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Game Day Blog: Preds at Atlanta Thrashers

by Tom Callahan / Nashville Predators
Game Preview

Nashville Predators @ Atlanta Thrashers
6 pm CST
TV: FSTN Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

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Sitting an even 2-2 since the Olympic break is not quite what the Predators had in mind coming out of the two week hiatus, but admittedly there are no easy games left on the schedule and certainly Detroit and Vancouver are very good opponents. The challenge also got a bit stiffer with word that while Shea Weber may play some time on this four-game western road swing, Denis Grebeshkov will not, suffering a lower body injury during Sunday’s game against the Canucks. He did not make the trip and could be out for at least a week.

That said, the Predators have a chance to grab two points and start on a positive note against the Thrashers in Atlanta tonight, a club that since the trade of superstar Ilya Kovalchuk has still managed to stay within striking distance of an Eastern Conference playoff spot. That said, the Thrashers have looked bad in back-to-back losses against Tampa Bay and Carolina, and now rookie bright spot Evander Kane may miss significant time with a foot injury.

The Thrashers have struggled on special teams much the way Nashville has in recent games, allowing two power play goals while going 0-for-3 against the Hurricanes in a 4-0 loss. In an effort to get something going the Thrashers have juggled lines, but scoring has been hard to come by for Atlanta.

In net, Johan Hedberg played well enough to grab the starting spot from rookie Ondrej Pavelec and the since-traded Kari Lehtonen (who missed much of the season coming off back surgery). But Hedberg hasn’t figured out a way to score goals yet, and until he does the Thrashers have to find an answer. Even a shutout will only get you a tie if you don’t score.

  • Atlanta’s three leading scorers are Nik Antropov (54 pts), Maxim Afinogenov (50 pts) and Rich Peverly (48 pts). Sounds great until you realize that despite Antropov’s amazing +19, the -8 Afinogenov and -11 Peverly completely negate that stat.
  • Carolina’s shutout of the Thrashers was the third time this season the team had been held scoreless, but the first time at home since November 22, 2008.
  • Nashville finishes off its season set with every opponent on this trip except the LA Kings, who will be back in Music City on March 30th.

Keys to the Game
  • Make sure the Thrashers spend time in the box, and the Preds have to stay out of it.
  • Come out hard and try to deflate whatever confidence they may have early.
  • Team defense – missing Weber and Grebeshkov means big minutes for Hamhuis, Klein, and Bouillon. Now would be a great time for Klein to go on a tear and answer his critics.

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