The Nashville Predators season-long road trip started off in fantastic fashion before turning on its heels. Thursday night's first period three-goal lead magically turned into a shoot out loss against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Tonight, the Predators tread onto Staples Center ice to square off against the Los Angeles Kings, who also won in a shootout the last time the clubs met. The big news out of LA yesterday was that Jeff Carter is being placed on LTIR. Losing Carter, who has five goals and four assists this season, is a big blow to the Kings, who are 15th in the league in scoring.
|Nashville Predators||Los Angeles Kings|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||30.3||15th||32.4||6th|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||29.0||14th||26.3||9th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.930||11th||.930||11th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.08||25th||3.86||10th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.54||14th||4.29||28th|
Not only do the Kings get plenty of shots on net in close situations, they also limit the amount directed at their net. If the Predators want to find a weakness, it starts by capitalizing on the power play, since LA should give them plenty of opportunities to do so. Currently, the Los Angeles penalty kill sits at 17th in the league.
The Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar is one of the best players in the league. It's hard to imagine that it took him 11 games to pot his first goal, but in that time he was racking up the assists. After scoring a goal and an assist in LA's last game (a win against the Sharks) he now leads the team with 13 points.
On the back end, Drew Doughty got of to a notoriously slow start last year but is helping his team produce so far this year. Doughty (4-3-7) is also fifth in the league in average ice time, skating 25:39 a night. Expect him early and often.
The Nashville Predators
There are two Predators forwards who have yet to register a point this season. Can you guess who they are? Rich Clune and Viktor Stalberg. It's tough to fault either of them, though. Clune isn't supposed to score on a nightly basis and Stalberg hasn't been playing with the greatest of linemates. However, now that he is back on the ice and playing better minutes, he is quickly going to lose the benefit of the doubt. It goes without saying that he'll score sometime in the next four years, (knock on wood). With the money he's making, if he doesn't start contributing soon, fans are going to want his head on a platter. Metaphorically speaking.
When are we going to see Magnus Hellberg play? Carter Hutton didn't look very good the longer the Phoenix game went on, but putting a rookie in against Jonathan Quick? It wouldn't be unheard of, but the way things have been going it sure seems like Hutton is going to get the lion's share of starts in the foreseeable future. As of press time there is no hint of a starter, so we'll keep you updated throughout the day.
If the Predators score first, fans are going to have an uneasy feeling. If the Predators get scored on first, fans are going to have an uneasy feeling. The team has brought this excruciating conundrum upon its loyal followers, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it right now. Since the Kings bested the dominant Sharks last time out, the team will have some confidence about them.
It's up to Nashville to own up to their mistakes in Glendale, learn from them, and put the boot to the throat when they are in a position to do so. Luckily for them, this game won't nearly be as madder hatter as Thursday's. Let Pete and Crispy serenade you starting at 9:30 CST.
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- Analysis: "Predators Hockey" Yields a 19 Goal Pace for 2nd Leading Scorer
- Nashville Predators 4, Phoenix Coyotes, 5: Howl-oween Thriller
- Antioch Hockey Center Collaboration Between Preds and Metro a Trick for Some, a Treat for Most
- Nashville Predators News: Tom Callahan Resigns as Radio Play-By-Play Man