Tonight the Avalanche come in to Nashville, TN and play against the Nashville Predators in game 56 for the Preds.
Looking at the Avs: Tonight is the closing game of back-to-back games for the Avalanche and they’re going to be a little tired and definitely a little angry. Instead of climbing ground on a team like the Blue Jackets, they instead gave up more ground and sit definitively in 14th place, 8 points out of 8th place. This is a team that, for all intents and purposes, should be in the top 8, however like the pre-All-Star break Devils, they have the talent, but the pieces have all fallen apart. Peter Forsberg is NOT going to help this team get anywhere close to the playoffs, however he will help this team play spoiler over their final 27 games. A loss to the Blue Jackets last night gives them a 1-8-0 record in their last nine games, with 6 straight losses (even though ESPN says 7 straight losses…*hint hint* ;-D). In that stretch they’ve scored 1.7 goals a game and given up 3.9 goals a game. They’ll be looking to not make that stretch turn to 7 with a win tonight against the Preds
Looking at the Preds: The Fish has arrived in Smashville. After waiting for his paperwork to clear, newly acquired Mike Fisher has arrived in Nashville ready to line up with his new teammates in hopes. Unfortunately, the first time he gets to practice with his new teammates/linemates is today. Also today is the running/walking of the Fangtastic 5K, which is a definite good omen for Preds fans. Since the lockout, in the game immediately after the 5k, the Preds are 4-1, two of those wins in extra inning and averaging 3.8 goals in those games while only giving up 2.0 goals against. The Preds are 5-4-1 in their past ten averaging 2.6 goals while allowing 2.1 goals against and
The Preds are coming into tonights game after a dismantling of the Wings from this past Wednesday night. The team HAS to shake off the post-Detroit-win curse that they seem to have and tonight is the night to start it. A win tonight puts the team BACK within 5 of the division lead, but will have played 1 more game than Detroit.
For the Avs to win: They need to shake off the rust and come out flying. If they get an early goal and suck the energy out of the hometown crazies, then they have a huge chance of coming into Smashville and out with a win and 2 major points in getting back into the playoff race. They can’t just rely on the hopes that Peter Forsberg will jump-start their offense, there is only so much a man who has been on a 3 year hiatus from the NHL can do. They need to rely on their weapons of Duchene, Hejduk, and Stastny to get them back to their winning ways. Also, “ok” goaltending isn’t going to cut it for this team. Budaj played “ok” last night against Columbus. If all you can muster is “ok” against a team like Columbus, you’re not going anywhere. You need to stand on your head EVERY game, especially if you are 4 games out of the playoffs. Look for Budaj in net again for the Avs tonight. I don’t see them starting a rusty ol’ Grahame.
For the Preds to win: They need to treat the Avs like the team they are: A team stumbling towards the Western Conference cellar. The Predators need to put one foot on the gas and their other foot on the throat of the Avs. They need to come out hard, they need to come out flying, and they need to definitely make sure they get the first goal of the game to keep the crowd in Nashville loud and proud. They can keep it simple with three words: SHOOT THAT PUCK. Get pucks on the net and wear out the Avalanche with persistent forechecking and backchecking. Don’t let them gain an inch. Dominate the Avs for 60 full minutes, just like Detroit, and you’ll see yet another notch in the Win column and another 2 points on their total. Look for Rinne to be in net tonight for the Predators. The Finnish Fiend has been a monster in net for the Preds, holding steady in 2nd place in the Vezina trophy competition with a save percentage of .930 and a GAA of 2.08, trailing only Boston’s Tim Thomas in both categories.
Prediction: The Predators come out strong and quick with 2 goals in the first period and they don’t let up. They dominate the Avalanche and they send them to their “7th” straight loss (as ESPN is already predicting). The Predators will send the Fans of the Fang home happy with a 5-1 win.
Thanks for reading!