Monday, March 12, 2012
The Nashville Predators will begin their final regular season West Coast swing tonight at 9 p.m. central time against the Phoenix Coyotes. So far this season, the road team has won every game between these two teams. Phoenix walked away with two wins at Bridgestone Arena earlier and the year, and Pekka Rinne led the Predators to a 3-0 shutout victory over the Coyotes on November 3rd in the desert. The Predators hope that trend holds true tonight.
Phoenix is coming off of a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The Coyotes currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with 78 points, and are right in the thick of things in the battle for the Pacific Division. Phoenix has posted a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 games.
Nashville is coming off of a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. The Predators have posted a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games, and are trying to keep pace with Detroit and St. Louis and the Central Division.
As will be the theme for most of the remainder of the regular season, the Predators will have to match the intensity of the Coyotes tonight. Nashville has a little more breathing room in playoff positioning than Phoenix does, but they can't allow that to affect their effort on the ice.
My player to watch for the Coyotes is Mike Smith. He's coming off of a shutout performance on Saturday night, and has been the main reason for his team's success so far this season.
For Nashville, my player to watch is Francis Bouillon. He had a great week defensively last week for the Predators, and his physicality will be key in tonight's game in Phoenix.