Nashville Predators @ Minnesota Wild Preview: Into The Wilderness

The Nashville Predators hit the road to take on Central division foe, the Minnesota Wild.

The Predators are back in action tonight after a nice little break this week. They take on Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild. Both of these teams took on the Boston Bruins this week, and now they turn their attention to each other in this divisional battle.

The Minnesota Wild

The Wild have been tough to figure this season. They don't really have an identity, nor have they established any type of momentum. For the past few weeks, it looks like they have just been alternating wins and losses. They will win one then lose one, win one then lose one. They can't seem to get any traction to gain ground on Chicago, St. Louis, and Nashville.

It is hard to imagine why they are struggling so much. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the Wild struggle, but you have to think that things will eventually turn around. Zach Parise leads the team in points with 23 (and that was with missing five games earlier this season). Ryan Suter continues to lead the league in average TOI (29:33). Nino Neiderreiter is leading the team with 14 goals this season. And Jason Pominville is continuing his consistent play on the ice. So why are these guys struggling so much? Well for one, Thomas Vanek has yet to start clicking with these guys. He has played considerably better as of late, but there are still chemistry issues that need to be resolved. Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund are a couple of other guys that need to get going. Minnesota has some nice scoring depth on paper, but it just hasn't translated on the ice quite yet. Their defense, as usual, is still one of the top defenses in the league. They are seventh in GA and are a plus eight in goal differential.

Things are bound to eventually turn around for the Wild (I don't like them so I hope it doesn't). You have to think the offense will start to click on all cylinders sooner than later. That task is not going to be easy against the Preds though. They are going to have to have sustained pressure and create opportunities if they want to get the best of Nashville tonight.

The Nashville Predators

The Predators, unlike the Wild, are coming off a shootout victory over the Bruins on Tuesday night. They got a nice three day break this week in between games. I must say, it is a much needed, and well deserved break for Pekka Rinne. He has been the work horse this year. Rinne has started every game but three, and hasn't been on the bench since November 20th against Ottawa. It is always nice when you can give your starting goalie and break without risking losing a game.

The extended break also brings an opportunity for Laviolette to fix some of the issues that the Preds have been having as of late. One of them being the amount of scoreless periods they had at the end of last week, carrying into this week. They finally got things going late against Boston, but it is still an area of concern. Another thing they need to work on (and yes, I know I sound like a broken record) is the power play. But I guess at this point, what else can they do to fix it? Laviolette has thrown out a few different combinations, but nothing seems to stick. The one guy that has been able to do anything is Mike Fisher. He has the Preds last two power play goals, and looks to be getting comfortable in his role on the man advantage.

So far this year, I have found that it doesn't really matter what I mention as their key to victory because, at the end of the day, they just continue to find ways to win games. As long as they continue with their puck possession and scoring, they should be fine in tonight's game.

Reasons To Watch

I am going keep this one simple. There are two reasons to watch this game. To boo Ryan Suter as loud as you can from home. And to watch Filip Scoresberg (obviously).

Drink Choice For Game Time

I'm keeping it local tonight. I would suggest anything from the Corsair distiller. I have sampled most their stuff, and you really can't go wrong.

Sights And Sounds

As usual, you can catch the game on FS-TN locally and listen to it on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops at 7:00 pm CST.

Post File Update:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>James Neal is sick will not play for the Predators tonight against Minnesota. He is not with the team in St. Paul <a href="">#preds</a> <a href="">#mnwild</a></p>&mdash; Eric Stromgren (@estromgren) <a href="">December 20, 2014</a></blockquote>

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