Nashville Predators (10-9-6, 26 pts) @ Dallas Stars (12-10-2, 26 pts)
7:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Predators – 11th in the West
Goals – 30th, Goals Against – 4th, Power Play – 19th, Penalty Kill – 26th
There’s really not too much to Nashville these days. Their offense is as horrible as ever, and Pekka Rinne is still as awesome as ever. The Preds have scored just a single goal in four of the past five games with a 6-0 aberration victory over the Edmonton Oilers squeezed in there.
Those six goals could have been a sign of some life in the Preds offense but that notion was quickly laid to rest as leading scorer (seriously, he leads in all offensive categories for Nashville) Colin Wilson was placed on the IR with an upper-body injury. As if that wasn’t bad enough, first-liner Patric Hornqvist is also on the IR with an upper-body injury.
Where does that leave Nashville in terms of offense? Well, it’s really only Shea Weber at this point. Weber has five assists in the last three games and is on a three-game point streak. He’s literally the only man on Nashville now that is providing a steady amount of points.
His partner on defense, Roman Josi, lit up the Stars in the last meeting to the tune of two goals, two assists and the game-winning OT goal. However, he’s been pointless in the five games since then so I’m more than willing to chalk that game up as an anomaly.
Rinne will be starting tonight for Nashville and he’s been stellar. His peripheral numbers are once again in the top five of the league and he would’ve been the league leader in wins if he had any offensive help. He’s had a few troubles with Dallas though and gave up four goals in the last meeting.
The Predators will be without Wilson, Hornqvist and Hal Gill (lower body).
Possible line combos:
Kostitsyn – Legwand – Spaling
Boychuk – Fisher – Erat
Bourque – Gaustad – Butler
Yip – Smith – Clune
Weber – Josi
Klein – Ellis
Blum – Hannan
Dallas – 10th in the West
Goals – 15th, Goals Against – 16th, Power Play – 10th, Penalty Kill – 8th
This Stars team is fascinatingly inconsistent. They looked incredible in two games against the St. Louis Blues and the LA Kings and somehow looked like one of the worst teams in the league against Phoenix.
The offense dried up in that last game in the desert and the Stars fell 2-1. That loss was compounded by the wrist injury suffered by Jamie Benn (which luckily isn’t too serious). That injury is most likely going to knock him out of tonight’s game.
The hot player for Dallas at the moment is Jagr. The elder statesman has scored in four straight games and leads the team in goals and points.
For Dallas to win tonight, it’s about controlling the game. Even if Benn is out, they shouldn’t be losing to a Predators team that’s missing basically of their offense. Rinne has struggled in the past few years against the Stars and I see no reason why that should change.
The Stars just need to avoid giving the Predators free opportunities by taking penalties. Luckily, they’ve been pretty disciplined with only four penalty kills in the past three games.
Loui Eriksson needs to get back on track. He’s been a bit out of it this year and hasn’t been putting up points like he should. Dallas can’t rely on Jagr all the time.
Expect Kari Lehtonen in goal again tonight. Dallas will probably be without Benn, Morrow and Aaron Rome. Ray Whitney is looking like a go tonight and should return from his broken foot.
Eriksson – Roy – Jagr
Whitney – Eakin – Cole
Smith – Roussel – Vincour
Nystrom – Fiddler – Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Larsen – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak