It’s a rare meeting between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators when it’s not in pre-season. The Predators bested Carolina on January 7th by a score of 5-2 with an astounding 4 PP goals. Ryan Ellis also scored his first NHL goal in the game.
While the Predators are seated solely in 5th place of the Western Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes are mired in the basement, but interestingly enough, not technically out of playoff contention being only 9 points out of 8th place.
This has trap written all over it but the Predators have some new faces that should help immediately and establish plenty of chemistry before going into the playoffs. Game time is 6 P.M. tonight and you can catch all the action on 102.5 The Game (Radio) or FS Tennessee (T.V.).
This Year’s Series: 1-0-0 Home (1-0-0) Away (0-0-0)
Looking at the Hurricanes: Aside from superstar Eric Staal and rookie sensation Jeff Skinner, Carolina boasts some of the most underrated talent in the NHL. Players like Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu, Chad LaRose, Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty are the backbone of what should have been a great NHL team this year.
The real downside has been a lack of defense throughout the season where said superstar Eric Staal is a -15. Jiri Tlusty and Tim Gleason lead the team with a +6 rating.
Looking at the Predators: Sloppy play and too much time in their own zone might have cost the Predators a victory against a very hungry L.A. squad, but the hockey gods favored the Gold and Blue to a tune of 2-1 over the Kings.
Hal Gill was everywhere on the ice and huge props to Jack Hillen (who has been a mainstay in the press box as of late) saving a sure goal by diving in front of the open net to block the shot. It was the Bridgestone Performance of the Night.
Pekka Rinne saved many an attempt last night and bailed out the Predators as he has done for much of the year. While the Predators were playing to hang on, Rinne was aggressive and only a pinball wizard shot from Dustin Brown spoiled his shutout of a very offensively-gifted team.
For the Hurricanes to win: Take advantage that Nashville played the night before. If the Canes can forecheck and drive the Predators to play on their heels they might have a chance to play spoiler on the last game of the “Murderer’s Row” tour.
Look for Eric Staal’s line to get the most attention so aforementioned players like Ruutu, LaRose and Tlusty can break out and score by committee. Peters will be in net tonight so he has to bring his A game to stop the Predators and their newly acquired point producers.
For the Predators to win: As always in the second game of a back-to-back, use short shifts. Roll all four lines and with the addition of fresh bodies like Gaustad and A. Kostitsyn, the Predators will be looking to build chemistry and start firing pucks from each offensive line.
Since Rinne started last night, Anders Lindback will be in net tonight and will have to stand tall between the pipes for a win. Lindback hasn’t started a game since February 2nd where he got shelled by Philadelphia. If Lindback can jump in and take the reigns, Nashville may complete February almost as strong as they finished January and comfortably in control of their playoff hopes.
If you like what I have listed out here or if you have any questions/comments/concerns, feel free to let me know on Twitter…@Preducated
Stay HardCore, friends