After a wild 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, the Nashville Predators will face the Dallas Stars on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena in yet another critical Western conference tilt. Nashville currently sits at 6th place in the West with 90 points, and Dallas at 9th with 86, but the Stars have two games in hand. It's a chance for both teams to gain significant playoff positioning, as well as the opportunity for Nashville to even the season series, one of the playoff tiebreakers. The Predators only win against the Stars came in late October, a 1-0 victory, and Pekka Rinne's first shutout of the season.
Can Nashville keep up its recent streak of 5 victories in a row? Can they give themselves a sizable cushion in the Western Conference playoff race? Or will Dallas get back to its winning ways, having dropped their last two? We'll find out tonight.
Projected lineups, including a note about a struggling Predator, and keys to the game after the jump:
According to Defending Big D, (which you should certainly check out, great stuff over there) Dallas will probably roll out the same lines they did on Wednesday night, a 3-2 overtime loss to Anaheim. You'll probably see something that looks similar to this:
|2010 - Kari Lehtonen||60||3594||30||20||154||2.57||1809||1655||.915||2|
Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly have skated, but are nowhere near where they need to be health-wise to crack the lineup yet. We'll probably see the same thing we've seen the last few weeks, and why fix something if it isn't broken? The only question will be if Matt Halischuk, JP Dumont, or Colin Wilson, as some have speculated, is the healthy scratch. Wilson has seen his production fall off a cliff lately, with only 3 points in his last 13 games. Whether it's sitting him for a night or taking away some of his ice time, the Predators have to do something to light a fire under their 2008 first round draft pick and get him producing again. Your projected Predator lines:
Geoffrion-Dumont-Wilson-Halischuk (2 of the last 3)
And our MVP:
|2010 - Pekka Rinne||57||3368||29||20||118||2.10||1668||1550||.929||6|
Keys to the game:
- Get the first goal - In each of Nashville's previous three victories, they've struck first. An early lead will go a long way in securing the win and getting the fans into the game.
- Win - Sure, it's cliche. But a win tonight could put Nashville as high as 5th place, depending on what happens with the Kings, and only two games remaining against teams currently in the playoffs. Just get the 2 points, please.
Like I mentioned earlier, head on over to Defending Big D for excellent coverage from the folks in the Lone Star State.