The Nashville Predators would prefer to have Shea Weber in their lineup, but the Captain has been dealing with a lower-body injury for the last three games, and someone has to fill the void.
Enter Petter Granberg.
Claimed on waivers by Nashville from Toronto on Nov. 22, Granberg has skated in 10 games for the Preds over the past couple of months and has been at his best in Nashville’s last three contests, paired alongside fellow Swede Mattias Ekholm.
Granberg recorded his second career assist on Saturday – as well as his first career fight – in Nashville’s 5-0 win over St. Louis on Saturday. He also skated in a career-high 20:07 of ice time on Thursday in a 3-1 victory over Chicago.
For the 23-year-old Granberg, the transition to his new club has been smooth, especially with the assistance of four other Swedes on the current roster.
“It’s been good; all of the guys on the team are good teammates and it helps me a lot, especially the Swedish guys,” Granberg said. “It’s a nice place to be in Nashville, it’s a great city and a great team.”
Granberg and Ekholm played with each other for Sweden at the 2015 World Championship, providing a chance to get acclimated with one another. The pairing in Nashville was a natural fit, and Ekholm is enjoying being able to provide assistance to his teammate when necessary.
“He’s a stay-at-home, steady, strong guy, makes the easy plays and tries to stay within his reach and within his frame,” Ekholm said of Granberg’s style. “He tries to play really solid defensively, and I think he’s been doing that. I’m trying to get him to talk more on the ice, and I think he’s been doing a great job so far.”
“He’s been excellent,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Granberg. “He and Ekholm the other night were terrific. They were physical, Petter was physical, he moved the puck, had a nice play on one of the goals; you have to remember this is a guy who hasn’t played a lot of games, just based on being picked up off of waivers and getting here and us being healthy on defense. He hasn’t played a lot, but now that he’s gotten an opportunity, he’s really starting to show what he can do.”
The physicality element fits well into Granberg’s 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, and his scuffle against the Blues, while not necessarily part of his game, isn’t a bad thing.
“It’s a good thing that people are getting angry at me,” Granberg said with a wry smile. “I’m just trying to be tough to play against and that stuff happens once in awhile.”
The newest addition to one of the best defense corps in the League has fit in well, whether he’s playing 20 minutes or not. Granberg may no longer be in the lineup when Weber returns, but if anyone else suffers any bumps or bruises along the way, Granberg will be ready to dish out a few of his own.
“I feel we have a great team and just being a part of that and being a part of the group, it’s huge for me,” Granberg said. “The playoffs are right around the corner, and we just have to make a push now to get a great spot in the playoffs.”
Weber Returns to Practice:
The Predators skated for over an hour on Monday at Centennial Sportsplex, two days after a 5-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. Captain Shea Weber, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, participated throughout the session.
“Once a player goes through a process and they get back to practice, that's always positive sign that things are moving in the right direction," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Weber returning to practice.
“I feel good,” Weber said following Monday's skate. "It's hard, you don't like to sit out. You feel like you're letting your teammates down, so it's not easy. It's not easy to have something you have to deal with, but that's the way it goes sometimes. It's a hard game and it's hard on your body, and it'll be good to get back."
Forward Gabriel Bourque (Injured Reserve) also skated with his teammates during Monday’s session, the first time he’s done so since returning from Milwaukee on a Long-Term Injury Loan. Forward Eric Nystrom (Injured Reserve) was the only player to not participate in practice.
Monday’s line rushes were as follows:
| ||Forwards || |
|Calle Jarnkrok ||Ryan Johansen ||James Neal |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Craig Smith |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Fisher ||Viktor Arvidsson |
|Miikka Salomaki ||Paul Gaustad ||A. Watson/G. Bourque |