Predators @ Wild Preview: Feeling Minnesota

Perhaps there's no better way to get back into the competitive groove for the Nashville Predators than to face another Western Conference playoff contender in the Minnesota Wild (7:00 p.m. Central on FS-TN). There are a number of elements which have tied these teams together over the years, from the ownership (former Preds owner Craig Leipold of course owns the Wild now) down to the roster (3 former Preds are with Minnesota), and even an old bit of enmity between two rough-and-tumble wingers.

Follow after the jump for your preview!

Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (30-16-4) at Minnesota (24-18-7)
NSH Offense vs. MIN Defense MIN Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.3 (17th) 26.8 (26th) 8.4 (14th) 2.3 (9th) 30.9 (27th) 926 (7th) NSH Defense
MIN Defense 2.1 (7th) 31.3 (29th) 932 (5th) 2.0 (26th) 26.1 (29th) 7.7 (19th) MIN Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. MIN PK MIN PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.8 (2nd) 48.9 (14th) 16 (2nd) 6.4 (20th) 52.8 (22nd) 879 (16th) NSH 4-on-5
MIN 4-on-5 5.5 (11th) 51.9 (18th) 893 (12th) 4.6 (24th) 47.8 (19th) 9.7 (26th) MIN 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Remember how I've been harping all season long about the Shots For & Against figures for the Preds? Well, Minnesota has it even worse, and if it weren't for stellar goaltending so far, they'd be in the Western Conference dumpster.

Minnesota Wild

After starting out the season as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Wild experienced a (widely predicted) free fall starting in mid-December, going an awful 4-11-4 since December 13. The Preds are 1-1 against them so far this season, dropping a 3-2 decision in Minnesota back in November, and winning a 2-1 shootout game on December 18, in which the Wild flubbed away two out of their three attempts during the shootout.

In light of their troubles, there have been some callups and assignments with AHL affiliate in Houston, but nothing major has been done to the roster so far. The odd man out these days in Minnesota is our old pal Marek Zidlicky (we should see other former Preds Greg Zanon and Jed Ortmeyer, though). According to our colleagues at Hockey Wilderness he's likely to be a healthy scratch tonight. On the books at $4 million per season through 2012-2013, you'd have to think this is a player whose doesn't have much more of a future in Minnesota.


Marek Zidlicky

#3 / Defenseman / Minnesota Wild

5-11

190

Feb 03, 1977



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Marek Zidlicky 34 0 11 11 -6 18 0 0 0 38 0

Nashville Predators

For the Predators, it's all about seeing if they can keep the good times rolling, after an 18-5-0 streak carried them into the All-Star break as one of the hottest teams in the league. Jerred Smithson and Francis Bouillon are reportedly unlikely to go (per Josh Cooper), which still leaves an interesting decision on who to scratch.

Up front, will Brian McGrattan dress, to counter the likes of Clayton Stoner, Kyle Brodziak, or just to keep Cal Clutterbuck in line? Of course, there's also Brad Staubitz to deal with... remember how he MMA'd Jordin Tootoo a couple years back when Staubitz was a Shark? Video found at Hockeyfights.com:


While I'm sure the main focus will be on earning the two points tonight, you have to wonder if Tootoo will take an opportunity for payback if it arises. He has yet to battle Staubitz again after that incident.

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