The Nashville Predators continue to battle injuries, requiring lineup adjustments. With the Anaheim Ducks visiting, dept will be tested.
First, it was Pekka Rinne. Out for several games after taking Kevin Fiala‘s knee to his head. Then Viktor Arvidsson and Dan Hamhuis. Both came back, only to see Arvidsson break his hand and go right back to injured reserve. P.K. Subban soon followed, and now Kyle Turris is out with injury. This the season trend for the Nashville Predators.
None of this is ideal, yet, the Predators continue to lead the Western Conference, and sit just behind the surprisingly surging Buffalo Sabres. However, the question remains how long with this last. Nashville, like many NHL clubs, is not very forthcoming with injury information. There are no indications on what the ailments are or how long players will miss. And, given recent gameplay, other teams now have a formula for beating the Predators.
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Enter the Anaheim Ducks. To many Nashville Predators fans, the Ducks are public enemy number one. The rivalry between the two teams brewed years ago and now bursts with body checks and Twitter battles. Certainly, Ryan Kesler has Ryan Johansen on his mind more than anyone else. Could the gloves drop for them as quickly as they did on Friday night for Austin Watson and Pat Maroon?
Speaking of Watson, looks like he will make an appearance on the top line with Johansen and Filip Forsberg. According to Brooks Bratten from the Predators, Watson skated with the top line during morning skate today.
With Turris out, moving Calle Jarnkrok up to the second line makes sense. Jarnkrok is one of the more versatile players on the roster. However, the second line is deployed in the offensive zone nearly 70% of the time on ice. Jarnkrok sees far more time in the defensive zone, and has won only 40% of faceoffs this season. Can he convert more chances and push Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala forward?
The Predators are getting tested constantly, and their roster has taken a toll. To see them lead the division and conference is refreshing knowing they are only 80% of who they really are. But, battles are coming. The Ducks are just the next opponent in line.
When facing John Gibson, your chances to score are small. Survival may mean staying as healthy as possible, not earning two points today.