Predators star staying healthy

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- It says a lot that Steve Sullivan's biggest health issue this year is the bumpy lip that's been a little out of whack since his junior days.

The 2009 Masterton Trophy winner -- awarded to the NHLer best exempifying perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication -- notched his most recent hat-trick Dec. 14, three years to the day of his previous three-goal game before being sidelined by a bad back for nearly two years.

"That's obviously chance, luck, for it to happen on the same day," said the Predators veteran. "I'm glad to be back and being able to help my hockey club. My goal was to just to come back and be able to play the game I love so much."

Making his comeback last January, Sullivan has since enjoyed the same sort of success he did before his back issues nearly prematurely ended the 35-year-old's career.

"If it wasn't for the routine that I have, it might happen again," Sullivan said. "Besides that routine, I would never know the back problem ever happened. I'm glad it was able to come back the way it did. Hopefully, it's a past story, a past issue."

As for the lip issue, it can wait until his playing days are really over.

"I'm just waiting to finish the career to go get it fixed," he said with a laugh. "That was in junior hockey, so it was a long time ago -- back (at the Windsor Spitfires arena) when there were no plastic surgeons on hand. It was just a trainer next door that did my lip."

LINING UP HIS DEFENCE

With D Ryan Suter and D Shea Weber heading to Vancouver in February for the Olympics, Predators coach Barry Trotz has every reason for concern.

Instead of resting up, the workhorses on his blueline will risk injury for their countries -- Weber for Team Canada, and Suter for the U.S.

But Trotz is eager to see what the extra action will do for their careers.

"They're workhorses, but you know what? I think that's part of their development," Trotz said when asked if he'd rather see them rest. "No. The more experiences you have like that, the better player you become and the more situations you can deal with.

"They've got to embrace it. I'm embracing it. I hope they're both in the final."

ERAT SITS OUT WITH INJURY

The Flames were happy Martin Erat had to sit out after his three-point effort against them in the Predators' 5-3 win in Calgary last month.

But the Preds are even more thrilled the winger is skating with hopes of returning from a knee injury this weekend.

"It's always tough when you have to watch and you can't play. I hate doing that. There's nothing I can do about it, though, right now," Erat said yesterday. "I just don't want to come back and be 60, 70%.

"Everything feels much better now. I still feel it a little bit, but it's getting better."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos