Los Angeles Kings @ Nashville Predators Preview: So It Begins

LOS ANGELES CA - NOVEMBER 06: Goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators gets in position as Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings brings the puck into the zone during the NHL game at Staples Center on November 6 2010 in Los Angeles California. The Kings defeated the Predators 4-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

[NHL.com] - [SB Nation] - [Jewels From The Crown]

7:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD)

The NHL calendar says that the playoffs start in the middle of April. 

That said, I look at the Western Conference standings, and fail to see how that's the case. The Nashville Predators are knee-deep in one of the tightest playoff races in NHL history, and the mud isn't getting any clearer. With every game, the importance and stakes intensify. The playoffs, for all intents and purposes, are right now - and the Preds have to bring that mentality to the ice tonight against the Los Angeles Kings.

It will require Sergei Kostitsyn laying out to block a Drew Doughty slap shot. It will necessitate Patric Hornqvist parking in the crease and daring someone to move him. Pekka Rinne may have to stand on his head, and Shea Weber may have to break things, but tonight's game could well be season-defining. They don't care how - just how many, and with only thirteen games left, time is beginning to run out. 

Lineups after the jump.

Tonight's projected lineups: 


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

207

Nov 03, 1982


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Pekka Rinne 52 3066 25 19 106 2.07 1515 1409 .930 6

Forwards
Kostitsyn - Fisher - Wilson
Ward - Legwand - Erat (A)
Hornqvist - Smithson - Spaling
Tootoo - Geoffrion - Halischuk
Defense
Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Blum
O'Brien - Franson


Jonathan Bernier

#45 / Goalie / Los Angeles Kings

5-11

186

Aug 07, 1988


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Jonathan Bernier 22 1224 9 8 53 2.60 569 516 .907 2

 

Forwards
Penner - Kopitar - Williams
Smyth - Stoll - Brown
Ponikarovsky - Handzus - Simmonds
Clifford - Lewis - Richardson
Defense
Mitchell - Doughty
Johnson - Scuderi
Martinez - Greene
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