Predators Game Day Preview: Minnesota @ Nashville

The Minnesota Wild come to Nashville tonight to take on the Predators in what is probably their most important game of the season. The Wild are hanging on for dear life in the playoff chase and desperately need two points against a rival. The Predators are flying high, though, and if Pekka Rinne's recent performances are any indication it'll be a tough go for the Wild.

The season's coming to a close, the standings are tight, and both teams are playing well, so continue below for more!

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

Ugly as it may have been, the Predators extended their win streak on Tuesday with a 4-3 win over the Flyers. The key to the game was Pekka Rinne (42 saves), as the Predators spent most of the game in their own zone. They overcame some highly questionable officiating to get the win in the shootout. They didn't get a chance to try out their newfound power play success, however, because Philadelphia didn't take a single minor penalty. The Wild are not quite as disciplined, so look for that to change tonight.

Minnesota coming in

The Wild are also on a three game win streak, beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in their previous contest. They've gotten excellent play out of (former?) backup goalie Josh Harding, and are putting some heat on Calgary for the ninth spot. According to Wild beat man Mike Russo, Derek Boogaard will not make the trip, but Finnish Olympian Niklas Backstrom will. Check out our friends at Hockey Wilderness for any Minnesota needs you may have.

Who's hot

Besides Rinne, of course:

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Martin Erat 63 20 24 44 -10 42 5 0 2 0 138 14.5

Who's not

He's picked it up slightly, but still gone a ridiculous amount of games (nearly 30?) without a goal:

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - David Legwand 70 10 26 36 0 24 0 1 3 0 129 7.8

The Guys in Goal

Your reigning NHL 3rd Star of the Week:


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 47 2573 25 13 117 2.73 1221 1104 .904 4

Also playing well:


Josh Harding

#37 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild

6-1

197

Jun 18, 1984


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Josh Harding 21 1100 8 9 51 2.78 570 519 .911 1

Projected Lineups

Nashville:

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

Bouillon - Klein

Minnesota (minus Brent Burns):

Forwards
Brunette - Koivu - Miettinen
Latendresse - Ebbett - Havlat
Nolan - Sheppard - Kobasew
Clutterbuck - Brodziak -??
Defense
Zanon - Zidlicky
Scott - Barker

Sifers - Schultz

Injury Report


Nashville Predators Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Denis Grebeshkov lower-body 03/08/2010

Minnesota Wild Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Derek Boogaard other-excused 03/17/2010
Shane Hnidy leg 03/17/2010

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Niklas Backstrom groin 03/17/2010

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Clayton Stoner groin 01/06/2010
Pierre-Marc Bouchard concussion 10/04/2009

(Ouch)

Did You Know?

  • Martin Erat and Jerred Smithson both scored their first career goals against Minnesota
  • Erat is approaching the team record for shootout conversions (12)
  • Nashville's home power play is 6th in the NHL, and they are 25-8-2 when scoring with the man advantage

Fearless Prediction

Over the past week, the Preds have won ugly (Flyers), pretty (Kings), with defense (Ducks), and scored a lot of goals in another game (Sharks). On top of all that, they've gotten the consistent goaltending needed to succeed in the playoffs. Minnesota is a good team on occasion, but the Predators are better in most facets. After weathering the storm against the Flyers, I don't think Nashville is daunted tonight. Score one on the power play, stay disciplined, hit Cal Clutterbuck, protect Pekka Rinne, and get out. Predators 3, Wild 1.

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