Nashville Predators vs. Calgary Flames Preview: Preds must seize opportunity to beat the 28th place team

One of the worst teams in hockey comes to Nashville fresh off a shutout win last night.

The Nashville Predators, losers of three straight and league leaders in goal ineptitude, entertain the struggling and underwhelming Calgary Flames tonight.

The floundering of the Flames has been well documented, (head over to Matchsticks and Gasoline for proof) but it's all for a purpose, as rebuilds are. They did pick up their 16th win of the season last night against Carolina, possibly giving them a bit of incentive to get number 17 right away.

This is the first time these two teams meet this season, and the Predators need to beat them in the worst way. With the home stand already at 1-2-1, coupled with an effort against the Wild that was as flat as it was boring, the team needs to take advantage of a poor team. Just imagine what the comments on this site will be if they lose. Comments dripping with equal parts sarcasm and despair, with just a hint of ire and calmly nestled on a bed of futility. The Flames could light the torches for the pitchfork crowd.

The Stats

Calgary Flames Nashville Predators
Record 16-24-6 28th 19-21-7 25th
GF/Game 2.17 29th 2.32 26th
GA/Game 3.09 28th 2.89 20th
5-on-5 Close SF/60 25.5 29th 29.6 14th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 29.1 17th 27.5 8th
Fenwick Close 46.10 27th 49.70 15th
5-on-5 Close Save % .913 25th .906 27th
5-on-4 GF/60 4.9 23rd 6.5 10th
# of PP's/Gm 3.28 20th 3.02 27th
4-on-5 GA/60 6.2 15th 6.6 20th
# of PK's/Gm 3.26 15th 3.06 8th


The Calgary Flames

Everyone knew the Flames were going to be bad this year, including the Flames. Last season they finally gave into the rebuild they had been avoiding for so long and shipped off Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester. Then earlier this season, General Manager Jay Feaster got shown the door. His replacement hasn't been named, but former Toronto GM Brian Burke is running things for the time being.

As a team, the Flames are 29th in goals for, 28th in goals against, 27th on the power play, 28th in CF% and 27th in FF%. They need to buy a fruit basket for Edmonton, partly out of pity but mostly to thank them from being even worse than they are.

Mike Cammalleri, who leads the team in goals, suffered a concussion when they played Saturday in Pittsburgh. He isn't on the trip and there is no timetable for his return. Former Red Wing Jiri Hudler will have to make up for the points he would be scoring, which shouldn't be too much of a problem. With Cammalleri out of the lineup, Hudler has almost twice as many points as the next leading scorer, rookie Sean Monahan. But injuries are nothing new for the Flames this year, as Curtis Glencross (24 games), Mark Giordano (18), Dennis Wideman (16), Matt Stajan (8) and Lee Stempniak (7) are just a few of the names that have missed significant time. Cammalleri has already missed 7 game at the start of the season.

With Karri Ramo picking up the shutout win last night, chances are good Reto Berra will lead the team out tonight. The two have pretty evenly split goaltending duties this season.

The Nashville Predators

Coming up with insightful pieces of information is really hard following a shutout loss. Nothing has really changed since the last preview except for a few more minuses in the column. Craig Smith Still leads the team in goals with 13, Seth Jones is still a rookie, and Mike Fisher is just as handsome as ever.

I'm most interested to see if Viktor Stalberg gets a sweater tonight. Getting put on the fourth line is usually the first step to the press box (sorry, Paul) and he had some really terrible plays on Sunday. Then again, he would have assisted on the only Preds goal, were Rich Clune's stick not made out of Swiss cheese. Watch it again, the pain makes you stronger.

To add insult to injury, this is the final time this season the game won't be on TV. Whoever decided to put so many of those together needs to also be shown the door. Or maybe they are doing everyone a favor? Puck drop at 7:00 p.m. CST.