The Nashville Predators (25-15-6) are in Denver, ready to face the Colorado Avalanche (24-16-6) and defend their fourth place ranking in the Western Conference standings.
Entering the game, the Predators are in fourth place with 56 points. The Avs are two points back in seventh with 54 points but could move ahead of the Preds with a regulation win even with identical records based on the number of non shoot-out wins.
Both teams are playing well at this juncture. The Predators have won eight of their last ten games and the Avalanche have won three of their last four contests.
Strangely enough, the Preds and Avs have not met this season. Last year, the season series was over by February 4th with the Preds taking three out of four games.
Pekka Rinne (15-11-4, 2.13, .928) should be in net for the Predators and Adrian Dater confirms that Craig Anderson (13-9-3, 2.98, .906) will be between the pipes for the Avalanche.
After Tuesday's hat trick J. P. Dumont was realistic about the rest of the season, "It's going to be a battle to the end, we all know that. It's been that way the last few years. You look at the standings and you lose three in a row and you can be 11th or 12th. We lost a big two points in Chicago when we were up 3-2. We learned from our mistake last time and got a big two points." (Thanks to Anthony Perez for the Audio)
The Predators are hoping for the return of Marek Svatos and Francis Bouillon. There was no word yesterday from the Preds' camp as to whether they would be ready for tonight's match with the Avs.
Mattherw Lombardi, Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly are out for the Predators while Cal's brother Ryan who is a key member of the Avs is also out with a shoulder injury.
I'm looking forward to following tonight's game with the Avs via @adater's Tweets, especially if Preds are winning. I can't wait to see the patented "worst team ever" tweet from Dater.
After the game, the Predators will be half way through the six game road trip and will not play again until Sunday. It's rare for the Preds to be off on both a Friday and a Saturday, especially on the road.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, Hockey Night in Nashville, and Predators.com.
For news from Denver check out Adrian Dater, Aaron Musick, Mile High Hockey, The Avalanche Guild, Jibblescribbits, and AvsHockeyPodcast.
In Pred Nation...
I am absolutely crushed with the word from Jim Diamond that due to an injury to astronaut Tim Copra, Pekka Rinne's jersey may not fly on the space shuttle's next mission as scheduled.
Josh Cooper has great things to say about J.P. Dumont after his five goal in two game outburst.
Being the jersey hound that he is, Jeremy Gover has the latest on how the All-Star merchandise will work with the teams not being chosen until next Saturday.
Mark Willoughby has the story on GnashVegas.
Tom Callahan looks at teams 8-15 in the Western Conference and discusses what is needed for a playoff push.
Dirk Hoag has proof that J.P. Dumont shoots more than you would expect. He was also up early this morning with his Breakfast Links and more.
Our friend Jeff Marek from the CBC and Shea Weber were on last night's SlapShot Radio. Here is the podcast.
Jas Faulkner has her weekly Greetings from Smashville column at the Hockey Writers.
From @predsradio: fun fact: the only hat to hit the ice last night for J-P Dumont belonged to... Anders Lindback.
If you want a pair of free tickets to a Preds game, then go test drive a Toyota.
The Milwaukee Admirals have back to back home games tonight and Friday against Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Two tickets to the Bears-Pacjers game as well as 5000 Darren Pang bobble-heads will be given away tomorrow night.
Around the NHL...
Marian Gaborik had a rare four goal night in the Rangers 7-0 annihilation of the Leafs last night at MSG.
Daniel Briere replaced Jerome Igninla for the All-Star game due to his being excused due to his grandmother's failing health. That's one snub resolved.
Details are out on the format for the SuperSkills Competition.
TSN takes a look at how the picks could be made in the All-Star draft.
Ryan Porth is thinking out loud again. He also figures the final standings based on the current points per game.
Steve Lapore has news about the NBC Comcast merger as well as about coverage of Hockey Day in America.
This was interesting from @simmonssteve: More media transactions: Damien Cox has resigned from The Star (effective April) to join TSN full time. Cox has a penchant for stirring the pot among his readership so it will be interesting to see how that translates to TSN.
Odds and Ends...
Ricky Gervais may indeed appear on the US version of The Office sometime in an upcoming episode.
Interesting situation at Mississippi State where a cheerleader posed nude for Playboy prior to becoming a cheerleader.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass