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Sulzer Steps Right In

Thursday, 10.28.2010 / 9:33 AM CT / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Sulzer Steps Right In
When defenseman Ryan Suter was injured on his first shift of the game against the Calgary Flames, many Preds fans grew concerned about the state of the team’s defense in Suter’s absence. However, Alex Sulzer has stepped right into the lineup and been a steady addition on the ice.

“It’s always tough not playing for a few games and then coming back,” Sulzer said. “But we were only five games into the season and I had played regularly in the exhibition games, so I just tried to stay in shape and keep myself sharp in practice so I could play well when given the chance."

Suter is a special player, so in no way is Sulzer expected to “be Ryan Suter.” But Sulzer has quietly done the little things well. Through three games he’s averaging 17:48 of ice time, including 2:11 per game on the penalty kill. Primarily paired with Cody Franson, Sulzer’s yet to be on the ice for a goal against – posting a +2 plus/minus rating on the season – and as a team the Preds have killed all 12 shorthanded situations in those three games.

“He’s done a great job,” Nashville Head Coach Barry Trotz said of Sulzer’s play. “I was concerned; I’ll make no bones about it. I was concerned about Sulz this year coming into the year; I thought he finished poorly last year. (At the end of the season) we sat down and looked at some film and I gave him what I really thought he needed to do coming in to training camp and he went out and did it. I think he’s had a very consistent training camp, he didn’t start in the lineup, but he did a really great job of staying ready in practice. He prepared himself as well as anyone we’ve had here in terms of being ready to jump right in. His play and his preparation has been solid. He’s playing very, very well right now.”

Franson and Sulzer were a defensive pairing in Milwaukee during their stints in the AHL, so they had experience playing together, something Trotz hinted was a reason why they were paired up after Suter’s injury caused the line-up juggling. Playing along side Franson has made the transition easier for Sulzer.

“It’s really easy playing with him since we’ve played the last two, two-and-a-half years together,” Sulzer said. “We know where the other guy is on the ice in different situations, so sometimes it’s just a blind pass and you know he’s there. It’s fun and it’s easy to play with him.”

Franson has seen benefits of the pairing as well. He’s scored two goals and posted a +3 rating in the three games since being match with Sulzer.

“If you can get that kind of chemistry with your partner where you just kind of look and know how he’s going to play, it makes a world of difference,” Franson said. “You don’t have to second-guess anything, you can just go out and make plays and know how your partner is going to respond. We enjoy playing with each other and feel that way on the ice.”

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 33 31 1 64
R. Josi 81 14 47 -3 61
J. Neal 82 31 27 27 58
S. Weber 78 20 31 -7 51
M. Ribeiro 81 7 43 11 50
C. Smith 82 21 16 4 37
M. Ekholm 82 8 27 14 35
R. Johansen 42 8 26 10 34
R. Ellis 79 10 22 13 32
C. Jarnkrok 81 16 14 1 30
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 34 21 10 .908 2.48
C. Hutton 7 5 4 .918 2.33