TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 446 SD, 9516 HD ; Comcast Nashville 295; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830) Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game; Network Affiliates
Away Game Viewing Headquarters: Visit any Middle Tennessee O’Charley’s location to watch all Preds road games
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CALGARY
After going winless in the Stampede City a season ago, the Nashville Predators will attempt to return to the form of two seasons ago when they topped the Calgary Flames twice at Scotiabank Saddledome by scores of 5-3 on Dec. 19, 2009 and 1-0 on Jan. 15, 2010. Those are, in fact, the only two wins Nashville has claimed in the past three seasons of the series, going a combined 2-8-2 since the start of the 2008-09 campaign. Prior to the current stretch, it was the Preds who dominated, going 9-2-1 in a three-season span from 2005-08. Three of the four 2010-11 games between the clubs were decided by one goal, with two of those needing extra time. The first meeting on Oct. 16 in Nashville was highlighted by strong goaltending as both Pekka Rinne and Miikka Kiprusoff were perfect through regulation time. Rene Bourque scored the game’s only goal 2:10 into overtime as the Predators extended their season-opening point streak to five games (3-0-2). Nashville also garnered a point in the first game after the All-Star break, falling 3-2 in a shootout.
Martin Erat (2g-1a) and David Legwand (1g-2a) paced the Predators in points against Calgary a season ago. Erat has 25 points (8g-17a) in 30 career games vs. Calgary, his highest total against a team outside the Central Division. After the four other Central Division teams, Legwand’s next three highest totals come against Northwest foes – he has 31 points (11g-20a) in 41 games against Edmonton, then 24 points in 38 games against both Calgary (9g-15a) and Colorado (8g-16a)… Calgary is one of just three teams Rinne has yet to defeat in his career. He is 0-4-2 in six appearances against the Flames, 0-0-1 in one game against the New York Rangers and has yet to make an appearance against Washington. Last season, he went 0-2-2 despite posting a 2.22 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage against the Flames.
Tonight marks Brian McGrattan’s first game against Calgary since playing 34 games for the Flames during the 2009-10 season. He notched four points (1g-3a) and 86 penalty minutes during his time in the Stampede City.
THE PREDATORS IN MATINEES
This afternoon marks the first of just three matinee contests the Predators play in 2011-12, with the other two being noon central time starts against Eastern Conference foes the New York Islanders (Jan. 16) and Boston (Feb. 11). A season ago, the Predators went 1-2-1 in afternoon games, but since the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Nashville has a 20-7-7 record in matinees.
NOTABLE STOYLINES TO WATCH
• Of the 22 players on Nashville’s active, 22-man roster, all but one of them (Sergei Kostitsyn, Belarus) are balanced between North America and Scandinavia. Six are from either Sweden or Finland, seven are from the United States and eight are from Canada.
• The Predators are the youngest team in the NHL at 26 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.
• 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 Preds are being given the chance to play increased roles early in 2011-12. Colin Wilson averaged 13:17 a season ago, but is up over 16:00 per game early this season; Nick Spaling’s ice time has increased roughly nearly four minutes this season; and Matt Halischuk has gone from 10:07 per game in 2010-11, to 15:36 in 2011-12.
Not only are the Predators the youngest team in the NHL, but they have a roster that includes 17 players that have been drafted and developed by the team. No fewer than 15 Nashville draftees have been in the lineup for a game this season, including the home opener on Oct. 15 vs. Phoenix when all six defensemen were of the homegrown variety.
Here’s a breakdown of Nashville’s current roster, including the three players (Erat, Fisher and Bouillon) that are currently on injured reserve.
• FOUR First-Round Picks – Legwand, Suter, Blum, Wilson
• FOUR Second-Round Picks – Klein, Weber, Geoffrion, Spaling
• FOUR Third-Round or Fourth-Round Picks – Laakso, Ekholm, Smith, Tootoo
• FIVE picks from the Fifth Round or Later – O’Reilly, Erat (191st overall), Lindback (207th overall), Hornqvist (230th overall) and Rinne (258th overall)
• THREE through Trade – Fisher, Kostitsyn and Halischuk
• FIVE Free agents/waivers – Smithson, Bergfors, McGrattan, Bouillon and Hillen
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.
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 22, 2009: Goals from the blue line highlight a crazy night in the Capital
In possibly one of the most wild and crazy games in franchise history, the Nashville Predators snapped a six-game losing skid with a 6-5 overtime victory in a game that included seven goals in the third period. Nashville defensemen combined to score five of Nashville's six goals in the game, the most goals by a Preds defensive group in franchise history. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber both netted two goals, while rookie Cody Franson scored his first career goal and Alexander Sulzer notched his first career point (assist). J-P Dumont also tied a club record with four assists. It was the first time since March 21, 2004 that any NHL team has recorded at least five goals from its defensive group in a single game (Edmonton Oilers in a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks).
"We've had some of the craziest games here in this rink," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said after the win. "They scored, we scored, the third period was like that. We had a 3-0 lead and we're in good shape, then we took penalties. But give our guys a lot of credit because we've been a little bit fragile lately.
"You're on the power play and they score a short-handed goal with 1.6 seconds left and you're on a six-game losing streak, that plays with your mind."
The Predators jumped out to an early lead with three goals in the first 11 minutes of regulation, and that score held through two periods. The Senators answered with three of their own in the first 8:10 of the third period to knot the game at three, then a see-saw battle ensued. With the scored tied at 4-4, Suter scored his second goal of the game on the power-play with just one minute to go, in what looked to be the game winner. However, Ottawa blueliner Chris Phillips knotted the game at 5-5 with just 1.6 seconds remaining, crashing the net while shorthanded (current Predator Mike Fisher picked up an assist). The Predators would collectively exhale at 2:11 of sudden death, when Weber buried a man-advantage marker of his own.