Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ Atlanta

After a three game winning streak, the Nashville Predators have lost two games in a row and stumble into Atlanta, Georgia to take on the Atlanta Thrashers in a game that has significantly more importance than any fan, player, or coach would probably like. The Predators could soon be on the outside looking in, and have lost superstar defenseman Shea Weber to injury, as well as new acquisition Denis Grebeshkov.

Dan Ellis gets the start tonight, and Alexander Sulzer has been recalled for Grebeshkov. Continue below for more...

Nashville coming in

There are certainly some pluses we can take from the last two losses. The power play has been more effective than usual, and both Jason Arnott and Dan Hamhuis, typically the target of fans' ire, have picked up their play quite a bit since the Olympic break.

As is usually the case with a losing streak, the negatives outweigh the positives. Pekka Rinne has been subpar in his recent starts, which is the last thing the Predators need in a stretch run. Despite having perhaps the top defensive unit in all of hockey on paper, the repeated mental lapses continue to astound, such as Kevin Klein's gift to Pavel Datsyuk on Friday. The losses of Weber and Grebeshkov obviously hurt, but will give players like Alexander Sulzer and Cody Franson chances to shine against an average opponent in Atlanta.

Atlanta coming in

The Thrashers are also on a two game losing streak, and falling faster than Nashville out of the playoff picture. Our esteemed SBN affiliate, Bird Watchers Anonymous, has been justifiably displeased with the play out of Atlanta since the Olympic break.

The players they acquired in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal have been performing well above expectations, especially rookie Nicklas Bergfors, who has already cemented a place on the top line. Look for Joel Ward, Jerred Smithson, and David Legwand to get plenty of time against him.

Who's hot

I can't overstate how impressed I've been with the play of Dan Hamhuis since the Olympic break. Jason Arnott is also riding a point streak.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Dan Hamhuis 61 4 16 20 -1 45 0 0 0 0 90 4.4

As mentioned, Bergfors has been on quite a tear.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Nicklas Bergfors 63 19 15 34 -3 10 9 0 6 0 166 11.4

Who's not

When you're unable to score a goal in over twenty games, you earn a spot here!


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - David Legwand 65 10 23 33 0 22 0 1 3 0 118 8.5

For the Thrash, I direct you to the goalie position.

The Guys in Goal

Word comes through beat writer John Glennon that Barry Trotz has relented and given Dan Ellis the call for tonight's contest.


Dan Ellis

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jun 19, 1980


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Dan Ellis 28 1539 13 12 68 2.65 765 697 .911 1

For Atlanta, Johan Hedberg had a particularly rough night against Carolina, so it'll be interesting to see who coach John Anderson goes with tonight.

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Johan Hedberg 35 1916 16 10 85 2.66 987 902 .914 1

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Ondrej Pavelec 36 1953 12 16 113 3.47 1144 1031 .901 2

Injury Report


Nashville Predators Injuries

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date

Shea Weber

Denis Grebeshkov

upper-body, day-to-day

lower body, 1-2 weeks

03/05/2010

3/07/201


Atlanta Thrashers Injuries

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Evander Kane foot 03/08/2010

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Boris Valabik knee 02/06/2010

Projected Lineups

Nashville, with some major changes, again, per Glennon:

Forwards
Wilson - Arnott - Erat
Ward - Legwand - Smithson
Sullivan - Goc - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Boyd -Dumont
O'Reilly/Belak
Defense
Suter - Franson
Hamhuis - Klein
Sulzer - Bouillon

Atlanta's, via the front page of BWA:

 

Forwards
Little - Antropov -Bergfors
MacArthur - Peverley -Afinogenov
Kane - Slater -Armstrong
Artukyhin - Reasoner -Thorburn
White/Kozlov
Defense
Enstrom - Kubina
Oduya -Hainsey
Bogosian -Schubert

Did you know?

  • Dan Hamhuis ranks sixth in the NHL among defensemen for takeaways.
  • With a win tonight, Barry Trotz will hit the big 400. Is he underrated, or is he underrated?
  • Dan Ellis' first start as a Predator was a 3-0 shutout of the Thrashers.
  • Jordin Tootoo has six points in six career games against Atlanta.

Fearless Prediction

I'm wary of being overly optimistic tonight, but I feel like with the Thrashers slumping, Dan Ellis in net, and the Predators wanting to get their road trip off to a good start that we could have a recipe for success. Nashville did a fantastic job of staying out of the box on Sunday, committing only one minor penalty. That will need to continue, as the Thrashers have an underrated power play.

Philips Arena is not a real intimidating venue, so it shouldn't be difficult for the Predators to get their legs under them quickly. If they shore up the defensive mistakes (which should be interesting with two rookies in the lineup), Nashville wins, 4-1.

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