Saturday, March 3, 2012

Preds head south to take on Panthers

The Nashville Predators will take on the Florida Panthers tonight at 6:30 p.m. at BankAtlantic Center for the only meeting between the two teams of the 2011-2012 season. A little over a week after the Predators traded Jerred Smithson to Florida, they will be playing against him.

Nashville is coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night in a game where they were dominated in the first two periods of play. Pekka Rinne will likely get the start in goal for the Predators tonight after four days of rest.

Florida is coming off of a 7-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in a game where they actually out-shot the Jets by a 33-32 margin. With only a two point cushion on Winnipeg for the Southeast Division lead, Florida will try to come out fast tonight against the Predators.

Paul Gaustad will likely make his debut with the Predators tonight, while Kevin Klein is unlikely to play. Both teams need these two points, so expect to see an intense style of hockey.

My player to watch for the Panthers is Smithson. He will definitely be amped up for this game against his former team, and he will have something to prove. Look for him to have an extra jump in his stride tonight.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Andrei Kostitsyn. He's had a few practice days to get in rhythm with the Nashville system, which could pay off for the Predators on the scoresheet tonight.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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