Having spent the past 13 games, or nearly one-third of their season thus far, without defenseman P.K. Subban, the last thing the Nashville Predators was another injury on the blueline. Unfortunately, though, the injury bug has bitten the Predators once again.
The Predators announced Friday afternoon that defenseman Roman Josi has been placed on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and no clear timeline for return has been announced. Josi’s injury comes as the result of a hard, late hit thrown by Boston rookie Anton Blidh in the first period of the Predators’ 2-1 victory over the Bruins Thursday evening, but the specifics of the injury are unclear. Nashville coach Peter Laviolette called the hit “late and dirty.”
Losing Josi is about as bad as things could possibly get for the Predators given his importance to the team, and his emergence has been one of the bright spots of the past few seasons in Nashville. Through 42 games this season, Josi is averaging more ice time than any other player in the Predators’ lineup and has contributed five goals and 22 points.
"He's a No. 1 guy, obviously playing 26, 27 (minutes), even more than that every game, so it's a big loss for us having him and P.K. out," Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said post-game, according to The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan. "But I thought we managed it really well tonight. We had guys stepping up, playing big minutes.”
And while it’s difficult to find a positive in the current injury news for the Predators — who also placed Colin Wilson, who has missed the past three games, on injured reserve with a lower-body injury — things are finally starting to look up when it comes to Subban.
For the first time since he fell injured in mid-December, Subban was back on the ice for a skate with his teammates. Subban has been sidelined since Dec. 15 with a mysterious upper-body injury, suspected to be a back ailment, and hasn’t done much in the way of on-ice activity since falling injured. Subban was placed on the injured reserve on Jan. 1 with the expectation that he’d be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks, and, according to Vingan, Predators GM David Poile said in an interview with Nashville’s 102.5 The Game that the defenseman is “making progress” in his quest to return to action.
However, the Predators may need to go at least another week without Subban. Vingan added that Poile believed it would be closer to the full three weeks before Subban could be reevaluated, at which time the Predators will likely make a decision or announcement about how far off Subban is from returning to the lineup.
Subban, 27, was right along Josi as the defensive catalyst for the Predators this season. Before falling injured, Subban had seven goals and 17 points in 29 games while averaging upwards of 25 minutes of ice time per game. He won the fan vote to captain the Central Division at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, but it’s unknown at this point whether Subban will be cleared to participate at the event.
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