Casual fans might not know it, but Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is really good. As in, Josi is “outscoring teammate Shea Weber by a healthy margin and not by accident” good.
With less than four seconds remaining, he handed the Chicago Blackhawks a painful reminder that he’s a star-caliber player:
That made for quite the busy end to the first period of Game 2, as the two teams had a mini-brawl to end the opening frame:
There’s plenty of talent on both ends of the ice, and we’ve seen it frequently already. As Central Division adversaries, they won’t need too much time to drum up that playoff hate, either.
After blowing a 3-0 lead and losing their series opener against Chicago in OT, the Predators appear to be making some lineup changes.
Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, acquired from Toronto just prior to the trade deadline, look as though they’ll play tonight after sitting out Game 1. Franson, who had been dealing with an upper-body injury that lingered from the regular season, said he feels ready to get back into action for the first time since Apr. 9.
As for Santorelli, an injury to Mike Fisher looks as though it’ll play in his favor. Head coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t confirm the move, but it’s expected Santorelli — who’s posted four points (one goal, three assists) in 22 games with Nashville — will get in ahead of ’14 first-rounder Kevin Fiala, who also sat out Game 1.
“He brings a lot of speed to the lineup,” Laviolette said of Santorelli, per The Tennessean. “He’s capable of contributing offensively. He’s a reliable player. We can use him on the penalty kill. I think he’s been an effective player for us in the role we’ve asked him to play in. If Mike gets in there, tonight, we have no question he’ll be able to do the job.”
It’s probably not a coincidence that Nashville’s collapse against Chicago on Wednesday night coincided with Mike Fisher getting hurt, trying to play through injury and eventually exiting in the second period.
Which makes today’s update somewhat ominous.
The Preds have listed Fisher as day-to-day with a lower-body ailment, and didn’t offer any further information on the veteran center’s health. Last night, the 34-year-old exited after playing 5:07 in the first period and just one 25-second shift in the middle frame.
“You could go down a checklist of things that you need from players on the ice, from faceoffs, leadership, power play, penalty kill, and you just keep checking the boxes when Mike comes out of the lineup,” Preds head coach Peter Laviolette said following the loss, per The Tennessean.
“Those are some big shoes to fill.”
It’s unclear if this latest injury is something new, or a re-aggravation of the lower-body injury that forced Fisher to miss Nashville’s last few games of the regular season. Whatever the case, it isn’t good — Fisher was a key contributor that finished with 39 points in 59 games this season, playing big minutes for a Preds team that isn’t especially deep at center.