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Meet the Enemy: Predator Defense Corps

April 14, 2010

It has been said many times so far: the Predators are a very underrated team.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that they lack a true “superstar” that NBC can force feed to us.  Other contributors include the team first system and market location.  But Hawks fans need to be educated on the players they’ll be seeing line up against the Hawks this series.  The Preds defense corps is the strongest point of the team and can cause real problems for the Blackhawks scorers, so its important to understand what our boys are up against (with the strategic use of terrible created pictures I made in MS Paint).

Defense
Suter – Weber
Hamhuis – Franson
Bouillon – Klein
You may remember Shea Weber from his appearance in the Olympics with Team Canada, but then again you may not remember that because it was a pretty brief appearance.  His play in the Olympics wasn’t great, but unfortunately for us, that doesn’t count for anything now.  Weber is one of the top defensemen in the league.  He is a key to the Nashville power play and has a big shot from the point (that has been know to rip a net).  His big problem has been hitting the net with that shot.  It’ll take some brass balls from Sopel on the PK to step in front of one of those bombs when they’re on net.
Ryan Suter is another guy you might remember from the Olympics.  Suter was a staple on the blueline for the US.  Ryan’s dad Gary is a former Blackhawk.  Be prepared to see a lot of this Madison native. He leads the Preds Dmen in ice time per game and Suter and Weber will definitely be on the ice just about any time the first line is out there.
Also worth noting, Suter and Hossa fought last season.  Not something you should expect to see, but something to think about.
Dan Hamhuis will be the most physical of the group.  He’s going to hit, block shots, and break up rushes.  He’s a great #3 that could probably crack the top pairing on some teams.
Franson’s best years are definitely ahead of him.  Franson is pretty highly rated by Hockey’s Future and is currently ranked 3rd out of all Preds prospects.  He only averaged 14:11 of ice time this year.  He’s a big boy and has some skating and offensive ability.  Don’t sleep on this kid.
Bouillon stands in at only 5’8″ but don’t let that fool you.  This guy isn’t going to shy away from the physical game.  He can hit and fight, but there’s only so much you can do to make up for size.  If he was bigger, he’d make for a great #3/#4 defenseman, but as it stands he’s a serviceable #5/#6 guy.  Don’t expect to see a lot of offense out of him.
Klein is a guy who the Hawks should look to exploit.  He’ll probably end up facing the second line, which could end up looking something like Versteeg-Bolland-Hossa.  A -13 and getting almost 20 minutes per game, this guy will have a target on his back.  Here’s the chink in the armor of the defense corps.
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