Nashville Predators @ Edmonton Oilers Preview: Fighting For Their Playoff Lives

Frederick Breedon

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.

The Stats

Nashville Predators Edmonton Oilers
Record 11-11-6 20th 10-11-6 25th
GF/Game 2.25 28th 2.37 25th
GA/Game 2.46 8th 2.85 21st
5-on-5 SF/60 23.2 30th 28.1 17th
5-on-5 SA/60 26.0 6th 32.2 30th
Fenwick Close 45.92 25th 45.67 26th
5-on-5 Save % .918 13th .921 10th
5-on-4 GF/60 6.3 13th 8.1 6th
# of PP's/Gm 3.18 26th 3.96 4th
4-on-5 GA/60 7.5 26th 5.8 11th
# 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.

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Edmonton Oilers

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:

FORWARDS

LW C RW
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

DEFENSE

LD RD
Ladislav Smid Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz Corey Potter
Ryan Whitney Justin Schultz

GOALTENDER


G

Devan Dubnyk

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:


Nashville Predators

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:


Gabriel Bourque

#57 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators

5-10

192

Mar 04, 1989



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
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?


Western Standings

GP W-L-OT Pts
Chicago Blackhawks 28 23-2-3 49
Anaheim Ducks 27 20-3-4 44
Minnesota Wild 27 15-10-2 32
St. Louis Blues 28 16-10-2 34
Detroit Red Wings 29 14-10-5 33
Los Angeles Kings 27 15-10-2 32
Vancouver Canucks 27 13-8-6 32
San Jose Sharks 27 12-9-6 30
Phoenix Coyotes 28 13-11-4 30
Nashville Predators 28 11-11-6 28
Columbus Blue Jackets 29 11-12-6 28
Dallas Stars 27 12-12-3 27
Calgary Flames 26 11-11-4 26
Edmonton Oilers 27 10-11-6 26
Colorado Avalanche 27 10-13-4 24
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