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Nashville Predators vs. New York Rangers Preview: Manhattan Comes for a Matinee

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Nashville starts a busy, hockey-filled weekend with a visit from the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game winning goal at 3:45 of overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on December 8, 2014 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Penguins 4
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game winning goal at 3:45 of overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on December 8, 2014 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Penguins 4
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The "Power vs. Power" matchup that was billed for Thursday night was anything but. The Ducks dismantled the Predators for almost a full two periods, before Nashville attempted to furiously roar back. The only problem was the score already stood at 4-0, and the game was well out of hand.

This afternoon, Pekka Rinne and the team in front of him look to bounce back against a New York Rangers team attempting to climb the standings without their most valuable player.

The New York Rangers

It's almost easy to forget that the Rangers made the Stanley Cup Final last year. Most likely because the matchup was the Los Angeles Kings against Whichever Team From the East They'd Destroy. The team seemed to spin their wheels early in the season, almost losing as much as they were winning. However, once December rolled around they've become damn near unbeatable. They won eight in a row in December, and eight of 12 in January.

Now they're in a division dogfight, and their path to the top just got that much harder. Henrik Lundqvist, possibly the best goaltender in the NHL, is out at least three weeks after TAKING A PUCK TO THE THROAT. Seriously. Dude took a shot to the Adam's apple, finished the game, and then started another game after that. Whether that was the right call or not is open for debate, and now the King is going to miss time when the Rangers could really use him.

They currently sit fourth in the Metro, thanks to the Washington's win last night against the Anaheim Ducks. However, only three points separate New York from first place other New York in the division. The Rangers also have two games in hand on the Islanders and Penguins, and four (!) on the Capitals. If they win all of those, they can take home the banner, but of course... they have to win those.

Back up Cam Talbot is no slouch between the pipes, with his .924 Sv% and 1.81 GAA in 12 games this year. The former University of Alabama in Huntsville product has been one of the best backups in the league over the past two years. He's going to be leaned on heavily for the next few weeks. New York is hoping his play will help them make up ground in the Metro, and tonight they'll make Nashville fight for every bit of ice this afternoon. The Rangers are one better than the Predators in both goals score per game, and goals allowed per game. It should be a semi-tight game with enough scoring that the first to three goals wins the game.

The Nashville Predators

Preds need play better. Game last ungood. Rinne much bad.

60 minutes. All of players. Less goals more scored.

Still good team.

Reasons to Watch

  • Some of you still haven't shut up about the Kevin Klein trade, so at least tonight you get to see the Greatest Player in Nashville Predators History grace the ice of Bridgestone Arena once more.
  • Pekka Rinne shouldn't look as bad this afternoon as he did on Thursday, which means it could be an even more entertaining game.
  • Rick Nash is tied for first in the Rocket Richard race with Alex Ovechkin. Both have 32 goals, which makes watching to see if he breaks ahead some entertaining hockey. But Preds (and Caps) fans are hoping he stays scoreless for now.

Sights and Sounds

So much afternoon hockey this month. You better be ready to go by 2 p.m. CST, because that's when the game starts. Day drinking encouraged, brunch required. Pete and Stu have you covered on the boob tube, while Willy and Brent will be accompanying those of you hiding radios at work.

Pregame Entertainment

The best damn thrash metal band to come out of New York. Sorry Bobby Blitz. If you aren't read to scream and destroy after listening to this, I don't know what to tell you. Crank it on the way to the arena.