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Game Day Blog: Preds vs. Dallas Stars

by Tom Callahan / Nashville Predators
Game Preview

Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars
Bridgestone Arena, 7 pm CST
TV: Fox Sports TN  |  Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network

Dare we say it? MAKE IT SEVEN!

Ah, yes, always fun to poke those who take themselves too serious. Actually, I’m stealing that from Dave Strader’s call earlier this year when the Phoenix Coyotes won seven in a row. Perfect irony and a well-placed reference! I don’t think anyone’s been to that web site or followed the movement since the summer, but just about every hockey market has to feel good about what the desert dogs have done this year.

And I would love to see the Predators make it seven tonight against the Dallas Stars, who come in with just 11 road wins and fading playoffs hopes. Missing Mike Modano hurts plenty, but head coach Marc Crawford openly admits his team isn’t good enough defensively. Goaltending has been questionable all season, special teams are not good either, and they’ve basically been the allas Stars because there’s just no “D”.

For Nashville’s part, they have to deal with the absence of Jason Arnott (precautionary scratch) and Joel Ward (upper body) tonight, and likely Nick Spaling will be here in time for the game from Milwaukee to take Ward’s place.

Pekka Rinne earned NHL first star honors this week as he continues to spark the Preds with his brilliant netminding, making key saves at important times and leading the team on its current six-game win streak. If Pekka can keep things going the way he is now, look out. Hot goaltenders = playoff survivors!

Also, Dustin Boyd looks not only comfortable but downright capable next to Erat and Wilson – and Wilson in his own right is turning heads after some needed seasoning in Milwaukee earlier this year. It would be really nice if for a change things can actually align for Nashville as they enter the post-season.

  • Modano is not back yet from his appendicitis, but will likely try to make it back for the Stars when they head out to California for the back end of the team’s four-game road trip, which starts tonight. The 39-year-old has been rumored to be contemplating retirement at the end of this season.
  • Kari Lehtonen has posted an uninspiring 2-2-0 record with an .888 save % and 3.59 GAA for the Stars since being acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers. Supposed to shore up the goaltending, Lehtonen has only added another question mark on top of Marty Turco’s second straight mediocre season.
  • Brad Richards has a five-game point scoring streak going (3-5-8)
  • Patric Hornqvist’s 28 goals eclipsed the record for most goals by a homegrown Predators player, moving ahead of David Legwand’s 27-goal season in 2006-07.

Keys to the Game
  • Pressure the Dallas defense. Make them turn it over, fumble it away, or just make mistakes. The Stars have shown they will turn the puck over with pressure.
  • Get to Lehtonen. If he gets comfortable, it could be a long night. Stick a man around him at all times and make him fight to see the puck.
  • Keep your own end clean. Make sure Rinne sees what he can, and if he doesn’t hold it, clear it out. Don’t let the Dallas forwards become dangerous.
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