Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators: Game Day Preview

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The Dallas Stars are in Music City tonight, giving the Nashville Admirals Predators a chance to end a losing streak that while has only lasted four games, seems like an eternity. The Stars currently reside atop the Pacific Division and near the top of the conference, so whatever you think of Dallas' postseason chances, this is a good test for Nashville.

There are many key players missing, and quite a few things need fixing right now - but that doesn't mean the Preds can't come away with two points tonight. Follow after the jump for more.

Lineups

Nashville

The past two games have only cemented what we already knew - Pekka Rinne is the franchise's top goalie.

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 21 1205 8 9 46 2.29 582 536 .921 3

David Legwand is (finally) probable, but Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat, and Jordin Tootoo will all be absent from tonight's game. Ouch.

Chris Mueller is set to make his NHL debut.

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

Dallas

Kari Lehtonen has alleviated most all the fears that he was incapable of handling a starter's duties.

Kari Lehtonen

#32 / Goalie / Dallas Stars

6-4

215

Nov 16, 1983

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Kari Lehtonen 27 1628 15 8 67 2.47 833 766 .920 0

The Stars' top line has been one of the most effective in the NHL this season. Nicklas Grossman and Tom Wandell are questionable.

Forwards
Neal - Richards (A) - Eriksson
Morrow (C) - Ribeiro -Benn
Sutherby - Ott - Burish
Barch - Petersen - Segal
Defense
 Robidas (A) - Grossman
Skrastins - Niskanen
Woywitka - Daley

Thoughts

  • Both squads are coming in on the heels of getting shutout, but the Stars have had an easier time putting the puck in the net this year. At this point, the Predators can't find the back of the net to save their lives - on the power play, at even strength, or on the penalty kill. The quality chances have been coming, though, particularly in the 3rd period of the latest St. Louis loss. The problem, as usual, is a lack of finishing ability across the roster.
  • The Predators have not scored first in four consecutive outings, all of which, obviously, have been losses. At the other end of the spectrum, Dallas wins an impressive .889%  (tops in the league) of their games after scoring first. Between those statistics and the sheer difficulty Nashville has scoring these days, tonight's first goal will be huge.
  • The longer Nashville struggles, the more important each point becomes. Dallas isn't likely to finish this high at the end of the year, but rather right around where the Predators ought to qualify. I'm beating a dead horse, but points against Western Conference teams are quite useful.
  • As we discussed in the recap thread on Sunday night, in today's NHL, there are truly no excuses - even injuries. The fact is, the Predators had more than ample opportunity to beat the Blues, and failed. If that continues to happen, the team and the fans should not expect any more than cursory success.
  • More than any of the above, though, is the black cloud hanging over Jordin Tootoo's situation. I'm sure it was a jolt to the locker room to lose a great teammate, and a guy who always had your back, no matter the situation - especially under these circumstances. Professional hockey players shouldn't need extra motivation to give their all, but if for no other reason, win this one for Jordin, boys.
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