Tonight the Colorado Avalanche roll into town for, you guessed it, another important Western Conference game. Only four points separate the two teams in the standings, and the Predators must use home ice to its full advantage. They'll be without the services of Cody Franson, which means that Alexander Sulzer will be plugged in to his lineup spot on the 3rd defensive pair. Preds center Cal O'Reilly will be taking on his brother Ryan O'Reilly this evening, so hopefully we'll see more out of Cal in some sibling rivalry.
NOTE: Remember, if you're going to the game tonight, check out the parking situation downtown due to the construction of the Music City Center.
Continue below for some analysis...
Nashville coming in
The power play is terrible, the penalty kill is awful, and now the shootout skills stink, too. Its been a frustrating couple of weeks to be a Preds fan. As soon as Nashville got back in the win column, they drop a winnable game in an epic shootout to the Phoenix Coyotes. I know I sound like a broken record, but getting both points tonight is of extreme importance. While all the stuff I mentioned is performing badly, the overall defensive effort has been pretty solid, and that must carry over into tonight against an Avalanche team that loves to get up and down the ice.
Colorado coming in
The Avs are coming off a demolition of Columbus, in which Cal's brother Ryan scored TWO shorthanded goals. Obviously, watch out for Colorado's penalty kill. Nashville's power play is bad enough without having to worry about giving up a shorty. The win against the Blue Jackets ended a 4 game losing streak, though, so Nashville needs to look no further than Minnesota or Detroit to see how the Avs are vulnerable. Be sure to swing by Mile High Hockey to get the enemy's view on tonight's tilt.
This has been a long time coming, but I feel its deserved. Rinne followed up his highlight-reel performance against Atlanta with a ho-hum shutout against the Coyotes. I may throw a fit in the game thread if he doesn't start, so you've been warned:
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||36||1962||19||10||89||2.72||935||846||.905||3|
For the Avs, TJ Galiardi had a goal and four assists against Columbus:
|2009 - T.J. Galiardi||45||8||16||24||10||16||2||1||2||0||70||11.4|
The shootout goal was nice, but Leggy hasn't contributed offensively in a long time:
|2009 - David Legwand||55||10||19||29||-4||16||0||1||3||0||113||8.8|
John-Michael Liles has not been performing up to the standards the team has for him:
|2009 - John-Michael Liles||39||4||19||23||-2||18||2||0||1||0||58||6.9|
The Guys in Goal
For Nashville, considering Pekka Rinne's recent performance and Barry Trotz's desire to end the rotation, I'm assuming he'll get the start tonight. Here's his player card, and you can see his stats above.
For the Avs, they didn't play last night, so one would guess that they continue to ride the guy who has kept them in the playoff picture.
|2009 - Craig Anderson||47||2816||27||14||114||2.43||1496||1382||.924||5|
For the Preds, Trotz reunites the highly effective 22-9-10 line from earlier in the year, Dumont is demoted, and Sulzer slides into Franson's spot.
For the Avalanche, winger Marek Svatos has returned from injury:
The ice was awful on Tuesday, according to Jason Arnott and Martin Erat, so hopefully the Sommet Center crew will have that remedied in the interest of a more free-flowing hockey game tonight. This team is getting harder and harder to predict. They completely shocked me with a sweep of Western Canada, then shocked me again with losses to Toronto and Columbus. Recent losses notwithstanding, I still think the Preds are better built for the long run (this year), and hey, I'm an optimist. Nashville 3, Colorado 1.