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Game 12: Nashville @ Phoenix – A Rejuvenated Rematch


Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

After a thrilling game against the Blackhawks which saw the Predators drop an overtime decision, Nashville flies out west to take on a streaking Phoenix Coyotes (6-3-2) team that has currently won 3 straight, including a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche last night. The Nashville Predators (5-4-2) may be a little rejuvenated as well, with Fisher and Kostitsyn possibly both in the lineup tonight.

This Year’s Series: 0-1-0 (0-1-0 Home, 0-0-0 Away)

This Season’s Video Recaps:
Game 1 – October 13th, 2011:

Looking at the Coyotes: Winners of three straight and holding down second place in the newly uber-competitive Pacific Division, the Phoenix Coyotes are rolling right along and straight into the month of November.

Currently, with all but 4 players on their team registering a point, Phoenix understands and utilizes the “scoring by committee” approach that the Predators have had to use over the past few seasons. The most entertaining part of this is that their top two point scorers are 35 and 39 years old (respectively).

While Shane Doan and Ray Whitney lead the way for the Coyotes offense, an unlikely backstopper is protecting their net. If you would have told me that Mike Smith would be having a pretty good season after playing 8 games as the Coyotes #1 goaltender, I probably would have laughed. However, Smith has silenced his critics and has put up a 4-2-2 record with a 2.57 GAA and a .919 Sv%

Looking at the Predators: 3-1-1 in their past 5, 4 points behind the Central Divison leading Chicago Blackhawks with Detroit and St. Louis creeping up from behind, Nashville may be in position to start a winning streak of their own when they could possibly have a full, un-injured roster for the first time this season.

It seemed the story, as of late for the Nashville Predators, was get one healthy to see one leave hurt. After Fisher and Kostitsyn both had their own respective injuries last week while Erat returned, both could possibly be back in the lineup tonight which would do nothing but bolster a 15th-ranked Nashville offense.

That’s right, 15th-ranked Nashville offense. Seems kind of strange to say that doesn’t it? The Predators haven’t been in this position since the 2007-2008 season. However with David Legwand leading the way and rookie Craig Smith right behind him, Nashville is primed to finally get the offense that Pekka Rinne has needed the past couple of seasons.

Speaking of Rinne, did you know it was his birthday today? On the day of his 29th year since his birth (remarkably only 2 days younger than my beautiful wife), can the Finnish wonder reel in his 101st career win?

Random stat of the day? Leading the Predators in shooting percentage is…..Martin Erat! Wait…what? Well, Erat has 2 shots on net, 1 goal, and a 50% shooting %. Fisher is right behind him with 40% (5 shots, 2 goals), followed by the perennial champ Kostitsyn with 30% (10 shots, 3 goals)

For the Coyotes to win: Don’t let the back-to-back games creep up and bite you. The tail end of back-to-back games has usually been the lesser of the two when it comes to trying to win both. However after such a dominant win last night against the Avalanche, the Coyotes will try to make it 4 in a row against Nashville tonight.

Yet, they’ll have to remember they DID come into Nashville and beat them in their home opener 5-2 last month, so the Predators will want to exact a little revenge. If Mike Smith can play like Mike Smith has been playing (that is if LaBarbera isn’t playing) and Doan/Whitney can continue to terrorize the Predators, then Nashville may be moving to 2 straight losses instead of starting a new win streak.

For the Predators to win: Open the floodgates and shoot the puck. With their entire lineup practically healthy if both Kostitsyn/Fisher play tonight, it’s time to tee up the rubber and let it fly. Nashville has only outshot one opponent this season (Outshot Anaheim 29-20 in a 3-0 win), but with all of their weapons readily available this should no longer be a problem.

If the Predators can control the pace of the game and tee off on whoever is in net for Phoenix, one would dare to say that Nashville would almost be an unstoppable force in the NHL. With Pekka Rinne guarding the posts, improving the defensive play, and having a no longer offensively-challenged lineup, there would be nothing stopping the Predators from taking over the Central Division and the Western Conference


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Stay frosty, friends