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Preds Seek to Fill Craig Smith's Void

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

After leaving Game Three with a lower-body injury, Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith was announced as “day-to-day” on Wednesday.

Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette was challenged on Tuesday night to mix and match his 11 remaining forwards versus the Anaheim Ducks after Smith’s exit.

“I think you are talking 15 or 20 seconds into the game,” Laviolette said after Game Three of Smith vacating the lineup. “From that point on you are juggling lines and lines are mismatched the entire night. So taking Craig out of play that early just puts a shuffle to the lines. It’s not an excuse for the way we played, but certainly, we would rather have guys in there and lines rolling over as opposed to patching them together as we move through the periods.”

With two points (1g-1a) during the Predators first two games of Round One and a part of one of the NHL’s hottest line down the stretch of the regular season, Nashville may be without one of their top-six forwards for the immediate future.

“It’s been tough losing Smitty, but we have a lot of really good players that can step up and have done a pretty good job trying to match the lines yesterday with missing a forward,” Filip Forsberg, one of Smith’s linemates, said on Wednesday. “It’s going to be interesting, I’m not for sure on what’s going to happen. It’s going to be fine, we have a lot of guys that can step in.”

Winger Colin Wilson is one possible candidate to fill in for Smith if the 2009 fourth-round pick misses playing time. Smith was the only absentee for Wednesday’s practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It’s exciting, I’ve been there before in my career, and it’ll be fun playing with those guys if that’s who I end up playing with tomorrow,” Wilson said of joining the Predators second line. “Smitty is a great player. He contributes to our team in a lot of ways, and we’ll see what’s going on with that, and hopefully we’ll have him back in.”

Laviolette took a more philosophical approach when he was asked to speak on the effect Smith’s injury may have on the team’s chemistry:

“Injuries happen all the time, and things weren't set in stone down the stretch. There was always movement based on injury or guys playing well, so those are things that happen through the course of the regular season and the course of the playoffs. Our guys that played with each other, if we do move somebody up there, I’m sure there's been some sort of chemistry in the past with those players, and they’ll be able to figure that out. I’m not too concerned about that,” Laviolette said. “I think you get more concerned just about missing a player if a player is out of the lineup, you miss their presence and what they bring to the table.”

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