Predators Game Day Preview: Los Angeles @ Nashville

03-28_medium

Kings blog: Battle of California

TV: none

Radio: 104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)

Can the Predators follow up Thursday's big win over San Jose with two more points earned against the Kings? We'll find out in today's special Earth Hour 2009 game; the Preds and Kings agreed to start today's match at 5:00 local time, in time for things to complete before Earth Hour festivities start at 8:30.

Questions to be answered: (1) With a couple days of practice, how will Cal O'Reilly fit in with Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan? (2) What could top Greg Zanon getting his first career game winning goal against San Jose? A Greg de Vries hat trick? (3) 

Kings coming in: Thursday night they won a 1-0 shootout decision in Dallas, basically finishing off the Stars' playoff hopes. That victory snapped a three-game losing streak, and tonight's game caps a road trip for L.A. that has seen them go 2-3 so far.

Preds coming in: Gritty, playoff-style hockey has garnered Nashville points in each of the last six games, a 3-0-3 stretch that has kept them barely ahead of Edmonton and St. Louis for 8th place in the Western Conference. Against Western teams, the Preds are on a 9-0-4 streak which began February 19 against the Blues.

Kings to watch: Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, and Dustin Brown have all passed the 20-goal mark, and represent a great young core of players that L.A. will build upon next season. Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty is a sensational skater, and is getting some marginal support in the Calder Trophy race.

Preds to watch:Shea Weber now has 15 points (6G, 9A) in his last 15 games, and Martin Erat 11 points (3G, 8A) in his last 12. Steve Sullivan has 8 goals and 8 assists in his last 17.

Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:

Los Angeles Nashville
 Record 31-33-10 25th 36-30-8 17th
 Pts % .486 25th .541 16th
 Goals For/Game 2.47 27th 2.49 25th
 Goals Against/Game 2.80 12th 2.68 8th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 0.76 29th 0.96 16th
 PP% 19.5 14th 14.9 27th
 PK% 83.1 6th 83.5 4th
 Shots/Game 29.4 14th 29.1 20th
 Shots Against/Game 27.6 2nd 29.3 11th
 FO % 52.4 3rd 52.3 4th

The main opportunity for Nashville here is in 5-on-5 play; a gameplan that involves safe play and patience until a turnover presents an opportunity is likely against a team that is vulnerable in goal, but does have the talent up front to capitalize on miscues.

Who draws the penalties, and who heads to the box? Data up through March 22nd:

 Los Angeles Penalties Drawn Nashville Penalties Drawn
 Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-  Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
 Dustin Brown 78 20 +58  Jordin Tootoo 48 44 +4
 Anze Kopitar 28 8 +20  Martin Erat 25 24 +1
 Raitis Ivanans 24 42 -18  Ryan Jones 24 10 +14
 Wayne Simmonds 22 21 +1  Dan Hamhuis 23 24 -1
 Matt Greene 21 41 -20  Joel Ward 21 12 +9
 Alexander Frolov 20 12 +8  Vern Fiddler 20 11 +9
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
 Raitis Ivanans 24 42 -18  Jordin Tootoo 48 44 +4
 Matt Greene 21 41 -20  Ryan Suter 16 34 -18
 Kyle Quincey 12 29 -17  Shea Weber 14 34 -20
 Denis Gauthier 12 29 -17  Greg de Vries 11 26 -15
 Jarret Stoll 14 26 -12  Martin Erat 24 24 +1
 Drew Doughty 11 25 -14  Dan Hamhuis 23 24 -1

Dustin Brown is the undisputed King of NHL Penalty Plus/Minus; the Preds need to pay attention and avoid unnecessary penalties tonight.

Lastly, here's a look at the goaltenders...

Los Angeles


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Erik Ersberg 27 1417 8 10 5 4 61 2.58 613 552 .900 0
2008 - Jason LaBarbera 19 995 5 8 4 1 47 2.83 440 393 .893 2
2008 - Jonathan Quick 37 2073 18 15 1 6 88 2.55 978 890 .910 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 44 2510 25 11 4 4 93 2.22 1197 1104 .922 7

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