The Nashville Predators fight the bug
The Nashville Predators have been bitten by the injury bug all season. NHLHS correspondent Tyler Davis looks at the injuries and how they have overcome them to be successful.
Ask any Nashville Predators fan about the curse of the opening night center, and you are likely to get the same response; either a shudder or a roll of the eyes. The Predators started the season with a very promising roster after making several off season moves, including acquiring center Matthew Lombardi from the Phoenix Coyotes. Lombardi was brought in to add scoring and leadership after the Predators traded captain Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils. Also acquired was winger Sergei Kostitsyn from Montreal, and rearguard Shane O’Brien from Vancouver.
Unfortunately for the Predators, that promising roster did not make it past the second game of the season fully intact. Lombardi went down in the second game of the season with a concussion and is yet to return due to suffering from post concussion syndrome. Since then, all four starting centers have been or are currently injured. Marcel Goc missed six games due to a separated shoulder, and David Legwand has missed a total of 18 games this season due to various lower body injuries.
The latest to suffer from the curse is Cal O’Reilly. O’Reilly suffered a fractured fibula in a game on January 2nd against the Columbus Blue Jackets in what seemed to be an innocent play. O’Reilly is expected to have surgery on his broken leg and will miss considerable time, possibly the remainder of the season according to Preds beat writer Joshua Cooper.
Due to all the injuries at the center position, Jerred Smithson has had to step in and play a majority of the season at center despite playing most of last season on the wing. The Preds have also called on younger players such as Linus Klasen and Chris Mueller from Milwaukee to step up and fill in holes on the wing due to having to juggle positions.
Despite not having one of their most exciting off season pickups and anticipated scorer in Lombardi, and losing a combined total of 24 man-games not including O’Reilly’s injury, the Predators have found ways to win posting a record of 21-13-6 and a current four game win streak. So, while the fans and even some media have dubbed the center position as cursed this season, the Nashville Predators continue to show that they are a team loaded with talent and do not have to rely on one person or position to be a successful team.
NHLHS Nashville Predators Correspondent