Monday, November 28, 2011

Preds hope to reverse recent trend as they head into Edmonton

The Nashville Predators will play the third game of their five game roadtrip tonight against an Edmonton Oilers team that they have already seen twice this season. The previous two meetings between the two teams have been arguable Nashville's worst outings of the season.

Edmonton has nine goals in the two meetings against Nashville this year. The Predators only have three. Edmonton has out-shot the Predators by a 57-44 margin in the two prior meetings. Nashville will have to reverse that trend if they want to get their first victory of the year against the Oilers.

Nashville has not played well in their past four games, and have lost three out of those four games in regulation. This came after the Predators had collected points in 10 out of the previous 11 games prior to this losing streak.

The Oilers have some of the best young talent in the league in players like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nashville will have their hands full with trying to shut down those dynamic offensive forwards. According to Josh Cooper of The Tennessean, the Predators will be without veteran defenseman Francis Bouillon due to a groin injury. Nashville will most likely go with six defensemen, and will have to play much better than they have in recent games.

It will be interesting to see if Barry Trotz goes with Pekka Rinne as the goaltender for this game. While the defense hasn't been very good in front of him, Rinne has struggled in the past few contests. Added to that is the fact that Rinne has started in 21 out of the first 22 games for the Predators. Tonight's game is the first of a back-to-back, so it's likely that Anders Lindback will see action either against Edmonton or tomorrow night against Calgary.

My player to watch for the Oilers is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He's a young phenom that hasn't had any trouble adjusting to the NHL. He leads all rookies in points scored, and is the early favorite for the Calder Trophy.

For Nashville, my player to watch is the entire defensive unit. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have been fantastic for the Predators so far this year, but things haven't been as smooth for Nashville when those two aren't on the ice. It will be interesting to see how the Predators respond defensively after losing Bouillon for a little while.