Tonight the Nashville Predators begin a 7-game road trip with a journey into the desert to face the Phoenix Coyotes, a rematch with the team which bounced them from the 2012 playoffs.
Game Time: 9:00 p.m. on Fox Sports TN
Radio Note: Willy Daunic is stepping in as the play-by-play radio man after the sudden departure of Tom Callahan, so let's wish Willy good luck in his season debut.
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|Nashville Predators||Phoenix Coyotes|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||29.7||16th||36.2||1st|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||30.3||15th||30.5||18th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.927||12th||.916||17th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.17||27th||3.85||10th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.67||17th||3.92||21st|
The Coyotes are off to a fine start, and are getting solid results in pretty much all aspects of the game. While the Predators hold an edge in Save Percentage, that was largely built up by Pekka Rinne, who is on the shelf for several weeks.
The Coyotes are trying to complete the sweep of a three-game home stand tonight, after having beaten Edmonton and Los Angeles recently.
They'll come into this game without the services of gargantuan center Martin Hanzal, however, who drew a 2-game suspension for hitting Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry in the head Saturday night. As our pals at Five For Howling point out, this year's version of Hanzal is showing up all over the box scores in a good & bad way:
It was the best of Martin Hanzal. Five goals and 11 points in 12 games to begin the 2013-14 season, the best start of his career.
The 6' 6" center is equal parts impressive and frustrating this season. He's scored at least one point in all but three games and is winning 51.9 percent of his face-offs. Hanzal is on pace to set career-highs in goals, assists, points, hits and shots on goal. He is also on pace to set a career-high in penalty minutes.
The new face to watch out for is Mike Ribeiro, the puck-dangling forward who has bounced around a bit in recent years, but always seems to do well against Nashville. In 26 career games vs the Preds, Ribeiro has racked up 6 goals and 18 assists for 24 points.
After missing the last 10 games, Roman Josi is expected back in the lineup tonight, and naturally we'll watch how the D pairs shake out. Will Seth Jones still play with Shea Weber? Will Victor Bartley or Ryan Ellis watch from the press box? There will be oodles of drama on the blueline this evening...
...but of course up front there's plenty to keep an eye on, too. With Viktor Stalberg getting another shot to play, close attention will be paid to his every shift.
While Craig Smith is getting the recognition (and deservedly so) for leading the way offensively, it's also worth recognizing David Legwand, who has chipped in with 7 points as well, in perhaps a more understated way.
|2013 - David Legwand||12||1||6||7||-5||2||0||0||0||14||7.1|
With his team-leading six assists, maybe Leggy is the guy who can get Stalberg going? Tune in tonight (hopefully the trick-or-treating will be over by 9:00, if it even takes place tonight at all) and join us in the Game Thread to find out!
More from On the Forecheck:
- Antioch Hockey Center Collaboration Between Preds and Metro a Trick for Some, a Treat for Most
- Nashville Predators Schedule: The longest road trip of the season is upon us
- Nashville Predators News: Tom Callahan Resigns as Radio Play-By-Play Man
- Milwaukee Admirals Notebook: Colton Sissons scores twice in victory over Stars
- Craig Smith's Road to Redemption Leads Straight to the Net