Found January 05, 2012 on The Predatorial:

Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

The game every Nashville fan has circled on their calender since December 23rd; a game that saw Nashville lose their captain to a questionable hit by Fistric. Shea Weber has been on the shelf with a concussion since that hit, but Nashville has still found a way to go 3-1-0.

The Dallas Stars have gone 1-3-0 since that win and have fallen out of the Western Conference playoff race to 10th in the standings.

Both teams are hungry for a win, Dallas to get the ball rolling in the right direction, Nashville to give the home crowd an added bonus for selling out 6 consecutive games in a row.

This Year’s Series: 0-1-0 (0-0-0 Home, 0-1-0 Away)

Looking at the Stars: The Stars finally have Kari Lehtonen back in net, but have gone 1-2-0 in his last three starts. Lehtonen has a 2.48 GAA and a .920 SV% and 14 wins on the season. If Lehtonen can start heating up, look for the Dallas Stars to start making waves in the Pacific and challenging for a playoff spot.

The offense of the Dallas Stars is daunting. Michael Ryder is velvety smooth with or without the puck and always seems to find the right place to be to knock a puck home. He currently leads the Stars with 17 goals followed by Eriksson with 14 and a surprising Eric Nystrom with 12. Nystrom at a $1.4M cap hit is playing at a much better pace than any season so far, only 5 points away from his season high point total.

Looking at the Predators: Sergei Kostitsyn has hopefully learned that shooting the puck is a good thing. Against the Calgary Flames, Kostitsyn earned his first NHL hat trick on 3 shots. What should have been a goaltender duel turned out to be a shooting gallery that ended with Nashville victorious 5-3.

The fifth straight sellout is helping Nashville get the much needed revenue to hopefully sign Suter and Weber. Although the Thursday night game still has remaining tickets, the walk-up business being a college night should be strong enough to pack the 17,113 in there for a 6th straight sellout.

For the Stars to win: The Stars will have to jump all over the Predators from the drop of the puck with the high-flying offense they have served to every team this year. Another way to take Nashville off their game is to goad the Predators into unnecessary penalties. It will be a chippy game to say the least and the Predators will be looking to exact some justice for losing their captain on December 23rd.

Lehtonen has to start being the goalie that Dallas needs him to be down the stretch. Raycroft and Bachman have done decent in his absence, but for Dallas to start turning the season around, they will need the experience and game-stealing glove of Lehtonen.

For the Predators to win: It has been noted ad nauseum that the Predators need to shoot the puck. Nowhere is this more apparent than one Sergei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn picks his moments to be sure, but he has an uncanny knack for finding the twine. His slick wrister through the wickets of Kiprusoff instead of passing to the trailing winger is a prime example of why he needs to put shots on goal at the same clip as Craig Smith.

Rinne is back to his old ways (possibly due to the equipment change) and stealing games for Nashville especially in the shootouts.

Guess who is second on the Predators in goals? Yep Hornqvist…and also MATT HALISCHUK. As an afterthought to the Arnott trade, Halischuk has been producing from the fourth line and causing havoc for other teams to plan against the Predators. Trotz should use full advantage of this and run four line all night to not only wear down the opponent, but he now has an offensive presence on each of the four lines.

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If you like what I have listed out here or if you have any questions/comments/concerns, feel free to let me know on Twitter…@Preducated
Stay HardCore, friends

THE BACKYARD
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