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Predators Game Day Preview: Phoenix @ Nashville

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Between being short on time, and wanting to keep things fresh, we're going with a different style today.

In a game that surely will make those who think hockey is Canada's game unhappy, the hottest two teams in the league face off tonight at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Predators and Coyotes do battle for the third time this year, with Nashville losing both previous matchups (once in a shootout). The game bears extra importance for both squads as the Preds would probably like to knock the Coyotes down a notch in order to draw them in the first round, while Phoenix needs to keep the heat on Chicago to have a chance at the top seed.

With that as the backdrop, continue below for more.

ROSTER UPDATE: Tom Callahan reports no Jason Arnott tonight, who "just didn't feel quite right". Phooey. We'll see both Nick Spaling and Cal O'Reilly.

Game Notes

  • Recaps from the last two games against Phoenix. [2/2, 1/21]
  • Nashville has won seven of nine, Phoenix nine of ten. [Standings]
  • The Coyotes don't have a single player over 25 goals, yet are challenging for the conference lead. Thats balance...
  • ...then again, Nashville leads the league with 9 players over 30 points. [Stat sheet]
  • The Predators are a league best 23-1 when leading after one, and are second best when trailing after one (8-9-2).
  • Shane Doan isn't David Legwand cold, but he hasn't scored in 18 games. Not good for the Predators.
  • Chris Mason scored the ninth goal in NHL history by a goalie against the Coyotes. Irrelevant? Yes. But awesome.
  • Look for Jason Arnott to return tonight, but Joel Ward to sit. I'm wagering Nick Spaling plays instead of Cal O'Reilly, due to their playing styles.
  • We'll get our first look at Wojtek Wolski, Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris, and Mathieu Schneider in Coyotes uniforms, all deadline acquisitions.
  • During the Coyotes' franchise record nine-game win streak, five of them were in the shootout. Lets hope it doesn't come to that.

Lineups

Nashville:

Forwards
Wilson - O'Reilly - Erat
Sullivan (A) - Goc - Hornqvist
Tootoo - Spaling - Dumont
Boyd - Legwand - Smithson
Defense
Suter (A) - Weber (A)
Hamhuis - Franson
Bouillon - Klein

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Pekka Rinne 51 2814 28 14 122 2.60 1310 1188 .907 6

Phoenix:

Forwards
Wolski - Lombardi - Doan (C)
Vrbata - Hanzal - Prucha
Stempniak - Fiddler - Pyatt
Nokelainen - Winnik - Korpikoski
Defense
Jovanovski (A) - Michalek (A)
Schneider - Aucoin
Yandle - Morris

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Ilya Bryzgalov 63 3711 39 19 141 2.28 1790 1649 .921 8

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