Thursday, November 3, 2011

Preds focus shifts to Phoenix after Rinne's big pay day

The Nashville Predators will take on the Phoenix Coyotes at 9:00 p.m. central time tonight in Phoenix. This will be the second meeting between these two teams so far this season. Phoenix spoiled Nashville's home opener on October 13 with a 5-2 victory over the Predators.

Pekka Rinne signed a seven-year deal worth $49 million with the Predators today. It's a huge step for the long-term success of the Predators. It shows that the ownership is committed to winning, and that they aren't afraid to dish out the necessary financial price to do so.

With one of the "Big 3" signed, the free agent focus now is on Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Talks are rumored to restart between Suter's agent and the Predators during the next few weeks. Nashville can't make a deal with Weber until January.

After a successful day from a business standpoint, the Predators will now turn their attention to the Coyotes. Phoenix has won three consecutive games entering tonight's contest, and are 6-3-2 on the year. They've played good hockey as of late, and will look to continue their winning streak.

The Predators are coming off of a 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn are expected to return to the lineup, which will make Nashville much more of an offensive threat.

"We've got to worry about ourselves first and foremost. Sometimes we get caught up too much in worrying about what the other team is doing. We've got to get pucks to the net and stay out of the penalty box," said Predators forward Jordin Tootoo.

My player to watch for Phoenix in tonight's game is Shane Doan. Doan scored his 300th career goal against the Dallas Stars on October 25, and is still a very solid player for the Coyotes. However, he's not the only weapon that the Coyotes have.

"Every player is tough to defend in the NHL. It all comes down to communicating with your teammates and being positionally sound," Tootoo said.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist battled an injury during the first few games of the season, but now seems to be healthy. He's played very well during the past three games, and has collected four goals in that span.

"Everyone has their ups and downs. (Hornqvist) is a guy who works hard in front of the net and battles hard. He gets to those second and third chances, and when you keep doing those same things over and over good things happen," Tootoo said.

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