Niederreiter ready for bigger role for Wild with new contract

Nino Niederreiter spent the 2016 NHL offseason strapped to the wing of an airplane, a daredevil feat that provided quite the thrill for the Minnesota Wild forward, and maybe quite the lump-in-throat for his coaches and the Wild brass.

But this offseason? Without a contract in tow, Niederreiter said he took a more grounded approach to the summer months.

The team that swept Chicago and blew past St. Louis isn’t quite the same now. The Predators have gone 2-0 since Johansen suffered a season-ending thigh injury during their Western Conference final series against Anaheim. But Johansen had been the team’s most dynamic playmaker at the center spot, with 47 assists during the regular season and 10 more in 14 playoff games. They scored nine goals in those two games, although three were empty-netters that helped the Preds close out the series. Nashville’s top line dominated its first three playoff opponents with Johansen active.

Nashville also will be without promising winger Kevin Fiala, who had 11 goals in the regular season and an OT goal in the Chicago sweep before breaking his leg.

The return of captain Mike Fisher from an injury after missing two games against the Ducks should help, but it’s possible the Preds now will lean even more heavily on the defense to facilitate the attack, leaving them vulnerable to the Penguins’ speed and skill.

Of the 25 Penguins who will/might get ice time, 19 were part of securing the Cup in last year’s playoffs and 17 played in the Final against San Jose. Obviously, Nashville does not have much recent experience; the Preds lost in the second round last year.

Star Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has been perhaps the best single performer in these Kids Football Jerseys Cheap playoffs, but he also has only one career victory against the Lebron Cheap Jerseys Penguins.

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