Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America
The Predators complete the back-to-back turn tonight at MSG against the New York Rangers. The Predators dominated the first period in their win against the NY Islanders and came away with a 3-1 victory and extending the win streak to five.
The Rangers are on a tear winning 6 out of the last 8 but only 1-2-0 in the last three games. Their last loss came on January 15th against a sub-par Montreal team and their backup goalie Peter Budaj.
Can the Predators play under the microscope of nationwide coverage and continue the streak? Game time is at 6:30 central on NBC Sports Channel.
This Year’s Series: N/A
Looking at the Rangers: Simply put, the Rangers are a dangerous team with top notch talent in all aspects of their game. Offensive skills: look to none other than Gaborik, Richards, Callahan and Stepan. On the defensive side, the Rangers have great two-way play from Del Zotto, McDonagh and Girardi (voted to his first All-Star appearance).
And the netminder is one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL…Henrik Lundqvist whose GAA and SV% is among the top in the league. The Rangers are still tops in the Eastern Conference with 60 points and are tied with St. Louis and Chicago for the NHL lead.
Looking at the Predators: It starts with contributions from everybody. Three different lines scored for the Predators in yesterday’s win. The best and most unlikely contributor this season for Nashville has been Matt Halischuk.
On the fourth line, he has produced 14 points, 10 of which are goals which puts him in the top five on the Predators. Not bad considering Halischuk was an afterthought to the trading of Jason Arnott.
One would think that Rinne would get the night off tonight, but these are two much needed points against a top-flight team in the Rangers. Expect Trotz to go with the hot hand of Rinne but have Lindback ready in case the Rangers light it up early on in the contest.
For the Rangers to win: Play from the goalie forward. The Rangers need to rely on their defense and goaltending to stop Nashville from jumping out early like they did against the Islanders.
Staying out of the penalty box is another key to the Rangers getting the W. Although Nashville didn’t score on their one PP against the Islanders, allowing Nashville more PP opportunities can be deadly with their man-advantage ranked 2nd in the NHL.
For the Predators to win: Conserve energy. With Ryan Suter doubtful for tonight’s game, it is imperative for the Predators to use short shifts and roll all four lines to keep up with the Rangers. Back-to-back games are tough and many teams get out-hustled towards the end of the game. With the spotlight of national coverage to boot, the Predators are in for a long night.
If Rinne is starting, the defensive units have to clear the crease and give him room to track the puck. They need to limit the amount of shots on Rinne while pushing the puck out of the defensive zone. If Nashville’s defense can step up and keep the pressure in the opposing zone, the Predators have a great chance of stealing two points from a stellar Eastern Conference squad.
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