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Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ Pittsburgh

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The Nashville Predators stumble into Pittsburgh today for a matinee bout with Sidney Crosby and the mighty Penguins. Both teams are coming off disheartening losses and will be looking to rebound. The Pens are in the middle of the pack in the East, while the Predators are going to be thankful for the break as they've begun the slippery descent down the standings.

Marcel Goc returns for Nashville, while Jerred Smithson will be a game time decision. Dan Ellis will get the start in net, and its looking like Nolan Yonkman will be reassigned prior to the game.

Continue below for some analysis...

Nashville coming in

The Predators got rocked by the Devils on Friday, thanks to a third period collapse. Colin Wilson and Cal O'Reilly played very well, however, and are providing a good example for the veterans. Hopefully no one will have their minds on those plane rides to Vancouver during today's game.

Pittsburgh coming in

The Penguins, despite two goals from Mr. Everything (Sidney Crosby), blew a lead and fell to the Rangers on Friday, 3-2. Backup goaltender Brent Johnson was injured in the loss. Pittsburgh is hoping to begin negotiations with star blueliners Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang.

Who's hot

For Nashville, I've been giddy about the superb play of rookie Colin Wilson, who has a power play goal and assist since being called up on Tuesday:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Colin Wilson 13 2 2 4 -1 0 1 0 1 0 19 10.5

For the Pens, Hooks Orpik of Pensburgh raved about the play of Letang on Friday:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Kris Letang 52 3 18 21 2 33 0 0 0 0 123 2.4

Who's not

I had been cutting him some slack, but no longer...


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Ryan Jones 40 7 4 11 2 16 2 0 0 0 53 13.2

The Guys in Goal

As mentioned, it looks like Ellis will go. Trotz ended our suspense about his selection of Rinne against NJ by saying that Ellis strained his back slightly against New York. Given the highlight reel split he did going down for a save on Olli Jokinen, I'm not surprised...


Dan Ellis

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-0

188

Jun 19, 1980


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Dan Ellis 26 1416 12 11 61 2.58 701 640 .913 1

For the Penguins, since Johnson started on Friday and was injured, I assume it'll be the Olympian  Marc-Andre Fleury.


Marc-Andre Fleury

#29 / Goalie / Pittsburgh Penguins

6-2

180

Nov 28, 1984


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Marc-Andre Fleury 49 2793 29 16 123 2.64 1338 1215 .908 0

Projected Lineups

Nashville:

Forwards
Sullivan - Arnott - Hornqvist
Ward - Legwand - Erat
Tootoo- O'Reilly - Dumont
Wilson - Goc - Jones
Defense
Suter - Weber
Hamhuis - Klein
Bouillon - Sulzer

 

Pittsburgh:

Forwards
Kunitz - Crosby -Guerin
Dupuis - Malkin- Fedotenko
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Rupp - Letestu - Adams
Defense
Orpik - Letang
Eaton - Gonchar
McKee -Goligoski

 

Fearless Prediction

I have a feeling that the boys may just surprise us for this one. They're down, and Nashville has shown a propensity to bounce right back up when they've been knocked down (OK, not always). If Ellis gets the start, I think the Preds will be confident and steal one from the Penguins. Nashville 4, Pittsburgh 2.