When the Nashville Predators take the ice against the Boston Bruins this afternoon they will be missing another one of their cornerstone players. The team has announced that defenseman Mattias Ekholm has been placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol. With forward Filip Forsberg also still on the COVID list, the Predators will be missing two impact players for the foreseeable future.
Ekholm is part of Nashville’s dominant top pair alongside Roman Josi, who each play over 23 minutes of ice time per night. While the second pair of Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro have performed well this season, Ekholm’s absence will be felt, especially if he misses an extended stretch. The Predators have a busy week ahead, starting a stretch of five games in eight days on Saturday, with divisional match-ups against St. Louis and Winnipeg among them. While the Preds have the appearance of a division leader due to total points, their record is in fact fourth in the Central, sandwiched between the Blues and Jets. Ekholm’s stable play in big minutes and critical penalty kill role are not easily replaced, so the Predators will hope he can return to the lineup sooner rather than later.
Nashville did get one name back from the COVID Protocol though and that is forward Yakov Trenin. The physical winger has cleared the protocol’s requirement and is back in the lineup on Saturday. Trenin is fifth among Predators forwards with nine goals this season and in the top ten in points too, well on his way to a career year.