Weber's actions speak louder than words

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

Shea Weber has won Olympic gold for Canada.

The Nashville Predators defenseman is a team captain, known around the league for his strong defensive play -- not just strong positionally but physically, too -- and a booming slapshot from the point.

Still, you can't help but believe his team's playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks has the makings of a coming-out party.

When the Canucks and Predators square off, the nation will finally have a golden chance to see just why Weber, who won't turn 26 until this summer, is a Norris Trophy finalist as the league's top defenceman.

Rest assured, when the high-scoring Sedin twins take to the ice in the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Weber will be out there, too, doing all he can to keep the talented duo, as well as linemate Alex Burrows, off the scoresheet.

"The spotlight's not on him much, but he has played for Team Canada, won a gold medal and done those things," said Predators centre Mike Fisher. "But it's nice to see him recognized (with the Norris Trophy attention). It's well deserved.

"He's a guy that competes so hard and play all types of situations. He can really do it all."For the Predators to upend the Canucks in the best-of-seven series, which begins Thursday night in Vancouver, Weber may have to nearly do it all.

Don't take that the wrong way.

The Predators are something of an unknown entity to much of the hockey world, despite taking out the high-flying Anaheim Ducks in the first round. But they boast a great goaltender in Pekka Rinne, an under-rated defensive corps that also includes Ryan Suter and a fair share of offensive talent in the likes of Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Steve Sullivan and Fisher.

Ultimately, the linchpin is Weber, and not just because of the shadow cast by the 6-foot-4, 234-pound blueliner.

"He's solid. He's a solid player and a solid person," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He's somebody who leads. He's a quiet leader, doesn't say a lot, but when he does, he'll catch everybody's attention.

"But his actions speak all the words he needs."

With his size and an already burly playoff beard, he make look like a villain, but Weber is incredibly soft-spoken and humble.

Bring up how this series is a chance to showcase himself, and he'll put a different spin on it.

"We're just excited about playing the best team," he said. "In order to get to your ultimate goal, you'll have to beat the best teams. It's going to be a challenge and not going to be easy. They're playing well, you saw it in Game 7."

Bring up how this series could mean more to him, since Weber is from Sicamous, B.C., a picturesque six-hour drive east along the Trans Canada highway from Vancouver, and he'll mention Nashville is home during the season, although it will be a chance to see his family, especially his father, James.

The closest he'll come to opening up is when you ask about the challenge of shutting down the Sedins.

"You see how many points they had in the regular season. They're two dangerous guys, and then they have Burrows on that line," he said. "You have to play as a full team against that line."

A full team, yes, but they all know who'll be the leader in that quest.


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