Game Day Preview
Nashville Predators vs. LA Kings
7 pm CT
Radio only: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network
Nashville looks to win its third straight game and second post-Olympic break when they face the LA Kings tonight. Both teams move on after the trade deadline having made subtle moves to shore up their ranks, and the Kings are expected to have both Frederik Modin and Jeff Halpern in the lineup tonight at Bridgestone Arena.
For the Predators, Denis Grebeshkov stepped in and made an immediate impact against his old team, providing a goal and an assist against the Oilers on Tuesday. Dustin Boyd, acquired for a fourth-round draft pick, will join the team in time for its game in Detroit tomorrow night. Boyd is a versatile forward who can play all three positions up front and is expected to help Nashville on the penalty kill as well. Predators’ General Manager David Poile called Boyd a “swiss army knife” if that gives you any clue as to his versatility!
This is a game to pay close attention to, as the Kings are having a tremendous season. Currently the fifth-best team in the NHL, their year-over-year improvement is the biggest by any club (last year they ended the season 26th overall). Thanks in large part to great goaltending from Team USA member Jonathan Quick and a young but mature defense led by Jack Johnson (Team USA) and Drew Doughty (Team Canada) the Kings have kept pucks out of its net better than any season in recent past history. Up front, Anze Kopitar has turned in a brilliant performance, scoring 29 goals and 65 points to lead the team in both categories. The aforementioned Doughty has a mighty 48 points to rank him second on the team and third overall among NHL defensemen. In fact, Doughty’s second place rank is the highest for any defenseman in the NHL except Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle, who leads the Leafs with 40 points.
Nashville will come back with Pekka Rinne
in net tonight as they attempt to get the big Finn going down the stretch while solidifying the team’s defensive play. Head coach Barry Trotz mentioned today that he hasn’t been thrilled with the team’s defense, but likened it to a game of whack-a-mole, saying “we fix something, and then something else pops up, and we knock that down. But then something else pops up and we have to hit that, too. It hasn’t been any one thing consistently that we can just fix, it’s been different things at different times.”
Tonight’s game promises to be a very good litmus test for Nashville, as they have vowed to be better at Bridgestone Arena through to the end of the year. Yes, the Preds have a winning record at home, but now they want to make the arena the feared venue of years past for opposing teams once more. That also means hearing it from the fans every game, so if you’re coming out tonight, make sure you bring your leather lungs!