Riding the crest of a somewhat unexpected win against Vancouver on Monday, the Nashville Predators (27-16-3) head east to Edmonton (16-23-5) to take on the Oilers tonight.
The Preds beat the Canucks 3-2 in an awkward game that featured uneven officiating at both ends of the ice and now has the potential to shake the world of the NHL with allegations from Alexander Burrows that Stephane Auger had an ax to grind against him for his embellishment after a hit on Jerred Smithson at a game in Nashville in December.
In contrast to playing last night, the Oliers have had an extended period between games with their last contest being last Thursday when they lost to the Blue Jackets 4-2 at Rexall Place.
This will be Nashville's last game in Edmonton this season. On December 17, the Preds fell behind quickly but rallied to a 6-3 victory. The Preds lost to the Oilers 6-1 in Nashville in an early season meeting on October 12. The Oilers will play again in Nashville on March 2 to end the year's series.
The Oilers are last in the Western Conference and have only gained three points in their last 12 games (1-10-1).
Despite having been pulled in both prior meetings with the Oilers, Pekka Rinne (17-8-2, 2.73, .906) will start in goal for the Predators. It is expected that Jeff Deslauriers (9-12-3, 2.95, .903) will start for the Oilers.
Pred's Keys To The Game
Back to Back Sixty Minute Efforts Needed...
After playing a top team in a grueling contest for sixty minutes last night, it would be natural to expect a lesser effort this evening. The Oilers are well rested and may be ready to strike if they receive any thoughts early that they can be competitive. The Preds have not been their best with quick starts this year especially, in back to back games so they need to be mindful to set the tone early and get on the scoreboard first.
Do Not Play to the Opponent's Level...
Throughout franchise history, the Predtors have often played down to the level of the opponent. So many big wins over the rival Red Wings have been followed with lackluster performances against teams that should be an easier opponent. Last week against the Carolina, the Preds played evenly with the Hurricanes and were unable to find a higher gear in a game that should have not been a contest.
Pekka Needs to Avoid Another Oiler Letdown...
In two games this year, Pekka has been pulled early, neither of which was necessarily his fault as the defense provided little assistance.. When the Oilers went up 2-0 quickly in December, Barry Trotz pulled Pekka in order to get the team's attention and it worked well as they ended up winning 6-3. Career-wise,Pekka is 3-1 against the Oilers and needs a quality game to pad his record tonight.
The Preds will participate in an undisclosed "Team Building" day on Wednesday before heading to Calgary to finish up the road trip on Friday.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass