The Nashville Predators will look to right the ship this evening against the Carolina Hurricanes after a disappointing loss to Calgary Monday night. The Predators (25-15-3) sit in 8th place in the West, while the Canes (11-23-7) are last in the East. The Hurricanes will be without star forward Eric Staal, but are still plenty capable of putting the puck in the back of the net.
Follow after the jump for some breakdown and what to watch for.
UPDATE: I've found the lines for Carolina and updated the Predators' according to the news that Joel Ward will miss tonight's contest.
Nashville coming in:
The Predators, 6-4-0 in their last ten, are back to playing what most would call "Predators hockey". After a stretch where the lamp was lighting like goals were going out of style, Coach Trotz has the guys back to winning the battles on the boards, killing penalties (PK is perfect in the past 3 games), and never taking a shift off. This has resulted in some lower scoring games, but is a safer approach for the Preds' personnel in the long run. Ben Guite has been called up from Milwaukee, so it'll be interesting to see where, if at all, he's slotted in the lineup. Still out for Nashville are Jordin Tootoo, Martin Erat, and Jerred Smithson.
Carolina coming in:
The Hurricanes are mired in, well, a season long slump and with only 29 points are well into the Taylor Hall sweepstakes. Certainly a surprising year for a team that made it to the conference finals last year, but they've suffered a slew of injuries and haven't been able to recover from an early season slide. For more on that, see a Q & A with Canes Country blogger Bob Waeghe. The Canes are 4-5-1 in their last ten, and will be without Eric Staal, Scott Walker, Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov, Chad LaRose, and Joe Corvo. Quite a list, and while injuries aren't good excuses, its easy to see why Carolina is struggling.
For Nashville, Shea Weber has been lighting up the scoresheet of late, highlighted by his big performance against Anaheim:
|2009 - Shea Weber||7||17||24||2||26|
For the Canes, Ray Whitney has a 3 game point streak and scored the game winner in overtime against the Rangers:
|2009 - Ray Whitney||11||16||27||-8||16|
For the Preds, JP Dumont has not only not been scoring but not shooting either, looking quite tentative on the puck:
|2009 - J.P. Dumont||7||19||26||8||14|
On the Carolina side, check out captain Rod Brind'Amour's +/-:
|2009 - Rod Brind`Amour||2||6||8||-23||18|
The Guys in Goal:
For Nashville, John Glennon reports that the rotation will continue, which means Pekka Rinne will go tonight.
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||28||1532||16||7||70||2.74||746||676||.906||2|
For Carolina, one would assume (though this is the front end of a back-to-back) that the Canes will go with franchise 'tender and Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward, who has looked particularly sharp lately.
#30 / Goalie / Carolina Hurricanes
Feb 29, 1984
|2009 - Cam Ward||26||1431||6||14||72||3.02||726||654||.901||0|
For the Preds, I think we can expect them to look something like this:
I anticipate the attendance being low tonight due to the BCS title game and predicted snow, but the Predators are fresh off a lackluster loss to the Flames and will be keen to bounce back against the worst team in the NHL. Hopefully Rinne is sharp and the boys can bag a couple of power play goals. Lets put the good guys down for earning the fans Frosties with 5 markers, and the Hurricanes with 1 shutout preventing goal.