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Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators Preview: Fowl Foes

The Nashville Predators square off against their least favorite fowl foe, the Anaheim Ducks. Can the Preds bring their November winning ways into December?

Thursday’s outing against Vancouver didn’t end as well as many Predators fans thought it should. A boring first period, a squandered lead, and a missed offsides call led to a 5-3 loss to the Canucks. There were some obvious defensive gaps, and another failure to close out the game left many folks bitter (specifically me).

BUT. It’s December. The Predators accumulated 21 of a possible 28 points in November, an impressive feat. They broke a franchise record for power play goals scored at home. This team has all the right pieces to continue to compete. Our boys are doing just fine.

All I want for Christmas is a healthy Ryan Ellis. He’s skating with the team now, and his timetable for a Christmas-New Years return has not changed.

I am positive the Predators want to continue to see more wins as they jockey for position in the Central...which brings us to...

Tonight, the Preds face the Ducks for their second contest of the season. This is the first time the dirty Ducks return to Bridgestone since the Predators destroyed their Cup hopes in June, and they’ll be looking to exact some revenge on a relentless Nashville crowd.

At least we don’t have to see Ryan Kesler on the ice. He’s still recovering from offseason hip surgery.

The Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks faced off against Columbus last night. They’re on the second half of a back-to-back, so the Predators will see a tired Anaheim group tonight.

The most interesting Anaheim news in the last week is the trade that saw the Ducks send defenseman Sami Vatanen to New Jersey for forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi. It’s no secret that Anaheim needs some forwards because of their injury issues this season. However, our friends at Anaheim Calling recently published an interesting article that calls Anaheim’s trade decision into question.

Here’s an excerpt that highlights the debate going on in Anaheim:

Matt Duchene’s influence looms large over this deal. The Ducks were reportedly after the newly-minted Ottawa Senator, and one can only imagine what the asking price may have been. Looking at what both Nashville and Ottawa both had to give up, it’d be reasonable to believe that one of Jacob Larsson or Marcus Pettersson were on the table. Murray was presumably ready to pay that price, given Anaheim’s both present and future need for a young, dynamic forward. Once that fell through, Murray set his sights on Henrique...

Vatanen’s departure naturally reveals quite a bit about where the front office stands on a number of issues, while opening up even more questions. Clearly, they trust Brandon Montour to step onto the second defense pairing. We’ll see how he and Fowler fare together. Also just as clearly, they don’t see one of Wagner or Grant in this lineup full-time. Vermette’s job feels safe, purely based on his elite faceoff ability.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf is out after taking a puck to the face in late October, an injury that required surgery. Jakob Silfverberg was injured last week, as was Rickard Rakell. Both Getlzaf and Kesler are skating regularly, but don’t expect to see them on this trip.

Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry lead the Ducks in points, with 18 and 17 points respectively.

Former Milwaukee Admiral Mike Liambas is currently with Anaheim after signing with the organization in the offseason. Liambas started the season with the AHL Gulls, but was recalled a few games ago. He has one assist in 7 games.

Starting goalie John Gibson is 8-9-1 on the season with a .921 save percentage. Backup Ryan Miller has played in six games, relieving Gibson in two. He has a .935 save percentage on the season.

The Nashville Predators

As mentioned earlier, the Preds set an incredible pace in November, boasting a 10-3-1 record. We saw the resurgence of Craig Smith and the emergence of Kevin Fiala after the Kyle Turris trade. Nick Bonino returned from his injury, and Pekka Rinne continued his stellar goaltending. Filip Forsberg broke some records, and the third and fourth lines found their groove.

The defensive corps remained solid, even the polarizing Alexei Emelin. Anthony Bitetto impressed everyone with his play after Yannick Weber’s injury. Mattias Ekholm broke his own scoring record. An impressive November indeed.

Will the Predators be able to continue this play into December? Will Anders Lindback get to start a game before he’s sent back down to Milwaukee? Will Pontus Aberg ever score? Is a scratched Cody McLeod the best McLeod? These answers…and more….will be found in December.

These Western Conference foes present a challenge each outing, but the Predators need to bounce back after a lackluster contest against Vancouver.

Memories and Feelings

  • The Preds secured a 5-3 victory over the Ducks in Anaheim early in November. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves on his 35th birthday for the win.
  • Anaheim has gone up the list of “hated teams in Nashville” after the last two seasons. Meeting Anaheim in the post season is never a fun time, but the number of dirty plays and hits by the Ducks make them fairly hated in Nashville.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Sad Corey Perry

2. We love watching Anaheim lose in our barn.

3. Some Saturday night “bounce back” hockey!

Tonight’s Theme Music

“Wheel in the Sky” by Journey.

Sights and Sounds

The Predators face off against the Ducks at 7 pm Central. Fox Sports TN has the live broadcast featuring your favorites, Lindsay Rowley, Terry Crisp, Willy Daunic, and Chris Mason. For the radio call, tune in to 102.5 The Game.