Tonight at 7:00 p.m. Central, the Nashville Predators face the Edmonton Oilers in a contest which can help salvage their current 5-game road trip.
|Nashville Predators||Edmonton Oilers|
|5-on-5 Save %||.918||13th||.921||10th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.18||26th||3.96||4th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.32||8th||4.07||27th|
You know these are strange days when the Oilers have better goaltending numbers in 5-on-5 play than Nashville. While both teams tend to get out-shot, Edmonton plays a more up-tempo type of game, with more action going each than in a typical Predators contest. A key for Nashville will be to stay out of the penalty box and avoid giving a talented bunch of Oilers too many opportunities on the power play.
Stay Calm, and check out the OTF T-Shirt Store!
While their playoff hopes are fading, the Oilers do still have a glimmer of hope, particularly if they can beat the Predators tonight, which would pull them alongside Nashville for 10th in the West, while holding a game in hand. Five points out of their last three games (including a 6-5 win at Chicago last Sunday) has rekindled a bit of optimism in Alberta.
Per our brethren at Copper & Blue, here's how the Edmonton lineup should look:
|Taylor Hall||Shawn Horcoff||Ales Hemsky|
|Magnus Paajarvi||Sam Gagner||Nail Yakupov|
|Ryan Jones||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||Jordan Eberle|
|Mike Brown||Ryan Smyth||Lennart Petrell|
|Ladislav Smid||Jeff Petry|
|Nick Schultz||Corey Potter|
|Ryan Whitney||Justin Schultz|
One has to wonder (well, not really) if Mike Brown will go for another dance with Rich Clune, building on their March 8 dust-up in Nashville:
We all know the story with the Predators these days. Back-to-back blowout losses have turned the mood sour lately, and right now it's hard to say where the leadership will come from to help this team re-establish its identity as a defensively sound, always-competitive group.
For the moment, we may need to look to youth. Your goal-scoring leader these days is Gabriel Bourque, whose game-breaking speed is a handle for an opponent to deal with:
|2012 - Gabriel Bourque||26||9||2||11||+4||4||3||1||2||37||24.3|
Sure, I don't expect his Kostitsyn-like shooting percentage to remain at such lofty levels, but at this point, you look for hope where you can.
As far as the lineup goes, Josh Cooper reports that the D pairing of Ryan Ellis and Scott Hannan is due to be split up, and that Jonathon Blum will get back in, but at whose expense? All eyes will be watching as game time approaches.
Stu Grimson did share some forward lines from the morning skate:
|Sergei Kostitsyn||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Gabriel Bourque||David Legwand||Craig Smith|
|Brandon Yip||Nick Spaling||Matt Halischuk|
|Rich Clune||Chris Mueller||Bobby Butler|
Will the old line of SK74-Fisher-Erat save the day?
|St. Louis Blues||28||16-10-2||34|
|Detroit Red Wings||29||14-10-5||33|
|Los Angeles Kings||27||15-10-2||32|
|San Jose Sharks||27||12-9-6||30|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||29||11-12-6||28|