The Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes have met twice this year splitting the series. The first meeting was on Nashville ice where the Coyotes took the Predators to the woodshed in a 5-2 victory. Nashville exacted some revenge by beating the Coyotes in Glendale by a score of 3-0.
The Coyotes are also coming on the tail-end of a back-to-back against Chicago where the Desert Dogs won 4-3 in a shootout. The extra time frame for this win may shift the favor towards the Predators, but as has been shown throughout the year, Nashville has had some trouble with teams playing the night before.
This Year’s Series: 1-1-0 (0-1-0 Home, 1-0-0 Away)
This Season’s Video Recaps:
Nov. 3rd, 2011:
Oct. 13, 2011:
Looking at the Coyotes: Phoenix stands at 31 points holding the 7th spot in the Western conference. They have been paced by the ageless wonder Ray Whitney (9G, 14A, 23P) and Radim Vrbata (13G, 10A, 23P). Vrbata is the surprise of the year notching 13 goals (tied for top ten in scoring) and potting 3 game-winning goals in the process.
Another key to the Coyotes success is the stellar play of Tampa Bay cast-off Mike Smith. When Bryzgalov was sent packing for richer climes in Philadelphia, Mike Smith has emerged as an above-average backstop for Phoenix posting a GAA of 2.26 and 2 shutouts. His 13 wins are also tied for third in the NHL.
Looking at the Predators: Where to start…the Predators played one of the most complete games they played all year against the Buffalo Sabres only to lose 3-2. A few mistakes by the Predators were taken full advantage of by Buffalo and the outstanding play of Ryan Miller in his first game back from the Lucic hit stilted any chance for the Predators to come away with a W.
As of this writing, there is still nothing to tell about whether or not the services of Jordin Tootoo will be on display against Phoenix after a disciplinary hearing yesterday and the huge announcement from the Board of Governors about Conference realignment, so keep posted to The Predatorial for updates when we get them.
For the Coyotes to win: Use short shifts and play like they did in the first Nashville meeting. Phoenix has a formidable road record this season going 8-4-1. Since LaBarbera’s only win came against Nashville and Phoenix is playing a back-to-back, expect him to get the start over Smith.
Using Vrbata and Yandle to their fullest won’t hurt Phoenix’s chances none and they have a true Predator-killer in Ray Whitney (the one who scored the first goal EVER against Nashville back in ’98). The captain of the Coyotes, Shane Doan, can also be dangerous, so Phoenix needs to utilize all their offensive weapons to pour the shots on Nashville.
For the Predators to win: Play like they did against Buffalo without the defensive miscues. Roman Josi made a couple of bad mistakes and these things will happen to a rookie defender. Playing with the likes of superstar defensemen will only elevate his game as Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are the type to lead by example.
If Rinne gets the start, (which he more than likely will) he will have to step up big time. Now that Lindback has given him some rest, Pekka has no excuses to get back on track and play lights out against a stacked roster of offensive fire-power coming out of Phoenix. If Rinne and the defensive core of the Nashville Predators can return to last season’s form and the offense can continue clicking on the PP, then Nashville may find itself in the driver’s seat of the season series against Phoenix.
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Stay HardCore, friends