Predators @ Rangers Preview: Nashville Faces NHL's Top Team

OTTAWA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 9: Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal with team mates during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on November 9, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Fresh off a convincing 3-1 win on Long Island, the Nashville Predators head into the heart of Manhattan for a game tonight against the New York Rangers, to be seen on NBC Sports at 6:30 p.m. Central. In front of a national audience, the Preds will have the chance to show how far they've come lately by taking on the #1 team in the NHL.

So how do our Predators stack up against the Blueshirts? Find out after the jump...

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Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (26-15-4) at NY Rangers (28-11-4)
NSH Offense vs. NYR Defense NYR Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.2 (20th) 26.7 (27th) 8.4 (14th) 2.4 (9th) 30.9 (26th) 922 (10th) NSH Defense
NYR Defense 1.9 (4th) 29.2 (9th) 935 (3rd) 2.6 (8th) 27.4 (25th) 9.4 (3rd) NYR Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. NYR PK NYR PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.4 (3rd) 50.2 (14th) 14.8 (5th) 6.5 (21st) 53.1 (22nd) 877 (17th) NSH 4-on-5
NYR 4-on-5 4.5 (4th) 47.9 (9th) 906 (6th) 5.1 (21st) 41.7 (29th) 12.3 (13th) NYR 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

This matchup features a number of strength-on-strength contests, such as Nashville's power play against New York's penalty kill. The one area that jumps out as a possible advantage is the Rangers' 5-on-5 play.

New York Rangers

The Rangers have gone through a transformation in the salary cap era, getting on-board with the draft & develop model for the bulk of their roster, while dipping into free agency on occasion to get the star power they need. One such example is Marian Gaborik, who is on pace to hit the 40-goal mark for the second time in his three Rangers seasons:


Marian Gaborik

#10 / Right Wing / New York Rangers

6-1

204

Feb 14, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Marian Gaborik 43 23 12 35 10 16 5 0 5 140 16.4

You know the expectations have been raised in New York when two losses in three games is looked at as a slide which needs to be turned around quickly:

The Rangers' next three games aren't exactly cakewalks either. New York will be taking on the Nashville Predators, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins -- three good teams who can easily turn this two losses in three games stretch into five losses in six games if the team does't find a way to snap out of it.

- Blueshirt Banter


New York Rangers Last 5 Games

@ Montreal Sun 01/15 L 1 - 4
@ Toronto Sat 01/14 W 3 - 0
Ottawa Thu 01/12 L 0 - 3
Phoenix Tue 01/10 SO - W 2 - 1
@ Pittsburgh Fri 01/06 W 3 - 1

Nashville Predators

The big news around the Preds these days is the upper-body injury to Ryan Suter, which will keep him out of tonight's game. He tried to give it a go yesterday, but left after the 1st period, and fortunately the team already had a 3-0 lead they could focus on protecting the rest of the way. Shea Weber worked alongside Francis Bouillon mostly in Suter's absence, a pairing I'm guessing we'll see more of today against New York's top offensive line.

The man of the hour, of course, is Sergei Kostitsyn, who has ridden a recent hot streak to score 6 goals in the last 7 games. Has something substantially changed in SK74's approach, or are the hockey gods simply bestowing a bit of good fortune upon him lately?


Sergei Kostitsyn

#74 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

207

Mar 20, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Sergei Kostitsyn 39 11 12 23 3 20 1 0 1 42 26.2
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