on your toes, then you can’t turn. You’ve got to sit back on your heels and if you’re going to stand the guy, at least you can push forward… Those are little things we talk about one-on-one. He got a little bit anxious and he exposed himself outside the dots and he certainly got walked there….

"Those are just quick decisions that happen in games. Jose is pretty good one-on-one because of his skating ability. Once he goes through the League a couple of times, he’ll know what to expect all the time.”

Josi said it was a bad play, but he was glad later to earn a primary assist to help put Nashville ahead 2-1.

“You got 0.1 seconds to decide what to do,” Josi said. “I decided to be aggressive. … kind of a pretty good move. I got beat a little bit. I poke-checked him and the puck went in the corner, but it was 2-on-1 after that so it’s tough sometimes, but you have to learn out of those situations and next time you can avoid them.”

Nashville coach Barry Trotz would not say whether forward Colin Wilson would return to the lineup on Saturday against Detroit. Wilson was a healthy scratch for the first time this season in a 4-2 win Thursday over Colorado.

Last season, Wilson, 22, a high first-round pick of Nashville’s, was scratched for a protracted period at the end of last season and then into the start of the playoffs until the coaching staff convinced him his play had to improve. Trotz said after Thursday that he did not expect the situation to repeat itself.

Projected lineup:

Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Brandon Yip

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Out: Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen
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Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center