Just about everything surrounding this postseason is different - except for the ultimate goal.
The Nashville Predators meet the Arizona Coyotes this afternoon at 1 p.m. CT in Edmonton for Game 1 of their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier series at Rogers Place. Today's contest begins the best-of-five series between the two Western Conference foes, with the Preds entering the qualifying round as the sixth seed, the Coyotes ranking 11th.
Nashville has pushed its postseason streak to six seasons, the longest in franchise history.
The Predators played their first competitive game in more than four months just three days ago, when they shut out the Dallas Stars, 2-0, in an exhibition outing. The result didn't count in the record books, but it gave the Preds a boost of confidence as they prepared for this afternoon's tilt against the Coyotes.
Today, there's just one thing on their minds.
"The predictions are looking into the future or what's gone on in the past, and if we're thinking about that we're wasting our time," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said Saturday. "Our job is to make sure that we're getting prepared [for Game 1]. When we come back to the rink [today], it's Game 1. That's the only game that matters. It's not what happened in the past, it's not what's going to happen in the future, it's just [about making] sure that we're ready and we're prepared to play our best game."
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[Read More: Preds Projected Lineup vs. Coyotes]
Hynes said Saturday morning he had made a decision on who would start in net for the Preds in Game 1, but did not reveal whether Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros had won the job.
Nashville dressed 13 forwards and seven defensemen in Thursday's exhibition against Dallas, so the Preds will need to make another pair of lineup decisions ahead of Game 1. Austin Watson and Colin Blackwell are likely vying for the final spot on the fourth line, and Hynes stated Thursday Jarred Tinordi, Yannick Weber and Dan Hamhuis were competing for the roles of fifth and sixth defensemen.
Video: Arvidsson nets two to lead Predators past Stars
Last Time Out:
Viktor Arvidsson scored both of Nashville's goals in Thursday's 2-0 win over the Stars. Saros (12 saves) and Rinne (13 saves) combined for the shutout.
Preds Captain - and Norris Trophy finalist - Roman Josi led the Predators in scoring during the 2019-20 regular season with 65 points, followed by Filip Forsberg with 48 and Matt Duchene with 42. Forsberg tallied 21 goals, Nick Bonino and Craig Smith had 18 each and Josi potted 16.
Rinne posted an 18-14-4 record with a 3.17 goals-against average and .895 save percentage; Saros went 17-12-4 with a 2.70 GAA and .914 SV% with four shutouts.
Arizona lost to Vegas, 4-1, in their exhibition game on Thursday. Taylor Hall, who was acquired during the regular season from New Jersey, scored the lone goal for the Coyotes in the loss.
Nick Schmaltz led the Coyotes in the regular season with 45 points, Clayton Keller had 44 points, Connor Garland had 39 points and Phil Kessel had 38 points. Hall was traded to Arizona mid-season and scored 10 goals and recorded 27 points in 35 games with the Coyotes.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper played two periods for the Coyotes on Thursday, while Antti Raanta played in the third. Kuemper won 16 games this season, Raanta won 15 and both goaltenders finished in the Top 10 in regular-season save percentage among netminders with 24 or more appearances.
Video: Bonino, Josi and Tinordi talk Game 1 versus Coyotes
The Predators are 38-29-(2)-6 all-time against the Coyotes in the regular season, including a 1-1-0 record this season.
Roman Josi (1g-1a) and Ryan Ellis (2a) led all Predators in points against the Coyotes this season with two. In total, 12 different Nashville players recorded a point in two games vs. Arizona in 2019-20. Pekka Rinne earned the win in Nashville's home victory over Arizona in December, stopping 26 of 28 shots.
Nashville and Arizona have met once before in the postseason, battling it out in the second round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Preds dropped the series, 4-1. Rinne, Josi and Craig Smith are the only current Predators players to have faced the Coyotes in their 2012 postseason matchup.
Notables Versus Arizona:
Rinne is 20-9-2 in his career against Arizona with a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. His six shutouts versus the Coyotes are his most against a single opponent in his career and the second-most by any goalie in NHL history against Arizona.
Ryan Ellis matched his career high for the second time with two goals on March 20, 2017, versus Arizona. He has 17 points (8g-9a) in 22 career games against the Coyotes - 10 of which (6g-4a) have come in his last nine matchups.
Craig Smith has 15 points (5g-10a) in 26 career contests with Arizona, and Dan Hamhuis is Nashville's active career leader in points (23) and games played (56) against the Coyotes.
Video: Hynes talks lineup, starting goalie before Game 1
Five current Preds players have dressed in all 61 of Nashville's postseason games since 2015: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne.
Forsberg is Nashville's all-time leader in postseason goals (23) and points (44); Ellis is Nashville's all-time leader in postseason assists (25). Josi has appeared in 71 postseason games with the Preds and is tied with Mike Fisher for the franchise record among skaters.
Rinne has started 89 consecutive postseason games dating back to 2010. He is one of four goaltenders in NHL history to start in 89 or more consecutive postseason games by a single franchise, alongside New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (194 from 1994-12), Colorado's Patrick Roy (133 from 1996-03) and NY Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (128 from 2006-20). Rinne can become one of 12 goaltenders in NHL history to appear in 90 or more postseason games with one franchise.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for this afternoon's contest from Edmonton begins on FOX Sports Tennessee with Predators Live! at 12:30 p.m. CT. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason, Lyndsay Rowley and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 12 p.m. with Darren McFarland. The game may also be seen on USA Network in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV