Ducks vs Predators preview: It's Tootoo Time

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29: Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks yells at Jordin Tootoo #22 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on October 29, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators will cross swords with the Anaheim Ducks for the third time this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena (7:00 p.m. Central on FS-TN). This one has all the elements of being a spirited, entertaining game: it's a rematch from the playoffs, but the Preds desperately need to demonstrate some dominance on home ice in front of what should be a capacity crowd, the Ducks will look to assert themselves under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, and at the same time, Jordin Tootoo returns to the lineup after a 2-game suspension.

If you'll recall, the last time these two teams met in Nashville, Toots was right in the middle of some controversy late in the game...

This one should be a sellout, so find great deals on the resale market on our Tickets page!

Tale Of The Tape

Anaheim (8-15-5) at Nashville (13-11-4)
ANA Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. ANA Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
ANA Offense 2.1 (24th) 25.6 (27th) 8.2 (19th) 3.0 (28th) 30.9 (23rd) 903 (25th) ANA Defense
NSH Defense 2.4 (12th) 31.2 (24th) 923 (10th) 2.2 (23rd) 25.1 (29th) 8.6 (9th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
ANA PP vs. NSH PK NSH PP vs. ANA PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
ANA 5-on-4 6.7 (10th) 55.8 (5th) 12.1 (16th) 3.9 (2nd) 48.6 (10th) 919 (4th) ANA 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 5.9 (16th) 52.5 (21st) 888 (14th) 6.9 (4th) 52.9 (9th) 13.1 (8th) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Things have changed a bit since last spring's playoffs - both of these teams' skaters are underwater in 5-on-5 play, but are effective on the power play. The main difference is Nashville's goaltending advantage, while Anaheim is the superior penalty-killing team so far this season.

Anaheim Ducks

The big story with Anaheim is the change behind the bench, as Bruce Boudreau was brought in to replace Randy Carlyle last week. The Ducks are 1-2-1 so far under the new boss, and it remains to be seen how long it will take for him to shuffle the deck and find a hand that he's comfortable playing. Just as Carolina swapped blueliners with Montreal the other day, I wouldn't be surprised to see a trade or two in the days ahead with Anaheim, as Boudreau takes the team in a new direction.

On the enforcer front, George Parros has been back in action for the last two games, after suffering a detached retina last month - he hasn't fought yet in his return, and does he dare trade blows with Big Ern, as he did back on October 29? This, from HockeyFights.com:


Saturday night... sellout crowd... heated rivalry... you can bet somebody's gonna drop 'em.

As far as playing hockey goes, the Ducks are in a delicate spot. It's almost, not quite, time to throw in the towel on hopes of making the playoffs, but memories of winning 15 of their last 20 games down the stretch in 2010-2011 will surely keep management thinking that perhaps another such streak is just around the corner. That may prevent them from making the structural changes needed to re-position the team for the long haul. The only shame here is that this guy has to go out like this:


Teemu Selanne

#8 / Right Wing / Anaheim Ducks

6-0

196

Jul 03, 1970



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Teemu Selanne 28 9 19 28 -1 38 4 0 0 86 10.4


Anaheim Ducks Last 5 Games

@ St. Louis Thu 12/08 L 2 - 4
Los Angeles Tue 12/06 W 3 - 2
Minnesota Sun 12/04 L 3 - 5
Philadelphia Fri 12/02 OT - L 3 - 4
Montreal Wed 11/30 W 4 - 1


Anaheim Ducks Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Saku Koivu other-excused 12/09/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jason Blake wrist 10/15/2011
Matt Smaby thumb 10/01/2011
Lubomir Visnovsky fingers 11/12/2011

Nashville Predators

The Preds are perhaps finally enjoying a full lineup once again, as Jordin Tootoo returns from suspension - while Blake Geoffrion is still on Injured Reserve as of this writing, the assignment of Chris Mueller to Milwaukee is a sign that perhaps Boomer is ready to play again, or at least getting close.

Right now, the main focus of the Predators needs to be on defending their home ice - they have the worst home record in the entire NHL at 4-5-3, and well, you just can't put a good spin on results like that no matter how hard you try. With 10 out of the next 13 games taking place at Bridgestone Arena, that trend has be reversed immediately - piddling away this stretch would only leave them behind other playoff contenders, with a tough road to travel during the season's second half.

And while we can point to particular forwards or defensemen as needing to step things up, I think we can all agree on the one guy who can make the biggest difference right now:


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

209

Nov 03, 1982



GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Pekka Rinne 25 1402 11 9 4 61 2.61 758 697 .920 3
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