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Predators v Wings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Weber showing he's immune to outside distractions

John Manasso - Correspondent


NASHVILLE -- He is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but it's fair to say that every time Predators captain Shea Weber steps on the ice at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the only kind of No. 1 he will be is public enemy No. 1.

Fans have long memories and Red Wings fans don't have to go far back at all to remember the hit that Weber put on Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg at 20:00 of the third period in Game 1 this past Wednesday. Weber was assessed a roughing penalty and fined $2,500 for, as NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan described it, shoving Zetterberg's head into the glass.

Wings' 'Mule' ready to kick in Game 3

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT – If it isn’t already on every team's scouting report about the Detroit Red Wings, it probably should be.

Johan Franzen
Right Wing - DET
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 6 | +/-: -1
In fact, it should have a permanent residence atop those reports and read something like this: “Whatever you do, by all means ... don’t kick the 'Mule.' "

That's because the “Mule” is the enigmatic Johan Franzen, who makes a habit of making opponents pay for perceived slights – and not just physically. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound forward occasionally strikes back with hard hits of his own, but he's just as prone to score goals in bunches and transform himself into the best player on the ice with the flip of a switch.

"He takes it up to another level," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said of his fellow Swede. "He got the nickname for a reason. He's a stubborn guy and he's not going to give up. He's very hard to play against."

Red Wings know they can't dwell on loss of Helm

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- On Wednesday before Game 1 of his team's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock talked about the benefits that center Darren Helm would bring to the lineup after missing more than three weeks with a sprained knee.

On Thursday, he found himself discussing the repercussions of Helm now having to miss the remainder of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs after suffering lacerated tendons in his right forearm in Game 1. Helm underwent surgery Wednesday night at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and is expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp next season. Babcock said Helm did not suffer any nerve damage.

Gill still day-to-day, but Preds avoid losing Weber

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- With one defenseman still not practicing because of an injury, the Predators avoided the possibility of going down two key players at that position on Thursday when captain Shea Weber was fined $2,500 for his hit on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg at the end of Game 1, but not suspended by the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

Hal Gill, who has not practiced in nearly a week because of a lower-body injury, did not join the team on the ice Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, but coach Barry Trotz hinted that was part of Gill's treatment plan.

"Hal is still day-to-day," Trotz said. "He didn't skate. We're doing that on purpose. If he feels better and he's able to go, he'll go."

Predators' Weber fined $2,500

NEW YORK -- Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber has been fined $2,500, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for delivering a blow to the head of Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg in Game 1 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Nashville on Wednesday, April 11, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 20:00 of the third period. Weber was assessed a minor penalty for roughing.

"We felt this was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg's head into the glass," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan. "We reached out to Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.

"This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs."

The fine money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Suter, Weber ready to once again carry heavy load

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- His team did not make it past the Western Conference Semifinals last year, but nonetheless Predators defenseman Ryan Suter led all skaters during the playoffs in average time on ice per game at 28:51.

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 49
SOG: 230 | +/-: 21
During the 2011-12 regular season, Suter finished third in that category with a paltry-by-comparison 26:30. Shea Weber, with whom Suter forms a pair -- and who, like Suter, was an All-Star -- finished fifth in that category at 26:09.

One of the reasons Nashville acquired defenseman Hal Gill in February was to take minutes off of Weber and Suter. Amazing as it might seem by their statistics, Gill did so and Weber and Suter were glad for it.

Why Detroit will win the Cup

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

There is a tendency to look at Detroit's roster and say this is virtually the same team as it was this past season and the season before because so many of the players are the same.

The difference is that some of those players are far more dangerous now, and that's why the Red Wings are better suited this season to win the Stanley Cup than they were in either of the previous two.

Nicklas Lidstrom
Defense - DET
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 34
SOG: 148 | +/-: 21
The Big Why: Outside of the obvious, including all-world talents such as Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings are dangerous because Jiri Hudler has had a solid season after struggling through all of 2010-11 while adjusting back to the NHL following his one-season stint in Russia. They're dangerous because Valtteri Filppula has been far better this season than in any of his previous five.

Why Nashville will win the Cup

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The Nashville Predators have been consistent postseason participants, but winning a series for the first time in franchise history was a big step forward in 2011. There were some key additions during this regular season, and, as a result, the Predators took the next step and became a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Now all that is left is winning the thing.

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 49
SOG: 230 | +/-: 21
The Big Why: Everything with Nashville starts with their own version of a "Big Three" -- goaltender Pekka Rinne plus defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. No other team in the League can match Nashville's combo of No. 1 goaltender and top two defensemen. They are the backbone of an elite goal-prevention outfit.

They will have a little help in that department, and some added playoff experience with the addition of veteran Hal Gill. There is also depth on defense -- Nashville has at least nine defensemen that coach Barry Trotz would feel comfortable playing if needed.

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