Monday, March 19, 2012

Preds hope to change fortune against Oilers

The Nashville Predators will take on the Edmonton Oilers for the final time this season on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena with an opportunity to break the all-time franchise record for regular season sellouts. With a sellout on Tuesday night, the Predators would have 21 sellouts on the season.

Nashville is coming off of a 3-1 comeback victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. The Predators posted a 2-1-1 record on their road-trip, and will now turn their attention to a young and talented Oilers team.

Edmonton also played on Sunday night, losing to the Phoenix Coyotes in a shootout. The Oilers have posted a 3-5-2 record in their last 10 games, and currently sit in 14th place in the Western Conference. However, they have had pretty good success against Nashville so far this season.

In the three previous meetings between these two teams this season, the Oilers have won two games. Edmonton has outscored Nashville by a 10-5 margin in those three games, including a 6-2 rout over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on November 22.

Alexander Radulov, who has been cleared to come play for the Predators by the KHL for the remainder of this season, will most likely not be playing in this game. Judging from several reports, Thursday night seems to be the consensus view of when Radulov will play his first NHL game since leaving the Predators in 2008.

Edmonton has some of the best young talent in the NHL. They are capable of scoring a lot of goals on any given night, so the Predators defense will have to be on their best game. The Oilers have had some success against the Predators so far this season and will be a confident team coming into Bridgestone Arena. Nashville will have to score early to plant the seed of doubt in their heads.

For Edmonton, my player to watch is Sam Gagner. Gagner has 42 points on the season. Eight of those points came in one game. He has the ability to be an offensive force when things are going his way. He has been an effective player against Nashville so far this season.

My player to watch for the Predators is Kevin Klein. Klein returned to the Nashville lineup on Sunday night after being out with an upper-body injury. It will be interesting to see how sharp he is against a speedy team like Edmonton.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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