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Nashville Predators vs Ottawa Senators Preview: Welcome Back, Fisher

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The Nashville Predators pay a visit tonight to the Ottawa Senators (6:30 p.m. Central on FS-TN), in what serves as a bit of a reunion night for a pair of Preds. Can they maintain the pace being set by the top teams in the West against a faltering Eastern opponent?

Follow after the jump for your preview!

Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (32-17-5) at Ottawa (27-22-7)
NSH Offense vs. OTT Defense OTT Offense vs. NSH Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.3 (17th) 27.2 (24th) 8.5 (13th) 2.3 (9th) 30.9 (27th) 926 (7th) NSH Defense
OTT Defense 2.6 (19th) 30.3 (22nd) 913 (21st) 2.6 (8th) 31.0 (8th) 8.4 (16th) OTT Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.4 (2nd) 48.9 (15th) 15.2 (3rd) 6.7 (22nd) 52.2 (21st) 871 (19th) NSH 4-on-5
OTT 4-on-5 6.5 (18th) 54.2 (28th) 880 (16th) 5.3 (20th) 49.6 (13th) 10.7 (20th) OTT 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

The penalty kill has been a real sore spot for the Senators, something which the Predators may be able to take advantage of. In 5-on-5, Ottawa has been pretty good, but goaltending provides a pretty good edge for Nashville.

Ottawa Senators

While the fans will heartily welcome back Mike Fisher, who was one of the most popular players on the team during his 11 seasons there, the gang at Silver Seven point out that former Sens have prospered against them:

The Ottawa Senators are poised to welcome Brian Elliott and Mike Fisher back to Ottawa this week, but maybe they should be careful about being too welcoming to their former teammates.

In games against players who were dealt away during the 2010-11 Senate Reform fire sale so far this season, the Ottawa Senators have a 1-3-0 record, with the lone win being a shootout victory against the Montreal Canadiens. Chris Campoli has played one game against the Sens this year, and has one assist. Chris Kelly has played three games against Ottawa, and has two goals and an assist. It's obviously a curse.

Perhaps the biggest development on this team has been made by 3rd-year defenseman Erik Karlsson, who leads all NHL defensemen in scoring:

Erik Karlsson

#65 / Defenseman / Ottawa Senators



May 31, 1990

2011 - Erik Karlsson 55 8 40 48 6 28 1 0 1 183 4.4

What was one of the feel-good stories of the NHL season appears to be coming apart at the seams, as the Senators were widely expected to go through the awful early stages of a long-term rebuild this season under new head coach Paul MacLean, only to find themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff pack last month, contending even for the 4th spot and home-ice advantage in the first round. A tailspin over the last 2.5 weeks (0-6-1), however, has knocked them down to the 8th spot, and since they've played more games than anyone else in the league, they could easily get passed up soon.

Ottawa Senators Last 5 Games

St. Louis Tue 02/07 L 1 - 3
Toronto Sat 02/04 L 0 - 5
New York Islanders Fri 02/03 OT - L 1 - 2
@ Boston Tue 01/31 L 3 - 4
@ Phoenix Tue 01/24 L 2 - 3

Nashville Predators

The Preds are 6-2-0 in their last 8 road games, so they certainly won't be intimidated by today's game at Ottawa nor Saturday's at Boston.

As regards the lineup, I wouldn't be surprised to see former Senator Brian McGrattan get in there, not just for the chance to skate in front of former fans, but also because the Sens have a couple ruffians in Zenon Konopka and Chris Neil who may bear watching. That move could push Jerred Smithson back into the pressbox, and as he confided to David Boclair yesterday, he isn't happy at all about it:

"I want to be in the lineup every night and I'd be lying if I said I was OK with the situation I'm in right now," Smithson said. "I mean, as a hockey player, you need to want to play every single night and you're not going to be happy just sitting around and being the odd man out.

"You have to work that much harder in practice and be a professional about things."

That's good, it would be much, much worse if he was OK with how things have shaken out.

Tonight, however, all eyes will be on Fisher, who isn't just returning to his first NHL city, but is doing so on one of the hottest scoring streaks of his career.

Mike Fisher

#12 / Center / Nashville Predators



Jun 05, 1980

2011 - Mike Fisher 46 16 16 32 +1 21 4 0 5 105 15.2

Can he put aside the distractions tonight to keep the goals coming?