Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Preds Face Nucks in Critical Test

After losing three of the last four games at home, the Nashville Predators (16-11-2) host the Vancouver Canucks (16-13-0) in a critical test to see if they can return to form in front of the home crowd.

Preds coach Barry Trotz has indicated that he will shake up his line up in an attempt to bring the Predators out of their malaise that they have drifted in and out of in the last few games. According to Bryan Mullen, Cody Franson will take a seat in the press box while Alexander Sulzer gets his first shot to play at the NHL level since November 7.

Trotz has also juggled his lines, moving Marty Erat to the first line and J.P. Dumont to the line with Marcel Goc and Jordin Tootoo. It also appears that Patric Hornqvist will return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday's game on a "coach's choice" situation.

Pekka Rinne (11-6-1, 2.61, .908) will start in goal for the Preds and face Roberto Luongo (12-9-0, 2.41, .916) which on paper could be a classic goalie show down.

Preds Keys to the Game

Stay out of the Penalty Box...

Vancouver is fourth in the league on the power play (22.7%) and the Predators do not need to tempt fate by giving them any unnecessary opportunities for the man advantage. The Canucks are loaded with weapons that don't need any easy chances.

Preds Power Play Needs to Show Up...

Vancouver is the fourth most penalized team in the league (15.6 min per game) so the Preds should get several opportunities on the man advantage and they need to cash in for at least a couple of goals. The Nucks are 21st on the penalty kill (78.4) so the Preds should not feel intimidated.

Predators Need an Early Lead...

The normally loud Sommet Center has seemed like a tomb lately with little energy in the building. Discussion after the last game centered about who provides the energy first, the players or the crowd. I vote the players bring it tonight so the crowd will follow.

Next Up...

After tonight, the Preds play at home against Columbus on Thursday and then host the Wings on Saturday so the schedule will not get any easier any time soon.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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