The Broad Street Bullies are in Nashville tonight for a cross-conference battle, and while its not a four-point game, the Predators (as always) could use the two points. The Flyers are in sixth place in the East, with a 36-28-4 record and 76 points, while the Predators are in 7th in the West (four points out of fifth) with a 38-26-5 record and 81 points. Be sure to make my interview with a Flyers blogger part of your pregame reading.
It's a matchup of two similar teams - middle of the road offenses, great defenses, and both fighting for their playoff lives, so follow after the jump for more, and while you're reading, check out Barry Trotz's segment on yesterday's Thom Abraham Show:
Nashville coming in
Talk about a turnaround. After self imploding in the third period against San Jose, the Predators closed out their road trip with two playoff-type wins. Pekka Rinne excelled, with a shutout against Anaheim and solid victory over the Kings. Colin Wilson and Cody Franson are performing way above expectations, Patric Hornqvist has caught fire once more, and the special teams, yes, even the power play, have begun to click. Where the sky was once falling there seems to be a sentiment of hope in the locker room and fan base.
Philadelphia coming in
Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey:
Philadelphia went into MSG today and controlled the game from the outset, scoring an early goal on the power play. Michael Leighton came up strong in goal and things looked to be set.
Then, Avery started his crap and it all snowballed from there. It's unacceptable. They let one player completely change the course of this game. One player who has no business doing something like that.
As a result, the Flyers miss out on a prime opportunity to put some distance between themselves and seventh-place Montreal. They also miss out on a chance to gain ground on fifth-place Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Rangers are now just one point out of the final playoff spot and just five points behind the Flyers, believe it or not.
Blame fatigue, blame Amtrak, blame whatever. None of it matters.
It was a chance to put a dagger through the heart of the team from New York. Instead, the Flyers let Avery take a jab at theirs
Our Sensational Swede is at it again!
|2009 - Patric Hornqvist||68||26||15||41||11||32||9||0||8||0||226||11.5|
Going through a dry spell offensively...
|2009 - Joel Ward||62||13||18||31||-4||18||3||1||1||0||116||11.2|
The Guys in Goal
Pekka Rinne has given Nashville exactly what they've needed in goal the past two games-- no mistakes, and making all the easy saves and some of the hard ones.
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||46||2508||24||13||114||2.73||1176||1062||.903||4|
For the Flyers, this journeyman has taken over the reins after Ray Emery was lost for the year.
|2009 - Michael Leighton||33||1790||17||9||83||2.78||894||811||.907||1|
These new lines have really clicked the last four games for the Preds (as mentioned in the comments, these are not in order of playing time or effectiveness):
Bouillon - Klein
Philadelphia, via Broad Street Hockey. And I admit, I LOL'd at Daniel Carcillo on the top line:
Parent - Coburn
The Predators are desperate. The Flyers are probably more desperate having come off a rough loss to the Rangers. Its going to be important to pepper Michael Leighton with shots and create rebounds. Both Hornqvist and Wilson have done a great job of this on the road trip, with excellent results. The Flyers will want to break Nashville's penalty kill- which unfortunately, won't be hard. My advice? Stay out of the box. Either way, don't feel that good about tonight. Flyers 2, Predators 1 (shootout).