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Nashville’s Weber and Suter wait for Olympic calls

Sunday, 12.20.2009 / 1:48 AM / NHL Insider

By Todd Kimberley - Correspondent

CALGARY, Alberta -- Nashville coach Barry Trotz has a top defensive pairing that skates rings around the opposition. Trotz is just hoping it’s five rings.

With less than two weeks remaining until rosters are named for the 2010 Winter Olympics --  Canada’s team will be announced on Dec. 30 in Saskatoon, while Team USA will be unveiled Jan. 1 at the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic --  Nashville Predators defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber are expected to be Vancouver bound.

Most observers feel Suter is a virtual lock for the Ron Wilson-coached U.S. outfit, while Weber is in serious contention to play for Mike Babcock’s team.

“I hope those two guys get a chance to represent their countries,” Trotz told following the Preds’ 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon. “They’d be great picks.”

Weber, a 6-4, 230-pounder from Sicamous, B.C., has the size and orneriness to keep skilled forwards on their toes. The 24-year-old also has a booming point shot and is coming off career highs in goals (23), assists (30) and points (53) last season.

Weber averages 23:10 of ice time this season, second on the Preds to Suter’s 24:05, but has been slowed by a foot injury that kept him out of two games in early November.

Last spring in Switzerland, during his second World Championship, Weber’s 12 points were second on the Canadian squad only to Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis’ 15. He logged big minutes — a team-leading 24:02 per game — as the Canadians made it to the gold-medal game before losing to Russia.

“He’s old school. He’s gone against the Russians, (Alexander) Ovechkin and those guys, and they don’t get too much room when he’s out there,” Trotz said. “He’s played really hurt for a long time, and he’s finally healing up now.”

Weber has 6 goals and 18 points through 34 games for the Predators (22-11-3).

“It’s one of those years, it seems. Seems like once something starts to heal up, you get another” injury, Weber told “I definitely try not to think about (the Canadian team selection). We’ve got, I think, five or six games through the rest of December, here, and we need to keep going if we need to keep up in the West.”

Suter, the former No. 7 overall draft pick of the Preds, completes the powerhouse pairing. The 6-1, 195-pounder from Madison, Wis., has the Olympic pedigree — he’s the son of Bob Suter, a member of the “Miracle On Ice” squad in 1980, and nephew of Gary Suter, who won Olympic silver with the U.S. in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Suter also has a bomb from the blue line and is a well-rounded player who’s also a dangerous bodychecker. He has 2 goals and 18 points in 36 games after also having an offensive career year in ’08-09 with 45 points.

“Definitely an honour just to play with him,” praised Weber. “He’s one of the best defensemen who’ll play for the U.S. at the Olympics, and it’s easy to play with him. He does everything well, and he makes it easy on me.”

Quote of the Day

It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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