For the third time in a week, an Eastern Conference team has set a trap for the Nashville Predators. This time the New Jersey Devils have lured them into their building with an innocent looking 9-19-2 record. The only thing keeping the Devils out of last pace are the even lowlier New York Islanders.
The Predators are 16-8-6 and with 38 points have the third highest point total in the Western Conference. The Preds have now won four in a row, have points in their last nine games, and are 11-3-3 in their last 17 games.
The game against the Devs is wedged between Wednesday's thrilling 3-2 comeback win over San Jose and tomorrow's home game against the tough Los Angeles Kings.
The Predators are making defying the odds to win tonight even tougher by playing without David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, Matthew Lombardi, and Cody Franson. Pekka Rinne is on the trip as the third goalie, but the stars would have to line up perfectly for him to see action. They did bolster their roster with the addition of veteran Steve Begin before leaving Nashville.
On the New Jersey side of things they are looking ripe for the picking. They won their last game against Phoenix 3-0 on Phoenix, but other than that they are yet to win in December.
The leading hunter in setting the trap for the Preds will be ex-Predator Jason Arnott who leads the Devils in goals at nine and has 15 points. He has little to look forward to at this point other than beating the Predators where he was the captain the last three seasons.
The Devils are a poor specimen. They are last in the league in goals at 1.80 per game while the Preds average 2.50. The Devils are at their worst in five on five play where they have a .56 ratio. On the power play, they are better than the Preds 14.9% to 12.6%. On the penalty kill the Preds lead 85.6% to 84.8%.
A key for the Predators will be to skate penalty free and keep both teams at full strength where they will have the advantage. Scoring early and often would be another good idea.
The goaltender match up will be an odd one with veteran Marty Brodeur (5-12-1, 2.68, .903) probably going against rookie Anders Lindback (8-1-2, 2.16, .930).
Nashville Coach Barry Trotz has placed a special emphasis on "trap" games against weaker teams, pointing out that the "points count the same as a win against Detroit or San Jose" so he will do everything within his power to have the team ready to go.
After the game, the Predators will immediately return home for a match tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Kings.
For other Predator previews see Amanda DePaolo, Chris Burton, Hockey Night in Nashville, and Predators.com.
From New Jersey, check out The Devils Examiner, Michelle Kenneth, Speaking of the Devs, In Lou We Trust, NJ.com, New York Post, Pucks and Pitchforks, and Fire and Ice.
In Pred Nation...
The Preds have a great deal going until 5 p.m. today or until they run out of tickets. Call 615-770-2355 and buy tickets to Preds-Kings game on Sat and you get an equal number of free ones to Preds-Sens 12/23. Limited offer.
Jim Diamond has a post about Steve Sullivan discussing his like for the off wing position.
Josh Cooper discusses the Preds running into ex-captain Jason Arnott. He also has leftovers from the locker room from Wednesday's game.
James Duthie goes one on one with Shea Weber at TSN. Nothing really earth shattering other than finding out Shea likes to shop at Target.
David Boclair discusses the offensive ineptness of some of the Predators recent opponents.
AJ at PMFF throws kudos to David Poile once again for planning ahead with the signing of Steve Begin in October.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly "My View" which includes a lazy eye taking over his entire body.
Dirk Hoag will broaden his scope with some post game gigs with Willie Daunic on the Predators post game show starting tonight.
Predator's fifth round pick Patrick Cehlin was named to the Swedish team that will compete in the World Juniors starting on Boxing Day in Buffalo (per @steffeG).
Sad news from @NHLPredsInsider: Dman Cody Franson...has returned home for the funeral of his grandfather.
Around the NHL...
Tom Fenton had the thrill of a lifetime yesterday when he got a call to play backup goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on a one day contract. Dave Lozo has the story.
Chris Botta takes a look at a few possible rental players that will be available at the trade deadline. A couple of ex-Preds head the list.
Matt Reitz sings the praises of the Yotes and the Av's who are both in the thick of things again this year after breaking into the playoffs last season.
Steve Lapore reports that Tuesday's game between the Flyers and the Penguins was the most watched regular season game ever on Versus. The fact that it was the only game inthe N HL when it started could not have hurt.
The faux saga of Atlanta mascot Thrash stealing the Zamboni continues with an alleged psychologist giving his evaluation of what is wrong with him. The reaction of many hockey purists calling NHL Home Ice on XM that is a "bush league" promotion that is below the integrity of the NHL. I'm sure those same people feel the same way about Atlanta having a franchise.
Houses of the Hockey as an opinion on ice girls and the Oilers' cheerleaders. While I'm used to both in Nashville, I have to admit that the Oilers' cheer girls uniforms are dog ugly (with no disrespect to dogs intended). They also have seven big hockey screw ups from 2010.
Bruce Boudreau's mom is upset with his bad language in the HBO 24/7 show.
Odds and Ends...
Our friends at The Film Talk now have an Android App so you can stream the show on the run.
A "new" dinosaur was identified near Crystal Geyser in Moab, Utah, bringing the total number of new finds in Utah to eight for the year.
Vanderbilt has a display of sixties stuff that I would like to see.
The legendary "Nick the Stick" Hunter passed away after spending 20 years as George Plaster's baseball expert on Nashville Sports radio. Sad to hear this.
A company called Apartm.net is now using a Foursquare check in to open the door at their offices. I think a few folks might be out in the cold if they did that where I work.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass