It's been a long while since the Predators last played a game. In that time, they've been run ragged at practice, gotten some much needed rest, injured themselves, and had a prospect get his first call up. At least they've stayed busy.
Now they welcome the hapless Sabres into town in an attempts to break their five-game home losing streak. With St. Louis being two points ahead (still with a game in hand) a win over Buffalo just needs to happen.
The Buffalo Sabres
The cast of characters wearing the Buffaseal is a bit different than back in February. Any major player that likely isn't going to be around in the next three or four years was shipped of by the trade deadline, and any others with value were stockpiled for picks. Make no mistake, this team is horrendously, and historically bad.
But that hasn't stopped them from putting a scare into several teams the last few days. Just on Monday they took the Capitals to a shootout of all things, then proceeded to beat the mighty Bruins the very next night. They dropped a decision to the Rangers before that after winning a game against the Leafs that apparently neither team wanted to win. Tank Wars, and such.
The reason is familiar to Nashville: Anders Lindback. In seven games with the Sabres, the former Dallas Star is sporting a .934 Sv% despite seeing north of 30 shots every single night. The Predators have done a much better job over the last few weeks of getting more shots than their opponents, however they are failing at generating second and third opportunities. Lindback is locked in right now, but this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the other team on the ice and get back in the habit of crashing the crease.
A little of that magic wore off last night, as Buffalo dropped a 3-1 decision to the Devils and Lindback only stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced. Will a back-to-back that includes an overnight flight to Nashville be enough to bring in Matt Hackett? We certainly hope so.
The Nashville Predators
It looks like James Neal is going to miss his fourth consecutive game tonight, and the status of Colin Wilson is still unknown. From the sound of things Friday night, Viktor Arvidsson has a very real possibility of getting his first taste of NHL action. We'll probably know a little more as soon as this thing goes live.
If you haven't realized it already, the Predators top producers are ice cold and their overall production is down. Formerly a top-10 team, Nashville is 14th in the league in the amount of goals scored per game. It's not hard to see why. Looking back three weeks to the game against Detroit, the Predators have played 10 games. In that time:
- Filip Forsberg: 0 goals, 3 assists.
- Mike Ribeiro: 0 goals, 3 assists.
- Shea Weber: 0 goals, 2 asssits.
- Colin Wilson: 1 goal, 0 assists.
- Craig Smith: 2 goals, 3 assists.
- Mike Fisher: 2 goals, 1 assist.
- Roman Josi: 3 goals, 4 assists.
Reasons to Watch:
- Buffalo may be the worst hockey team you've ever seen play, but it doesn't cheapen the feeling of hanging five goals on the scoreboard.
- Unless you feel like this is a trap game, and Lindback is going to start his second game in two nights an make 50 saves. In that case, you're better off not watching... for the sake of your walls, windows, remote controls and frightened pets.
Drink of Choice
I'd recommend starting the game with a Boilermaker, (beer and a SHOT of something.) Your choice if you drop the SHOT into the beer or not. Then follow it up with some Jell-O SHOOTERS. Give my regards to the floor. (Note: Please don't actually do this.)