Predators Game Day Preview: Atlanta @ Nashville

The Nashville Predators take on the Atlanta Thrashers tonight in their fourth game of the 2010-11 preseason. The Predators are 1-2, with a win and a loss against Carolina and a loss to Washington on Saturday. This is the Predators' first game after their first significant round of cuts, which means that the roster battles will intensify even further. There are 22 forwards left in camp for 14 NHL spots, 12 defensemen for 7 places, and 4 goalies for 2 slots.

RADIO NOTE: Tonight marks the debut of Predators hockey on 102.9 "The Buzz", so make sure to catch Pete, Terry and Tom on the broadcast!

UPDATE: The rosters for tonight's game have been released, so follow below for what is a nearly full strength Nashville squad.

Nashville

For once, Nashville is in the enviable position of being so far under the cap and yet having entirely too many legitimate NHL players. Games such as tonight's will be Barry Trotz's unit of measurement for paring his roster down to the necessary limit. 

Again, these are just my opinions, but I think that through 10 days or so of camp and three games we should be able to assess things fairly accurately. Nick Spaling and Blake Geoffrion have impressed, but its simply a numbers game and one which they find themselves on the wrong side of. We'll have to wait until Wednesday to see them, however, as tonight's lineup is heavy on the veterans:

NO. POS.  PLAYER HT WT  BIRTHDATE
4 D  Cody Franson 6-5 213  08/08/1987
6 D  Shea Weber 6-4 234  08/14/1985
8 D  Kevin Klein 6-1 201  12/13/1984
10 LW  Martin Erat 6-0 200  08/29/1981
11 C  David Legwand 6-2 204  08/17/1980
15 C  Matthew Lombardi 5-11 195  03/18/1982
16 C  Cal O'Reilly 6-0 187  09/30/1986
20 D  Ryan Suter 6-1 198  01/21/1985
21 C  Jamie Lundmark 6-0 197  01/16/1981
22 RW  Jordin Tootoo 5-9 197  02/02/1983
25 C  Jerred Smithson 6-3 206  02/04/1979
26 RW  Steve Sullivan 5-8 161  07/06/1974
27 RW  Patric Hornqvist 5-11 188  01/01/1987
29 RW  Joel Ward 6-1 218  12/02/1980
33 C  Colin Wilson 6-1 214  10/20/1989
51 D  Francis Bouillon 5-8 198  10/17/1975
71 RW  J.P. Dumont 6-1 205  04/01/1978
74 LW  Sergei Kostitsyn 6-0 210  03/20/1987
77 D  Ryan Parent 6-3 198  03/17/1987
NO.  GOALTENDER HT WT  BIRTHDATE
35  Pekka Rinne 6-5 209  11/03/1982
37  Chet Pickard 6-2 213  11/29/1989

Revised per Preds PR.

The keys guys to watch in terms of earning NHL spots are O'Reilly, Lundmark, Kostitsyn, Parent, & Pickard. Obviously, some of those guys are closer to locking up NHL (or AHL) jobs than others, but the rest of the lineup are regular Preds.

Atlanta

Despite consistently toiling near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, things appear to be looking up for the Atlanta Thrashers.They've hired Rick Dudley as general manager, who has instantly made an impact with the acquisitions of former Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager.

Ilya Kovalchuk left, yes, but they've put that behind them. Besides former Preds Chris Mason and Rich Peverley, Atlanta has invested their future in youngsters Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Niclas Bergfors, Evander Kane, and Alexander Burmistrov to go along with veterans Ron Hainsey, Nik Antropov, and Bryan Little. Atlanta challenged for a playoff spot last year, and I would not be shocked if they saw even more success this year. Be sure and check out our SBN associates Bird Watchers Anonymous for more on the Thrashers.

As for their lineup...

NO. POS.  PLAYER HT WT  BIRTHDATE
4 D  Zach Bogosian 6-3 215  07/15/1990
6 D  Ron Hainsey 6-3 210  03/24/1981
9 C  Evander Kane 6-2 192  08/02/1991
12 LW  Patrick Rissmiller 6-4 225  10/26/1978
15 LW  Nigel Dawes 5-9 200  02/09/1985
16 LW  Andrew Ladd 6-2 205  12/12/1985
18 RW  Niclas Bergfors 5-11 200  03/07/1987
19 LW  Fredrik Modin 6-4 220  10/08/1974
21 LW  Ben Eager 6-2 230  01/22/1984
22 RW  Anthony Stewart 6-3 230  01/05/1985
24 D  Freddy Meyer 5-10 180  01/04/1981
27 RW  Chris Thorburn 6-3 230  06/03/1983
33 D  Dustin Byfuglien 6-5 265  03/27/1985
36 LW  Eric Boulton 6-1 225  08/17/1976
39 D  Tobias Enstrom 5-10 180  11/05/1984
44 D  Arturs Kulda 6-2 215  07/25/1988
47 C  Rich Peverley 6-0 195  07/08/1982
49 C  Alex Burmistrov 6-1 180  10/21/1991
51 D  Andrey Zubarev 6-1 210  03/03/1987
56 LW  Fredrik Pettersson 5-10 185  06/10/1987
NO.  GOALTENDER HT WT  BIRTHDATE
50  Mason, Chris 6-0 195  04/20/1976
31  Pavelec, Ondrej 6-3 220  08/31/1987

Prediction

Both teams are icing strong teams, so I'll guess that Nashville registers a 3-2 victory. As the preseason winds its way to a close, you'll see more and more veterans on the ice for each team, and the fact is that Nashville's veterans surpass Atlanta's in both talent and capability.

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