Nashville Predators @ Minnesota Wild: Game Day Preview

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5:00 PM | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD)

The Nashville Predators have a chance to end their five game losing streak before the year ends tonight at Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild, an opponent with whom they've had a little trouble over the years. The Preds have scored five goals in five games - at this point, the only way to go is up. 

After the jump, your lineups and thoughts in advance of this early afternoon start. 

Lineups

Nashville

As Crispy would say, in net for the road team, "the big fella, number 35". 

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 22 1264 8 10 50 2.37 607 557 .918 3

Matthew Lombardi and Steve Sullivan are out, Martin Erat is questionable, and David Legwand probable (again). Marek Svatos is set to make his Nashville debut. Expect the healthy forward scratches to be Wade Belak and Chris Mueller or Linus Klasen.

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

Minnesota

Franchise goalie (and fellow Finn) Niklas Backstrom is questionable. If he's unable to go, former Washington Capital Jose Theodore will start his second game against the Preds this year. 

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

2010 - Niklas Backstrom

2010 - Jose Theodore

25

12

1499

686

13

4

9

5

65

31

2.60

2.71

798

350

733

319

.919

.911

1

0

Former Pred Marek Zidlicky is out, while Cal Clutterbuck is a game-time decision. 

Forwards
Brunette - Koivu (C) - Miettinen
Bouchard - Brodziak - Havlat
Kobasew - Cullen - Staubitz
Nystrom - Madden - Clutterbuck
Defense
 Barker - Stoner
Scandella - Burns (A)
Zanon - Schultz (A)

Thoughts

  • Last time out against Minnesota (a 5-2 loss), the Wild took quite a few liberties away from the play, constantly finishing a check when it wasn't necessary, and just playing the meathead in general. With the absence of Jordin Tootoo, Shea Weber and particularly Shane O`Brien need to continue stepping up the physicality. 
  • Inexplicably, at the same time Nashville's penalty kill has fallen back to earth, the power play has started to heat up (well, as much as a Nashville power play can heat up). Barry Trotz likes his special teams units to add up to a total of 100% - the Predators' currently check in at 98.2 (PP, 13.7; PK, 84.5). The Wild have had an excellent power play for quite some time, so Nashville needs to turn it up to 11 on the kill without Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan. 
  • In Nashville's 4-2 loss to the Stars, Patric Hornqvist fired a franchise-record fourteen shots on goal. He did not score. The only thing he can do, really, is just keep shooting - they'll go in eventually, and Hornqvist will get back on track. Helping end the team's slide would be a good start.
  • Minny is entering tonight on a high, having scored 3 goals in the 3rd period to come back and beat the Sharks on Wednesday. They're not a great team by any stretch (indeed, despite Nashville's slide, the Wild are still a point back), but they are one that can surprise and give the Predators entirely more than they bargained for. 
  • Finally, on Svatos: don't set your hopes too high. Yes, its exciting to see David Poile stop sitting on his hands regarding the offense, and yes, there's a lot of potential there - but Marek Svatos has an illustrious injury history, and has only scored over 40 points once in his entire career. We should take this for what it is - a calculated risk by management, designed to not hurt the team in any way should the acquisition not work out.
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