Predators coach Barry Trotz
ruled defenseman Hal Gill
out for Game 5 on Friday at Bridgestone Arena (8 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC).
With a win against the Red Wings, the Predators would advance to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second straight season.
Gill, the Preds' leader in blocked shots and in shorthanded time on ice, has yet to play in this series with a lower-body injury.
Gill participated in his first full practice on Thursday and took part in the team’s optional skate. Gill said he would be a game-time decision before Trotz ruled him out. Asked if he expected Gill to play, Trotz said, "No, I don't expect him to play tonight." Then, asked if Gill was out, Trotz responded with a simple "yes."
Earlier, Gill was asked if whether he plays depends on pain tolerance or risk of further injury. He responded by saying, "There's a lot of decisions to be made from coaching, the trainers to me. There's a lot of conversation going on right now. To take a page from [former Montreal coach] Jacques Martin, there's a process and we're going to stick with it."
That once again leaves either Jack Hillen
or rookie Ryan Ellis
to take Gill's place in the lineup. Hillen played in Games 1 and 2, Ellis in Games 3 and 4. Neither has averaged more than eight minutes per game.
One Nashville defenseman who goes about his game quietly and often gets overlooked is 36-year-old Francis Bouillon
. Bouillon leads the series with a plus-5 rating while averaging 14:37, fifth among Preds' defensemen.
"I guess I'm lucky," Bouillon said. "[Goalie Pekka Rinne
] saved me a few times. I try to play a good game defensively and there's a little bit of luck, too, and I didn't create much offensively, so sometimes it's being in the right place at the right moment, but, defensively, I try to play pretty hard in my own zone and do my best."
Trotz called the 5-foot-8, 198-pound Bouillon a "battler."
"You talk about a veteran, a veteran always has a lot of pride when it comes to the game and they always seem to elevate their game at playoff time," Trotz said. "Frankie is just one of those guys, he gives you everything he's got. He battles through everything. Pound for pound, he's as tough mentally and physically as anyone you're going to meet.
"He's had a real strong series and it's because he's got some veteran poise, some veteran diligence, if you will -- all those things that make you a good pro, and he knows the importance of each and every shift in the playoffs and he's really elevated his game."
Bouillon's plus/minus rating has benefitted from playing with defenseman Kevin Klein
, one of the unlikely offensive heroes in this series, as Klein has two goals. The two have been paired together on-and-off for most of the last three seasons.
Over his final 13 games of the regular season, Bouillon scored four goals. In the previous 663 games in his career, Bouillon had scored 25 times.
"It was different a month ago, but now it's like the opposite," Bouillon said. "Kleier skates, shoots and I back him up."
On Thursday in practice, rookie forward Craig Smith
skated on the fourth line with center Paul Gaustad
and wing Brandon Yip
, leading to speculation he could play his first game of the series over Matt Halischuk
. Trotz said Smith, who had 14 goals during the regular season, would bring speed and determination to the lineup if he plays. Trotz said both Smith and Colin Wilson
would be ready if called upon.