|Anaheim Ducks||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Save %||.933||5th||.947||1st|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.23||29th||3.07||30th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.85||9th||3.86||10th|
We've got the Irresistible Force against the Unmovable Object tonight as one of the NHL's top offenses goes against its stingiest defense. What has bolstered Anaheim's record so much is that they've received outstanding goaltending as well.
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Anaheim comes into tonight as probably the hottest team in the league, riding a three-game winning streak that has seen them beat the Blues, Blackhawks and Red Wings all on the road. This marks the end of a 6-game road trip for the Ducks.
Over at Battle of California, they're not exactly looking forward to this one:
Ducks fans have been lucky to have two exciting games lately, with wins against Chicago and Detroit (after some pretty awful performances in which we lost Dallas and backed in to a victory against St Louis), but get ready for some dull hockey tonight. Whether the Ducks show up to play our not, if this is anything like typical Nashville style puck, we're in for a slow, boring ride. It doesn't even matter if Anaheim wins, Nashville's boring-ass system swallows all enjoyment, even in victory.
Let's be honest, that perspective is somewhat understandable when you've got guys like this to watch night-in, night-out:
|2012 - Teemu Selanne||13||4||11||15||+6||4||1||0||0||29||13.7|
42 years old, and he leads Anaheim in scoring. Teemu Selanne has been one of the most entertaining players in hockey for 20 years now, and still hasn't slowed down.
The other remarkable story with the Ducks is the rise of rookie goalie Viktor Fasth, who has seemingly supplanted Jonas Hiller as their #1. According to Preds radio play-by-play man Tom Callahan, he'll square off against Pekka Rinne in net:
Hiller and Deslauriers sharing reps in one net. Fasth in the other on his own. Looks like his start then.— predsradio (@predsradio) February 16, 2013
|2012 - Viktor Fasth||8||473||7||0||0||14||1.78||206||192||.932||1|
The Preds are rallying around their defensive prowess as a way to shake off the perception that they can't score enough to win consistently, and two consecutive shutouts speak to a whole-team effort that bodes well for their ability to get the most production out of the talent they do have available.
With Brian McGrattan headed back to Milwaukee for conditioning, Nashville is down to 21 healthy bodies, leaving just one guy to be scratched. Will Hal Gill get back in after missing two games? Or might we be surprised to see a welcome bit of offensive punch return to the lineup? Here's Tom Callahan again from this morning's skate:
Also Preds MAY dress 7 D tonight and the possibility exists Hornqvist could return as well. BT wouldn't confirm. Chess match this morning!— predsradio (@predsradio) February 16, 2013
Patric Hornqvist has had good success over the years against Anaheim, with 6 goals and 8 assists in 16 games. We'll keep our eyes on the pre-game warmups to see how this turns out, but against the high-scoring Ducks, Nashville could certainly benefit from having their top goal-scorer back.
Check back later for the Game Thread ahead of tonight's 7:00 puck drop!