The Nashville Predators can look forward to a hectic schedule this week, with four games in seven days. The good news is, they'll have the benefit of home cooking as they welcome in a trio of Western Conference playoff contenders.
Follow after the jump as we break it all down!
Today at Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars recently joined the NHL's list of official "sellers", when they sent defenseman Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia in exchange for a pair of draft picks. There are a few more suspects who might be on the move over the next few days as well, as GM Joe Nieuwendyk looks to continue his reshaping of that roster.
What we'll be watching for later today is news of whether the Stars' leading scorer will play tonight - Jamie Benn suffered a skate cut to his leg Thursday vs. Calgary, but was initially expected to be available against the Preds.
|2011 - Jamie Benn||52||17||32||49||13||47||2||1||5||146||11.6|
Tuesday vs. Vancouver Canucks
A four-game homestand begins with a visit by Vancouver, which took a 4-3 shootout decision in Nashville on February 7th. The Canucks have the cruise control set at a pretty high speed right now, with an 8-0-2 record over their last 10 games, and a ridiculous 15 point lead in the Northwest Division.
And look who just recently passed the 20-goal mark for the fourth consecutive season, our old pal Alex Burrows:
|2011 - Alexandre Burrows||56||22||16||38||20||56||3||1||6||138||15.9|
Thursday vs. St. Louis Blues
After years of expectation for improvement, the Blues have finally found the winning formula this season, thanks to a mid-season coaching change which installed Ken Hitchcock behind the St. Louis bench. You might even say they've developed into Nashville arch-enemy (thank you, thank you very much). Based on the standings right now, the Blues & Preds would meet in the first round of the playoffs as the #4 & #5 seeds.
The scary bit is while the Blues have already been playing well, and boast a healthy 7-point lead on the Predators in the standings, they continue to get stronger as injured players return to action. Center Andy McDonald just came back a week ago after missing four months, and David Perron has been outstanding for them once he rejoined the team in December, after being out for more than a year with a concussion:
|2011 - David Perron||33||11||16||27||13||20||4||0||2||72||15.3|
Saturday vs. San Jose Sharks
San Jose always makes for a lively home game, as the memory of those two playoff defeats in 2006 & 2007 still linger in fans' minds. It looked for a while like the Sharks would be able to cruise to another Pacific Division title just like Vancouver is in the Northwest, but the Phoenix Coyotes are pressing them a bit, so San Jose will definitely be looking for two points out of this game. In addition, we have a possible first-round playoff preview here, as the Sharks are on target for the #3 seed in the West, and the Preds could easily end up in 6th.
The Sharks have three 20-goal scorers leading the way offensively, including one of the brightest young stars in the NHL, Logan Couture:
|2011 - Logan Couture||56||24||24||48||8||10||6||2||3||177||13.6|
That's a pretty stacked lineup of opponents coming through Bridgestone Arena this week - what do you think would make for a successful record out of these four games?