Preds' Hal Gill a game-time decision

Updated: April 10, 2012, 8:32 PM ET
By Craig Custance | ESPN The Magazine

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators defenseman Hal Gill missed the team's practice on Tuesday, Nashville's final practice day before the start of the postseason. And, as is usually the case this time of year, details on his health weren't flowing from the organization.

Coach Barry Trotz, who said Gill skated before practice, was asked whether or not Gill's absence had to do with blocking a Sheldon Souray shot when Nashville played Dallas on April 5, the last time Gill played.

The best Trotz offered was a vague characterization of where the injury might be.

"Somewhere in the lower body," Trotz said. "He'll be a game-time (decision) tomorrow. We felt with his injury, no sense trying to aggravate it."

If it's just a matter of pain tolerance, it's hard to imagine Gill not playing on Wednesday night and in a tight series that one decision could be the difference-maker.

Predators GM David Poile was aggressive in addressing his needs over the course of the season, and trading for Gill knocked out a couple. One need was experience. The Predators started the season as one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The other need was size. At 6-foot-7, he's covered there.

Gill has been everything the Predators expected, making his potential absence a concern.

"He's a big guy who takes up a lot of space out there," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "He takes some time away from me and (Shea Weber). He's good at penalty killing. He's just an older guy; this is a young team. We don't have a lot of older guys."

Gill's absence would put more responsibility on the shoulders of young players such as 21-year-old Roman Josi, who will be making his NHL postseason debut.

For all his young players, Trotz sees Game 1 going one of two ways against the veteran Detroit Red Wings -- either they'll be in awe of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs or they'll be oblivious to the pressure.

"Not too many times you're in between," Trotz said. "You're one or the other."

The Gill injury status didn't seem to upset a Predators dressing room that was a mix of confident and excited on Tuesday afternoon. Kevin Klein and Francis Bouillon unveiled their playoff mohawks while guys such as Weber are off to a strong start on their playoff beards.

"Beard's good," Weber said. "It gets ugly enough."