The white hot Nashville Predators return home tonight to take on the fading Dallas Stars, who are coming off a loss to the Pacific division leading (!) Phoenix Coyotes. The Predators have won six games in a row, with the last two victories of the particularly stirring variety. They scored twice in 48 seconds against St. Louis late in the third period to come away with the W, and the night before Cody Franson stunned the Blue Jackets in overtime.
Oh, and Pekka Rinne was named the NHL's First Star of the Week after a 4-0-0 record with two shutouts. So he's been good.
Will there be a lucky seven? Continue below for thoughts and a prediction (of course, I've never gotten one right, but still...)!
ROSTER UPDATE: Per Predators radio play-by-play man Tom Callahan, Jason Arnott will miss tonight's game after all. It sounds like Nick Spaling will be recalled before tonight's game, which is a good choice, in my opinion.
Nashville coming in
Its been a wild two weeks to be a Predator fan. The team responded to the loss in San Jose better than I ever thought possible. Six wins later, the Predators have moved up two spots in the playoff chase to fifth, and are eight points out of the Conference lead. To put it in perspective, they have as many wins as defending Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins, and would be firmly in a home-ice position were they to play in the Eastern Conference. They've already surpassed last year's point total, and its going to be very difficult to miss the playoffs at this point.
Dallas coming in
Via our friends at Defending Big D, who have undergone regime change since we last saw the Stars:
The Dallas Stars with the 3-2 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes have now lost 14 games in that manner this season. If they had only won half of those 14 then we're looking at a team that is still right in the middle of things in terms of a potential playoff spot, but they didn't and that's why tonight's shootout loss with it's one measly point in the standings is so very fitting a result. It's a loss, but not a total loss. It's not two points, but one and thus the Stars are amazingly still mathematically in the running for a playoff spot so this agony of "well they still have a chance" talk will continue for at least another day or two because as we all know if the Stars can remain perfect the rest of the season while the Flames and Red Wings lose every single game from here on out then it is... Well, you know.
Besides Rinne, of course:
|2009 - Patric Hornqvist||72||28||17||45||14||32||10||0||8||0||242||11.6|
|2009 - David Legwand||73||10||26||36||0||24||0||1||3||0||135||7.4|
The Guys in Goal
quot;>When you total up his last six starts, Pekka Rinne is 6-0 with three shutouts, a .959 save percentage and 1.15 goals against average. Fair to meddlin', I guess.
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||50||2755||28||13||119||2.59||1296||1177||.908||6|
|2009 - Kari Lehtonen||6||301||2||2||18||3.59||161||143||.888||0|
Nashville, with the word from Callahan that both Arnott and Ward are out:
Nashville Predators Injuries
Dallas Stars Injuries
Did you know?
- The Stars' penalty kill is pretty awful-76%. Nashville needs to jump all over that.
- Patric Hornqvist's 28 goals are most by a Predator draftee, and he has the lowest average ice time of anyone with 28 goals or more.
- Dan Hamhuis had the highest plus/minus rating in the league last week with a +7.
- The Predators have won three straight over the Stars on Nashville ice.
Just when you think Nashville is down and out, they've come roaring back to life. The recent successes are bringing the fans out in droves, and as the Columbus game proved, the Bridgestone Arena is an intimidating venue once again. The Stars have a minuscule chance of making the playoffs, and would likely need loads of help to get there. They're without veteran Mike Modano, while nearly everything is clicking for Nashville right now. Dallas is also turning the keys over to a new goaltender. The streak will end at some point, but I don't think its tonight. Predators 3, Stars 1.