The Predators’ starting defense will likely return to normal Thursday against the Ducks as Ryan Ellis and Barret Jackman should each return from one-game absences.
Jackman didn’t play Tuesday against the Lightning with an upper-body injury, just the ninth regular season game out of 300 that he has missed since the start of the 2011-12 season. He said during practice Wednesday that he would play against Anaheim.
Ellis’ ailment, termed a lower-body injury, also kept him out Tuesday. In the third period of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win against Ottawa, a Senators shot struck Ellis’ right knee as he stood in front of the net. According to Ellis, the puck struck him in a section of his leg not protected by padding, causing his leg to lose feeling for about 30 minutes. He would not confirm a return to the lineup Thursday, but it seems that way based on which players were in the locker room after an optional morning skate.
Forward Austin Watson, who also missed Tuesday’s win against Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury, could return as well.
Anaheim arrives in Nashville to start a five-game road trip after winning its first game of the season Sunday against Minnesota. Even at 1-3-1, the Ducks, a popular preseason pick to win the Stanley Cup, have recently had great success against the Predators. They have won eight of the past nine meetings between the two teams, including four consecutive wins at Bridgestone Arena.
“They’re a good hockey team,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think everybody around the league realizes that. They were picked to do big things in the Western Conference and even further than that. The fact that they haven’t gotten the results that they’re looking for, there’s probably a lot of meetings going on over there. There’s a lot of players that want more and want to play better, a team that wants to play better, and I think you need to prepare for that.”
Courtesy of: Adam Vingan on Twitter @AdamVingan.