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Preds Returning To Full Strength With Big Road Trip On the Horizon

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
It’s one of those situations when Barry Trotz looks around, finds something made out of wood, and knocks on it.

Yes, the Nashville Predators are as healthy as they’ve been all season. But the coaching staff and players don’t want to jinx it.

“Some guys are just battling some daily things, but for the most part we’re pretty healthy,” said Trotz, whose team is preparing to host Edmonton on Tuesday. “It’s been awhile.”

The final piece of the health puzzle was put in place when David Legwand returned to game action on Saturday against Columbus. He had missed the previous four games after sustaining an upper-body injury at L.A. on Nov. 8. Legwand had been Nashville’s top offensive performer before the injury.

Against the Blue Jackets, Legwand quickly got it going. He assisted on Colin Wilson’s power play goal in the first period.

“I felt pretty good,” Legwand said following Monday’s practice. “You always have some nerves in your first game back, but it was good.”

Legwand’s assist came while he was playing the point on the power play.

“It’s been awhile since I played back there, but it’s good and it’s different,” Legwand said. “Whenever you get a chance to get out there with those guys, it’s always fun. I just wanted the chance to contribute.”

Trotz may continue to use Legwand in that situation.

“It allowed us to put a more offensive player back there,” Trotz said. “One thing that Leggy can do for us on the back end is bring the puck up, just like (Ryan) Suter can on that unit. I just felt he could do that a little bit better than some others. It also allows us to save a little bit of our D. Be it a Frankie Bouillon or Jonathon Blum or whoever.”

Edmonton again: Edmonton defeated Nashville 3-1 on Oct. 17, and it still doesn’t sit well with the Predators. A better showing is expected on Tuesday, and once again it has to do with health.

“We have a little more balance in our team from a health standpoint,” Trotz said. “I don’t know if we’re playing much different, but we’re a little more focused right now than we have been. We still can improve. There are parts of our game that we’ll work on all year.”

The coaches and players are trying to strike a balance.

“One thing about an 82-game schedule is that there are parts of your game that are good, and just like with anything, you need a refresher course every once in awhile, maybe every 10 games,” Trotz said. “What we are focusing on today will be different 10 games from now. It’s like a moving target. It seems every time one part of your game is really solid, there are other parts that slip a little bit.”

Impressive run: Predators Captain Shea Weber has been on the ice for Nashville’s last 12 goals. The last skater who has been on the ice for that many consecutive goals was Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer, who was on the ice for 14 in a row from March 31 - April 6 in 2010.

Last Stand At Home: Tuesday's game at Bridgestone Arena closes out the team's season-long five-game homestand, after which the Preds hit the road for six of their next eight games. The Preds have gone 2-0-2 through the first four games of the homestand to improve to 5-1-2 during the month of November and move into fourth place in the Western Conference at 24 points, tied for the sixth best mark in the entire NHL.

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