Ducks blog: Battle of California
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Tennessee (Comcast 28, Dish Network 446, DirecTV 644)
Radio: 104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)
This is easily the most critical game of the week for the Nashville Predators, as the Ducks have crept to within a point in the Western Conference standings. Radek Bonk is expected to return to action, while Ryan Jones is questionable after injuring himself lifting weights. Wade Belak is also expected to be out of the lineup, and with Jordin Tootoo suffering a broken nose at the
hands elbows of San Jose's Brad Staubitz, handling the rough & tumble Ducks could be an issue tonight. The Predators are looking to build upon an impressive 11-4-2 record against the Pacific Division this season.
This game is expected to be close to, if not a sellout by game time; if you still want to get tickets (and like discounts), follow this link and use the special offer code "predators".
Questions to be answered: (1) How will the Preds come out early, after having several days off to recover from the West Coast road trip? (2) Can Nashville's penalty kill slow down a red-hot Anaheim power play, which scored four times against Phoenix on Sunday? (3) Can the Predators power play continue producing at a decent clip (9-for-41, 22% in the last 12 games)?
Predators coming in: By going 2-0-2 on the road, Nashville earned itself a bit of breathing space as they rested over the weekend, and yet still remain in the #8 spot in the Western Conference. At this point, all the teams fighting for playoff spots have 10 games remaining, so it's a simple matter of wins and losses from here on in.
Ducks coming in: Since beating the Preds in overtime last Wednesday, Anaheim has beaten the Coyotes twice, winning a shootout on the road then smacking the Desert Dogs hard at home 6-2 on Sunday, taking them to a 4-1 record in their last five games.
Predators to watch: The bulk of the offensive production these days is coming from J.P. Dumont, Joel Ward, and Ryan Suter, as the Sullivan/Legwand/Erat line has had to face stiff opposition each night. With the last change, it will be interesting to see how Barry Trotz utilizes his offensive talent.
Ducks to watch: The line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan gave the Preds fits last week, and Getzlaf just had two goals and an assist in his last game. This is the line that Nashville needs to shut down tonight.
Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:
All in all, a fairly even matchup. The Ducks are a good 5-on-5 team, but are not quite elite in any one area of the game.
Here's a review of who draws the penalties, and who takes them for each team (data as of March 22):
|Anaheim||Penalties Drawn||Nashville||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Corey Perry||47||42||+5||Jordin Tootoo||48||44||+4|
|Ryan Getzlaf||34||44||-10||Martin Erat||25||24||+1|
|George Parros||26||28||-2||Ryan Jones||24||10||+14|
|Bobby Ryan||21||13||+8||Dan Hamhuis||23||24||-1|
|Teemu Selanne||15||11||+4||Joel Ward||21||12||+9|
|Todd Marchant||15||14||+1||Vern Fiddler||20||11||+9|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Ryan Getzlaf||34||44||-10||Jordin Tootoo||48||44||+4|
|Corey Perry||47||42||+5||Ryan Suter||16||34||-18|
|Chris Pronger||9||34||-25||Shea Weber||14||34||-20|
|George Parros||26||28||-2||Greg de Vries||11||26||-15|
|Scott Niedermayer||12||26||-14||Martin Erat||24||24||+1|
|Bret Hedican||4||18||-14||Dan Hamhuis||23||24||-1|
As a team, the Ducks are prone to taking lots of penalties, and if the Preds can take advantage of that, it could prove to be the difference here.
Lastly, a look at the goaltenders heading into tonight's game:
|2008 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere||43||2345||18||17||5||3||122||3.12||1226||1104||.900||2|
|2008 - Jonas Hiller||37||1982||17||14||1||5||76||2.30||956||880||.921||4|
|2008 - Dan Ellis||35||1965||11||19||4||5||96||2.93||963||867||.900||3|
|2008 - Pekka Rinne||42||2385||24||11||3||4||90||2.26||1147||1057||.922||7|