Tonight the Nashville Predators return to action after the Olympic break against the cellar-dwelling Edmonton Oilers. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter bring home gold and silver medals respectively, while Cody Franson and Jerred Smithson return to the Nashville lineup. Nashville is carrying 23 players with no injuries, so it'll be interesting to see who the scratches are. Colin Wilson and Alexander Sulzer have also been returned to the big leagues.
And, uh, oh yeah. David Poile made a trade yesterday. Will Denis Grebeshkov be in uniform tonight?
Follow after the jump for the matchups and analysis!
Nashville coming in
Its difficult to judge the Predators' momentum coming off a two week break, but Nashville hit it on a high note by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout. Nashville fans can be encouraged by the truly spectacular play of Weber (named to the Olympic all-star team) and Suter, and by all players avoiding injury. The trade winds are blowing, so between this article's press time and puck drop, we could have new players to talk about.
Edmonton coming in
It hasn't been a fun year to be an Oilers fan. Their best offensive player, Ales Hemsky, was lost early to a shoulder injury and its been downhill since. At the moment, they lead the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, and are widely considered the biggest seller on the trade market. Free agent signee Nikolai Khabibulin was recently arrested for drunk driving in Arizona, and the biggest publicity surround the team has been Mike Comrie's engagement to Hilary Duff. That said, the Oilers are not without talent. Power forward Dustin Penner leads them on offense, while they boast several excellent defensemen in Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky. Check out The Copper & Blue for trade reaction and general Oilers news.
The Guys in Goal
For Nashville, we can expect to see Finnish Olympic snub and resignee Pekka Rinne:
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||40||2205||20||12||103||2.80||1049||946||.902||3|
For the Oilers, they've ridden this guy since Khabibulin went down.
#38 / Goalie / Edmonton Oilers
May 15, 1984
|2009 - Jeff Deslauriers||36||2090||12||21||111||3.19||1114||1003||.900||2|
Where in the world does Denis Grebeshkov fit? We'll likely either find out who's on the way out the door before the game, as Nashville is carrying eight NHL defensemen, or Cody Franson will be left on IR for a few more days. Either way, John Glennon reports these new lines:
There's a new name on our building, our best two players were on fire during the Olympics, almost all the players are well rested, and there's a new acquisition to break in. I'm anticipating a rowdy crowd at the Bridgestone Arena tonight, and the Predators being well-prepared against the hapless Oilers. Nashville 4, Edmonton 0.