The Nashville Predators will play their final game of the year with the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at the Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators are 4-1 against the Jackets this season and have won 13 straight on home ice dating back to November 18, 2006.
After the big 5-0 win over Minnesota on Thursday, the Preds are only the third team to win 40 games for five straight years with the Sharks and Devils being the other two. With Pekka Rinne's 12 shut out, he is now tied for second on the franchise list with Chris Mason and is behind only Tomas Vokoun. Rinne is 6-1 since the Olympic break.
To say that the season has been a disappointment for the Jackets is a massive understatement. Muck of the blame can be laid on the shoulders of last year's Calder winner, Steve Mason.
After a great rookie campaign last year, Mason has been disappointing, going 17-22-7. He will be starting tonight's game and is 1-1-1 against the Preds this year and 0-3-3 in the Bridgestone Arena in his career.
Pekka Rinne will start his fifth straight game for the Preds.
Predators Keys To The Game
Don't Overlook the Jackets...
While the Jackets do not appear to be a very good team on paper, they are one of the Predator's most bitter rivals and would like nothing more than to kick the Preds in the pants and dampen their playoff push.
There's also pride on the line and the Jackets would love to get the losing streak in Nashville monkey off their back so they can start fresh next season.
Play a Full 60 Minutes...
The Predators need another complete effort tonight, and every night, from now until the end of the year. As they push to move up in the standings, they can't afford to take a period, or even a couple of shifts, off or they will lose valuable points in the standings.
This is basically playoff hockey, regardless of the opponent, and the last elven games need to be played with the same intensity as the playoff games that they will face in a few weeks.
Play with Discipline...
Every game the Predators play with Columbus comes with the chippiness this series is known for. The Preds, and especially Jordin Tootoo, need to resist the temptation to respond with penalty causing actions.
In spite of a poor record, Columbus has one of the leagues top 10 power play units and can strike for multiple goals in a game if given enough opportunity.
In Pred Nation...
John Glennon has updates from today's morning skate, a look at the Western Conference playoff race, and a game at a glance.
On the Forecheck has a Preview of Tonight's game and a really good analysis of Cal O'Reilly vs Dustin Boyd by Seth Lake. Dirk also has the Saturday Breakfast Links.
Paul McCann looks at tonight's game and had done a great job organizing a fan road trip to St Louis for tomorrow's game.
From @PredsNHLhockey: Going to tomorrow's (Saturday) Preds game? Pregame tweet-up 6 pm tomorrow w/Preds PR by Sect 310/311 concession area - say hi, discuss future tweet-ups
Look for a new edition of the 303:30 later today with Brandon Felder, Aaron Portzline, and Nick Spaling as guests.
AJ at PMFF finishes off the discussion of Thursday's win with a good feeling about beating Craig Leipold.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly View.
Launy Schwartz puts a Canadian Spin on our Blake Geoffrion post yesterday at Hockey 54.
If David Climer had a Twitter account and he didn't tweet would there still be a sound? Here's a video and everything else you would want to know about Climer. Good discussion about Jim Bouton (of Ball Four fame) who was one of my favorites as a child.
Blake Geoffrion's Wisconsin Badgers lost to St Cloud State yesterday and hope to redeem themselves this afternoon versus Denver.
Around the NHL...
Michelle Kenneth has Zach Parise: The American Hero.
Columbus is ready to look at draft picks from Eric Smith.
Matt Reitz is as tired as I am of hearing about injury causing hits and suspensions.
Steve Lapore has the lowdown on ESPN's college hockey coverage leading up to the Frozen Four. Also, if you haven't realized it, this is free preview week for the NHL Network from March 20 until the 27th. In celebration they have added the Hawks - Coyotes game tonight.
Odds and Ends...
In the good old days, Blockbuster was cool but technology and competition that eliminates going to a store for a movie has killed them.
I generally keep up with space stuff fairly well but was surprised that there is an unmanned "mini-shuttle" that is ready for launch by the Air Force.
There is help available for 'Technology Addicts."
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass