Priority #1 for the Nashville Predators these days is snapping their five-game losing streak, so let's take a look at this week's opponents and see where that opportunity lies.
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Tuesday @ New York Rangers
A 15-14-1 record is good enough for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, buying new head coach Alain Vignault time to implement his way of doing things with the Blueshirts. They've traded wins and losses pretty evenly over the last month or so, but are excited to have Rick Nash back in the lineup, after missing weeks with a concussion.
#61 / Left Wing / New York Rangers
Jun 16, 1984
|2013 - Rick Nash||13||5||5||10||0||7||1||0||2||48||11.4|
The other bit of major news around the Rangers of late has been the new contract extension for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, whose 7-year, $59.5 million deal eclipses Pekka Rinne's as the heftiest goalie contract on record.
While those items have been of interest around the league, if you're looking for a specific Rangers/Predators angle (besides Nashville wanting to avenge a 2-0 loss to New York a couple weeks ago), there's always the chase for the 2014 Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. Seth Jones is of course among the contenders, but so too is New York forward Chris Kreider, who remains eligible for the award despite being 23 years old.
Thursday vs Dallas Stars
Probably the most positive aspect of the NHL's new division alignment is the new rivalry we've all been looking forward to with the Dallas Stars (14-9-5), a team that already gets Preds' fans blood boiling a bit, but now we'll get to see them more often, and potentially in future playoff series, too.
With a 3-0-3 record in their last six games, the Stars are doing their best but are on the brink of falling too far behind the playoff pack in the Western Conference. That said, things are heading in a positive direction under new head coach Lindy Ruff and centerpiece forward Tyler Seguin, who has prospered so far after leaving Boston via trade:
#91 / Center / Dallas Stars
Jan 31, 1992
|2013 - Tyler Seguin||26||15||12||27||+9||4||2||0||3||81||18.5|
Oh, and make sure you check out Mouthguard's Battle of the Blingees Contest, it's just the sort of thing we need to kick off this new division rivalry with a bang.
Saturday vs San Jose Sharks
Long talked about as a team which will surely see its competitive window close at some point as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau move into their twilight years, the Sharks have instead come out of the gates like gangbusters, with a 19-6-5 record that does include a current 3-game losing streak.
And lest you think that San Jose's dynamic duo is slowing down, Big Joe is chugging right along with the NHL's scoring leaders these days:
|2013 - Joe Thornton||29||5||27||32||+8||2||2||0||0||41||12.2|
So how do you think the Preds will fare this week? Vote in the poll, and sound off in the comments below!
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