The Preds are coming off an exciting overtime win against Dallas, while the Wild are looking to bounce back from their loss to Chicago. Everyone here already knows how these previews go, so let's dive right in, shall we?
The Minnesota Wild
All hockey aside, any time a person or an organization loses someone close to them, it is never easy. That is exactly what the Wild and Zach Parise are going through right now as they are mourning the loss of Parise's father, J.P. Parise. Parise didn't play on Thursday night, but will be back in action in today's game. Minnesota will definitely be playing to win this one for the Parise family. Not to mention, Zach Parise himself will surely want to win this one for his family.
The last time I wrote a preview for the Wild game, the usual suspects were at the top of the list as for as point production goes for the Wild. At this point, The problem isn't point production, it's the fact that they can't stop anyone from scoring. Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom are giving up 2.68 and 2.73 goals per game, respectively. That stat alone isn't going to win you too many games in the NHL. It also doesn't help the the highest +/- rating on their team is a +6, by Jonas Brodin.
The Wild have a lot of issues that need to be fixed, but it all starts with their defensive effort. They have to string together a few games of a solid defense and good goaltending play to get back on the right track. It's not going to be easy today against the Predators though. It will be interesting to see what Minnesota will throw at Nashville to try to slow them down.
The Nashville Predators
The Preds continue to play great hockey night in and night out. It has been a while since the fans in Nashville have had a reason to be excited about hockey this late in the season. Not to mention that there looks like there will be some shiny new hardware in the Preds' trophy case at the end of the season.
With the Ryan Ellis injury the other night, the Predators could use some good news. It looks like they could be getting some soon, as James Neal, Matt Cullen, and Taylor Beck returned to practice yesterday. Luckily for the Preds, they may not need to rush them back. They are getting some help from all the lines as far as contributing goes. Craig Smith and Colin Wilson continue to score consistently, and Miikka Salomaki had a great debut the other night before getting sent down. I don't know how long that will last, but for right now, it's working for them.
I would like to assume that the Predators would love to jump on the Wild's weak defense early. They should be aggressive and persistent on the forecheck, and cause havoc for the Wild in their own end. It could be a long day for the Wild goaltending if Nashville continues play as well as they have been playing.
Reasons To Watch
- It will be interesting to see how Zach Parise will play in the wake of the passing of his father. In other sports, we have seen players play their hearts out in similar circumstances. I wouldn't be surprised if the same happened today
- As I mentioned before, when was the last time Nashville fans were excited about hockey this late in the season?
Drink Of Choice For Game Time
Since this is an early start time today, I am going to keep it light. I recommend enjoying a nice, cold Sweetwater Blue. (Ed. Note - It would be a perfect time to perfect your bloody mary skills. Afternoon games = perfect brunch and day drinking opportunities.)
Sights And Sounds
The usual suspects are in play for today. FS-TN for TV and 102.5 The Game for radio. Puck drops at 1:00pm CST, so make sure not to be late for this one.