Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America
Two nights ago, Nashville was handled easily by the Phoenix Coyotes in the Predators own home opener. Tonight, they try to exact a measure of revenge against, as the radio has put it lately, “perennial Eastern Conference contender” the New Jersey Devils. Gametime is at 7pm tonight and you can see the action at the good ol’ tire barn (Bridgestone Arena) or by listening on 102.5 The Game
Last Year’s Series: 1-0 (0-0 Home, 1-0 Away)
Last Season’s Video Recaps:
Game 1: December 17th, 2010:
Looking at the Devils: After an opening night flop against the Philadelphia Flyers where they lost 3-0, the Devils have since rattled off two straight wins against two good teams, both coming (for the most part) without the aid of Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. New Jersey knocked off Carolina 4-2 this past Monday and Los Angeles 2-1 in a shoot-out on Thursday which saw Brodeur falling to injury early in the contest.
The Devils are trying really hard to forget about the early months last season in which they slipped all the way to last in the entire NHL, until they scraped and fought and battled back and finished 11th in the Eastern Conference (which is amazing, might I add) and 24th overall in the league.
A good offseason from the Devils and steady play for the first few games bodes well for them early, but how are they going to come out against a pissed off Nashville team who thoroughly had their tails handed to them on a platter Thursday night against the Coyotes?
Looking at the Predators: Oof, wow was Thursday night a stinker or what? Yeah, you could say that, or you could look at the bright side and think that it’s best the Predators get that out of their system right now instead of down the home stretch come April. Reading yesterday’s article about some of the fans, you would have thought they just lost the game 10-0, however it’s time to take all of that doom and gloom and channel some positive energy.
The Predators were taken care of Thursday night against the Coyotes 5-2 in what was a seriously one-sided battle. Prior to that Nashville had come in 2-0-0 and taken care of two divisional opponents on the road to get there, which is a pretty stout task. However, the injury bug is striking early with the Predators, seeing Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist jumping onto the shelf with fellow teammates Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon.
After seeing the results from Thursday night, I would expect an…EARLY…start from the Predators tonight, however…the last time Nashville started 2-0-0 and lost a game that stretch continued for 6 straight…and they did that two years in a row. Can they buck that trend tonight?
For the Devils to win: New Jersey needs strong goaltending from backup Johan Hedberg for a real chance to win tonight. Hedburg did the job against Carolina on Monday and came in relief of Brodeur on Thursday for the win as well, so he has proven he is up to the task, however can Hedburg find an answer for an enigmatic team such as the Predators. With all of the current changes going on for Nashville, if Hedburg lets one or two “oopsies” get past him, the Devils may be in store for a long night
For the Predators to win: Forget about Thursday night and “move along home”. You can’t sit and dwell on a 5-2 loss and no one knows that more than professional sports players. Nashville will have to get all-around better work from their 5-on-5 play (as I mentioned last game), and they HAVE to give Pekka Rinne better protection up front. Too many times Thursday was he be unnecessarily screened which led to at least 2 of the Coyotes goals.
Get to work when playing at even strength, get the trash out of Rinne’s vision, and score some early goals. Those are your Predatorial 3 Keys of the Game, HAHA!
That being said, no more predictions from here on out. I’m 95% wrong most of the time, so I’m going to quit predicting! HA! Past that, if you like what I have listed out here or if you have any questions/comments/concerns, feel free to let me know at kris...@thepredatorial.com
Stay frosty, friends