Nashville Predators @ Washington Capitals Preview: Shea Weber Returns

After donning a visor and participating in practice yesterday, will Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber return to action tonight at Washington?

UPDATE: Willy Daunic brings the news that yes, Weber will play tonight!

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The Stats

Nashville Predators Washington Capitals
Record 13-13-3 21st 14-12-2 17th
GF/Game 2.24 25th 2.75 10th
GA/Game 2.76 20th 2.86 23rd
5-on-5 Close SF/60 29.7 15th 28.4 18th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 28.3 12th 33.5 27th
Fenwick Close 49.80 15th 47.20 25th
5-on-5 Close Save % .917 22nd .915 24th
5-on-4 GF/60 6.2 17th 10.7 1st
# of PP's/Gm 3.17 25th 3.86 2nd
4-on-5 GA/60 5.6 11th 5.7 13th
# of PK's/Gm 3.31 15th 3.82 26th

Say it with me, kids... this is a winnable game. Despite some of the elite-level talent in the Capitals lineup, as a team they've been pretty mediocre. The key for Nashville is staying out of the penalty box, as the Washington power play isn't only effective, but the Caps are drawing lots of calls, too.

Washington Capitals

Sure, Alex Ovechkin's tearing up the league at a potentially historic goal-scoring pace, and Mikhail Grabovski is playing like the type of center Nashville has missed ever since Jason Arnott left town, but let's be honest, it's hard not to focus on two former Predators who are enjoying very different seasons so far.

Martin Erat, of course, has been unhappy in Washington and desperately wants out, an East-West forward playing under a North-South coach, as eloquently described over at Japers' Rink. Despite his desire to leave Erat is still in the Caps' lineup, so we could see him face off against his former teammates tonight.

Joel Ward, on the other hand, is enjoying his most productive season to date, on pace for 26 goals and 48 points, both of which would blow away his previous bests. $3 million a year doesn't look like such an outrageous deal now, does it?

Joel Ward

#42 / Right Wing / Washington Capitals



Dec 02, 1980

2013 - Joel Ward 28 9 7 16 -3 12 3 1 1 44 20.5

By the way, have I ever told you about the time I caught Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates looking at my butt?

It was a couple years ago, when Oates was an assistant with Tampa Bay. I was working Bloggers Row that evening, and as Kris Martel of the Predatorial can tell you (he used to sit next to me), I'm a bit of a klutz about forgetting to plug my laptop in. When you sit in the media sections at Bridgestone Arena, there's a shelf that provides your working surface, with holes cut in so you can access the outlets below. All too often, I'd simply drop the power cord down through the hole and forget to plug the dang thing in... but this night I remembered just as the Predators were coming out for start of the game.

So I got down on hands and knees to plug the cord in, but at the time the lights in the arena were down for those introductions, so I was fumbling around in the dark for what seemed like forever. After several misses I finally plugged the cord in and backed out from under the desk to get back in my seat... and there's a handful of Tampa Bay's finest, with Oates in front glaring, waiting for me to get my derriere out of the way so they can get through to their seats higher up in the press area.

'twas not my finest moment, to be sure. But at least I know my old college friend Kim would be jealous, she had a thing for Oates back during his Red Wings days long ago.

Nashville Predators

The mood is turning decidedly dark in Smashville as the Predators linger in last place. Rubbing shoulders with the WinniThrashers wasn't supposed to be in the cards this season, and even though we all dig Seth Jones we really aren't hoping to see the Predators draft in the Top 5 again this summer. So what's to be done?

Well, it all starts with getting Shea Weber back in the lineup. He'll wear a visor for the time being, and hopefully rejuvenate a power play which went scoreless during his three-game absence.

Shea Weber

#6 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators



Aug 14, 1985

2013 - Shea Weber 26 7 5 12 -7 20 5 0 1 55 12.7

Perhaps the biggest test falls on the shoulders of Marek Mazanec, who will presumably get the start in goal. Can he put aside Thursday night's stinker and give the Predators another chance to win tonight? That's the true measure of a professional, the ability to put the previous game behind you and move on.

The puck drops at 6 p.m. Central on Fox Sports TN tonight, with the lovely & talented Jon Garcia providing the game recap. I'll see you in the Game Thread!