Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators: Game Day Preview

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 07: Taylor Pyatt #14 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammates after scoring a third period goal against the Nashville Predators during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on April 7, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

7:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM

Its the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Bridgestone Arena, where one team tries to separate from the pack and the other needs to rejoin it. The Coyotes have been on fire of late, going 7-1-2 in their last 10. Nashville? Not so much - the Preds have only scored 5 goals in 5 games, and desperately need to put the train back on the tracks.

After the jump, your team lineups and some more analysis on this evening's game.

Lineups

Nashville

The Predators' franchise 'tender has been one of the lone bright spots for the team of late, putting them in position to win games night in and night out.


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

207

Nov 03, 1982

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Pekka Rinne 17 962 6 7 40 2.49 463 423 .914 2

David Legwand and Matthew Lombardi remain on injured reserve. Cody Franson, who was hit in the throat by Sean Avery's stick on Saturday, should be good to go.

Forwards
Sullivan (A) - O'Reilly - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Smithson - Ward
Dumont - Goc - Erat
Wilson - Spaling - Kostitsyn
Defense
 Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Bouillon
Franson - O'Brien

Phoenix

When the Coyotes and Predators face off, its usually a good goaltending battle between Rinne and 2009-10 Vezina Trophy finalist Ilya Bryzgalov.


Ilya Bryzgalov

#30 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-3

210

Jun 22, 1980

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Ilya Bryzgalov 20 1164 10 3 54 2.78 639 585 .915 1

Phoenix, much like the Predators, lack a game breaker up front but boast solid depth.

Forwards
Whitney - Hanzal - Vrbata
Upshall - Korpikoski - Doan (C)
Wolski - Belanger - Stempniak
Turris - Fiddler (A) - Pyatt
Defense
Yandle - Morris
Yonkman - Schlemko
Jovanovski (A) - Aucoin

Thoughts

  • Not to act as a jinx, but the Predators' penalty kill has risen to 13th in the NHL, not allowing a power play goal since the 5-4 loss to Toronto. Good timing, because just as Nashville's PK is improving, so too is Phoenix's power play. We've said it before (and will continue to do so, shamelessly), but the Preds very often win the even strength battle. If they want to win the game, though, it'll be done on special teams.
  • Its always nice to see Vernon Fiddler back in the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena, but did you ever expect to see former Admiral (and one-time call up) Nolan Yonkman on the scene? Good for Yonks, but that's a clear sign that Phoenix has been hit by the injury bug.
  • The Nashville Predators are the worst team in the NHL when leading after the 1st period. The worst. 30th. Dead last. If that isn't an indication that the team has gotten away from "The Predator Way", I don't know what is. Back in the day, Nashville would earn a lead and completely shut down the opposition the rest of the night. Good times, those...
  • Phoenix is in 6th place in the West as of this writing, with Nashville seven spots behind in 13th. That's only four points apart, though, and the difference has largely been Phoenix getting production from their power play. In the absence of Matt Lombardi and David Legwand, the Preds simply can't stay afloat without production from Patric Hornqvist, Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat, and J.P. Dumont. I don't like to admit this, but the Nashville Predators might miss Jason Arnott.
  • A matchup between two teams coached by Barry Trotz and Dave Tippett might not sound that exciting, but the Preds and Coyotes typically play entertaining games - witness their previous tilt, when Ed Jovanovski registered a hat trick.
  • The game is not on Nashville or Phoenix television, so while you could follow along with me on press row or tune your radio to 102.9, I'd recommend taking advantage of some discounted tickets and come enjoy some NHL action.
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