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Predatorial Pregame Warmup: October 7th, 2013


Oct 8, 2013

Written by: Kristopher Martel


Last updated: October 8, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Tonight, Nashville and Minnesota drop the puck in the Predators home opener at Bridgestone Arena…

UPDATE: Nick Spaling is out, Filip Forsberg is in, and Backstrom to start for the Wild


Nashville Predators (0-2-0) vs Minnesota Wild (0-0-2)
Gametime: 7:00pm CT / 8:00pm ET
Television: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: 102.5 The Game



Nashville Predators - Viktor Stalberg (shoulder), Roman Josi (concussion), Nick Spaling (upper body)

Minnesota Wild - Charlie Coyle (knee), Mike Rupp (lower body)

Projected Goaltending Matchup

Pekka Rinne, 0-2-0, 0 SO, 0.878Sv%, 4.35GAA


Niklas Backstrom, 0-0-2, 0 SO, 0.875Sv%, 2.77GAA

Keep an eye on...

Nashville Predators -

With Predators mainstay defenseman Roman Josi sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, Ryan Ellis is going to find himself with yet another chance to prove himself to Nashville’s coaching staff. It’s completely unfair for any to say that Ellis is a busted prospect, however he hasn’t lived up to his potential as of yet. Under the current set of circumstances for the Predators, it may not be the best way for Ellis to get his start either.

Ryan Ellis now has the third-highest games played among active defenseman on the Predators roster. How many? 64. Excluding both Shea Weber and Kevin Klein, Nashville’s defenseman have played in a total of 97 career NHL games. Weber and Klein have combined for 880, a little over nine times that many.

A strong performance by Ellis, in most likely limited minutes with Mattias Ekholm, will be very beneficial to a young, inexperienced Predators blue line.

Minnesota Wild -

The offensive half of Minnesota’s $196 million duo, Zach Parise’s two goals lead the Minnesota Wild in goals and tie for the team lead in points, but will he be able to keep the pace coming off a missed practice due to illness? Parise flew to Nashville yesterday and is expected to slide into the lineup tonight against the Predators, but only time will tell if there are any residual aftereffects of his minor bout of sickness.

Parise is averaging 22:21 of ice time and 14 shots in Minnesota’s first two games of the year. If he’s playing through an illness tomorrow night, he likely won’t see the same amount of either statistic, however a Parise battling an illness is still stronger offensively than most players.

Main Storylines

Nashville Predators -

The Predators haven’t looked as bad as their record shows two games into the 2013-2014 regular season, however the fact remains that Nashville has opened with two straight losses. While they had opportunities and plays to turn the momentum in their favor in each outing, the Predators just haven’t found the winning formula yet coming into Tuesday’s home opener against the Wild.

Nashville isn’t above the top 15 in the NHL for shots per game, however they have shown significant strides to being a better shooting team than in years past, rifling 30 shots against the Blues on Thursday and 26 against the Avalanche on Friday. Special teams were a bit of an issue Thursday night against the Blues as Nashville didn’t connect on any of their four powerplays and went two of four on the penalty kill. Defensively, their penalty kill was much improved Friday night, stopping all five Colorado chances. However, the powerplay has still failed to cash in on the seven opportunities the Predators have had this season.

Gold-clad fans coming into Bridgestone Arena tomorrow evening are going to do everything they can to push the Predators emotionally to their first win of the season, however Nashville is going to have to dig deep to overcome early season injuries to star free agent pickup Viktor Stalberg and steady defenseman Roman Josi and find offense in a seemingly offensively challenged lineup.

Minnesota Wild -

Two games, one shootout loss, one overtime loss. While the Wild have two points on the season, none of them have come in any type of satisfying way. Neither loss coming against Central Division opponents, Minnesota has been able to force shots at net, find goals when they need them, but not close the book on a win early in this season.

Three of Minnesota’s five goals on the season have come from powerplay markers, which may not bode well for the Nashville Predators. Yet, with the Wild out-shooting their opponents in both of their opening games, producing quality chances in front of Nashville’s net shouldn’t be a problem for them.

The only real question for the Minnesota Wild for tomorrow evening is who their starting goaltender will be. Coach Mike Yeo has decided not to reveal their starter yet, which could bode well for Josh Harding, who went 1-1-1 against Nashville last season.

Last time out...

On March 9th, Minnesota knocked off Nashville 2-1 in a shoot-out at Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators were coming off a 6-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers the night before.

Swapping goals in the second and third period, both teams would go scoreless in overtime before former-Wild and now-Predator Matt Cullen scored the game winner past Pekka Rinne to give Minnesota the all-important second point.

Nashville would win their next game 4-0 against the Dallas Stars, but would drop the next four after that by a combined score of 20-12.

One interesting fact...

Ryan Suter has three assists in three games against the Nashville Predators since leaving the team that drafted him last offseason for the Minnesota Wild. In his only visit to Bridgestone Arena last season, Suter registered one assists, had two shots on goal, an played nearly 30 minutes that night (28:59)


Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua