Defenseman Hal Gill
will not play for the Nashville Predators on Tuesday in Game 4 of the team's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Gill went through Nashville's morning skate wearing skate guards, which was the first time he'd done gone through a game-day skate since incurring a lower-body injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
Gill hasn't played in the series and also missed the season finale in Colorado. The good news for the Preds -- who lead the series 2-1 -- is that Gill appears to be making good progress, according to Nashville coach Barry Trotz.
"He's improving every day, made some real good improvement," Trotz said of Gill. "He’s not in [Tuesday], but really good improvement. I thought he looked very good, actually."
Gill declined comment through a team spokesman. Whenever he does return, the Preds' penalty killing should get a big boost -- literally. The 6-foot-7, 241-pound Gill -- who was acquired from Montreal in a deal a week before the trade deadline -- takes up a lot of space in front of the net where opposing forwards like to camp.
"That's a specialty for him," Trotz said of Gill's penalty-killing ability. "He's a big man. It's like parking a small car in front of the net sometimes when he's out there."
It also will provide a chance for the Predators' top defense duo of Shea Weber
and Ryan Suter
to catch a breather. With Gill sidelined, they've been spending a lot of time killing penalties.
"They do a real good job and I think [Kevin Klein
] gets underrated on that," Trotz said. "[Suter and Weber] are always the big names, but [Klein and Roman Josi
] do a good job, too. They've done a really good job to this point, but I'd be excited to get Hal back, because that's really where he excels -- especially this time of year."
Trotz did say there will be a lineup switch for the Preds in Game 4, but declined to reveal it. Rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis
stayed out on the ice for the skate a lot longer than the defenseman he replaced in Game 3, Jack Hillen
, which could be a clue.
Hillen played for Gill in the first two games of the series.
Forward Brandon Yip
also is expected to draw into Nashville's lineup, at right wing of the fourth line in place of Jordin Tootoo
, while David Legwand
might start the game at fourth-line center instead of being in the middle of the second line.By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent