Originally written on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 8/28/14

Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

The games between the Kings and the Predators this season have been amazing displays of hockey where goals are either hard to come by (Nashville’s only win: 2-1) or high scoring affairs where both teams seem intent on hanging in the game no matter how many goals have been scored.

The Predators are within one point of catching the Detroit Red Wings for 4th in the West and home ice advantage in the playoffs after getting the loser point in Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Kings are riding a 3 game win streak with victories over some stumbling teams: Chicago, Detroit and Anaheim. The Kings are only one point out of 8th place and the final playoff spot so they will be very hungry to get two points tonight. Will the Kings find an answer to Rinne and the Predator defense? Will Nashville finally usurp the Red Wings for 4th? It’ll be another late one so keep the No-Doze at the ready, puck drop is at 9:30 P.M. Central.

This Year’s Series: 1-2-0 Home: 1-1-0 Away: 0-1-0

Looking at the Kings: With heavy hitting offense like Dustin Brown, Mike Richards and the newly acquired Jeff Carter, it is Anze Kopitar that quietly leads the Kings in goals and points. Kopitar has amazing abilities to slice and dice in the neutral and offensive zones and his vision on the ice is Datsyuk-esque.

Drew Doughty and Willie Mitchell have done a great job so far this year as the Kings answer for Weber/Suter. Doughty has the hard shot and Mitchell is the responsible defenseman with great puck handling abilities. There is a bit of a drop off after the first defensive pairing but the goaltending of Jonathan Quick has been the stop gap for a lack of defensive presence. Quick maintains the 4th best GAA, 5th in SV% and 2nd in shutouts.

Looking at the Predators: A very tight game and a goaltenders duel decided Thursday night’s tilt against the San Jose Sharks. Hornqvist took the goal scoring lead for the Predators on a power play marker bringing his season total to 22. Rinne fought off many chances right in front of the net and a point blank opportunity from Martin Havlat who had just come off a 40 game absence.

In the SO loss, however, the Predators were without the services of Paul Gaustad for the last half of the third period and overtime. An awkward fall caused Gaustad to injure his wrist. No news yet on his status for the game tonight. The Predators may have the services of Kevin Klein who has been out of the lineup since February 25th.

For the Kings to win: Screening Pekka Rinne is the key. If Rinne can track the puck, he can make the same almost every time. It was the second and third efforts that the Kings scored on to win 5-4 in Nashville. Dustin Brown has been one of the prime recipients in goals for the Kings against Nashville.

The Kings have won the last three games with Quick in net. On the latter of a back-to-back, look for Bernier to start against the Predators. Bernier has been a stingy nemesis for the Predators for a few years now, and even as a back-up always seems to have the Predators number.

For the Predators to win: Get a jump on L.A. early and clamp down on defense. All too often this year the Kings have jumped out to an advantage against the Predators and Nashville has to play catch-up the whole game; rarely succeeding. The Kings play an aggressive style and the Predators could use that to draw penalties and bring forth the 2nd ranked power play in the league to do some damage.

Tootoo needs to return to his earlier season form. The Predators are known for rolling four solid lines and so far the line with Tootoo has been failing due to inconsistent play and the grave mistake of blind passes, primarily perpetrated by Tootoo. If he can resurrect some of the earlier season magic (o points in last 6 games) look for the team to get the added spark that Tootoo’s play can bring.

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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

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