By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 31-22-8
Dallas Stars 32-23-6
Saturday afternoon’s contest between two slumping teams will give one club an opportunity to get on track for their March push to the playoff. Dallas is in the 8th spot in the Western Conference after having lead the Pacific Division for most of the season. The Stars shutout Detroit on Thursday 3-0, but lost the four games beforehand and are 2-7-1 in their last 10.
Nashville has lost 3 in a row and for the first time in more than two months find themselves out of the playoff picture, sitting at 9th spot.
When the Predators hit the ice, the roster will look a little different. Late Friday morning, defenseman Alexander Sulzer was traded to Florida for a conditional 7th round draft pick. The condition is that Sulzer has to be in the Florida organization’s roster for the 2011-12 season, otherwise Nashville is not compensated.
Nashville also placed Wade Belak on waivers.
With the waiving of Belak and Svatos just a couple days earlier, it came as a surprise for the Predator faithful to learn that Steve Sullivan has been placed on injured reserve.
To fill the roster spots, it is probably safe to assume that Jonathon Blum has earned a spot on the team as the defenseman replacing Francis Bouillon while he is out with a concussion. Blum has impressed in his first two games in the NHL and on Thursday night only Shea Weber and Ryan Suter had more ice time for the Predators.
Blake Geoffrion has been recalled by the Predators for the first time in his career. With 11 goals and 26 assists, Geoffrion ranks second in points for the Admirals, Nashville’s American Hockey League affiliate. Geoffrion was the first person from Tennessee to get drafted into the NHL.
Matt Halischuk has also been recalled. Last time in Nashville, Halischuk, playing on a line predominately with JP Dumont and Chris Mueller, scored 1 goal and added 2 assists in 11 games with the Predators.
The Dallas roster also has a new look to it. Last week, the Stars sent James Neal and Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski. What was a seen as a surprise move became even more perplexing with Brad Richards out of the lineup. With speculation that Richards is on the trading bloc before Monday’s trade deadline, the leading points getter on Dallas is out with a concussion.
Nicklas Grossman and Raymond Sawada are also sidelined. Grossman has a hip injury and is listed by TSN has doubtful for Saturday’s game and Sawada is on injured reserve with a separated shoulder and broken nose.
Saturday afternoon’s game is the 11th of 13 back-to-backs Nashville plays. The team has gone 7-3-0 in the game of the back-to-back and is 4-5-1 for the second game. Sunday Nashville is back home at Bridgestone Arena to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Tickets for Sunday’s game are still available. While the game Sunday is not on tv, Saturday afternoon’s game is on Fox Sports Tennessee at 1 pm.
Follow Predlines on Twitter @Predlines