Nashville Predators 2-3-1
Calgary Flames 2-3-1
Both the Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames have had rough starts to the NHL season. With 2-3-1 records, one team will get on the right track while the other will continue to spiral down the standings.
Tied with Calgary for 9th in the Western Conference, it seems like things could actually be a lot worse for a team that has dropped its last four decisions.
On Thursday, the Predators gave up four goals in the first period and could not recover, losing 5-1 to the Canucks. Matt Halischuk scored the lone Predators goal.
Finding the back of the net has been a problem as of late for Nashville. In their last four games they have scored 2 goals twice and 1 goal twice.
The Predators have been relying too heavily on star goaltender Pekka Rinne to keep the team in games. But Rinne has never beat the Flames, though some of his games against Calgary have been close. Rinne’s numbers against the Flames have been impressive with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. In six contests, however, Rinne is 0-4-2 against Calgary, just one of three teams he has yet to record a win against (The New York Rangers and Washington are the other two teams. Rinne has never faced the Capitals).
The Flames couldn’t pick a better team to play against in their efforts to turn the season around. Nashville has gone 2-8-2 against the Flames since the start of the 2008-09 campaign. Three of the four 2010-11 games between the clubs were decided by one goal, with two of those needing extra time — but all four decisions went in Calgary’s favor.
It might be a nice time to give Rinne a break and let Anders Lindback take the reigns for the afternoon. Lindback stopped 23 of 24 shots faced in the last two periods of the game on Thursday when he went in goal in relief of Rinne at the start of the second period.
For fans looking for any sign that the Predators are about to break out of their current losing streak, Nashville has a 20-7-7 record in matinees since the start of the 2003-04 season.
Mike Fisher, Francis Bouillon and Martin Erat are all still out of the Predators lineup. Bouillon is close to returning from his concussion suffered last January. Fisher is recovering from shoulder surgery and Erat is listed as having an upper body injury.
The only NHL regular Calgary is missing is left wing Raitis Ivanans, who is out of the lineup with a concussion.
Keys to the game/Players to watch
While David Legwand and Sergei Kostitsyn had hot starts to the season, both have cooled off slightly. Of course, it is hard to score goals when you are always killing off penalties. Saturday afternoon’s one key to the game is for Nashville to play a disciplined game.
Going into Thursday night’s contest, the Predators had 60 minutes in penalties and by the end of the game the total was 90 minutes in penalties in six games.
For the second time in three games, captain Shea Weber took an additional penalty when the team was already down a man that resulted in a power play goal for the Predators opponent. On Thursday he was called for boarding Jannik Hansen on a delayed penalty call where Suter was already being assessed a minor penalty. Weber narrowly escaped suspension. The Predators need to control themselves before they can be expected to control the game.
Game time Saturday afternoon is at 3 pm CT. After the game, the Predators return to Nashville for three games in five nights at Bridgestone Arena.