Sunday, January 15, 2012

Preds, Islanders square off in mid-day game

The Nashville Predators will take on the New York Islanders at a special start time of noon on Monday at Nassau Coliseum. It will be the second consecutive Eastern Conference opponent for the Predators after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

"You don't have the emotional connection that you would with a divisional rival and a conference rival, but you know the team just from watching highlights from around the league. We watch video and look at some of their tendencies," said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.

Nashville has won 13 of their last 17 games, including eight out of their last nine. The Predators will have to be prepared for a little bit of a road stretch after playing 14 of their last 20 games within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.

It's been a rough season on Long Island so far this year. The Islanders sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference coming into the game with a 16-20-6 record. New York is coming off of a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Evgeni Nabokov recorded his 300th career NHL victory in that game.

While the Islanders have struggled this season, they are not a team that Nashville can afford to take lightly. They have a few extremely dynamic players that are capable of scoring at any time. I would expect Anders Lindback to get the start in net against the Islanders in the first game of a back-to-back set for the Predators.

My player to watch for the Islanders is John Tavares. Tavares is having an incredible season so far, accounting for 42 points in 42 games played. The first overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft is living up to the high expectations that were placed upon him coming into the league. Nashville will have to be very aware of where he is. Expect Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to see a lot of time against the Tavares line.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Sergei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn has scored five goals on his last seven shot attempts. The more he shoots, the more it benefits the Predators.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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