The Nashville Predators (38-25-10) return home to Bridgestone Arena tonight to face Edmonton (23-39-10) in hopes of pulling even with the Oil in the season series.
The two teams have met three times this season with Edmonton holding a 2-1 advantage. On Jan 23, the Preds won 3-2 in a shoot out in Edmonton. On February 7, the Oilers embarrassed the Preds with a 4-0 shut out in Nashville. Most recently, on March 1, the Preds were shocked by the Oilers on the road in a 2-1 loss in the game where Blake Geoffrion scored his first NHL goal.
Hopefully the Predators will look at their past problems with Edmonton and treat this game as one of the more critical games of the season and avoid the trap game appearance that this contest has on paper. It would be easy to overlook the Oilers after the twin wins over Detroit and Buffalo over the weekend and Anaheim and Dallas coming to town later this week.
Pekka Rinne (27-20-8, 2.09, .930) will be well rested and ready to start the remaining games of the season if need be. He started 20 straight games before yielding to Anders Lindback on Sunday. Rinne is starting to receive good press about his Hart and Vezina chances now that he has closed the gap on Tim Thomas's (29-10-8, 2.08, .937) stellar statistics.
Thw Oilers enter the game on a six game losing streak and have won only twice since their last meeting with the Predators. They clearly have nothing to lose except the first pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in June which goes to the thirtieth ranked team in the league.
Ex-Pred Ryan Jones told the Edmonton Sun “It’s always fun to pee in someone’s sandbox. It’s great to go in and take points from teams that really need them." Hopefully that quote will find it's way to Nashville's dressing room wall.
It is unclear who will be in goal for the Oilers as they have been randomly swapping Nikolai Khabibulin (10-28-3, 3.32, .892) and Devan Dubnik (10-11-7, 2.83, .913) in recent games.
There are tickets still available and Coach Barry Trotz and the Predators have come to depend on their "seventh man" to provide energy in recent home games.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Hockey Night in Nashville, The Predatorial, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, Patten Fuqua and Predators.com.
From oil country comes previews from Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, The Copper and Blue, OilersNation, and Oil on Whyte.
In Pred Nation...
Ryan Porth found this site where Andre Delsol is doing 30 NHL cities in 29 days and tonight is Nashville's pit stop. If you see him, give him a good dose of Southern hospitality.
Josh Cooper discusses Blake Geoffrion's knack for scoring close to the net.
David Boclair analyzes the Predators' defense and ponders whether Shane O'Brien will return next season.
Jim Diamond looks at a pair of Predator prospects that are gearing up for the NCAA tourney that starts this weekend.
Here is an astounding statistic from Scott Cullen of TSN. Blake Geoffrion is now leading the NHL in goals per 60 minutes of play.
AJ at Pull My Fang Finger has a great perspective piece on Sunday's thrilling Predator win.
In an email to season ticket holders the Predators announce that Pete Weber and Terry Crisp would return for their 14th season of play by play action next year.
The Nashville Business Journal are running a Brand competition and in the first round the Predators and Bridgestone Arena are in a contest with the Titans and LP Field for most popular local team and venue. Go here to vote for the Preds and here to vote for the arena.
Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville looks at what a big week this is for the Predators.
Paul McCann steals one of Barry Trotz's favorite words to talk about the Preds' resiliency.
Chris Botta at the New York Times gives kudos to Blake Geoffrion and gets on the Pekka for Hart bandwagon.
Jas Faulkner has her weekly Greetings from Smashville at The Hockey Writers.
Voting is open for the top ten Preds plays of the year. Go here to cast a ballot.
Joe Yerdon awarded Anders Lindback Sunday's save of the night for his stop on Thomas Vanek.
Scott Burnside has more kudos for Blake Geoffrion at ESPN.
Bangin Panger has a jersey foul that is hard to imagine. It is a Predator road jersey with the Rangers Statue of Liberty on the front.
Around the NHL...
There were only two games in the NHL last night and both were three point contests. Pittsburgh went to Detroit and won 5-4 in a shootout in the early game and the Kings beat Calgary 2-1 also in a shootout.
The hammer dropped on Matt Cooke yesterday and Pens GM Ray Shero backed the suspension. Mario Lemieux has yet to comment.
ESPN had a list of all 20 suspensions from this season for hits to the head.
The Goldwater Institute was not impressed by Matthew Hulsizer's $75 million guarantee and responded with this press release that basically said the offer from Hulsizer made no sense and that the city was still exposed to massive future costs. Here is the Arizona Republic's take on the matter.
The NHL Three Stars of the Week were announced 1- Joe Pavelski, 2- Ray Emery, and 3-P.K. Subban. Was this a snub to Blake Geoffrion who's stats were as good as Subban's?
Ken Campbell looks at the hoops young Canadian players have to jump through to play in the USHL to prepare to go to a US college.
Just when Alexander Ovechkin started heating up, he is being given time off for "rest" to heal an undisclosed injury for 7 to 10 days.
Great news from @adater: Congrats to @stevelepore for being hired by Versus.com as hockey reporter
Sidney Crosby appears to be getting closer to a return as he skated again on Monday.
Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts is as newsy as always this week. It is a must read every week.
In a bit of a shocker, the Ottawa Senators signed Craig Anderson to a four year contract as part of their rebuild project. So it looks like either Colorado or Ottawa will be wrong on this one. Adrian Dater gives his knowledgeable opinion on the matter.
The Vancouver Canucks announced that Manny Malhotra will not return this season due to the horrible eye injury that he received from a deflected puck off of a stick last Wednesday.
Watch out for the Kings. Mayor's Manor has the story of two prospects who won the WHL and OHL scoring titles.
It's not too early to RSVP to the #NHL TweetUp for opening night of the playoffs at Foley's in Manhattan sponsored by The Program.
The Kraft Hockeyville competition is always a neat story where the NHL comes to a small town. Here are this year's final five.
An interesting blog that you may want to check out is A Day in the Life of a Hockey Wife. It is an eclectic mix of stuff that is a unique perspective.
Odds and Ends...
I've mad so many negative comments about "Pac Man" Jones over the years, I thought I would give equal time to a positive story from Yahoo that paints a picture of a reformed man. Read it and see if you believe it.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the Tennessean has a quiz to test your knowledge.
The New York Times looks at how Google is transforming into a huge media company.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass