What a difference a week can make in the look of two teams. The Nashville Predators (26-15-3) will face the Anaheim Ducks (18-19-7) exactly one week to the minute later at the Sommet Center when the puck drops at 7 p.m. tonight.
Last Saturday, the Predators caught the Ducks on a night when their top point producer, Ryan Getzlaf was out of the lineup and the Preds won 3-1 behind Jason Arnott's game winning goal and two assists.
This week Getzlaf has returned to the Ducks lineup and Arnott will be a game time decision. Anaheim may also get Pred killer Teemu Selanne back in the lineup after he has missed 17 games due to a broken hand. Selanne, who will be a game time decision, has had 43 points in 36 career games with the Preds.
The Predators have been playing musical chairs with injuries the last few days with Joel Ward and Marty Erat out of Thursday's game with Carolina and new injuries to Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan during Thursday's game. Jerred Smithson and Jordin Tootoo are also out with longer term injuries.
According to Bryan Mullen, who was at the morning skate, Erat and Sullivan are expected to play and Arnott and Ward may be game time decisions.
Pekka Rinne (17-7-2, 2.71, .907) will start in goal for the Preds while it is unclear if Jonas Hiller (14-12-2, 2,81, .915) or J. S. Giguere (4-7-5, 3.06, ,889) will be in net for the Ducks. This will be the first time in eight games that a Preds goalie will have started consecutive games.
This will be the third meeting of the year for the Ducks and Preds and the Anaheim's last appearance in Nashville this year. Prior to last Saturday's Preds win, the Ducks beat the Preds 4-0 on November 5th when they scored three goals late in the game.
Preds Key's to the Game
Band of Brothers Mentality...
If ever the Predators needed to focus on Barry Trotz's "Band of Brothers" philosophy, this may be the game. With numerous injuries to key players, the younger guys from Milwaukee need to continue to step up and fill holes while the veterans need to step in and play at a higher level.
After Thursday's game, Barry Trotz said, "You look down the bench and there’s not a lot of veteran presence anymore. The young guys are playing well, giving all they’ve got."
The Preds made a roster move yesterday sending Mike Santorelli to Milwaukee and replacing him with Cal O'Reilly, who has one assists in nine games with the Preds earlier this year. He has 9 goals and 26 assists in Milwaukee and is slated to play in the AHL All-Star game later this month.
Historically, the Ducks have the best record against the Preds of any team in their history. The Ducks have owned the Preds with a 25-10-7 all-time record versus the Predators. Since the lock out the Ducks have earned points in 14 of 18 games with the Preds (11-4-3).
The Preds need to continue the turn around in history and build off of last week's victory. Pekka Rinne is 2-1-2 against the Ducks and needs to turn in a performance similar to last week's 25 save performance in the Pred's 3-1 win against the Ducks.
Play with Discipline...
The Ducks are fifth in the league in number of penalty minutes per game (15.0) while the Preds have the fewest minutes in the league (9.2). The Ducks also have the eleventh best power play in the league (20.0%) and play a chippy game to draw their opponents into committing mistakes.
The Predator's dismal penalty kill has improved to 27th (77.2%) in the league by killing nine of nine penalties over the last four games including a two for two performance against the Ducks last week.
Likewise, the Predator power play has looked better the last two games going three for ten, which has bumped them up to 25th (15.9%) in the league.
A brief improvement on specialty teams does not a season make so the Preds need to play with extreme discipline and not make costly errors that could be avoided.
The Predators will fly to Vancouver tomorrow and practice at GM Place in preparation for Monday's game with the Canucks. On Tuesday, they will play at Edmonton and then play Calgary on Friday, before returning home for a single game against Toronto on January 18th.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass