The Nashville Predators arrived in Montreal yesterday and had the evening off in one of NHL Players favorite cities. After, Tuesday's meltdown against the Leafs, and subsequent team meeting yesterday, I doubt many Predators were in much of a party mood last night.
The Predators (7-6-3) will meet a Montreal team that is riding a four game win streak and is 12-5-1 on the season and leading the Northeast Division.
The big question among Predator fans is whether the team will regroup and shake off the disastrous loss or if the effects will linger. Traditionally, the team has moved on quickly and this is a true test for Barry Trotz and the young Captain, Shea Weber, to see how they can motivate the team to play their best game against a top team from the east in hostile territory.
The Predators have only beaten the Habs once on their home ice. The lone win came on December 1, 2007, when the Preds scored four third period goals in a span of 10:34 to send the game to overtime and a dramatic 5-4 shootout victory.
The last meeting between the Predators and Montreal was last year on November 14 at the Bridgestone Arena in their only meeting of the season when the Preds won 2-0. Pekka Rinne got the shutout and Steve Sullivan scored both Predator goals. In the game, Carey Price tied a Montreal record by stopping 53 of 55 Predator shots.
This season, Carey Price's fortunes have taken a turn for the better. With Jaroslav Halak going to St. Louis, he is the clear number one man in goal. Price is 11-5-1 with a 2.06 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
In contrast to Price's numbers, Pekka Rinne is 4-5-2 and has a 3.06 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Much of the inflated numbers can be attributed to poor defensive support in front of the net and a few cases of serial meltdowns like the one that occurred on Tuesday where poor play was truly a team effort.
Another contrast is on special teams. The Habs lead the league on the penalty kill at a 89.7 % success rate while the Preds are in the 23rd slot with a 77.8 percentage. The power play stats are a bit closer with the Habs at 15.7% and the Preds at 11.7%.
The Preds continue to be without Montreal native, Matthew Lombardi and the Habs are dealing with the major loss of defenseman Andrei Markov who appears set to be out for an extended period. Jeff Halpern is also questionable for the Habs but may play after getting his bell rung on Tuesday.
After the game, the Preds will leave for Carolina where they will face the Hurricanes on Saturday night in front of a busload of Preds fans that are making the trek under the direction of Paul McCann and his wife, Denise.
Predator game previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, and Jim Diamond who asked Heather Engel Five Questions about the Habs.
From across the border, for Habs info, check out All Habs, Habs Inside/Out, The Montreal Gazette, Faceoff, HabsWorld, Dennis Kane, The Active Stick, Eyes on the Prize, and Habs-Rants.
All Habs has the lowdown on what Montreal will try to do to replace Andrei Markov while he is out for an extended period.
Shameless Self Promotion...
Rick Stephens, who was our guest on Monday's POTG Radio, commissioned a piece from me for his well read All Habs site. Check it out here.
Also, tonight at 6:15 Central, I will be a guest of Conor McKenna on The Team 990 in Montreal leading up to the Preds-Habs puck drop.
In Preds Nation...
Jim Diamond follows up his Toronto homecoming story with one about players returning to their roots in Montreal.
Josh Cooper's notes column reports on the Preds' unscheduled team meeting on Wednesday. He also has an extended article on the finances of Canadian teams and how international exchange rates affect the teams.
David Boclair writes of the brothers Kostitsyn, Sergei and Andrei, meeting for the first time on opposite teams tonight in Montreal.
Paul McCann's SlapShot Radio was another good one last night with Craig Custance, Rick Moffat and Terry Crisp. Also, Paul McCann had no words after Tuesday's loss.
Tim Wharnsby writes of Shea Weber receiving his warrior traits from his mother.
Jas Faulkner has the sixth installment of Greetings From Nashville at The Hockey Writers.
Forechecker found the Wade Belak audio clip about Sean Avery. Good stuff.
Chris Burton's weekly power rating round-up for the Preds is really all over the map this week.
Michael Traikos has a feature story on Toronto favorite, Wade Belak.
Barry Trotz recently passed Toe Blake on the consecutive games list. Here a little insight into Blake from Dennis Kane.
The name Steve Begin comes up when we play the Habs and the Admirals have a nice piece on his season in Milwaukee. He may not be far away from a call-up if the special teams don't improve quickly.
Around the NHL...
Willie O'Ree was honored at Madison Square Gardens last night, fifty years after breaking the color barrier in the NHL.
A rare in-season trade yesterday between the Flames and Carolina sent Ian White and Brett Sutter to the Canes and Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos to Calgary. Several sources say that the trade was in the works before Sutter's bar fight last week.
There appears to be something rotten on Long Island as Chris Botta has a closing notice on Islanders Point Blank due to "circumstances beyond his control." I like Chris's stuff and this is a daily pit stop for me. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.
Patrick Hoffman has a look at Carey Price who the Preds will face tonight at RLD Hockey.
From the Rink digs up a few statistical surprises to ponder as we approach the quarter pole of the season.
Is P.K. Subban too cocky for his own good? Mike Richards thinks so.
The Brady Blog hits hard at the NHL's way of conducting it's business. This is a good read that recalls many of the leagues miscues.
It's Back! The One Percentile Podcast with Mick Kern and Eric Gage is one of my favorites.
Matt Reitz has a guest post by Tim Chipp who calls for a little sanity among fans.
I was unaware that the NHL was now selling practice jersey ad space. Amway has signed on for a patch on the Wings jerseys. This is the first step toward the billboard/Nascar look that you see in European leagues. I don't like it.
Try this in Tennessee. TSN has a few pics of Canadians building their annual backyard rinks.
What about a rink nacho competition. The Program has one.
Zach Parise is putting his time on the IR to good use honing his Call of Duty Black Ops skills which he hopes ill give him a leg up on the competition when he returns.
Odds and Ends...
Chris Wage has put together a photo gallery of the Nashville Rollergirls from the past season. This is really well done and captures the essence of Derby.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass