By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 8-6-3
Carolina Hurricanes 9-9-1
The Nashville Predators will try to make it two in a row when they face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. Last time out, the Predators shutout the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Carolina played Friday night in Pittsburgh, losing 5-4 in a shootout. The Predators spent Friday in Carolina.
Saturday night’s game might be played without Predators center David Legwand. The 30 year old was hit into the boards by Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik. It looked like an innocent hit, but Legwand was hurt and left the game with 6 minutes left to play in the first period. The Tennessean reports that coach Trotz says Legwand is day-to-day and his situation will be assessed Saturday morning after the team skate.
With Legwand out, more will be expected of center Marcel Goc. But what else can Goc possibly provide the Predators? The former first round draft pick has been on fire since coming back from missing six games due to a separated shoulder. Goc scored the shootout winner in his first game back against St. Louis on November 11, and then scored again shorthanded in a losing effort on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs. Out of 11 games played this season, Goc has points in 8 of them.
On Thursday, Goc was the star of the game, scoring twice against Carey Price. It was the first time he ever scored two goals in one game.
Goc is already depended on for secondary scoring and has significant penalty killing duties. Goc even saw a shift on the power play Thursday night. He also saw over 17 minutes of ice time in Legwand’s absence. But if Legwand is out, the Predators are down to Cal O’Reilly, Goc, Jerred Smithson and Colin Wilson for centers. No one has been called up from Milwaukee. This leaves the Predators weak up the middle, especially since Wilson has not played a lot of time at center this season.
On the injury front for Saturday night’s game, before Friday’s game Carolina was healthy and without injured players. Tuomo Ruutu left the game against the Penguins during the overtime. His status was not immediately known. Besides, the possibility of playing without Legwand, the Predators, of course, remain without center Matthew Lombardi.
The key to Nashville’s success will be how they respond if Legwand is unable to play. Legwand logs a lot of minutes, playing against the team’s top line. Carolina’s captain, Eric Staal, has 9 goals on the season. While Carolina has the second worst penalty kill in the NHL, only Edmonton is worst in the league, the Hurricanes are better on the power play, 19th overall.
Nashville has a 4-1-1 record when it scores on the power play. At only 75% kill-off rate, the Predators will have an opportunity to improve on special teams. However, getting power play opportunities have been tough to come by for Nashville. Only three teams have had less man advantage chances than Nashville (63), Florida, New Jersey and Phoenix. Carolina has drawn 26 more penalties than Nashville in the first 17 games of the season and they have scores twice as many power play goals, 14 as compared to Nashville’s 7 power play tallies.
The Predators have found success at the RBC Center earning points in five straight games, posting a 3-0-1-1 record.
Carolina will also play in Nashville this season. The Hurricanes will visit Bridgestone Arena on December 4, 2010.
Nashville is in the middle of a four-game road trip. After Saturday night’s game, Nashville travels to Columbus to play their first game of the season against the Blue Jackets. The Predators then return to Nashville to play St. Louis on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. The next Predators home game is Wednesday, November 24th when the Preds take on the St. Louis Blues for the third and final time at Bridgestone Arena. The game is going to be televised nationally on Versus. You do not want to miss it!