Predators could use a break

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

CALGARY - Could be things are starting to turn for the better for the Nashville Predators.

The way things have been going — four straight losses after opening the season with a pair of victories — they could use a break.

Nashville captain Shea Weber received a $2,500 fine as punishment for the boarding infraction he took in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks but wasn’t suspended.

In turn, he’ll be in action when the Preds face the Calgary Flames Saturday afternoon at the Saddledome.

Based on his response following Friday’s practice, which came after his hearing with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan but before the punishment was handed out, it was no surprise to the Predators captain.

“I play the game hard, and I finish my checks, so I don’t think I would have done anything different,” Weber said. “I didn’t even think it was a penalty at the time.”

Weber was given a minor for his check on Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen, as well as a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Considering the Preds could have been without their captain against the Flames, it was the best possible outcome.

Now, the team which made the second round of the playoffs last season must regroup.

The Predators once again went through an off-season of turmoil, losing more veterans such as defencemen Cody Franson and Shane O’Brien and forwards Marcel Goc, Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward.

In turn, they have a team with an infusion of youth that need some lessons about what it takes to win in the NHL.

“Even though we won those two first games, I don’t think we were playing very well,” Weber said.

“I think we had a false sense of who we were and we thought we were a lot better than we were. Now, we’ve got to wake up and realize we’re not as good as we thought, and we’ve got to start playing harder.”

It’s strange to hear the Predators are not playing with a high enough work ethic, since that’s been the calling card of the franchise since Day 1.

“It got a little bit better (Thursday), but that’s our bread and butter,” said Calgary Hitmen graduate Jerred Smithson, who had some pointed words for his younger teammates this past week.

“We’re a team that prides itself on hard work and doing the right thing. We took a few steps back early in the season, won a few games when we didn’t play great but got great goaltending, and it finally caught up to us.”

This season adds a new wrinkle to the ongoing financial issues for the Predators.

Weber is due to be a restricted free agent, while Suter and standout goalie Pekka Rinne are due to be unrestricted free agents.

It’s hard to imagine the cash-strapped Preds can keep them all.


Videos

Photos