TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CHICAGO
The Predators and Blackhawks meet up for the first of three games the clubs will play in a 15-day span, and of six total contests the clubs will play in 2009-10 tonight at the Sommet Center. The teams split the season series at three apiece a season ago, with Nashville holding Chicago to three goals or fewer in five of the six – goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis combined to post a 2.16 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. The power play was also key to victory a season ago, with it clicking at a rate 12 points above the season average against the ‘Hawks (5-for-18, 27.8%). The Predators are 9-3-3 when hosting the Blackhawks since the start of the 2005-06 season, and 16-9-6 against them all-time at the Sommet Center.
The most notable contest of the 2008-09 series came on Feb. 24, 2009 at the Sommet Center. Trailing 3-1 after 40 minutes of play, the Predators reeled off four third-period goals to win 5-3. Having beaten St. Louis in overtime three nights earlier, Nashville would win four more after the Chicago game for a six-game winning streak, moving it from 12th, to as high as sixth in the Western Conference Standings. Also in the 2008-09 season series, Steve Sullivan made his return to the Predators lineup after missing nearly two years due to a back injury (Jan. 10), and Nashville spoiled Chicago’s home opener with a 3-2 shootout victory (Oct. 13).
The Predators are 1-1-1 all-time in games played on October 15. In the '02-03 season the Preds picked up an overtime point with a 3-4 OTL against the NY Islanders. Nashville picked up a 4-1 win over St. Louis home on Oct. 15, 2005, before posting a 4-6 loss at Dallas last season.
Four players (David Legwand, 3g-2a; J.P. Dumont, 1g-4a; Joel Ward, 1g-4a; Martin Erat, 1g-4a) each had a team-high five points against Chicago last season, with Legwand and Erat doing it in just four games apiece… Legwand has picked up more goals (18), assists (26) and points (46), in more games (46) against Chicago, than any other player in franchise history against any other team… As a Predator, Sullivan has 22 points (7g-15a) in 20 games against the team that traded him to Nashville on Feb. 16, 2004… Dumont started his career as a Blackhawk, posting 33 points (19g-14a) in 72 games from 1998-2000, before being traded to Buffalo on March 10, 2000. He has 22 points (6g-16a) in 27 career games against Chicago.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Blackhawks
Jason Arnott – First game as a Predator on Oct. 5, 2006. First goal as a Predator on Oct. 12, 2006 on Nikolai Khabibulin.
J.P. Dumont – First game and goal (on Khabibulin) as a Predator on Oct. 5, 2006. David Legwand – Most points (3g-1a) in a game and first career hat trick on Jan. 20, 2007. Kevin Klein – First NHL goal on Jan. 26, 2007 against Khabibulin. Pekka Rinne – First NHL game and win on Dec. 15, 2005. Ryan Suter – First NHL goal on Dec. 21, 2005 against Khabibulin.
Nashville closes out its first of 15 back-to-backs it will play this season (two games in two nights)… Both Jason Arnott and Patric Hornqvist have been in on five of Nashville’s six goals this season. Arnott has half the club’s goal output, while assisting on two others. Hornqvist has two tallies while pacing the club with three helpers. Through four games, Hornqvist is just two points shy of his 28-game output from a season ago (2g-5a)… Arnott is tied with Sidney Crosby for third in the NHL in shots on goal (27)… Francis Bouillon ranks fifth among NHL defensemen in hits (25)… The Predators are tied for eighth with Boston in shots per game (31.6). Nashville has outshot its opponent in five of the last six periods, and has a plus-24 shot differential in the past two games.
WILSON BECOMES THE EIGHTH FIRST ROUNDER TO SUIT UP FOR THE CLUB
Since the franchise selected David Legwand with its first-ever Entry Draft selection in 1998, the club has selected a total of 12 first-round picks – the Predators had no first rounder in 2006, and a pair in 2008. On Monday, Colin Wilson became the eighth of those 12 selections to suit up for Nashville, and the ninth to play in an NHL game – Ryan Parent has played all 59 games of his career with Philadelphia. With 2005 third rounder Teemu Laakso also making his debut this season, Nashville has seen 36 of its picks go on to play at least one NHL game. With many of the draftees from 2006-09 still developing in juniors, college and the AHL, 35 have come from the drafts between 1998-2005, an average output of more than four picks per year. In 2009-10, 12 of the 24 players to appear on Nashville’s active roster were selected by the club.
At 19 years, 357 days, Wilson is just the fourth teenager ever to play for the Predators, following Scott Hartnell (18 years, 172 days), Legwand (18 years, 243 days) and Scottie Upshall (19 years, eight days).
THE HOCKEY NEWS LISTS SUTER AND WEBER AMONG LEAGUE’S ELITE
In The Hockey News’ recent season preview edition, it listed the Top 20 players by position, and both Ryan Suter and Shea Weber made the cut among the League’s elite blueliners. The magazine listed Weber as the eighth-best d-man in the league, while Suter came in at No. 20. THN also constructed “all-division” teams, and both Suter and Weber, along with goaltender Pekka Rinne were featured on the Central Division’s team. Weber made the top defensive pairing with six-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, while Suter was on the third pairing with another Red Wing d-man, Niklas Kronwall. Rinne was featured as the No. 2 netminder behind Columbus’ Steve Mason.
ARNOTT & WEBER MAKE UP ONE OF THE LEAGUE’S TOP FORWARD-DEFENSEMAN DUOS
In 2008-09, Jason Arnott (33) broke the franchise’s goals record, while Shea Weber (23) tied with Sheldon Souray for the second-most markers among defensemen, in addition to snapping Nashville’s goals by a blueliner mark. Their combined 56 goals tied for the second highest total by forward and defenseman duo with Carolina’s Eric Staal (40) and Anton Babchuk (16), Detroit’s Marian Hossa (40) and Nicklas Lidstrom (16) and Boston’s Phil Kessel (36) and Zdeno Chara (19). Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin (56) and Mike Green (31) led all duos, and are the only other combination (with Arnott and Weber) that is reunited in 2009-10. Babchuk (KHL), Hossa (Chicago) and Kessel (Toronto) have all moved on from their former teams.