Nashville Predators vs. LA Kings
Bridgestone Arena, 7 pm
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee | Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network
Nashville and LA both played last night, so with some travel and no excuses, they hit the Bridgestone Arena ice tonight at 7 pm for a game that can go a long way in the playoff status for both teams. With a win tonight, Nashville needs only Calgary to get a point or less in its next game to secure a post-season berth. The Kings, meanwhile, are trying to end a slide that has guaranteed the team’s first losing month of the season and seen them slip back to seventh in the West at 90 points, four behind the Preds.
Each team will feature a different goaltender tonight, with Pekka Rinne
going for Nashville and rookie Jonathan Bernier in net for the Kings. Bernier has only one other game with LA this year, a 2-1 shootout win over the Dallas Stars back on March 12 when Jonathan Quick was out for the birth of his first child. Rinne, meanwhile, has been putting on a clinic in March, earning NHL Three Stars of the Week consideration twice and helping the Predators to notch a team-record 11 wins this month. The Kings have a tall order if they want to right the ship tonight in Nashville.
That brings me to the one other stat that surprises me about the season series. Nashville has not only won all three but seven in a row dating back to the start of last year, and nine of ten since December of 2007. To say the Kings have struggled with the Predators is a bit of an understatement. They only have five goals against the Preds in three games this year, and three of those have come via the power play. Five-on-five, LA has just not measured up to Nashville whatsoever.
Despite bringing in the game’s fifth-best road power play at 22%, the Kings have struggled to really put games away, failing to convert on a five-on-three last night against Minnesota and ultimately dropping a 3-2 decision in regulation. In fact, the Kings are just 11% with a two-man advantage this year, scoring just three times in 27 chances. On the opposite end Nashville has gone four straight games without a power play goal against.Notes:
Keys to the Game
- LA is 28-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, one of two perfect records in the NHL. Buffalo is the other at 27-0-0 with a second period lead.
- 31 of LA’s last 49 games have been decided by one goal, and the Kings are 18-9-4 in that case.
- The Kings’ 21 road wins ties a franchise record set in the 1980-81 season.
- Nashville will miss Martin Erat tonight, he leads the team with five assists against the Kings in three games. Erat, Joel Ward, Jason Arnott, and Denis Grebeshkov are the expected scratches for the Preds tonight.
- Nashville is one of only three teams to record 40 wins in each of the last five seasons. The other two? San Jose and New Jersey.
- Get to the rookie. Make Bernier work way too hard and keep the rubber flying at him. And don’t forget to jam the crease.
- Come out strong. Yes, the Predators have shown an ability to come back late in games, but against a team like LA that locks it down when leading after two, Nashville has to gain the advantage first.
- Take away Kopitar. It doesn’t matter if our matched line scores against him, but his 76pts leads the team and needs to be kept in check. If he’s quiet, LA has to find other options to beat you with.