Coyotes @ Predators preview: Nashville needs to step up at home

Nick Spaling and the rest of the Preds will have their hands full keep The Wizard in check tonight.

The Nashville Predators will try and reverse a 3-game losing streak on home ice tonight, as the Phoenix Coyotes visit for a 7:00 p.m. start (also on FS-TN). These two teams have each won on the other's rink already this season, so it's about time somebody defended their turf, right?

Follow after the jump for the breakdown...

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Tale Of The Tape

Phoenix (14-9-3) at Nashville (12-10-4)
PHX Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. PHX Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
PHX Offense 2.7 (6th) 31.2 (9th) 8.6 (12th) 2.3 (9th) 32.3 (30th) 927 (8th) PHX Defense
NSH Defense 2.4 (13th) 31.4 (27th) 925 (11th) 2.2 (22nd) 25.3 (28th) 8.7 (9th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
PHX PP vs. NSH PK NSH PP vs. PHX PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
PHX 5-on-4 3.5 (28th) 43.2 (24th) 8.2 (28th) 3.5 (2nd) 52.8 (19th) 933 (2nd) PHX 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 6.0 (17th) 53.5 (23rd) 887 (13th) 6.7 (9th) 50.8 (13th) 13.1 (10th) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

The Coyote play a relatively high-event style of hockey, with plenty of shots both For & Against in 5-on-5 action. Their real strength thus far has been in goal. With the Preds, I think we all hoped that once they started getting guys back in the lineup, those Shots For & Against numbers would start to improve... but that's been a slow, fitful process at best.

Phoenix Coyotes

The elder statesman is leading the way for Phoenix up front, as 39-year-old Ray Whitney continues to dazzle and defy expectations. He's tied for the team scoring lead with Radim Vrbata, as both have 23 points in 26 games for the Yotes.

The real story with this team, however, is how Mike Smith has taken over in goal. Cast off from the Dallas and Tampa Bay organizations, he's found success in the desert, even after Phoenix let their big-name goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, sign with Philadelphia over the summer on a gargantuan, long-term contract.


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2011 - Mike Smith 22 1299 13 6 3 49 2.26 709 660 .931 2

Last night, the Coyotes beat the Blackhawks in a shootout, after leading Chicago 3-0 in the second period. Since Smith got the win in that one, the Preds might face back Jason LaBarbera instead, so stay tuned for further developments there.


Phoenix Coyotes Last 5 Games

@ Chicago Mon 12/05 SO - W 4 - 3
Philadelphia Sat 12/03 L 2 - 4
@ Winnipeg Thu 12/01 L 0 - 1
@ Chicago Tue 11/29 W 4 - 1
Dallas Sat 11/26 W 3 - 0

Nashville Predators

The main questions heading into tonight's game are:

  1. whether or not Jordin Tootoo will be available to play, as we're still waiting to hear the results from the league office regarding the Ryan Miller incident from Saturday night, and
  2. if Sergei Kostitsyn will be ready for game action, after practicing yesterday
  3. if Pekka Rinne can get back to his dominating self

On the blueline, however, we'll want to keep an eye on the defensive pairings, and to what extent they remain consistent throughout the game. After Saturday night's loss, Ryan Suter openly complained about the juggling, as for example Roman Josi played the first period alongside Shea Weber, but the final two with Jonathon Blum. Given the difficulties the team has faced defensively, perhaps a bit of stability might settle things down. No matter what the pairings look like, however, it will take a whole-team effort to keep the Coyotes in check.

One guy who has enjoyed some success against Phoenix is Mike Fisher, who boasts 5 goals and 7 assists in 10 career games against them.


Mike Fisher

#12 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

208

Jun 05, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Mike Fisher 18 5 7 12 -2 6 1 0 1 37 13.5
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