The Nashville Predators head to Atlanta tonight to take on the Thrashers for the 5th of 6 preseason games. The Preds have made almost all of their cuts, which means there are very few roster spots up for grabs at this point. In fact, you can count them on one hand - backup goalie, 4th line grinder, and 7th defenseman. The players left competing for these spots are Anders Lindback, Mark Dekanich, Jamie Lundmark, Jerred Smithson, Jonas Andersson, Cal O'Reilly, Aaron Johnson, and Alexander Sulzer.
More on tonight's game (which you can hear on flagship station 102.9 The Buzz) after the jump.
The Predators fielded a near full strength lineup on Monday night, with the exceptions of Marcel Goc and J.P. Dumont. I think its safe to assume that Andersson, Johnson, and Sulzer will all see some playing time before the close of preseason. Trotz stated to Tom Callahan on the radio broadcast that the lines we saw were pretty much how he wanted to start the season (outside of Goc and Dumont, obviously). Here's what we could see tonight, but plug in a few of those extra players in place of probably the banged up Jerred Smithson or someone like that.
UPDATE: These reflect the latest info on who traveled to Atlanta and who will be scratched, but the lines are pure conjecture:
Before Monday night's game, Barry Trotz said that he'd like to get Pekka Rinne two more games of work before the season opens on October 9 against Anaheim. Rinne played the entire game against Atlanta, so I'm hoping that Dekanich and Lindback split tonight's game before running Pekka back out for the high octane Caps on Sunday.
Things I'll be watching for tonight are the power play and if Sergei Kostitsyn stays on a line with David Legwand and Joel Ward.
If Monday evening proved anything, its that the Atlanta Thrashers are just an annoying team to play against. They possess two decent goalies in Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason, and play a very scrappy game led by Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, and Dustin Byfuglien. Atlanta's not without some skill, either - young defensemen Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom ensure that they'll be set on the blueline for some time.
As expected, the Thrashers are going with a veteran-heavy lineup, as their leading scorer from last season, Nik Antropov, will make his preseason debut. Dustin Byfuglien is not on tonight's roster.
It'll be interesting to see if there remains any ill will towards the Thrashers after Byfuglien's huge hit on Jerred Smithson late in Monday's game, which apparently Shea Weber took exception to. Other than that, though, I expect this one to have much the same result as the last contest. Predators 3, Thrashers 1.