Paul McCann: Game Night in the ‘Peg

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It’s a game night that may not require copious amounts of coffee to get through as the Predators are back in their own time zone to finish the final three games of their CMA road trip. Tonight begins a three game stretch of Central Division opponents as the Preds hit Winnipeg for the final time this season. The Jets have a five game point streak and haven’t given up a goal in over two games.

That has stoked hope in Jets Nation as Winnipeg stands only three points behind the Predators in the division after a terrible start to the season.

Winnipeg has found goaltending as the tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson posted back-to-back shutouts over the Rangers and Blackhawks. The big question for this tandem will be consistency as Pavelec has shown himself to be streaky as a netminder. The Jets have to win with defense as their anemic offense is averaging a paltry 1.75 goals per game… good for 28th in the league. In their back-to-back shutouts over the last two games they have scored one goal and won a shootout of a 0-0 game. A clear example of a team jelling while on an extended road trip, we are seeing some of the same things as the Predators continue their annual CMA odyssey.

On the other side of the puck, the Predators are doing it with defense, ranking 5th in the NHL in GAA. Rookie Filip Forsberg contributed to his strong early start to his season with two goals against Vancouver on Sunday, giving him the team scoring lead and the lead in the NHL rookie scoring race with 11 points. His strong start has increased his mentions for possible Calder consideration.

Game time is 7pm on Fox Sports Tennessee, 102.5 the Game and the Predators Radio Network.

Tonight’s preview from NHL.com

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Random Notes

– The Predators are 5-2-1 in games where they give up the first goal… go figure.

– Predators head coach Peter Laviolette is four wins away from his 400th career win as an NHL head coach.

– Thursday night’s Preds opponent, the Dallas Stars, coming off a loss to the Wild, take on the LA Kings tonight in Big D.

– Saturday night’s Preds opponent, the St. Louis Blues are hotter than a two-dollar pistol, winners of five straight as they head to the Rock tonight to take on the Devils. They begin play a single point out of first in the Central.

– Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Wild are also coming up fast. Two points back and playing well, the Wild are making a move.

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SlapShot Radio is back every Wednesday at 7pm on 102.5 the Game and the SlapShot Radio Network. Our guests this week include New York Times writer John Branch, the author of Boy on Ice and the host of Hockey This Morning on SiriusXM’s NHL Network Radio, Mike Ross. Our premier, day one sponsor is back, that’s Dr. Jane Bacon at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry … make your appointment at 615-872-7762.

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This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.