TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. WASHINGTON
Nashville and Washington clash for the only time in 2009-10 tonight at the Verizon Center, the seventh time the Predators have traveled to our nation’s capital. Since going to Washington D.C., in each of the franchise’s first three seasons, the Predators have visited the defending Southeast Division champs just three times in the last seven campaigns, going 1-1-1. Washington was one of just three Eastern Conference teams the Predators played twice – both home and away – in 2008-09, with both games going past 60 minutes. Nashville fell in a shootout on Oct. 28, 2008 in D.C., despite two goals from Jason Arnott and three assists from J.P. Dumont, and was edged in overtime at the Sommet Center on March 10, 2009 with Sergei Fedorov providing the game winner. Dan Ellis started both games for the Predators, most notably stopping 42-of-44 shots in the second game of the series.
All-time series highlight: On the day after Christmas during the Predators inaugural season in 1998-99, Nashville topped the then-defending Eastern Conference Champion Capitals by a 3-1 score at the Sommet Center. The Predators had beaten the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings just three days prior, completing a sweep of the 1998 Cup Finalists for the NHL’s newest franchise.
Wade Belak notched his lone career two-point performance (1g-1a) against Washington as a member of the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 22, 1997. The goal was his first career tally… Martin Erat has six assists in seven career games against Washington, including one in each game a season ago… Steve Sullivan last dressed for a game against the Capitals on Dec. 7, 2005 at the Verizon Center – a 5-2 win that saw him score twice and attempt a penalty shot on Olaf Kolzig.
Trips to Washington are particularly special for General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz. Prior to becoming Nashville’s first and only GM, Poile spent 15 seasons as the Capitals General Manager, guiding a franchise that had never previously been to the playoffs to the postseason 14 times. The 1997-98 Caps team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals were comprised largely of players Poile acquired. During his tenure, the Caps compiled a record of 595-454-124 (.559), ranking among the NHL's top five teams during that span. Prior to becoming Nashville’s only head coach, Trotz spent five seasons (1992-97) as the bench boss of the Washington Capitals' primary developmental affiliate in the American Hockey League. After one season in Baltimore, the franchise relocated to Portland, Main, where Trotz would lead the Portland Pirates to two Calder Cup Finals appearances over the next four seasons. In 1994-95, Trotz coached Portland to a Calder Cup Championship and a league-best 43-27-10 record and captured AHL Coach of the Year honors. In 2006, he was honored with election to the Pirates’ Hall of Fame. QUICK HITS
The defensive pairing of Shea Weber (24:58) and Ryan Suter (23:47) are averaging two of the top 30 ice time totals in the league through six games. Only twice previously in franchise history (including Suter’s franchise-record 24:15 per game last season) has a Predator averaged more than 24:00 per game. The duo is also tied for the team lead with a plus-2 rating… Jason Arnott is ranked fifth in the league in shots (28)… Francis Bouillon is tied for sixth among league blueliners with 21 hits… Nashville has scored four of its seven goals in the second period… Nashville is second in the league in fewest penalty minutes per game (8.5) only 5-of-22 players to have suited up for a game have more than two PIMs, while eight players have yet to take a penalty.
Teammates and 2009 third-round picks Taylor Beck (4g-6a) and Michael Latta (5g-4a) are both averaging more than a point per game through eight contests for the Guelph Storm (OHL), ranking second and third, respectively, in team scoring, to their club to a 5-2-1 record… 2009 first rounder Ryan Ellis – currently sidelined with a wrist injury – has posted 10 helpers in his first seven games of 2009-10 with Windsor… Gabriel Bourque, a 2009 fifth-round pick, is ranked four in the QMJHL in assists (11), and also leads Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) penalty minutes (33), and is tied for the club lead in points (12) through nine contests… In the college ranks, 2006 third-round pick and captain of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Ryan Thang is tied for the team lead in points with three (1g-2a) through three contests… 2009 seventh rounder Cam Reid has played in 10 of the Westside Warrior’s 11 games, tying for the club lead in points with 18 (7g-11a).
Overseas in the Swiss League, 2008 second rounder Roman Josi leads all league defenseman and ranks sixth among all skaters in points (7g-9a) through 14 contests. He also is tied for fifth overall and is first among d-men in goals, and is tied for ninth overall and first among blueliners in assists.