Originally posted on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 1/31/12

Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

It has been a back and forth affair between the Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators. Each have a win over the other, but Minnesota holds the edge in points since their loss was in a shootout making them 1-0-1 against Nashville. Both games were very close and aside from an uncharacteristic blunder by Rinne in the first game that saw Clutterbuck score the game-winning shorthander, that game would have probably gone to overtime also.

In what should be another goaltending duel with stingy defense, expect the match-up in Minny to go the same as the last two meetings. Can the Predators stay hot even after the break? Can Minnesota continue to “claw” their way into contention? Game time is 7 P.M. Central.

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

Looking at the Wild: The Wild find themselves 8th in the West with 55 points. Minnesota is lead by their off-season acquisition Dany Heatley with 34 points (who also leads in goals with 15). The Wild are built like the Predators in many ways where many different people contribute to their success. The range of forwards they carry is a working man’s group with players like Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Cullen and Kyle Brodziak providing the depth scoring needed for the Wild to roll out four solid lines (sound familiar?).

The goaltending in Minnesota has been consistent and each goalie has a winning record. Backstrom has taken the yeoman’s work with 30 games played with a GAA of 2.43 and a SV% of .921. Amazingly, Backstrom has 2 assists on the year, something that goalies rarely get.

Looking at the Predators: The Predators were on fire going into the All-Star break. Many are hoping that the lay-off was a great rest and the Predators will get right back into their winning ways tonight. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter participated in the All-Star game and should be game ready. It is up to the rest off the team and especially the veterans to lead by example and get the train rolling again.

Pekka Rinne, who many think was snubbed by the All-Star selections has been one of the best goaltenders since December and earned the Second Star of the Week by the NHL for his performance before the All-Star break.

For the Wild to win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Since the entire Wild team was a no-show on the All-Star roster (aside from rookie Nick Johnson), they must play like they deserved to have a couple players from their squad representing the league’s best. Starting with team leader Heatley, players like Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi can be dangerous and need to be put to use in this manner.

Backstrom will more than likely get the start tonight and should show well against his Scandinavian counterpart. The defense for Minnesota needs to be held accountable. Only three players hold a positive plus/minus rating on D (Justin Falk/Clayton Stoner/Jared Spurgeon) and Stoner is known to be the enforcer for Minnesota so Zidlicky and Scandella have to start clearing the crease and clogging the corners to frustrate Nashville’s offense.

For the Predators to win: Knock the rust off early. By doing this, Nashville can set the tempo of the game with some hard hits and aggressive play to overwhelm the Wild and take an early lead. With four lines rolling, Trotz can wither down the Wild defense, which is sketchy, and lure them into taking a penalty which Nashville has been happy to oblige with a timely goal or two.

Weber and Suter have been skating all weekend (although I wouldn’t call the All-Star game a workout by any means) and the rest of the team has been using the time to heal any bumps and bruises and take a well-deserved rest. Look for Fisher and Hornqvist to continue their play and the 3rd and 4th lines of Nashville to keep contributing to the cause. If Nashville can get back to winning more of the faceoffs, the Predators have a chance to take control and put this game out of reach of the one-goal affair fans have grown accustomed to this season.


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

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Adrien Broner uses Bruce Jenner zinger after win

ESPN explains reason for Dabo Swinney interview error

Brian Kelly: Kizer made right call on 2-point play

Jim Mora calls UCLA's upcoming schedule 'a complete injustice'

Tommy Tuberville returned to Auburn, lined up at Tiger Walk

WATCH: Arizona State pushes pile 20 yards on TD run


Jim McElwain still won't name Will Grier Florida's starter

Steve Smith has microfractures in back, out for Week 5

Cowboys want Brandon Weeden to attempt longer passes

Nebraska captain tells crowd 'I'm sorry we suck'

Report: Dolphins could fire some coaches if team loses to Jets

Georgia fans get #FireRicht trending on Twitter

Cormier tops Gustafsson at UFC 192

Robert Smith wants Braxton Miller back at QB

WATCH: Clemson, Swinney have locker room dance party

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

WATCH: Dabo Swinney interview awkwardly cut off

Ohio St. LB Darron Lee has message for fans after close win

WATCH: Swedish league player unties opponent's skates

Max Scherzer throws second no-hitter of the season

Ezekiel Elliott jokes he owes his OL a steak dinner

Mike Riley explains questionable pass play on third down

Torey Lovullo would be 'honored' by managerial offers

WATCH: Ohio State stops Indiana on 4th down to win game

McIlroy: Spieth, Day have made me hungry again

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 takeaways from Week 5 of the college football season

Rick Pitino and the shadows that never leave

Chad Johnson ... Steelers kicker?

Flacco deserves more from the Ravens

Time for Neymar's Barcelona

Seth Rollins, WWE depth, Divas and winning

Madison Keys and the future of women’s tennis

Most underrated games in NFL Week 4

What to watch in CFB Week 5

Starter strategies for final, tie-breaker and wild card games

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker