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Stars @ Predators Preview: Time For Revenge?

Nashville Predators fans will eye tonight's victim guest at Bridgestone Arena, the Dallas Stars, with murderous intent, given the December 23 hit by Stars defenseman Mark Fistric which gave Shea Weber a concussion, knocking him out of the lineup for the last 4 games. This makes Weber only the latest of many Preds to get knocked out of action at various points this season by a hard-hitting opponent, joining Martin Erat, David Legwand, Blake Geoffrion, and Mike Fisher.

Although the captain has been participating in practice for the last two days, we still don't know when he'll be ready to play.

In front of what should be another sellout crowd, will one of the Preds exact some Old-Time Hockey justice? Let's look at that question as part of our pre-game breakdown...

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Tale Of The Tape

Dallas (21-16-1) at Nashville (21-14-4)
DAL Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. DAL Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
DAL Offense 2.6 (10th) 29.6 (14th) 8.6 (11th) 2.7 (22nd) 31.2 (29th) 914 (15th) DAL Defense
NSH Defense 2.4 (9th) 30.7 (24th) 921 (10th) 2.2 (23rd) 26.3 (28th) 8.4 (16th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
DAL 5-on-4 4.8 (22nd) 41.4 (29th) 11.5 (19th) 7.2 (23rd) 55.0 (27th) 868 (21st) DAL 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 6.7 (22nd) 53.3 (21st) 874 (18th) 6.8 (6th) 51.4 (12th) 13.2 (9th) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Overall, this is a fairly even matchup when looking at the major metrics, but what does jump out at me is poor special teams play on both sides (PP & PK) for Dallas. Look for the Nashville power play to fire away when they get the chance.

Dallas Stars

Yesterday, the Stars brought back their top defenseman, Stephane Robidas, from Injured Reserve, and he might play in tonight's game. They will miss fellow blueliner Sheldon Souray, however, the reclamation project who escaped a lousy situation in Edmonton to give his NHL career one last chance.

The other major development roster-wise for the Stars has been the recent return of Kari Lehtnonen, their #1 goaltender who spent about a month on the shelf before coming back 3 games ago.

Kari Lehtonen

#32 / Goalie / Dallas Stars



Nov 16, 1983

2011 - Kari Lehtonen 22 1280 14 6 1 53 2.48 660 607 .920 0

Dallas Stars Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Stephane Robidas foot 01/04/2011


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Philip Larsen concussion 01/04/2012

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Sheldon Souray ankle 12/24/2011
Tomas Vincour knee 12/15/2011

After charging out of the gates in October, the Stars have been pretty average over the last two months (13-13-1 since November 1), and have fallen back into the mass of half a dozen teams or so who will compete for the final 2 or 3 playoff spots in the Western Conference (which includes Nashville). Add that to the fact that the Predators and Stars will be in the same conference next season under the NHL realignment plan, and these Nashville/Dallas matchups take on extra urgency.

For the moment, however, they're just giddy to have a solid owner in place, as Tom Gaglardi has brought an end to a long period of uncertainty which kept this team from moving forward:

Gaglardi is focused on not only turning this franchise around on the business side but also knows the Stars need to start winning again consistently and making the postseason, especially if they want to rebuild the fanbase. Making the playoffs is paramount to getting the AAC rocking again and while fans are certainly encouraged by the stability brought by the new ownership -- the best way to turn things around again is to win.

Gaglardi has made it known that while he believes in building through the draft and knows just how important system depth is, he also knows the Stars are going to have to spend money to add talent to this team. It's a luxury that Joe Nieuwendyk has yet to have as the general manager of the team and it's unknown just how good a job he'll do if given more money to work with. Yet the prospect of actually having the ability to add to the team is enough to make any fan instantly start to remember just how good this team was not too long ago. - Defending Big D

Dallas Stars Last 5 Games

Detroit Tue 01/03 L 4 - 5
Boston Sat 12/31 W 4 - 2
Columbus Thu 12/29 L 1 - 4
@ St. Louis Mon 12/26 L 3 - 5
Nashville Fri 12/23 W 6 - 3

Nashville Predators

So let's get right to the point - will the Predators go after Fistric in retribution for that late-game shot on Weber back before Christmas?

They may not, not so much due to any lack of toughness or resolve by the Preds, but simply because Nashville needs to focus first on winning this game. The situation is shaping up once again for a wide-open chase for the final playoff berths in the Western Conference, and it's not only important for Nashville to earn the two points, but also to prevent Dallas from earning anything, even the "loser point" for taking the game to overtime or a shootout.

Barry Trotz basically said as much yesterday on 102.5 The Game's "1st Quarter", stating that while he wouldn't expect one of his players to go out of his way to start something, if the opportunity presents itself to put the body on Fistric, that Weber's mates would likely follow through with a little added emphasis.

As mentioned above, Weber has practiced over the last two days, but as of this writing he remains on Injured Reserve. With 22 players on the Active Roster, the Preds could activate him in time for the game without having to send anyone back to Milwaukee. Colin Wilson, who has missed the last two games with an upper body injury, is also questionable for tonight, although he told Ryan Porth that he feels "100% percent".

Stay tuned for updates later this today after the morning skate, as we hope to get a better idea of whether either, or perhaps both, of these key players are ready to go tonight...