The Nashville Predators found out Friday they will be without All-World defenseman Shea Weber for the remainder of their first-round playoff series against the Blackhawks.
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The Nashville Predators got a hint of good news on Friday, but it was overpowered by the unfortunate news that one of the game’s finest defensemen, Shea Weber, will miss the remainder of their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The good news? Well, at least he does not have an ACL tear, as was originally feared. This from Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton.
Despite being thought of as the best defenseman by many NHL experts, he’s never won the Norris Trophy–given to the league’s finest blue-liner. He twice finished second–in 2011 and 2012.
He scored 15 goals and dished out 30 assists for 45 points and was +15 in 78 regular season games for the resurgent Predators in 2014-15. He, of course, was a key reason the Predators finished 47-25-10, good for 104 points and the second spot in the NHL’s Central Division.
That second place finish was good enough to give the Predators the edge in their first-round playoff match with their much-maligned rivals from Chicago.
But the Hawks were rather unfazed by starting on the road, taking the series’ first game, even with Weber playing. The Predators went up 3-0 in the first period, Joel Quennville pulled veteran goaltender Corey Crawford, and a spark was ignited. Even the veteran defenseman was no match for the runaway train of momentum riding the Hawks’ way in Game one.
In Game two, the Predators came back with a fury, defending home ice by scoring four unanswered goals in the final half of the game to win 6-2, but lost Weber in the process.
Weber has not since played, and the result has been relative dominance on the part of the Blackhawks, in part because the series flipped to United Center where the Hawks are nearly unbeatable in the playoffs.
There’s no doubt the young Predators defensive corps missed Weber in Game three. But they’ve responded since holding the Blackhawks to just three goals and 48 shots in a three-overtime game in Game 4.
In Game 5, the unit really responded, holding the Blackhawks to just two goals on 30 shots in a 5-2 mauling of the Hawks to avoid elimination.
As the series once again shifts back to Chicago and the United Center, the Predators must not panic over learning the fate of their superstar defenseman. They have played well defensively the past two games, thanks largely to 24-year-old defenseman Roman Josi picking up the slack by playing over 45 minutes in the three overtime game earlier this week.
Josi just has to keep playing as he has since taking over shutdown defenseman role. It’s his turn now. As is said in other sports, “It’s next man up” for Nashville.
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