Response to adversity. Bounce back. Push. Resilience. Character.
All those things will be tested today as the Nashville Predators take the ice for a matinee against the New York Rangers with the opportunity to show all of those things and put the team two points up on the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division race. It’s the first game of the season between these two teams, Nashville travels to New York in early March.
It’s a couple of speed teams getting together today and as the team was very clear about in post-practice quotes… they have to get off to a better start.
That may be the main storyline for today’s matchup, but there are other compelling ones as well…
The Return of Kevin Klein – The popular blueliner was traded to the Rangers last season and is making a home on the blueline at MSG, especially partnered with Marc Staal.
Another Homecoming of Sorts – For the second time in as many years, former University of Alabama Huntsville goaltender Cam Talbot will be in net for the Rangers. The former charger netminder will play his third game at Bridgestone Arena… the first one was a regular season NCAA matchup a few years back. Last season Talbot stopped all 17 shots he faced as the Rangers took down the Preds 2-0.
Pekka – If you want to get a sense of the character of this goaltender, simply look at Thursday night. After fighting the puck a bit and having every bounce go the wrong way and a 4-0 deficit… Coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout. Simply to check on his goalie… not to yell and scream… to see if he was OK, and to ask him if he wanted to leave the game. A masterstroke on the coach’s part as Rinne response was to remain in the game and then shutting the door the rest of the game and looked far more comfortable in net. Expect a MUCH different start from the big Finn today.
The Rangers have been sneaky good this year, not getting a huge amount of publicity, just quietly going about positioning themselves for another deep playoff run. Other than Henrik Lundqvist being out for a few weeks after taking a puck to the throat, their injury list is clear. Nashville still has Ryan Eliis on IR.
Keep an eye on Rick Nash… he is putting together a nice season on Broadway, 32 goals and 16 assists have the big center on a point-per-game pace. The Rangers have been getting some supporting offense from Derek Brassard (13 goals) Martin St. Louis (14 goals) and Chris Kreider (11 goals) but Nash is the big stick.
Game time is 2pm in Smashville. Coverage on 102.5 the Game and FS-Tennessee.
Here is your video preview from nhl.com
I’d like you to know about the Peterson for Parkinson’s fundraiser happening on February 16th at the Franklin Theatre. It’s called “Songwriters and Storytellers” and will feature performances from some of Nashville’s premier songwriters. Writers of hits for artists like Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean… just to name a few. For more information, including how to purchase tickets Click here. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm… it should be an awesome show for a great cause.
– Standings update after play on 2/6 – The Predators remain first in the division, ST. Louis’s loss last night gives the Predators a game in hand over the Blues. The Ducks have taken over the conference and league lead with a three point advantage after their overtime loss last night. The Predators now have two games in hand over Anaheim. Chicago trails the Predators and Blues by six points after their win against the Jets. The Blues and Blackhawks play Sunday in what should be a good one.
– The Western Wild Card race saw little change with last night’s results. Vancouver remains in the second wild card slot in the west with 59 points, Winnipeg picked up a point last night to put them up 3 over Vancouver. This situation will be very fluid given the three games in hand that Vancouver holds over both Calgary, San Jose and Winnipeg.
– Colin Wilson is thriving under the Laviolette system. Wilson scored his 17th of the season on Thursday… a career high.
– In Milwaukee last night, the Admirals beat Rockford 4-1 to take the division lead… the big story for Pred Nation? Kevin Fiala with his first two goals of his North American career.
– Is Marc-Andre Fluery back? He recorded a Penguins franchise record 8th shutout last night as Pittsburgh rolled over Calgary on the road last night
– The Leafs broke a franchise record last night… and that’s saying something for a team that has been around as long as they have… but it wasn’t a good one. Toronto dropped its’ 11th straight, losing to New Jersey 4-1.
– Las Vegas kicks off its season ticket deposit campaign on Tuesday.
– The Blues were finally cooled off by the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, losing 7-1.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter. Search for @PredPAPaul… Not only will I be updating when I get news or updates, but we are having a bit of fun by getting your input on Gnash introductions, weigh in on Twitter and who knows, we may use your introduction for the best mascot in the NHL at the next Preds game! You can also keep up with all the goings on with SlapShot Radio by following the show on Twitter @SlapShotRadio1
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