In the immortal words of Tiny Toon Adventures..”Say it ain’t so Plucky.” This will be the return of Jordin Tootoo to Bridgestone Arena after signing a contract with the hated Winged Wheel of Detroit. There will be mixed feelings about his return from adulation for a job well done with his time in Blue and Gold and consternation from those seething fans who feel betrayed by where Jordin Tootoo chose to sign.
Either way, the Predators and Red Wings are in desperate need of two points. The Predators have dropped their last two games (0-1-1) and the Red Wings going 0-2-1 should make for an exciting Tuesday night game with a sub-story of a returning fan favorite that is wearing enemy colors.
Puck drop is at 7 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game with Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson and viewed locally on FS Tennessee with Pete Weber and Terry Crisp.
The Predators received some offensive help with the return of Patric Hornqvist to the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2 P.M. matinee tilt on President’s day. Hornqvist picked up an assist in the game and lead the Predators with an astounding 12 shots on goal, more than doubling up the next Predator, Mike Fisher, with 5 SOG. Mason was uncharacteristically out-of-sorts against Colorado giving up a couple of sure-fire stops and the controversial non-offsides call (which the league stated was not called correctly) forced Nashville to try and battle back from being down 6-3 at one point to a finish off the game 6-5 in the Avs favor.
The Red Wings still have some of the best offensive weapons in the game with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg exploding for 16 and 20 points. Tootoo leads the Red Wings with 32 PIM but surprising has only 1 more PIM than Johan Franzen and two more Red Wings have 22 PIM each (Kronwall and Cleary). Although Jimmy Howard’s record of 6-5-2 is above average, his GAA (2.97) and SV% (.900) is not up to where the Red Wings need him to be.
The expected lineup for the Predators:
For the Red Wings to win: Try to take the crowd out early. Bridgestone Arena will likely be sold out and the standing-room-only crowd will be louder than ever with the return of Jordin Tootoo and the first meeting since the Predators ousted the Red Wings last year in the playoffs. Valterri Filppula is a bona-fide thorn in the Predators hide and he is due to start scoring and cracking the top five in points for the Red Wings.
Damien Brunner has been a surprise at the center position and currently is third in scoring for the Wings. Jimmy Howard will be the difference in this game as the Red Wing defense with the losses of Stuart and Lidstrom have given Howard very little wiggle room for error.
For the Predators to win: The defense has to give the goalie some help. The influx of goals against Colorado was a welcome sign and the 38 SOG with Hornqvist coming right back and making his presence known with 12 shots is exactly the kind of offensive output that the Predators need in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Unfortunaly, with the addition of Hornqvist into the lineup against Colorado, the Predators lost Paul Gaustad for most of the Avalanche game and is doubtful for the Red Wings tilt.
Gaustad is one of the elite on the face-off dot and his absence was felt throughout the lineup of pivot-men yesterday afternoon. Without a top center winning the key offensive/defensive draws and maintaining possession with a great penalty-kill like Gaustad, the Predators core will have to pick up the slack and bail out Rinne whenever possible. With Mason being pulled after allowing 6 goals, Rinne had to finish out the game and will immediately have to get back to game form against the Red Wings without much of a breather.