Predators Game Day Preview: Colorado @ Nashville

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.

Who's hot

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:


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


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - T.J. Galiardi 45 8 16 24 10 16 2 1 2 0 70 11.4

Who's not

The shootout goal was nice, but Leggy hasn't contributed offensively in a long time:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
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:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
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.


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

206

Nov 03, 1982


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.


Craig Anderson

#41 / Goalie / Colorado Avalanche

6-2

180

May 21, 1981



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Craig Anderson 47 2816 27 14 114 2.43 1496 1382 .924 5

Projected Lineups

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.

Forwards
Sullivan - Arnott - Hornqvist
Smithson - Legwand - Ward
Tootoo - Goc -Erat
Jones - O'Reilly - Dumont
Defense
Suter - Weber
Hamhuis - Klein
Bouillon - Sulzer

 

For the Avalanche, winger Marek Svatos has returned from injury:

Forwards
Wolski - Stastny -Stewart
Yip - Duchene -Galiardi
McLeod - O'Reilly - Svatos
Koci - Durno - Tucker
Defense
Hannan - Quincey
Clark -Liles
Cumiskey -O'Neill

 

Fearless Prediction

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.

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