As a precursor to tomorrow’s pre-game article and the game itself, I thought I would pass along the “Storylines and Notes” as provided to us by Kevin Wilson with the Nashville Predators. Consider it…your away game press program
NASHVILLE PREDATORS at MINNESOTA WILD
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 7 p.m. CT at Xcel Energy Center
PREDATORS (Left Column) WILD (Right Column)
Season Record (Conf. Rank): 30-16-4 (5th West) 24-18-7 (8th West)
Last Time Out: 3-1 W at Chicago (Jan. 24) 3-2 W at Colorado (Jan. 24)
Streak/Last Five Games: Won Four/4-1-0 Won Two/2-2-1
Last Ten Games: 9-1-0 3-6-1
Home/Road Record: 16-7-3/14-9-1 13-6-3/11-12-4
Points Leaders: Martin Erat (11g-24a-35pts) Dany Heatley (15g-19a-34pts)
Goals Leaders: Patric Hornqvist (14) Dany Heatley (15)
FOR THE PREDATORS 2011-12 MEDIA GUIDE VISIT: nashvillepredators.com/mediaguide
NASHVILLE’S 12-2-0 RUN SINCE DECEMBER 28
Dating back to the last time these two teams met, the Predators have posted the League’s best record (12-2-0), while outscoring the opposition 44-24, despite being outshot 426-395 (minus 31) during that stretch. In those 14 games, Nashville has averaged 3.14 goals per game, while allowing just 1.71 goals per game. The Predators’ 14-game stretch includes outscoring foes 35-21 while at even strength. In the 36 games prior to the current streak, the Predators were outscored 72-54 at even strength. Those totals have pushed Nashville’s goals per game average from 2.60 to 2.74 (12th) currently, while its goals against has fallen from 2.80 to 2.52 (ninth).
Three players have posted at least 11 points in Nashville’s last 14 games. Mike Fisher has 13 points (5g-8a), including five points (4g-1a) in his last four outings. The Peterborough, Ont., native ranks seventh in the League in scoring since Jan. 1. For the season, the Predators are 16-2-1 when Fisher records a point and 8-0-1 when he scores a goal. Martin Erat has posted 12 points (3g-9a) in the last 13 games, moving him into first in team scoring. Sergei Kostitsyn leads all Predators with seven goals, to go along with four assists, during the stretch. During the month of January, Kostitsyn has scored on seven of 12 shots and ranks sixth in the League in goals.
RINNE NAMED SECOND STAR OF THE WEEK
Pekka Rinne has won each of his past nine starts, allowing two goals or fewer in every contest, to enable him to set a franchise record for longest win streak (Jan. 7-24). Rinne was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday after posting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .961 save percentage in back-to-back victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Jan. 23) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Jan. 24).
Since the nine-game streak began on Jan. 7, Rinne’s nine wins and .957 save percentage are the best in the League, while his 1.34 GAA ranks second. Going back to Nashville’s last meeting with the Wild on Dec. 28, he is 12-1-0 with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. Those numbers rank him first in the League in wins and third in goals-against average and save percentage.
Rinne has posted 18 wins since Dec. 1 to lead the League since that date. He is 18-2-0 in his last 20 appearances to improve to 28-11-5 on the season – the second-most wins in the League. He ranks second in the League in saves (1,248), shots against (1,349) and appearances (45). Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Rinne’s 122 wins are sixth in the League, and his 24 shutouts lead all NHL goaltenders.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
The Predators penalty kill has extinguished 19 of 20 shorthanded opportunities in the team’s last eight games, and 37 of 42 opposing power plays in their last 14 – moving them from 24th in the NHL prior to the stretch (79.8 percent) to 12th (83.1 percent) currently. Nashville went seven straight games without allowing a power-play goal from Jan. 12-23, tying the second-longest streak in franchise history hit four times.
Staying out of the box has aided in the Predators recent PK success. In Nashville’s first 26 games of 2011-12, it posted a 12-10-4 record while going shorthanded 103 times – an average of four per game. It allowed at least one power-play marker in 13 of those 26 outings. In the team’s last 24 games, it has posted an 18-6-0 record and has been shorthanded just 63 times – 2.62 times per game. Nashville has allowed a power-play goal in only seven of those 24 contests.
Nashville’s power play posted at least one goal in four straight games (5-for-12) prior to the All-Star break. The Predators have now scored 11 man-advantage goals in their last 10 games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks second in the League (22.5 percent). They have scored 38 power-play goals through 50 games after scoring 41 man-advantage markers in 82 contests a season ago. The duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have led the way on the man-advantage for the Preds. Suter leads the team with 16 points (3g-13a), while Weber is just one point behind (5g-10a-15pts). Rookie Craig Smith leads the team and all rookies with six power-play goals on the year.
Nashville’s special teams are now plus-12 on the season after finishing plus-3 in 2010-11. Nashville ranks third (105.6) in the League in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%), behind only Vancouver (108.4) and Pittsburgh (105.9).
The Predators head into the final game of January with a 10-2-0 record this month. The franchise record for wins in a month is 11, posted in March 2010 (11-5-1). This month marks the seventh time in franchise history the team has recorded double-digit wins, including the third time in January.
The Predators hit 30 wins in 50 games this season – that is the third-fastest to 30 wins in franchise history. The record is 30 wins in 44 games in 2006-07 followed by 30 wins in 48 games in 2005-06. Nashville hit the 30-win mark in game No. 54 a season ago. Predators are 30-16-4 for 64 points through 50 games this season, compared to 27-17-6 for 60 points at this point last season.
The Predators have 32 games remaining this season – 15 games at Bridgestone Arena and 17 road games in 10 different road trips. Nashville have 23 games against teams who held a playoff position at the All-Star break. The combined points percentage of the remaining teams on the Predators schedule is .592 (844-553-177). A season ago, the Predators had 32 games remaining following the All-Star break – 21 home games and 11 road contests. They faced just 17 playoff contenders in the final portion of 2010-11, including a combined points percentage of .577 (821-575-198) in 1,594 games played.
LAST TIME OUT: Predators 3, Chicago 1 at United Center
- Craig Smith opened the scoring at the 11:49 mark of the first period. He now has three goals in three career games against Chicago.
- Colin Wilson became the ninth Predator to reach double figures in goals with his power-play empty-net goal with 13 seconds remaining. Nashville leads the Western Conference and is now tied with Philadelphia for the most 10-goal scorers this season.
- Nashville outshot their opposition (26-25) for just the 16th time this season. They have posted an 11-3-2 record in those situations.
- Ryan Suter led the team with 28:24 of ice time. He ranks third in the League in average ice time this season (26:28).
- Kevin Klein blocked a game-high eight shots. He leads the team and ranks in the NHL’s Top 10 with 110 blocks on the year.
- Nashville is 5-1-0 in its last six road games. The team has allowed just seven goals during those contests.
- Nashville has posted an 11-2-2 mark against the Central this season, including five consecutive wins against divisional foes. That is the best record of any team against its divisional opponents.
- The Predators are 22-7-4 in one or two goal games. That record is tied for the most wins and the third-best winning percentage (.697) in those situations.
- Nashville is 24-2-2 when scoring three or more goals, and 23-1-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
- In his last 31 games, Shea Weber has 26 points (9g-17a), moving him into second in team scoring (10g-24a-34pts). The Sicamous, B.C., native is second among NHL defensemen in power-play goals (5), and he ranks third in both points (34) and goals (10).
- In their 30 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 different players. Colin Wilson leads the team with four game-winners.
- The Predators are 21-2-3 when scoring first, ranking among the top five the League. They have led after one period in just 16 of 50 games (30 wins), going 13-1-2 in those contests. Nashville is also 14-3-1 when tied at the first intermission.
- In its last 16 games, Nashville has outscored its opponent 18-8 in the first period.
- The Predators have sold out Bridgestone Arena for 15 of their 26 home games this season; that total puts the Predators on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the inaugural season in 1998-99.
- Rookie Craig Smith leads the team with 18 points (7g-11a) in 22 road games.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. MINNESOTA
The Predators make their final trip of the 2011-12 season to the Twin Cities tonight at the Xcel Energy Center. Nashville and Minnesota have split the first two games of season series thus far. All-time, the Predators are 19-15-8 against the Wild.
These teams last met on Dec. 28 in the Music City. The game was scoreless through the first 40 minutes, before Jordin Tootoo put the Predators up 1-0, 7 minutes into the third period. Dany Heatley tied it with 3:59 remaining in regulation. The shootout was required after the game remained tied through five minutes of four-on-four play. In the shootout, Colin Wilson netted the only goal to give the Predators the 2-1 win. Nashville made its last trip to St. Paul the night before Thanksgiving, as the Predators began a five-game road swing. Nashville got off to quick start, with Tootoo – who notched his second multiple-point (1g-1a) effort in as many nights – finding the back of the net at 5:21 of the first frame. The Predators would hold the lead until 1:05 of the third, as Minnesota tallied three straight goals to pull ahead, 3-1. Ryan Suter added his fifth goal of the season – surpassing his goal total from the previous two seasons (4g) – on the power-play at 13:57 to cut the final margin to 3-2.
Rinne is 7-3-1 all-time vs. Minnesota with three shutouts… Hornqvist has five points (2g-3a) in 10 career games against Minnesota… Spaling has seen more offensive success (4g-1a) against the Wild than any other Western Conference opponent.
THREE PREDS SHINE IN CANADA’S CAPITAL
For just the second time in franchise history, the Predators sent two players to the NHL All-Star Game, held this year at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Captain Shea Weber became the first Predator to appear in three consecutive All-Star games, while defensive partner Ryan Suter joined the All-Star festivities for the first time. Nashville’s dynamic duo was joined by first-year forward Craig Smith, who participated in the rookie portion of the weekend.
The weekend began as Weber and Suter were taken with back-to-back picks in the eighth and ninth rounds of the Fantasy Draft on Thursday night. Weber was joined on Team Alfredsson by Smith, while Suter represented Team Chara. In Saturday’s NHL All-Star Skills Competition, Weber took the ice in the Hardest Shot Competition for the third year. Weber would post the second-hardest shot, and a personal best, of 106.0 mph. Suter helped Team Chara win the Accuracy Shooting contest as he fed passes to the team’s shooters. Smith dazzled in the puck control section of Skills Challenge Relay as Team Alfredsson won the overall competition.
In Sunday’s game, Suter and Team Chara topped Weber and Team Alfredsson, 12-9, in the All-Star Game. Suter posted an assist on Marian Goborik’s second goal in the opening frame, becoming just the third Predators to register a point in the All-Star showcase – Weber and Jason Arnott are the others. Weber led all skaters in ice time with 22:12 and tied for the Team Alfedsson lead with a plus-two rating. A year ago, Weber tied an All-Star record for assists by a defenseman with four playing along side future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.