Preds lose Stalberg (lower body) for 2-4 weeks

The Nashville Predators could be without forward Viktor Stalberg to start the regular season.

The Preds have announced that Stalberg suffered a lower-body injury that’ll sideline him for the next two to four weeks, possibly keeping him out of the lineup when Nashville opens its campaign at home against Ottawa on Oct. 9.

Stalberg, 28, appeared to suffer the injury during Monday’s practice and has been off ice ever since. Though he was a disappointment in Nashville last year — the first of a four-year, $12 million deal — with just eight goals in 70 games, Stalberg’s one of the club’s best skaters up front and is looking to improve from what can only be described as sub-par campaign.

As for the guy in charge of Stalberg, new Preds head coach Peter Laviolette took an optimistic view of losing the Swedish forward.

“Certainly we don’t want to lose our players for a game or two to four weeks,” Laviolette told The Tennessean. “It’s just part of the game and what happens out there.

“It’s physical. You see it all around the league. Players go down and teams have to handle it.”

It’s Nashville Predators Day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Nashville Predators.

The Nashville Predators built their team around goaltender Pekka Rinne and when he went down with a hip injury, they weren’t able to recover.

That’s the abridged version of what happened anyways. A big part of the problem was the team’s lack of offensive firepower. They entered the 2013-14 campaign with the hope that free agent signing Viktor Stalberg would be able to serve as a top-six forward after having a supporting role with the deep Chicago Blackhawks and 19-year-old Filip Forsberg would enjoy a solid rookie campaign.

Stalberg couldn’t get anything going though and Forsberg needed some time to develop in the minors, which left the Predators with largely the same cast of forwards that tied the Florida Panthers for the worst offensively in the shortened 2013 campaign. Compared to that anemic showing, Nashville’s actually took a step forward offensively in 2013-14, but for the second straight campaign it was defenseman Shea Weber that led the team’s scoring race.

After Nashville failed the make the playoffs, head coach Barry Trotz was fired and thus a new era in the history of the Nashville Predators will begin.

Peter Laviolette was brought on to be the second bench boss in the franchise’s history. The hope is that he can make the Predators an exciting, up-tempo team.

Of course, he needs the tools in place to pull off a more offensive style and to that end the Predators acquired James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The hope was that they could compliment him with a top-tier center, but when they were unable to pull off such a signing or trade, the Predators instead decided to gamble by inking Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen.

Ribeiro in particular represents a significant risk given that the Arizona Coyotes bought him out over “behavioral issues,” but Predators GM David Poile insists he did his “due diligence.”

Adding to the Predators’ uncertainty up the middle is the fact that Mike Fisher ruptured his Achilles tendon last month. Even still, there’s at least a chance that Nashville’s bold moves over the summer will pay off.

The Predators still have a handful restricted free agents to deal with, including defenseman Ryan Ellis.

Laviolette meets Preds fans, woos them with talk of offense


Last season, the Nashville Predators scored nine fewer goals than the league average, finishing with 216 in 82 frequently miserable games. In 2012-13, they finished dead-last in scoring.

It remains to be seen if Peter Laviolette can get more out of the Predators than Barry Trotz could in the brutal Central Division, but in his meeting with Predators fans on Sunday, the Tennessean reports that he wasn’t shy about his points of emphasis. While puck possession and development ranked among the buzzwords, the fans really got excited when that word “offense” popped up.

“I guess my thought process on the game and the style early on is that I decided to play with the puck, and I would rather play somewhere else other than my end,” Laviolette said at the Music City Sports Festival.

Newly hired assistant Kevin McCarthy believes that Laviolette can really help talented-yet-frustrated forwards such as Viktor Stalberg and Colin Wilson while Laviolette specifically seemed interested in developing Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok. It’s not surprising that Laviolette seems most excited about Seth Jones, though.

Speaking of assistants, the structure for next season appears to be in some question as of Sunday.

The team was excited to add Phil Housley to work with the team’s talented group of blueliners, which still seems to be the case. McCarthy is one of Laviolette’s “guys.” It’s not quite as clear if the Predators will bring back well-regarded goalie coach Mitch Korn (no contract for next season) and Lane Lambert (has one more year left, also sports remarkable hair).

Laviolette indicated that side will work itself out and it doesn’t sound like that put much of a damper on today’s celebration of offense.

Kane doesn’t want to hear ‘dynasty’ talk about Chicago


The Chicago Blackhawks are a win away from making their third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in five years. In their previous two appearances they’ve come out on top. A win this season would give them back-to-back championships, the first time that’s happened since 1997-1998.

You’d think with all that on their plate, talk of this iteration of the Blackhawks being a “dynasty” would be common. Patrick Kane isn’t buying it, however, as Tracey Myers of shared.

“I don’t think anyone’s thinking about the word ‘dynasty’ or anything like that,” Kane said. “It’s a totally new year for us.”

It might be a new year, but there aren’t many differences between this year’s Blackhawks team and last year’s. Only forwards Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and goalie Ray Emery are absent this time around.

There is that whole thing about Chicago needing to win one more game before getting to the Final though. It’s take two classic games with classic finishes for the Blackhawks to tie things up with the Los Angeles Kings and force a Game 7.

All bets are off as to how it’ll turn out, but if Chicago comes away with the win and moves on, the “dynasty” talk has only just begun.

Preds’ Stalberg, Cullen missed Sunday with upper-body injuries

The Nashville Predators are facing the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday without Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg, who are dealing with upper-body injuries. Such a predicament forced the Preds to dress seven defensemen tonight.

Both forwards have had their ups and downs in their first seasons with Nashville.

Cullen, 37, integrated into the lineup pretty well at first, but faced recent struggles. He only managed to collect points in one of 10 games to begin January (two assists on Jan. 9), but showed some life lately, with three points in the last two contests. Overall, Cullen has 22 points in 53 contests.

Stalberg, 28, has probably been a bigger disappointment to some who imagined what a player who scored 22 goals as a bit player with Chicago could do with a more heightened role. Instead, he’s been inconsistent, with just 15 points in 47 games. (He had 23 in the same amount of contests with the Blackhawks last season.)

The Tennessean’s Joshua Cooper turns the knife a little deeper on the team’s unsuccessful free agent bids as they face Matt Hendricks and the Oilers tonight: