Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist
, second on the team in goals with 17, will miss his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury when Nashville hosts St. Louis on Thursday.
He participated in the team's morning skate on Thursday, but is not yet ready to play.
"He's getting closer," Predators coach Barry Trotz
said. "He's not in tonight. Saturday would be the soonest."
Hornqvist has not been a huge loss in the short-term for Nashville, which has gone 3-1 without him, although the Predators have not scored more than three goals in a game in that span.
Hornqvist's absence has, however, caused the Preds to re-jigger their forward lines and their power play somewhat. Hornqvist normally skates with Colin Wilson
on the left and David Legwand
Instead, Wilson has moved to center with Matt Halischuk
on his left and Brandon Yip
on his right. Yip, a big body, also has taken Hornqvist's spot on the power play in front of the net.
Legwand has centered a line with Gabriel Bourque
on his left and fleet-footed rookie Craig Smith
on his right. Smith had been the fourth-line center.
Trotz also said it's likely the team will send rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis
to the minors soon to get him playing again. Ellis played less than four minutes on Sunday, was scratched on Tuesday and will probably sit again on Thursday, as the Predators are carrying eight defensemen right now.
"Our thought process is that we may have him go to Milwaukee (AHL) for a couple of games just to keep him playing," Trotz said. "And it's not based on play. We just want to keep him playing."
Ellis would not have to pass through waivers, nor would fellow rookie defenseman Roman Josi
, but Josi has established himself for longer. Josi played his first game on Nov. 26 and has not missed a game since. Ellis played his first game on Dec. 26 and has been out of the lineup three times entering Thursday.
Here are tonight's projected lineups:
- Mike Fisher
- Martin Erat
- Colin Wilson
- Brandon Yip
- David Legwand
- Craig Smith
- Nick Spaling
- Jordin Tootoo
- Shea Weber
- Kevin Klein
- Hal Gill
Out: Ryan Ellis
, Patric Hornqvist
, Brian McGrattan
- David Backes
- T.J. Oshie
- Patrik Berglund
- David Perron
- Jason Arnott
- Chris Stewart
- Scott Nichol
- Ryan Reaves
- Alex Pietrangelo
- Kevin Shattenkirk
- Roman Polak