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Wilson Ready to Return; Forsberg Hits 100 (Again)

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

Prior to the NHL-leading Washington Capitals paying a visit to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators logged a fast-paced practice on Monday.

Following their 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Preds will be tested against the current class of the League, managed by their former bench boss, Barry Trotz.

“They are extremely dynamic; they’ve always been good, but they’ve added a couple D the past few years who have been solid for them,” Preds forward Colin Wilson said of Washington. “Getting a young guy like [Evgeny] Kuznetsov, they’re very dynamic and they even have Trotz now too… It’s always fun facing a former teammate, or in this case, a former coach”

“They’re a really good team,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re going to have to be sharp. They have good balance on their lines, good goaltending and they can skate. They bring a lot to the table and we’ll have to be really sharp.”

Free Willy:

Out since Jan. 8 with a lower-body injury, Colin Wilson described the timing of his second significant injury this season as “unfortunate.”

The forward, who had tallied seven points in the eight games preceding his injury, had begun to redeem a statistically-low season prior to leaving a game versus the Colorado Avalanche. On Monday afternoon, Wilson said the “plan right now” is for him to return to the Predators lineup tomorrow versus the Capitals.

“I liked the way I was playing before I got hurt,” Wilson said. “The bounces had started coming and I think I was playing with a lot more confidence with the puck. I’m going to try and keep that confidence up when I’m out there. I felt good out there [today].”

Based on the line rushes presented on Monday, Wilson will return to the ice alongside two forwards he’s displayed chemistry with before. The 26-year-old posted a career-best 20 goals in 2014-15, while playing primarily with Mike Fisher and Craig Smith.

“It’s our old line from last year, we’re all comfortable together and we know each other’s tendencies,” Wilson said. “It’s worked well before and we certainly had a good run last year, so we want to continue down that path.”

“He’s a big, strong forward,” Laviolette said of Wilson. “He does a lot of things well out there. He brings size, skill and speed to the game, so to get him back on the ice at practice is a real positive for us.”

The Century Mark - Again?

A smile was present on Filip Forsberg’s face as he fired a puck into the Edmonton Oilers’ net to seal a 4-1 Predators win on Jan. 23. The goal, Forsberg’s second point of the night, represented his 100th in the NHL, an early milestone in the career of the 21-year-old Swedish forward.

There was only one problem, however. Forsberg’s helper on Mattias Ekholm’s crazy goal that deflected off the head of an Oilers d-man and then squeaked through the pads of Cam Talbot was already in jeopardy.

“I kind of knew they were going to change the scoring of it,” Forsberg said of the goal. “Fisher said he touched the puck, and I was already getting a lucky one because it had just hit my leg, and the NHL has good control of that stuff. Obviously, I was happy I got the point, but I was pretty sure they were going to change it pretty quickly, but then it took a little while so I wasn’t sure. But finally I heard they’d switched it near the end of the road trip. ”

Close to 72 hours went by before the NHL made their ruling: the goal would change to Fisher, with the assists going to Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. Forsberg’s 99th point became his 98th, and his empty netter lost a large portion of its significance.

But like his playoff hat trick on the night of his Calder Trophy snub, the Swede was happy to go above and beyond on the offensive production forefront.

Saturday, Forsberg recorded his 100th, 101st and 102nd points, helping the Predators to a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks and “again” becoming only the third 2012 NHL Draft pick to reach the mark (Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov are the others). At 102 points in 153 games played, he’s also the player from his draft year to accomplish the feat the fastest.

“He’s a great talent and player,” Ekholm said of his fellow countryman. “The way he came in here last year and just took off and never really stopped throughout the year, it was amazing and really fun to watch. I thought he for sure should have been one of the candidates for the Calder last year. We know how good of a player he is and always in the second year, it’s tougher when they know who you are, but he’s still putting up the numbers. He’s scoring goals and he’s a tremendous player and hopefully he can keep developing into one of the better players in the League.”

Like Ekholm, Laviolette has been impressed with Forsberg’s avoidance of the dreaded “sophomore slump.”

“I think the consistency of his game, the speed that he plays with, I think you watch him grow in that sense,” Laviolette said. “It might even be a little easier in your first year when people don’t know who you are. Everybody knows who he is now, that leads to tighter checking and maybe not as much opportunity. I think he’s been a little more consistent with his game.”

Lines, Notes and Injury News:

Forward Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body) participated in practice, but not line rushes. Colin Wilson (IR, lower-body) skated on the third line. If Wilson is activated off Injured Reserve tomorrow, he will become the Preds 22nd active player - a NHL team is allowed a maximum of 23 active skaters (players on IR do not count against the 23-man limit).

Blueliner Anthony Bitetto, who has skated in the last two Preds games, remained alongside Barret Jackman during drills; Petter Granberg rotated as the extra defenseman.

Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Viktor Arvidsson
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Craig Smith
Austin Watson Paul Gaustad M. Salomaki/C. Bass


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