TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. PHOENIX The Predators and Coyotes clash for the first of four times in 2010-11 tonight at Jobing.com Arena with the visitors in search of their first win at the venue since March 9, 2009. A season ago, the Predators went 1-2-1 against Desert Dogs including a 1-1 record in games that required a shootout. On March 25, 2010, Pekka Rinne stopped 32 shots in 65 minutes of action, then 2-of-3 shooters in the breakaway competition, in a 4-3 victory at Bridgestone Arena. Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist posted a goal and an assist each, while Cal O’Reilly and David Legwand converted in the shootout to lead the offensive attack. The game prior on Feb. 2, 2010, Rinne stopped all 26 shots he faced and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots in a contest that needed a 10-round shootout to determine a winner. Both goaltenders recorded shutouts in the 1-0 Phoenix win. Rinne also posted a shutout in Nashville’s last win in the desert, stopping 18-of-18 shots on March 14, 2009. Nashville is 21-18-(2)-3 all-time against Phoenix, and have posted a point percentage greater than .500 in four of the past six season series, going 14-7-(1)-1 vs. the ‘Yotes since the start of the 2003-04 season. Also of note, the Predators have gone eight consecutive games without allowing a Coyotes power-play dating back to Feb. 10, 2008.
Steve Sullivan paced the Preds in scoring against Phoenix last season with four points (2g-2a) in four games. Since joining the Predators the Timmins, Ont., native has 18 points (8g-10a) in 15 games against Phoenix and 33 points (13g-20a) in 38 career games vs. the Coyotes…
Rinne is 4-1-1 against Phoenix for his career with a 1.46 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and a pair of shutouts… Captain Shea Weber has nine assists in 18 career contests vs. Phoenix. The only teams he has more helpers against are divisional foes St. Louis and Columbus (10 each).
All-time series highlight, January 15, 1999: Tomas Vokoun posts first shutout in franchise history
After starting the Predators inaugural season third on the goaltending depth chart behind Mike Dunham and Eric Fichaud, Tomas Vokoun stopped all 31 shots he faced to author the first shutout in franchise history against the Phoenix Coyotes in the team’s 42nd game. Cliff Ronning, who started the season with the Coyotes, came back to haunt his former team by scoring a power-play goal in the first period, and sealed the deal with an empty netter at 19:01 of the third. The then-22-year-old Vokoun was lights out in just the 15th start of his rookie season, withstanding 24 shots over the final two periods, which included stoning Juha Ylonen and Shane Doan on breakaways in the second frame.
The Predators have racked up 13 points (5-2-3 record) through 10 games of the 2010-11 season, tied for the second-fastest start in franchise history. Nashville started the 2006-07 campaign – one that saw it set franchise records in both wins (51) and points (110) – with 13 points as well thanks to a 6-3-1 mark. The team’s best start to a season came in 2005-06 when Nashville reeled off eight straight wins to start the season, tied for the second-longest winning streak to start a campaign in NHL history, en route to a 8-1-1 start (17 points).
Tonight is the second part of a five-game road trip that will also take the Predators to Los Angeles, Anaheim and St. Louis. Nine of Nashville’s 10 games between Oct. 30-Nov. 22 are on the road, and it only plays at Bridgestone Arena twice between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23… The Predators are one of nine (prior to Tuesday’s games) teams with a road winning percentage of .750 or greater (3-1-0 record). A season ago, Nashville posted a 23-15-3 (49 points) record away from Bridgestone Arena, tying a franchise record and ranking fourth in the League in road wins… Nashville is 4-2-1 against the Western Conference, including a 2-0-0 record vs. the Pacific Division… The Predators have given up just 15 five-on-five goals through 10 games. Its five-on-five goals-against average (1.50) is tied for sixth lowest in the NHL… The Predators have been outshot in six consecutive games and in seven of their last eight. When outshooting the opposition, they are 2-0-1 (.667), tied for the best winning percentage in the League… Both Pekka Rinne (.928) and Anders Lindback (.925) – the tallest goaltending tandem in NHL history at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively – rank among the Top 10 in save percentage… Shea Weber is ranked among the Top 10 NHL blueliners in both hits (tied for seventh, 28) and average ice time (ninth, 25:42)… Francis Bouillon leads the team and ranks sixth among NHL d-men in hits (29)… Jerred Smithson is ranked third in the NHL in face-off efficiency (63.3 percent)… Joel Ward ranks among the Top 15 forwards in blocked shots (11), while David Legwand and Cal O’Reilly, with 10 takeaways apiece, rank among the Top 20 forwards in that category.
NASHVILLE GOOD IN THE CLOSE ONES
Nashville has earned at least a point in 23 consecutive one-goal games dating back to Feb. 9, 2010 at N.Y. Islanders (18-0-5). Seven of Nashville’s 10 contests in 2010-11 have been decided by one goal, with the three exceptions being Saturday at Detroit (2-5), last Thursday vs. St. Louis (0-3) and opening night vs. Anaheim (4-1, Oct. 9). The Predators 13 points through 10 contests (5-2-3) is the second-highest total in franchise history, behind only an 8-1-1 start by the 2005-06 squad.
SUCCESS STARTS AT THE TOP
Nashville’s 5-2-3 start has helped head coach Barry Trotz continue to edge closer to fifth all-time in NHL history in both games coached and wins with a single franchise. Sitting at 912 games behind the Nashville bench, Trotz is just two contests away from tying legendary Montreal bench boss Toe Blake for fifth on the games coached list – something he is slated to attain Saturday at Los Angeles. Jack Adams sits fourth on the list with 964 games coached with Detroit (1927-47). With 416 victories, the Dauphin, Man., native is also just three victories shy of fifth on the wins with one team list, with Scotty Bowman’s tenure with Montreal in his sights (419, 1971-79).
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile, meanwhile, ranks third all-time in both wins (1,010) and games (2,091) by a general manager. Harry Sinden (1,146) ranks first on the wins list, followed by Glen Sather (1,100), while Sather is first on the games list (2,324) with Sinden (2,152) second.