Location: Bridgestone Arena
Game Time: 7:00 pm Central
Radio: 102.5 The Game (WPRT-FM)
Nashville: 21-15-4 (46 points, 4th Central, 9th Western)
Carolina: 14-21-7 (35 points, 5th Southeast, 14th Eastern)
Halfway Point: Saturday night’s game marks the exact halfway point of Nashville’s 82-game season. A loss puts the Predators on pace for 92 points, while a win puts them on pace for 96. Last season, the 8th seeded team – Chicago – required 97 points to make the playoffs. Since the NHL returned from the lockout, the Western Conference has required at least 91 points each season to make the playoffs.
Muller Returns: During this past offseason, the Predators hired Kirk Muller to replace Lane Lambert as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals. After leading Milwaukee to a 10-6-1 record through 17 games, Muller left to become Carolina’s new head coach. Since Muller joined Carolina, the Hurricanes have a 6-8-3 record – an slight improvement over the 8-13-4 team that Muller took over.
All Your Coaches: Muller’s return creates a unique situation for a few Predators. With former Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert on Nashville’s bench with Barry Trotz and with Muller on Carolina’s bench, Nashville’s Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and Jeremy Smith will be suiting up against three of their former head coaches.
Spals to the Wall: The Nashville Predators are 11-0-1 all-time when Nick Spaling tallies a goal. However, Spaling has 0 career points with a -2 against the Hurricanes.
Elite Eight: Should Saturday night’s game sell out, it would be the first time in franchise history that the Predators have sold out 8 consecutive home games. The franchise established an all-time record on Thursday with its seventh consecutive sellout. During the streak, the Predators have a record of 5-2.
Scoring Droughts: Jerred Smithson has not registered a goal in his last 36 games. Craig Smith has not scored a goal in his last 14 games and has only one tally in his last 25. Colin Wilson, who has missed the last week, and Nick Spaling have not scored in their last 7. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher have not scored a goal in their last 6. David Legwand and Martin Erat have not scored a goal in their last 5. Brian McGrattan has not put a puck in the net in 25 games as a Predator and last scored 57 games ago while a member of the Calgary Flames.
Quick Notes: With an assist on Gabriel Bourque’s first career goal on Thursday night, Jordin Tootoo established a new career high in points. Tootoo, clearly having the best offensive year of his career, has 19 points (6G, 13A) as the season reaches its halfway point…Nashville is 3-2-2 against the Eastern Conference this season and 2-1-0 against the Southeast…The Predators are 6-1 all-time against the Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena.