With just one game left before the All Star break, the Nashville Predators will have to navigate past another significant loss to their defensive core with the injury to Alexandre Carrier.
The Nashville Predators are coming off a very impressive 2-1 victory over the Winnepeg Jets Tuesday night in Smashville. That win though did not come without a price. Just 1:15 into the first period in a physical matchup between the Central Division rivals, Logan Stanley made a high hit on an unexpecting Cody Glass.
Carrier did not waste any time jumping in and dropping the gloves with the 6-foot 7-inch, 228-pound defenseman. Carrier, coming in at just 5-foot 11-inches and weighing 174 pounds, was heavily outmatched in this bout as a player who had never had a fighting major in his NHL career.
Glass told Emma Lingan of the team’s website that he was grateful for his teammate having his back:
Playing in his 141st NHL game on Tuesday night, this was the first time in his NHL career that Carrier had dropped the gloves. And my oh my did he pick a heavyweight player to go with the first time.
Carrier only took six shifts in this game and registered 4:40 time on ice, taking his last shift with 4:29 left in the first period. But it was the fight that stuck out the most. After Carrier got out of the penalty box, he was greeted with stick taps from all his teammates on the bench.
You could go as far as saying that Carrier’s fight really changed the momentum of the game as well. The Jets got on the board early beating Juuse Saros just 48 seconds in. That was all that the Nashville Predators would give up though.
How Does Carrier Being Out Affect the Nashville Predators?
The Nashville Predators report that Carrier will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury as it looked like he went down awkwardly when taken to the ice by Stanley.
Carrier does not show up much on the scoresheet having two goals and six assists in the 2022-2023 season but those are not the statistics that stick out the most with this young defenseman. He plays a big factor to the success of the Nashville Predators penalty kill, registering 80 minutes time on ice while the Predators have been shorthanded this season.
Averaging just over 18 minutes of ice time per game, the loss of Carrier will leave a major void on the Nashville Predators blue line.
Who Could Replace Carrier on the Nashville Predators Blue Line?
It is likely that if Carrier is out for an extended period of time the Predators would rely on either Roland McKeown, Kevin Gravel, or Jordan Gross to be called up and see more time for the Predators.
McKeown was recalled by Nashville from Milwaukee on Thursday. He has skated in six games for the Predators this season and just 16 NHL games overall spanning back to 2017-18 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Most of his playing career has been in the AHL.
Playing for the Predators AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, in 28 games MeKeown has posted two goals and six assists. In his time in Milwaukee he has also accumulated 18 penalty minutes. One concern with McKeown will be his ability to stay out of the box.
Gravel has skated in four games for Predators in the absence of Ryan McDonagh in mid-December. All four games that Gravel skated in were losses for the Predators.
Skating in 36 games for Milwaukee this season, Gravel has posted one goal and nine assists. Gravel seems to be a more disciplined player than McKeown as he did not go to the penalty box in his four games after being called up and has 16 penalty minutes in the AHL.
Gross is a player that many Predators fans expected to see more time in the NHL. In the ten games that he played in a Predators sweater he scored three goals and only had one minor penalty.
Being a more offensively minded defenseman, Gross has elite scoring ability but does give up time and space to the opposition as he was a -3 in his stint in the NHL. In his 26 games with the Admirals, Gross has five goals and 18 assists and only ten penalty minutes.
The Nashville Predators Have Some Big Skates to Fill…
No matter which player gets called upon to fill the void of Carrier, they should be expected to be relied upon heavily during the playoff run. Carrier brings heart and dedication to the ice each and every shift.
While he does not score very often, he is a solid defenseman that plays a good “lock down” style of play and not giving the opposition many scoring opportunities.
At this point of the 2022-2023 NHL season, the Nashville Predators find themselves outside of a playoff spot. Their inability to score goals puts even more on their blue line and goaltenders to keep the puck out of the back of their own net.