The Nashville Predators return to the ice tonight at 7 p.m. and are out to revenge a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames eight days ago in Canada. The Preds also lost on October 16 in Nashville when they were shutout 1-0 in overtime with Mikka Kipprusoff getting the victory.
Shea Weber will get a hero's welcome when he is introduced tonight after a four assist plus six rating at the All-Star game in Raleigh on Sunday. His 104.8 mph shot in the hardest shot skills competition on Saturday was good for second place behind Zdeno Chara. Expect chills, thrills and a standing ovation at some point tonight when the game ops folks show his highlights.
In spite of the five day break, none of the ailing Predators will be ready to play when the team hits the ice to the post-all-star game sprint to the playoffs. Steve Sullivan is skating but has missed 16 games since he strained a groin on December 23.
Jordin Tootoo has moved to a new phase in his rehabilitation treatment and is skating with the team for home practices. He has missed 15 games and there is no timetable for a return.
Matt Lombardi (Concussion), Francis Bouillon (Concussion), Cal O'Reilly (Broken leg), and Marik Svatos (Knee) are no where near close to returning.
Matt Halischuk and Chris Mueller have returned to Nashville after playing two games in Milwaukee over the All-Star break. They will probably return to to a line with J.P. Dumont which has found recent success.
After receiving the third star of the month for January, Pekka Rinne (17-13-4, 2.11, .929) is set to go in goal as Barry Trotz made a rare announcement last week that Rinne would play five games in a row with this being the fourth. Mikka Kiprusoff (20-18-2, 2.75, .901) should start for Calgary.
Other Predator Previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, Hockey Night in Nashville, and Predators.com.
The Canadian view of the game comes from The Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald, Matchsticks and Gasoline, FlamesNation, Battle of Alberta, and Hit the Post.
In Pred Nation...
David Boclair has a nice piece on Jordin Tootoo's return to the practice rink.
Josh Cooper has the transcript of Jordin Tootoo's first media scrum since he left for rehab on December 27 as well as a feature article about his return to the ice.
Amanda DiPaolo writes that Shea Weber will put the weekend's activities behind him and will be focused on the Preds going forward.
Jim Diamond confirmed that Francis Bouillon's injury is a concussion with no date set for a return.
AJ's tip over the weekend was correct as the NHL announced that Jordin Tootoo was cleared to practice with the team at home while he continues out-patient treatment.
Paul McCann looks ahead at the Preds schedule in February and also looks at the David Shoalts piece that we linked yesterday.
Jas Faulkner kicks off the stretch run for the Preds with a report from yesterday's practice.
Ryan Miller has the Milwaukee Admirals mid-season report at On The Forecheck.
Jay Grossman has the latest on Alexander Radulov's season in the KHL.
Hockey Night in Nashville doesn't like the new Tampa Bay Lightning jerseys which seems to be a common sentiment.
Linus Klasen and Mark Dekanich played well in Monday's AHL All-Star game but came out on the losing end.
Around the NHL...
Ryan Porth gives final kudos to Raleigh for putting on a first class NHL event. He also looks at strength of schedule for each team the rest of the way. There is a strong correlation between a teams conference and division and the toughness of the schedule.
Justin Bourne has some ideas on how to spice up the All-Star game.
Ray Emery is back from hip surgery and ready for another shot at the NHL. I'm not sure where he would go since so many new faces have arrived in goal since he left.
Here is an interesting tidbit from @jrlind: Going through Nielsen's Year in Sports. Stanley Cup Finals top rated sports event in households over $100K in income.
Top prospect, Cody Hodgson has been called up by Vancouver. It has been a rough ride for the youngster who may make his NHL debut tonight in Dallas.
Mark Spector takes a look at the dissing that Toronto took in the NHLPA poll.
Adrian Dater has his daily look at Peter Forsberg, this time at Sports Illustrated. He also has a second story at All Things Avs. I like flying through Denver and seeing real (multiple pages) hockey coverage in the Denver Post.
This is a really good story from Paul Hunter about a journeyman minor leaguer.
Odds and Ends...
If you have something to hide, don't talk about it on Facebook as the courts are allowing social media discussion as evidence in increasing numbers.
Here is an interesting video of a landing at LAX that circles the city on the approach.
The Maverick's surfer who almost died last week met with his rescuer on NBC yesterday.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass