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Predators to give Yip a look against former team

by John Manasso
NASHVILLE -- From the time that the Colorado Avalanche put forward Brandon Yip on waivers and he landed with the Nashville Predators on Jan. 19, Thursday's game with his former team has been on his mind.

"Yeah, for sure, I think any time you get traded, a team lets you go, or even if you're just playing your old teammates, you definitely look at the calendar and you're excited definitely for that game," Yip said. "I'm fired up for tonight."

Although it might have been unnecessary to say so, Yip mentioned several times how excited he was. He said he went out with six or seven former teammates on Wednesday night after the Avs arrived in town.

Yip played only 10 games in Colorado this season, often being made a healthy scratch, and had no goals. He has 1 goal and 2 assists in 13 games with Nashville.

Last season, Yip had a promising 10 goals and 12 assists in 71 games, and Nashville likes his size at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. Since Nashville picked up forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad at the trade deadline, Yip has had a harder time getting in the lineup.

He was a scratch for the last three games, but coach Barry Trotz gave him the heads-up that he would play against his former team a few days ago. Nonetheless, as Nashville tries to settle on its expected playoff lineup, Trotz said he likes Yip's chances to earn a regular spot.

"I think he's really worked hard, him and (Matt Halischuk), and those guys are setting themselves up to unseat some guys, if guys' play doesn't pick up here, so I know Brandon will be a good fit," Trotz said.

Following Tuesday's 5-4 loss to Los Angeles, Trotz was unhappy with what he called some players' commitment level. Asked if Craig Smith and Colin Wilson could be scratched on Thursday, Trotz said, "possibly."

"The guys that are bringing it every night are the guys I'm going to start putting in, and I'm not going to be concerned about 'Do I have enough power-play guys?'" Trotz said. "I'm just going to put the guys that are deserving in terms of accountability. If you're not detailed in your game, if you're not willing to play a 200-foot game, then maybe I'll change you out.

"Whoever comes out tonight, it doesn't mean that they're not going to get back in, but I'm going to increase the urgency level -- a) to get in and, b) to stay in."

Both Wilson and Smith earn power-play time for Nashville.

Yip is looking forward to the opportunity that Thursday is providing him.

"Absolutely, that's the biggest thing on my mind right now, to prove I can be in this lineup and be a contributing factor in every game," Yip said. "Like you said, there's not much regular season left and we're getting geared up for the playoffs and kind of getting in that playoff mode right now. It's exciting for everyone and it's good healthy competition."
Projected lineup:
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Brandon Yip
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis
Out: Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen
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