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Depleted Preds lineup falls to Blues

The Nashville Predators had four forwards in their lineup on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues that have spent the majority of this season with the Milwaukee Admirals. Injuries have been taking a big toll on this Nashville team over the last month, and some of the effects of that were seen on Tuesday night.

St. Louis got a 1-0 victory over the Predators on Tuesday night in a game where Nashville only had 15 shots on goal. The Predators didn’t create many offensive chances at all and had a hard time maintaining possession of the puck. The injuries to Nashville’s top forwards are having a big impact on this team right now.

“There’s definitely a lot of injuries here that we’re battling, but that’s the job of Milwaukee. To develop guys to be NHL ready whenever Nashville calls, whether it’s one guy or it’s like five or six guys like we’ve got now. Dean (Evason) and Stan (Drulia) are doing a good job down in Milwaukee of getting us prepared, and hopefully we’re doing a good job up here,” said Predators forward Chris Mueller, who is one of the players that have spent a healthy chunk of this season in Milwaukee.

Veterans like Mike Fisher and Paul Gaustad are out of the lineup due to injury, as are young impact players like Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque and Brandon Yip. That places a heavy burden on the young guys from Milwaukee to insert themselves into the lineup and produce immediately. It’s a tough task, but it’s something these younger players are going to have to deal with for the remainder of the season.

“You just have to. You look around the league, especially this year in the short season, so many guys are injured. Star players are injured for all kinds of teams and guys are just stepping up. You don’t want anybody hurt on your team, but it’s an opportunity for other guys and they’ve got to step up and make themselves regular NHLers that way,” Mueller said.

Injuries have always been a part of hockey, but they seem to be playing an even bigger role across the NHL this season. With the shortened season and the condensed schedule with games really close together, players are perhaps more susceptible to injury than they normally would be in a regular 82-game schedule.

“We’re not used to playing back-to-back or three in four and stuff like that, so it’s tough on the bodies. We give it everything we’ve got every game and it’s going to wear on your body. As best you can, you’ve got to take care of your body off the ice, but it’s part of the game. It’s going to happen,” Mueller said.

St. Louis was dominant on defense against the youthful Nashville lineup. The Blues were winning the battles along the boards and scored the only goal of the game to lead them to their fifth consecutive victory. Nashville played well defensively, but they simply weren’t able to generate any offensive chances.

“They’re bigger, older and a good team defensively. We pride ourselves on defense, so we knew that. Unfortunately, we didn’t bury the chances we did have, and that’s what we’ve got to do to win the game. Hopefully we can do a better job next game,” Mueller said.

The Predators will take on the Dallas Stars on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has won just one game in their last eight contests. Nashville has been struggling mightily as of late and will look to get back on the winning path.

“We’ve just got to get a win,” Mueller said. “Obviously we hate losing and with the playoffs, it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty and we need points. We’ve just got to hold together and get two points.”

 
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