TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CHICAGO
Tonight marks the third time in a 15-day span these two Central Division rivals will meet up, and Chicago’s second trip to the Music City in 2009-10. The Predators and Blackhawks will play three more times in December, and be done with their six-game series slate two days after Christmas. Chicago has taken each of the first two meetings this season by two goals – a 3-1 win at the Sommet Center on Oct. 15 and a 2-0 decision at the United Center on Saturday. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, Nashville is 9-4-3 against Chicago on home ice, and 16-10-6 against the Hawks at the Sommet Center all-time. Nashville has held Chicago to three goals or fewer in nine of the last 10 meetings dating back to March 22, 2008. In that span, Nashville goaltenders Dan Ellis, Chris Mason and Pekka Rinne have posted a 2.19 save percentage and a .928 save percentage. The 65 all-time meetings between the clubs is even, with Nashville holding a 29-29-7 record.
Tonight marks just the second time in team history the Preds are playing a game on October 29. Nashville dropped a 5-1 decision to the Oilers in 2005, the only other time the Preds have played on this date.
All-time series highlights: On Oct. 25, 2005, Nashville racked up a franchise-record 95 penalty minutes, with Jeremy Stevenson contributing a single-game high 35 of them in a 5-3 victory over Chicago at the Sommet Center… On Jan. 10, 2009, after nearly two years on the sidelines with a back injury, Steve Sullivan returned to the Predators lineup and played 41 of the club’s final 42 games. The comeback earned him the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” making him the first player in franchise history to win an NHL award.
Martin Erat scored the Predators lone goal against Chicago this season, and has six points (2g-4a) in six games against the Hawks dating back to the beginning of last season… Ryan Suter assisted on Erat’s goal, giving him five assists in eight games against Chicago since the start of 2008-09… David Legwand has picked up more goals (18), assists (26) and points (46), in more games (48) against Chicago, than any other player in franchise history against any other team. He has five points (3g-2a) in his last five games against Chicago… As a Predator, Steve Sullivan has 22 points (7g-15a) in 22 games against the team that traded him to Nashville on Feb. 16, 2004… J.P. 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 29 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. QUICK HITS
Defenseman Shea Weber posted a goal and an assist last night at Minnesota, giving him five points (3g-2a) in the last three games. The goal moved Weber into a tied for second among League d-men in the category (4)… Weber’s defensive partner, Ryan Suter, assisted on his first-period power-play goal, giving Suter four points (2g-2a) in three games, and seven points (2g-5a) this season. Both Weber (8 points, 25:04 per game) and Suter (7 points, 25:06 per game) rank among the Top 20 in points by a blueliner, and average ice time… J.P. Dumont scored Nashville’s first goal of the game last night, and is tied with Weber for the team points lead (3g-5a). Dumont has only played seven-of-11 games this season, and has six points (2g-4a) in the last three games. All eight of his points have come on the road… Nashville went one-for-three on the power play last night in Minnesota, and has now converted three of its last nine man-advantage attempts (33 percent)… Tonight is the third of 15 sets of back-to-backs Nashville will play this season. It is 1-1-0 on the back-end of the two-games-in-two-nights situation thus far.
CANADIAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Four of Nashville’s five CHL prospects were selected to participate in the 2009 SUBWAY Super Series, which pits teams of CHL All-Stars against Team Russia in preparation for the World Junior Hockey Championships. For the Ontario Hockey League, defenseman Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires and center Michael Latta of the Guelph Storm were chosen, while defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel of the Shawinigan Cataractes and Gabriel Bourque of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar were selected from the Quebec League.
On Monday, Roussel was named the QMJHL’s Offensive Player of the Week after tallying two goals and five assists in three games. The 2009 second-round choice is tied for ninth among League blueliners in points (2g-12a). Bourque, meanwhile, has the most points (3g-14a) among the League’s Top 20 players in penalty minutes – he is tied for 10th (39) in PIMs while averaging more than a point per game. In the OHL, Latta is second on the Storm in points (7g-7a) to another Predators prospect, 2009 third rounder Taylor Beck, who is also tied for 11th in League scoring (9g-11a).
BCHL: On the other side of the country, playing at the Junior A level for the Westside Warriors, 2009 seventh round pick Cam Reid ranks sixth in BCHL points with 26 (9g-17a), and seventh in assists, in 16 games.
NCAA: A pair of Predators picks are off to fast starts for the college teams, with 2007 fourth round selection Ben Ryan leading No. 8-ranked Notre Dame in points through six games (2g-4a). 2006 second rounder Blake Geoffrion has netted a team-high three goals in four contests for Wisconsin.
EUROPE: In the Swiss League, 2008 second round pick Roman Josi continues to produce for Bern, despite being a 19-year-old playing against men 10-15 years older than him. The 6-1, 198-pound blueliner leads the league in goals by a d-man (8) and ranks second among defensemen in points (17).