AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
The Predators got a rude awakening last night against the L.A. Kings. An abyssmal third period saw the Predators flake out on multiple occasion and the Kings took full advantage to win 4-2.
The Anaheim Ducks know exactly how this feels as the Kings blanked them on Thursday night by a score of 4-0. The Ducks playoff chances are slim to none so they are looking to play spoiler the rest of the way. Nashville is so close to Detroit to take over the 4th spot, but every time seems to let the all important two points slip away.
Game time is at 7:00 P.M. Central.
This Year’s Series: 3-0-0 Home: 2-0-0 Away: 1-0-0
Looking at the Ducks: An awe-inspiring push last season got the Ducks all the way to 4th in the Western Conference and the Nashville Predators as their first-round opponent. No such luck of that this season as the Ducks have not played consistent hockey and look to be mathematically out of the playoff mix barring something miraculous.
Teemu Selanne is still kicking as the Ducks #1 scorer with 62 points. Leading in goals, of course, is the Rocket Richard trophy winner of last season Corey Perry with 32 goals. The biggest struggle for the Ducks has been defense and goaltending. Hiller, since his bout with vertigo, hasn’t been the All-Star goalie that he was a few seasons ago and backups like former Predator Dan Ellis and Jeff Deslauriers are at best unreliable.
Looking at the Predators: They still stand at 5th in the Western Conference and have Chicago breathing down their neck for that spot. The Wings got one point out of their game last night to go up two points on the Predators. Nashville got rocked in the Kings game due to sloppy play, most of it very inexcusable stuff.
Jordin Tootoo has been on a bit of a slump lately. He has zero points in his last seven games and is a combined -5 in those contests (-2 last night against the Kings). Having Colin Wilson scratched last night was a head-scratcher and if Trotz doesn’t scratch Tootoo soon, it’ll be to the detriment of the team.
For the Ducks to win: Apparently the league has figured out a way to beat Pekka Rinne. Screening him. The Ducks have big bodied forwards that can do just that and with smaller guys like Perryand Selanne firing salvos at Rinne with Getzlaf in front will make the Predators night miserable.
A strong forecheck will also frustrate and confuse the Nashville Predators. Earlier in the season, the Boston Bruins played this system perfectly and the Ducks have speed and skill to use for this very reason. If they press the issue and tire the Predators in their own zone, its a matter of time before the Ducks could jump out to an early lead, especially with the Predators playing a game the night before.
For the Predators to win: Put the L.A. game behind them. L.A. has had the Predators number all season (think last year’s Calgary Flames). The Predators need to use short shifts and roll all four lines to alleviate the physical stress of playing the night before.
With Rinne playing last night, look for Anders Lindback to get the start tonight and the Predators defense to start playing better in front of him. All too many times the Predators have left Lindback out to dry this season and his record shows it. Lindback can make the game-saving moves similar to Rinne, but without the defense clearing the crease or muscling players off the puck in the corner and out of the defensive zone, Lindback can only do so much.
Speaking of stepping up their game, Suter looked something awful last night as well. He needs to find that competitive edge to his game like he had going into the playoffs last season. It was good to see Klein back even though he got taken advantage of on that flip out breakaway. Klein gives Nashville a huge shot blocking ability and some size compared to Hillen or Bouillon.
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Stay HardCore, friends