The Nashville Predators (32-23-8) head to Edmonton to play the Oilers (23-35-8) tonight at Rexall Place in the first of four critical road game that make up the last extended road trip of the season.
The Oilers sent Dustin Penner to Los Angeles yesterday so this will be their first game without their big man who was tied with rookie Taylor Hall for the team lead in goals.
The Predators made their big splash a few weeks ago, picking up Mike Fisher from Ottawa. Their two other trade deadline week acquisitions were home grown with the promotion of defenseman Jon Blum and Center Blake "Boomer" Geoffrion.
I'm sure both of the youngsters felt that he would be in Nashville for a few games but it now appears that they will be an integral part of this year's run at a playoff position.
The two teams have met twice this season. On Jan 23, the Preds won 3-2 in a shoot out in Edmonton and on February 7, the Oilers embarrassed the Preds with a 4-0 shut out in Nashville.
The Predators need at least a split on the trip to remain in the mix for the final playoff position in the Western Conference. Once they return home, they will play 12 of the last 15 games at Bridgestone Arena where they have a 15-7-7 record.
While February was the Predators worst month of the year, going 5-6-2, the team's power play surprisingly came to life, going 8 for 36 (22.2%). This compares to 13.8% for the team's first fifty games.
The Predators will continue to ride Pekka Rinne (22-18-6, 2.16, .927) in net as long as he holds up. The Oilers could counter with either Devan Dubnyk (8-9-6, 2.88, .911) or Nikolai Khabibulin (10-26-2, 3.33, .893).
Rinne was looking forward to the trip after Sunday's win over Columbus. "Obviously. it is going to be a challenge. We're going to play against tough teams so it's going to be extremely hard, but at the same time it's always fun to be on the road and be with your team mates, especially this time of year when there is so much on the table."
Of note is the fact that with Sunday's win over Columbus, Barry Trotz moved into fourth place in the number of games with one team in NHL history. His 965 win moved him past Jack Adams, the man whose name is on the trophy that Trotz should win one of these years.
After tonight's game, the Preds will face the conference leading Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Predatorial, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, 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...
Jim Diamond has a story about Jon Blum's first goal with a point at the end about what makes the "Predator Way" special.
Josh Cooper has an excellent story about Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and what the Olympics meant to them a year after the fact.
Here are quotes from Bryan Mullen from yesterday's David Poile Presser. He also has a story about the lack of moves.
David Boclair does yeoman's work to look at how many games it took Predator first round picks to score their first goal. He also discusses the Preds dealings on deadline day.
Predators prospect Taylor Beck was named the OHL player of the week yesterday. He had four goals and nine assists in four games last week.
Dirk Hoag comments on the other Western Conference team's moves yesterday.
Jeremy Gover also memorializes the day's action.
Robby at Hockey Night in Nashville gives his thoughts on deadline day.
Mike MacDonald feels no moves was the right move for the Predators.
The season ticket renewal forms for current season ticket holders have been sent out and the Predators formally revealed to the public all the information about season tickets for next year.
There was concern that Shea Weber would receive supplemental discipline for his cross-check and punch to Fedor Tyutin but it appears Weber was cleared. Here is a video of the hit by R. J. Umberger with ten seconds left in Sunday's game that brought the game's tension to a head.
Here are the last six seconds of play including the final skirmish and penalties to Weber.
Around the NHL...
Ryan Porth has a composite look at the trade deadline along with a Cover It Live replay of Tweets from the insiders at RLD Hockey.
The Dustin Penner to the Kings trade was the highlight of a bunch of marginally interesting moves on the final day of trading until the off season.
Here is a really thoughtful piece from Adrian Dater prior to the trade deadline with plenty of life perspective followed by a harried account of the day that reminds me of the helicopter scene in Goodfellas. Here is a more concise story on the moves that were made.
Odds and Ends...
You really have to wonder if winning a contest to get married at a White Castle is a solid way to start off a long marriage.
Facebook is changing their "Like" button to make it more like a "share" button.
I wish I had a XOOM to tether my Droid X to. If I did, these would be the instructions.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass