Cal O’Reilly, Steve Sullivan getting healthier as Predators push for playoffs

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Perhaps the Nashville Predators should be called the Nashville Survivors instead. Year after year, Barry Trotz keeps this team chugging along despite considerable restraints – monetary and otherwise. This season, the biggest challenges revolve around all the injuries they’ve been dealing with.

It looks like the team could add some reinforcements sometime in the future, though. Joshua Cooper reports that Cal O’Reilly (sidelined since January 2nd with a broken fibula) began skating today while Steve Sullivan should get back to skating soon as he heals up from a groin injury.

Even with all those bumps along the road, Nashville is in a prime position to earn themselves a playoff spot. They’ve won six of their last seven games and play six of their last eight games at home.

The Predators will play two significant home games this week, as they play the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday and the Dallas Stars on Saturday. The Predators might be in sixth place with 88 points in 74 games played, but the Stars and Ducks pose serious threats to their playoff lives with 85 points in 72 GP. Those two teams square off tonight, so one of those teams will end up with 87 points with one game in hand over Nashville after that contest.

In other words, the Predators can take an enormous step toward protecting their postseason spot by beating both teams in regulation or risk losing their lead if they stumble. If they succeed, they could be even stronger if O’Reilly and Sullivan can come back healthy.

Rolling with the punches (and having a great goalie like Pekka Rinne) is a key – if intangible – part of a successful playoff run, so the Predators already have plenty of “training” in that area. Obviously, the first step is actually make the playoffs, but maybe this scrappy bunch finally has what it takes to advance to the second round … and beyond?

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?