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Game Day: Preds vs. Avalanche

by Nashville Predators / Nashville Predators

(17-7-2) Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche (9-12-6)
  8 P.M. | Pepsi Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game

Embarking on a three-game road trip, the Nashville Predators are set to face the Colorado Avalanche in the first of five meetings between the two clubs in 2014-15. Both teams are coming off of losses in their previous contests, with the Preds falling 3-1 to Chicago on Saturday and the Avs losing 6-2 to Winnipeg on Friday. Nashville has yet to lose two games in a row this season.

Predators forward Colin Wilson tallied the team's lone marker against the Blackhawks on Saturday, the second-straight game Wilson has found the back of the net and his eighth point (5g-3a) in 10 games since his return from missing two games due to injury. Wilson now has goals in back-to-back games and has tallied in three of his last four outings. Of Wilson's six goals this season, five have come in the third frame.

Captain Shea Weber continues to lead the way for Nashville on the blue line, pacing all Preds defensemen in points (15) and goals (6). His point total is good for a tie for third among all Nashville skaters. Weber leads the Preds and is fourth among all NHL skaters in time on ice (26:50) and trails only fellow D-man Roman Josi for the team lead in blocked shots (58).

Nashville's star rookie also continues to sit atop the team and League leaders. Filip Forsberg is first on the Preds in points with 25 (11g-14a) through 26 games. Forsberg's 11 goals are the most among League rookies and his assist total (14) is second. The Swede also leads the NHL in plus/minus (+21) and leads all rookie forwards in time on ice (17:18).

After a highly-successful season for Patrick Roy and the Avalanche in 2013-14, the club has gotten off to a rocky start through the first two months of the current campaign, sitting last in the Central Division and having lost three straight. Tyson Barrie leads Colorado in points with 20 (3g-17a), while Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene share the team lead in goals with nine apiece. Goaltender Semyon Varlomov, who recently returned to the Avs lineup due to injury issues, re-aggravated his groin on Monday and will be out of the lineup against the Preds. As a result, Nashville is likely to face Calvin Pickard in goal tonight. Pickard carries a 3-4-0 record with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage this season.

Dating back to Nov. 8, 2008, the Preds are 14-7-2 against the Avalanche, while posting an all-time record of 25-23-(5)-3 versus Colorado. Josi has tallied four goals and five assists in 11 career games against the Avs, tied for third most against any opponent. Mike Ribeiro has 17 points (4g-13a) in 26 career games against the Avalanche, while Olli Jokinen has 25 points in 36 career meetings.

Preds forward Paul Gaustad and defenseman Anton Volchenkov, both listed as day-to-day, practiced with the team on Monday. Forward Taylor Beck was diagnosed with a concussion and did not make the trip with the Predators.


What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown:


Quotables:

Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette on what type of game he expects:

“It’ll be a game where we have to be sharp defensively. They’ve got a lot of talent and speed over there. We’ve really got to pay attention to how we try to move the puck. We can’t force things through the middle, and if you turn it over in the slot, they come back at you quickly - I think that’s one of their strengths. For us, I think it’s really important that we’re on the gas offensively.”

Forward Eric Nystrom on the Avalanche's transition attack:

“You’ve got to be on your toes with a team like this. The ones that have a lot of injuries and are hungry for wins can really be dangerous. You have to treat this game the same as the supposedly tougher ones...We have to make sure we play our game smartly because the [Avalanche] are looking to feed their transition game and go back the other way. They’ve got a lot speed, so we need to make sure we’re making smart decisions with the puck even in the offensive zone. Possession is going to be important tonight, so we’re going to focus on it.”

Laviolette on focusing on the Predators identity:

“We didn’t change our game for a young goaltender or Martin Brodeur and we won’t alter it for the next one either. We’re at our best when we’re working to play our game. I think the guys can tell when they’re playing right; they have a good idea of what it takes to be successful. There are always a few things you add as a coach. Like you might add something about a goaltender or an opponent, so you add those things, but that doesn’t change the way we play the game as a whole. It’s my take that the team that plays their identity the best on a nightly basis usually wins the game. So we always try to focus more on that then what our opponent brings. There are always minor adjustments, but the main thing is our brand.”

Forward Colin Wilson on the injuries to Colorado's bottom-six forward group:

“You always hear about guys having to step up when you know players are out. I think whoever they replace those guys with on the third or fourth lines are going to be playing their hardest to stick in the NHL, so we have to be aware of that. It’s possible that a setback like that actually makes them even harder to play against.”


Morning Skate:

(Update: The Avalanche have recalled Borna Redulic, who is projected to play tonight)

Projected Colorado Lines:

Forwards:


Tanguay - Duchene - O'Reilly

Landeskog - MacKinnon - Iginla

McLeod - Talbot - Briere

Carey - Holden - Redulic

Defensemen:

Hejda - Johnson

Guenin - Barrie

Stollery - Redmond

Goaltenders:

Calvin Pickard*

Reto Berra

*Projected starter


Projected Nashville Lines:

Forwards:

Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal

Cullen - Fisher - Smith

Wilson - Jarnkrok - Jokinen

Nystrom - Gaustad - Bourque

(Roy rotated on the fourth line)

Defensemen:

Josi - Weber

Ekholm - Ellis

Bartley - Jones

(Volchenkov rotated in and out)

Goaltenders:

Pekka Rinne*

Carter Hutton

*Projected starter

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