Wild @ Predators Preview: Nashville pressing on despite trouble on the blueline

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 06: Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates against Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on December 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

[7:00 CT] - [Bridgestone Arena] - [TV: FS-TN] - [Radio: 102.5 The Game]

Between yesterday's talk of Shea Weber's concussion and various roster moves, it's easy to forget that the Nashville Predators have a game against the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Predators will be looking to move forward from the news yesterday that their captain Shea Weber is out indefinitely with the dreaded "c" word.

"We're gonna have to do it as a group of five," head coach Barry Trotz said after yesterday's practice. "We're gonna need a lot of help from our forwards. And that's what we want anyways; that doesn't change."

Weber has been the life blood of the Predators this year, leading the team in points and assists and coming up with key goals seemingly every time the team has needed one.

"He's your team captain. He's the guy on the back end that leads us every night," defenseman Jonathon Blum said. "He's a vocal guy, he's got the intimidation factor to teams, he has a heavy shot. He's our captain. It's a big hole to fill, but not one guy's going to step up and do it. We've got to do it as a team."

Follow after the jump for a few more story lines to watch for in tonight's game.

Will Kevin Klein play?

Another key cog in Nashville's defensive rotation, Kevin Klein, has missed the last four games due to flu-like symptoms that he can't seem to get over. Klein did take part in the team's practice yesterday, but still wasn't at full strength.

"Klein has got a little bit of the flu and he just can't sort of shake it," Trotz said. "He's out there today, but doesn't have a lot of juice - he's just juiced out. Right now I would say he's probably a little bit doubtful for [the Minnesota game], hoping for Friday."

Klein was actually put on injured reserve yesterday, but could still be taken off before tonight because he hasn't played since December 17th. However, because the team called up Gabriel Bourque, activating Klein off of IR would presumably mean someone would have to be sent to Milwaukee - likely Geoffrion or Bourque.

Klein said he will be a game time decision after skating in the morning.

"I feel pretty good. It's probably gonna be a game time decision," Klein said. "I've got to talk to coaches and see what they think and then go from there. I'll probably find out tomorrow."

Young defensemen stepping up

With Shea Weber and Kevin Klein out of the lineup on Monday night, the Predators were forced to dress three rookie defensemen, including Ryan Ellis who was making his NHL debut.

The defensive unit performed admirably, however, considering the circumstances, only giving up 22 shots to a good Detroit team.

Blum attributed the success to the system that the team plays in.

"The premise of this team is the system," Blum said. "It doesn't matter who's in or out of the lineup - if Shea's missing or [Suter] is missing or [Rinne] is missing - we play the same system. And that system gives us a chance to win every night."

Slumping Wild looking for first win in eight games

The Minnesota Wild were the surprise team of the early NHL season. The Wild boasted the best record in the league in the early goings, but have since regressed and currently find themselves on a seven-game losing streak, dropping all the way back to sixth in the Western Conference standings.

The Predators and Wild have not met this year, but are 12-5-3 all-time against Minnesota in Nashville.

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