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Predators Game Thread #7: Nashville @ Washington

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Date: October 17, 2009 Location: Washington, DC
Time: 6:00 PM CDT
Arena: Verizon Center
TV:

None

(check Center Ice free preview)

SBN Affiliate: Japer's Rink
Radio: 97.1 FM
Season Series
0-0-0

For today I'm combining the Game Thread with the Game Day Preview. This one's a biggy folks! Our embattled Preds head to Washington to take on Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. While there is no local TV (note: how do you make up a TV schedule and not include this game?), the NHL Center Ice package is still available on free preview on most cable and satellite systems, so check your listings to see if you can catch the Washington feed.

Follow after the jump for the skinny on this matchup, and join us in the comments during the game.

Meet the Enemy

In case you haven't heard, the Caps are widely considered to be the most exciting team in the NHL; not only is Alex Ovechkin the NHL's most dynamic goal-scorer, but they've also got Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, and a whole lot more.

There's hope for opponents, however, in that as much as the mighty trio of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin are able to create offense, they give up even more when they're on the ice. For a Nashville team that has had a hard time putting the puck in the net, that's one positive angle to work.

Meet the Good Guys

The latest lineup shuffle involves Cody Franson joining the defense, while Dan Hamhuis recovers from an upper-body injury. Center Ben Guite has also been dismissed to Milwaukee, opening up interesting possibilities down the middle. Will Cal O'Reilly play the pivot in favor of David Legwand, who still hasn't scored?

It also appears likely that the top line of Sullivan - Arnott - Dumont will be broken up, so it sounds like the forward groupings are completely up for grabs. On defense, it will also be interesting to see how the team adjusts to the loss of Hamhuis. Does the Bouillon/Laakso pairing stay intact and get more ice time, or does Bouillon team up with Klein and play more minutes?

Even Strength Play

The Caps have outscored their opponents 19-12 in 5-on-5 action, while the Preds have been outscored 13-6. That's about as big a mismatch as you'll see at this point in the season. The best hope for Nashville is to weather the storm when the big guns are on the ice for Washington, and break through against their depth players.

Washington PP vs. Nashville PK

For all that talent at the top end of their roster, Washington is a surprising 16th in the NHL on the power play so far. Also surprising is Nashville's 27th ranking on the PK; typically a team strength, the penalty killing gotten worse lately (giving up 4 goals on 8 PK's over the last three games) rather than better.

Nashville PP vs. Washington PK

Don't ask. Just.... don't.

Goaltending

For the Predators, Dan Ellis will hope to rebound from an awful start (3 goals on 3 shots) against Edmonton Monday night. The biggest key, obviously, will be for the team in front of him to prevent wide-open opportunities for the Caps.


Dan Ellis

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jun 19, 1980

GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Dan Ellis 4 171 2 1 9 3.16 78 69 .885 0

For Washington, Semyon Varlamov will get the start. Jose Theodore is injured at the current time, which forced the Caps to call up a prospect from their ECHL team to act as backup. For more on Varlamov, check out the recent interview with him by Dmitri Chesnokov.


Semyon Varlamov

#40 / Goalie / Washington Capitals

6-2

209

Apr 27, 1988

GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Semyon Varlamov 3 134 2 0 8 3.58 71 63 .887 0

Summary

Let's face it, folks; there's no logical reason to believe that the Preds have any business winning this game.

That's why we watch, though; often enough, logic gets turned on its head.