TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. EDMONTON
The Nashville Predators begin their first of two Western Canada swings tonight at Rexall Place, a venue they’ve posted an 8-1-1 record in since the start of the 2006-07 season. Overall since 2006-07, Nashville is 16-3-1 against the Edmonton Oilers, averaging 3.55 goals per game in the process.
In 2010-11, Nashville picked up five of a possible eight points (2-1-1 record), going 1-0-1 in the NHL’s northernmost city. Both games in Edmonton went to a shootout – the Predators prevailed by a 3-2 margin on Jan. 23, while the Oil won 2-1 on March 1 despite Blake Geoffrion scoring his first career goal.
Nashville outshot Edmonton by a 130-92 margin in last season’s four games, including a plus-31 differential in the first period (54-33). Nashville also won the special teams battle, highlighted by an 11-for-12 (91.7 percent) performance on the penalty kill.
Ryan Suter led all Predators in points against Edmonton a season ago with three assists in four games… Patric Hornqvist has posted eight points (5g-3a) in nine career games vs. the Oilers… Martin Erat notched his first career hat trick, a natural hat trick, at Rexall Place on March 4, 2008, the second road hat trick in franchise history… David Legwand (10g-19a-30pts, 40gp) and Shea Weber (7g-7a-14pts, 19gp) have seen more offensive success against Edmonton than any other non-divisional opponent… Pekka Rinne has won seven of his 10 career decisions against Edmonton (7-2-1)
Career highs/highlights attained against the Oilers Martin Erat – His first career hat trick on March 4, 2008 at EDM, the second road hat trick in franchise history. Blake Geoffrion – First NHL goal on March 1, 2011 at Edmonton (goaltender Martin Gerber) Teemu Laakso – Career-high three shots on Oct. 12, 2009 vs. Edmonton Jerred Smithson – Career-high 17 penalty minutes on March 4, 2008 at Edmonton. First game as a Predator on Nov. 8, 2005 vs. Edmonton. Colin Wilson – First career game on Oct. 12, 2009 vs. Edmonton
LEGWAND AND KOSTITSYN MAKE IT FOUR-FOR-FOUR David Legwand – the franchise’s first-ever draft pick in the 1998 Entry Draft – and Sergei Kostitsyn – the club’s co-leader in points a season ago (50) – stretched their season-opening point streaks to four games by each collecting an assist against the Devils on Saturday. For Legwand, the helper on Colin Wilson’s power-play goal was his eighth point (2g-6a) of the young season, putting him in a three-way tie atop the NHL leader board. The Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native has been in on eight of Nashville’s 11 goals to this point in the season. Kostitsyn has four assists in four games, which is one more point than he had in the opening two months/23 games of the 2010-11 campaign. The Novopolotsk, Belarus would go on to post 47 points (21g-26a) in 59 games from Dec. 1, 2010 to the end of the regular season.
HOMEGROWN BLUE LINE
Though the Predators dressed “only” 15 draft picks for their past two contests – down one from the lineup that captured the club’s most recent victory on Oct. 8 at St. Louis – all six defensemen in Thursday’s lineup were drafted and developed by the Predators. In addition to 2003 selections Suter, captain Shea Weber and Kevin Klein, and 2007 first-round pick Jonathon Blum, 2005 draftee Teemu Laakso played his 11th career game on the Nashville blue line along side 2009 pick/2011 Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year Mattias Ekholm, who made his NHL debut.
A WINNING CULTURE
The Nashville Predators have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, making them one of only six franchises to advance to the playoffs six times since 2003-04 (San Jose, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Montreal are the others). Nashville is also one of just four teams (with Detroit, San Jose and Calgary) to reach the 40-win mark in each of the last six seasons, and has amassed the League’s sixth-highest win total (274) since 2005-06.
NOTABLE STOYLINES TO WATCH
• The Predators are the youngest team in the NHL at 25.8 years old, and currently have six Calder-eligible rookies on the roster – forwards Craig Smith and Blake Geoffrion, defensemen Jonathon Blum, Mattias Ekholm and Teemu Laakso, and goaltender Anders Lindback.
• The Nashville Badgers – Craig Smith, who posted four points (2g-2a) in his first two NHL games, Blake Geoffrion, the first Nashville native to make it to the NHL, and Norris Trophy candidate Ryan Suter have all come to the Predators from the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
• Younger players receiving bigger roles – after a season or two of learning the ropes under veterans like Steve Sullivan, J-P Dumont and Joel Ward, several younger Predator forwards are being given the chance to play increased roles early in 2011-12. Colin Wilson averaged 13:17 a season ago, but is up near 16:00 per game early this season; Nick Spaling’s ice time has increased nearly four minutes this season; and Matt Halischuk has gone from 10:07 per game in 2010-11, to 15:56 in 2011-12.
COUNTDOWN TO NASHVILLE’S 1,000TH GAME The Nashville Predators will celebrate their 1,000th NHL regular season game on Saturday, November 12 vs. Montreal. Leading up to this game – and all season long – we will look back on some of the most memorable moments in Predators history to date. October 19, 2000: Ronning gives Preds their first win in Detroit
The Central Division provides the Predators’ fiercest rivals, and no team gets Nashville blood boiling quite like the Detroit Red Wings. A powerhouse in the NHL for as long as Nashville has been a part of the league, Detroit won every game against the Preds in their home arena, the Joe Louis Arena, over the teams’ first two seasons (1998-99 and 1999-00) of head-to-head competition.
On October 19, 2000, Nashville’s first trip to Joe Louis in 2000-01, the Predators wrote a new chapter in this burgeoning rivalry. With Detroit goaltender Manny Legace pulled for an extra attacker, the Wings’ Sergei Fedorov tied the game at 1-1 with only four seconds remaining in regulation, spoiling an astounding 45-save performance from Nashville netminder Mike Dunham.
But Nashville’s top scorer, Cliff Ronning, made all right, solving Legace with a tough-angle shot 1:51 into overtime. Ronning’s goal silenced the 19,995 Motown faithful, and Nashville captured a 2-1 victory, its only victory in the Motor City in its first four seasons of play.