After a huge win in Vancouver and a day of bonding at the curling rink, the Nashville Predators (33-23-9) head to Calgary for tonight's game against the Flames (34-24-9).
The Predators are two points behind the Flames (77 and 75 points) in the jumbled Western Conference race where you can move several positions without even playing a game. On Friday morning, the Preds were in seventh place, and fell to tenth by the end of play Friday night.
Calgary has staged the biggest turnaround in the Western Conference this season. The team was mired in mediocrity and there were discussions about trading Jerome Iginla and blowing the team up in December. Instead, Jay Feaster replaced Darryl Sutter as the GM on December 28. Since that time the team has gone 18-6-6 after starting the season 16-18-3.
The Predators have been very average lately going 6-6-3 since the All-Star break. The Preds were in the top eight consistently for over six weeks until their latest run moved them out of a playoff spot, making them more of a bubble team.
This is the last match of the year between the two squads and Calgary has dominated the Predators this year winning all three games. On October 16 in Nashville, Mikka Kipprusoff shutout the Preds 1-0 in overtime. On the Preds last visit to Calgary, the Flames won 3-1 on January 24. A week later in Nashville, the Predators lost 3-2 in a shootout.
Barry Trotz has indicated that Pekka Rinne (23-18-7, 2.08, .929) will probably start the rest of the Predators' games this season. It is expected that Mika Kupprusoff (30-20-5, .2.56, .808) will be in goal for the Flames.
After tonight's game, the Predators head to San Jose where they will finish the road trip and return home where they will play 12 of the next 14 games at the Bridgestone Arena before closing out the season in St. Louis.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, Hockey Night in Nashville, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
The Canadian view of the game comes from The Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald, Matchsticks and Gasoline, FlamesNation, Battle of Alberta, and Hit the Post.
In Pred Nation...
Not unexpectedly, Steve Sullivan will have surgery and be out for four to six weeks which would be into the post season. Sully may have played his last game as a Predator if the Preds don't make it past the first round of the playoffs.
This morning, Josh Cooper compares Pekka Rinne to a shortstop and has a notes column.
Robbie at HNIN would like to see the Preds play Detroit or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs and I agree.
Mark Willoughby has his travelogue from Seattle and Vancouver where he visited with Su Ring and saw the Preds play. Mark has a second must read article about his trip which has a few interesting insights. He also has good marriage advice in his last line of the weekly "My View."
Mike Fisher's attitude and work ethic is an inspiration to his teammates in this story from Josh Cooper.
Friday night, the Milwaukee Admirals beat the Chicago Wolves 3-1 behind a 42 save performance from Mark Dekanich. Last night, the Manitoba Moose beat the Avs 4-2.
The Nashville Scene has a feature on Bridgestone organist, Krazy Kyle.
Bridgestone Arena concessionaire, Delaware North contributed $150,000 to Nashville Flood Relief.
Around the NHL...
The City of Glendale is fighting back and is allegedly filing suit against the Goldwater Institute on Monday for interfering with the sale of bonds that are needed to complete the sale of the Coyotes.
Trevor Gillies received a ten game suspension on the heels of nine that he just completed serving.
Ryan Porth goes beyond the standings to project the end result for the Eastern Conference as well as the Western Conference. RLD also looks at who will get left out in the East at the Saturday Faceoff.
Gann Matsuda takes a look at Dustin Penner's transition to the LA Kings.
The LA Times Magazine also has a feature on the Kings youth movement.
The Goalie Guild has their March update for the Top 100 goalie rankings.
Rookie Taylor Hall gets in a fight (video) and appears will be lost for the rest of season. He did get a Gordie Howe hat trick from the episode.
Chris Botta lists six players in the East to keep an eye on in the playoff race. He also relates the Chris Simon story on suspensions at Puck Daddy.
Matt Reitz has a neat story about the San Jose Sharks signing bay area native Sena Acolaste to an entry level contract.
Dave Steckel has tried to apologize to Sidney Crosby for the hit during the Winter Classic.
We always love Jersey Fouls. Here's the latest from Puck Daddy.
Odds and Ends...
Friday was Michael Scott's last day on the set of The Office.
NASA may still make it back to the moon by 2020.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass