Originally written October 12, 2011 on Inside Smashville:
Phoenix Coyotes 0-1-1 Nashville Predators 2-0-0 The Nashville Predators play their home opener Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena when they host the Phoenix Coyotes. Nashville is undefeated, winning both of their road games last weekend against divisional rivals Columbus and St. Louis. Phoenix has not found the win column yet this season and will be looking for their first victory of the season at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has been an unwelcoming host to the Desert Dogs, with the Predators holding a 10-2-(1)-1record at home against the Coyotes since the start of the 2003-04 season. Special teams have clicked exceptionally well for the Predators over the opening weekend, killing off 9 of 10 penalties and scoring 3 power play goals in 7 man advantages. At 42.9% success rate, the Predators power play is ranked second in the League through the opening week’s games. All eyes will be on rookie Craig Smith when he makes his home debut Thursday night. With goals in his first two career NHL games, the former University of Wisconsin Badger, along with veteran David Legwand, is leading the Predators offense. Smith has two goals and two assists on the season, while Legwand tied a career high on Saturday night by recording four points in Nashville’s 4-2 win over the Blues. It was the first time a Nashville player recorded four points in one game since Jason Arnott did against Colorado on February 4, 2010. While focus has been on the offense of the Predators in their first two games, the performance of goaltender Pekka Rinne should not be overlooked. The Vezina Trophy runner-up was named the game’s first star both Friday and Saturday nights. Rinne finished the weekend with a .940 save percentage as well as a 2.00 goals against average, all while battling the flu. Rinne will hit the 100-win mark with three more victories. The Predators’ early season injuries continue to pile up. While Francis Bouillon and Mike Fisher continue to be sidelined, Josh Cooper of The Tennessean reports that Martin Erat did not practice on Wednesday, making it more likely that he will again sit out Thursday night. All fans in attendance will receive an opening night t-shirt. The Predators festivities begin with the players walking a gold carpet at 4 pm out on the plaza outside the Arena. The party on the plaza will continue with music and concessions until game time at 7 pm. If you can’t get tickets for Thursday’s contest, the Predators host New Jersey on Saturday night before heading to Western Canada at the start of next week.  
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