Predators captain Weber day to day with injury

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Predators captain Shea Weber is day to day with an upper body injury and did not skate Thursday in Nashville’s first practice since the defenseman was hurt.

Weber left Tuesday night’s 4-3 win at Winnipeg 3:28 into the third period and did not return. The Predators took Wednesday off, and Weber was not seen in the locker room after practice Thursday.

The defenseman is the Predators’ second-leading scorer with 36 points, and he also is alternate captain for the Canadian Olympic hockey team for the Sochi Olympics. The two-time Norris Trophy finalist and 2010 Olympic gold medalist has missed only three games this season after taking a puck to the face Nov. 28.

If Weber can’t play against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night or Saturday night in St. Louis, that leaves the Predators with very little experience on defense.

”It’s a big deal if he doesn’t play,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ”It’s a huge hole we have to fill.”

Michael Del Zotto is the most experienced defenseman currently on the roster, and Nashville just traded for him Jan. 22 in a deal sending Kevin Klein to the Rangers. Del Zotto is closing in on 300 career NHL games, and Roman Josi is the next closest defenseman with 145 games in the league. Ryan Ellis has 117 NHL games, and then there’s rookie Seth Jones.

”It’s a young group,” Trotz said.

The Predators currently have 56 points and trail the Vancouver Canucks by seven points for the final wild card slot in the Western Conference. Nashville has four games left before the Olympic break.

”It’s definitely tough when you lose a guy like him,” Jones said of Weber. ”Anyone it’s tough, but especially him. He’s our leader. He kind of makes us go … Without him, it’ll definitely be tough. But other guys on the D corps and the team will definitely step up.”