Dallas Stars (19-17-3, 41 pts) @ Nashville Predators (15-18-8, 38 pts)
7:00 PM CT
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
The Predators – 13th in the West
Goals – 29th, Goals Against – 15th, Power Play – 18th, Penalty Kill – 26th
The Predators are reeling and reeling badly. They’ve lost seven of the last eight games and scored one goal or fewer in four of those seven losses. They enter tonight having lost four in a row and have been shutout twice in that span.
Things can be a bit deceiving though. Nashville has been running through the central division for the past couple of weeks, and five of their losses have come against the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and the surprising Columbus Blue Jackets.
That’s some tough competition for Nashville to play, so the Stars cannot count on a lackluster performance to get them through this game, especially considering the fact that Nashville has beaten them twice already by a combined 9-4 margin.
Nashville may be terrible offensively (second worst in the NHL, one behind Columbus), but that hasn’t bothered them against the Stars this season.
One factor that will help Dallas is that Nashville no longer has Martin Erat, who is still the team leader in assists. Mike Fisher, Paul Gaustad, Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque are all injured and out.
As expected, there are no guys for the Predators who are rolling along coming into this game. David Legwand and Shea Weber lead the team with 23 points apiece, but it’s been a struggle lately.
In some rather surprising news, it looks like Chris Mason will be getting the start tonight for the Predators. He hasn’t played since March 28 and has lost seven straight games.
Possible line combos:
Kostitsyn – Legwand – Hornqvist
Clune – Spaling – Butler
Beck – Smith – Mueller
Bang – Halischuck – Watson
Weber – Josi
Gill – Klein
Blum – Bartley
Dallas – 10th in the West
Goals – 11th, Goals Against – 23rd, Power Play – 19th, Penalty Kill – 16th
The suddenly competent and competitive Stars find themselves in the thick of the playoff race once again. The stripped down team has won three in a row and have been scoring in bunches (13 goals in three games) with a newfound gusto for the game.
The young guys on the team have been the catalyst for the resurgence. Alex Chiasson has been leading the way with three goals and four points in four games. He has been clicking with Ray Whitney, and they’ve combined for eight points since Chiasson’s callup.
Dallas has been playing their best team hockey of the year and that’s certainly encouraging coming into a game that they should win tonight. There are no excuses considering the state the Predators are in.
The Richard Bachman show gets underway tonight with Lehtonen dealing with his usual groin issues. Bachman played well in relief against the Kings, and he’ll have to be steady again tonight.
Possible line combos:
Eriksson – Benn – Cole
Whitney – Eakin – Chiasson
Nystrom – Fiddler – Roussel
Fraser – Wandell – Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Goligoski – Daley
Larsen – Rome