Nashville is coming off a 1-0 OT loss Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. Pittsburgh last played on Monday night, beating Ottawa 5-2.
The storyline for both Nashville and Pittsburgh this early season has been finding success with key players missing from the lineup. On Tuesday, the Predators started the night without Marcel Goc and Matthew Lombardi in the lineup and by the midway point of the first period, the team also lost Alternate captain and U.S. Olympian Ryan Suter.
Suter collided with Calgary’s tough guy Cory Sarich. Wednesday morning, Suter was placed on injured reserve with a lower body injury. Alexander Sulzer, Nashville’s seventh defenseman, will see action against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be Sulzer’s first game this season.
The Penguins are red hot, coming to town on a three game winning streak. Key players out of the lineup for Pittsburgh include, most notably, Jordan Staal. Staal, who suffered a severed tendon during Pittsburgh playoff round against Montreal last May, just starting practicing again. Aaron Asham and Brooks Orpik are listed as having upper-body injuries. Both returned to practice on Tuesday but it is unclear if either will be ready to play Thursday night. Finally, Zbynek Michalek is listed as having an upper-body injury and has started skating on his own, but has yet to return to practice.
It would make sense for Nashville to play their starter, Pekka Rinne, in goal. With back to back games Saturday and Sunday, Nashville fans may have another chance to see Anders Lindback in goal, but it won’t likely be Thursday night. For the Penguins, the answer to who plays in net is more of an unknown.
The Penguins three wins came with Brent Johnson in goal. Stanley Cup winning goaltender, and Canadian Olympian, Marc-Andre Fleury has gone 0-3 on the season and has allowed 10 goals.
Game Time Fun Facts:
Nashville beat the Penguins for the last two years in a row, last year in a shootout.
The Penguins are undefeated on the road so far this season with a 2-0-0 record.
Jerred Smithson leads the National Hockey League in face-off success rate at 70.9%.
Some of Nashville’s leaders have great numbers against the Penguins. Martin Erat has 7 goals and 1 assist in 7 games against the Penguins. Captain Shea Weber has registered 4 points, a goal and 3 assists in three games against Pittsburgh. Weber has yet to score for Nashville yet. Look for Weber’s offensive productino to kick in.
Shane O’Brien played over 10 minutes more than his average ice time on Tuesday night. In Suter’s absence, expect O’Brien to be used more on the penalty kill. O’Brien will move up to a top 4 defense spot until Suter returns.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Predators upcoming home games Thursday night when The Croz visits Smashville with his Pittsburgh Penguins and a week from Thursday when the St. Louis Blues make their second trip to town.