6:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD)
The Nashville Predators swing into Newark tonight for an early evening matchup against one of the league's worst teams in the New Jersey Devils. Nashville, on the other hand, comes in as one of the NHL's hottest teams, earning points in nine straight games (7-0-2), thanks to Anders Lindback and a stingy defense.
It's a game that, on paper, the Preds and their fans may have trouble "getting up" for - but that would be a mistake. I'm beating a dead horse, but if you beat the teams you have no reason not to beat (like the Devils), then Nashville will find it easier sailing when it comes time to push for the playoffs.
After the jump, lineups and some pregame thoughts.
While Pekka Rinne did make the trip, and it is the beginning of a back-to-back set, I assume that Barry Trotz will continue to ride the hot hand.
#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
May 03, 1988
|2010 - Anders Lindback||14||749||8||1||27||2.16||387||360||.930||2|
Matthew Lombardi, David Legwand, and (presumably) Rinne remain out of the lineup. Patric Hornqvist did not make the trip due to an upper-body injury, while Cody Franson returned home for his grandfather's funeral and will miss the next two games. Steve Begin has been recalled from Milwaukee, and you can bet Alexander Sulzer slides into Franson's spot.
Martin Brodeur is coming off his 113th career shutout, this one against Phoenix.
#30 / Goalie / New Jersey Devils
May 06, 1972
|2010 - Martin Brodeur||20||1099||5||12||49||2.68||505||456||.903||3|
The Devils are without Zach Parise, Bryce Salvador, Mark Fraser, Jacob Josefson, and Matt Taormina.
- New Jersey scores goals at the hilariously low rate of 1.80 per game (dead last). The Predators only allow 2.33 goals per game, which is 3rd best in the entire league. You do the math.
- Tonight marks Jason Arnott's first game against the Nashville Predators since he was traded away during the summer, so that'll be...interesting. I wouldn't expect anything to come of it other than perhaps some acknowledgment between him and his former teammates during warmups. The Predators (and their fans) can't afford to look back and wonder "what if" - the team made the right decision in cutting ties with their former captain.
- Is it just me, or has Nashville's current captain been picking up the pace lately? His play on Sergei Kostitsyn's goal against San Jose was phenomenal. Ryan Suter is completely healthy, and Weber is not in any way distracted by contractual negotiations. Between those two things, Shea Weber might be playing his best hockey of the season.
- Far too often, the buzz around the NHL is how the Nashville Predators have trouble scoring goals. While usually true, it isn't fair to what the team does very well, and that, lately, has been playing elite team defense. If they're able to keep it up, there isn't an offense in the league the Preds can't contain, and that's a recipe for successful hockey, albeit unattractive.
- Statistically, the Devils are obviously not a very good hockey team. That doesn't mean, though, that they don't have dangerous players. Their "second" (Elias/Zajac/Langenbrunner) line in particular could cause the Predators problems, especially if Steve Begin doesn't acclimate to the lineup immediately. Something to keep an eye on as the game goes on.
- While you're waiting on me to publish the recap after tonight's game, be sure and tune in to the postgame show on flagship station 102.9 the Buzz, where you can hear not just Willy Daunic, but our own Dirk Hoag discuss the evening's game and answer your questions via the team's official Facebook page.