The Nashville Predators have been short on star power for basically the franchise’s entire existence. (There are two possible exceptions: Peter Forsberg’s brief run after one trade deadline and Paul Kariya’s best moments with the team.)
That being said, the team has been scrappy enough to make the playoffs for years, with underrated center play being one of the reasons for their success.
Many Predators fans were optimistic this summer, as the team basically exchanged the offensively gifted but inconsistent and limited forward Jason Arnott for speedy two-way center Matthew Lombardi. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t been able to reap the benefits of that change because Lombardi has been injured.
The team has been able to keep its head above water, though, but Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck is concerned that defensive center David Legwand’s murky injury status could mean trouble for the team down the middle. Hoag wonders which players will step up at the pivot spot beyond Cal O’Reilly and Marcel Goc.
If Legwand’s unable to go, however, what should the Predators do at center? Obviously O’Reilly and Goc are running the top two scoring lines, leaving two spots available between three possible contenders on the current roster – Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, and Colin Wilson. Smithson is at least used to battling tough opponents on a checking line and playing alongside Joel Ward, so he’s an option, and Spaling has been fairly effective in a limited role on the 4th line and PK unit. So does Wilson continue to linger in a marginal role?
As Hoag notes, “day-to-day” can mean just about anything in a league where injury details are guarded like a secret chili recipe. In most cases, I would say that a team with such a raw, makeshift group of centers would be in trouble, but this is the Nashville Predators. Coach Barry Trotz is one of the league’s best when it comes to rolling with the punches and making the most of limited talent.
Still, the team is struggling at the moment, so losing Legwand could be a problem … even if it’s in a subtle way.
It makes sense that a swift bit of history happened in a game in which three goals were scored scored on three shots in about three minutes.
Brad Marchand found the net eight seconds in after an icing call, setting a new record for the Boston Bruins.
(You can see that goal in the video above.)
Watch that three-goal burst in this video:
The two teams weren’t done then. Loui Eriksson made it 3-1 while Pavel Datsyuk scored his 900th point to make it 3-2.
Maybe the best moment wasn’t a goal: Torey Krug was seemingly hurt by a Pavel Datsyuk hit, yet he returned without missing much time.
When the New Jersey Devils shut down a team 1-0, it’s usually with Cory Schneider in net.
Their workhorse got the afternoon off against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, yet Keith Kinkaid did his Schneider impression, grabbing his first NHL shutout in the process.
It was a low-event game with just 46 combined shots on goal, but Kinkaid had to work, stopping all 28 shots. To give you an idea of how tight this game was, the only tally was credited to David Schlemko on the power play.
This gives the Devils three straight wins. They managed to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New Jersey’s edge is a little misleading; the Islanders trail them by one standings point while holding three games in hand.
That leaves the Islanders in the bottom wild card spot, while the Penguins aren’t so far behind either.
Third in Metro: Devils – 65 points with 57 games played
Second wildcard: Islanders – 64 points, 54 GP
First spot outside the East playoffs: Penguins – 63 points, 54 GP
So, the Devils’ hold of a playoff spot is a bit tenuous, yet the bottom line is that they’re staying in the mix.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain comfortably in first in the Pacific.
The Boston Bruins (without Patrice Bergeron) take on the Detroit Red Wings (missing Jonathan Ericsson) on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a matchup between the second-ranked and third-ranked teams in the Atlantic Division, with little separating the two in the standings.
You can watch the game on NBC and also stream it online via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
As cool as it was at the time for many, Patrice Bergeron‘s fight against Blake Wheeler is … honestly, a good reminder why players like Bergeron rarely drop the gloves.
Multiple outlets including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty report that Bergeron will miss Sunday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Red Wings (which you can watch on NBC).
We don’t know a ton about the injury aside from the fact that the multiple Selke-winner is considered day-to-day.
People don’t seem overly concerned about this issue, but you have to wonder if Bergeron made a bad choice, especially considering his history of concussion issues.
You can watch the bout that may or may not have left him injured in the video above.