Nashville Predators at Boston Bruins preview: Heads up, boys

If they fired slapshots at each other and the pucks collided, I'm pretty sure it would create a black hole that would bring about the end of the world.

The Nashville Predators will have to rebound from an undisciplined effort at Ottawa Thursday night, as they prepare for an early start today against the Boston Bruins (noon Central on FS-TN). Last season, a game against the Bruins provided the Preds with their first overtime victory of the year, a dramatic moment that was part of the team's late-season surge.

Can the Predators get a similar boost out of the battle with Boston today? Let's find out...

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Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (32-18-5) at Boston (33-17-2)
NSH Offense vs. BOS Defense BOS Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.3 (18th) 27.3 (24th) 8.6 (12th) 2.3 (9th) 30.8 (27th) 925 (9th) NSH Defense
BOS Defense 2.1 (6th) 30.6 (25th) 931 (3rd) 3.2 (1st) 32.7 (3rd) 9.7 (2nd) BOS Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. BOS PK BOS PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.5 (2nd) 48.8 (15th) 15.3 (2nd) 7 (23rd) 52.9 (21st) 868 (19th) NSH 4-on-5
BOS 4-on-5 4.5 (5th) 51.5 (17th) 912 (3rd) 6.8 (7th) 47.1 (22nd) 14.5 (5th) BOS 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

The Bruins are following up their 2011 Stanley Cup championship by dominating the league during this regular season, with a +63 goal differential that is tops in the NHL by a country mile.

Boston Bruins

With a comfortable 5-point lead (and 5 games in hand) over Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead, the Bruins are able to focus on the bigger picture, getting themselves ready for the playoffs. The big concern there is the health of Nathan Horton, the scoring winger who suffered a concussion last month and faces an uncertain recovery.

Their leading goal-scorer? Just that guy they snagged with the #2 pick overall which they got from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade:


Tyler Seguin

#19 / Center / Boston Bruins

6-1

182

Jan 31, 1992



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Tyler Seguin 51 20 24 44 31 16 4 0 5 149 13.4

Kid's got talent, and there's more where that came from. Thanks to that Kessel trade, they were able to move a player they didn't have salary cap room for anyway, in exchange for two first-round picks (#2 in 2010 and #9 in 2011) and a second-rounder. That's a trade for the ages, and it has Boston set up to be a legitimate Cup contender for quite a while. In goal, Tuukka Rask appears able to step in for Tim Thomas whenever that transition takes place, and Zdeno Chara is 34, so there's still a little tread left on those tires.

One reputation that Boston brings into this game is their nasty attitude. They lead the league in penalty minutes (Nashville has the 5th-fewest), but note that they're actually middle-of-the-pack in terms of the number of penalties they have to kill. So actually, they're fairly disciplined about how they engage in this stuff, it's mostly coincidental violence like fighting majors and other kinds of off-setting situations.

The Preds will need to maintain greater focus than they showed in the Ottawa game, and fight through whatever nonsense the Bruins throw their way.


Boston Bruins Last 5 Games

@ Buffalo Wed 02/08 L 0 - 6
@ Washington Sun 02/05 W 4 - 1
Pittsburgh Sat 02/04 L 1 - 2
Carolina Thu 02/02 L 0 - 3
Ottawa Tue 01/31 W 4 - 3

Nashville Predators

Josh Cooper notes that Brian McGrattan won't go, so one does have to wonder how all the logic behind his presence on the roster might work in reverse. If he's really there to give his teammates confidence when the going gets tough, then how are they going to react today, playing on the road against what might be the toughest team in the league?

Of course, a trip to Boston is welcome news for Colin Wilson, who starred in college there. He scored his first NHL goal here, too, so we'll see if this game inspires similar production.


Colin Wilson

#33 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

214

Oct 20, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Colin Wilson 52 11 18 29 3 19 5 0 4 92 11.9

Expect Pekka Rinne to get the start, in what could be a great between the #1 and #2 guys in last year's Vezina Trophy balloting.

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