The Nashville Predators begin their crucial stretch of games with against top teams when the Los Angeles Kings visit Bridgestone Arena at 7 p.m tonight.
The Playoffs have basically already started with the Preds playing two Division leaders and two other top eight teams in the next six days. After tonight's game with the Kings, Boston comes to town on Thursday, Detroit will be here Saturday, and the Preds will travel to Buffalo on Sunday.
The Preds and Kings have met three times this year with the Kings winning the first two and the Preds winning the third. In Los Angeles on November 6 the Kings won 4-1 in a game that was not as close as the score. On December 18, the Kings beat the Preds in Nashville 6-1. The Predators finally won 5-2 in Los Angeles on January 6.
Kings fans were ready to write off the season as they slumped in January, losing 10 of 13 games. Since then they have gone 15-3-4 that included an 11 game stretch with no regulation losses.
The Predators have generally been inconsistent since the All-Star break, going 8-7-4 but to their credit,they have gotten points in all but one of their last seven games and have pulled within a point of eight place Calgary in the process. The Kings are three points ahead of the Preds in fifth place.
The Kings confirmed that Jonathan Bernier (9-8-3, 2.60, .907) would be in net for tonight's game. He was on the road to becoming a Pred killer with (3-0, 0.67, .978) career stats against the Preds until they beat him 5-2 on in January. The choice on the starter was easy since Jonathan Quick is (0-3-1, 3.25, .897) against the Preds.
The Predators will need a Vezina Trophy type performance out of Pekka Rinne (25-19-6, 2.07, .930) to stop the Kings that are 10-1-3 in their last 14 road games.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Predatorial, Hockey Night in Nashville, Chris Burton, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
For Kings previews check out Mayors Manor, Jonathan Moncrief, Kingscast, KingsCourt, Jewels from the Crown, Kings Insider, J.P. Hoonstra, and the LA Times.
In Pred Nation...
Amanda DiPaolo looks at the turnaround of David Legwand and Marty Erat and how they have carried the Predators lately.
Helene Elliott has a feature story about hometown boy Jon Blum at the LA Times. She has a second story about other players from Southern California with a couple of interesting quotes from David Poile.
Robby at HNIN has the story from Walmart where Shea Weber became a person of Walmart in Cool Springs yesterday. He is set to be at the location in Hendersonville tomorrow.
Davis Boclair looks at the spark that Joel Ward has given the team at a critical time.
The Fourth Period discusses more options for the Preds in return for losing Shea Weber. Edmonton's first, second, and third pick from an offer sheet sounds pretty good to me.
Bryan Mullen writes that every game matters for the Preds at this point of the season and also has a few notes.
Josh Cooper has a couple of quotes from David Poile about concussions as he headed to the GM meetings.
Dirk Hoag has a post on former Preds owner Boots Del Biaggio being featured on this weeks American Greed show on NBC.
Chris Burton looks at the statistical race between Tim Thomas and Pekka Rinne.
Shea Weber is included in the top six candidates for the Norris Trophy at New York Times Slapshot.
Jas Faulkner has here weekly Greetings from Nashville at The Hockey Writers.
Jason Karnosky takes a long look at former Admirals who are finding NHL success.
General Managers Meetings...
Here is the complete transcript of Gary Betman's presser at the GM meetings yesterday that includes his five point plan to reduce injuries.
A study shows that time lost from illegal hits is down this season.
The sentiment from the GM's is strong to improve player safety.
Here is the NHLPA's statement after day one of the meetings. They appear supportive of the initiatives.
Adrian Dater has a unique idea on the coach and team fines... let them pay them out of their pockets.
Around the NHL...
Pierre LeBrun obtained a copy of Mario Lemieux's letter to Gary Bettman on head shots that was dated March 7.
Braden Holtby won the NHL first star of the week while Daniel Sedin and Corey Perry were the next two.
The asking price for MLSE appears to be $1.5 billion and Rogers claims that they are not interested at this time.
The City of Glendale is seeking new bond buyers to try to complete the sale of the Coyotes as soon as possible.
Ray Shero talks about Crosby's concussion as well as his son's that went undiagnosed. Jackson used to play against Chris Shero at Southern Ice. Hopefully the concussion did not come from this play where Jackson hooked Chris.
The Flyers have not had their swagger lately and losing Chris Pronger for 3-4 weeks will not help.
From @stevelepore: ESPN 2 will present the NCAA Hockey Tournament selection show on March 20th at 11:30 AM ET. Hosted by @Buccigross
Adrian Dater has a fitting Ode to Rick Martin.
Puck Daddy has the story on a new "interview-bombing" binge by Ryan Kesler. I love it.
Odds and Ends....
I was reading about the "No Man's Canyon" where the MTSU employee's brother was killed and found another account of folks that had to be rescued from the same place. This is not far from the Robber's Roost area where the Aron Ralston 127 Hours accident occurred.
The F-Bomb Tweet from a Chrysler vendor last week on the car-maker's account has raised plenty of questions about company's control over their social media.
Is tattooing a "Terrible Towel" on your arm taking fandom too far?
Verizon has made all calls and texts to Japan free of charge until April 10th. Part of me thinks it is a nice gesture while the other part sees a bit of grandstanding in the wake of a tragedy.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass