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Game 26: Nashville @ Dallas – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


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Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

The Western Conference has turned into a complete logjam of points and with Columbus on a tear right now, only 7 points separates 4th place from 15th. Nashville and Dallas are tied at 26 points; two and three spots out of eighth place. The time for overtime/shootout losses are over and it’s time where every point counts including the one you don’t let your Western Conference opponent have.

Dallas is 2-1-0 in the early month of March. The loss of Jamie Benn, who is questionable against Nashville after an injury in the Phoenix game, is a huge loss for the Stars. Benn is tied for second on the Stars in scoring with Loui Eriksson (16 points). Jaromir Jagr continues his path to the NHL Hall of Fame by posting great numbers at age 41. He leads the Stars with 18 points and 10 goals this season picking right up where he left off from Philadelphia. His on-ice vision and uncanny positioning for scoring make him an all-out threat any time he touches the ice.

Kari Lehtonen is back in goal for the Stars and stands formidable only allowing 5 goals in the last three games. Although he struggled against Edmonton in his return from injury, the pace he is setting now will allow for Dallas to move their offensive-minded players back to what they do best: scoring goals. Bachman and Nilstorp did a decent job in Lehtonen’s absence, but Kari is known to steal games away and keep goals to a minimum, much like another Finnish netminder he’ll be playing against Tuesday night.

Nashville has been the tale of two teams. In one night, the Predators blanked the struggling Oilers 6-0 and the next night against the Minnesota Wild, all Nashville could muster was one power play goal by Legwand and another shootout loss where Pekka Rinne admitted he is struggling severely this year. In this three-point homestand, the Predators may have lost more than they gained. Patric Hornqvist, who was injured against the boards, will be out against Dallas and maybe more after suffering the dreaded upper-body injury. Against the Wild, the Predators lost their leading scorer Colin Wilson after an awkward fall left him needing help to get of the ice and not to return the rest of the game. Wilson will be re-evaluated soon but doesn’t look like he’ll be starting against the Stars.

That leaves the impetus of forging ahead and winning games on this five-game road trip primarily on the veterans and defense. Pekka Rinne has shown that he can keep Nashville in a game and allow very little in the goal department (one goal in his last 2 games). The defense, with the bolster of a fast edgy blueliner in Victor Bartley, needs to hang tight and keep the traffic and puck going out of the defensive zone while winning the neutral zone battle. Then it’ll be up to the savvy veteran forwards to step up and score some goals. Hornqvist and Wilson make up the core of the younger Predators offensive scheme going forward and the veterans in their absence have to put shots on goals and win those one-on-one battles against the boards. Erat needs to snap out of his funk (6 points, all assists in his last 16 games) and Legwand could still contribute more offensively and defensively (-5 and 3 points in his last 10 games).

Yip was activated off IR and Halischuk has been recalled. Maye another benching of Spaling to allow for Yip and Halischuk to crack the lineup again will put another fire under some of the players like Butler and Boychuk who flourished in their first game against Edmonton and not so much against the Wild. A bounce back game may be in order or some more calls to Milwaukee for Latta or Beck may be forthcoming.

Game time is at 7:30 P.M. Central time and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on FS Tennessee. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.

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