As the Nashville Predators will be without the services of their top goalie Pekka Rinne for at least two weeks, Anders Lindback has been given the opportunity to play a more consistent role with the hockey club.
So far so good.
Lindback, with a win and an overtime loss in his last two starts after coming out the loser in his last three appearances (loss in Anaheim and two brief showings vs. Los Angeles and Minnesota in November), has a save percentage of .926 in his last two games as the Preds remain unbeaten in their last five games.
Wednesday the Preds travel to Motown for a date with the Red Wings and then back to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday against the Florida Panthers, where the Preds begin a three-game home stand, entertaining the Islanders on Monday and the Sharks on Wednesday.
Over the next two weeks, Nashville can gain even more ground in the competitive Western Conference, as they have games against teams above them in the conference standings.
San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas are on the agenda to finish off the month while also hooking up with the NY Islanders, Florida, New Jersey and Ottawa.
The Preds play their last game of 2010 on New Year's Eve in St. Paul vs. the Minnesota Wild.
Over that stretch, it will be interesting to see if coach Barry Trotz uses call-up goalie Mark Dekanich, who was having a stellar season with the Predators' AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
Dekanich was 10-3 with three shutouts in 17 games, posting a 1.77 GAA.
Dumont to be du-moted...
Okay, not one of my best, but J.P. Dumont has struggled this season and over his last two games has had his ice time drastically reduced.
Dumont's "soft" play of late could certainly be a reason for his reduced ice time. Dumont missed an assignment during the Carolina game last weekend that resulted in the Canes' second goal.
Is Coach Trotz losing confidence in the winger?
The potential of injured forward David Legwand returning at some point from his recent injury could mean that the struggling winger might find himself in the press box either Wednesday night in Detroit or Saturday when the Preds face the Panthers at home.
New lines leading the way
Coach Trotz's line juggling and a healthy Martin Erat seem to have the Preds in a position to have two scoring lines.
The top line has seen Patric Hornqvist moved out in favor of young Colin Wilson with Cal O'Reilly and Steve Sullivan. Wilson is coming off a goal and an assist in the Predators' 3-2 OTL to Atlanta.
Coach Trotz then moved up Sergei Kostitsyn to play with Erat and the season-long consistent Marcel Goc. The second line has 11 points in its last three games with Erat chipping in five and Kostitsyn four points.
Hornqvist has been playing with Nick Spaling and Dumont while Joel Ward is lined up with Jordin Tootoo centered by Jerred Smithson.
Mike MacDonald is a Featured Columnist covering the Nashville Predators and the NHL.