This is the game that Nashville Predator fans have had circled on their calendar for some time when they finally get to see the Boston Bruins (39-21-9) with Vezina leader Tim Thomas invade the Bridgestone Arena to face the Preds (35-25-10) and Vezina challenger, Pekka Rinne.
As with most Eastern Conference teams. this is the only meeting of the year between the two squads. The Predators won 3-2 in a shootout in the last game in Nashville on February 14, 2009 while the Preds lost 3-2 last season in Boston on October 21, 2009 when Colin Wilson got his first NHL goal.
The Predators traditionally have played well against Eastern Conference teams.This year they have gone 7-4-4. Boston has not fared that well against the West going just 7-7-2. Last time the Predators were in Nashville, Coach Claude Julien remarked that he did not like the Western Conference style of play.
The Predators have been mediocre since the All-Star break going 8-8-4 and are in tenth place in the Western Conference but remain one point out of the eight and final playoff position.
The Bruins lead the Northeast Division with 87 points. They had a seven game winning streak before losing four in a row. Their losing streak ended on Tuesday against Columbus when they won 3-2 in a shootout.
Tim Thomas (29-9-8, 2.03, .938) is expected to be in goal tonight for Boston. He has had an incredible season that has kept him at the head of the Vezina Trophy race all year. Pekka Rinne (25-20-8, 2.09, .929) has been his closest rival in save percentage and goals against average. It will be interesting to see the two face off in a rare meeting.
After tonight, things will not get any easier for the Predators as Detroit will be at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday for a 7 p.m. face off. On Sunday, 21 hours later, the Preds will play the Sabres in Buffalo, 700 miles away.
If you don't have tickets for tonight there are big things going on with College Night and a St. Patrick's Day promotion too.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Bryan Mullen, David Boclair, Paul McCann, Predatorial, HNIN, Sam Page, The Tennessean, Preds Insider, and Predators.com.
Previews from a Bruins point of view come from The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Bruins Blog, CSN Northeast, The Bruins Blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder, NESN, Hub Hockey, and Something's Bruin.
David Legwand and Pekka Rinne speak after the last meeting with Boston in Nashville.
Yesterday's RLD Hockey Radio, produced by Ryan Porth, was plenty of fun with special guest Joe Yerdon of NBC's Pro Hockey Talk. We covered a lot of ground including the GM meeting, the Chara hit, the close playoff races, the Devils comeback and ended with a Trophy round table. Go here to listen or download or use the following player.
In Pred Nation...
Ryan Porth discusses the close race that the Preds are in once again.
Section 303 founder Mark Hollingsworth appeared out of nowhere to write a post on Zdeno Chara. I want to see more from Mark.
John Manasso has a feature on Blake Geoffrion at FS TN and talks about the weight of the rookie's name.
Aaron Knoll has a feature about Colin Wilson. Surly he is not writing about the player Barry Trotz called "the winger" on Saturday.
Tyler Davis asks where J P Dumont has been at NHL Hot Stove.
The new concussion protocol went into effect last night. David Poile speaks about the new rules.
Forechecker's empire is growing with yet another new writer, Marc Torrence.
Robby at HNIN had high hopes for a Mike Fisher goal against the Kings and it didn't happen so Fisher is getting called out in this post.
Not surprising news from Craig Custance: David Poile says talks with Shea Weber regarding a contract extension are on hold until the off-season.
Another no brainer from @kausatoday: David Poile said he can't rule out Matthew Lombardi coming back this season, but he hasn't seen any signs that will happen.
The Admirals lost 2-1 in a shootout at the San Antonio Rampage last night but the main storyline was Mark Dekanich leaving the game with an injury.
Predators.com has their weekly Milwaukee Update.
Fifty years ago, Blake Geoffrion's grandfather "Boom-Boom" scored fifty goals to win the league scoring title.
Many folks don't remember part-time Preds radio guy Stu Grimson as "The Grim Reaper." Here is a classic fight on the Kings site of Stu facing off with Marty McSorley in 1994.
Around the NHL...
Vancouver became the first team to clinch a playoff berth with a 4-2 win over Colorado.
The GM meetings ended with discussions about replay and shootouts.
Nick Cotsonika has a great write up about all the GM's watching hockey in a bar, just like normal folks do.
San Jose's Dany Heatley received a two game suspension for a hit to the head of Steve Ott in Tuesday's game.
In a press conference late yesterday, Blues owner Dave Checketts announced that the St Louis franchise was for sale lock, stock, and barrel.
With March Madness starting today, Puck Daddy has 68 reasons why the NHL playoffs are better than the college basketball playoffs. My number one reason would be that the last five minutes of a game doesn't take 20 minutes.
Folks in Winnipeg are drooling now that the Goldwater group is moving forward with a lawsuit. The sale of the bonds appears to be moving forward.
With Vancouver set with a spot in the playoffs, will a better rested Roberto Luongo lead to better playoff success.
MIchael Farber has a feature story on Mark Recchi who will be in town tonight.
Adrian Dater found a sign that Adam Foote plans to retire at the end of the season.
Steve Lapore looks at positive changes at Versus including a full updated NHL Overtime show late night. Steve also has dates for two more weeks of NBC playoff coverage.
The Hockey News explains their process for determining who is a prospect for their Future Watch issue that is currently out.
Intent to Blow has the story of Colin Campbell telling the players to quit hitting each other in the head.
Odds and Ends...
The Motorola Xoom WiFi version is set to release on March 27 with discounted prices as low as $539. The "I wants" are going to get the best of me.
So sad. The Space Shuttle Discovery is undergoing an "autopsy" before it goes to the Smithsonian Museum.
The Hairpin has surreal bra ads from the past. These seem fairly tame compared to the stuff you see today.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass