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Blum Excited To Match-Up Vs. Caps Skilled Forwards

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
Jonathon Blum has played against some of the best players in the world. The young Nashville defenseman stood toe to toe with elite offensive players from Anaheim and Vancouver during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and didn’t flinch.


Today, he will add another experience to his memory bank.

Superstar Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals come to Bridgestone Arena today to face the Predators at 7 p.m.

“I’ve never played against these guys before,” Blum said. “It will be pretty interesting. Ovechkin is the best player in the world, so to step on the same ice with him is pretty cool. They have a lot of great players. But on this team, we have two of the best defensemen in the league with (Shea) Weber and (Ryan) Suter.”

Blum said once the puck is dropped, there won’t be an awe factor.

“Just keep it simple,” Blum said. “Just play defensive first because these guys love to go on offense. And that can hurt them at times, too.”

Nicklas Backstrom leads the Capitals in assists (15) and points (20). His assist mark is tied for second in the NHL. Then there’s Ovechkin, who leads his team with seven goals.

“You just have to check well,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “You have to check without the puck. You have to be really good one-on-one. You don’t want to give them time and space, entering the blue line and start coming laterally on you and finding secondary waves. You can’t turn it over in the neutral zone. They are a quick counter team.”

Since Nashville is playing an Eastern Conference team, the Predators’ coaches and players aren’t as familiar with the Capitals as they are with most clubs on the schedule. But when it comes to Ovechkin, it doesn’t take much film study to know what kind of threat he is.
“To me, he’s dangerous all the time,” Trotz said.


Small adjustments: Forward David Legwand (upper body) will not play tonight, and Trotz will likely move rookie sensation Craig Smith into his spot once again. The coaching staff may try some other options on other lines as well.

“I’m going to tinker a little bit with them,” Trotz said. “I’m going to try and get more balance. Sometimes you move one piece here and there and it helps a line. I’ll tinker a little bit but not a whole heck of a lot.”

Ward returns: Former Pred Joel Ward will be on the ice tonight for the Capitals, which will be an odd sight for Predators fans. Ward spent the previous three seasons in Nashville and became a playoff hero for Music City in 2010-11.

“Wardo is a really, really good player,” Trotz said. “He’s playing with Backstrom and Ovechkin right now. But he’s also guy who can fix a line. He’s got a lot of detail.”

Ward has four goals and three assists in 15 games with Washington this year.

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