In a matchup of two of the NHL's hottest teams, the Nashville Predators look to extend a 3 game win streak against an Atlanta Thrashers squad that has won 7 of 8 games and is two points ahead of Nashville with 31, good for 8th in the Eastern Conference. Nashville, though, has been coming on strong, scoring 12 goals in 3 games and getting improved play from across the roster.
It should be an entertaining tilt, so follow after the jump for your team lineups and game thoughts.
While its never good to have your franchise goaltender go down; Anders Lindback, thus far, has been an above-average replacement in net.
#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
May 03, 1988
|2010 - Anders Lindback||9||448||4||1||20||2.68||236||216||.915||0|
As of this writing, Nashville remains without David Legwand, Pekka Rinne, and Matthew Lombardi, though Legwand is on the two game road trip. Expect these lines to change, as Barry Trotz has been consistently fiddling with them to find something that works.
Ondrej Pavelec is one of the main reasons the Thrashers have had so much success lately.
#31 / Goalie / Atlanta Thrashers
Aug 31, 1987
|2010 - Ondrej Pavelec||17||919||8||5||26||1.70||499||473||.948||2|
UPDATE: Evander Kane and Tobias Enstrom are in the lineup tonight, while Fredrik Modin remains out.
- The Thrashers are close to setting a franchise record for consecutive home wins, and while that's nice, let's be honest - we don't want to let them do that. A big key to stopping them? Shutting down their top defensive pair of Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien...on the offensive side on the ice. The two have combined for 49 points so far.
- Former Predator Rich Peverley has found some chemistry with new Atlanta captain Andrew Ladd, scoring four goals in his past five games. If David Legwand does not return tonight, Jerred Smithson will be tasked with the responsibility of shutting down the Thrashers' de facto top line.
- Speaking of de facto top lines - how good has the line of Sergei Kostitsyn, Marcel Goc, and Martin Erat been since it was created almost a week ago against Phoenix? We knew that Marcel Goc could play all over the lineup, and that Erat, when motivated, was quite the player, but Kostitsyn has impressed mightily since being used in a greater role. He has a goal and two assists in 3 games, and his physical tools are becoming more apparent the harder he works in Barry Trotz's system. If this line stays together, and it appears they will, then it needs a nickname.
- I'm wary of overstating things, but the Predators' penalty kill is very quickly becoming astounding. Up to 7th in the NHL, it has not allowed a goal for nine consecutive games, and has killed off 32 straight penalties. Whatever happens out there tonight, that may be one of the more impressive feats you'll see this year from the Predators, albeit somewhat overlooked outside Music City.
- One of the things that's most important to Nashville's success is getting out to a fast start, then locking it down the rest of the way. The Predators have scored first in four straight games - three of those were wins; the other a shootout loss. That won't lose any importance tonight, as Atlanta averages over 3 goals per game.
- While you will rarely find Predators high on the NHL statistical leaderboards (outside of goals from defensemen), a few players are making a name for themselves in some of the more obscure categories (i.e., not goals or assists). Francis Bouillon actually leads the entire NHL in hits by a defenseman with 82, and Jerred Smithson is 6th overall in the league on the faceoff dot, winning 58.8% of his draws.