NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 09: Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selane #8 skates towards Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne #35 on October 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
There's no time to stew over last night's disappointing effort in L.A., as the Nashville Predators get right back to business against the Anaheim Ducks. Can they reverse a four-game slide against a team they pasted 4-1 to open the season? It's a 7:00 p.m. Central start, and thankfully, will be on FS-TN this evening.
Follow after the jump for a look at tonight's contest, and take a stroll over at Anaheim Calling, SB Nation's Ducks blog, to find out more!
In the long run, probably the most important thing the Preds can get out of this game is for Pekka Rinne to build some confidence. Whether it's a fine effort in goal, or a an exceptionally witty 3rd period interview with Pete & Terry from the bench, Peks needs to get moving in the right direction.
As Josh Cooper wrote yesterday, this is truly Shea Weber's first big test as team captain, to see if he can keep the team's collective head in the right place as they struggle through some adversity. More than that, however, they need to pick up some wins.
Given the lack of healthy bodies, the only lineup options available to Barry Trotz are whether to dress Wade Belak (who, against Anaheim, might actually have something to do) and choose a goaltender. I expect that Trotz will put Rinne back in the net to try and get him going, rather than play the "you've got to earn it" game that he did previously with Dan Ellis. Two games in a row now Peks has delivered a poor effort, and Trotz has deflected the blame.
Given that lack of flexibility, the question must be asked whether the internal competition that Trotz and David Poile like to emphasize has been undermined. Outside of dispensing power play time, is there much of a carrot that can be dangled in front of the guys to motivate them? I'm not saying the Preds aren't working hard out there, but having that external motivator might help make a difference.
Since getting stomped in Nashville's home opener, the Ducks have actually played roughly .500 hockey, going 6-5-1. The trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan are leading the charge, along with the ageless wonder, Teemu Selanne. Still, the Ducks have a real weakness on the blueline, and have the 5th-worst Goals Against figure in the league, at 3.21. Is that just what the doctor ordered for an anemic Preds attack right now?
One area that remains consistent with the Ducks is their propensity to take stupid penalties, and they rank once again among the league leaders in the number of times they have to play shorthanded. That presents, perhaps, the Preds' best hope for today's game - remain focused, work hard, and try to generate power play opportunities.