Predators Game Day Preview: Philadelphia @ Nashville

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:

Barry Trotz on Thom Abraham Show 20100315

Special Note: Remember, if you're going to tonight's game, parking is a mess downtown right now due to the Music City Center construction, and one option to keep in mind is FREE parking at Lot R next to LP Field. You can either walk across the pedestrian bridge, or catch a $3 (per person) shuttle to Bridgestone Arena from there.

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

Who's hot

Our Sensational Swede is at it again!

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Patric Hornqvist 68 26 15 41 11 32 9 0 8 0 226 11.5

Who's not

Going through a dry spell offensively...


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


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

206

Nov 03, 1982


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


Michael Leighton

#49 / Goalie / Philadelphia Flyers

6-3

186

May 19, 1981


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Michael Leighton 33 1790 17 9 83 2.78 894 811 .907 1

Projected Lineups

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):

Forwards
Wilson - Arnott -Erat
Sullivan - Goc - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Boyd - Dumont
Ward - Legwand - Smithson
Defense
Suter - Weber
Hamhuis - Franson

Bouillon - Klein

Philadelphia, via Broad Street Hockey. And I admit, I LOL'd at Daniel Carcillo on the top line:

Forwards
Gagne - Richards - Carcillo
Giroux - Briere - Hartnell
Van Riemsdyk - Carter - Leino
Powe- Betts - Laperriere
Defense
Pronger - Carle
Timonen - Krajicek

Parent - Coburn

 

Fearless Prediction

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).

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