Greetings, Pred-ucated ones!
Tonight, the Nashville Predators head west into the desert to face the howlin' desert dogs in what could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup. The Coyotes come into the tilt in 4th place, while the Preds currently sit in fifth. This game has major standings implications, as it represents Nashville's last chance to make a run at home-ice advantage in the first round. The Preds would need to defeat the Coyotes by three or more goals, win their season finale against St Louis on Saturday, while the Coyotes would need to lose their last two in such a fashion that the Preds would maintain a higher GF total. Confused yet? Well, don't be...there's a pretty unlikely course of events that would have to transpire for that particular scenario to unfold, but that's why the games are played.
The Preds and Coyotes have met up 3 times this season. The Coyotes overcame a third period deficit to take the first game of the season series back on January 21 on the strength of a Scottie Upshall hat trick. The second game saw the Predators set a franchise record(broken shortly thereafter vs Detroit) for the longest shootout, a ten-round thriller that the Coyotes emerge victorious after a scoreless goaltenders' duel. The third and most recent match also went to a shootout, this time the Predators game out with the win, with David Legwand netting the game-winner in the SO.
KEYS TO THE GAME
*Get it done in regulation
The Coyotes lead the league in success in the extra frame, with a record of 18-6. The Predators managed to defy the odds with their last shootout win the last time out--best not to tempt fate.
*SHOOT THE PUCK!!
The Coyotes do a good job of boxing out their opponents in the offensive zone, and will attempt to keep chances to the perimeter. To beat that system, it's important to take the shot, rather than looking for the perfect setup, as the Predators are often guilty of doing. Traffic in front of the net becomes paramount here as well, as Bryzgalov will likely stop it if he sees it. Also, watch for the pokecheck from Bryz, something he's trademarked.
*Watch for the activated D in the high slot
Phoenix is not bashful about sending in their defensemen to set up for a shot from the top of the circles. Yandle and Jovonovski are particularly dangerous from this area. Our centers will need to make sure that the center of the ice is covered in the defensive zone to mitigate those chances.
WHO IS HOT?
Forward Lee Stempniak has 13 goals in 15 games since coming to the 'Yotes at the trade deadline.
WHO IS NOT?
Shane Doan is on pace to finish with under 20 goals for the first time since the 98-99 season, and hasn't potted one since January 31
Nashville Predators(46-28-6, 98 pts, 5th place) at Phoenix Coyotes(48-25-6, 102 pts, 4th place)
April 7, 2010 9 pm CST, Jobing.com Arena
TV- Fox Sports TN, NHL Network, Radio- 104.5 the Zone
Goals: Nashville- Hornqvist(30), Phoenix- Vrbata\Stempniak(24)
Assists: Nashville- Sullivan(34), Phoenix- Wolski(39)
Points: Nashville- Hornqvist(51), Phoenix- Wolski(61)
PIMS: Nashville- Belak(58), Phoenix- Bissonette(102)
Wins: Nashville- Rinne(31), Phoenix- Bryzgalov(41)
Phoenix- Kurt Sauer(D) and Scottie Upshall(F) are out. Robert Lang is questionable
Nashville- Denis Grebeshkov(D) is out. Jason Arnott(F) is probable
Lines(Preducated guess at this point!) if anyone has Phoenix's lines or a good guess at it, drop me a line.
Erat Arnott Hornqvist
Sullivan Goc Dumont
Wilson Legwand Ward
Smithson Boyd Tootoo
AZ Central Preview