Nashville heads into the sunny skies of Anaheim tonight to face off against the Anaheim Ducks in the third game of their season long 7-game road trip.
The Predators dropped their previous outing to the St. Louis Blues in a disappointing 3-0 decision which saw Nashville only record an abysmal 14 shots on net against a stifling Blues defense with newly acquired veteran Wade Redden.
Nashville will head into this contest winners of the past 6 regular season games against Anaheim, having not lost a regular season game in Anaheim since November 7th, 2010. From the 2008-2009 season on, the Predators have gone 11-3-2 against the Ducks, including knocking them out in the first round in 2011 4 games to 2.
Looking at the Predators/Anaheim matchup historically…
Most goals forced by Nashville: 5 (happened twice, last on 3/24/11: a 5-4 win)
Most goals allowed by Nsahville: 5 (happened once, last on 4/7/00: a 5-1 loss)
Last Five/Ten Games of the Series for Nashville: 5-0-0 / 8-2-0
On March 18th, 2012… Nashville scored three third-period goals to complete its first season sweep of Anaheim at the Honda Center
On November 9th, 2011… Craig Smith notched his first career two-goal game and Martin Erat scored a shorthanded penalty shot in a 4-2 win at the Honda Center.
Hornqvist led all scoring last season against Anaheim with 2 goals and 3 assists (5 points).
Nashville’s powerplay went 3-17 (17.6%) and an amazing 9-9 on the penalty kill last season against the Ducks.
1) Nashville HAS to come out with a strong start. Force action in the Anaheim zone, put shots on net, score a goal (or two) early. Vancouver walloped Anaheim 5-0 last night and you know they will not be happy campers coming out onto the ice tonight.
2) The Predators lines are going to be shuffled for tonight’s contest…but to what extent? I figure all four lines are going to be adjusted and adjusted heavily, hopefully it will pay dividends and get Nashville back on the winning track.
3) Anaheim and Nashville don’t like each other. The Predators gained their first playoff series victory against the Ducks and have won 8 of the past 10 against them as well. Every game in the past ten has been increasingly chippy and after the way last night’s trouncing from the Canucks ended, Anaheim won’t respond well to getting blasted by the Predators.
4) Nashville’s issues haven’t been goaltending so far in this early season, it’s been more of a discombobulation of all sorts in the players and how they are responding to the early pressure of a shortened season. The Predators drop the first two in a shootout, beat the Wild, and lose to the Blues. Nashville has to produce as MANY wins as they can during this road trip (as many points as well).
5) A thought…if Nashville has trouble finishing out this road trip (Phoenix, LA, San Jose, and another St. Louis game still left), they are going to seriously find themselves in danger early in this season
Nashville NEEDS the win against Anaheim tonight, just as much as Anaheim NEEDS the win as well.
Who wants it more? We’ll find out very soon…