What a game last night, eh? Well, as much fun as it would be for the boys to have some bromantic downtime, Steam Punk and Co. need to hop on a plane and get their asses over to Graceland and Dollywood. Did we mention last time that yesterday's game was important? Oh yeah, this one is, too...we have one game in hand on our greatest competition for the 8 spot (Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres), so every game is going to count from here on out.
Which is great news, right, because the Jets world turned on Jim Slater's fight! With the Jets having already scored one goal towards their comeback, AC decided to throw down against Brooks Laich and they whipped each other around for awhile. While the outcome was pretty much a draw, Claude Noel (and others) seemed to think that it was Slater's fight (or Laich's fight, however you want to look at it) that was the cause for the comeback. Nevermind the extraordinary efforts by the Tim Stapleton - Ben Maxwell - Spencer Machacek line, nevermind the awesome quote by Karl Alzner ("We shit the bed")...but it's not really worth dwelling on. We won, and I think most of us know that the real fight was 3 goals, two out of Steam Punk & the Kids, capped by a persistent Punk in the OT. We did it, we did it away in Washington, and we did it with very little scoring out of our top 2 lines.
Now to Dollywood, with a new Russian forward fresh out of the packaging. In all seriousness, Alexander Radulov is a frighteningly good forward, a guy who's torn up the KHL, scored a goal in his first game back to the NHL, and is rumored to have increased the swoon-rate of cougars in the metropolitan Nashville area ten-fold. We've already faced down one talented Russian (just kidding, he scored twice on us), can we handle another? ... Just as there is more than just that one Russian to worry about in Washington, the Preds have Sergei Kostitsyn, he of the ridiculously high shooting percentage over nearly 2 full seasons, and sneaky-good Martin Erat, and Shea Weber, and David Legwand, and...and...you get the idea.
Keys to the Game, Lineups, and Prediction after the jump.
Keys to the Game
- The Predators are a tough team to get a read on by our conventional Fenwick measures, partly because they love to over-count shots-against. How much this affects their very bad numbers here is hard to say. On the other hand, I think it's safe to surmise that they will get an offensive boost from Radulov, and they have done pretty damn well in a difficult division.
- Ironically, I think we might have a better shot if we force them to lean on Radulov's line. Last game, Rads was playing with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist, both respectable veterans but also players that have had trouble matching their talent to their performance. The new addition, at least for now, is going to take some adjustment, and the play of that line might still be a bit disjointed. Erat, Fisher, and Kostitsyn, on the other hand, have a good dose of scary at both ends of the rink.
- Pekka Rinne was exposed pretty badly against the Penguins in a 5-1 loss, but don't let that fool you: he's legit. We will need to win the shot battle convincingly to win the game.
- As per usual, I have to say it: stay out of the box. That means you, Blake Wheeler.
Jets (GP 74 35-31-8 78 PTS)
#14 Tim Stapleton -- #49 Ben Maxwell -- #46 Spencer Machacek
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
I'm hoping Clitty plays, just so we can see more of him and less of Randy Jones.
Predators (GP 74 42-24-8 92 PTS)
#47 Alexander Radulov -- #11 David Legwand -- #27 Patric Hornqvist
#74 Sergei Kostitsyn -- #12 Mike Fisher -- #10 Martin Erat
#20 Ryan Suter -- #6 Shea Weber
#35 Pekka Rinne
Who knows, with any luck we get the backup tonight. I'm steeling myself for the Brothers Kostitsyn.
Player to boo mercilessly: Alexander Radulov, because that's what we do...even though it doesn't seem to do much of anything.
Prediction: Predators 3, Winnipeg 2. We fight valiantly, but ultimately realize our fate and join the #GreatestTankBattles