Nashville Predators @ Colorado Avalanche preview: Putting a bow on 2011-2012

By the time the puck drops in Denver tonight (8:00 p.m. Central on FS-TN), the Nashville Predators' playoff situation might already be set, but we'll still be watching closely to see how well the team is clicking. There are forward lines which are still potentially up for grabs, and certainly two winger spots on the fourth which are open to competition. The Preds have won all three previous matchups between these teams, with the latest coming March 8 at Bridgestone Arena.

Follow after the jump for the preview...

Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (47-26-8) at Colorado (41-34-6)
NSH Offense vs. COL Defense COL Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.4 (9th) 27.3 (24th) 8.9 (5th) 2.3 (8th) 30.3 (24th) 923 (9th) NSH Defense
COL Defense 2.3 (8th) 29.5 (16th) 920 (13th) 2.1 (24th) 30.9 (8th) 6.9 (29th) COL Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. COL PK COL PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.7 (1st) 45.7 (21st) 16.8 (1st) 6.1 (16th) 52.8 (23rd) 884 (14th) NSH 4-on-5
COL 4-on-5 5.6 (11th) 41.0 (4th) 864 (23rd) 6.6 (8th) 53.9 (6th) 12.3 (12th) COL 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

A snake-bitten offense in 5-on-5 play undercut Colorado's chances this season, as their special teams work has been pretty strong.

Colorado Avalanche

Avs fans are still stinging with the disappointment of seeing their team eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday night thanks to a home loss against Columbus:

This is one of those "feel" things, but it sure seemed like the Avalanche had an alarming tendency to come out flat in big games this year. This is a talented young team with a lot of solid pieces in place for the future. But it also seems like a team that is still missing some key ingredients not only one the ice but off the ice as well. I don't know if it is coaching, or player personalities or the fact that only 15,000 people showed up for a critical home game. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed because this team doesn't have enough talent to overcome laying an egg in a critical game like that. They needed to play good, hard, smart hockey last night to help themselves. They didn't.

--- Mile High Hockey

Perhaps the best story in Denver this season has been the remarkable rookie campaign for Gabriel Landeskog, which may well result in a Calder Trophy:


8476455_medium

Gabriel Landeskog

#92 / Left Wing / Colorado Avalanche

6-1

204

Nov 23, 1992



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Gabriel Landeskog 81 22 30 52 +22 51 6 0 5 267 8.2

The Avs have been an interesting team to follow over the last few years. A couple seasons ago, when they earned 95 points and made the playoffs, they were criticized as one of the luckiest teams in recent years, whose poor fundamentals augured ill for their future. Sure enough, they crashed back to Earth in 2010-2011, but this season they made some genuine improvements as a team.

Kudos to them for sticking with head coach Joe Sacco - all too often, teams hit the EJECT button at the first extended downturn, but there's good reason for hope that better days are ahead in Colorado.


Colorado Avalanche Last 5 Games

Columbus Thu 04/05 L 2 - 5
@ Calgary Fri 03/30 W 4 - 1
@ Vancouver Wed 03/28 L 0 - 1
@ San Jose Mon 03/26 L 1 - 5
Vancouver Sat 03/24 OT - L 2 - 3

Nashville Predators

The Preds have the luxury of little to play for tonight, so the primary focus will be on getting their game going and keeping healthy. Yesterday, Barry Trotz intimated to Mike Organ that if Nashville's playoff situation is already determined by the Detroit/Chicago result,

"I won't say (the Chicago-Detroit game) won't impact what we do," Trotz said. "I will watch that game and it will dictate what we're going to do a little bit."

If the game doesn't matter, Trotz could give his best players, including goalie Pekka Rinne, an extra day of rest. Rinne was among several Predators who took a maintenance day on Friday and did not practice.

Trotz insisted he wouldn't sit all of his key players, however.

"No matter what you'll see a good majority of our (regular) group in there," he said. "If there are some changes it will just be some minor tweaks. If anybody has some minor aches and bruises that could make a difference."

Getting the guys an extra rest when the opportunity arises is important for a team with aspirations to keep playing for two more months. I'm also OK with seeing Lindback get another start, as he really hasn't gotten much game action this year and needs to be sharp if called upon in the playoffs.

It sure would be nice to see Marty hit the 60-point mark, though, wouldn't it?


Martin Erat

#10 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

6-0

201

Aug 29, 1981



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2011 - Martin Erat 71 19 39 58 +12 30 5 1 3 107 17.8
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