Game Day Blog: Preds vs. Minnesota Wild

Thursday, 03.18.2010 / 2:24 PM / Preview
By Tom Callahan  - Nashville Predators
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Game Day Blog: Preds vs. Minnesota Wild
Game Preview
Nashville Predators vs. Minnesota Wild
Bridgestone Arena - 7 pm CST
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

The suddenly surging Minnesota Wild venture into the Bridgestone Arena tonight, riding a three-game win streak that has them thinking playoffs once again, despite having the second-worst road record in the Western Conference behind Edmonton.

With only 11 wins away from the Xcel Energy Center this year, the Wild have struggled to put things together on the road. You would think that a team missing its starting goaltender for the past four games might falter, but Josh Harding has played well in posting wins over his last three starts with a 2.00 GAA and .950 save percentage in those games.

Tack on the fact that the Wild are also missing Shane Hnidy, Clayton Stoner, and Brett Burns (all day to day) as well as Derek Boogaard (nose) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who still battles concussion issues since getting hit on opening night.

But somehow they’ve battled and found ways to stick around, and with Harding finding a bit of a groove, could make them dangerous with a strong goaltending tandem once Backstrom is healthy enough to return.

For Nashville, they ended up holding on against Philadelphia but know they must be sharper and have more energy tonight against the Wild. Minnesota has taken advantage of teams by jumping on them early during this modest little streak, and Nashville did just that against the Flyers two nights ago. That said, the team has to be able to extend out the effort for 60 minutes and hope that Pekka Rinne is indeed showing his playoff form following his 42-save performance on Tuesday night.

Expect the Predators’ lineup to remain unchanged for tonight.

Notes:
  • Andrew Ebbett (9) and Antti Miettinen (18) each reached career highs in goals against the Oilers.
  • Chuck Kobasew’s goal was his first since November 27th.
  • Minnesota has given up only two 5-on-3 goals this year, one of those against Edmonton.
  • Tuesday’s game was the ninth straight game in which Nashville was shorthanded three or less times.
  • Nashville is 9-0-2 when Steve Sullivan scores, and he has 12 points in his last 12 home games.

Keys to the Game
  • For both teams, a good start. The Wild has focused on getting out of the gates quickly lately, and would love to do so again tonight. Nashville managed to hang on from a 3-1 start against the Flyers for the 4-3 shootout win on Tuesday.
  • Annoy Harding. Get in front of the net and try to disrupt his rhythm. When a goalie can find the puck, he can usually stop it. Traffic and rebounds are going to be huge.
  • Make Minnesota chase you. The Wild still are a patient team but if you can get them to chase you around, you might be able to grab some power play chances. Working hard in the corners and keeping the feet moving are big factors here.
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