Game Preview #12: Preds Try To Stop Losing Skid Against Red Hot Kings

Season Records

Nashville Predators 5-3-3
Los Angeles Kings 9-3-0

Saturday night’s game between the Nashville Predators and the Los Angeles Kings will see a couple of milestone reached. The Kings left wing Ryan Smyth will play his 1000th game and will become the 257th player in the history of the NHL to reach 1000 games.

For the Predators, head coach Barry Trotz will also reach a new milestone. Being behind the bench for his 914th game, Trotz will move up the list of games coached with one team. Trotz moves into a tie for fifth on the list with Hall-of-Fame player and coach Toe Blake.

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 07: Head coach Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on April 7, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 5-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Barry Trotz continues to impress as the only coach Nashville has ever known (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

The game is the Predators first game in their third back-to-back series of the season. Nashville takes on the Los Angeles Kings before playing the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Kings are on a 2 game winning streak. Nashville has lost three straight in regulation.

The Kings are on a roll. They have not lost at the Staples Center this season and will be putting their perfect 5-0-0 record on the line for the 9 pm CT start time. Nashville will have to stifle the explosive offense of the Kings. Uncharacteristically, in the last two games, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has let in 9 goals. In fact, Rinne has been in net for all three of Nashville’s losses in regulation, has given up at least three goals in each of those starts and has a .867 save percentage for the games against St. Louis, Detroit and Phoenix.

The Predators last played on Wednesday night when Ed Jovanovski scored his first career hat trick in 979 games. Nashville will again go with Rinne in net (except to see Anders Lindback in goal on Sunday when Nashville meets Anaheim). Kings goalie, Jonathan Quick, shutout Tampa Bay on Thursday to give the Kings a 1-0 win. Though the Kings have not officially announced the decision, but fans can expect to see Quick in goal again Saturday night.

If history were to repeat itself, that 5-0-0 home record would be in great jeopardy. The Predators have won 7 of the last 8 contests between the two Western Conference teams. Last season, the Predators won three of the four meetings between the two clubs. Furthermore, Nashville has won the last five games in LA, dating all the way back to 2008.

The key for Nashville’s success is always the same. They need to solve their special teams problems. Predators continue to struggle on special teams. Los Angeles will prove to be a difficult opponent to get things on the right track. The Kings have yet to let in a power play goal in five games, 18 penalty kills. On the road, Nashville only has a 75% kill off rate. The Kings have struggled at home on the power play, scoring with the man advantage 5.4% at home, 21.4% on the road.

Unlike the Predators, Los Angeles has a completely healthy roster. Of course, Nashville continues to battle injuries. Marcel Goc returned to the lineup against Phoenix and looked good registering an assist. But the absence of defenseman Ryan Suter and Matthew Lombardi up front has taken its toll on Nashville. Martin Erat also did not make the trip. At the first of the season, it appeared the depth of Nashville was able to get the team through some rough patches on the injury front. The game against the Kings is essential for the Predators to get back on the right track.

The schedule only gets tougher as Nashville will play on Sunday too, facing the Ducks for the second time this season.

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Tags: Jonathon Quick Los Angeles Kings Nashville Predators NHL Pekka Rinne

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