Predators Game Day Preview: Anaheim @ Nashville

03-24_medium

Ducks blogBattle 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:

Anaheim Nashville
 Record 35-31-6 18th 35-30-7 17th
 Pts % .528 18th .535 17th
 Goals For/Game 2.76 17th 2.50 25th
 Goals Against/Game 2.86 16th 2.71 8th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 1.04 13th 0.95 18th
 PP% 22.0 6th 14.5 28th
 PK% 80.8 17th 83.9 4th
 Shots/Game 30.1 11th 29.0 20th
 Shots Against/Game 30.4 19th 29.4 12th
 FO % 49.9 18th 52.3 4th

 

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:

Anaheim


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
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

Nashville


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
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

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