Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators has the makings of a great test for two top Western Conference teams, especially with Pekka Rinne returning, but it sounds like Ryan Getzlaf won’t play.
Multiple sources including Thomas Willis of the Predators’ website and the OC Register’s Eric Stephens report that Getzlaf is a late scratch for this contest.
Update: Stephens reports that the Ducks said Getzlaf had been dealing with a lower-body injury that he aggravated during warm-ups. He’s considered day-to-day at the moment.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.
Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.
For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.
Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth
Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason
Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner
Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.
Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.
Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.
‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith
Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.
In the midst of a surprising and dominant season, Nashville has started talking new deal with two of its biggest catalysts.
Veteran centers Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro — both slated to be UFAs on July 1 — have entered into the early phase of extension negotiations, per ESPN.
Fisher, 34, is in the last of a two-year, $8.4 million deal with a $4.2 million cap hit. Though he’s only played 29 games this year due to a ruptured Achilles, Fisher has been great — he’s scored 13 goals and 25 points while averaging 18:17 TOI per night.
It’s not surprising the Preds want to get an extension done; despite turning 35 in June, Fisher is posting a career high in points-per-game average (.86) and is a popular figure in the community thanks in large part to his wife, musician Carrie Underwood.
Ribeiro, also 34, has been arguably the best free agent signing from last summer. Scooped up for just $1.05 million after a fall out — and buyout — in Arizona, Ribeiro sits seventh in the NHL in assists (33) and has been a dynamic playmaker on the club’s top line between Filip Forsberg and James Neal.
Signing Ribeiro was a masterstroke by GM David Poile, so it’s no surprise he’s expressed interest in keeping Ribs around for at least another year.
After missing the last eight games with a knee sprain, Pekka Rinne will be back in goal for Nashville on Thursday when the Preds take on the Ducks in a top-of-the-table clash.
“I feel really good,” Rinne said, per the team website. “I feel 100 percent and feel ready to go. It’s never a good time to be injured, but I’m feeling good.”
Rinne was enjoying a banner campaign prior to getting hurt against Vancouver on Jan. 13. He was — and still is — the NHL’s wins leader (with 29), and currently boasts a 1.96 GAA and .931 save percentage. Those numbers made him not just Nashville’s MVP through the first half of the season, but also put him in the Hart Trophy conversation as league MVP (along with another goalie, Montreal’s Carey Price.)
His first game back, however, will be a stiff test. The Ducks are tied on 72 points with Nashville atop the NHL standings and the last time the two met, Anaheim narrowly came out on top in a 4-3 shootout win — but it was Carter Hutton in goal for Nashville that night, not Rinne.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban has become the fifth player this season to be fined for diving/embellishment — on Wednesday, the NHL announced Subban was dinged $2,000 for an incident against the Rangers last week.
Subban was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 586 vs. Tampa Bay on Jan. 6. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 712 at New York on Jan. 29.
Subban was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment and Rangers forward Chris Kreider received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, at 13:05 of the first period.
And the incident:
The Habs rearguard joins the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal in the quintet of players to be publicly outed as divers, under new rules put forth by the league this season.