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The Official Site of the Nashville Predators Gill still day-to-day, but Preds avoid losing Weber

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE -- With one defenseman still not practicing because of an injury, the Predators avoided the possibility of going down two key players at that position on Thursday when captain Shea Weber was fined $2,500 for his hit on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg at the end of Game 1, but not suspended by the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

Hal Gill, who has not practiced in nearly a week because of a lower-body injury, did not join the team on the ice Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, but coach Barry Trotz hinted that was part of Gill's treatment plan.

"Hal is still day-to-day," Trotz said. "He didn't skate. We're doing that on purpose. If he feels better and he's able to go, he'll go."

Trotz said Gill skated Tuesday, before the rest of his team practiced. Nashville could have used him in Game 1 despite coming out with a 3-2 win. Detroit converted 2-of-8 power-play opportunities and Gill, whom the Preds acquired in February in large part for his skill killing penalties, by far is the team’s leader in shorthanded time on ice at 3:28 per game; Ryan Suter ranks second among Preds defensemen at 2:20 per game. Detroit spent 12:16 of the game on the power play.

Jack Hillen, one of two Nashville defensemen who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 1, took Gill's spot in the lineup. Hillen played only 8:20 -- almost a full 10 minutes less than Gill's average since joining the Preds -- and played only 58 seconds on the penalty kill.

Goalie Pekka Rinne thought Hillen acquitted himself well, as did rookie Roman Josi, who also made his playoff debut. Rinne compared them with rookie left wing Gabriel Bourque, whose two goals were instrumental in the victory.

"A guy like Roman, he's a pretty cool guy," Rinne said. "Just always plays his game. He looks like he plays with a lot of confidence. He doesn't panic and same thing with [Hillen]. His biggest attribute is his skating ability. He always keeps his head up. He actually tries to make plays and he makes plays, not only tries. I think they did a great job.

"It's always like that. A guy like [Bourque] comes up big -- guys who aren't the biggest names yet, but they are a crucial part of your team."

With Gill's status still in question for Game 2, Nashville might have had to go to another rookie in Ryan Ellis if Weber had been suspended. In a statement, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan said Weber's shove of Zetterberg's head into the glass was "a reckless and reactionary play."

Shanahan indicated an important factor in the decision was that his office contacted the Red Wings and learned Zetterberg did not incur an injury. Zetterberg practiced Thursday.

Asked if he thought the decision was fair, Weber responded, "I'm glad he wasn't hurt and I'm focusing on Game 2."

Weber did not want to answer a question about whether he was concerned he might get suspended.

"We're excited for Game 2," he said when questioned on that subject. "It's a big challenge; they're ready, we're ready."

Shea Weber was fined $2,500 for his hit on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg in Game 1, but not suspended by the NHL's Department of Player Safety. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Speaking generally about the number of penalties called in Game 1 -- 17 minors -- Weber said, "emotions got the best of everyone and we expect a lot more discipline" for Game 2 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC).

At one point, he began to lose patience with the line of questioning.

"Like I said six times already, it's a quick game and things happen and it's an emotional game," he said. "I'm just thankful he's not hurt and now we can move forward."

Trotz said he thought in that situation -- Detroit had pulled goalie Jimmy Howard and had a 6-on-4 power play in the final 23 seconds of regulation -- that Weber had the puck with his back turned to the glass and that the Red Wings were "trying to get it off of him any way they could," which caused Weber to react.

Suter, Weber's defense partner, said the team was not anxious that Weber might be sidelined. As a result of the outcome, the Predators nonetheless were thankful they would be going into Game 2 with one of their best players still in the lineup. In Game 1, Weber posted an even rating in 27:27 of time on ice -- minutes that would be irreplaceable.

"Obviously, he's a big part of our team," Suter said. "You never want to lose a top player like that and it's good that he's going to be in the lineup."

Author: John Manasso | Correspondent

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