NASHVILLE – Depending on the condition of forward Matt Cullen, the Nashville Predators are mulling using 11 forwards and seven defensemen Saturday as they take on the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena.
Cullen was a late participant to the Predators' morning skate on Saturday and then left early. In the event that Cullen can't play, coach Barry Trotz also said the franchise had some players with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League "on alert" for a possible last-minute call-up.
Cullen sat out four straight games with an upper-body injury between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1 then returned Thursday against the Minnesota Wild but logged only 7:36 of time on ice. The Predators only have 12 forwards on the active roster with Nick Spaling on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury.
For Anaheim, the Ducks will play without left wing Teemu Selanne and his 682 career goals. The Ducks did not take the Finn on the trip so that he could rest for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"Well, he's 43 and just the fact that he's got to go cross-country or cross-continent, he's got to be the face of the Finnish team, he's going to be doing all the interviews, he's going to be the busy guy," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We wanted to make sure that a) he's healthy over there and b) that he gets a little more rest. That's all."
Ducks center Nick Bonino, who remains on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, "is very close to playing," Boudreau said, and could play Saturday, although Boudreau would not reveal if he would. Bonino has missed three games. Boudreau said the Ducks had to answer the question "is it worth for it for one game or is not worth it for one game?"
Here are the projected lineups:
Gabriel Bourque – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Simon Moser – Colin Wilson – Viktor Stalberg
Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto – Seth Jones
Victor Bartley – Ryan Ellis
Injured: Matt Cullen (upper body).
Dustin Penner – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Emerson Etem – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Matt Beleskey – Daniel Winnik – Kyle Palmieri
Patrick Maroon – Mathieu Perreault – Tim Jackman
Ben Lovejoy - Cam Fowler
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa – Sami Vatanen
Injured: Nick Bonino.
Scratched: Teemu Selanne, Bryan Allen, Jakob Silfverberg