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The Week Ah-Pred: Jan. 6

Monday, 01.6.2014 / 4:30 PM CT / Features
By Jimi Russell  - Nashville Predators
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The Week Ah-Pred: Jan. 6

After the holiday break, the Week Ah-Pred is back! It’s been a busy couple of weeks since we last saw each other, but the New Year is bringing new triumphs and new challenges to the Preds family.

After defeating Los Angeles and Detroit to close out 2013, the Preds were able to take points in two of three games last week.

It wasn’t all about success on the big league ice though. At the 2014 World Junior Championship, the Predators were well-represented, especially on the gold-medal winning Finnish team.

Prospect forward Saku Maenalanen finished at the tournament’s top goal-scorer, while prospect netminder Juuse Saros led the Finns to the championship with top player honors and a Media All-Star Team nomination.

On the losing side of the World Junior Gold Medal Game, prospect forward Filip Forsberg, who posted the second-most points in the tournament (4g-8a-12pts), was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Directorate’s Top Forward.

Read more about the 2014 World Juniors here.

Are you ready for a five-game homestand? The Nashville Predators certainly are as they look at the longest stretch of “home cooking” since the second week of the season.

                    Teddy Lewis
San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators – Tuesday, Jan. 7 – 7 p.m. CT
(102.5 The Game)

The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play the second of their three-game season slate on Tuesday night in Nashville. The Preds will travel to SAP Center on April 5, 2014 for the final tilt of the year between these two foes.

In the first meeting of the season on Dec. 14, Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first 40 minutes of play on goals from Eric Nystrom and Roman Josi. San Jose cranked up the pressure in the third, as Dan Boyle cut the margin to 2-1 early on, before Viktor Stalberg opened the gap again with his fourth goal of the season. Patrick Marleau, who is always dangerous when he comes to Bridgestone, netted an extra-attacker goal with 55 seconds remaining to get the Sharks back within striking distance. But goaltender Carter Hutton stood tall, stopping 36-of-38 shots to lead Nashville to a 3-2 victory. San Jose’s 20 third-period shots against still stand as a season-high for shots against the Preds.

Nashville has picked up points in 10 of its last 12 games against the Sharks, posting a 7-2-3 record in those games, and is 5-2-1 in the series since the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign. The Preds hold the 15-11-(1)-1 advantage on home ice.

           Universal Pictures/Lucas Films
Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators – Thursday, Jan. 9 – 7 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game)

The Preds and Ducks meet for the first time this season on Thursday night in Smashville. Anaheim will return on Feb. 8, before the Preds head to Pacific coast on April 4. Nashville has collected at least a point in eight of its last nine games against the Ducks dating back to Jan. 5, 2011. The Preds are 6-1-2 in those games. The Preds are 15-7-(2)-3 all-time against the Ducks on Bridgestone Arena ice.

These teams last meet in the Music City on Feb. 16, 2013, as David Legwand got things started for the Preds, before Shea Weber scored his first goal of the season – the 100th goal of his career – in the middle frame. The score would remain knotted at two goals through regulation and overtime, before Corey Perry beat Pekka Rinne in the post-overtime skills competition for the win.

Ottawa Senators at Nashville Predators – Saturday, Jan. 11 – 6 p.m. CT**
(FOX Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game)

The Preds open back-to-back home games as the Ottawa Senators come to town for just the eighth time in franchise history. Nashville is 3-4-0 in those seven games, last winning on home in on Dec. 14, 2006.

You’d have to go back to Dec. 23, 2010 to find the last game between the Sens and Preds at Bridgestone Arena. On that night, Ottawa jumped out to an early lead on an Alex Kovalev goal midway through the opening period, before a power-play goal made it 2-0 just five minutes into the second. Marcel Goc would tally just three minutes later, but the 2-1 margin would stand at the final buzzer.

Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators – Sunday, Jan. 12 – 6 p.m. CT**
(FOX Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game)

The Minnesota Wild make their final appearance in Nashville this season on Sunday night. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Predators are 8-2-2 against the Wild, and have won six of the last seven on home ice against Minnesota since March 18, 2010.

The Preds opened their 2013-14 home slate against the Wild on Oct. 8, when special teams goals were the name of the game. After Zach Parise gave the Wild the early lead on a power-play goal, rookie forward Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson responded with power-play goals of their own within the next minute-and-a-half. Nashville would jump out to a three-goal lead at the 11:14 mark of the first, when Eric Nystrom converted his first career penalty shot. Jared Spurgeon registered a power-play goal of his own in the second, but the Wild could not overcome the deficit, and the Predators won, 3-2.

Pekka Rinne is on IR with a hip injury.

A glance back at the 2014 World Juniors…

As I wrote earlier, Filip Forsberg posted the second-most points (4g-8a-12pts) at the World Juniors and was named the tournament’s MVP and Top Forward. Forsberg, who captained his native Sweden, made it back-to-back MVPs for Preds players in IIHF competition, after defenseman Roman Josi was named MVP at the World Championship in May 2013.

Saku Maenalanen, perhaps the Preds least-known prospect from last year’s draft, proved Nashville scouts right with seven goals in the tournament to lead all skaters. Maenalanen pocketed two points (1g-1a) in the championship game, and finished the tournament third in points (7g-4a-11pts).

Finnish netminder Juuse Saros was the most talked about player in the final game, as he thwarted the Swedes at every turn. Saros finished the tournament as the top-rated goaltender with a 5-0-1 record, a 1.57 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. Saros’ efforts landed him on the tournament’s Media All-Star Team.

Another Finnish prospect playing the tournament was defenseman Mikko Vainonen. Known for his physical, shutdown style of play, Vainonen chipped in two assists when his country needed him most – in the semifinals against Canada and on the golden goal in Sunday afternoon’s championship game.

Outside of the Scandinavian prospects, the Preds were represented by American Zach Stepan. After missing time early in the tournament with a lower-body injury, the Hastings, Minn., native finished with two assists in four games for Team USA.

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 4: Goaltender Tim Thomas #34 of the Florida Panthers defends the net against Matt Hendricks #26 of the Nashville Predators at the BB&T Center on January 4, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)





1 DAL 56 36 15 5 182 150 77
2 CHI 59 36 18 5 162 137 77
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 SJS 54 29 20 5 158 144 63
6 ANA 54 27 19 8 123 127 62
7 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
8 NSH 56 26 21 9 147 148 61
9 ARI 55 25 24 6 144 168 56
10 MIN 55 23 22 10 135 138 56
11 VAN 55 22 21 12 127 149 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 55 25 27 3 140 158 53
14 EDM 57 22 29 6 139 169 50


R. Josi 56 11 31 0 42
F. Forsberg 56 18 18 -7 36
S. Weber 56 15 21 -2 36
M. Ribeiro 56 6 30 3 36
J. Neal 56 21 14 19 35
M. Ekholm 56 6 19 3 25
R. Ellis 55 6 16 2 22
C. Jarnkrok 55 11 8 2 19
C. Smith 56 11 7 -1 18
R. Johansen 16 4 12 6 16
P. Rinne 20 18 8 .902 2.57
C. Hutton 6 2 1 .924 2.10