Go West Young Men: Preds kick off road trip in Phoenix…
The Nashville Predators begin a 4 game West Coast road trip tonight in Phoenix against a desperate Coyotes team, which is 3 points off the pace pace in the Pacific Division. This will be the 4th & final matchup of the season between the teams with previous results: 10/13 Phx 5 @ Nsh 2, 11/3 Nsh 3 @ Phx 0, 12/6 Phx 3 @ Nsh 2.
The Coyotes are coming into the game after a 3-0 victory over San Jose that saw a 42 save performance by G Mike Smith. Head Coach Dave Tippett always has his team ready to play & The Preds will face tough competition in the desert tonight. The key to this game as with every game is to get off to a fast start & gain a lead early. When Phoenix plays at home with a lead, they are very difficult to compete against & will back up to prevent any entry into their defensive zone. This puts major pressure on the forecheck to be able to free up pucks & start the offense from there (Preds mainly do this anyway).
This should be a great game & more than likely a low scoring one. Look for the Preds to continue to rotate healthy scratches amongst the forward corps (unless you are a veteran) as they are all listed as uninjured. This is also a good time to do some team building on the road & work out some minor details on the ice to prepare for the playoffs. Nashville next travels to San Jose & will have a couple days to practice before 3 games in 4 nights.
D Kevin Klein has missed the last 5 games & is questionable for the 4 game west coast road trip this week due to an upper body injury.
The bottom line:
-The Nashville Predators are 40-21-7 (87 Pts) with 14 games remaining and sit 3rd in The Central Division, 10 Pts behind St Louis (12 GR) & 4 Pts behind Detroit (13 GR).
-In the Western Conference The Predators are in 5th, 4 Pts behind Detroit (13 GR) with the chase pack: 6 Chicago (82 PTS 12 GR), 7 Phoenix (78 13 GR), 8 Calgary (76 13 GR) & 9 LA (76 13 GR).
-The Predators now begin a 4 game road trip: Tonight @ Phoenix 9 CT, Thurs @ San Jose 9:30 CT, Sat @ LA 9:30 CT, Sun @ Anaheim 7 CT.
-The Predators are 3-2-0 since Andrei Kostitsyn & Paul Gaustad joined the team.
-F Patric Hornqvist leads the team in Goals with 21 & now has 3 consecutive 20 goal seasons.
-F Martin Erat leads the team in Assists with 33 & Points with 49.
-F Jordin Tootoo leads the team with 85 PiM’s, Brian McGrattan has 61 PiM’s & 6 Fighting Majors (all at home).
-G Pekka Rinne leads the NHL in wins with 38.
Leg-watch 500- With 3 Assists Vs Detroit on Saturday, David Legwand now has 492 points in his career (184G 308 A) with the Predators.
Caffeine week begins,