Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slumping Leafs Make Rare Visit to Nashville Tonight

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for only the fourth time in franchise history. The Predators hold a 2-1 edge against the Leafs in Music City and 6-5-1 overall.

After a 7-2-2 start to the season, the Leafs have slumped, losing four of their last five games. The Predators have taken the opposite route, starting slow and going 7-2-2 in their last eleven games.

Nashville is coming off a huge 3-1 comeback win over the star-studded Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Leafs lost 3-2 in a shoot-out at home against the Coyotes on the same night.

Tonight's game will mark the return of ex-Preds Matthew Lombardi (2g, 4a) and Cody Franson (0g, 1a) to Nashville.

Franson was trilled to be joining his favorite team from childhood when the trade was announced in July, but his time in Toronto has been nothing short of a disaster. He has only played four games and was reported to have been "bag skated" before Tuesday's game. He is expected to play tonight due to injuries.

The Predators have hot hands in Marty Erat (3g, 4a, in the last 8 games) and Craig Smith (5g, 5a in his last 11 games). Toronto brings the league leader in goals and points in Phil Kessel (13g, 12 a).

Pekka Rinne (9-4-3, 2.19, .933) is expected to be in goal for the Predators while rookie Ben Scrivens (2-2-1, 2.92, .904) is expected to start for the Leafs.

Special team play should favor the Predators tonight as the Preds are fourth (88.9%) in the league on the penalty kill while the Leafs are in last place (73.1%). They are similar on the power play as the Leafs are at 16.9% while the Preds are at 14.8%.

A win tonight will move Predators coach Barry Trotz into fourth place by himself on the list of wins with a single team. Trotz tied Glen Sather at 464 wins on Tuesday with the victory over the Caps.

David Legwand (5g, 9a) is out for the Predators and not expected back this weekend. The Leafs are even more battered and bruised and are missing goalie James Reimer, Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, and Colby Armstrong. Colton Orr has had the flu but should be available tonight.

Puck drop will be shortly after 7 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on FS-TN and 102.5, The Game. Go here for POTG discount tickets and use the offer code preds for the game against the Leafs as well as all remaining games.

Other Predator previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Robby Stanley, Fang Finger, Ryan Porth, Dirk Hoag, David Boclair, Paul McCann, Kris MartelThe Tennessean, and

Ryan Porth also has an audio clip of Jerred Smithson talking about the Leafs.

For news from from TO, check out the Globe and Mail, The Toronto Sun, Pension Plan Puppets, The National Post, LeafsNation, Hockey 54Maple Leafs Hot Stove, Eat, Sleep, Leafs, Down Goes Brown, Battle of Ontario, Bitter Leaf Fan, Toronto Sports Media, and my favorite Leaf's site, Vintage Leaf Memories.

Here are the game notes from NHL Media Services.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass

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