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Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild: Wild Wild West (and Central)

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A rough road trip has left the Preds’ position as the best in the West tenuous. A dominant home stand would reassert them as the NHL’s team to beat.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff picture has a tendency to change extremely quickly. And I am thankful for On The Forecheck because they do a tremendous job of keeping the hockey community updated on all the contingencies, possibilities, and matchups around the league. But if you’ve missed the countless articles, a brief look has the Predators in a precarious position if they wish to maintain their supremacy. The Maple Leafs, Wild, and Jets, playoff teams all, shellacked us. Ellis was visibly angry when discussing the Maple Leafs game. Lavi got thrown out during the Wild game. And Saros alone kept us in the Jets game. Three games is just three games, admittedly, but the Preds twitter community often likens such a brief losing streak to the Hindenburg disaster. Thankfully, there is rationality out there...

A solid win tonight against the Wild will do much to calm the storm.

Minnesota Wild

A familiar foe. We just played them three nights ago. The scary thing is we kept Staal, their leading point scorer by far with 72 points, out of the net and they still put up four goals. Zucker scored and he’s got 30 goals, so he’s dangerous as well (that’s just one less goal than Viktor Arvidsson had in his one good season). And beyond those two, they’re still pretty dangerous. Heck, the reanimated corpse of Matt Cullen has double digit goals. Zach Parise, meanwhile, has been heating up with three goals in his last five games. If he joins an already potent offensive unit at his fullest potential, these Wild will be tough to contain.

Their defense is filled with talent as well. As much as it pains me, deeply, spiritually, to say, Ryan Suter is a pretty solid anchor. As seems to be the case every year, he leads all NHL defensemen in TOI. He’s top fifteen in points, in front of Roman Josi by one single point. He’s also behind P.K. Subban by five (nanner, nanner, nanner).

Dubnyk minds the net. That’s who we’ll have as Stalock stopped the pucks on Sunday. It truly amazes me that Dubnyk is a semi-talented NHL goalie. The first time I really came across him was in this gem...

Then he came to us and gave up (approximately) 712,411 goals in his two starts in in 2013. Then all of a sudden he’s a Vezina contender in Minnesota. That being said, he can be beat, and we’ve done it before. And we’ll have to do it again tonight.

Nashville Predators

This is going to be really surprising to you, but the JOFA line has been our best line, closely followed by the FiTS line. While on that first line Forsberg has been quiet the last three games, Arvidsson has remained the spark. There is certainly not a more exciting player in the known universe to watch. The guy is everywhere. He gives 110% every shift. He proves on a nightly basis that the ice is indeed VERY slippery because he spends half the game diving across it. There’s a reason he has his own chant of AR-VI nearly every game - he invigorates this entire team and fandom. He’s strongly supported by Ryan Johansen who, while not scoring as many points as an 8 million dollar 1C ought to, helps manufacture goals pretty consistently while being a mainstay on the penalty kill and winning the vast majority of his face-offs.

Concerning right now are the injuries. Austin Watson, who is second in the league in short handed goals, and whose hand I once shook at a Preds ‘n Pins event, is on the shelf. That’s a big loss, particularly on the penalty kill. Yannick Weber took a maintenance day Sunday, but he left Saturday’s game after a particularly vicious hit and did not return. Weber isn’t great, but he’s certainly the best of the bunch on that third pairing. And who can forget Alexei Emelin? The answer: we all can. So his injury is less concerning. But still - we developed a good amount of depth at the trade deadline and throughout the year, and it’d be a shame to have it tested before the post season even starts.

I almost forget our goalie. NAHT. (I got you @cmace30).

#Pekka4Vezina

Reasons To Watch

Tolvanen!

Just kidding. He flies to Nashville on Wednesday. Ugh.

The strangest thing happened when I was at the game on Saturday in St. Paul. Ryan Suter touched the puck. A lot. And not one single time was he booed. It felt like I was in some bizarre parallel universe where he doesn’t stink for taking more money and abandoning us. So if you’re going to the game, please boo him as he rightfully deserves.

And if you’re at home, scream at the TV. Suter will surely be demoralized by your efforts.

Preds-Wild WWE Feud Equivalent

We’re coming off a tough loss to the Wild. That much is damn true. And much like Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 29, there’s just no reason for it. Fandangoing was the craze of the moment, much like the Wild might be after toppling the vaunted Predators, but ultimately, our talent will win out, as it did for Jericho at Extreme Rules.

Whatever the Predators parallel is to the codebreaker off the dive from the rope is about to be unleashed. And, Wild, once we beat you handily Jericho will have something else to say to you:

You just made the list!

Where to Watch

Radio call is on 102.5 The Game. FS-TN has the video. A rocking Bridgestone Arena has you live. Hope to see you there!