The Nashville Predators (7-4-2) enter L.A. tonight in their first of a California back-to-back, starting off with the Los Angeles Kings (6-5-3) who have lost 6 out of their last 7 (including 5 straight). Coming off a tough loss to the San Jose Sharks late last night, the Kings are looking to get back on track against a Nashville team they dominated 3-1-0 last season.
However, with Nashville starting a back-to-back and Los Angeles finishing one, could both teams send out their backups to start in goal? Jonathan Bernier played in all 4 matchups against Nashville last year, posting a 3-1-0 record, while Anders Lindback found his way in net in 3 of the 4, starting in one of them. If Nashville wants to get the young goaltender some playing time, I would start Lindback tonight and let Rinne rest to play against Anaheim tomorrow.
This Year’s Series: 1-3-0 (0-2-0 Home, 1-1-0 Away)
This Season’s Video Recaps:
Game 1 – November 6th, 2010:
Game 2 – December 18th, 2010:
Game 3 – January 6th, 2011:
Game 4 – March 15th, 2011:
Looking at the Kings: Dropping their 5th straight last night against the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles is just looking for answers. Although Jonathan Quick has been in the net for all 5 of their losses, his stats really haven’t dipped too much with a 1.87 GAA and a .936 Sv%. It surely isn’t their 8th ranked powerplay or their 10th ranked penalty kill either. So what is the problem for the Kings?
Whatever the problem is, Los Angeles looks to rectify it tonight against a Predators team that they dominated last season. With Quick starting all the last 5 and Jonathan Bernier posting a 3-1-0 record against Nashville last season, don’t be surprised if Bernier gets the call in net for the Kings tonight.
Looking at the Predators: While Los Angeles has dropped 5 straight, Nashville is rolling with wins in 4 out of their last 5, collecting 9 out of a possible 10 points. Pekka Rinne has been the hot hand for the Predators and is one win away from being tied for second in the NHL in wins (currently tied for 3rd with Tomas Vokoun). However, with all the success Rinne has had, he can’t seem to find an answer for the Kings.
Starting their first of a back-to-back tonight and with Rinne playing all 13 games so far for the Predators, the best chance Lindback will get to see some playing time would either be tonight or tomorrow against Anaheim. However, with the success Rinne has had against the Ducks, it would make sense for Lindback to start tonight against the Kings.
For the Kings to win: Los Angeles will have to play tough, physical, hockey against a Predators team that is not only on a roll, but mentally/emotionally in the best possible place. It’s really hard to face off against a team that is working together and clicking on all cylinders.
That being the case, the Kings will have to get stellar goaltending against an offensively-charged (surprisingly enough ranked 13th in the league) Nashville team and find some sort of offense for themselves as they are ranked 28th in the league in goals, only above the Islanders and Ducks.
For the Predators to win: Stay the course, keep going full ahead. Nashville is finding the offense, defense, and goaltending (as if that was ever a problem) they need to consistently win games and make themselves a better team. Even with Klein/Kostitsyn/Spaling still on the shelf, the Predators press on and try to find new ways to win, including their first 3rd period comeback of the season on Saturday against San Jose.
With Klein/Kostitsyn still game time decisions for tonight (although Klein didn’t practice yesterday) and no word on Spaling yet, Nashville will have to keep the crease cleared out for whoever is in net and continue to force the play into the offensive zone.
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Stay frosty, friends