When the Nashville Predators were mapping out their current six game road trip, the one game that probably appeared to be the most winnable was the match-up with the young Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place at 7 p.m tonight.
The Predators have won two of three on the trip and have won nine of their last eleven and have risen to fourth place in the Western Conference. The Oilers have lost four in a row and are mired in last place in the West with only the New Jersey Devils having a worse record in the NHL.
Both teams have had a few days off having not played since Thursday. The Preds manhandled the Avalanche 5-1 in Denver while the Oilers lost to Dallas 4-2 at home in Edmonton.
Needless to say, a loss by the Predators tonight would be a major upset but it is possible. The two teams have not met this season. The last two years the Predators have won three of the four meetings. The Predators have won their last three games in Edmonton and seven of their last eight.
The Oilers are not without weapons boasting a great young core of players that includes Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle (IR), Magnus Pajaarvi, and Linus Omark. Due to their poor showing in recent years they have been able to pick top players in the draft like Hall at number one in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
With back to back games and the Predators playing in Calgary tomorrow, it is unknown what Barry Trotz's goalie strategy will be. Pekka Rinne (16-11-4, 2.09, .930) is 8-1 with a 1.44 GAA in his last nine starts. Anders Lindback (10-4-2, 2.58, .915) has seen little action since Rinne returned from his most recent injury and you would think he would play tonight instead of Monday if Rinne is not playing both games.
On the other side, it is also unclear if the Oilers will go with Nikolai Khabibulin (8-21-2, 3.46, .892) or Devan Dubnyk (4-4-5, 2.81, .917). Khabibulin has started the last three and all resulted in losses.
After tonight's game, The Preds will leave immediately to travel south to Calgary where they will meet the Flames tomorrow at 8:30 p.m.
Other Predator previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, and Predators.com.
From oil country comes previews from Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, The Copper and Blue, OilersNation, and Oil on Whyte.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass