Monday, January 30, 2012

Preds hope to pick up where they left off in Minnesota

The Nashville Predators will look to pick up where the left off before the All-Star break against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Predators have gone 12-2-0 in their past 14 games, and Pekka Rinne has been huge for them. The Finnish goalie has won nine consecutive games, which is a franchise record.

Nashville has posted a 1-1-0 record against Minnesota so far this year. The Wild won the first meeting of the year by a 3-2 score in an eventful third period, but Nashville was able to get a 2-1 victory by way of the shootout when these two teams last met.

While Nashville has been surging as of late, the Wild have been doing the opposite. In their last 20 games, Minnesota has posted a 5-11-4 record. They have gone from first in the entire NHL before that run to eighth place in the Western Conference.

Minnesota is always a tough building for the Predators to go into, but Rinne has had success against the Wild so far in his career. He has posted a 7-3-1 record against the Wild, including three shutout performances.

My player to watch for the Wild is Dany Heatley. He is the biggest scoring threat on Minnesota's roster, and has scored against the Predators in both meetings against them so far this year. His line will likely see a lot of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Martin Erat. He has been on an offensive tear lately, scoring 11 points in his last 10 games. Erat has overtaken Weber for the team lead in points, and his consistent play has been critical to Nashville's success so far this year.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)