The Nashville Predators (9-7-4) left 70 degree weather yesterday and traveled to Minnesota to take on the Wild (10-8-2) to battle it out for twelfth place in the Western Conference today in a 1 p.m. clash on the frozen tundra of the northern Midwest.
Both teams have 22 points but the Wild have more wins so they have the nod for twelfth in the air tight Western Conference at this point. Both teams are only two points out of a playoff position as the Sharks are in eight with 24 points.
This will be the first meeting of the year between the two teams. Last season, the Preds and Wild split their season series and were each 1-1 on home turf. The Wild are 16-15-5 all time against the Preds including 10-5-3 on home ice. The Wild have a Black Friday tradition of matinee games and are 6-2-1 in the day after Thanksgiving contests.
The game should be a low scoring affair as both teams have been anemic in goal production this season with the Preds averaging 2.3 goals a game and the Wild at 2.4. The Preds are more active shooters 29.1 to 24.6.
The Wild have huge advantages on special teams as they are 2nd (25.3%) in the league on the power play and seventh (85.2) on the penalty kill. The Preds are 29th on the PP and 17th (82.1) on the PK (9.6). After going 0-3 on the man advantage on Wednesday the Preds are now 3 of their last 60 after going 4-13 in their first 3 games of the season.
It is unclear who will be in net for either team as both are playing back to back games. For the Preds, I would be surprised if Anders Lindback (3-1-1, 2.76, .917) did not start one of the two weekend games with Pekka Rinne (6-6-3, 2.46, .916) starting the other.
Minnesota could go with Niklas Backstrom (8-6-2, 2.35, .924) or Jose Theodore. (2-2-0, 2.97, .916).
The Wild are much more banged up with injuries to Josh Harding, James Sheppard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Chuck Kobasew, ex-Pred Marek Zidlicky, and Guillaume Latendresse. The Preds are still without David Legwand and Matthew Lombardi.
After today's, the Predators return home for dinner and a match with the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Other Previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, Paul McCann, Preds.com, and The Tennessean.
The other side of the story comes from the Minnesota Star Tribune and Hockey Wilderness,
Here is our game story from Wednesday night.
Josh Cooper had his game story, a second story, and and postgame ponderings.
David Boclair has his story at The City Paper.
From the blog world reports come from Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, Mark Willoughby, Chris Burton, Jeremy Gover, and Hockey Night in Nashville.
The winning side of the story comes from the Post-Dispatch, BlueNote Zone, Frozen Notes, and St. Louis Game Time.
In Pred Nation...
Ryan Porth has a new story on Pekka Rinne's great run that has gone completely undercover due to lack of offense from the team.
Matt Lombardi spoke with Josh Cooper on Wednesday and there is no timetable set for his return. In more non-breaking news, Ryan Suter did not name his child Brooks after Herb Brooks.
Josh also spoke with Barry Trotz about Colin Wilson's lack of production this season. A few of us discussed that Wilson could have a trip to Milwaukee in his future if he doesn't start playing the game Trotz wants to see. He also has a post this morning on the amazing scoring surge of Jerred Smithson.
Mark Willoughby has his travelogue from his trip to Carolina and Columbus. One picture has him hanging out with a few shady Nashvillians while tailgating in Raleigh.
Pekka Rinne's jersey's flight into space aboard the space shuttle discover has been delayed again to "no earlier than December 17" due to cracks in brackets supporting the fuel tank.
Mike MacDonald gives the Preds a C+ for his first quarter evaluation at Bleacher Report.
Rachel from What the Puck shares her Thanksgiving thoughts.
Around the NHL...
Ryan Porth celebrates his annual list of the top five Turkeys of the last 365 days. My suggestion was number two on the list with my personal opinion that the fan was a bigger turkey than Rick Rypien since he wanted to take legal action.
RLD Hockey has the Quarter-Pole Review with updated team projections, trophy winners, and individual performance leaders for each team. Dan Rosen looks at the Hart at the quarter. Ryan Dixon has another view at the quarter pole at The Hockey News.
Last week Adrian Dater had the five best franchises, now he has the Five Flunking Franchises.
The Toronto Star has the statistics going back to 1993 to see how many teams that were in the top eight in each division on American Thanksgiving actually made the playoffs in each year. Overall, only 22.5% of the eventual playoff teams were out of it at the holiday check point.
Down Goes Brown has the decision making flowchart that Gary Bettman uses and any NHL scandals.
Dennis Kane has a second story on childhood hockey treasures that he owns. Snail Mail was king as he communicated with Rocket Richard.
Able to Yzerman says that Wings fans want respect from others. I've always appreciated the greatness of the Wings and at the risk of losing a few readers I will admit that I don't "hate" the Wings.
Puck Daddy looked at the Phoenix situation as they lead the Pacific Division. Folks really should be showing up to see a well coached team make a run for the playoffs again.
Josh Baily was "loaned" to Bridgeport of the AHL. Chris Botta explains the move.
Pat Hoffman explains why the Coyotes are making such a big run.
There was a shootout in Germany that went through 43 attempts to get a winner. It is believed to be the world record.
Odds and Ends...
Not everyone dislikes the new TSA pat down procedure. This guy found true love and wants to connect. Apparently, this TSA worker likes the procedure so much that he got arrested.
For Kelly Slater fans, here is an extended audio interview that covers a wide range of topics.
Facebook is shooting to get users to have them set their site as their home page.
The Mavericks Surf Contest has an Android App to keep you up to date on current conditions and when the contest will be held.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass