Predators to get back one defenseman, lose another briefly

Monday, January 17, 2011 at 8:04pm

The Nashville Predators did not leave anyone behind in Chicago, but they arrived in Phoenix one man short.

Defenseman Francis Bouillon was sent back to Nashville following Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks in order to consult with team doctors. The veteran defenseman sustained an upper-body injury early in the contest and did not return.

Coach Barry Trotz said Bouillon would miss Tuesday’s contest against the Coyotes (8 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) but was optimistic the team’s leader in hits would be ready to go Thursday at Colorado.

Bouillon’s absence will not force a roster move. Shane O’Brien will return to the lineup against Phoenix after having served a two-game suspension for a high-stick violation, and Alexander Sulzer, who filled in for O’Brien and who has appeared in 16 games this season, will take Bouillon’s spot.

The key is that Sulzer, like Bouillon, is a left-handed shot.

“I really feel like we need three guys on the left like that,” Trotz said. “Sulzer has played a lot of minutes the last two games and he did a good job. We’re fine with him.”

With Bouillon sidelined for most of the last game, Ryan Suter, Nashville’s top left-handed defenseman, played 32:43, the most ever by a Nashville player in a regulation contest. Sulzer played 19:26.

Since he was signed as a free agent just before the start of 2009-10, Bouillon has been one of Nashville’s most consistent and reliable defensemen.

He played a career-high 81 games last season and thus far this season has missed just one (Oct. 30, 2010) due to an upper- body injury.

He currently is fourth on the team in average shifts (25.1) and ice time per game (20:13).

In nine previous NHL seasons, almost exclusively with Montreal, Bouillon never played more than 74 games and averaged better than 20 minutes of ice time twice.

Briefly

• Reebok, the official uniform provider for the NHL, indicated in its 2012 catalog the Predators could be one of 11 teams changing jerseys for the 2011-12 season. The advance catalog sent to sporting goods stores was quoted on a handful of blogs over the weekend, signaling the Preds will be changing their primary home and away jerseys.

Official announcements of uniform changes typically come during season-ticket renewal — usually in February — or ahead of the playoffs, which begin in early spring.

Prior to the most recent uniform change — to the black and dark blue third jerseys introduced late last season — team promotional items and videos began emphasizing the darker colors. In recent weeks, the team's videos — notably the introduction video featuring "Crazy Town" by Jason Aldean — and signage have had a more gold tinge, as has the new crop of licensed merchandise made available after Christmas.

• Shea Weber’s current nine-game point streak is the longest in franchise history by a defenseman and the fourth-longest ever. It also is the longest active streak in the NHL.

His 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in those nine games tie him with Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin for the most points in the league since New Years Eve.

J-P Dumont holds the Nashville record with a 16-game point streak. Steve Sullivan has a pair of 10-game streaks.

• Suter needs one point to pass Marek Zidlicky for third all-time by Nashville defensemen. Suter currently has 175 (28 goals, 147 assists), which equals Zidlicky (30 goals, 145 assists).

J.R. Lind contributed to this report.