AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
After a another shocking come from behind win for the Nashville Predators against Columbus, the Predators are back on the road for the finale of a back-to-back home and away against the Dallas Stars.
The Stars had a very fast start to the year but have cooled off leaving them at 8th in the Western Conference: one point behind the Nashville Predators.
Can the Predators carry the momentum of last night’s heroic comeback into Dallas, or can the combination of Michael Ryder and Richard Bachman be too much for the Predators to handle?
Looking at the Stars: Even with the loss of high powered offense like Brad Richards and James Neal, Dallas has still found a way to elevate their talent pool. The off-season addition of Michael Ryder has proved to be the find of the summer as he has tallied a team leading 12 goals on the year.
With Kari Lehtonen succumbing to injury, it has been on the shoulders of Raycroft and Bachman to take up the slack. Raycroft has been sub-par with a record of 2-7-0 whereas Bachman has been chugging along at 4-2-0 with one shutout. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson are leading the Stars in points with 29 and 28 respectively.
Looking at the Predators: After getting manhandled by the Washington Capitals and a stupid penalty by McGrattan in the first period turned into 3 unanswered goals on the ensuing PP, it looked as if the Predators would go quietly into the Nashville night without two points…but then it happened….again.
Almost everybody on Nashville contributed to the gutsy come-from-behind win including Roman Josi who fired a cannon from a pass by Bouillion to make the score 5-4. Josi is playing very well and aside from some minor mistakes, it looks as if he’ll stay on the roster for a while. However, Jonathan Blum keeps getting caught in the defensive zone and making bad plays. Hopefully Kevin Klein will be recovering from his flu very soon so Blum can get more conditioning back in Milwaukee.
For the Stars to win: Ride the hot goaltender in Bachman and feed it to Ryder/Eriksson/Benn. From the get-go Dallas needs to take advantage of the emotional win for the Predators the night before and out-hustle Nashville. If Dallas can take an early lead and shut down defensively, they may have a chance for the W.
Ryder is so smooth when he plays. It almost looks like he is loafing on the ice but he just casually cuts through defenses and gets to the scoring areas of the ice. The Predators defensive 6 will have their hands full with the firepower on Dallas, especially Weber and Suter.
For the Predators to win: Use the emotion of last night’s win to maintain the intensity on a back-to-back trip. The Predators used their entire lineup in the win last night having 6 different scorers (Fisher-Spaling-Legwand-Josi-Hornqvist-Erat). The experiment of breaking up Weber and Suter was short-lived, thankfully, and it helped the Predators last night when they really needed it.
The Predators also have to force the Stars to take penalties. The Predators are 2nd in the NHL on the power play and the efforts of Lane Lambert and the huge strides the PP has taken this year have been remarkable. Keeping Dallas a man short will be the key to winning what will be an exhausting game for the Predators after such an emotionally and physically charged game the night before.
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Stay HardCore, friends