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Predators' Franson excited for Game 2 vs. Blackhawks

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson is expected to return to the lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, SPSO).

Franson missed Game 1 of the best-of-7 series because of an upper-body injury. He participated in the morning skate prior to Game 1 on Wednesday but wasn't ready to play. Franson was paired with Seth Jones at the morning skate Friday and said he'll be good to go for Game 2.

"Yeah, I think so," Franson said. "I'm feeling pretty good again. I feel ready and ready to go."

Nashville lost 4-3 in double overtime in Game 1 without Franson. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov was paired with Jones in Game 1, but Franson's return gives Nashville's defense corps more offensive upside. Franson said it was tough to have to watch Game 1 from afar.

"It's always tough to be on the sidelines and watching the guys go out there and go to battle," Franson said. "Fortunately I'm feeling good again and ready to get back in tonight."

Predators forward Mike Santorelli also may return to the lineup after being scratched for Game 1. Forward Mike Fisher left Game 1 because of a lower-body injury and did not participate in the morning skate. Santorelli filled in on the third line along with Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Stalberg and Kevin Fiala. If Santorelli plays, it will be his first Stanley Cup Playoff game.

"It's always an exciting time of year," Santorelli said. "If I get in it'll be my first one and I look forward to it."

The Predators see Santorelli's speed as an asset that can help in all areas, particularly the penalty kill; the Blackhawks scored two power-play goals in their Game 1 victory. Predators coach Peter Laviolette didn't confirm whether it will be Santorelli or Fiala in the lineup, but he does have confidence in Santorelli's skill set.

"He brings a lot of speed to the lineup," Laviolette said. "He's capable of contributing offensively, he's a reliable player. We can use him on the penalty kill. I think he's been an effective player for us in the role that we've asked him to play in. So if Mike gets in there tonight there's no question he'll be able to do the job."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Sharp

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Teuvo Teravainen

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Duncan Keith - Michal Rozsival

Kimmo Timonen - Brent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Antoine Vermette, Andrew Desjardins, David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey, Antti Raanta, Michael Paliotta

Injured: Daniel Carcillo (upper body)


Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Matt Cullen - James Neal

Mike Santorelli - Calle Jarnkrok - Viktor Stalberg

Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Taylor Beck

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Seth Jones - Cody Franson

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Victor Bartley, Anton Volchenkov, Kevin Fiala

Injured: Eric Nystrom (lower body), Mike Fisher (lower body)

Status report: Rinne was the first goalie off the ice and will start. … Cullen slotted in on the second line in Fisher's usual spot. … There is no timetable for Nystrom's return to the lineup.

Who's hot: Wilson scored two goals in Game 1 after going 15 games without scoring to close the regular season.

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