Preds After All-Star Break

BY foxsports • February 1, 2011

By John Manasso
February 1, 2011


Points: 60 (second in Central, fourth in Western Conference)

Games remaining: 32

Last 10: 76-4

Analysis: The good news is that once again, the Predators have over-achieved and sit in a spot that many expected the likes of San Jose (eighth in the West) and Los Angeles (11th), teams with much higher payrolls, to be in.

The bad news is that as well as they have played, their margin over ninth-place Colorado is only four points in the ultra-competitive West.

The story for the Preds this season is how they have managed to succeed despite injuries to key players. Center Matthew Lombardi, their top offseason acquisition, has been out since the second game of the season with a concussion. Defenseman Ryan Suter has missed 11 games for various reasons, but he is plus-17, ranking 11th among all NHL defensemen. Perennially among the team's points leaders, forward Steve Sullivan has missed 16 games. Among other key forwards, David Legwand has missed 18 games, Martin Erat 16 and power-play specialist Cal O'Reilly 12. Even energy winger Jordin Tootoo just returned to practice on Monday after entering the league's substance abuse and behavioral health program. He has been out for 18 games.

"We've had great goaltending, for one, and just the ability of guys to come up from Milwaukee," All-Star defenseman Shea Weber said of the team's top minor-league affiliate. "You look at guys like Chris Mueller who wasn't even on an NHL contract and he comes up and he's playing a huge role. They step up and do a great job as well."

Even the goaltending situation that Weber referenced has been a story. No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne, who was named the NHL's Third Star for January, has been hurt twice and Anders Lindback, in his first NHL season, has thrived in 19 games, going 10-4 with a 2.58 goals-against average. Rinne, meanwhile, is No. 2 in the NHL in both goals-against average (2.11) and save percentage (.929).

And Weber, leading the team in points, is showing once again

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