Nashville Predators vs. Los Angeles Kings Preview: May The Force Be With Us
The Preds are back on the hunt for a win after a disappointing loss against the Sharks on Thursday. "I've got a bad feeling about this..."
A team on the playoff bubble isn't supposed to shut out potential President's Trophy contenders (which, to be honest, is a pipe-dream at this point). So what happened? We out-shot and out-chanced 'em, but yet again we didn't out-score 'em. It is getting more and more difficult to just shrug it off as "luck regression" from earlier in the year. Maybe this is just who we are. Maybe this is the team we were supposed to have all along. Those words haunt me. I don't want them to be true, but they just may be.
The Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are just lying in wait. They are the San Antonio Spurs of the NHL. When the playoffs begin, they will undoubtedly start playing the best hockey that has ever been played or will ever be played. When mid April hits, their .492 win percentage will shoot up by, uhh, probably a million points. Look forward to the headline: "Kings sweep Blues in WC Finals, Headed For 3rd Cup Final in 4 Years"
How will they do it? Balanced scoring lines and All-Star goal-tending with plenty of playoff experience. Yes, their scoring totals are modest right now. At 2.72 goals per game, the Kings are scoring at a very average rate. Even the Predators have more 20 goal scorers. But with vets like Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and with young guns like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, the Kings boast a deep offensive team that could easily outscore any team in seven game series. As for goal-tending, Jonathan Quick's career regular season .915 save % climbs up to .923 when the playoffs roll around. So, as much you watch him and think, "he just doesn't look that good" just wait til the playoffs, because he definitely beefs up when the Cup comes calling.
It's hard to say how well we match up against the Kings, because it depends on which Predators team is on the ice. The team that gritted out a couple of OT wins against the Kings earlier this year? The team that blew a 3 goal lead in the 3rd period on January 3rd? The team that couldn't score on the Sharks Thursday? The team that was leading the entire league by 4 points for a week or two? In theory, I like our chances against the Kings tonight, if we can get our offense going. But that's been about as reliable as the recent Nashville weather. So we shall see.
The Nashville Predators
Instead of looking for a reason for the suck-age (because there may not be one), let's embrace our inner nerd and compare some of the recent games using Star Wars vignettes. Nothing like some unabashed escapism to get the weekend started right. First, the cast of characters...
Mike Ribeiro/Matt Cullen
The Millennium Falcon
Thursday Feb 26th vs. Wild:
This was like when Luke Skywalker got attacked by the Tusken Raiders aka "Sand People" aka Ryan Suter. Obi-Wan, played by Matt Cullen in this episode, steps up to save Luke, but Luke's uncle and aunt are killed, leading to a disappointing 4-2 loss at home.
Saturday Feb 28th vs. Red Wings:
Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia are stuck in the Death Star trash compactor with the lurking dianoga, played by Tomas Tatar. Eventually they escape, but then Luke has to watch Obi-Wan get light-sabered by Darth Vader and the Red Wings escape with a 4-3 victory. R2D2 blurps and bleeps a lot, asking for more money.
Monday March 2nd vs. Rangers and Tuesday March 3rd vs. Devils:
These two games can only invoke the iconic final scene from The Empire Strikes Back, where everything is just terrible. Luke's arm is cut off. The Rebel fleet is in disarray. C-3PO has been disabled. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite. Obi-Wan (whose ghost is played by Mike Ribeiro) is busy skating around not shooting the puck. The Empire has the Rebels running scared and somewhere Emporer Palpatine is smiling.
Saturday March 7th vs. Jets:
Admiral Ackbar's warnings about "the trap" come too late... the Rebel fleet is overrun by the Empire in the final film. Luke is abandoned by his friends, slowly being worn down by Darth Vader's overwhelming power and the evil Emporer Palpatine. Princess Leia and Han Solo are helpless... though the Millennium Falcon is doing its job fighting off TIE fighters. The end result is a 3-1 loss and everything seems hopeless.
Monday March 9th vs. Coyotes:
Lando Calrissian (Paul Gaustad) leads the Rebel fleet into the heart of the Death Star and somehow escapes with a win. He got some important help from Han, who was with Leia disabling the shields on the moon of Endor. Luke played a big role, of course, and discovered that his father was Carter Hutton all along. The good guys prevail 2-1 and everything is back to normal... until the Sharks loss later in the week (I guess we can blame JJ Abrams eventually for that one, for whatever he does to totally ruin the SW franchise).
Reasons To Watch
- Who knows... but the OTF Watch Party will make it fun regardless. Come on out!
- Maybe something good will happen? Maybe?
- See if Mattias Ekholm yells at folks again. He was livid on Thursday.
The Important Details
9pm Saturday night start! FS-TN and 102.5 The Game, of course, but the Watch Party is where it's really at.