The Week Ahead for the Nashville Predators

Aw, his hands still go up! - Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

26% of OTF readers correctly guessed that the Nashville Predators would earn 5 out of a possible 8 points last week. How will they fare this week against the Canucks, Hurricanes & Capitals, however?

Recently the Nashville Predators have managed to climb past Winnipeg and Dallas into 5th place in the Central Division, with Minnesota cruising along in 4th, six points ahead. Can the Preds continue to make headway while continuing to work through serious injury issues? Let's take a look at this week's opponents...

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Tuesday vs Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are still adapting to life under new head coach John Tortorella, and a recent 3-5-3 stretch has them limping along, falling behind the leaders of a very competitive Pacific Division. They'll visit Bridgestone Arena Tuesday in the finale of a four-game road trip, so hopefully they'll be dreaming of getting on the plane quickly and getting home rather than putting forth an all-out effort against the Preds.

As well as the shorthanded defense corps did against Philadelphia Saturday night, I can't help but break out in sweats over what the Sedin twins might do to Nashville's baby blueline. As usual, Henrik the Playmaker is leading the way for Vancouver:


Henrik Sedin

#33 / Center / Vancouver Canucks

6-2

188

Sep 26, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2013 - Henrik Sedin 28 7 20 27 5 22 3 0 1 53 13.2

Thursday vs Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes are toiling away with an unimpressive 10-12-5 record, but thanks to the other disappointing teams in the Metropolitan Division, they're only 3 points out of 3rd place, and a playoff spot (the second wild card is actually 5 points ahead of them). The Canes are in the middle of a 2-5-1 slide which has come while the team has missed one of its most dangerous offensive weapons in Alexander Semin, who is out of the lineup with a concussion.

In Semin's absence, more of Carolina's offensive burden falls on the steady shoulders of Eric Staal:


Eric Staal

#12 / Center / Carolina Hurricanes

6-4

205

Oct 29, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2013 - Eric Staal 26 6 12 18 -11 24 1 1 0 78 7.7

That burden is far too great to be carried on one guy's shoulders, however, as Carolina ranks 29th in scoring this season. If there's one team this week that the Predators should be able to take advantage of, the Hurricanes are it.

Saturday @ Washington Capitals

The 14-11-2 Washington Capitals are a team loaded with interesting angles for us to follow. Seeing our old pal Joel Ward (who is on pace for career-best offensive numbers) is always a treat, but it's questionable whether former Predator Martin Erat will still be with the Caps by the end of the week, given his recent move to take his trade demands public. One of the league's best stories is Alexander Ovechkin's bid to be the first player in 20 years to pot 70 goals in a season, but let's be honest - when the Capitals and the Predators meet, many Nashville fans will wonder just how this team might look if they had claimed Mikhail Grabovski off the waiver wire last summer.


Mikhail Grabovski

#84 / Center / Washington Capitals

5-11

183

Jan 31, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2013 - Mikhail Grabovski 27 8 14 22 +2 8 2 0 0 37 21.6

So when you look at this trio of games, what do you make of the Preds' chances?


Central Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Chicago 28 20 4 4 44
St. Louis 25 18 4 3 39
Colorado 25 19 6 0 38
Minnesota 28 15 8 5 35
Nashville 27 13 11 3 29
Dallas 25 12 9 4 28
Winnipeg 28 12 12 4 28

(updated 12.2.2013 at 2:35 AM CST)

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