The Nashville Predators are aiming to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday, but they’ll face the Washington Capitals without Shea Weber.
The all-star defenseman is out with a lower-body injury, which is considered a day-to-day issue, according to the team. It’s not immediately obvious how, exactly, the hard-shooting blueliner got hurt.
Weber, 29, has 15 goals and 45 points in 75 games so far this season. He’s a big part of a Predators defense that can create a lot of offense.
Check today’s various playoff-clinching scenarios here.
Take a look at Nashville’s defensive pairing sans-Shea:
Generally speaking, if a team can clinch a playoff berth about two weeks before the season’s over, they’re probably in great shape.
Still, fans of teams probably want to know it’s a sure thing to start throwing some confetti, so here are four teams’ clinching scenarios for Saturday:
- The Montreal Canadiens would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Panthers in any fashion OR if the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Panthers AND the Bruins defeat the Rangers in a shootout.
- The Anaheim Ducks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Islanders in any fashion OR if they lose to the Islanders in overtime or a shootout. (Update: Anaheim won, so they’re in.)
- The Tampa Bay Lightning would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Red Wings in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Red Wings AND the Rangers defeat the Bruins in any fashion OR if the Rangers defeat the Bruins in regulation.
- The Nashville Predators would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Capitals in any fashion. (Update: Nashville did it.)
Hey, at least Nashville’s situation is straightforward enough.
The Eastern Conference’s strongest teams just seem to be getting stronger on Saturday.
Just moments after it was revealed that Henrik Lundqvist will return for the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed that Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist are back in the lineup against the Arizona Coyotes today.
For all the worries about the Penguins’ shaky play lately, plenty have countered that Pittsburgh has been rocked by another season full of injury challenges. Getting two key forwards back – Hornqvist has shown that he can be a huge contributor, too – should provide a little more clarity regarding the Penguins’ position among the East’s power brokers.
Of course, it might take one or both of these scorers some time to get healthy and up to speed. The good news is that the Penguins have two weeks to gear up for the postseason, so the hope is that they’ll shake off any rust by then.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe provided his guess as far as how Pittsburgh’s lines might look against the Coyotes: