I have a feeling that Thursday's melt down and near loss to Anaheim that was followed by the tongue-lashing from Barry Trotz may be just what the doctor ordered as the Nashville Predators (40-25-10) prepare to go against the Dallas Stars (38-25-10) tonight at the Bridgestone Arena at 7 p.m.
The Preds have now won five in a row and are playing a desperate Dallas team in a game that the Stars simply have to win. They are on the outside looking in in ninth place with 86 points and travel to Phoenix, San Jose, LA, and Anaheim after tonight's game.
Dallas suffered a devastating overtime loss to Anaheim in their last game on Wednesday and their season hangs in the balance with no room for error.
Had the Predators played as they should have in the third period on Thursday against the Ducks and had an easy 5-1 win, there is no way that they would be as focused as they are now after getting called out by Trotz. If they aren't ready to hit the ice running tonight they never will be.
Trotz made it real clear what he expects, "That's the message. Manage the game, Do it right. Do it for 60 Minutes." I hope that is etched on the brain of all 20 Predators that dress tonight.
The Preds and Stars have met three times this season. On October 23, the Preds won 1-0 in Dallas when the team was still undefeated. On December 28 the Preds stunk up the Bridgestone Arena in a 4-2 loss, and the Predators let the Stars come from behind and lost 3-2 in Dallas on February 26.
Pekka Rinne (29-20-8, 2.10, .929) will be in goal for the Predators and Kari Lehtonen (30-20-10, 2.57, .915) will lead the Stars in net.
My bet is that he Predators will really clamp down on defense and will move away from some of the free-wheeling style on offense of the last few games. A 2-1, 1-0 or overtime game is probably the best guess heading into tonight's action.
The Predators will not play again until they face the President's trophy leading Vancouver Canuck at home on Tuesday so these two points tonight are criticize for the team to maintain their position in the top eight.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Marc Torrence, Predatorial, Paul McCann, The Tennessean, Patten Fuqua, and Predators.com.
The other side of the Star-Preds game previews can be found at The Dallas Morning News, ESPN Dallas, the Star-Telegram, The Dallas Stars Blog, and Defending Big D.
Note from @PredsNHL: Support the #Preds Foundation & Monroe Harding by bringing household supplies to tomorrow's game & get a discount tix offer to a future game
In Preds Nation...
Bryan Mullen says that Blake Geoffrion is gaining confidence and that he team's focus is now on finishing teams off.
Dirk Hoag takes the Preds to task for too much playing around at a crucial time.
Jeremy Gover asks "Can the Preds Catch the Wings?
Puck and Punk takes a look at a wide variety of Predators logo products.
Pro Hockey Talk named Ryan Suter's soccer-style goal on Pekka Rinne as the goal of the night on Thursday.
Barry Trotz spoke to Pierre LeBrun on Friday and he was still hot.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly "My View" and explains the difference between bonds and men.
It looks like Bloguin has a new Preds blog called Fang Faction. Welcome to the blogosphere!
The Milwaukee Admirals beat the Chicago Wolves 4-2 last night. They also note that Atte Engren will start tonight against Rockford.
Around the NHL...
James Mirtle has the list of man-games lost per team in the NHL this year. It is a really interesting study on a lot of levels.
Joe Sakic has taken a job with the Avalanche.
Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside face off over the Western Conference playoff race.
Ryan Porth has his latest edition of Trophy Tracker. There's a surprise in the mix for Vezina.
Justin Bourne looks at four teams that are better than their seeding should they make the playoffs. In a separate Tweet, he said the Predators would have been fifth on the list.
James Reimer has been a huge surprise in Toronto. Adrian Dater has a profile.
Is the best coaching yet to come for Ron Wilson in Toronto?
Steve Lapore is looking at bottom dwellers that are causing trouble for playoff teams down the stretch.
Patrick Hoffman gives credit to the college game at RLD.
After Glendale put up a Q and A, Goldwater responds with a dozen questions of their own. I can't imagine what it would have been like if the Predators current owners had not saved the team from Jim Balsillie. Preds fans should thank them every game when they see the local owners in the hall at games.
Interesting rating statistic on Thursday's Habs-Bruins showdown from @NHLschuylerb: Last night’s Bruins win over MTL is the highest rated regular season game in NESN's 27 year history covering the Bruins. Rating was 6.6
Odds and Ends...
After getting mixed messages late Thursday night, we see where Will Ferrell is not the permanent replacement on The Office.
Google Analytics is rolling out a new dashboard and other features.
Here is an interesting mix of online music.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass