Red Wings @ Predators Preview: Defensive uncertainty overshadows rivalry game

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15: Henrik Zettereberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings carries the puck past Nick Spaling #13 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on December 15, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After two days off for a Christmas break, the Predators return home to Bridgestone Arena to face the division rival Detroit Red Wings.

The Predators trail the Red Wings by three points in the Central Division standings, but as is usually the case, Nashville has played well against Detroit this year, splitting the season series so far.

Games against the Red Wings usually carry a little bit extra meaning than even other divisional games, and the Predators are ready for an intense atmosphere tonight.

"It feels like a playoff game every time; the intensity's there," defenseman Jonathon Blum said at today's morning skate. "We don't like them, they don't like us, and it shows out there. We play these guys six times a year so we see them a lot and you want to beat them because they're in your division, and you fight for that division title every year with these guys."

And after a disappointing game against the Dallas Stars, Nashville is eager for the opportunity to get back on track.

"We know we've got to get right back at it, get refocused, get a quick sweat this morning and get back into game mode," Mike Fisher said. "And there's no better way to do that than against Detroit."

Follow after the jump for a few storylines to follow tonight, including news that the captain could be out for the game.

Depleted D

As expected, head coach Barry Trotz confirmed that Kevin Klein would once again be out of the lineup. Klein has been recovering from the flu. He did participate in today's morning skate but will need a few more days to be back in game-shape.

However, that may not be the only casualty that the defense faces tonight.

Captain Shea Weber left the morning skate early. When Trotz spoke with the media afterwards, he had not yet visited with the trainers and couldn't give an update to Weber's condition. All he said was that he didn't know what the situation was and that there was a chance he could be out of the lineup.

If Weber can't go, that would leave Nashville with only five healthy defenseman. Trotz did say that if that was the case, a call-up would be made to fill the last spot.

Predators enjoy Holiday break

On a lighter note, the team did get the last two days off to be with family. Mike Fisher went back home to Peterborough, Ontario to be with family.

"It was good to get home for a little bit, see everyone, and now it's back to work, pretty quick," Fisher said. "It went really fast, but it was great."

Instead of going to California, Blum's family came to Nashville to visit him for the holidays.

"It's always nice anytime during the middle of the season to get a few days off to recover, get away from the rink, clear your head and be with family," Blum said. "It was real nice to have that two days but it's also good to be back in the rink today."

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