PREDATORS (1-2-3) at KINGS (2-2-1)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 444/HD: 9514; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. LOS ANGELES
The Predators go head-to-head with the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings tonight at Staples Center, the first meeting of the teams since March 17, 2012. The Kings have had the upper hand in the series the past two seasons, taking three of four games in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. In the four seasons prior from 2005-09, Nashville posted an 11-4-1 mark against L.A., including five straight wins at Staples Center from Jan. 8, 2008-March 14, 2010 and seven consecutive wins overall from Oct. 25, 2008-March 14, 2010. All-time, Los Angeles is the only Western Conference team Nashville has a winning record against on the road (13-10-3) but a losing record against on home ice (9-14-3).
Patric Hornqvist (4g) and Martin Erat (2g-2a) tied for the team lead in points against Los Angeles a season ago. Erat has 27 points (6g-21a) in 35 career games against the Kings, while Hornqvist has seven goals in 14 career games… Roman Josi has points in each of his first two games played against L.A., scoring a goal on Feb. 27, 2012 and notching an assist on March 6, 2012… Sergei Kostitsyn has eight points (2g-6a) in nine career games against the Kings… Chris Mason has recorded five shutouts against Los Angeles – his highest total against any team. The total includes his first career whitewash on Jan. 13, 2004. He has a 9-4-1 record with a 1.80 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage against L.A. in his career.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. LOS ANGELES
Martin Erat – A career-high four assists March 28, 2009 vs. Los Angeles.
David Legwand – Took his second of three career penalty shots on Nov. 5, 2005 at Los Angeles against Jason LaBarbara (no goal).
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 0 at Phoenix 4 at Jobing.com Arena
The Predators were shut out for the second time in three games… Roman Josi led all skaters with five shots on goal, a career high. He and Shea Weber (four shots) accounted for nine of Nashville’s 21 shots (42.8 percent). Weber is tied for ninth among NHL blueliners in shots on goal (16)… Weber also led all Nashville skaters in ice time (25:16). He has logged more than 25 minutes in five of Nashville’s six games this season, and is seventh in the league in average ice time (26:57)… Nashville won the face-off battle thanks to a 9-for-13 (69 percent) night from David Legwand, and an 8-for-13 performance (62 percent) from Mike Fisher… Rich Clune collected his third fighting major of the season, and is tied for second in the league in the category… Ryan Ellis played a season-high 19:16… The Predators were without Patric Hornqvist for the first time this season. He will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a knee sprain.
Scott Hannan is tied for sixth in the NHL in blocked shots (16). He has played more games than any NHL defenseman in the last 10 seasons (804), and has averaged more than 20 minutes in nine of those 10 campaigns. In his first season with Nashville, he has played more than 20 minutes in five of six games and is averaging 20:56… Mike Fisher is tied for second among NHL forwards in blocked shots (10) and ranks 14th at the position in average ice time (21:20)… Shea Weber is tied for 13th in hits among NHL defensemen (15)… After pacing the club with a career-high 58 points (19g-39a) a season ago, Martin Erat is tied with the injured Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in points (2g-2a). The Trebic, Czech Republic native ranks second ranks on Nashville’s all-time goals and points lists (161g-303a-464pts)… The Predators are tied for eighth in the NHL in non-shootout goals against average (2.50) and are ninth in fewest shots against per game (28.0)… The Predators have been shorthanded 19 times this season, third fewest in the League... Nashville has gone to the shootout in three of its first six games this season. A season ago, Nashville only needed the shootout 10 times (5-5) – tied for eighth fewest times in the League – and didn’t reach its third shootout of the campaign until Dec. 28, 2011 against Minnesota, game No. 37.
A FRANCHISE RECORD ROAD TRIP
Tonight marks the fifth game of a franchise record tying seven-game road swing; the Predators also played seven straight on the road from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2002. The trip will last 15 days, and see the team go to Minnesota, St. Louis, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose, then back to St. Louis to wrap things up on Feb. 5. Nashville’s next game in the Music City will be Feb. 7 against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
The Predators are the only team in the Western Conference to advance to the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
The team is one of just five to reach the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and one of three to post 40-plus wins in seven consecutive seasons.
The Preds enter this season with the third-most home victories since the start of the 2005-06 campaign (181), and the fifth-most overall (321).
Nashville has had four awards finalists each of the last two seasons. David Poile has been a finalist for the GM of the Year Award in each of the award’s three years of existence, while Pekka Rinne (Vezina) and Shea Weber (Norris) are back-to-back finalists.
BUILDING ON LAST SEASON’S MOMENTUM
Nashville finished the 2011-12 regular season ranked in the Top 10 of each of the following categories: points, goals for, goals against, power play and penalty kill. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks were the only other team to do so.
The Preds posted the League’s fifth-highest point total (104) and tied with Vancouver and Philadelphia for third in regulation/overtime victories (43)
Nashville ranked eighth in goals per game (2.83) and tied for eighth in goals-against average (2.50) in 2011-12. Only Boston, Detroit and Vancouver ranked among the League’s Top 10 in both goals for and goals against.
The Predators were one of just three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both power-play percentage (first) and penalty kill percentage (10th) during the 2011-12 campaign. Vancouver and Pittsburgh were the only other teams to rank in the Top 10 in both categories. Prior to 2011-12, Nashville had never ranked higher than 10th in power-play efficiency, while the PK finished in the Top 10 for the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. Nashville’s special teams finished a +15 in 2011-12, compared to +3 the season prior.
OLDER AND WISER
The past two seasons, the Predators have thrived despite being one of the League’s youngest teams. They ended the 2010-11 season as the youngest team in the National Hockey League, and began the 2011-12 season as the third-youngest team at 26 years, 5 months. This season, the average age will be more than two years higher at 28 years, 7 months. The addition of veterans Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad at last season’s trade deadline have them fully incorporated into the team’s culture and system, while putting Nashville in the middle of the pack in terms of average age.