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Minnesota Wild @ Nashville Predators Preview: Controlling Your Own Destiny

[NHL.com] - [SB Nation] - [Hockey Wilderness]

7:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD) 

Here at OtF, we talk a lot about the Nashville Predators. We've talked about Nashville's all-world goalie, their awful power play, inability to score goals in a timely or even untimely manner, and we've even spent time talking about next season. In short - the Preds have quite a few problems, the least of which being injuries. 

That said, guess what? All the Nashville Predators have to do in order to prove most of us wrong is win the games they ought to win. The Preds are just one point out of a playoff spot as of this writing, and wins over Minnesota and Los Angeles would go a long way to righting the proverbial ship. Nashville controls their own playoff destiny.

The fact is this: no matter what teams around them do over the coming days, the Predators are in fine shape if they stick to what makes them successful. It's rarely pretty, and almost always agonizing, but it usually works when executed properly.

Three keys to doing so tonight against the Wild: 

  • Get to three goals. The Preds' record when scoring three goals is an astounding 30-4-1. Nashville, as you well know, won't score too many pretty goals. If they put shots on goal and drive the net, then 3 markers is more than reasonable. 
  • Protect Rinne. Perhaps no player in the NHL means more to his team right now than does the Predators' goalie, and he's doing everything you could possibly expect a human to do in keeping Nashville alive in the playoff race. As such, it's paramount that the Predators' defenders clear the crease quickly and effectively. 
  • Stop Havlat. Martin Havlat has been a thorn in the Preds' side all year, and they haven't seemed to find a way to neutralize him in the offensive zone. Do that tonight, and victory becomes that much easier.

Star-divide

Tonight's projected lineups: 

Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

207

Nov 03, 1982

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Pekka Rinne 50 2946 23 19 104 2.12 1458 1354 .929 5

Forwards
Kostitsyn - Fisher - Hornqvist
Ward - Legwand - Erat (A)
Tootoo - Smithson - Spaling
Wilson - Geoffrion - Halischuk/Dumont
Defense
Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Blum
O'Brien - Franson

Niklas Backstrom

#32 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild

6-1

189

Feb 13, 1978

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Niklas Backstrom 41 2422 21 16 95 2.35 1273 1178 .925 3

According to Michael Russo, both Mikko Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck have made the trip to Nashville. We'll wait and see if they're in the lineup or not. 

Forwards
Bouchard - Brodziak - Havlat
Brunette- Peters - Miettenen
Cullen - Madden - Kobasew
Staubitz - Nystrom - Latendresse
Defense
Schultz - Burns
Zanon - Zidlicky
Stoner - Spurgeon